“A Nonviolent Embrace of Life”

“What’s left is this: we look at what has been given to us in our Scriptures and in Jesus and try to understand why we have a church in the first place, what the church, as it is given to us, is. We are not a utopian community. We are not God’s avenging angels.”

Today is Thursday, June 22, 2017. Day 21,651.

“To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.” ~ Robertson Davies, “The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks” Sadly, this is true. The feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when someone asks me to borrow one of my books . . .
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is apple-polish, a verb meaning, “to curry favor with someone, especially in an obsequious or flattering manner.”

It’s a tough call today, but I’m going with Onion Rings Day. The other choice was Chocolate Eclair Day. But it’s hard to beat some really good onion rings.

As a team, we didn’t do real great in bowling last night. At the risk of sounding boastful, I was the only one who hit average all three games, and I’m pretty sure that C was the only other team member who hit average at all. We were bowling with a team that was close to our ability level, except for one guy who had a 217 average. But two of their people bowled over average, last night, so they beat us all three games. The last game was closer, and that was the one C bowled her average in. But we had fun, anyway, and that’s why we’re there. I came very close to having the same score all three games. I bowled 168, 168, and 166, for a 502 series, averaging 167, which is six pins higher than my average.

The funeral for our sister in Christ will be Saturday afternoon at 1:30. The viewing is Friday evening, from 6-8. We have not yet decided if we will attend the viewing, but I think I would like to.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 119:145
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Psalm 25:1-3
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
Jesus taught us, saying: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5
What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 

Psalm 116:12-14
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

(From Practice Resurrection)

I stopped in the middle of a section yesterday, as time was becoming an issue. I believe I finished with a quote: “The practice of resurrection is an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”

The practice of resurrection includes a number of components. “The worship of God in all the operations of the Trinity; the acceptance of a resurrection, born-from-above identity (in baptism);the embrace of resurrection formation by eating and drinking Christ’s resurrection body and blood (at the Lord’s Table); attentive reading of and obedience to the revelation of God in the Scriptures; prayer that cultivates an intimacy with realities that are inaccessible to our senses; confession and forgiveness of sins; welcoming the stranger and outcast; working and speaking for peace and justice, healing and truth, sanctity and beauty; care for all the stuff of creation.” I’m sure that more could be added to the list, but there is a correlation in this list to what I have consistently referred to as the Spiritual Disciplines.

We are joined in this practice of resurrection by people from all walks of life and all countries of the world. Note, also, that this practice is not an attack against this world of death; “it is a nonviolent embrace of life in the country of death.”

We must also note that we are not very good at this. “It is easy to dismiss the church as ineffective and irrelevant.” May people do this, and the number is increasing. It is also easy to have a condescending attitude toward the church, as many of us appear to be “unimpressive nonentities.” We become disillusioned with the church because expectations are not met, albeit those expectations are set by this “country of death and by the lies of the devil.”

So how do we maintain this practice of resurrection in the midst of all of this dissilusionment and disappointment?

That’s what this “conversation” is about. It is a serious conversation, and the life and effectiveness of the church depend on it. “We’ve been at this for two thousand years, and people are not clamoring to join us.” People are not looking at our community and asking, “How do I get in?” And we are not making a lot of progress in getting rid of the evil in the world. “So what’s left?” asks Peterson.

“What’s left is this: we look at what has been given to us in our Scriptures and in Jesus and try to understand why we have a church in the first place, what the church, as it is given to us, is. We are not a utopian community. We are not God’s avenging angels.” And maybe we need to step back and look and realize that “maybe God knows what he is doing, giving us church, this church.”

Father, help us to realize what church is, what it’s supposed to be. Help us to learn from this “conversation,” from this book of Ephesians. May we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ and be obedient to his words as we walk in this “country of death.” Help us to realize and exhibit life, resurrection life.
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.

What Is Church?

“Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines.”

Today is Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Day 21,650. First day of summer.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Goodreads

The word of the day is duende, a noun meaning, “the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm.” “Even as a child, she had an unmistakable duende that attracted the attention of passersby.”

Today is Make Music Day. So, in the spirit of Mama Cass, “make your own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along.”

Yesterday was a sad day, as we had a young member of our church pass away. It was not totally unexpected, yet we were hoping for some kind of miracle. A thirty-something year old lady passed from complications involving organ failure. She has left behind a husband and two children, a teenage son and younger daughter. If you are of the praying persuasion, please pray for this family as they grieve.

