Observation and Imitation

It is Friday, March 1, 2013. Blessings to you. We are finally out of February. And only 14 days until our semi-annual trip to Paluxy River Bed Cabins in Glen Rose. Just typing that relaxed me a little.

Today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. Too bad we don’t have any peanut butter. Stephanie would really like this day. She loves her some peanut butter! 😀

Stephanie received her reward last night, after completing her 17th workout in the month of February! Here is what she received.
Stephanie's prize
That, my friends, is a baseball, autographed by none other than Derek Holland, starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Needless to say, Steph was thrilled at that! Sadly, I was not present last night, as her session began at 7pm, and I don’t get off work until 6pm now. I could have hurried up there, but we all decided that I would stay home and cook chili, having dinner ready when Christi and Steph got back. (Christi did not work out, she just took Steph.) As her training session was drawing to a close, several of the center staff gathered around to cheer her on. I really wish I had been there! I’ll go get in my workout tonight, though.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
I have two things today. On February 29, 45BC, the world celebrated its first “leap year.” It was not called leap year, then, it was called bis-sexto-kalendae, “a term not explainable in fewer than four paragraphs.” This was done by Julius Caesar, because the previous calendar only had 355 days, and Sosigenes of Alexandria had calculated that the year should have 365.25 days. The extra day in February, once every four years, made up for that .25. Caesar also changed the name of the month of Quintilis to “July,” to honor himself. Later, a senate would change the name of the month of Sextilis to “August,” in honor of Caesar’s successor, Augustus.

On today’s date in 1810, Frederic Chopin was born. His birth name was Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, and he was born in Zelazowa Wola, about 29 miles from Warsaw. Those Polish people sure like their Zs, don’t they? Chopin’s father was French and had him sent to a local French “lycee” to be educated. That’s a secondary school, by the way…I had to look that up. As one of those prodigies, Chopin gave his first concert “at the palace of Polish Prince Radziwill at the age of eight.” By the year 1836, Chopin’s friend Franz Liszt had introduced him to a “Parisian baroness named Aurore Dudevant (we know her by the pseudonym of George Sand). Smitten by Chopin, and already married, she pleaded with him to become her lover. He succumbed, and they lived in Majorca for two months, “in an abandoned monastery.” By by the time Chopin was 37, the affair ended, “broken by lovers’ quarrels and Chopin’s deteriorating health.” He died of consumption four months before he would have turned 40. “He is still considered the greatest composer of piano music in history.”

Here is a clip of Chopin’s “Prelude in E-minor (Opus 28 No. 4)

Today’s birthday (besides Chopin) is Dan Michaels, born on this date in 1963. Dan is a saxophone and lyricon player for The Choir, one of my top four Christian rock groups. He can be heard (and almost seen) in this clip of a live concert from Dallas, at The Prophet Bar, last October. I was at this concert, and I can hear Christi and me laughing during Derri’s talking before this song, “A Sad Face.”

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. Psalm 66:5
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Psalm 106:47

“Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”~~From The Divine Hours

Father, cause me to be a light for someone in darkness today. May I help someone find your peace today.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:22-24.

22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Observing One Another.” The scripture reading is 2 Timothy 3:10.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness.

One aspect of Christianity that is necessary for us to endure is “apprenticeship,” the act of “observing more experienced and well-formed Christians, following their moves, taking up their way of life, inculcating their virtues.” “Inculcating?” Had to look that one up. It means to instill values by frequent repetition. When we emulate more mature believers in this way, we get to a point where we “embody those practices for ourselves.” The church should be looking for opportunities to encourage this kind of behavior. Some churches call this type of activity “discipleship.” Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a sound, biblical concept.

However, caution is called for, because, since we are supposed to be learning from each other, by observation and imitation, we have a responsibility to “be cautious and humble about what we may be teaching with our words and deeds. Teaching is so much easier than learning.” (Some professional teachers might disagree with that statement, but I understand what he means. We are always “teaching” someone, simply by what we say and do in any given circumstance.) Teaching is also dangerous. When others admire and appreciate our lives and show it through imitation, it feels good. If we are not careful, we lose the humility piece of the puzzle, and “a huge gap gradually widens between what we say and the way we live.” This can have deadly consequences when we are dealing with the precepts of a holy God. Hear this truth: “There are no ‘masters’ in the spiritual life.” Is that a surprising statement? Not if you consider what the word “master” means. We have only one “Master,” that is Jesus Christ. In the human realm, in this life, we have mature teachers, wise teachers, but none who deserve to be called “master,” save Jesus. “Fundamentally we are all beginners receiving and giving on our knees before God and with open hands before one another.”

I am challenged, today, to pay special attention to anyone whose examples I might be imitating, and to also pay extra attention to anyone who might be observing and imitating me. That’s a scary thought, sometimes.

Father, I pray for discernment when it comes to thinking about who I might be imitating, who I might be observing, and whose practices I might be “inculcating.” Let me not fall into the trap of calling any man “master.” Jesus Christ is my only “Master.” We are all learning from you through him and through your Holy Spirit. It is a slippery slope when we begin to imitate other men, yet that is what we are called to do. We must only make sure that those other men are imitating Christ. Help me to pay special attention today to my reactions to circumstances, to the words that I say in any situation, for there might be others who are watching to see what I do. I never know when someone is watching me, and my heart’s desire, as I have prayed earlier this morning, is to be a light for someone who might be in darkness, to show your peace to someone who is lacking peace. Help me to always be aware of what I say and do.

As I get ready to go out into the world this morning, I pray for this work day, that it might bring success in the day, for both Christi and me. I pray for relief for her, as she continues to endure pain. I pray that she might consult a physician if it doesn’t get better. I pray for such a mundane thing as our toilet getting fixed properly this afternoon. I also ask that you lift up Stephanie and draw her close to you, showing your great love and affection to her today.

I lift up my friend Terry to you, praying that he might have patience and that he would be a good steward with all that you have given him.
I pray, as Shirley requested, for Earl’s health as she is away helping a daughter, and for peace of mind during the next week. Also, that all of us, as Christians, would be effective witnesses for you in this world.
Finally, I pray for a friend, Leslie, that you might give her career direction.

Your grace is sufficient.

Just as we are always observing and imitating others, we must know that others, somewhere, are also observing and imitating us. What a sobering thought. May our actions and words be found worthy!

Grace and peace, friends.