View From the Top

So it’s Tuesday. I’m not even going to talk about work yesterday.

The Red Sox and the Rangers were both idle yesterday, which makes for a boring day. When neither team plays, I kind of wander around aimlessly, not knowing what to do. Not really…just kidding. I rarely have time to do that. There were some significant events yesterday, though. The Tribe defeated the Grumpy Old Men (FINALLY!), giving the Sox another half-game lead in the ALE. There are now only 6 percentage points separating the Phillies and the Sox to lead MLB overall. The Halos beat the Mariners (I haven’t come up with a nickname for them), giving the Rangers a 2 game lead in the ALW. Hunter Pence went 3-4, raising my “Beat the Streak” total to 3 for this run. Prince Fielder, however, did not hit a home run, knocking my “Home Run Beat the Streak” back to 0. So back to Big Papi for today.

Christi is taking the morning off to take Stephanie to an “end of school party,” that a friend’s mother is hosting at Mountasia. That should be fun. I’ll be at work, probably dealing with the continuation of yesterday’s problems. Or issues. Or opportunities. Or whatever we’re supposed to call them these days.

This morning, I want to link, once again to the blog, Resting In His Grace. Today’s entry is a very good blog about attending church, the reasons we should and the excuses for when we don’t.

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
1 Corinthians 1:1-17
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(vv. 1-3)

This is a basic greeting from Paul. Notice that, in those days, the person writing the letter was named first. Unlike today, where you have to read the entire letter before seeing who wrote it!

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (vv. 4-9)

Paul usually does this after the greeting. He finds something to be thankful for before he starts teaching or criticizing. Note that he says they are not lacking in any spiritual gift. He also proclaims that God is faithful, and that they will be sustained to the end.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (vv. 10-17)

Paul jumps right into the meat of his letter. And it is a concern that many share today. He appeals to them to not be divided, but that they be “united in the same mind and the same judgment.” What would Paul think today? I sincerely believe that he would be appalled. And yes, that pun was most definitely intended. If you don’t get it, read the last sentence out loud. If you still don’t get it, I can’t help you. Anyway, seriously, I believe Paul would be horrified at the state of the Church today. Not only are we divided between Catholics and Protestants, the Protestants are divided six billion ways. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but the painful nature of our search for a church home is a perfect example of this. There are literally hundreds of churches within 10 miles of our house! And made up of dozens of “denominations” or “sub-denominations.” Even Baptists are divided dozens of different ways! “Is Christ divided??” Paul asks. Did a certain preacher/author/teacher die for you? What are we doing?? I certainly don’t have the answer, though. We all think we believe the truth, and we all think that our particular “denomination” has a better grasp of the truth than the ones across the street. Reminds me of a time when the Baptists were on one side of the street singing “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?” and the Church of Christ across the street was singing “No Not One.” (A capella, of course.) I don’t know if this is “fixable.” In order for us to all be united, there would have to be compromises, and I’m not willing to compromise truth. There are certain denominations/factions that I believe embrace heresy. How can I unite with them? Perhaps I am mistaken about some points of doctrine. It’s quite a tangled web, and worthy of a serious amount of prayer. And I’ve spent much too much time pondering it this morning…most move on.

2 Chronicles 3-4
These two chapters pretty much echo the chapters in 1 Kings that describe the building of the Temple and creation of the furnishings.

Psalm 116-117
1 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
10 I believed, even when I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.”
12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117 kind of gets cheated here, because it’s so short. It’s just a simple verse of praise, though.
Psalm 116 is a beautiful composition of praise to the Lord for hearing and delivering the Psalmist. The composer was near death, apparently, or at least feared so. When he called on the name of the Lord, he was heard. The Lord delivered his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from stumbling. I have felt this way before. I believe that the Lord has done the same for me many times. I don’t know if I’ve ever been “near death.” But I know that the Lord has delivered my feet from stumbling many times. He has pulled me out of many a miry pit! What shall I render to him? Like the Psalmist, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord!”
The part beginning in verse 15 is of special interest. It would behoove us to take the perspective of the Lord when our loved ones pass on. We shed many tears and are sad, and, sometimes, even declare that they “died before their time!” No. They didn’t. It is not possible for anyone to “die before their time.” When God brings one of his children home, it is a celebration! “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints!” Precious! Therefore, it should be precious to us, as well.

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high (Psalm 113:5)

Max Lucado writes of a family trip to the UK, in which they visited a castle. In the garden of the castle was a maze. As the family navigated the labyrinth, a door was discovered that led to a tall tower in the center of the garden. At one point, four of the family members were standing at the top of the tower. Only one was still not there. Guess which one…Max was still lost in the labyrinth. His daughter, Sara, called to him from the top of the tower and gave him directions. He didn’t have to trust her, but he did, because she had a better vantage point.
After this little story, Max asks, “Don’t you think we should do the same with God?”
I don’t think any explanation is necessary.
(From Grace For the Moment, by Max Lucado)

Father, I thank you for your “vantage point” in heaven. I need to trust you more with my life. You see everything, and you have given us instructions on which way to live our lives. I pray to you, though, for more guidance in certain areas, most specifically, right now, a place to call home for worship. Our hearts grieve for a place to worship you and to begin to develop more spiritual relationships. But there are other areas in life where your guidance is clear. Help us to always follow that guidance.
I thank you for the times when you have delivered my feet from stumbling. Not that you kept me from stumbling at all, because there have been many times when you have allowed my feet to carry me right on into the pit. But you have always been faithful to reach down and pull me out of the pit. I praise you for that, Father. Your faithfulness knows no limits. Your grace and mercy know no bounds. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and I will call upon the name of the Lord!”
I pray for the state of your Church today, Lord. I fear that she has lost her way. We follow Christ, but not very well. We, like sheep, kind of wander aimlessly, but somehow manage to be going in the same general direction. I don’t know the answer, Lord, but I will try to follow you as faithfully as I can. Teach me your word, Lord! Unite my heart to fear your name! Lead me in the path that is straight. Give me that peace that surpasses all understanding.

I pray that Stephanie will have a great time at the party today. Then I pray that Christi’s afternoon will go well at work. For my work day, Father, I pray for strength and a firm foundation. Let me not be shaken by anything that happens today. May I take it all in stride and give me the best solutions for whatever comes my way today. Let me not forget that you are with me.

God has a much better view of things than we do. Let us follow his guidance.

Grace and peace, friends.

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