“Abba! Father!”

Today is Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Day 22,255

26 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!!

“He was one of those men who think that the world can be saved by writing a pamphlet.”
Benjamin Disraeli, British politician, 1804-1881

The word of the day is passeggiata, “A leisurely walk, a promenade, esp. one taken at a regular time.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

The wedding last night was great! Everything went so well, and it was so beautiful. I even cried a little. I was told multiple times that I did a great job on the music. I felt good about it, too. There were some minor bobbles, here and there, but nothing major. One thing this has done was to boost my confidence as a musician. I had never played at a wedding before (at least not that I can remember). And it was great fun.

The reception was nice, as well. After we had all sat around tables for a little bit, the wedding party came in a side door, each pair of bridesmaid/groomsman announced by the DJ, as well as the parents of bride and groom, and they all had their own little dance to do as they came in. It was great fun! C got a couple of videos on her phone, I think. We didn’t stay for the whole reception, though. When they started serving the dinner, we decided to head out. For one thing, we were actually afraid there wouldn’t be enough food for all the people that were there. We were aware that the groom’s mother was also concerned about that. So we did our part and didn’t eat any of it. Hahaha! I was tired, anyway. And I think S was probably ready to get out of there. It was a large crowd of people, and that is exhausting for me, as well. It was enough “peopling” for one day.

Today, it appears that we are all getting new phones. Both mine and C’s have been experiencing issues charging, and S’s has had a problem with the microphone for a long time, meaning that we sometimes can’t hear her when she’s talking to us. So I think we will all upgrade to the iPhone XR today.

Other than that, the only plans are the grocery pickup between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, and I will need to practice a little bit for tomorrow, as well as finalize my four songs for next Saturday’s Night of Worship, the first one of the year.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD: “‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 33:11

Today I am grateful:
1. That my playing went well last night.
2. For the new lives that began last night, as Jared and Bless began their marriage.
3. That God is the source of who I am.
4. That God is my Abba.
5. That I can experience the same relationship with the Father as Jesus had.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in though, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

In the spirit of full disclosure and brutal honesty, I will confess that I most definitely failed at demonstrating love for God and others, yesterday. As soon as I got to work, I was hit with inconvenient issues, which I will not attempt to explain, as they wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. This does not excuse my reactions, though. I didn’t handle things well. I don’t believe that I acted out toward anyone . . . it was kept mostly private, but I do know that a couple of people know I was frustrated with things. During one conversation with our lead, a guy that I like and respect quite a bit, we both agreed that, even though yesterday was Friday the 15th, it was acting an awful lot like it mistook the five for a three. Not that I’m superstitious or anything. Anyway . . . chalk that day up to experience and hope that I learn from it. As mentioned above, the evening was tremendous, so it kind of made up for the rough start.

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Embrace and Receive Abba’s Love,” by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:6

When we call out to God, “Abba! Father!” we are not so much naming God as we are “entering into the same intimate, fearless, trusting, and empowering relationship with God that Jesus had.” We receive the Spirit of Jesus, and this Spirit enables us to cry out, “Abba! Father!”

This is a “cry of the heart, a prayer welling up from our innermost beings.” With this cry, we claim “God as the source of who we are.” There is a line in the book, The Cloud of Unknowing, that says, “He is your being and in him you are what you are.” Not only can I do nothing with God, I am nothing without Him. It is not “sudden insight or acquired conviction” that tells me this. “It is the claim that the Spirit of Jesus makes in communion with our spirits. It is the claim of love.”

The word, Abba, is an intimate word. You’ve probably seen, many times, as have I, that the best translation of the word is “Daddy.” It expresses “trust, safety, confidence, belonging, and most of all intimacy.” What it does not express is equally important. It does not express “authority, power, and control.” These are characteristics that “father” sometimes expresses. And while it is true that our Father does possess authority, power, and control, when we look to Him as Abba, we are embracing the intimacy of nurturing love. There is most certainly room for both in our lives.

“The Spirit reveals to us that God is our Abba–for we are his beloved children.”

Father, may I come to You more often as “Abba!” Teach me the willingness to experience Your embrace and nurturing love, and to accept this intimacy with You, just as Jesus had. I thank You that I have my being in You, that You are the Source of who I am.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (And sisters!) Galatians 6:18

Soli Deo Gloria!