Tonight is our bowling league, but we are still unsure if C will be able to bowl. That will be determined during the day, sometime. I guess she’s waiting on some communication from her doctor as to the next step after the x-rays.

In other news, THE RED SOX ARE IN FIRST PLACE!!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

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.

Psalm 55:16-17
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 
Psalm 31:1
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
Jesus asked, How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

(From Practice Resurrection)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-2

So we arrive at Chapter 1, “The Church of Ephesus: Ephesians 1:1-2.”

Eugene Peterson begins by describing the Church as “the textured context in which we grow up in Christ to maturity.” It’s difficult, though, this thing called church. Many people, in fact, find it to be “the most difficult aspect of being a Christian.” I can’t disagree with that. My wife and I, long ago, learned to really dislike the process of finding a new church. Of course, in Paul’s day, when Ephesians was written, such a thing was unheard of. You simply went to the closest, local gathering of believers in your town.

Why do we have church? “The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death.” I like that answer. Church is the central theme in the Holy Spirit’s strategy for “providing human witness and physical presence to the Jesus-inaugurated kingdom of God in this world.” There will be a lot of quotes as I go through this book, because I just can’t seem to adequately paraphrase Peterson.

Sure, over time, there have been a lot of issues with the church. We have been left with impressions of “bloody fights, acrimonious arguments, and warring factions.” Yes, these have happened, but they do not define church. They might define humans, but they don’t define church, and that is important to understand.

“Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines.” I love that definition. And this “practice of resurrection” is “an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”

I think I’ll stop there for today.

Father, help me to embrace this life, to practice this resurrection. I haven’t done well at this. I pray for more discipline to have this mindset in me that life, in this world of death, is something to be embraced, to be practiced.
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.

Nearby

Today is Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Day 21,649.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Berthold Auerbach
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day is confusticate (pronounced [kuhn-fuhs-ti-keyt]), slang, a verb meaning, “to confuse or perplex; bewilder.”

Today is World Refugee Day. Violence and tyranny are constantly forcing people to flee their home countries. The UN recognizes the need to help refugees around the world. Today is a day to simply be mindful of this and to encourage leaders to be willing to help refugees.

Band practice went well, last night. I was pleasantly surprised when The Liberty Bell March showed up in our repertoire, as the director has decided that we don’t have time to prepare “Hoedown,” by Aaron Copland. I have never had the opportunity to play this march, by John Philip Sousa. The reason it makes me so happy is that the first strain of Liberty Bell is the theme music for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Turns out it’s pretty challenging, but mainly because of some insane mute changes. I’m still not sure how we’re going to pull that off.

Not much else going on around here.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.

Psalm 92:12-13
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 33:1-5
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

In today’s reading, Patty Kirk writes of visiting a friend who was in the final stages of cancer. She hesitated, because she had the same problem most of us face in such a situation. What to say.

As she sat on the edge of the hospice bed, she held her friend’s hand while listening to her friend’s husband describe the past few weeks. She made those noises we all make when listening. “Oh.” “I see.” “Uh-huh.”

She noticed that her friend had closed her eyes. “‘Listening,'” her friend explained, “‘not asleep.'”

As the visit progressed, it drifted into what Patty called “a rhythm of okayness.” Suddenly, it occurred to her that maybe her friend wasn’t listening to her husband, but to God.”

“‘Is God talking to you?'” she asked her friend.

“Her eyelids flew open, and she nodded.”

“‘What’s He saying?'”

It took visible effort to get the words out, but her friend said, “‘Not how it should be. Nearby.'”

This was repeated several times to make sure Patty understood. Her friend’s face was bright with hope.

We all go through times of sorrow as we lose loved ones. We are currently struggling with a brother in our church as his wife lays in a hospital bed, liver and kidneys failed. They took her off of the ventilator yesterday, but she continues to breathe on her own. The doctors have decided that any further treatment would be futile.

This is not how it should be. This kind of suffering is not God’s plan for our lives. This is all a result of our enemy’s work in this world. Yes, the Psalms say that the death of a saint is precious in God’s sight. But pain and suffering were not his plan for us. Yet, he is nearby. On that we can depend.

No matter what we are going through; no matter what kind of suffering; no matter what kind of pain; and, most especially, when things appear hopeless; he is nearby.

Father, we thank you for your abiding presence in our lives. All of the pain and suffering is bringing me down. Yet I know the truth. You are always nearby. And all of this makes me pray even more desperately . . .
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.

