Sin and Grace

Good morning. It is Sunday, November 16, 2014. Did you know that depressed people don’t perceive color as well? There is evidence that their world is literally grayer.

Today is Button Day. It is a day for all who enjoy collecting and crafting with buttons.

We had a wonderful time visiting with my parents, yesterday. We had a simple lunch of tuna salad sandwiches and chips, then chocolate cake and “Apple Dump Cake” for desert. Apple dump cake works like regular dump cake, only with apples instead of cherries and pineapples. It was delicious! As was the cake (which Christi made). We had the birthday presents after that, for my Dad and for Christi. After sitting and chatting for a little bit (while watching TCU trying to lose to Kansas), Christi drove my Mom to the store, while my Dad and I stayed at the house, continuing to talk and watch the game. It was just an incredible afternoon. I took my Dad a couple of books, and they gave me six. They win again. 😀

Today, we are going to pick up Christi’s Mom and Step-Dad, to go to lunch at Chef Point, the gourmet restaurant in the gas station in Watauga. They want to buy our lunch for Christi’s birthday. Later this evening, I think we are meeting some of our old Huddle group at Cheddar’s for dinner. I’m still not sure if that’s really happening.

Currently, it’s a chilly 40 degrees, here, with on and off light rain. It appears that it will be getting steadily colder throughout the day, to reach a low of 28 sometime tonight. I sure hope it doesn’t rain any more after dropping below freezing!

(Source: This Day In History)

On this date in 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to death for alleged “antigovernment activities linked to a radical intellectual group.” He was led before firing squad on December 22, “but received a last-minute reprieve and was sent to a Siberian labor camp, where he worked for four years.” He would not publish Crime and Punishment until 1866.

Today’s birthdays include Lisa Bonet, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Burgess Meredith, Missi Pyle, Diana Krall, Marg Helgenberger, Oksana Baiul, Dwight Gooden, Miguel Sandoval, Paul Hindemith, Daws Butler, Hubert Sumlin, Chi Coltrane, and David Leisure.

Paul Hindemith was a 20th Century German composer, born on this date in 1895. He passed away in 1963. Here is the March from Syphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, probably my favorite piece of his.


(From The Divine Hours)

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
Psalm 65:5
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:1-5
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,
that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Matthew 13:45-46

This is very similar to yesterday’s parable, and the explanation is pretty much the same. Those who find and appreciate the truth of the Gospel will be willing to give up everything to “purchase” it. Of course, we realize that it cannot be purchased, as such. This is just a comparison.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Inspiration or Reproach?”

“The perfectionist interprets weakness as mediocrity and inconsistency as a loss of nerve. The desire for perfection transcends the desire for God.” The compassionate attitude of self-acceptance becomes unacceptable. “The notion that sin and grace can coexist simultaneously in the same person, that imperfection and inspiration are not mutually exclusive, is a maudlin concession valid only for those not striving for spiritual excellence.” This is a tremendous statement, and must be considered solely as still coming from the perspective of the perfectionist. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to drift into this path of spiritual perfectionism. Paul, the apostle, wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:15-25) Father Bernard Rush said, “It has never been expressed so succinctly. Saint Paul can even find the hand of God and a response of praise in the contemplation of his own sinfulness.”

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38

Father, I pray for the Spirit to direct me away from spiritual perfectionism. I can strive for excellence in my spiritual life, seeking to develop the spiritual disciplines, without falling into this trap of believing that weakness is mediocrity. Praises be to your holy name that sin and grace can, indeed, coexist simultaneously!! How else could we live, if this were not true? What a miserable existence we would have if we believed the opposite to be true. In fact, I have struggled with that very thing in the past, thinking that you only loved me when I was following your word perfectly, which I have never done, therefore, you couldn’t possibly love me! I have been there. But thanks be to you, I have been delivered from that way of thinking to the truth that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to cause you to love me either less or more! This is a glorious truth that I celebrate, even in the very title of this blog! Thank you for your crazy love, Father, and the truth that, even in my sin, your grace abounds, and your love never fails! I do not think to excuse sin, may it never be! But I do not let it cause me to despair, either, for I am forgiven by the grace that comes from the sacrifice of our savior, Jesus Christ!

I pray for this day. May our activities today be pleasant and good in your sight. I pray that we will have a nice time with Carol and Don, in a little while, and that your grace will be with us as we have lunch with them. Then, may our gathering this evening with our Huddle friends be fun and relaxing, preparing us for the week ahead. I pray that Stephanie feels well enough to go with us.

I am very grateful for the good time we had yesterday, Father. I believe your presence was felt as we broke bread and had fellowship with my parents. May your grace and mercy continue to overflow in their lives.

Let us not fall into the trap of spiritual perfectionism, but willingly and joyfully accept the grace that the Lord lavishes upon us.

Grace and peace, friends.

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