I Am Not A Spectator

Today is Monday, April 24, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” ~ Walt Disney

Word of the Day

Synesthesia ~ a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color.

Today, to my most pleasant surprise, is Firefly Day. This must be a recent happening, because I don’t remember it from last year. At any rate, we are not, most definitely not, talking about the little, flying bugs. We are talking about one of the greatest TV shows to ever be mangled and cancelled by the Evil Empire known as FOX. Unfortunately, I will not be able to adequately celebrate, today, as I have band practice tonight. Maybe this weekend?

Real quick recap of things. I feel better, this morning, than I have felt in a week. Still not perfect, but much better. I will try to make it to band practice tonight, as it is the last rehearsal before this coming Saturday’s concert at Art in the Square in Southlake.

Today is the two year anniversary of the funeral of my father. We continue to remember those days, but we also continue to move on. In some ways, it seems impossible to have been two years already. In other ways, it seems a lifetime ago. That’s just for me. I can’t speak for anyone else. But I still miss him terribly. I think I can speak for all of us in that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
  He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Psalm 98:1-3
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 

Psalm 31:2-3
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 
  Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! 
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 
  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 
Psalm 55:17

(From Living the Message)

Today’s reading is “What Is God Doing?”

When it comes to sports, I am usually a spectator. There are a couple of sports that I participate in, occasionally, like golf and bowling. But I haven’t even played softball in a decade or two. Life, however, is not a sport, and I cannot be a spectator.

God is busy in our lives. “He is saving; he is rescuing; he is blessing; he is providing; he is judging; he is healing; he is enlightening.” In this world, there is a spiritual war going on, “an all-out moral battle. There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain.” God is involved in an ongoing battle against all of these things. “God is for life and against death. God is for love and against hate. God is for hope and against despair. God is for heaven and against hell.” In spite of what we might think, there is no neutral ground in these things.

Jeremiah was chosen for God’s side before he was born. He was not allowed a few years to “look around and make up his mind which side he would be on, or even whether he would join a side at all.” He was born “as a combatant on God’s side.” So it is with all of us. “No one enters existence as a spectator.”

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God . . .
2 Corinthians 10:3-5A (The Message)

Father, there have been times in my life when I have tried to be a spectator. But, for the most part, you have drawn me into participation in various ways, sometimes more outspoken than others. And there have been times when I have mis-applied your truths and words, and had the opposite effect that was desired. Today, I am moving down a path (I believe you are leading me) of quiet, consistent, discipline. Okay, maybe not so consistent. But I’m not giving up. I’m continuing to try. And I have the confidence that you will never give up on me. You have made that obvious, because there have been plenty of opportunities for you to do so, and here I still am. I am on your side. I was born on your side. And, unlike many that I have known in my life, I stayed on your side. That is not a boast in my ability. It is a boast in yours.
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.

We Are Known

We are known before we know.

Today is Sunday, April 23, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Word of the Day

Lacuna ~ a gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument; hiatus.

Today (or tonight, I guess) is World Book Night. We aren’t talking about the encyclopedia that I loved as a young boy, here. Just books. Good old books. Reading is becoming a lost art in our society, so we celebrate this night to bring awareness to literacy and reading. Enjoy a book tonight. Or, why wait until tonight? Start now.

I’m not at church, this morning, as I’m still recovering from what is, not surprisingly, sinusitis. At least that’s what the nurse/doctor/lady at Minute Clinic said. I’ve got an antibiotic and some Flonase. She also recommended a “nasal rinse.” I’ve never done that before. I looked for a “Neti Pot,” as I’ve had people tell me about those, before. I couldn’t find one of those, but I found a kit with a plastic squeeze bottle and some packets of some kind of saline solution. Let me tell you . . . that is one of the strangest things I have ever experienced. If you don’t know what it is, you mix up the solution with some purified water (bottled water is fine), bend over the sink, breath through your mouth, and squirt the solution up your nose. If you keep breathing through your mouth (that’s pretty important), it simply runs out the other side of your nose. Icky, right? Yes, pretty much. But, it seems effective. I have friends who say that they start doing that at the first signs of any mucus or sinus trouble. At any rate, I’m feeling a bit better, this morning, but still pretty “draggy.”

The Red Sox have lost two straight to Baltimore, and are now 10-8 on the season, still in third place in the AL East, three games behind the O’s. The Rangers have taken two in a row from the Royals, so they are 8-10, inching back up toward .500. They are also in third place in the AL West, four games behind the Astros. The Red Sox play the O’s again today, at 12:35 CDT, with E. Rodriguez on the mound. The Rangers will be playing the Royals again, at 2:05 CDT, with Yu Darvish on the mound.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
Psalm 101:1
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
Psalm 75:1
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
Psalm 119:54
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 
  This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 
  I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:19-24
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.
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.
I thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered me from the dominion of sin and death and brought me into the kingdom of your Son; and I pray that, as by his death he has recalled me to life, so by his love he may raise me to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Divine Hours)

(From Living the Message)

Today’s reading is called “The Reality of Our Lives.”