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“Draw Me After You”

“It was love, not a theory of redemption, that made the martyrs sing praise while being tortured. It was love, not a doctrine of the atonement, that kept Jesus on the cross.”

Today is Friday, February 15, 2019.

Day 22,254

27 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!

“Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.”
Jules Renard, French author, 1864-1910
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is apotheosis. It means, “the perfect form or example of something : quintessence.”

Today is the wedding day! We are so excited for our two friends, and looking forward to this wedding. I’m not nearly as nervous as before, but still a bit. I had a good practice last night, and am taking off at noon again today, so I will get one last practice session in before the event. One thing I have learned from this experience. If you play something every day for two weeks, you get pretty good at it.

What??? Practice works???

Fortunately, there isn’t much else planned for the weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
Psalm 118:21

Today I am grateful:
1. That love is in the air.
2. That baseball is also in the air.
3. That God has, at various times in my life, revealed Himself to me.
4. That He has drawn me after Him, and will continue to do so.
5. That He has placed it in my heart to follow Jesus.

Jesus said, 
"I am the light of the world;
whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."

(The Book of Common Prayer, John 8:12)

How did I do yesterday? It’s hard to answer that question, today. It seems that I walked through yesterday with a bit more positive attitude, but, again, did I go through my day with more knowledge of walking with/following Christ? I’m not sure about that. It’s hard to break the habit of simply going through the motions of the day like an automaton. Especially when you do the same thing, day in, day out. For example . . . have you ever left your house, going somewhere other than work, and absent-mindedly discovered that you are en route to your work place? That’s kind of what I mean.

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is, “God Woos Us,” by James Bryan Smith.

For your love is better than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

“Philosophy tries to reduce God to a first mover and science attempts to remove God entirely. But God looms quietly in the wings and allows us such silly speculation.” Frederick Buechner once compared our attempts to explain God to “a dung beetle looking at a human and trying to do humanology.”

“Whatever we are allowed to discover about God, he is more.”

I like that Smith uses the world “allowed” in that sentence. Because anything we “discover” about God, He has allowed us to see. In truth, I don’t believe we “discover” anything about God. God reveals Himself to us.

Says Smith, “When God revealed himself to me it blew my belief system to bits.” What we do discover is that our speculation about God is like straw compared to His reality. Like the lover in the Song of Solomon, we can only cry out, “Draw me after you!” “God woos us like a lover who seeks his beloved. The torrid passion sometimes felt between two human beings is a pale reflection of the burning desire God has for us. It was love, not a theory of redemption, that made the martyrs sing praise while being tortured. It was love, not a doctrine of the atonement, that kept Jesus on the cross.”

Powerful words, and, I believe, true. Our comprehension of the love that God has for us, and our subsequent love for Him is much more valuable than any doctrine we could learn and know. Doctrine is important, sure. It’s good to know what we believe and why. But it’s better to know His love.

There is a reason Rich Mullins called it, “the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.”

Father, help me to know that love today. Reveal Yourself to me, more and more. Just like James Bryan Smith, blow my belief systems to bits. I would rather know Your love, beyond the shadow of a doubt, than to understand all the theology in history. And then teach me to love both You and others the same way.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Called to Follow

Today is Thursday, February 14, 2019. Oh, right. Valentine’s Day.

Day 22,253

28 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
A.A. Milne, English author, 1882-1956
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is attractancy. It means, “the capacity, especially of a pheromone, to attract.”

The rehearsal went fabulously, last night! There were a few hitches at the beginning. Well, one major hitch, but since the groom is our sound guy at church, he helped us get it fixed. Apparently, the sound system for the venue is brand new, and we were the first people to use it. The settings were all wonky when we fired it up and the keyboard was barely coming through the speakers, and what did come through sounded overdriven and distorted. We pushed buttons and twisted knobs until we got it sounding decent. Everything else went pretty well. The best part was when everyone started singing along to the bride’s song! I told them they should totally do that tomorrow night!

The rehearsal dinner afterward was at Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant, in Southlake. It was delicious. And they have this creamy jalapeno ranch sauce for the chips . . . Wow!!!

