In Community, Not Alone

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, June 12, 2013.

Amber the Cat seems to be slowly improving. But we are still having to hand-feed her. This is a slow process. But the doctor did say that it takes close to a week for any kind of gastro-intestinal thing to get over. She seems to be eating more each day, even if it is a fight to feed her. She does occasionally get up and drink some water, too. And we think she looks better this morning.

Seven more work days on this account. I had a nice conversation with our top manager yesterday (he kind of inherited this account when our actual account manager took another job). He finally told me that they appreciated everything I have done through this, and that he didn’t think they could have made it without me. I asked for the week off immediately after we are done with it, and he said just send him the vacation request and he would run it through. So, I’m planning to be on vacation the week of June 24. I may sleep the whole week. Probably not. But it will be the most stress-free week I’ve had since February.

Monday afternoon, on the way home from work, I had a sort of “epiphany.” It could have very well been the “voice” of God, through the Holy Spirit. But regardless of what you believe about stuff like that, it suddenly dawned on me that I was taking all of this crap (sorry if that word offends you) too personally! None of this is personal. Of course, I hate it when my company fails at something. And we’ve been having service failures right and left as this account has continued to wind down. It seems like people care less and less about our performance. And I’ve been taking it too personally, which has caused me stress like you can’t even imagine! (Well, maybe you can; if you can, I pity you.) At that very moment, it was like all the stress that I had been feeling just melted away. Yesterday wasn’t much better than the day before. There were things that went wrong, and things that I had to fix right off the bat when I got to work. Yes, I got frustrated about a few things, but at the end of the day, I could say that I was amazingly UN-stressed! Thank you, Lord, for that!

In other news, Christi is OUT OF THE BOOT!!! Her doctor was, once again thrilled with her progress, so she can wear regular tennis shoes with inserts in them! Still no strenuous exercise for four weeks, when she sees the doctor again, but in a couple of weeks, she can start some light walking exercise. We are all very happy!


Today is Red Rose Day. Isn’t that the haunted house in Seattle that Stephen King wrote about? Oh, wait. No. That’s “Rose Red.” Sorry.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1937, eight of Stalin’s top commanders were executed for charges of treason, one of them being Marshal Mikhail N. Tukhachesvsky. This was part of Stalin’s plan to purge Russia of all opposition (even potential) to his regime. “Among the targets of scrutiny were former aristocrats, tsarist officers and anyone associated with Trotsky’s command of the Red Army during the Civil War.” Over the next year, this purge continued with the following losses occurring either through death or imprisonment: “three of five marshals; fourteen of sixteen army commanders; 60 of 67 corps commanders; 136 of 199 division commanders; 221 of 397 brigade commanders; and some 35,000 lower-ranking officers–in all amounting to about half the officer corps. Their replacements were for the most part unfit or untrained as commanders.” All of this, of course, resulted in some embarrassing and disastrous defeats during 1939-1941.


Today’s birthday is Anne Frank, born on this date in 1929. Born Annelies Marie Frank, she is probably the most famous of all of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Anne and her sister Margot both died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, after their family had been betrayed and captured. Anne was fifteen when she died in 1945. Otto Frank was the only survivor of the family, and when he returned to Amsterdam after the war, he discovered that Anne’s diary had been saved. He was able to get it published, so the world knows the story of Anne Frank. It was given to her on her thirteenth birthday and spans the dates from June 12, 1942 through August 1, 1944.

Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Honorable mentions go to Samuel Z. Arkoff, 1918, Dave Berg, 1920, Jim Nabors, 1930, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1977.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us. Psalm 68:28

Father, may my lips truly shout for joy this morning, as I sing your praises. Let your face shine on me this morning, as I look into your word, seeking truth and wisdom for my day.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “A Mentoring Influence.” The scripture reading is 2 Timothy 1:3-7, 13-14.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

“Paul and Timothy met during Paul’s second missionary journey and worked together for some seventeen years.” Timothy was young, but had a spiritual maturity about him that defied his age. Paul took Timothy on and acted as a “spiritual father” to him. Timothy found in Paul someone who could train him in his faith, love him, and guide him in growth, while modeling the Christian life to him. Today we call this “mentoring,” or even perhaps, “spiritual direction.” Whatever it is called, Timothy participated in the discipline of guidance as he opened his life to Paul and sought growth through his influence.

“God’s speaking in union with the human voice and human language
is the primary objective way in which God addresses us. . . . This is best
suited to the purposes of God precisely because it most fully engages the
faculties of free, intelligent beings who are socially interacting with agape
love in the work of God as his colaborers and friends.
“~~Dallas Willard, Hearing God


As I continue reading chapter one in Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, he continues to write about how we were “made to rule.” Humanity was created in covenant with God, with the command to “rule over all living things on earth, animal and plant.” God initially equipped us for this weighty task “by framing our nature to function in a conscious, personal relationship of interactive responsibility with him.” This “rule” was to be exercised in cooperation with God.

I can do very little in my own unassisted strength. If I have mechanical, electrical, or even atomic power at hand, i can do much more. But what can I do in union with God? All of the atomic power in the world pales in comparison! God created and controls all other forces.

Of course, we fell from this “intended divine context and from the task for which we are by nature fitted.” Over time, we have distanced ourselves from both God and each other, as mistrust has grown. “In our arrogance and fear we flounder through our existence on our own.” It is easy to see that lack of trust characterizes humanity today. However, our “fundamental makeup” has not changed! We still long, in the deepest places of our heart, to fulfill this original calling. We all desire to rule something in our personal life circumstances. When animals get in trouble, there’s always someone jumping up to take the cause. We experience creative will, we want to accomplish things, things of value. Unfortunately, when we jump up to take charge of the earth, we are doing it through distorted values. “Much of our time and energy is spent trying to dominate others or escape domination by them, from ‘office politics’ to tribal warfare to international relations on a global scale.” (pp. 22-23)


Father, as I prepare for the day ahead, I pray that I can be both Paul and Timothy. Let there be someone in my life, someone older and more mature, who can share his experience with me, who can teach me what he has learned about you. (This gets increasingly more difficult as I get older . . . not to find someone wiser, but to find someone older in my immediate circles.) Perhaps it can be someone who is “spiritually older,” yet not necessarily physically so. At the same time, I pray that someone could come into my life that I could share my own experience with. Surely I have learned something along the way that could be of value to someone else. I pray, however, for a humble spirit, that seeks not to “rule” my own kingdom, but to share in it, to share in community with other believers as we work together, play together, and worship together. My heart desires, not singular rule of a kingdom, but that of community. I desire fellowship with brothers and sisters. I pray that as our church moves forward, that this is what we will become, more and more.

I pray for this day ahead. I pray for Christi’s first day back at work wearing normal shoes. Help her to take it easy walking, to not try to walk too fast or too much. i pray that her foot will continue to heal as well as it already has. I also pray for job stability for her in the future. I also pray for her to find favor in this other thing that’s going on. As always, I pray that you show Stephanie your steadfast love today, teaching her your love and your ways. I thank you for my newfound attitude at work, and pray that that will remain intact today. Give me a “double portion” of your spirit today, of your wisdom, of your love, of your peace, that I might be a rock of strength in your strength today. I have no strength of my own, as seen in the above segment from Dallas Willard’s book, but in you, I can accomplish anything. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Your grace is sufficient.


Do you have a “Paul” in your life? How about a “Timothy?” In light of Willard’s writing, these kind of relationships are getting scarcer. We need to recapture the spirit of mentoring, of community, in our lives, regardless of belief systems.

Grace and peace, friends.

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