Serve the Lord with Gladness

Good morning. Today is Friday, May 24, 2013. Normally, I would be excited, but I have to work tomorrow, because our client is a retailer, and since they won’t be getting deliveries on Monday, they want deliveries on Saturday. 😛 On the positive side, I will be off Monday, and Tuesday should be more relaxed. After this weekend, we have 19 more days on this account.

We took a night off to just chill at the house last night. I was very tired, and Stephanie has worked out some new challenge ideas with the new club manager at 24 Hour Fitness, something a little more reasonable.

We have at least three friends who are currently in Moore, Oklahoma, helping with the relief efforts. One of them has posted pictures on Facebook. It has an eerie resemblance to New Orleans after Katrina. Just piles of rubble everywhere.
Moore, OK damage
Please keep praying for these people, as well as those in Granbury, Texas, from the week before. We tend to forget about the one that happened earlier, focusing on the most recent tragedy. I know there is enough room for both in my prayers.

Today appears to be National Escargot Day. Really?? Snails??

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1626, a Dutch-speaking German man named Peter Minuit, a “director of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony,” made a trade with a local Native American tribe. He traded approximately “60 guilders’ worth of pots, pans, fish hooks, tools and cloth” for “a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River.” The island was named Manhattan Island, derived from the Algonquin name for “island of the hills.” Settlers were moved to the southern tip and the new town called New Amsterdam. American dollars did not exist at that time, so “the traditional tale that Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 is an anachronism.” In 1631, Minuit drowned in a hurrican on his way back to Holland, but New Amsterdam continued to flourish. However, in 1664, it was ceded to the British in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British renamed it New York.

Today’s birthday is Terry Scott Taylor, born on this date in 1950. Terry is the brains an front man behind my favorite group in the history of music, Daniel Amos. He also is part of a “Christian Supergroup” called The Lost Dogs, as well as another incarnation of Daniel Amos called The Swirling Eddies. He has been my very favorite songwriter since the early eighties, and I frequently refer to him as my “Christian music hero.” Here is a clip of my favorite Daniel Amos song, “I Love You #19.”

Honorable mentions go to Queen Victoria, 1819, H.B. Reese, 1879 (“Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”), Roger Peterson, 1937 (Who is Roger Peterson? The pilot who flew the plane on “the day the music died” in 1959), Bob Dylan, 1941, and Patti LaBelle, 1944.


Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4
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
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Psalm 25:4-8, 11

Father, your goodness and mercy are amazing to me. I thank you that you have atoned for my transgressions, and that you have blotted them out. I seek your presence this morning as I look into your word for a while. Teach me your paths, lead me in your truth.

In Touch Magazine presents a very thought-provoking question today.

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The question is, “Which interests you more–who Jesus is or what He can do for you?” So today, I stop and think, am I more concerned with knowing God or just receiving his blessings? How much of my prayer time revolves around physical needs? Much of it, I confess, and I’m probably not very different from anyone else. I will say this, in my own defense, though; the majority of my prayer time centers around the needs of others, at least. Still, there is not a lot of time spent in just communing with God. That needs to change somehow. Of course, that’s what the majority of this time right now is for, too.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is definitely something that I can identify with. The reading is called “God Notices Us.” The scripture passage is Psalm 10:1-4, 14.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

The Psalmist is frustrated over a couple of things, here. One is that the Lord appears to be hiding himself while the wicked prosper and succeed in their schemes to further cheat those already poor. The other is that those same wicked people think that God does not see them. Most people who say, “There is no God,” aren’t true atheists, but, rather, simply believe that God, in whatever form he takes, is not paying attention to them. But the Psalmist realizes in verse 14 that, yes, God does see, and not only sees, but takes note of “mischief and vexation,” and commits himself to taking care of the helpless and fatherless.

I have fallen into the way of thinking, before, that my prayers and deeds are of no use to anyone; that my prayers for other people are doing no good. Especially when there are things that I have been praying for for months, and there seems to be no answer. Does God notice? Does he hear my prayers? The answer is, yes, he does. He notices. He hears. Why has he not granted my prayers? When God is ready to reveal that information to me, he will. There is where my faith must be exercised. There is where my belief in the goodness of God must take precedence.

