Meditate on Jesus

Good morning. It is Wednesday, October 7, 2015. Two days to vacation!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is reprise. This is a noun, meaning, “a recurrence, renewal, or resumption of an action,” “a musical repetition,” and, “a repeated performance : repetition.” And I feel the need to point out that is is pronounced, “\rih-PREEZ\.” A lot of people pronounce it incorrectly. Some people also say, “reprisal,” which is a completely different word, altogether. A reprisal is, “something that is done to hurt or punish someone who has hurt you or done something bad to you.” So when your musical theme comes around again, it is “reprise,” which rhymes with “please,” not “prize.”

Today is Bathtub Day. I don’t know. I don’t make these up.

I finally made it to Huddle on my night to lead! And I think it went pretty well. They wanted me to pick up where we left off, next week, but I reminded them that I will not be there. There were jokes about meeting me in Mexico for Huddle next Tuesday.

We are making preparations for the trip. Tonight being a night that we are both at home, we will put together our list of everything we need to make sure happens before we leave on Saturday. Our friend, worship leader, and Huddle leader, Rob, has insisted on taking us to the airport, Saturday morning, so we are taking him up on that offer. Either he or one of the other guys will pick us up on Wednesday afternoon.

I’ve got the camera battery charged, so I can take lots of pictures, especially on our Chichen Itza trip, Monday. I’m sure I will post some on Facebook, and either here or on my other blog.


(From Heart Aflame)

The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 107:42-43

“We are now informed that men begin to be wise when they turn their whole attention to the contemplation of the works of God, and that all others besides are fools. . . . And, therefore, that it may be engraven upon our hearts, we must make these works the theme of our attentive and constant meditation.” (p 281)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we conclude chapter 10, we are reminded that Psalm 1 tells us that the godly person meditates on the law of the LORD. We can take this to mean the entirety of Scripture, but, in truth, how is it possible to meditate on God’s law and be delighted by it? Even if we read Jesus’s thoughts on the ten commandments, in his Sermon on the Mount, we are struck by the impossibility of following God’s law. I mean, never mind killing someone, if we even find ourselves being resentful of our neighbors, we have sinned! “How can anyone truly think intensely about the law of the Lord and not fall into despair?”

The answer is that we focus on Him who is the central figure of all of Scripture, “the one the gospel of John calls ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14)–Jesus Christ, the ultimate expression and communication of God.”

Jesus delighted in God’s Word; he delighted in doing God’s will. He regularly withdrew to lonely places to pray and meditate. When he prayed, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” He was able to combat Satan with Scripture, and even quoted Psalms as he willingly gave up his life: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

But Jesus is more than just a good example to us. “If that were all he was to us, his life would crush us with guilt, since no one could meditate on the Scripture as he does.” Jesus is “the one to whom all the Scripture points.”

“The written Word and its law can be a delight because the incarnate Word came and died for us, securing pardon for our sins and shortcomings before God’s law. You can’t delight in the law of the Lord without understanding Jesus’ whole mission.” We meditate on Jesus because Jesus “is the meditation of God.” He is the truth made alive, made real. Because of him, we will be able to stand on Judgment Day.

“Meditate on Jesus, who is the ultimate meditation of God. Look at him loving you. Look at him dying for you. Look at him rejoicing in you. Look at him singing over you.”

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Father, help me to meditate on Jesus, more often, more consistently. May I delight in your word, both the written word and the Incarnate Word. May I see Jesus as the ultimate meditation as I live my life each day.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and home will be safe. Lift us up to you, during this work day. May our countenance remain hopeful and joyful as we work through the circumstances that will come on this day. May your grace and mercy be real to everyone in our family, in whatever they find themselves doing today.

Come, Lord Jesus

Meditate on Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Sigh and Cry Out

Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Post-Monday.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is hapax legomenon. Settle down, that doesn’t say, “Legoman.” This is a literary term, meaning, “a word or word form which is recorded only once in a text, in the work of a particular author, or in a body of literature.”

Today is Mad Hatter Day. I remember this from last year. This all revolves around the tag on the Mad Hatter’s Hat, which says, “In this style 10/6.” Of course, we realize that that what this meant was that someone wanted a hat in that style and it cost 10 shillings and sixpence. But someone in 1986 decided it would be silly and fun to dress like the Mad Hatter on 10/6. And there you have it.

