Centering Down

“Living for God finds its foremost expression in prayer. The heart of discipleship lies in commitment and worship, not reflection and theory.” The Spirit that Jesus has given us gives us a way to “live on the surface and out of the depths at the same time.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Sunday, September 7, 2014. 14 more days of summer.

Today is Salami Day. Grab yourself some salami and have a feast!

Well, I seem to have developed another case of cellulitis in my left leg. I have, however, procured some antibiotics to take for it, so it will hopefully be better in a couple of days. I knew something was going on yesterday, but tried to think that it was not cellulitis again. It has been a long time since I have had that.

Yesterday was an okay day, but since I wasn’t feeling well, it didn’t seem like a good day. I was struggling to stay alert during the message at last night’s worship service, but it was a pretty good message, contrasting the different reactions of the “rich young ruler” and Zacchaeus, upon their individual encounters with Jesus. It was the foundational message in a series called “Treasure: Finding the Gospel in our Finances.” The PAT meeting after church went well, but drug on a little longer than I would have liked, as I did not get anything to eat at Rosa’s. I didn’t feel my stomach could handle spicy Mexican food, so I waited until I got home and had a can of tuna.

Christi needs to go back out and get some stuff for her mother that, for some reason, didn’t make it on their list yesterday. Other than that, we are pretty much spontaneous today. We rented Dallas Buyers Club at Redbox, so we will watch that after I finish here. Then while Christi is out, I plan to watch Oculus, which I also rented from Redbox.

It is now a month and five days until our 29th anniversary, and a weekend in Glen Rose. I can hardly wait.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1785, William Fox headed a meeting at Paul’s Head Tavern in London that resulted in the formation of the first Sunday School Society for Britain. The purpose of the Society was “to prevent vice; to encourage industry and virtue; to dispel darkness and ignorance; to diffuse the light of knowledge; to bring men cheerfully to submit to their stations; to obey the laws of God and their country; to make that useful part of the community, the country poor, happy; to lead them in the pleasant paths of religion here, and to endeavor to prepare them for a glorious eternity.”

Today’s birthdays include Buddy Holly, Elizabeth Queen of England I, Corbin Bernsen, Evan Rachel Wood, Gloria Gaynor, Shannon Elizabeth, Toby Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Julie Kavner, Grandma Moses, Anthony Quayle, Harry Sinclair Lewis, Ed Warren, and Susan Blakely.

Buddy Holly was an American singer/songwriter who had a backup band known as The Crickets. He was born on this date in 1936, and died in 1959, in the famous plane crash that also took Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Here is his song, “Oh, Boy.”

And just for kicks, here is a great video made for Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

(From The Divine Hours)

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Psalm 32:11
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Psalm 50:2
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Grant me, O Lord, to trust in you with all my heart; for, as you always resist the proud
who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of
your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:1-4

As I begin Matthew 6 (still part of the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus speaks of how we should treat our gifts to the poor. His disciples are instructed to give to charity quietly, without calling attention to themselves. This doesn’t mean all charitable giving should be anonymous. Sometimes, that is impossible. What it does mean, though, is that we don’t do it “before other people.” In addition, it is wrong for church leadership to point out people who have contributed to the ministries of the church, or given sacrificially to help someone else out. We are to “sound no trumpet,” so that we are not praised by others. Jesus warns us that if we call attention to our gift, then the praise of men will be our full reward for the act. We give in secret, so that “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

I once knew a man who took this so literally that he wouldn’t even declare his offerings to the church on his taxes each year. I don’t carry it that far. After all, Jesus also said, “Render unto Caesar,” and so on. 🙂

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Secret Places of the Heart.”

“Living for God finds its foremost expression in prayer. The heart of discipleship lies in commitment and worship, not reflection and theory.” The Spirit that Jesus has given us gives us a way to “live on the surface and out of the depths at the same time.” So we can do our daily, mundane tasks, make plans, have conversations, and be completely cognizant of the day’s demands on us. At the same time, as we live deeply within, “we can be in prayer adoration, thanksgiving, and attentiveness to the Spirit.” Does this sound like something that is just wishful thinking? I can certainly see how we would think that. But I have, albeit not so frequently, experienced this and know that it is possible. It is what I strive for on a daily basis.

Our daily lives have a tendency to be filled with cacophony. But those “secret places of the heart” give us a sort of “sanctuary of praise” in the midst of all that noise. There is a phrase that is used by many who meditate, called “centering down.” This can consist of “a quiet, persistent turning to God while driving, cooking, conversing, writing, and so on.” It can, with practice, become a habit. Brother Lawrence referred to it as “the practice of the presence of God.”

O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.

Psalm 65:2

Father, help me to “center down” daily. I already have developed a habit of praying during my morning drive to work. And after I am finished praying, I try to spend the remainder of the drive in silence. I’m not always successful, as you know. But that time should be spent turning my thoughts to you in preparation for the work day ahead. It would be impossible to spend too much time in this practice. Help me to do it throughout the work day, as well as throughout the rest days. I should always be centering down to turn my thoughts toward you. Help me to “live on the surface and out of the depths at the same time.” My heart’s desire is to always be living in the Spirit, even while I am doing the most mundane things.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s safety and sanity as she does more things for her mother, who frequently shows no gratitude whatsoever. I pray that Christi is building up treasure in heaven by these selfless acts. I pray for my cellulitis to be well. I thank you for the prayers of the saints. I pray for the rest of our day, that we might have good rest and relaxation, in preparation for the week of work ahead. Let us work from our rest as we practice the rhythm of life in Christ.

Reflections for Ragamuffins

This book has been one of the best devotions I have ever read. I am so grateful for Brennan and his insights during this year. As I work through this next week, I hope to concentrate on living “on the surface and out of the depths at the same time.”

Grace and peace, friends.

4 thoughts on “Centering Down

  1. “To get men to cheerfully submit to their stations” — now there’s a comment I find chilling to the bone ( but then I would, wouldn’t I? ). Thanks Jeff. Praying the Lord heals your cellulitis and right quick. In Jesus’ Name, amen. Carley

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