I’ll get in another round of practice this evening, and then tomorrow, as well, because I’m taking off at noon again. I don’t want to skip a day of playing this music.

Once this wedding is over, I have a couple things to get going on. I have a song from our Night of Worship guy that needs some keys recorded on it, and then we have our next Night of Worship coming in just over a week, so I need to figure out songs for that. Oh, and let’s not forget my usual one song for Sunday morning. Too much to think about!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Psalm 107:8 (also verse 15 and 21 and 31)

Today I am grateful:
1. That the wedding rehearsal went well.
2. For the joy that the soon to be married couple is experiencing.
3. For the joy of witnessing two people begin a life together.
4. That we are not called to “religion,” but to relationship.
5. That Jesus calls us to follow Him.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me,
and the light around me turn to night,"
darkness is not dark to you, O Lord;
the night is as bright as the day;
darkness and light to you are both alike.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 139:10-11)

How did I do yesterday? I’m trying to make this a regular thing that I consider each morning. To be honest, I barely remembered what yesterday’s reading and topic was about. Looking at it again, this morning, I see that it was about letting God do what He needs to do without complaint or trying to “help Him.” Looking back at my day, yesterday, I have to confess that I don’t remember even thinking about it. Totally honesty, here. Accountability of sorts. No matter what I write in this daily blog, I don’t “have it all together,” and everyone needs to know that. I’m flawed, and sometimes deeply. That’s why I need Jesus all the time.

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is, “Religion Versus Knowing God.”

King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar. Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar.
2 Kings 16:10-11

When Ahaz visited the king of Assyria, he was terribly impressed with their altar. It must have been a huge altar; an “extensive religious symbol.” So, naturally, Ahaz decided he had to have one exactly like it. So he had servants copy the dimensions and specs of the altar, and sent them back to Jerusalem with instructions to build one just like it.

“But the Assyrian altar did not represent atheism. Nor did it represent a repudiation of Israel’s faith, at lest not in an overt, public way. The Assyrian alter represented an increase in religious activity; a compulsive desire to have the best religion, the most powerful faith, to be up on the latest developments in theology and liturgical practice.”

This is pretty important. Ahaz was, no doubt sincere and loyal to the traditions of Moses, David, and Solomon. “The sin that he became involved in was a religious sin, and it proceeded from religious motives: to be secure, to be at the center of God’s attention, to have a workable faith.” If we commit ourselves to a “religious life,” we will be prey to Ahaz’s Assyrian altar. When we experience failure or danger, even doubt, “the latest fad or the thing that seems to be working best will have a great attraction” to us. I still remember watching in dismay as many of my closest friends fell prey to the “Prayer of Jabez” fad, whenever that happened. I don’t even remember what decade it was. But I remember shaking my head in complete disbelief as people bought into that thing, hook, line, and sinker.

This type of thing is pure religion. But “the gospel is the dissolving of religion.” The Pharisees represented “religion” in Jesus’s day. And Jesus was not about establishing a religion. He is about establishing relationships.

“Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish Christianity, why he didn’t invite people to become Christians? Instead, he called people to follow him. Take time to consider the difference.”

Father, thank You for these reminders that I am called to follow Jesus, not to join a religion. While we call ourselves “Christian,” we are not called “join Christianity.” We aren’t called to “join” anything. We are called to follow, to walk with, to love and listen to Jesus. Help me to do that a little better today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Prophet and the General

Today is Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

Day 22,252

Spring Training begins today!!!!

“Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven.”
John Lubbock, British statesman, 1834-1913
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is cacophony. It means, “harsh or discordant sound : dissonance; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases.”

Tonight is the wedding rehearsal, at 6:00 PM. Ish. That’s the scheduled start time. However, it may be a little delayed, depending on peoples’ arrivals from work. I’m taking a half day of PTO so I don’t have to carry my keyboard gear to work with me. I’m getting gradually more confident with the music, but I will still be terribly nervous tonight and Friday night. I’m honored and excited to do this, and will be grateful when it is over. I’ve got at least one other project I need to spend some time on.