"In this style 10/6"

“In this style 10/6”

There’s not really much going on, here, right now, other than preparations for our trip to Playa del Carmen, coming up Saturday. We did settle on an International calling plan with our phone service, which will give us 80 minutes of calling time while we are there. We also downloaded the “WhatsApp,” with which we can send texts back and forth with Stephanie, whenever we are on wifi. I’m hearing, though, that our resort might not have free wi-fi in the lobby, as the Iberostar in Cancun had. Either way, we’ll make it work.

I wasn’t feeling great, yesterday morning, but it got better as the day went on, and I feel better this morning. Just sleepy, as I never get enough sleep on band practice nights.

Tonight is Huddle night, and I’m supposed to lead, once again. It hasn’t happened yet, but I should make it tonight.


(From Heart Aflame)

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.
When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

Psalm 107:20-41

“Corporeal maladies are not removed except by the word or command of God, much less are men’s souls restored to the enjoyment of spiritual life, except this word be apprehended by faith.” (p 280)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

We’ve gone through two phases of meditation; fixing or engaging the mind, and inclining the heart. What comes next? Well, according to John Owen, it all depends on where you are.

“It may be that the heart senses the presence of God and the realities of his salvation in a moving way.” Here’s how Owen describes this:

In this gust and relish lies the sweetness and satisfaction of spiritual life. Speculative notions about spiritual things, when they are alone, are dry, sapless, and barren. In this gust we taste by experience that God is gracious, and that the love of Christ is better than wine, or whatever else hath the most grateful relish unto a sensual appetite. This is the proper foundation of that “joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.”

Perhaps this is what David is feeling when he writes Psalm 27:4, One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple, or Psalm 63, 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.

Sometimes, though, this feeling does not happen. Sometimes, “no matter what we do, we simply cannot concentrate, or we find our thoughts do not become big and affecting, but rather we feel bored, hard, and distracted.” In these times, we simply need to “turn to God and make brief, intense appeals for help.” In Owen’s own words, “When, after this preparation, you find yourselves yet perplexed and entangled, not able comfortably to persist in spiritual thoughts unto your refreshment . . . cry and sigh to God for help and relief.” Even if all we get out of our meditation is a “renewed gracious sense of [our] own weakness and insufficiency,” it certainly was no waste of time.

When these kinds of things happen, it is good to remember back to Psalm 1, in which the one who meditates is compared to a tree. “Trees don’t grow overnight.” This is a process, as we, like this tree, spread our roots toward the water of life that is God’s word.

“According to Owen, meditation means analyzing the truth with the mind; bringing it into the feelings, attitudes, and commitments of the heart; and then responding to the degree to which the Holy Spirit gives illumination and spiritual reality.”

Father, may I experience these sweet times of refreshing in you when I meditate, and when I do not, help me remember to cry out to you for help, rather than giving up in frustration.

I pray for this day, that our passage to work and back will be safe. May our work day be productive, without anxiety or stress. Keep us close to you as we work, and keep us ready to display your Kingdom at any moment, in any circumstance. May your grace and mercy rain down on our family today, in whatever we find ourselves doing.

Come, Lord Jesus.

If, after your meditations, you don’t feel the joy of the Lord, or you feel distracted, remember to simply “cry and sigh to God for help and relief.”

Grace and peace, friends.

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Meditation Aims At the Heart

Good morning. It is Monday, October 5, 2015. Only four more days to Playa del Carmen.

Today’s word of the day, from, is amphigory. This is a noun, meaning, “a meaningless or nonsensical piece of writing, especially one intended as a parody.” Let’s hope this blog never turns into an amphigory.