Growing Up in Christ

Today is Monday, June 19, 2017. Day 21,648.

“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day is sundog, a noun, meaning “a bright circular spot on a solar halo; parhelion.”

Today is Sauntering Day, a reminder to slow down the pace a bit and saunter through the day.

Yesterday was a nice day. I spent most of the day playing PS4 and Xbox games, two of which I received as Father’s Day gifts (Horizon: Zero Dawn and Witcher III, the Wild Hunt). I did do the grocery shopping, because C had messed up her knee a bit and was having trouble walking.

We had a great day with R & J, the day before, as well.

Back to work, this morning, with band practice tonight, so it’s a long day, but there’s a couple hour break in the middle. We appear to be having thunderstorms this morning.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
O Lord, we come this morning
Knee-bowed and body-bent
Before thy throne of grace.
O Lord–this morning–
Bow our hearts beneath our knees,
And our knees in the lonesome valley.
We come this morning–
Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
O Lord–open up a new window of heaven,
And lean out far over the battlements of glory,
And listen this morning.

James Weldon Johnson
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 
The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 
But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson opines that we have allowed emotional needs to call the shots for too long, as well as allowing “ecclesiastical market analysts” to determine the agenda of the church. His purpose in this book (finishing the introduction this morning) is to “engage in an extended and serious conversation with my brother and sister Christians around the phrase ‘growing up in Christ.'” To aid us in this conversation, he enlists the help of Paul the Apostle, and his letter to the church in Ephesus. “The words he wrote in a letter to a congregation of Christians in Ephesus two thousand years ago is as up-to-date as anything we are likely to hear these days, and strategically crucial for what faces us.”

The conditions in which we live in this life are established by the resurrection of Christ, and even “which took place without any help or comment from us.” This fact keeps us from trying to “take charge of our own development and growth. Frequent meditation on Jesus’ resurrection–the huge mystery of it, the unprecedented energies flowing from it–prevents us from reducing the language of our conversation to what we can define or control.” Peterson got the title of this book, the phrase “practice resurrection” from a poem by Wendell Berry. “When we practice resurrection, we continuously enter into what is more than we are. When we practice resurrection, we keep company with Jesus, alive and present, who knows where we are going better than we do, which is always ‘from glory unto glory.'”

Father, help me practice resurrection today. And tomorrow. And every day. But help me begin today. Give me the mindset of meditation on the resurrection of Christ as I walk through this day, hopefully in the steps and words of Christ and in his easy yoke. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Help me to be “growing up in Christ.”
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.

Being Light

Today is Sunday, June 18, 2017. Day 21,647. Father’s Day.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain
Goodreads

Today’s word of the day is whizzo, an adjective meaning, absolutely first-rate; superb; excellent. It is British slang.

Today is International Panic Day. So today, go ahead. Do panic. Don’t “remain calm.” Or, you could just go fishing, because it’s also Go Fishing Day. It’s also International Picnic Day, which is a little strange, because “picnic” and “panic” are alarmingly similar.

Today is Father’s Day. I wish I had more time to write about this, but since it’s Sunday, I’m pressed for time. And Windows tried to kill my computer yesterday (see yesterday’s entry), and I was planning on writing a bit about that yesterday. Anyway, if my math is correct, and it frequently is not, this is my third Father’s Day without a father. While it is true that the initial pain has subsided somewhat, there is still a great emptiness there. Not just today. Today is just a day. The emptiness is every day. when you “lose” a loved one, if I may be so bold as to state this, the emptiness will always be there. There will always be things that you shared with that person, that you can no longer share with him or her. The radio is a constant reminder, because I will come across a song and think, “My dad would love this song.” I’ll see something about a movie and remember how much he loved that movie. We heard “All Night Long,” by Lionel Richie, while we were in Oregon, and I remembered that it was my dad’s very favorite music video. This memories will never fade. At least I certainly hope that they don’t!

So, today, if you still have a father on this earth, and you have any kind of relationship with him (I understand that there are broken relationships), give him some love. If you are able, give him a big, strong, embrace (more than just a hug), and give God praise for him. And if you are a father, Happy Father’s Day to you! I hope you have a great day and are able to share it with your kids. We pretty much celebrated ours yesterday, and it was great.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:5
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Gloria in Excelsis
At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
Psalm 75:2
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 
And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Luke 4:16-22
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. 
You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.

