Good morning. It is Sunday, October 19, 2014. My one day off this weekend.
I actually had a very nice day at work, yesterday. Out of the three Saturdays that I have worked, it was definitely the best one. The right combination of people was there to help out, and not only did we get all the work done early, we actually had a very pleasant time doing so. We got finished between 2:00 and 2:30, and I was on my way home before 2:30, which is over an hour early. The way I understand it, I am more than welcome to stay for the whole eight hours if I want to, but I’d rather get home. I was actually home in time to get to our church’s prayer gathering before the service. That was a pleasant surprise, and I’m sure it took a small burden off of the pastor, who was prepared to lead it if I didn’t make it.
Speaking of our pastor, he is heading to Thailand tonight, for an eleven day trip. We wish him the best during this trip, and will be praying for his safety, that he will have a marvelous time, and that God will use him in a mighty way as he travels.
Today, Stephanie will be going on a “horse outing” with good friends, Summer and Terry. Christi and I will do the grocery shopping for us and her mother and step-dad. After that, we will sit around and do nothing for the rest of the day. 😀 Well, not technically “nothing.” I’m sure we will get caught up on some TV watching and eat something. Not much else, though.
(Source: This Day In History)
It was on this date in 1985 that the first Blockbuster Video Store opened in Dallas, Texas. Less than thirty years later, only about 50 stores are left (and this information may be outdated). At its peak, there were up to 9000 stores open, world-wide.
Today’s birthdays include Colton Dixon, Robert Reed, John Lithgow, Chris Kattan, Michael Young, Rodney Carrington, Desmond Harrington, Peter Max, Pete Loeffler, Amy Carter, Jeannie C. Riley, Patrick Simmons, and Tracy Chevalier.
Pete Loeffler, 38 years old today, is the lead guitarist/vocalist for the Chicago-based rock group, Chevelle. My favorite song of theirs is a song from their album, This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In), called “Vitamin R.” The song is about the ADHD/Autism drug, Ritalin.
(From The Divine Hours)
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.
God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?
There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations:
Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere
with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; 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
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Another troubling paragraph in this discourse of Christ in Matthew. Jesus wants prospective disciples to understand that following him may bring strife to a family. This is more true in other countries than it is in the U.S. I have heard true stories of people being disowned by their families, even to the point that a funeral is given for a child who embraces Christianity. In Jesus’s day, there would likely have been an uproar if a family member followed him, departing from traditional Jewish ways. Verse 38 speaks of a willing surrender of personal rights to follow Christ. Taking up my cross is deliberately obeying and identifying with Jesus, even to the point of death, if need be. What it does NOT mean is some particular burden in our lives, over which we have no control. Most of the time, when people say, “That’s just my cross to bear,” it really is not. Neither does it mean I have to pick up a literal cross and walk across the country, carrying it.
Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Jesus’ Work In Us.” (This is actually the reading for October 18)
We don’t have to go halfway around the globe to do “mission work.” “The compassionate love of Jesus at work within us empowers us to suffer with, endure with, struggle with, partake of, be moved in the depths of our being for the hunger, nakedness, loneliness, pain, squalid choices, and failed dreams of our brothers and sisters in the human family.” We don’t have to be Mother Teresa or Medical Missionaries in order to live this out. (Now, mind you, if God has called you to such a life, you’d best be on your way.) “The Passion of Christ is being played out in our own communities, perhaps in our own homes, in anyone who is in agony of flesh or spirit.” The presence of Christ in our lives is not some vague, ethereal thing. It is reality, and whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for Jesus Christ.
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
Father, I am grateful, first of all, that my family is not hostile toward the gospel, and that there is no enmity between any of us because of our faith in you. This is a great blessing that many do not have. I pray that I will be always willing to take up my cross and follow you in obedience, as well as identifying with you in all circumstances. I pray for boldness and faith should true persecution come my way because of my faith. I also pray for the compassion of Jesus to be at work in me in regards to people around me in my community. I pray especially for this compassion as I relate to my brothers and sisters in the community of our local church. Help us to understand that “mission work” can be done right in our own community, with people who are near and dear to us.
I pray for this day. I pray that Stephanie will have a good time with Summer on their horse outing. I pray that we will have a pleasant time as we have to do our errands this afternoon, and that we will get some good rest during the rest of the day. May your presence be evident with us as we do whatever we do today.
I pray that Jacob has a safe trip to Thailand tonight, and that his journey will be spectacular!
May we all find ways to be the Church in our communities around us, being Christ to “the least of these” wherever we are.
Grace and peace, friends.