Today is World Teachers Day. I can’t tell you how much teachers mean to me. I have known some great ones, in my life. Sure, there have been some not-so-great ones, but the value of the ones who obviously love teaching is indescribable. Some of the ones who had the most impact on me, Mrs. Oliver (I never knew her first name), fourth grade, Curtis Scharnberg, High School chemistry teacher, Larry Harrington, High School math teacher, Pat Harrington, High School typing teacher, Norman Deisher, Junior High and High School band director, James Keene, college band director. I’m sure there are others, but these are some who influenced my life greatly. There are a few who have been grea in the lives of our children, Susie Hale and Julie Brancadora, to name two. But to all of you who are in the business of teaching because you love to impart knowledge to your students, I say a hearty
Thank you

We had a great day, yesterday. We had a nice lunch with Rachel and Justin, along with some great conversation. Then we spent the afternoon watching episodes of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on You Tube. I really like that show, but we don’t have HBO, so I don’t get to watch it in real time. For a comedian, John Oliver makes some very good points, while making us laugh about it, at the same time.

Right at the end of our time together, we had the pleasure of watching the last three outs of the last baseball game of the regular season, in which the Rangers finally clinched the American League West pennant. They did it by a healthy score of 9-2, but after Saturday’s debacle, I was nervous until the last out was made. The Rangers will play the Blue Jays, beginning on Thursday. The AL Wild Card game will be tomorrow, between Houston and New York, in New York. The NL game will be Wednesday, between Pittsburgh and Chicago, in Pittsburgh. While not really caring that much, I will be pulling for the Cubbies in that game. Of course, I will be rooting for Houston in the AL Wild Card. First because they are from Texas. Second, because they are playing New York.


(From Heart Aflame)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

Psalm 107:1-19

“It has been customary in all ages for heathens, who look upon religion as a fable, when compelled by stern necessity, to call upon God for help. . . . The Spirit of God, therefore, here narrates what frequently takes place, namely, that persons destitute of piety and faith, and who have no desire to have anything to do with God, if placed in perilous circumstances, are constrained by natural instinct, and without any proper conception of what they are doing to call on the name of God.” (p 279)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we continue looking at engaging the heart in meditation, Timothy Keller looks at another way of seeing how truth can change us. Yesterday, Martin Luther had us looking deeply at the text for ways that it might relate to us. Today, Keller speaks of looking more deeply at ourselves as we consider the biblical text. I might ask myself what wrong thinking might result if this particular truth is neglected, or what kind of out-of-control feelings might result when the truth is not fully embraced. “What kind of sins or wrongdoing might result from a failure to grasp and appreciate this truth?”

It is also important to look at the timing. What is God trying to teach me today? “What is going on now in your life to which this would be relevant?”

Needless to say, these probing questions, while bringing inspiration, are frequently quite unpleasant. It is not fun examining a life based on these concepts, because the truth at hand might convict, humble, or trouble us. On the other hand, they might calm, comfort, excite, or even fill with unspeakable joy. “Meditation aims here–at the heart.”

“All that we know theologically must be ‘accessed’ by our heart with all the joy, peace, self-control, love, durability, patience, and graciousness that it should produce in a human being.”

Take my heart, Father, and make it yours. By the use of study and meditation, may I fix my mind and thoughts on you and your truths, and then bring them down into my heart, where they may take root and have permanent impact on my daily living.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. May our work day go smoothly, and may we find ourselves experiencing your joy, regardless of what circumstances befall us. May your grace rain down on the rest of our family. I give you thanks and praise for the good time that we had with Rachel and Justin yesterday. I pray for our trip coming up next weekend, that all will be safe and smooth as we celebrate the thirty years you have given us together.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Meditation aims at the heart. It is not to “empty the mind,” rather to validate what has gone into the mind by burying it in the heart.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Good morning. It is Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from WordThink, is predacious. An adjective, it means, “Predatory; Given to victimizing, plundering, or destroying for one’s own gain. ‘A victim of predacious behavior.'”

Today is Taco Day. What do I need to say about that? I wonder if Taco Casa will have a sale today?

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We got our errands done and had lunch, after which Christi headed on up to church, since she is supposed to be there by 3:00 PM (last time!). I stayed behind, thinking I would see the end of the Rangers game. It was the top of the ninth, and the Rangers were up 10-6. Sadly, I did not make it to the end. By the time I left for church (shortly before 4:00 PM), the Angels had scored 5 runs, to make the score 11-10, which would eventually be the final score of the game. What a nightmare.