God tells Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Is this only true of Jeremiah? Psalm 139 would tell us differently. This idea “turns everything we ever thought about God around.” For all of our lives, we consider God as something to wonder about, “an object about which we have questions.” Sometimes, we are simply curious about God, asking questions about him. We read a plethora of books about him, and get into late night discussions about him. Sometimes, we even go to church to see what he’s up to. We look at the sunsets or listen to the symphony “to cultivate a feeling of reverence for God.”

But this is not the reality. Sometimes, I think we are afraid of the reality. The reality is, “long before we ever got around to asking questions about God, God has been questioning us. Long before we got interested in the subject of God, God subjected us to the most intensive and searching knowledge. Before it ever crossed our minds that God might be important, God singled us out as important. Before we were formed in the womb, God knew us. We are known before we know.” (Eugene H. Peterson)

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139:16 (The Message)

Father, keep this in my mind today, in the front of my thoughts. You have known me, long before I knew you. You knew me before I was even formed. No wonder the psalmist says, “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!” It has to be why some people try to run from you. They don’t want to be known. Me, I take comfort in this, knowing that nothing I ever do will ever surprise you. Help me to take this knowledge and build up my soul with it. Teach me your ways. Help me to walk in the easy yoke of Jesus.
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 You Think I Am

Today is Saturday, April 22, 2017.

I’m feeling a bit worse, this morning, and am about to head over to a Minute Clinic to get checked out. I’ve already written the devotional part below, and will need to skip the trivial stuff, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:3
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalm 57:9-10
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!
Psalm 79:9

As I read the three devotional readings for this morning, none of them stuck out as something I wanted to share. So I’ll share something else that is frequently brought to my mind.

C and I went to hear The Choir last night, at a church in Bedford. There was a medium sized crowd of people close to our age, some younger, all of them pretty avid fans of this alt-Christian group that has been blessing us since the late eighties. The last song they played was my favorite song from their most recent album. The song is called “What You Think I Am.”

I really like the eerie sounding music of this song. That’s right up my alley, so to speak. But what I like the most is the lyrics.

Have you been rejected?
Have you been desired?
Have you been neglected?
Have you been set on fire?
I don’t practice voodoo
I don’t carry a gun
I don’t want to do to you
What you don’t want done

I’m nobody’s angel
I’m not that good
I’m no red devil
In the wicked wood
I’m a dedicated minister
And a downright sinister man
I’m a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am

Have you been degraded?
Have you been well schooled?
Have you been indoctrinated?
Have you been called a fool?
I’m not trying to sell you
What you won’t receive
I don’t need to tell you
What I do or I don’t believe

I’m nobody’s angel
That ain’t me
And what kinda devil
Do you think I be?
I’m a good Samaritan
And a very, very bad man
I’m a whole lot better
And a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am.

I’m especially fond of those lines that say, “I’m a dedicated minister and a downright sinister man,” and “I’m a good Samaritan and a very, very bad man.”

I identify with this song so much. Yes, I’m a “Christian,” a Christ-follower, a lover of Jesus and God. I try real hard to walk in his steps and follow his words, but I don’t always succeed. Sometimes, I’m a horrible person, judging people harshly without any care of how I act, myself. Exactly the kind of attitude that Jesus condemns. Sometimes, it’s easy for me to love people. Other times, I don’t want to be around anyone, and just don’t like people at all.

So, yes. I’m a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what you think I am.

What’s the point of all this?

The point is that, even in this state of being, which is probably true for most of us, even if we don’t want to admit it, Jesus loves us and uses us. We need not despair, as long as we are trusting Jesus.

Father, I pray that you help me be “a whole lot better,” and forgive me when I’m “a whole lot worse.” I confess that I’m sometimes not a good person, and lean wholly on the arms of Jesus and his easy yoke.
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.

Jesus Knows My Name

Today is Friday, April 21, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“Love is the beauty of the soul.” ~ Saint Augustine

Word of the Day

Jammy ~ very lucky (British)

Today is Chocolate Covered Cashews Day. These are two things that I love, combined together. Sometimes that doesn’t work well, as in the instance when Blue Bell Ice Cream tried combining Cookies and Cream with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. For me, that just didn’t work. But chocolate and cashews? Win, win, win! Unfortunately, I doubt I will be able to get my hands on any of those today. I have some cashews, though. And I have some chocolate. Maybe I can improvise.