Psalm 12:5-7
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love,
that through your grace each of us may proclaim your truth with boldness,
and minister your justice with compassion;
for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Living the Message)

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. 
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. 
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)

We are supposed to be “light.” There are an awful lot of “Christians” spreading darkness on social media these days. Let’s put a stop to that, please. Let’s be light.

Father, help me to be light and not darkness. Help my life to be a life of light, mercy, and grace, showing your love to the world around me. Help me to walk in the your Kingdom and in the “easy yoke” of Jesus. Help me to walk in his words and in his steps.
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.

Thanks A Lot, Windows

Today is Saturday, June 17, 2017. Day 21,646.

Windows tried to break my computer, this morning, so I don’t have time to do my blog, because R & J will be here any minute. It wanted to do updates, but didn’t tell me it would take an hour to do them. Then, apparently, it was unable to complete the update, so after an hour of sitting here watching the red screen, it said, “Restoring previous version of Windows.”

Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper. Well, I’m not a “camper” at all. But you get my drift.

I think my next computer may be a Mac.

Grace and peace, friends.

Watching the Paint Dry

Today is Friday, June 16, 2017. Day 21,645.

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.” ~ Harold Wilson
The Quotations Page

Today’s word of the day is “yips,” a noun meaning, “a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (such as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action.”

Today is Fudge Day. I’m going to have to see if I can come up with some of that. I could not help but notice that all of today’s “holidays” begin with “F.” Fresh Veggies Day, Fudge Day, and Flip-flops Day. And it’s Friday. Coincidence? I think not!

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I believe R&J are coming over, and we’re going to Hoffbrau for lunch. This will be our Father’s Day celebration, and we’ll probably play some games after lunch. Then Sunday, the actual day for Father’s Day, C, S, and I will just chill at the house, after our worship gathering.

We watched the first episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu last night. I’m about three-fourths of the way through the book and have really enjoyed it. But the TV show has skipped ahead in some places, so I don’t want to watch any more until I’m done with the book. For example, at the very end of episode one, the main character tells us her real name. I don’t know that yet, and I’m 76% through with the book!! They should have warned us about potential spoilers!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
Psalm 66:5
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Psalm 85:10
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:9-13
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

(From Practice Resurrection)

At the end of the portion that I read yesterday, Eugene Peterson coins a term for what he is talking about. “Theological aesthetics.” The reason for this is that he has grouped three things together in this process; Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Most people in the American church are all about truth. A large number also try to included goodness. But beauty seems to consistently get left behind. “We delegate Beauty to flower arrangements and interior decorators,” says Peterson. Plato called these three things “universals,” and insisted that they are all “organically connected.” Says Peterson, “Truth divorced from Beauty becomes abstract and bloodless. Goodness divorced from Beauty becomes loveless and graceless.” Hence his term, “theological aesthetics.”

he has spent most of his adult life protesting the marginalization of these things in the American church. He has not exactly been ignored, but still has not had much success. He seems to get treated with condescension. He gets told by pastors that they can’t make it with an agenda like this. “People won’t put up with it.” Recently, he was told by a pastor “who has made an art form of pole vaulting from church to church” that he was wasting his time because there was no challenge to this, and that “it was about as exciting as standing around watching paint dry.”

Says Peterson, “I suggested to him that most of our ancestors in both Israel and church have spent most of their time watching the paint dry, that the persevering, patient, unhurried work of growing up in Christ has occupied the center of the church’s life for centuries, and that this American marginalization is, well, American. He dismissed me. He needed, he said, a challenge. I took it from his tone and manner that a challenge was by definition something that could be met and accomplished in forty days. That’s all the time, after all, that it took Jesus.”

And therein lies one of the biggest issues in the American church today. We’re in a hurry. We feel like we have to be accomplishing things that are quick, visible, and noticeable. We want results, and we want them now. Concentrating on new converts instead of spiritual growth gives that sense of accomplishment. This also hearkens to one of Dallas Willard’s key statements: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Perhaps we could all do with a little more watching the paint dry.

Father, help me to continue to mover more toward this unhurried point of view, of “watching the paint dry,” when it comes to spiritual formation. There’s no hurry. Why would there be a need for hurry? While it may not be true that “slow and steady wins the race” (“slow” never won any “race”), it is true that steadiness and consistency produce great results in pretty much anything. Help me to be steady and consistent in my spiritual formation. May my walk with you be steadfast and unhurried, but straight and true. Teach me your ways that I may walk in your truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. 
Psalm 19:14

Grace and peace, friends.