Church went fine. We had a good prayer time (I think), focusing on upcoming events for the church, such as the Women’s retreat next weekend, and the move to a new day, time, and location. The “Family Worship Gathering” was okay, but seemed a little distracting. The pastor is continuing to think through the dynamics of this service. We had dinner with Jacob, our pastor, after church. He had sent us a text, earlier in the week, asking us if we wanted to have dinner after church. He basically just wanted to touch base with us about the upcoming move, and related topics. It was a great conversation, covering a lot of different topics along the way. I believe we left with him resting assured that we were on board, fully behind him in this journey.

Today, Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch, and then whatever we decide to do after that.

On this date in 1535, the first complete English language Bible was printed. Called the Coverdale Bible, it was translated by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. In several countries, the next day was October 15. In 1824, Mexico adopted a constitution and became a federal republic. In 1876, Texas A&M opened, becoming the “first public institution of higher education in Texas.” In 1895, the first U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship was held at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1965, Pope Paul VI visited New York, becoming the first Pope to visit the United States.

Today’s birthdays include Richard Cromwell (Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland), Rutherford B. Hayes (19th U.S. President), Buster Keaton (American comedian), Charlton Heston (American actor), Alvin Toffler (American writer), Jackie Collins (British author), Anne Rice (American writer), Tony La Russa (American baseball manager), Susan Sarandon (American actress), Liev Schreiber (American actor), Alicia Silverstone (American actress), Rachael Leigh Cook (American actress), Jered Weaver (American baseball player), Kurt Suzuki (American baseball player), and Dakota Johnson (American actress).

Well, there aren’t really any in there that I care to highlight, so I’ll move right along.

Teresa of Avila, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Max Planck, Janis Joplin, Glenn Gould, and Graham Chapman are among notable deaths on this date.

Janice Joplin joined the 27 club on this date in 1970.


(From Heart Aflame)

Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity.
Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.
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.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!

Psalm 106:43-48

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

We are now moving from engaging, or fixing, the mind, to “Inclining the Heart.” What happens here is, now that the believer has engaged the mind to see the truth in a particular passage of scripture, it is time to “incline the heart until its hope and joy more fully rests in these things.”

If you remember, we have been looking at some teaching by John Owen. He describes the concept of inclining the heart as “‘the inclination, disposition, and frame of . . . all . . . affections’ so that the heart ‘adheres and cleaves unto spiritual things . . . from the love and delight . . . in them and engagement unto them.'” A contemporary of Owen, Richard Baxter, calls this “soliloquy.” Keller says, “It means seeing how God’s truth should be affecting you, your life, and all your relationships–and then pleading and preaching to your heart until it connects to the truth and begins to turn away from its false hopes and to change its attitudes, feelings, and commitments.”

Keller mentions several practical ways to do this. First is Martin Luther’s approach, which involves more questioning of the self and the heart. After getting the truth of the instruction in the passage at hand, Luther says we should ask the following:

  • “how it shows you something about the character of God for which you can praise him”
  • “something wrong about yourself for which you can repent”
  • “something that is needed for which you can petition him”

In this way, “Luther is working the truth into his relationship to God, to himself, and to the world.

“Luther is de-abstracting the scriptural truth, refusing to regard it in a detached way, plunging himself into it, and pushing it into his soul to see how that truth should change him.” What does the Scripture that I have just read/studied mean for my relationship to God? What does it mean for my relationship to myself (something we probably don’t consider nearly enough)? What does it mean for my group relationships? What does it mean to my behaviors and habits? And what does it mean in relationship to the culture in which I live? All worthy questions to ponder.

This all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? For most of us, it is probably much more involving that any kind of Scripture reading we have ever done. For those of us who read a short passage of Scripture, along with a devotional reading, and then head off to work or whatever the day brings, this is a bit of a shock. But we need it. At least I need it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I strongly suspect that most of us would benefit greatly, in our prayer lives, with this kind of activity.

Father, keep my mind and heart open as I continue to study this book. When all is said and done, I am hoping for some new behaviors and habits to come out of it that strongly influence the effectiveness of my prayer life.

I pray for this day, that Rachel and Justin will have safe travel here and back home. May we have a good time together, this afternoon, in whatever we decide to do. I pray for your grace to surround us in all things.

Come, Lord Jesus.

