Drop the Mask

“People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.” ― Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is gormandize, which means, “to eat greedily, gluttonously, or ravenously.”

Today is Cartoonists Day. I like this day, because I am quite fond of cartoons, both animated and stationary. Some of my favorite comic strips are Bloom County, Foxtrot, and Calvin & Hobbes. My favorite animated cartoons have always been and always will be Looney Tunes.

Not a whole lot going on this Thursday morning. One bit of good news is that my mother’s radiation treatments will be over next Wednesday!

Today, we have our Quarterly Business Review at work, so there will be lots of PTBs there. (Powers That Be, if you don’t understand that abbreviation.)

The Rangers are on a three game losing streak, having lost another game in the bottom of the ninth, last night. The bullpen keeps losing it for them. The Red Sox managed to beat the Other Sox, last night, which is impressive, as the Other Sox continue to be the best in the AL. This put the Sox back in first place, a half game ahead of Baltimore. The Rangers are in second, 1.5 behind Seattle.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.
Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!

Psalm 64

When we approach the Father in prayer, we don’t have to “dress up.” We don’t have to pretend to be a certain way, inwardly, to pray to God. “We do not have to hide our anger, suppress our distress, or mask our irritability. It is all right to complain to God.”

“I am so used to hiding the feelings and thoughts that others might find unacceptable, O God, that I even try to do it with you. Keep me honest in my prayers. You know how to deal with such as me: I do not fear your rejection, and I hope in your salvation, even in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

I’m short on time, this morning, as I have had some technical difficulties.

Father, help me to not try to hide anything from you when I pray. If I’m angry, let me show you. If I’m annoyed, help me to confess it and get it out front. I have found in the past, that by expressing these feelings, you help me work through them. If I try to mask them, I don’t help anything, and my prayers are a fraud. May I be truthful and transparent before you, as you see it all, anyway.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Petulant or Identified?

“Every single pleasure I can imagine or have experienced is more delightful, more of a pleasure, if you take it in small sips, if you take your time. Reading is not an exception.” ― Amos Oz
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is wisenheimer, which means, “smart aleck.”

Today, of course, is Star Wars Day. If you don’t get it, just say the date out loud and see where your brain takes you. “May the fourth . . .”

We started adding programs to the new DVR we got from Charter Monday night. I don’t remember if I ever mentioned that or not. The cable box quit sending a signal to the TV sometime between Thursday night and Saturday morning. We had storms on Friday, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue. Anyway, they had to replace the box, which includes the DVR. I’m thinking about putting an external hard drive on it, but I have to do some research to find out how to make that work.

The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays in the 10th inning last night, 3-1. The Red Sox lost to the Other Sox 4-1. Both teams dropped to half a game out of first place.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

Psalm 63

“The most authentic and intense desires can be completed only in relation to God. The same God who created appetites in us has also created the means to their satisfaction.”

“‘I find, I walk, I love, but O the whole of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee! For Thou wert long beforehand my soul; always Thou lovedst me.’ (Anonymous, ‘I Sought the Lord’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Vicarious Intercession”

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus . . .
Hebrews 10:19

In a continuation of yesterday’s theme, Chambers writes, “Beware of imagining that intercession means bringing our personal sympathies into the presence of God and demanding that He does what we ask.” It is only by the blood of Jesus that we even have the right/privilege to pray at all.

But we tend to always bring our own ideas into the matter, “and intercession becomes the glorification of our own sympathies.” If we are truly identifying with Jesus our sympathies will be radically altered and we will substitute “God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.” This is a rather complex thought, but the gist of it is that I need to be identified with God in Christ rather than determined to have my own way. So if I pray for a friend to get a job, in the back of my mind there also needs to be the prayer that God strengthen this friend against the trials ahead, and open his heart so that he can learn whatever God is trying to teach him.

Father, I frequently struggle with this issue, especially in prayer. It is easy to make demands from you in prayer, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be petulant with you. I want to be an effective intercessor, not meaning that I get what I want, but that I pray what you want. Teach me, Lord. Show me your ways, that I may know you and find favor with you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Interceding Out of Sympathy

“The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is snuggery, “a comfortable or cozy room.”

