Work

Today is Wednesday, October 18, 2017. Day 21,769.

Thirteen days until C’s knee replacement surgery.

Chuck Berry, who was born on this date in 1926 (died 2017), said, “Elvis’s songs will always be there, and I hope mine will be after I’m gone.” They are, Chuck. They are.
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TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, 
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. 

Psalm 66:8-9
. . . hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!
Psalm 70:5
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Psalm 71:5-6
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:23-27
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 
You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 
For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:1-8, 12
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

(From Practice Resurrection)

We are reminded again, that work “is what God does, not what we do.” Peterson points us to Genesis 1-2 to give us a reminder of how we are first introduced to God. “The first thing we learn about God is that God works.” In the midst of his work, he “invites us into his work.”

Then he says something that I was not aware of. “The Christian community has a long tradition of reading, meditating, and praying Genesis 1-2 in order to form our understanding and experience of work in the company of God at work.” The next page, I believe, is worthy of quoting in its entirety.

“God makes light. What a gift. God’s work. God’s gift. We can see what is going on, we can see where we are going. ‘Light dawns for the righteous’ (Ps. 97:11). Every lamp, every candle, every torch, every chandelier is a witness to what is continuously revealed around us.

“God makes sky. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. This huge Above. Space and spaciousness, this immense Beyond. Far, far more than we can take in. Far, far more than we can control. Everything visible stretching into invisibility.

“God makes earth and sea, plants and trees. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. Oak forests and wheat fields, apple trees and rose gardens. A place to stand. A place to be at home. A home furnished with what we need. A home beautiful.

“God makes sun and moon and stars, marking seasons and days and years. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. Time to look around and see the sights, sunrise and sunset. Time to listen to the wind in the willows and the rain on the roof. Time to sleep and dream and ‘awake the dawn’ (Ps. 108:2). Time to remember and count blessings. Time to hope and pray.

“God makes fish and birds. Sea and sky resplendent with life. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. Rainbow trout and belted kingfishers. The dazzle and elegance of every kind of life.

“God makes animals domestic and wild. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. Cattle and caribou, ants and lizards, grizzly bears and honeybees. Life on the move. Life profuse in form and color. Life dancing.

“God makes man and woman. Sheer gift. God’s work. God’s gift. Wherever you look, wherever you go, man and woman. Man and woman on every street and road, each one unique. But on this sixth day of work, there is something different. Each man and woman is not only an instance of God’s workmanship but is capable of participating in God’s work, working in God’s workplace and continuing God’s work, continuing the gift-making.

“And then it is done, complete, ‘finished.’ The seventh day, a day for God to look back across the workweek, take stock of ‘all the work that he had done.’ ‘The work that he had done’ is repeated three times (Gen. 2:2-3). A day of rest. A day for quiet reflection on all the good work. A day of hallowing and blessing the good work.

“Seven times in this week of work, God paused, looked over his work and pronounced it good. The final ‘good’ was intensified to ‘very good.’ Good work, indeed.”

Father, as I read these beautifully written words, may I pause to consider what they represent. And as, later today, I remember to take a look back at Genesis 1 and 2, let me be grateful for the work that you have done. I am also grateful that you have not stopped working. And, finally, I am grateful that you have invited me to participate in this work. As I work today, doing my job, may it be done for you, in the name of Jesus, in the presence of your Kingdom Among Us.

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.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Grace Does Not Replace Work

Today is Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Day 21,768. Fourteen days until C’s knee replacement surgery.

Evel Knievel, who was born on this date in 1938 (died 2007), said, “I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could.”
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Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is euphony, which means, “pleasing or sweet sound; especially : the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear.”

Today is Mulligan Day. Commonly known as a golf term, a mulligan is a second chance, taking a shot over. So today, give yourself a second chance. Take that mulligan.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2
The Request for Presence
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
The Greeting
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
Psalm 13:5
The Refrain for the Morning Lesson
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
Psalm 89:11
A Reading
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:32
The Morning Psalm
Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. 
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. 
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. 
Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. 
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. 
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 
The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 37:34-40
The Gloria
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me, that I may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

“Work and workplace are not antithetical to grace,” says Eugene Peterson. Paul makes sure that we understand this by inserting the words “good works” in the same set of sentences as “grace.”

