It’s Your Breath In My Lungs

“Paul’s cheeks are still streaked because of the ignorance of God’s Word, tepidity, rank insincerity, spiritual adultery, indifference to prayer, comfortable piety, and apostolic sloth that dapple the Christian life in America today.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Sunday, September 21, 2014. Fall begins tomorrow, somewhere around 9:30 PM.

Whoa! Today is Wife Appreciation Day! Why didn’t someone tell me earlier?? I cannot properly put into words how much I appreciate my wife, Christi Bickley. She puts up with so much from me, especially these little rants I go on when I’m uncertain about things in my life.

It’s also International Day of Peace. That was a tough choice. But I figured that if everyone would appreciate their wives, we would have peace. So, there. 😀

Outside of Christi not feeling well, we actually had a pretty good Saturday. The prayer time and worship time went well, and Jacob’s sermon really hit home last night. He was naming off four things to look for to see if we are guilty of having a “love of money,” which, of course, Paul warns Timothy, is “a root of all kinds of evils.” All too often, this verse (1 Timothy 6:10) is misquoted and it is said that money is the root of all evil. Not true. Money is neutral. But what you do with it, or how you feel about it can be the ” root of all kinds of evils.” Anyway, the first thing to look for was envy. As I listened, I was thinking, “I’m okay on that one. I don’t really have an envy problem.” Not that I don’t ever envy anyone, but I’m not really all that terribly concerned if someone has more stuff or money or a nicer car than I do. I do, sometimes, get envious at position, but that doesn’t involve money or stuff. The second one was shallowness, and I’m struggle to remember exactly how he described that, but I remember thinking that I don’t have a real issue with that one, either. It was on the third and fourth ones where I got blasted. The third one was ingratitude. Now, mind you, I thank God a lot. But how often do I stop and thank him for providing for me/us? We are so used to just going and getting whatever we think we need (Jacob talked a lot about that word) that we don’t stop to think that God provided it for us! “God didn’t give me that! I ordered it from Amazon!” I used to struggle a lot more with the difference between “want” and “need.” Jacob discussed this at some length last night.

“I NEED the new iPhone 6!”
“Really? What’s wrong with your current phone?”
“Well, nothing. But it’s ‘old.'”
“Does it still work?”
“Well, yes, but. . . ”
“Then you don’t really NEED it, do you?”
“. . . ”

See? We get those two words confused a lot, don’t we? There are people standing in line, sleeping outside of stores, to get the newest iPhone! Every year, on “Black Friday,” people start lining up outside of Best Buy hours before the store opens, so they can get those “door busters.” Jacob said, as he combined quotes from several different people, that as we get more stuff and lower the bar of what makes us happy, we shrink our souls. Now, there’s something to think about. It was also during this part of the message that I become convicted that I really don’t need to get a new iPhone 6 for Christmas. I’ve got a perfectly functional Galaxy S4. I don’t need another phone until that one quits working or gets broken somehow. And no, I’m not going to “accidentally” drop it.

The last point was greed. I never thought I was “greedy,” until last night. That one hit me pretty hard, too. I’m not greedy in the sense that I’m always scheming ways to get more money and stuff. In fact, there have been multiple times in the past few years that I have been convicted of my love of stuff, and God has been doing a great job of weaning me off of that. I actually haven’t bought any new books or music in a while, now. My accumulation has slowed down, and I’m now working on making myself get rid of some of it. But I still tend to look at the numbers in our bank account and either experience peace or panic. My peace should be in the God who provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, not in the numbers in my bank account or how many cool t-shirts I have.

After the service, we had a nice time of food and fellowship. There were some silly games afterward, but Christi wasn’t feeling well, so we left. That was a bit awkward, because she kind of wanted to stay, but thought I didn’t want to, so she suggested leaving after a friend talked her into it, because she was coughing quite a bit. But I didn’t know she was suggesting it because she thought I wanted to leave, and I would have been okay with staying, even though I had no intent of participating in all of the games (Dizzy Bat Race? No thank you!). And then Stephanie almost had a meltdown because she wanted to “stay and watch.” Ah, well. Sometimes, even couples who have been married 29 years have miscommunications, don’t they?

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1782 that the Continental Congress authorized “Robert Aitkin to publish the first English-language Bible printed in America.”

Today’s birthdays include Dave Coulier, Bill Murray, Stephen King, Faith Hill, Liam Gallagher, Larry Hagman, Luke Wilson, Leonard Cohen, Allison Scagliotti, Chuck Jones, H.G. Wells, Cheryl Hines, Nancy Travis, Frederick III, Henry Gibson, and Don Felder.