Unless you live under a rock (or in a country where it’s not a thing) you know that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the biggest day of the year for the greeting card industry. With the possible exception of Mother’s Day. Having been together for almost 34 years (35 if you count the first year of “dating”), C and I have long ago agreed that “celebrating” Valentine’s Day is somewhat foolish for us. Cards are expensive, flowers have jacked-up prices for this day, and any restaurant that we might visit will be packed to the proverbial gills. We might go out for a steak lunch on Saturday. Plus we have our semi-annual trip to Glen Rose next month.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
Psalm 56:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For almost 34 years of marriage, and a love that doesn’t need cards and other acts to prove itself.
2. That the Spirit reminded me to pray through some things yesterday.
3. That God works in mysterious ways.
4. That God doesn’t always work the way we thing He should.
5. For the times that I am spurred on to obedience, no matter what I’m feeling.

Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning,
and darkens the day into night;
who calls for the waters of the sea
  and pours them out upon the surface
  of the earth:
The Lord is his name.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Amos 5:8)

How did I do yesterday? I did manage to remember the suggestion of praying through the Ten Commandments, along with a couple other things. I made it a little more than halfway through the commandments, and may try to complete that today. I didn’t get to the Apostle’s Creed, which I may still try to work through. Finding the text online shouldn’t be difficult. I will say that it was interesting to try to pray through the commandments. It’s a good exercise, I believe, reading them and trying to discern if I have been guilty, at any point, of violating them.

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is called “What Gets in the Way of God’s Work?”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
2 Kings 5:9-10, The Message

This is a curious, and somewhat amusing, story. Naaman was a general in Aram’s army. He was afflicted with what was probably leprosy, “a grievous skin disease.” It was a captured Israelite slave girl who suggested to her “mistress” that he should go visit Elisha, the prophet of God, to be healed. This, in itself is somewhat astounding (it was yesterday’s reading, by the way, that I didn’t share here).

Naaman gets approval from his king to go to Israel, but instead of seeing the prophet, he starts with the king of Israel, who was so upset that he tore his clothes. Elisha heard about this and asked the king what he was so upset about. “Just send the guy to me,” he said. Which is where our story picks up today.

Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house. But instead of Elisha coming to the door, he sent a servant who told the general what to do.

Naaman was furious. First of all, he was insulted because Elisha didn’t come to the door himself, but only sent a servant. Didn’t Elisha know that he was a general?? Second, he was upset that he was told to go dunk himself in the muddy old Jordan river. “The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean,” he said in verse 12. So he stomped off in a huff.

His servants caught up with him and talked some reason into him. He finally did what Elisha told him and wound up coming out totally healed, his skin as new as a baby’s.

Eugene Peterson wonders how many of us are guilty of similar attitudes. “We recognize our need, so we go to a church or a friend or a pastor for help. But then what is offered is so beneath our dignity or diverges so wildly from our expectations that we angrily go away.” We are disappointed because we expected excitement, drama, or action, maybe even something original! “And what did we get? The same old thing, the old virtues, the grace of God, and the love of Christ.”

What do we have to lose? Only pride. What do we have to gain? “Possibly everything. The real question is, Do we want to be healed?”

So, when we pray, do we find ourselves edging into a practice of trying to “mansplain” to God how He should be helping someone with their problem? Or even worse, do we miss something that He might have done because He didn’t do it in quite the way we expected? “Can you trust God to act as he sees fit?”

Father, I thank You for this strange lesson. I pray that You help me to always be looking for how You are working, regardless of how I think it should look. And if I get instruction from You that seems below my so-called “dignity,” let me dump my “dignity” in the garbage for the greater glory of serving You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Into the Holy Place

Today is Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Day 22,251

Spring Training begins tomorrow!!!!

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, stated in 1977

The word of the day is marvy. It means, “marvelous; delightful.”

I wound up having a brief conversation with my mother yesterday morning, so I didn’t call last night. Plus, we were looking at possible vacation plans last night. We haven’t nailed anything down, just yet. We had talked about going to Memphis/Nashville, as I have never had any kind of leisure trip to either place. I would love to see the Sun Studios, and, hey, I might as well be able to say I’ve been to Graceland, right? Plus what musician wouldn’t want to see Nashville just once, right? I have been there, but it was for a college trip when the ETSU Trombone Choir attended the International Trombone Workshop at Peabody College. There wasn’t much time for sight-seeing, plus we didn’t have any transportation to get around the city.