May we learn how to faithfully incline our hearts to the truths that we have gained by engaging our minds in God’s Word.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Fixing the Mind, Part Deux

Good morning. It is Saturday, October 3, 2015. One week until Play del Carmen!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is haplology. This is the”contraction of a word by omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables,” such as in “probly,” instead of “probably.”

Today is Techies Day. Embrace your inner geek! Or your outer geek, if it’s not so inner!

I worked until 6:30 last night, so Christi did, too. Not because she had to, but, since I was working late, she decided to take that time to get caught up on some things. Christi got home a bit before me (I had to stop and get our obligatory Sonic drinks, you know), so she cooked dinner, which was crescent roll hot dogs, with chili on top, and crinkle-cut french fries. Yum!

We watched the season’s second episode of Castle, and I have to say that I do NOT like the way it ended. Not one bit. Then we watched the series pilot for The Grinder, starring Fred Savage and Rob Lowe. It was hilarious, and we loved it. Definitely a keeper, so it will probably get cancelled. Finally, we watched the series premier of The Blacklist, which has gotten more intense as Red and Liz Keen are now fugitives, running from her old partners at the FBI.

Today, we will do our usual grocery shopping, then have our prayer and worship gatherings for the last time on Saturday afternoon. Services for The Exchange will be at 9:15 on Sunday morning at the YMCA on North Beach Street, beginning next Sunday, October 11. We aren’t sure when the Anchor Prayer Gathering is going to be happening, yet, but we will work that out.

I think Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch tomorrow. That’s always nice. Then we have five work days before we fly to Mexico for our anniversary vacation. At the moment, the forecasts are calling for light rain in Playa del Carmen, next Saturday and Sunday, but we aren’t terribly concerned about that. We’ll sit on the beach in the rain, if we have to. Of course, that makes it a bit harder to read . . .

On this date in 1283, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd in Wales, became the first person to be executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered. What a lovely thing to be remembered for. Also, extra points if you can pronounce his name. I sure can’t. It was on this date in 1849 that Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore. It was the last time he was seen in public before his death. In 1863, the last Thursday in November was declared to be Thanksgiving Day, by President Lincoln. In 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on ABC. In 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

And, in 1951, on October 3, this happened:

Today’s birthdays include James Herriot (English veterinarian and author), Gore Vidal (American author), Eddie Cochran (American guitarist/singer), Chubby Checker (American singer/songwriter), Lindsey Buckingham (American guitarist/singer, Fleetwood Mac), Dave Winfield (American baseball player), Stevie Ray Vaughan (American blues musician, Dallas, Texas), Dennis Eckersley (American baseball player), Tommy Lee (American drummer), Clive Owen (British actor), Gwen Stefani (American musician), Lena Headey (British actress), Neve Campbell (Canadian actress), Seann William Scott (American actor), and Shannyn Sossamon (American actress).

Eddie Cochran was born on this date in 1938. He became a teen rockabilly sensation. Tragically, he died at the age of 21, in a taxi accident, while traveling through Chippenham, Wiltshier, UK. According to reports, he threw himself over his fiance, songwriter Sharon Sheeley, to shield her. She and Gene Vincent, who was also riding in the cab, survived the accident. Here is a clip of his song “Summertime Blues.”

I can’t not mention Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was born on this date in 1954, Dallas, Texas. Another music legend whose life was cut short, Vaughan died in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, at the age of 35. Here is a live clip of his song “Rude Mood.”

Okay, one more. Lindsey Buckingham, sometimes lead guitar player for Fleetwood Mac, turns 66 today. Here is a live clip of “Gold Dust Woman.”

St. Francis of Assisi, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Myles Standish, John Heisman, Woody Guthrie, Vince DiMaggio, Roddy McDowall, Janet Leigh, and Ronnie Barker are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Heart Aflame)

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.
Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power.

Psalm 106:37-42

This is a dark and dreadful example of how far men can go when left to their own desires.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I’m continuing through the section on “Fixing the Mind,” looking at some other methods of meditating on Scripture. There are more questions that could be asked of a particular passage, more in the vein of application. We might look into a passage, looking for “any personal examples to emulate or avoid, for any commands to obey, for any promises to claim, and for any warnings to heed.” For this example, Timothy Keller goes to John 1:29-42.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

There is an example to emulate, here, as we see John the Baptizer with his own disciples. He knows that following Jesus is more important than following him, so he points his own disciples to the “Lamb of God.” In like manner, we should be careful that we do not make nay human relationships more important than our relationship with Christ. Nor should we attempt to create disciples of ourselves, but disciples who follow Christ.