I’m still not feeling great. In fact, last night, I started feeling a little worse, but in a different area. The chest feels better, but my face is feeling pretty rough. Well, to clarify, the parts behind my face. Sinus area, in other words. But I’m sucking it up and going to work. And I’m going to that concert tonight, too. The Choir is performing at The Bedrock Club in Bedford, which is part of First UMC Bedford. I’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time.

The Rangers and Red Sox both won their games, yesterday. The Sox, at 10-6, remain in third place, just a game out of first. The Rangers are still holding down the cellar, with a 6-10 record, five games out of first.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
Psalm 65:3
  You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 
  Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 
  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:8-12
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.

(From Living the Message)

In a reading called “Personal Names,” Eugene Peterson discusses the modern trend of moving from “personal names to abstract labels.” He says that, when we allow this to happen, “we are less in touch with reality and diminished in our capacity to deal with what is best and at the center of life.” Here are some examples: In many cases, we are more concerned with the accuracy of our social security number than “the integrity with which we live.” To many people, the title they hold is more important than the work they do. Public image is more important than developing relationships. Do any of these sound familiar? Most of us, I’m sure have an “employee number” that is used much more than our names.

“Every time that we go along with this movement from the personal to the impersonal, from the immediate to the remote, from the concrete to the abstract, we are diminished, we are less.”

But there is good news. Jesus knows us by name.

The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
John 10:2-3 (The Message)

I thank you, Jesus, that you know my name. What a blessing to know that, in this world of diminishing humanity down to statistics, my Savior knows my name! Father, I will listen as you sing over me and call my name. Blessed be your name!
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.

As For Me, I Trust in You

Today is Thursday, April 20, 2017. It has been two years since my father, Ken Bickley, passed away.

I’m foregoing the quotes and words today, partially because time is short (I’ve started making sure I get the devotional done first, then come back to the other stuff), but also, simply, because it’s a more somber day for me and us.

As I go through this day, I’ll remember two years ago, as will we all. I’ll remember getting the call after work and rushing to Mineral Wells to watch our lives change forever. I don’t have much else to say about it, though, as I’ve written some in the devotional part. We go on. Life goes on.

God is near.

God is able.

God is good.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:2
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Psalm 62:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118:26
A Song of Ascents.
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. 
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. 
  Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. 

Psalm 123

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 
Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

Psalm 31:14-16

I’m going rogue, this morning, so this might ramble.

Psalm 139 was one of my father’s favorite Psalms. So when I saw verse 14 at the top of this morning’s Daily Guideposts reading, it made me happy. I’m not focusing on the rest of that reading, this morning, but beginning with that verse.

We are, indeed, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” There are so many amazing things about our bodies. Sometimes, I simply sit and watch my fingers move, amazed at the fact that I can make them do whatever I want them to (within reason, of course . . . I can’t make them, say, disappear, or grow three inches). The mechanics of the body are amazing. The heart relentlessly pumps blood through the whole body, and I don’t have to remind it to beat. I don’t have to remember to breathe, it just happens. The oxygen and the blood supply my body with the necessary nutrients, while the digestive system takes other nutrients from the food I ingest. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

And then that line, “my soul knows it very well.” I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the “soul.” I’m not getting into that, this morning, but our souls are more important than we realize, I think. It’s not just something that goes to heaven when we die. It’s the center of our being, our “operational system,” if you will.

Finally, these verses from Psalm 31. My father lived those verses. He trusted in God, implicitly. As his body, fearfully and wonderfully made as it was, began to weaken and decay from the disease, he lived his belief that God could be fully trusted and that his times were in God’s hands. I fully believe that is one of the truths that allowed him to pass so peacefully from this life to the next.

I struggle with that trust in God, and believe that, if we are honest, we all do. The older I get, though, the more I find I am trusting. The older I get, the more I am able to separate myself from the “stuff of earth,” and attach myself to spiritual things. The more I am able to trust. But there is still a long way to go. I still look to my father’s example, too.

The Lord’s face has shined on him. He has been utterly saved in the steadfast love of Christ.

May that be true of all of us.

Father, keep drawing me closer to you. Keep teaching me how to trust in you. Show me how to say, with no doubts, that you are my God and my times are in your hands. I give intellectual assent to these truths, but sometimes, my soul doesn’t know this. Help me to be a better keeper of my soul. Thank you for the legacy of my father (as well as my mother, who has shown her trust in you, as well), and the impact he had on so many people.
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.