Nothing else much going on, so on to the devotions.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalm 52:9

Today I am grateful:
1. For the bond that exists between the people of God, especially in our local church group.
2. For examples of prayer in the Bible.
3. For Jesus’s model prayer.
4. For the Ten Commandments.
5. For Martin Luther’s suggestions on prayer.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 16:7-8)

So, how did I do yesterday? The topic of yesterday’s devotion was listening to God. I have to confess that I didn’t do all that great on it. There was one moment where I felt the prompting to ask a fellow associate how her dog was doing. She doesn’t have any kids, so her dog is like family to her, and the dog had been having some health issues, last week. She was very grateful that I asked and said the the dog was doing better. But, as is so often the case, the rest of the day pretty much went by without me remembering to listen for God.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16

Today, I’m focusing on a Tabletalk reading called “How to Pray.”

As Paul explains the benefits of being counted righteous by God, in Romans 5, he describes one of the blessings in verse 2: Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. In other words, we have access to “enter into the most holy place and commune with the Lord because of Jesus.”

This is the purpose of prayer; it is why prayer has been given to us. Through prayer, we enter into that holy place and commune with God. Sadly, too many of us (myself included) do not often take advantage of this privilege. Yes, I have certain times of day dedicated to “prayer,” but all too often all I wind up doing is bringing God what more or less amounts to a “laundry list” of my own needs. Or maybe it’s not even my own needs but needs of people I know who have given me prayer requests. I also find that my mind wanders quite easily.

The obvious model that we have comes from Jesus. He gives us a model prayer in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11. It is more than a Scripture passage to be quoted in unison at some churches. It is a guide to how our communication with God should be structured. “Fundamentally, this prayer tells us to ask that God’s name be hallowed so that His kingdom may come and His will be done.” Personally, I have found great blessing in going through my list of friends and their needs and praying that God’s will would be done in their lives, on earth as it is in heaven.

Martin Luther suggests, in A Simple Way to Pray, that we should pray through the Ten Commandments. I have to confess I have never thought of that. He also suggested praying through the model prayer, as well as the Apostles’ Creed, “using each line as a springboard for adoring God, confessing sin, expressing gratitude and pouring forth supplications.”

As the “Coram Deo” segment of the reading (Coram Deo means “living before the face of God”), the following is suggested: “As an illustration of Luther’s advice, take some time today to pray through the Ten Commandments. Take each stipulation and confess how you have violated that particular law. Worship Him for the perfection of His character revealed in each commandment. Thank Him for enabling you by the Spirit to be faithful to His Law and ask for His kingdom to come so that all may love and obey Him. Make it your aim to pray to our heavenly Father without ceasing.”

Father, today I pray that I might be more faithful in prayer, and that I might follow the above suggestion. Remind me, throughout this day, to do this, that I might enter into Your holy place and commune with You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Listening On the Journey

Today is Monday, February 11, 2019.

Day 22,250

TWO DAYS until Spring Training!!!!

“A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.”
Ludwig Erhard, German economist and politician, 1897-1977
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is jactance. It means, “boasting, vainglorious speaking.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Let me say, right off the bat, that I forgot to call my mother yesterday. Shame on me. Almost worse, I remembered this at 3:30 AM during a brief moment of being awake. So I apologize to my mother, and will try to call tonight.

Otherwise, yesterday was a pretty good day. The worship gathering went quite well, in spite of being down one musician. The three of us seem to be playing pretty well together, these days, even if one of the three is missing. The message was also quite good, even if a bit complex. The central theme was the Trinity, so right there you know it was complicated.

Back to work today, the first day of a fairly busy week. The wedding rehearsal is Wednesday, followed by a rehearsal dinner, then the wedding is Friday evening, and will be followed by a reception. Thankfully, the next day is Saturday, and there are currently no plans for Saturday, as far as I know. The following Saturday (February 23) will be the first Night of Worship of 2019.