There is a command to “Behold;” “to believe and embrace Jesus as the Lamb of God.”

There is a promise, as Jesus tells those who have just begun to follow him, “Come and you will see.” When we follow Christ, it is a process, and he does not reveal everything to us at once. “Jesus calls us to come now and commit to him and as time goes on we will ‘see’ and learn wondrous things.”

We could even see a “mild warning implied here.” When we do come to Jesus and become his disciples, our lives are disrupted and things change. Jesus even changed Simon’s name to “Cephas (which means Peter).”

There are some other approaches that can be used with shorter passages, even single verses. One is to take a verse and work through it, emphasizing each word of the text. “Ask what each word uniquely contributes to the meaning of the text, or what meaning would be lost from the statement if that particular word were removed.” The example verse is Mark 1:17, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Emphasize “follow” and see that we are to do more than just be students, absorbing information. We are to emulate Christ, aligning our lives with him. Emphasize “me” and see that Jesus is very specific about who were are to follow. We are not to simply obey rules or commands, but to follow and obey Jesus. Emphasize “will” and we see that this is a promise, not just a possibility. Jesus does not say he “might” make us fishers of men. He promises that he will change and re-make us. This goes back, though, to the fact that we are involved in a journey that is a process. It will not happen suddenly, or overnight. So from this, you can get the idea of how to meditate through a verse, emphasizing individual words. This has actually been a favorite approach of mine.

You can also take a verse and paraphrase it, re-stating it in your own words. This might help you “think more deeply about the text than you would otherwise.” It might also cause you to realized you don’t know what a word means, which might lead you to further study.

And, finally, another way to meditate is to simply memorize a verse or passage. This might take more time and energy, but, in the long run, would be well worth it. “This tool of learning was a time-honored method used far more in the past than it is today, and that is a pity.” Of course, in this day of technology, where you can have the entire Bible at your fingertips in an app on your phone, memorization seems almost unnecessary. But one real benefit of it is that “memorized texts often come to you spontaneously during the day when you realize how it applies directly to a particular situation you are in.” Memorizing something has also been referred to as “learning by heart,” which will lead into the second concept of meditation, which I will probably look at tomorrow, “Inclining the Heart.”

Father, lead me toward better meditation in my life. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. May your Spirit lead me into a better understanding of your Word and how it applies to my life. Help me to do this by fixing my mind on your truth and bringing it down into my heart.

I pray for this day, that our errands will be done with your joy driving us. May our time together with fellow believers be sweet, this evening, and may your name be lifted high as we pray and worship together.

Come, Lord Jesus.

I hope that some might find these tips on meditation useful. I certainly have.

And now . . .

Grace and peace, friends.

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Fixing the Mind

Good morning. It is Friday, October 2, 2015.

Today’s word of the day is peripeteia. This noun means, “a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.” The last month for the Texas Rangers has certainly been a peripeteia!

Today is Name Your Car Day. While I don’t refer to it often, my Hyundai Sonata is named Amadeus.

So the Texas Rangers won last night, beating the Angels 5-3. This accomplished two things. It eliminated the Angels from contention for the division championship, and it clinched at least a Wild Card spot for the Rangers. Their magic number to win the division is now 1. Houston remains in the second Wild Card spot by 1 game. The Twins and the Angels are tied, 1 game behind the Astros. There are three games left, and anything could happen between those three teams.

The Red Sox finally lost to the Evil Empire, giving the EE a playoff spot and their 10,000th win. The thing is, the Sox were playing some secondary players in the game, which is fine, since the game really didn’t matter to them. They did pretty well, too, in my opinion. The score was 4-1, which is a respectable baseball score. As far as standings go, there is a three-way tie for fourth place in the AL East (or last place, if you want to look at it that way) between the Sox, the O’s, and the Rays. Again, with three games remaining, anything could happen. The Sox close out their season with the Indians. Baltimore finishes the season against NY, who wants to have home field advantage for the WC game. Tampa finishes against Toronto, who is fighting with KC for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage for all AL playoff series.