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10

Even more so, “Fundamentally, work is not what we do; we are the work that God does.” Note that verse 10 says, “we are his workmanship.” We are what God has made us.

“Grace does not displace work.” Just because we are practicing resurrection does not exempt us from the daily punch of the clock. Work can be “exhilarating,” but it can also be “debilitating, demoralizing, and exhausting.” But the difference is, we no longer work for CEVA, or USBC, or Sears, or any other company. “We are God’s work and doing God’s work.” We are created in him for good works.

Father, you have already begun teaching me this concept, this truth. Keep teaching me, and keep my spirit alive to your Spirit as you teach me your ways. Keep teaching me how to be a disciple in this world, to walk in the Kingdom Among Us.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Denial of Grace

Today is Monday, October 16, 2017. Day 21,767. Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Oscar Wilde, who was born on this date in 1854 (died 1900), said, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
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Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is jawbreaker, which means, “a word that is hard to pronounce.”

We are back to “reality” today, after having avoided it for several days. We had a wonderful time celebrating our thirty-second wedding anniversary. We were back in our favorite of the Paluxy River Bed Cabins, the Cedar House. Although it has stairs to get up to the second floor bedroom, it is still our favorite cabin. That is largely because the number of trees around it, between the cabin and the river, give a little more of a secluded feel. The single story Cliff House has a great view of the river, but is too exposed and doesn’t give as much of a solitude vibe.

The best morning was Sunday morning, sadly. Sadly because that was the day we had to leave. But it was the only morning where we couldn’t even hear traffic noise from the nearby Highwya 67. Nobody gets out much on early Sundays, and there were some times of absolute silence, except for birds.

On Friday, we visited Fossil Rim, the wildlife park. It has been years since we were there, and we had a wonderful time feeding and observing various kinds of animals. Sadly, the giraffes would not approach our car. They were too busy eating leaves off of trees. Perhaps they were tired of bending down to get their food. Or maybe they don’t like red. Who knows? We do have a few pictures, and maybe I’ll get them up here, eventually.

That reminds me, I still need to upload pictures of my cousin’s wedding from the previous weekend.

The Astros are leading the Yankees 2-0 in their series, as are the Dodgers leading the Cubs. The ALCS resumes today at 7:00 CDT, in New York.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
The Request for Presence
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
The Greeting
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-3
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 115:15
A Reading
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4
The Morning Psalm
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:1-4, 7-9
The Small Verse
Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed.
(Traditional)
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me, that I may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Concluding Prayer of the Church
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.† Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

It’s been a while, but I last talked about Peterson’s idea of “acquired passivity.” He takes a moment to address the idea of works. “Why is there such unending and often acrimonious argument and contention about faith and works?” Paul’s writings should definitely put an end to that debate, or, as Peterson calls it, “tedious gossip.”

“Faith in Christ is an act of abandoning the shores of self, where we think we know where we stand and where if we just try hard enough we can be in control.” Dallas Willard defines grace as God accomplishing in us what we cannot accomplish on our own.

But we are hesitant to get up that solid footing of the self. We have formed years of habits on this “ground.” It is difficult for us to give up the idea that we can just try harder and live “anxiously by my wits and muscle,” rather than “living effortlessly in the world of God’s active presence.” In fact, our entire North American culture consists of, “to all intents and purposes, a context of persistent denial of grace.”

Father, teach us to embrace grace. But let us not think that grace alone is all we need. Yes, of course, we believe in salvation by grace alone. But it doesn’t stop there. Our faith in you, by the grace you provided, leads us to works, which are the proof of our lives in you. When we live in the Kingdom way, walking in the steps, works, and words of Jesus, those works become evidence of our faith and your grace. Let us not live in such a way that we deny your grace.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Here

Today is Thursday, October 12, 2017. Day 21,763. Today is the 32nd anniversary of our wedding!