Oh, and I did not watch the Grammys. A number of years ago, I decided to no longer participate in watching over-paid celebrities pat each other on the backs. And that goes for all celebrity award shows.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.
2 Chronicles 29:31

Today I am grateful:
1. For the opportunity this week to use my musical talents as a gift for some dear friends.
2. That my wife is willing (and almost eager) to trim my beard and hair for me, when needed.
3. That God is with me on my journey.
4. That, if I listen, I can hear Him speak to me (not necessarily audibly).
5. For God’s promise to never leave me.

Yours is the day, O God,
yours also the night;
you established the moon and the sun.
You fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 74:15-16)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is called “Listen For Him,” by Frederick Buechner.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
Psalm 73:23

“The question is not whether the things that happened to you chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak.” A walk that we have taken thousands of times. The drive from home to work that, some mornings, is taken with almost no knowledge at all. Seriously, have you ever gotten to work and found that you remembered literally nothing about the drive there? What about the times when you don’t even believe that God will speak to you? Says Buechner, “He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.” Do we not listen because we are afraid of what we will hear? Are we afraid that we will near nothing at all, nothing “but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement?”

God promises that He is with us on our journeys, and that He has been with us since our journeys began. “Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him.”

“To live without listening to the Lord is to live deaf to the fullness of the music of God.”

Father, we talked about this in our prayer time before our worship gathering, yesterday. Help me to listen for Your voice today. Tune my heart to hear Your words as I walk through this day in Your presence.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Prayer: History, Forgiveness, and Others

Today is Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Day 22,249

THREE DAYS until Spring Training!!!!

“We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is finicky. It means, “extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards.” In other words, “cat.”

I got new glasses ordered, yesterday. My distance vision had changed a bit, but my vision for computers/music had not changed enough to replace those glasses. I will still need two pair. The doctor told me that we could combine distance/medium-range/reading all in one pair, but he didn’t seem to think I would like it. And since I already have a good pair for medium-range, I just left it that way. I added the “transition” to the new pair, this time. They change darker when outside.

The rest of the day was nice. I picked up lunch right after my eye doctor, and by the time we ate, it was time to go get the groceries.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. The main worship leader is sick, and, to my knowledge (although he has never told me decisively), will not be there. So Brandon and I will each be leading two songs. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters at The Exchange Church.
2. For my brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world.
3. That the dream I had last night was just that – a dream.
4. For the privilege of praying.
5. For the three lessons involving prayer.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 96:9)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is called, “Prayer Lessons from History’s Wisest Person.” Peterson is speaking of Solomon. I would take issue with that (I rarely do with Eugene Peterson), and say that Jesus was history’s wisest person. Nevertheless, the lesson is a good one.

Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
1 Kings 8:29-30

“In Solomon’s prayer, we can see three areas in which the visible is a conduit for the invisible, and they are areas that we are still involved with today.”

First, is history. Solomon remembers the great acts of God from the past. “A poor memory is a threat to our prayers.” If, when praying, we forget the actions of God in the past, we will likely pray with “small faith and for tiny ends.”

The second thing is forgivness. Solomon specifically prays that God will forgive. “Self-deception and selfishness are threats to our prayers as well.” Too often, our prayers are an attempt to get God on our side, to do what we want Him to do. Peterson says, “the visible church is a check against that. Forgiveness is the turning point in prayer, the transition from seeking our own way from God to yielding our lives to him so that he may perform his will in it.” Remember that line from Jesus’s model prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The third area involves others; foreigners, strangers. “Our prayers are strangled when they become too narrow.” How often do we only pray for ourselves, our familes, and our close acquaintances? We must be more sensitive “to the vast church of Christ and the world Christ is seeking to bring into fellowship with him. The visible church is proof against that, bringing people together under one roof whom you would ordinarily not associate with.”

Our pastor has really driven that home in past weeks. The church is made up of people with whom we would normally not associate. People with whom we otherwise have nothing in common. And we must get along because Christ died for all of us, regardless of race, sex, hobbies, and political persuasions.

Three areas in prayer: history, forgiveness, and others.

Father, may I be mindful of all of these things as I pray, today and every day. Let me never forget Your might acts in history, both my history and the history of Your people. May I always be humble and remember whence I came, the marvelous forgiveness with which You have blessed me. And may I expand the scope of my prayers to the world Church and beyond.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!