There are quite a few in this list that I’m fond of. I’m posting two clips. First, Allison Scagliotti, who played the adorable Claudia in Warehouse 13, turns a mere 24 today. Here is a pretty well-made clip of highlights from the show.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chuck Jones, the animator who gave us Bugs Bunny and friends, would have been 102 today. He passed away in 2002. Sadly, I couldn’t find a complete clip of “What’s Opera Doc” on You Tube. Instead, I found this nicely done live presentation of the cartoon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
Psalm 98:1
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 119:141
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Psalm 71:5
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:2-3

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Grant that I, Lord, may not be anxious about earthly things, but love things heavenly;
and even now, while I am placed among things that are passing away, hold fast to those
that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:12

Often called “The Golden Rule,” Jesus has taken a teaching that was taught by other contemporary and ancient thinkers, and made it positive. The phrase was reportedly heard as “Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.” Jesus has rephrased it immediately after his talk about God’s goodness and willingness to give to us. The new paragraph heading in most Bibles probably is misplaced. I think this sentence belongs more with the previous verses than with the one that follows it. Since God is so good to us and willing to give to us, we should be more willing to do good things to those around us, especially as we would prefer them to do good things to us. As we take this even further, it affects the principle of retribution. If someone does evil to me, and I repay it by doing evil to him, I have violated this rule.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Enemies To the Cross.”

Paul wrote to the Philippians, For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19) Brennan says, “Paul’s cheeks are still streaked because of the ignorance of God’s Word, tepidity, rank insincerity, spiritual adultery, indifference to prayer, comfortable piety, and apostolic sloth that dapple the Christian life in America today.” Those are strong words, aren’t they? Do you think they are unfair? How many people do you know that think that “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible? How many people have you heard, lately, say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” There’s your Biblical ignorance. How many people grace the doors of their “church” on Sunday morning (or whatever day/time they go), sing a few songs, casually listen to a message, and then go out and act exactly the same way they always do, with their lives not changed one bit? There’s your rank insincerity. How many people attend prayer gatherings at your church? We average five. And there are six people on our Intercessory Prayer Team!! There’s your indifference to prayer. (Not that attendance at a prayer meeting is by any means mandatory to exhibit a passion for prayer . . . but doesn’t it say something?) How many people believe that, because they show up in church every week, they must be doing pretty good? Comfortable piety. I’m not sure what he means by “apostolic sloth,” other than perhaps he is saying that our ministers have gotten lazy. The Church in America is suffering, and not because of anything that could be remotely considered “persecution.” It is suffering because it has gotten lethargic. It is satisfied with the status quo. To quote C.S. Lewis, “We are far too easily pleased.”

“When Jesus Christ reveals himself through his Word, which is acting and creative, he calls for a spontaneous response. His message is not a reassurance to keep right on doing what we have been doing but, writes Edward O’Connor, ‘a summons to the labor of eliminating from our lives, faithfully and perseveringly, everything in us that is opposed to the work of and will of his Holy Spirit for us. Faith means that we be ready to act on the Word.'”

. . . to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment,
so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Galatians 2:5

Father, I pray for the Church in America and in the rest of the world. I pray for your Holy Spirit to set us on fire for the Gospel of Christ. I pray that we would represent the Kingdom of Heaven rightly, wherever we are, whenever we are. The Gospel permeates life in ways that we cannot imagine, and if we stop to consider the effects of our actions before we act, what a difference we could make in our world. In particular, Father, I pray that you would help us to dispense with our envy, shallowness, ingratitude, and greed. May we not be guilty of having a love of money. It’s okay to have money, but we cannot serve or love both money and you! May we serve and love only you, and, thereby, use the resources which you have given us to bless and provide for others. Help my family to be more faithful with what you have given us. Help us to be better stewards and gather only what we need, and not as much of what we just want. May we be better at showing gratitude for everything you have given us, which is, of course, everything we have. All that I have, even the breath in my lungs, belongs to you. There is nothing that I have that was not given to me by you. Nothing. Lord, my Father, deliver me from ignorance of your Word, tepidity, rank insincerity, spiritual adultery, indifference to prayer, comfortable piety, and apostolic sloth. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day. May we have a restful day, preparing ourselves for the week of work that awaits us. I pray that we will have a good visit with Rachel and Justin this afternoon, as we share lunch with them. Keep us all safe, Father, and thank you so very much for your provision for us as we go our way each day.

Think not that you have obtained anything around you by your own abilities and resources. All that you have is the Lord’s and all that you have was given by him.

Grace and peace, friends.

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