Yesterday was another pretty heavy day at work, but I left at 4:30, because Thursday is Christi’s Huddle night. As I meditated on yesterday morning’s devotion, it occurred to me that I was, once again, guilty of allowing people and circumstances to steal my joy. As a result of that, I had a pretty good day, yesterday, maintaining a joy in the Lord that I am not always able to maintain. The verses from yesterday spoke to me frequently, throughout the day. I hope to continue that trend today, especially in the face of impending overtime, this evening.

Tomorrow will be our last Saturday worship service, as Sunday mornings will begin next weekend, when we are in Mexico.


(From Heart Aflame)

but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.

Psalm 106:35-36

” . . . we are more inclined to follow the example of the bad than of the good. . . . nothing is more dangerous than associating with the ungodly; because, being more prone to follow the vice than virtue, it cannot but be, that the more conversant we are with corruption, the more widely it will spread.” (p 276)

Calvin goes on to say that the utmost care and caution are necessary, for he knows that we must associate with such people in our lives. How would we be salt in the earth, otherwise? This is why we must take care to be deeply entrenched in the Word and prayer.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In this section, Timothy Keller begins looking at three stages of meditation described by John Owen, British theologian, in his book, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. To begin with, Owen makes a distinction between meditation, Bible study, and prayer.

It is distinguished from the study of the word, wherein our principal aim is to learn the truth, or to declare it unto others; and so also from prayer, whereof God himself is the immediate object. But . . . meditation . . . is the affecting of our own hearts and minds with love, delight, and [humility].

Owen’s first stage is what he calls fixing the thoughts, “selecting and getting a clear view of a truth from the Bible.”

By solemn or stated meditation, I intend [first] the thoughts of some subject spiritual and divine, with the fixing, forcing, and ordering of our thoughts about it. . . . [It is] the actual exercise of the mind, in its thoughts, meditations, and desires, about things spiritual and heavenly. . . . They mind them by fixing their thoughts and meditations upon them.

Keller goes on to describe and illustrate several methods of getting “such a clear view of a text.” The first is to read a biblical text deliberately, asking ourselves four questions:

  • What does this teach me about God and his character?
  • About human nature, character, and behavior?
  • About Christ and his salvation?
  • About the church, or life in the people of God?

As an example, Keller leads us to John 2:13-22, where Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

What can we learn about God from this text? “We might see that God cannot be taken lightly, that he is holy. In his presence, his ‘house,’ it matters how we live.

What can we learn about ourselves from this passage? “It might strike us how important it is to concentrate on him during worship, and not daydream about other affairs.”

What about Christ and salvation? “Jesus is not only predicting his resurrection here, but he is also claiming that he is the ultimate temple, the bridge over the chasm between God and humankind.”

And what about the Church, God’s people? “We see how important it is to learn the Scripture, even though it may take time and patience to understand and rejoice in its teaching.”

We will continue later with other methods and examples of meditation, based on Scripture passages.

Father, as I continue to learn about meditation and prayer, I pray for the discipline to take passages of Scripture and ponder them in these various ways. I tend to rush through reading, and even thinking about passages, largely because I have read them so many times. Help me to slow down, to stop and ponder, even passages that I have had memorized since I was very young. Take these truths and implant them in my heart!

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will be a good day, without stress. Show your joy to her and help her be a beacon of light in the darkness. I pray that same for my work day. Help me to maintain the joy that I know in you; make it truth in my life. May I display your kingdom in all kinds of circumstances. I pray that we might not have to work terribly late, this evening.

I also pray for the rest of our family. For Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, may you show grace and love to them today, drawing them to your light and peace.

May you bring comfort to the community in Oregon, shattered by the senseless violence of yesterday. In light of this and other troubling circumstances in the world, I say . . .

Come, Lord Jesus!

The first stage of meditation, and possibly the most difficult in our culture, is fixing the mind. May we be able to successfully fix our minds on Christ and his truths.

Grace and peace, friends.

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The “All-Satisfying Object”

Good morning. It is Thursday, October 1, 2015. OCTOBER!!

In a rare, somewhat humorous, occasion, I have two words of the day that seem to contradict each other. The Oxford English Dictionary has oblectation, which means, “Delight, pleasure, enjoyment,” while Merriam-Webster has consternation, which means, “amazement or dismay that hinders or throws into confusion.”

