Rolling Thunder

Good morning. It is Sunday, December 7, 2014. 19 days until Christmas!

Did you know that if you drilled a tunnel through the earth and jumped in, it would allegedly take you 42-53 minutes to get to the other side? Personally, I don’t think this is accurate for several reasons. First, you would die from the heat as you got closer to the core of the planet. Second, the gravity would reverse on the other end, making it much more difficult to climb out the other side. Of course, “they” might be factoring the gravity into the equation. Maybe it would take you, say ten minutes to fall to the center, and the rest of the time to climb out the other end. However, gravity would not affect the fact that, at an estimated 9800 degrees F, you would be a crispy critter before you got through the core. I’m no rocket surgeon, but that’s just my guess.

Today is Cotton Candy Day. This magnificently tasty and light (not to mention really sticky) treat was invented in (or at least the machine that makes it) 1897 by William Morrison and John C Warton. They kept it a secret, though, until the 1904 World Fair. It was an instant success.

Besides being Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, today is also the day that Christi and I had our first date, 30 years ago! It was a Friday night in 1984, and I was warming up for the TGIF bowling league where we had met, at Wedgwood Bowl, in Fort Worth, Texas. Wedgwood Bowl is long gone, sadly. Christi came up to me and told me that her and her previous boyfriend “broke up for good.” Not spoken, but most definitely implied, was, “Here I am, come and get me!” 🙂 Do I did. We went to the midnight show of Laser Magic at the Noble Planetarium in Fort Worth for our first “date.” 30 years later, our love is still going strong. God has blessed beyond our wildest imagination. Happy first date anniversary, my love!!

Later today, we will be going out for “brunch,” to The Egg and I, a new restaurant close by that is open for breakfast and lunch. The menu looks pretty good, so we decided to give it a try today. Christi has a few things she would like to shop for, so we will be doing that after we eat. That’s pretty much all we have planned for the day.

Last night’s church service was pretty good. We had another good prayer gathering, and then Jacob’s message . . . well, it was very convicting. He’s been going through the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20, and last night’s message was all about the words, “Go, therefore.” That’s it. One of the main points of the message involved being sure that we are not wasting our lives on unimportant pursuits. That one got me, big time. There’s a lot to think about.

(Source: This Day In History)

As previously referenced, it was on this date in 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” that “Japanese warplanes bomb the U.S. naval base at Oahu Island’s Pearl Harbor.” And thus, the United States entered World War II. 18 American ships were destroyed in the early morning surprise attack, along with over 300 planes that were destroyed or damaged. In addition, more than 2400 American lives were lost, 1000 on the Arizona, alone.

Today’s birthdays include Larry Bird, Yasiel Puig, Jennifer Carpenter, Harry Chapin, Dominic Howard, Tom Waits, Johnny Bench, Ellen Burstyn, Ted Knight, Damien Rice, Saint Columba, and Madame Tussaud.

Harry Chapin was an American singer/songwriter who was born on this date in 1942. He died, tragically, in a car accident on July 16, 1981. Here is his song, “30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” from his live album, Greatest Stories Live.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Second Week of Advent

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
Psalm 101:1
But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 88:13
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 149
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare
the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
Matthew 17:24-27

An interesting passage, this is likely not really about whether we should pay taxes to the government, but, rather, about the fact that Christians, as “sons,” are free from obligations that are imposed upon “others.” Also, the “tax” in question is not a civil tax, but a “temple tax,” which was collected to pay the expenses of the temple. However, in spite of his declaration of freedom, Jesus, in order to not “give offense,” directed Peter to go catch a fish and get the tax money out of the mouth of the fish. I see this as complementary to Paul’s teaching that we, as believers, are to, as much as is possible, obey the laws of men in order to live peaceably.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “When God Entered Human History.”

“The world has been irreparably changed by Jesus Christ.” When the Gospel is preached in its purest essence, if we are sincere, we are forced to reevaluate our entire lives. “The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, cracks open our capsuled truths.” New paths are forged in all directions. In spite of our cries of “let there be peace on earth,” in reality, the gospel did not appear to bring peace, but to bring revolution. “The gospel is no Pollyanna tale for the harmless but a cutting-edge, rolling thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.”

When Jesus came to earth, God “shattered all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be.” In this day and age when we honor men, let us stop and think . . . was Jesus poor that we might be rich? Was he mocked that we might be honored? Was he laughed at that we might be lauded? Nay, but we are, as Paul says in Colossians 1:24, “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” In other words, I have not yet reached the fullness of Christ’s sufferings in my own life, and am striving to complete that. Hopefully that makes sense.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
Luke 1:68

Father, as I continue reading these devotions centered around the first advent of Christ, and as I continue to hear my pastor’s messages on the Great Commission, I pray for clarity. I was convicted last night, and await instructions from your Spirit on what I should be doing and how. May you grant me the boldness, confidence, and power to do whatever it is that you have for me to do. I am grateful for the ministry of intercession that you have placed me in, and am excited about where it will take me. Yet, I feel that there is still more, especially in the realm of making disciples. I pray that your direction will be forthcoming, that I might be fully equipped to proceed, and that your Spirit will enable me to go wherever I need to go do be about your business. However, I also pray that I will not be tempted to run ahead of you, without said enabling. Help me to be right where you need me to be.

I pray for this day. I am so very grateful that you brought Christi into my life 30 years ago, and that you have kept here there all these years. I pray that our relationship will continue to grow in love and strength. I pray for safety today, as we go out and about, and that we will also have good rest this evening, as we prepare for the week of work ahead of us. As we get closer to our observation of Christmas, I pray that we will be in tune with what Jesus has brought to humanity by his advent here.

May your life be shaken by the advent of Jesus Christ during this Christmas season.

Grace and peace, friends.

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