Today is Garden Meditation Day. I could so be into that, today. I would find a nice, secluded spot to sit in Fort Worth’s Botanical Gardens and just meditate to my heart’s content. Or fall asleep. Maybe both.

Band practice was okay last night. We are now preparing for our July 3 concert, which will be performed in the Southlake Town Square. July 3 falls on Sunday, this year, and we will have Monday off for the 4th.

Christi’s throat is still hurting, but she said she thinks she feels better, this morning. Hopefully, it is working its way out.

The Red Sox had an off day, yesterday, but so did most of the other teams in the AL East, so nothing changed in the standings. Except for the Blue Jays, who lost to the Texas Rangers, 2-1. I don’t know what’s going on in Chicago, this season, but both of their teams have the best record in their league, and the Cubbies are currently the best team in baseball.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. We will be celebrating on Saturday, with my mother. I don’t think she knows this, yet. Well, she does now, I suppose. Our plan is for all of us to converge on her house Saturday afternoon, go out for a meal, and visit, as we like to do. This way, on Sunday, Christi, the mother at our house, can chill and do whatever her heart desires. At this point in time, I believe one of those things will be a pedicure.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.

Psalm 62:8-12

“The soul careens from side to side seeking a way to completion.” I really like that word picture. On one side is lawlessness, spiritual anarchy (“Those of low estate”). On the other side, the false security of wealth (“those of high estate”). But these are the ditches on either side of the highway. “The Lord himself is the way to wholeness.”

“First, God, I imagine that I want to live completely free, a rebel against all restraint – a lawless person. Then I imagine that I want to live completely secure, without any needs – a rich person. You expose both as vain fantasies: I will pour my heart out to you and find both liberty and security, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Vital Intercession”

. . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Ephesians 6:18

Chambers speaks, today, of dangers in intercession. One is when we begin to intercede out of sympathy for people instead of out of identification with God’s interest in them. This is difficult to explain, but if you consider that a brother or sister is going through a difficult time, there is always a possibility that God has brought this on them as a testing time. If we are praying out of sympathy for them, we might beg God to stop the trial; to bring them out of the difficulty. However, if we are praying out of an identification with God’s interest in them, we would be more likely to pray that God strengthen them as they go through this trial; that they might successfully learn what they are supposed to learn from it.

Obviously, this takes great discernment.

“It is impossible to intercede vitally unless we are perfectly sure of God, and the greatest dissipator of our relationship to God is personal sympathy and personal prejudice.”

Father, I pray for this kind of identification as I intercede. I have experienced times when I wondered if it was proper for me to pray for what the person asked, or if there was some other purpose that you had in mind for them. Help me to be “perfectly sure” of you in these instances. Give me the intimate connection with you that can draw this kind of thing out and make me an effective intercessor. Help me to identify with your interests in others.

I pray especially, this morning for James, who needs a job. May you lead him to the job that you have planned for him. Let him not give up hope.

Come, Lord Jesus!”

Grace and peace, friends.

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Our Reach Must Exceed Our Grasp

“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is jeremiad, “a prolonged lamentation or mournful complaint.”

Today is Baby Day. Not much to say about that. I didn’t have many choices. I’ve always wondered, though . . . before Winston Churchill, who did they say all babies look like??

Well, it’s Monday again. Christi went to the Minute Clinic (CVS) yesterday, and will be billed close to $150 to be told that she didn’t have strep (probably), and that it’s probably viral, and just take Advil. So she just has to wait it out. Unless the lab test comes back and says that it really is strep. She’s going to work today, anyway, because that’s just who she is.

The Red Sox swept the Yankees!! It would be more exciting, but the struggling Yanks are 8-15 on the season so far, in dead last place. The exciting part, though, is that the Red Sox are in first place, all alone, by a half game. The Rangers are in the same position, but the Sox have a better record. It’s still too early to get hopes up, though.

I’ll have band practice tonight, so will get home late. I have to remind myself to get the trombone on the way out the door.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Psalm 62:1-7

“Silence sinks a shaft to bedrock. It is the soul’s means for descending through the gravel of rebellion and doubt to the solid, quiet reality of God’s word.”