Today is International Coffee Day. I’ve got mine!

I had to work late, yesterday, so I was wolfing down a Sonic cheeseburger on the way to the PAT meeting, and was still thirty minutes late for it. But I got there. There’s a mixture of emotions over this move. Part of which involves the time frame that we are tied to for our services. It seems we have to vacate the facility by 11:00 AM, each Sunday, and we can get in at 7:00. So setup will start at 7:00, practice at 7:30 (I think that’s a bit optimistic, myself), and the worship gathering at 9:15. We haven’t yet discussed what we will do with the Anchor prayer gathering. I’ve already assumed that it might have to happen on a different day, at someone’s home. However, there might be time, if we can do it at 8:15, before the worship gathering. Christi will have to be up there by 7:30, in order to run the slides for the worship team practice.

Christi has her Huddle tonight, which will make night number four that we really don’t get to see much of each other. The Huddle meetings will be over soon, though. Not sure what’s happening after that.

In baseball, while the National League playoff picture is pretty much settled, the American League picture is fuzzier than a dustbunny. The Blue Jays clinched their division last night, when they trounced the O’s 15-2. The Royals clinched their division last week, I believe. However, in the West, while the Rangers still lead the division, the Astros are 2 games behind them, and the Angels are 2.5 games behind them. The Rangers and Angels play each other in a four game series, beginning tonight. The Astros are off tonight (who let THAT happen??), so they only have three games left. If the Rangers can win tonight, they will eliminate the Angels from the picture, and reduce their magic number to one. Basically, they just need to win, and it won’t matter what the Astros do. The Evil Empire is 2.5 games up in the Wild Card race, which still involves Houston (who is currently back in the second Wild Card spot) and the Angels, as well as, but just barely, the Twins. The Red Sox have beaten the Evil Empire in three consecutive games, each time denying the Empire their 10,000th win! I think that is hilarious. They play each other one last time, tonight. Also, the Red Sox have worked their way up to third place, which is respectable, considering where they have been for most of the season. Sadly, they are no longer in contention for the Wild Card spot.


(From Heart Aflame)

They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.
They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the LORD.
Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands.
Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed.
And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.
They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account,
for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.
They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them,

Psalm 106:21-34

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:1-3

Let’s just say I really needed to read that passage today.

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “The All-Satisfying Object.”

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Our quest for delight in the Lord, for pleasure in him, seems to be commanded in this verse. Over and over, the Psalmists sought to find pleasure in God. Psalm 42:1-2 is a favorite verse. As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 63:1 also speaks of an unquenchable thirst for God. 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.

Psalm 36:8 speaks of the satisfaction for that thirst. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. In Psalm 34:8, one of my favorite verses, we get this: Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! John Piper says, “I found that the goodness of God, the very foundation of worship, is not a thing you pay your respects to out of some kind of disinterested reverence. No, it is something to be enjoyed.” How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

C.S. called God in the Psalms, the “all-satisfying Object.” We find exceeding joy in him, for which we are able to adore our God. “He is the source of complete and unending pleasure:” in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Father, my mind and spirit have struggled, lately, with this concept of joy. I have not had much joy this week, it seems. I pray for you to restore this joy. I pray that you restore joy that is only found in you. I confess that I have, once again, let adverse circumstances win the day. I am a sinful person, Father, when I allow this to happen. May I find my joy in you and you alone, for you are the only consistent thing in my life. Even among people that I love, there is always going to be inconsistency, just as I am always going to be a source of inconsistency and frustration for them. But you, O God! You are always loving! You are always there, holding me in your hands, even in the most undesirable circumstances! Help me to keep my eyes on this truth! Do not allow me to allow circumstances to control my emotions and my spirit.

I pray for this day, Father, that our travel to work and back will be safe. I pray for our feelings about the church moving and new times. I pray for Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, that your grace would find them and hold them today. May they all know your unfailing love in their lives. I also pray for our upcoming vacation trip, that everything will go smoothly for it.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Our Father in heaven, the “all-satisfying Object,” is the only source of true joy. May we find this joy today.

Psalm 37-4

Grace and peace, friends.

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