Luciano Pavarotti, who was born on this date in 1935 (died 2007), said, “If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them.”
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The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is interdigitate, which means, “to become interlocked like the fingers of folded hands.”

Today is Pulled Pork Day. I haven’t had breakfast and I’m hungry, so that’s probably why this one caught my attention. Plus the other choices are boring.

Well, the unthinkable has happened. The Yankees beat the Indians in the ALDS. The wild card is going to face the Astros in the ALCS and the team with the best record in the AL has been eliminated. That’s no surprise, though, as it happens frequently. So I guess it’s not so “unthinkable” after all, is it? But it changes my allegiance for the ALCS, and I will be throwing all my cheers Houston-ward. Sorry, Cayman Thorn. And seriously, if it winds up being the Dodgers (who swept their NLDS) and the Yankees AGAIN (they’ve met ELEVEN times in the World Series), I probably won’t even check the scores. You know what? I take that back. I will suck it up and root for the Yankees. Yes, I will. So there.

After I finish this blog and C finished painting, we will head to the grocery store to pick up some food for S so she won’t starve over the long weekend. Then we will head out to Glen Rose, to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, where we will spend three wonderful nights “away from it all.” I can already feel the stress falling off of my shoulders.

Today marks, as previously mentioned, the 32nd anniversary of our wedding. C admits that she barely remembers that day, as she spent the night before in the hospital, suffering from endometriosis, a quite painful condition. She was released in time, though, and the wedding went on. She has since put up with me for those 32 years, saying that they are “thirty of the best years” of her life. We don’t talk about those other two. While I won’t call our love/relationship “unique,” because that word means that there is only one of something and nothing else like it, I do believe that our marriage is special. We have operated for all 32 years under the belief that we are equals in this partnership. Neither one of us assumes authority over the other one, and most decisions are made together. There are times when one of us will defer to the other for a decision. Haha. Truthfully, there are many times when neither one of us wants to make the decision! But we have grown comfortable together, over the years, kind of like wearing your favorite jacket that always feels just right. Not to compare marriage to a jacket, but I sincerely believe that anyone who has been married for this long (or even twenty years) knows exactly what I mean. The love I have for my wife is so deep that it grips my very soul. To try to remove it would rip my soul out of my being. To help celebrate, I offer this song, which has become one of our favorite song in recent years, and we might even consider it “our song.”

The words to this song fit our experience so vividly, it’s weird. It did all begin with the “touch of a hand.” More like a finger. And C’s legs are always a problem for her, specifically knees. In fact, she is having knee replacement on October 31, to get the second knee done. Perhaps, after that, her legs will both work just fine. People do fall in love in mysterious ways. And, “me, I fall in love with you every single day.”

Okay. Enough mushy stuff.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
Let us bless the LORD from this time forth for evermore. Hallelujah!
Adapted from Psalm 115:108
The Request for Presence
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant.
Psalm 86:16
The Greeting
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah.
Psalm 32:7
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 
Psalm 54:4
A Reading
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:21-22
The Morning Psalm
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:1-3
The Gloria
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
Dear Father always near us,
may your name be treasured and loved,
may your rule be completed in us-
may your will be done here on earth in
just the way it is done in heaven.
Give us today the things we need today,
and forgive us our sins and impositions on you
as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.
Please don’t put us through trials,
but deliver us from everything bad.
Because you are the one in charge,
and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours-forever-
which is just the way we want it!
(Paraphrased by Dallas Willard)
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.†
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
Luke 24:38

In today’s reading, Erika Bentsen writes about her experiences in cattle ranching. I normally don’t care for the readings she writes because she feels the need to write about rupturing a disc in her back in every. single. reading. But there’s a lesson in this one that I believe I needed to hear.

As a result of this ruptured disc, she can’t work in cattle ranching the way she once could. She currently does work on a ranch, but was experiencing doubts about her usefulness. Raising cattle had been her life. “Now what?” she asks.