“‘Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below’ (Katherina von Schlegel, ‘Be Still, My Soul,’ translated by Jane L. Borthwick). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Passion of Patience”

If it seems slow, wait for it.
Habakkuk 2:3

“Patience is not indifference; patience conveys the idea of an immensely strong rock withstanding all onslaughts.” We get patience when we have a vision from God, as Moses did. And when we have a vision of God, we are not devoted to “a cause or to any particular issue,” we are devoted “to God Himself.”

If it seems slow, wait for it. If we have the vision, we will be constantly “reaching out for more than we have grasped.” We should never be spiritually satisfied. “Our reach must exceed our grasp.” If we only have what we have experienced, “we have nothing.” If we have the vision from God, “we have more than we can experience.”

Father, may I never be satisfied. Keep the vision in front of me. Keep me reaching beyond what I have.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Live for God, Not the Inspiration

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” – Vincent Van Gogh
(BrainQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is Beltane, “the Celtic May Day festival.”

Besides being May Day, today is also Lei Day. Leis are traditionally Hawaiian, each island having its own, made with flowers, fruits, and vines from the island. I can’t help but wonder if its placement on May Day has to do with someone’s clever sense of humor.

We had a nice visit with Rachel and Justin, yesterday evening. We visited for a while, then went and got some dinner at Los Molcajetes. Then, having brought their PS4 over with them, Rachel and Justin showed me a game that they have played (it’s downloaded onto their system, which is why they brought it along), called “Until Dawn.” It’s based on the classic horror movie outline, a bunch of teens/young adults at a mountain lodge with a killer on the loose. The thing that makes it intense is that you have to make snap decisions along the way, each of which can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the scene. It was a lot of fun, and I plan on getting it soon. They offered to leave their PS4 here, so I could keep playing, but I declined, as I have plenty of other things to play, right now, and I wouldn’t want them to do that, anyway. It was very kind and thoughtful of them.

Christi’s throat is hurting her badly, this morning, but she has no fever. She may wind up trying to go to a clinic today, or she may wait until tomorrow and go to her doctor, who is close to where she works.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We are part of The Exchange, and we meet at 10:15 at the Northpark YMCA, 9100 N. Beach St., Fort Worth, TX.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.

Psalm 61

In an apparent contradiction, David appears to be praying for protection from King Saul, while at the same time praying for his health and wholeness. “Prayer that asks for personal help (‘lead me to the rock’) very naturally leads into prayer that intercedes for others (‘prolong the life of the king’).” We should not focus on either self or others exclusively in our prayers, but have a combination of both. If we pray rightly, we get what we need, as well as being a ministry to others.

“I don’t want to become so preoccupied with my own needs that I forget that others need your help too, dear God. And I don’t want to get so concerned about others that I fail to keep my own heart in order before you. Keep me in balance, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Insight Not Emotion”

. . . for we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

“For a time we are conscious of God’s attentions, then, when God begins to use us in His enterprises, we take on a pathetic look and talk of the trials and difficulties, and all the time God is trying to make us do our duty as obscure people.” How many of us would remain “obscure spiritually” if we could help it? This is one of the reasons that I am always uncomfortable calling out people for their work in the Kingdom. We don’t do anything for recognition. It’s one of the dangers of being an “up front” person in the worship setting. You get used to the attention. “Some of us always want to be illuminated saints with golden haloes and the flush of inspiration, and to have the saints of God dealing with us all the time.” Chambers says that this kind of person is “no good, he is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and altogether unlike God.” Harsh words, but true, nevertheless.

Trying to get back to those rare moments of inspiration is a clear sign that it is not God we are seeking. We make a fetish of the moments of inspiration, and even go so far as insisting that God repeat them. We should never live for those rare moments; “they are surprises.” The standard is not the moments of inspiration; the standard is our duty.

Father, I pray that you keep me seeking your face, and not your inspiration. You have brought me a long way in this, as well as not needing attention for the things I do. But it is most important that I see you and not your gifts, inspiration, or benefits.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Spontaneous Love

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” ― Annie Dillard, The Living
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is nulla-nulla, “A wooden club, traditionally used by Australian Aborigines as a tool for hunting or a weapon for fighting.”