The Ant Heap

Today is Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“Follow love and it will flee, flee love and it will follow thee.” ~ John Gay

Word of the Day

Kerfuffle ~ a fuss: commotion.

Today is Bicycle Day. Oddly enough, this has less to do with bicycles than you might think. Apparently, it commemorates the first time that Dr. Albert Hoffmann took LSD on purpose. He had discovered it three days earlier. When he started feeling “odd,” he decided to ride his bicycle home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Psalm 34:9-10
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
Psalm 86:3
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 7:17
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 
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. 
  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 30:1-5

(From Living the Message)

Eugene Peterson is a fan of Jeremiah (the prophet, not the bullfrog)(he might be a fan of the bullfrog, I don’t know, but this is about the prophet). The current group of readings centers around him. Today’s is short.

“We live in a society that tries to diminish us to the level of the ant heap so that we scurry mindlessly, getting and consuming. It is essential to take counteraction. Jeremiah is counteraction: a well-developed human being, mature and robust, living by faith.”

There is much truth in these few sentences. And, sadly, what is true for our society is true for many of the churches that exist in that society. Much of modern “Christianity” has been reduced to consumerism. But Christianity is not a commodity to be consumed. It is a life to be lived. Over and over, Dallas Willard calls us to participate in the life, in the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ. The Gospel that Jesus preached was simple. “The Kingdom of God is near!” The Kingdom of God is at hand. It is available to us, here and now. This life that we are trying to live is not about the basic minimum requirements to get into heaven when we die. That’s the consumerist mindset that says that. This life is about abundant life here and now!

Jesus said, “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?”
Matthew 5:13A (The Message)

Father, help me get out of the ant heap. You have been moving me in that direction for a number of years, now, but I still find myself entrenched in the consumerism attitude of our society. Please keep moving me beyond that, into the easy yoke of Jesus, the Kingdom life that walks in the words and steps of Jesus. Teach me your/his ways that I may walk in your/his truth. Help me to be “salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.” Let me not lose my saltiness.
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.

The Touch

Today is Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” ~ Earl Mac Rauch, from “Buckaroo Bansai”

Word of the Day

Grimalkin ~ domestic cat; especially , an old female cat.

Today is World Heritage Day. We all celebrate the heritage of our individual cultures, but this one day a year is set aside to celebrate the rich heritage of the history of the world. It’s really quite overwhelming, if you think about it, the history of the world.

I’m feeling a little better today. I could certainly do with staying home another day, but I guess I’ll go to work. Having an extra day to rest certainly did me some good. We’ll see how this progresses. I still have a bit of heaviness in my chest, though.

The Red Sox pulled off an early win yesterday, as it was Patriot Day in Boston, also the day of the Boston Marathon. The Sox always start their games before noon on Patriot Day. They beat Tampa Bay 4-3, improving their record to 8-5. They are still in third place, but only one game out of first. They play the last place Boo Jays in Toronto tonight. Someone named Johnson will be on the mound.

The Rangers had another solid win, last night, beating Oakland 7-0, behind A.J. Griffin, who got his second win of the season. Their record is now 5-8, and they are tied for last place, with Oakland. So they have a chance to get out of the cellar tonight. They play the A’s again tonight at 9:05 CDT, with Yu Darvish on the mound.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:14
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah. 
Psa 67:2  that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Psalm 67:1-2
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
Psalm 119:54
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:8
Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. 
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. 
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah. 
Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 
  Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 

Psalm 143:1, 4-8
“O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Gran that I, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

(From Solid Joys)

Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched.
1 Samuel 10:26

John Piper finds something in this verse that is extraordinary. It’s all wrapped up in this phrase, “whose hearts God had touched.”

God touched the hearts of these men. “The One with infinite power in the universe. The One with infinite authority and infinite wisdom and infinite love and infinite goodness and infinite purity and infinite justice. That One touched their heart.”

In comparison, Piper asks, “How does the circumference of Jupiter touch the edge of a molecule? Let alone penetrate to its nucleus?” Even that comparison falls short, because God is infinitely bigger than we are.

Nevertheless, God can touch our hearts! What makes this awesome is that it’s not just inspiration or divine influence. It is a touch; a connection. Something real.

Do you know this touch? I do. I know what it feels like to have God touch my heart. I could never describe it to you, other than by saying that it is something quite amazing. Words cannot do it justice. And it’s something that I covet, day and night.

“Oh, for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water, so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it.

O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash. Or still and small, come. Come all the way. Touch our hearts.”

Yes, Father, bring your touch to my heart today. Make it such that there is no doubt what has happened. I know that you see me and know me, better and more completely than I could ever know myself. But that is not enough. I desire your touch, your connection with my heart that can be compared with nothing else.
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.