What Others Think

Good morning. It is Saturday, October 25, 2014. Welcome to the “Weekend Edition.”

Today is International Artists Day. Since my wife is an artist, I chose this one out of several choices. If you have an opportunity, support your local artists today.

Re-routing my trip to work has been fine. Yesterday, I got to work before 7:45, and had time to put all my stuff away before clocking in. In spite of the numerous traffic signals along the way, it’s a much more pleasant trip. I’m not sure why I ever started going the other way. The work day went fine, but we got 200 boxes in, yesterday, a rather large number, especially of late, so I stayed an hour over to try to get more of them processed. I think they have five or six people scheduled in today, so they should be okay.

Christi continues to absolutely love her job! It is such a blessing that she got this job. I don’t think I have ever seen her happier in a work environment! She is also feeling much better, which is great. I think she got a moment of “positional vertigo” last night, but that normally only lasts a few seconds.

Today should be a normal Saturday. We will probably head out around 10:00 or 11:00 to get groceries for us and Christi’s mom, then grab some lunch, then it will be off to set up for church. Our prayer gathering is at 4:45, and the worship service is at 5:45. Our pastor is still in Thailand, so our other elder will be preaching tonight. If you’re in our area, come check us out. We are The Exchange.

(Source: This Day in History)

It was on this date in 1994 that Susan Smith reported a fake carjacking to cover up the fact that she drover her car into a lake to murder her own children. This is a tragic tale of abuse, anyway, as it is reported that both Susan and her husband “had used their children as pawns in their tempestuous marriage.” It is reported that they both had multiple affairs during their relationship. Susan is currently serving her term of life in prison.

Today’s birthdays include Katy Perry, Pablo Picasso, Craig Robinson, Minnie Pearl, Adam Goldberg, Pedro Martinez, Helen Reddy, Marion Ross, Jon Anderson, Georges Bizet, Smoky Joe Wood, and Bobby Thomson.

Jon Anderson is a singer who, for the majority of his career, was the lead singer for the rock group Yes. He was born in 1944, and turns 70 years old today. Here is an early song of theirs, called “And You And I.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
Psalm 85:7
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Psalm 65:4
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
Psalm 85:5
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59:16-17
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Today’s Gospel Reading

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
Matthew 12:9-14

Jesus continues to confound the Pharisees, as they attempt to trap him. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is okay to break the law to “do good.” However, I will say that I believe that Jesus enforces that it is better to do good than to be concerned about legalism. After beating the Pharisees at their own game, he heals the man’s withered hand. At this point, the Pharisees begin to plot Jesus’s death.

I remember an incident many years ago, as I was riding in a car with a co-worker, also a Christian and fellow seminary student. It was Sunday afternoon, and we passed a house where a man was mowing his yard. “I wish people wouldn’t do that,” he declared. At first, I didn’t realize what he was saying. But he was holding on to that legalistic view of Sunday being “the Sabbath” (which it is NOT), and proclaiming that the entire world should cater to his opinion. That, of course, is a very slippery slope. And what if that man was mowing the yard of an elderly person who could not do it him/herself? Even if it had been the Sabbath, I believe Jesus would have approved.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Defensive Postures.”

“I find myself threatened, challenged, and exhilarated by Christ’s freedom from human respect, his extraordinary independence, indomitable courage, and unparalleled authenticity. In preaching the gospel I have been graced to speak fearlessly in the knowledge and conviction that the Word of God must not be fettered, compromised, or watered down; but in my personal life, my fears and insecurities lead me voraciously to seek the approval of others, to assume a defensive posture when I am unjustly accused, to feel guilty over refusing any request, to doggedly live up to others’ expectations, to be all things to all men in a way that would make the apostle Paul shudder.”

That’s the whole reading. I quoted it, entirely, because I felt I could not adequately paraphrase any of it without it losing intensity. I have this freedom, given to me by my relationship with Christ, yet I constantly find myself trapped by feelings of needing approval from others. I will say that, as I get older, and, hopefully, closer to God, this need seems to be less and less. There is something about getting older that makes one less concerned about what others think about you. I’ve always felt that to be a good thing. But it’s only a good think if it is in relationship to maturity in Christ. If I’m just being a cantankerous old coot, it’s really not a good thing.

but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

Father, I pray that you would continue leading me down a path of not seeking after the approval of men, but trying to live a life that is pleasing to you. I pray that, each day, I might live my life in such a way that points people toward you and your Kingdom. May I be faithful in bringing your Kingdom to the people in my life in whatever way you give me to do so. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. I also pray that you would remind me, daily, to pray more often. Teach me to “pray without ceasing.”

I pray for this day, that it will go smoothly, as we do whatever errands that we have to do. I pray for safety as we travel around today. I pray for this evening’s worship and prayer times, that your name will be lifted high, and that all that we do will glorify you. I pray that you empower Jeremy to speak the words that you have given him, and that you would open our ears to hear what your Spirit would say to us. Give us good rest tomorrow as we prepare for another week of work.

Your grace is sufficient.

As we take the Gospel to the world around us, may we be less concerned about what others think.

Grace and peace, friends.

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