The Breath of the Father on His Face

“In the starkness and simplicity of the vast uncluttered wilderness, Jesus interpreted his existence and his mission in the world at a new and decisive level and emerged from the desert with the Breath of the Father on his face.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Monday, October 6, 2014. Three more wake-ups before we go to Glen Rose! We are so excited!

Today is Mad Hatter Day. In spite of the fact that the sign on the Mad Hatter’s Hat (“In this style 10/6) meant that the hat style would cost 10 Shillings and Sixpence, someone got the bright idea that we should all act like Mad Hatters on October 6. So there you go. Today, it’s okay to be “mad as a hatter!”

The ALCS has been decided! Both Baltimore and Kansas City completed sweeps in their ALDS series, yesterday. C.J. Wilson didn’t even get out of the first inning last night as the Angels failed to even threaten to win. Okay, maybe they “threatened” in the top of the first inning, but KC threatened right back in the bottom, taking a lead that would never be challenged for the remainder of the game. This is kind of funny, because the NL playoffs are just getting to game three tonight. The Giants could sweep tonight, against the Nationals, but the Dodgers and Cards are tied at one each, so there will be at least two more games in that series. Personally, I think it would be cool to have a Cards/Royals WS. I’m sure Missouri would love that! Of course, the TV networks would hate it . . . One more thing. The ALCS is a nightmare for someone with an “R-sounding” speech impediment. Thank about it. Or say both team names out loud a few times, if you need to. Royals . . . Orioles.

Our “committee” finally got through all the by-laws yesterday, sometime around 2:00 PM. I guess we (the Pastoral Assist Team and elders) will be voting on this document at our next meeting, which should be the first Saturday night in November. I’m not looking forward to reading this document, I’ll tell you that much.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Psalm 84:8
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.
Psalm 18:46, 49
The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.
Psalm 115:16
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 131

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:14-17

I will confess that this is a passage that I have struggled with, over the years. First, Jesus explains that his disciples need not fast while he is still with them. They will fast after he, the “bridegroom,” is gone away for a while. He then goes into the bit about patches of cloth and wineskins. If you put new wine, that continues to ferment, in an old wineskin, the new wine will burst the old wineskin as it ferments. In the same way, “the old patters of fasting are inappropriate for the fullness of the kingdom that has now arrived” (Reformation Study Bible notes). Matthew Henry puts an even deeper meaning to this. As new disciples of Christ go through a period of “infancy,” so must the “work” that they are assigned to do. I’ve been in a lot of small Baptist churches in my lifetime, and a common practice is to put someone in a position of responsibility too soon after conversion. New disciples need time to “ferment” before they are placed in important positions.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Desert Temptations.”

“The temptations in the desert challenged the authenticity of the Jordan experience.” The devil repeated several times to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God . . .” Is Jesus really who he believes himself to be? Was the baptism experience legitimate? Did anyone else hear that voice? This is “a frontal assault on the religious identity of Jesus.” We don’t often (or ever, perhaps) consider the tumult that might have been going on in the inner heart of Jesus during these temptations. If we believe (and we say we do) that Jesus was “fully human and fully God,” we must consider this. “In the starkness and simplicity of the vast uncluttered wilderness, Jesus interpreted his existence and his mission in the world at a new and decisive level and emerged from the desert with the Breath of the Father on his face.” Brennan had such a beautiful way with words!

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4

Father, what a beautiful picture is painted here! The struggles within the “human heart” of Jesus during these temptations, and his emergence from the desert, full of purpose, full of your Spirit, and covered by your breath! I desire to have your breath on my face, too! I desire to come out of the wilderness (mine is not so “uncluttered,” is it?) with the same kind of purpose that Jesus had. I desire to be able to face each day’s life, full-on, with your purpose as my purpose, with your vision as my vision, and with your desires as my desires. But my flesh battles against this daily, allowing my natural desires and tendencies to come to the front. I pray that you would fill me with your Spirit, that I might more successfully do battle with these natural desires, and that I might go through the day considering others to be more important than myself, to pull back my self-sufficiency, and totally depend on you for everything.

I pray for this day, that we might have safe travel to and from work. I pray for people in southeast Dallas county and beyond, who are experiencing some wicked storms right now. May you keep them safe. I pray for our work day, that it will go smoothly. I pray for Stephanie, that you will keep her in your arms today, in a tight embrace. She seemed so much happier last night, Lord. It was a blessing to see. I pray that this continues. I pray for our extended weekend that begins Thursday, that we will have a refreshing and rejuvenating time in Glen Rose, as we celebrate 29 years together!

Your grace is sufficient!

Consider the human heart of Jesus and the struggles he must have endured as the Son of God. All too often, I think we believe it to have been easy for him, because, after all, he was God. We forget that he was also human, and, therefore, had to have experienced the same struggles we experience. And with his grace covering us, we have the same ability to emerge victorious from those struggles!

Grace and peace, friends.

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