Right as she was having those thoughts a neighbor called about a heifer that was calving, and she needed help/advice. Erika immediately asked how long the heifer had been in labor. The answer, twelve hours, was too long for the calf. Unsure if either could be saved, she rushed to her neighbor’s corral. The calf was still alive, but the cow’s pelvis was malformed. She immediately told the neighbor to call the vet, that they would have to do a C-section on the cow.

The vet arrived in time. Both calf and cow were saved. The neighbor’s words, “If you hadn’t been here, those two wouldn’t be here.”

Here–right where my back problem left me, where there’s less stress, more love, more peace, and more opportunity to help others with the skills I’ve learned.”

Here is where we are. Here is, most likely, where we belong.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my job for several years now. I’m frequently unhappy with management, and have, occasionally, sent out resumes, searching for a new job, closer to home. I drive sixty-plus miles a day, round trip, and am on the road for over two hours a day. Some days, it’s exhausting. The job, itself, isn’t difficult, but it can be quite stressful, at times. But it is where God has me, for now, and I need to be content with that. He has me here for a reason, and, until I accomplish whatever reason that is, I will stay. It’s the right thing to do.

Father, thank you for Erika’s words, today. And even though I have to drive so far, and deal with management that is frustrating, at times (who doesn’t, right?), I commit to you that I will remain here until you move me elsewhere. In the meantime, help me to fulfill your purpose in this job, around these people. Help me to be a light in the darkness, not part of the darkness, itself. Help me to show the atheist that you exist and that you love him. Help me to lead the one who has strayed back to your heart. And help me to do my work fully engaged, not constantly thinking about when my next break or lunch or end of day is.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Am I? Where Am I?

Today is Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Day 21,762. One day until our 32nd anniversary and Glen Rose Weekend! 169 days until Opening Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who was born on this date in 1884 (died 1962), said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
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Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pauciloquent, which means, “That uses few words in speech or conversation; laconic.” I am definitely not pauciloquent.

Today is Pet Obesity Awareness Day. I swear I am not making that up.

The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs Monday afternoon. The Yankees tied the Indians in their series on Monday evening, as well. They will play game five of their series today, weather permitting. There has been a lot of rain affecting these playoffs. The Cubs and Nats were rained out last night, and will play today. The Dodgers swept their series against the D-backs.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will head out to Glen Rose for our long anniversary weekend. We are, of course, quite excited about this, and looking forward to a lot of rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, this time. While our temperatures are low yesterday and today, highs in the seventies, tomorrow through Saturday will be back in the upper eighties to low nineties. Disappointing, but we will still have a wonderful time, I am confident. We have books to read, and we also are planning a trip to Fossil Rim, the wildlife park, probably on Friday. C wants to see the giraffes.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 
God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.

Psalm 55:16-19
The Request for Presence
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
The Greeting
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 
Psalm 31:1
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Psalm 118:22
A Reading
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27
The Morning Psalm
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 
The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 
Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110:1-4
The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me!
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Living the Message)

“Prayer is an orienting act. We begin to discover who we are when we realize where we are. Disorientation is a terrible experience. If we cannot locate our place, we are in confusion and anxiety. We are also in danger, for we are apt to act inappropriately. If we are among enemies and don’t know it, we may lose our life. If we are among friends and don’t know it, we may miss good relationships. If we are alongside a cliff and don’t know it, we may lose our footing. While praying Psalm 8, we find out where we are and some important aspects of who we are.” (Eugene Peterson)

I have learned, recently, where I am, and it has had a drastic impact on who I am. Where I am is in the midst of God, who is all around me. He is in the air that I breathe. When I stand up, I am standing in the middle of God. When I sleep, I am sleeping in God. When I walk around, I am walking in and with God. This realization has had an amazing impact on who I am. It has also had an impact on my praying. To be sure, I still fail to live in a manner worthy of his grace, but I am more constantly reminded that he is with me and that I am in him, which makes those failures fewer. What a blessed feeling to know that I am constantly in the presence of the Almighty.