Today is International Jazz Day. I was never great at jazz, but don’t mind listening to some good jazz. Let me rephrase that. I can pretty much play anything that’s written on the page, jazz or straight. It’s the improvisation part that I always sucked at. I have the utmost respect for people who are good at that.

Well, Christi got home, finally. She arrived between 1:30 and 2:00 this morning. And, as promised, I was still up. It’s kind of funny. I had just quit playing on the PS4 about five minutes before she drove into the driveway.

We didn’t get up until after 10:00 this morning. Which is why this is somewhat late getting posted.

And now the cable isn’t working. Ugh. I guess I’ll move along to other things. It’s so late today, that I’m skipping the history and birthdays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us.
You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters.
You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah.
That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
God has spoken in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

Psalm 60

Anger is normally associated with negative emotion. And, if we are honest, when we thing of God being angry, we probably think of it in that way. But perhaps we might consider “another kind of anger – a positive energy in God that deals with disobedience and rebellion in a way that brings us blessing.”

“Merciful God, you express anger against my sin without spite and without vindictiveness: help me to respond to it with brave repentance, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

A side note, here. We are probably incapable of even thinking about anger in this way. When I get angry, it is normally accompanied with spite and vindictiveness, and I want there to be consequences. I’m angry with people. Somehow, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand the other kind of anger.

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Spontaneity of Love”

Love is patient and kind . . .
1 Corinthians 13:4

“Love is not premeditated, it is spontaneous, i.e., it bursts up in extraordinary ways. There is no math or science to it. I means, seriously, how many times have you seen a person and said, “I’m going to calculate how to love that person”? I’m pretty sure nobody does that. Rather, there begins some calculation on how to get that other person to love us. Love is spontaneous; it is not planned.

Likewise, when we try to live according to the words of Christ, the harder we try, the more we fail. It is only when we allow the Holy Spirit to have his way with us that we look back and see that we were, in fact, living by the words of Christ without even knowing it. “In everything to do with the life of God in us, its nature is only discerned when it is past.”

We cannot find God’s love in our hearts, naturally. “It is only when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”

Now, get this: “If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we do not love Him.” Read that again, as I believe it to be the central point of this reading.

“If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we do not love Him.”

Father, teach me this kind of spontaneity in love. I know that I don’t have to prove that I love you, and that I would only fail if I tried. But this trying to live the life of Christ and put his words into practice is, in a sense, kicking my butt. I pray that, over the next few weeks, as I read some of what I consider to be key books in the area of spiritual formation, you will draw/pull me closer into your heart than I have ever been.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Breathless Expectation

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is woodnote, which means, “a wild or natural musical tone, as that of a forest bird.” I’m a fan of woodnotes, in that case. I find them to be very relaxing.

Today, it turns out, is Hairball Awareness Day. Anyone who has ever had a cat is very aware of hairballs. And to celebrate, I give you this new Bloom County comic by Berkeley Breathed.
Hairball Day

Christi is coming home tonight! What a relief. I did sleep better last night, but that was probably out of sheer exhaustion from not sleeping well the previous two nights. I still don’t feel rested. I’ll be waiting up for her tonight.

We may be getting some thunderstorms on the morning drive to work, so I’d better get to the serious stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.

My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59:8-17

“A good laugh restores perspective and sanity.” The psalm that begins with the presence of enemies all around ends “with relaxed praise.” The thing that makes the difference is the presence of “divine laughter,” which “exposes the silly pretensions of wicked oppressors.”

“Rescue me, God, from obsessive worries about what might go wrong because of evil people. Develop a hearty cheerfulness in me that is confident of your strength. If you can laugh at the wicked, I can too. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Graciousness of Uncertainty”

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2

Jesus asked us to believe in him, not to believe certain things about him. We ought always to keep this in mind when we are tempted to become obsessed with creeds and statements of belief. We tend to be mathematical and calculating about things, even about our faith.

However, if we are certain about God, it means that we might have to live with being uncertain about ourselves. “To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation.” Remember that as you head out for your day, today.

Father, may I live my life in “breathless expectation” of what you will do. I am very uncertain of me, and what this day may bring, but I am most certain about you. You are good and you are just. You will do what you say you will do, and you do whatever you please. And I am okay with that.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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