Mercy number 14 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called (uhoh), “Washing Feet.” Brennan relates an incident when he was at a retreat center, reading the account in John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Suddenly, in the spirit, he was in that room, and he was Judas. Do we ever stop to think that Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer? As Brennan imagined knowing that his Savior was about to wash his feet when he had betrayed him, he though of all his sins, his failures, his weaknesses. What Jesus said to him, in his spirit, was astounding, and something that we must come to grips with. “Brennan, I expected more failure from you than you expected from yourself.”

You see, this goes back to what I realized a few weeks ago, and still struggle with accepting. God is not disappointed in me. He can’t be. We have this image of God that he always expects us to succeed, and then, when we fail, he is disappointed, sighing in frustration. People, this cannot possibly be a true representation of our Father! “But . . . all this “be perfect” stuff in the Bible . . .” Yes, that is there. But God, who knows all, and has written down every step that our feet will take before the every came to be, already knows what we are going to do. Therefore, that is exactly what he expects from us! He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves because he knows us perfectly and completely! So when Brennan continued to bring up his “irritating character defects, the boasting, the inflating the truth, the pretenses, the impatience, all the times [he] got drunk,” Jesus responded, “What you’re saying is true, Brennan. Yet your love for me never wavered and your heart remained pure. And besides, you’ve done one thing that makes Me forget all the rest. You’ve been kind to sinners.”

Now, just as all analogies fall apart at some point, we can’t go around thinking that anything we have done causes the Lord to forget our sins. But to focus on that one statement would be to miss the point of the whole event. The point was, again, that God is not disappointed in us. He sees the love of Christ in us. Brennan Manning says he sobbed so hard that the priest in the next room came over and knocked on the door to make sure he was okay. Then Jesus simply told him, “I just washed your feet. Do the same for others. Serve My people humbly and lovingly.”

Do I have to go around washing people’s feet. No. We don’t wash feet in our culture, because aren’t walking around with mostly bare feet, in dust, mud, and horse manure. But I do need to serve God’s people, humbly and lovingly.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

“Why have You kindled in me the flame of faith, this dark light
which lures us out of the bright security of our little huts into
Your night? And why have You made me Your priest, one whose
vocation it is to be with You on behalf of men, when my
finiteness makes me gasp for breath in your presence?”
Karl Rahner

Father, how I have long thought that you were always disappointed in me, and I confess that I continue to struggle with that. Even though I have accepted the truth that your love for me never changes, and that there is nothing I can do to increase or decrease your love for me, I still struggle with the human emotion that thinks that you surely must be disappointed in me when I sin. But I must accept that this cannot be. The idea that you expect more failure from me than I expect from myself is truly revolutionary to me, yet scripture bears this thought out. All those passages about you knowing our steps before we take them, you knowing the words before we speak them; you know it all, therefore you expect nothing less, nothing more. You have truly “washed our feet.” Therefore, I have no other choice than to humbly and lovingly serve others in return for the gracious gift that you have given me. Show me who I can serve today, and when the opportunity arises, remind me quickly that this is service to you, before my human side rises up and gets all resentful over having to do something for someone else. Give me the spirit to serve gladly, humbly, and lovingly.

I also pray today that I might be more desiring of simple, true communion with you than for the blessings that knowing you bring. There is nothing wrong with praying for needs, you tell us to do so. However, let the desire of my heart be to simply know you more.

I pray for this day, today. Continue to heal Christi, as she recuperates from her surgery. Stephanie has found her promises in Colossians 3. I pray that you help her make those personal for her own life. And give her understanding by the Holy Spirit as you draw her closer to you. And I pray that my work day will not be a struggle today. I pray ahead of time for a smooth Saturday delivery day, as well.

I continue to lift up prayers for all the people affected by tornadoes in the past week. May you give them restoration, comfort, and hope, and I thank you for the people who have responded selflessly to the need for relief help.

We don’t need to wash feet, but we do need to serve; selflessly, gladly, humbly, and lovingly. I’m reminded of an old hymn, by B.B. McKinney.

Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways.
Come before His presence with our songs of praise.
Unto Him our Maker, we would pledge anew
Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with gladness, thankful all the while
For His tender mercies, for His loving smile.
Blessed truth enduring, always just the same.
We will serve with gladness and praise His name.

Serve the Lord with gladness, this shall be our theme.
As we walk together, in His love supreme.
Listening, ever listening for the still small voice.
His sweet Will so precious, will be our choice.

Serve Him with gladness, Enter His courts with song.
To our Creator, true praises belong.
Great is His mercy, wonderful is His name.
We gladly serve Him, His great love proclaim.

Grace and peace, friends.