A David psalm. GOD, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. 
Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble. 
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. 
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? 
Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light. 
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, 
Made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, 
Birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps. 
GOD, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.

Psalm 8 (The Message)

Father, please don’t stop teaching me where I am and who I am. Show me your presence today. Make me constantly aware of you around me, as well as your Spirit within me.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.

“Acquired Passivity”

Today is Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Day 21,761. TWO days until our 32nd anniversary and Glen Rose weekend!

Helen Hayes, who was born on this date in 1900 (died 1993), said, “Mere longevity is a good thing for those who watch Life from the side lines. For those who play the game, an hour may be a year, a single day’s work an achievement for eternity.”
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is astrobleme, which means, “an erosional scar on the earth’s surface, produced by the impact of a cosmic body, as a meteorite or asteroid.” Don’t we usually call those “craters?”

I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day have fallen on the same day. I mean, granted, there is probably a connection between the two, but not always. Not all homeless people are suffering from poor mental health, but I am pretty sure that homelessness couldn’t possibly have a positive effect on one’s mental health. I’m also not sure what can be done about either one, especially on an individual level. The first thing, though, is to be aware that both are a problem. There are people who suffer from mental health issues, and those are not always as visible as one might think. Some people manage to hide them quite well. And there are people who are homeless, some by choice, some not. Let’s begin by being aware, then see what we can do about it.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

I have decided to begin adding the headings, which might give understanding to the particular texts that are featured. Please note that I do not repeat the “refrain” as it is repeated in the actual reading. It appears again after the Reading and The Morning Psalm.

The Call to Prayer
Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
Psalm 9:11
The Request for Presence
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
The Greeting
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
Psalm 65:5
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 
Luke 1:48-49
A Reading
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:6-7
The Morning Psalm
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Psalm 81:8-10
The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance!
O Lord, make hast to help me!

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

As Peterson continues discussing this thing he calls “acquired passivity,” he moves into the territory of “grace.” Grace is one the Christian’s favorite words, and for good reason. “The air we breathe and the atmosphere we inhabit as believers and followers of Jesus is grace.” We won’t find an adequate definition of it in the dictionary, though. Peterson says, “It is everywhere to be experienced but nowhere to be explained.” I, myself, prefer Dallas Willard’s definition that grace is God accomplishing in us what we cannot accomplish on our own. (I didn’t put that in quotes, because I’m not sure I’m quoting it directly.)

Peterson calls grace “an insubstantial, invisible reality that permeates all that we are, think, speak, and do.” We aren’t used to this. We don’t live “by invisibles.” We work, we learn, we help people, we navigate traffic, we cook meals. And then when we need a break, we go to tangible things, watching birds, taking walks, reading books, watching TV, listening to music, having a cup of tea. But the breaks aren’t the real world. They are what we go to to get refreshed so we can get back to “reality.”

Living in grace is a lot like swimming. If you move your hand through water, it is obvious that this substance would not hold up your weight, if you tried to, say, walk on it. But if you relax, you will find it to be “miraculously buoyant.” I know this from experience. I’m a pretty heavy guy, but I can float quite well in our swimming pool. Almost so well that I could easily fall asleep while floating. But if I thrash about and try to stay afloat, it’s not so easy. I can swim, to a degree, but not very well. But floating? I’m pretty good at that.

That’s what living in grace is like. “Grace originates in an act of God that is absolutely without precedent, the generous, sacrificial self-giving of Jesus that makes it possible for us to participate in resurrection maturity. It is not what we do; it is what we participate in.” But that participating must be rooted in what he calls “acquired passivity,” just like floating on the top of the water. We must give ourselves up to what has come before us, “the presence and action of God in Christ that is other than us.”

Father, keep working in me to acquire this passivity that is necessary to live in grace. I feel that I’ve made, we’ve made, progress in this, over the past few years. But there is still much work to be done. Help me to join you in this work and give myself up to what you have already done. And help me to know your presence and remain in it throughout this day, minute by minute.
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.

Grace and peace, friends.