Unwavering Confidence

“. . . he is calling us to unconditional abandonment to God’s mercy over the sins of our past, and to unwavering confidence that they have not only been forgiven, but entirely forgotten.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Sunday, October 5, 2014.

Today is World Teachers Day. I can’t tell you how much I respect and appreciate teachers. Some of the teachers in my life has passed on, now, but I would give all of them (even the ones I didn’t like so much) a heart-felt “Thank you,” for the hours they put into the task of teaching me. To quote a bumper sticker that I once saw: “If you can read, thank a teacher.”

Yesterday was an interesting day, to say the least. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but will simply say that Stephanie has been the victim of some “cyber-bullying.” A girl that we thought was her friend was involved, more than likely not initiating it, but going along with it. We are currently attempting to communicate with this girl’s parents. For now, that is all I’m going to say about it, other than to ask for your prayers for Stephanie, as she is pretty shaken by the whole ordeal.

We had a good evening at church, and our PAT meeting afterward went well, I think. We had some good fellowship around the dinner table and then some good discussion about important topics.

Afterward, Christi and I stayed up until midnight, watching the most recent episode of The Voice. I tell you, I love that show more and more, each season. Pharrell has got to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever seen in a setting like this. It also seems that each year brings more contestants who got their start in some form of church music. I find that intriguing.

Christi is back at another meeting, this morning, to, hopefully, finish re-writing our church’s by-laws. It turned out to be a more daunting task than they expected.

The Giants beat the Nationals in what is now the longest playoff game in the history of MLB. The final score after 18 innings and six-plus hours was 2-1.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work, but only for three days! Woot!!

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1892 that the notorious Dalton Gang attempted their last robbery. They tried to rob two banks, simultaneously, in Coffeyville, Kansas. However, when someone in town recognized one of them, the word was quietly spread, and the townspeople went home and got their guns, returning to surround the two banks. When the bank robbers emerged, they were greeted by a hail of bullets. When all was said and done, only Emmett Dalton survived. The townspeople of Coffeyville had destroyed the Dalton Gang. Emmett, after recovering from serious wounds, was tried and convicted and served 14 years in prison.

Today’s birthdays include Kate Winslet, Jesse Eisenberg, Scott Weinger, Brian Johnson, Mario Lemieux, Larry Fine, James Valentine, Karen Allen, Bob Geldof, Guy Pearce, Jeff Conaway, Ray Kroc, Allen Ludden, Chester Arthur, Steve Miller, Jonathan Edwards, Donald Pleasence, Bill Keane, Bill Dana, Bob Thaves, B.W. Stevenson, Clive Barker, and Colin Meloy.

Colin Meloy is the lead singer for The Decemberists. He was born on this date in 1974, making him 40 today. Here is a clip of their song “Down By The Water,” performed live on Conan.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:3
Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

Psalm 102:1-2
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”

Psalm 70:4
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

Psalm 46:1-4
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance
of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving
us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and
mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13

Matthew was simply sitting at his tax booth, doing his job, when Jesus called him. He was not seeking Christ. In fact, we don’t even know if he knew who Jesus was. Jesus just walked by and said, “Follow me.” And Matthew “rose and followed him.” Just like that. As for whose table Jesus was reclining at, we get from other Gospels that it was Matthew’s house, as he had prepared a great feast. Apparently, many other “tax collectors and sinners” joined the party, which seriously miffed the Pharisees. Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners!! Gasp!! Jesus’s response to their objections was very interesting. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Later, he says, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Pharisees considered themselves “righteous,” so this was directed at them. He also told them to go learn the meaning of the statement, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” We would all do well to learn the meaning of that phrase. “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Radical Trust.”

Do we have the ability, like Paul to cry out, I can do all things through him who strengthens me? If we are saints, truly enlightened and inspired by the Holy Spirit, we should be able to trust radically.

At the end of John 16, in verse 33, Jesus says, But take heart; I have overcome the world. Jesus tells his disciples, “Have confidence in me, be brave, cheer up.” In these words, “he is calling us to unconditional abandonment to God’s mercy over the sins of our past, and to unwavering confidence that they have not only been forgiven, but entirely forgotten.” If we truly believe this, how, then, can we not radically trust him?

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God
and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—

Philippians 3:3

Father, I have struggled for many years with the ability (or lack, thereof) to have this radical trust in you. There are flashes of brilliance, where I am able to trust just fine, but then there are dismal failures where trust seems to completely evaporate, and I am stranded in a sea of doubt, desperately seeking solace in your grace. I always find it, because you are always with me. And for that I am eternally grateful. But I pray that the moments of brilliance would come more often; that my faith would be strengthened, and that I would be able to say, with Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Let that be my mantra for this week, Lord, as I go back to work tomorrow. Let it be that which keeps me doing your will through the mundane tasks of opening boxes, counting parts, and entering data over and over and over. I pray that my tasks would not be done in a mindless flurry of activity, but that I would look at each moment of time as a gift from you, with endless possibilities of serving you and even, perhaps, serving others.

I pray for this day. I pray for the “committee” that is currently looking over the church’s by-laws, and that they would have success in completing their task today. Give them grace and wisdom as they work on this, and may they be in agreement over all things. I pray for rest this afternoon and evening, rejuvenating our bodies, minds, and spirits for the work week ahead. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would wrap her in your arms, in a loving embrace that shows her that she is valuable, so very valuable to you!

Your grace is sufficient!

Phil 4-13

Radical trust is what separates true Christ-followers from the rest of the world. And it’s where my heart desires to be.

Grace and peace, friends.

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