Never Give Up

Good morning. It is Saturday, February 7, 2015. Welcome to the Weekend Edition, pt. 1. 58 days until Opening Day; 13 days until pitchers and catchers report. Baseball is in the air.

My new email signature for 2015: “No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” (Tommy Lasorda)

Today’s word of the day is Babbitry, a noun, meaning, “Behaviour and attitudes characteristic of or associated with the character George Babbitt; esp. materialistic complacency and unthinking conformity.” This, of course, is referring to a character created by Sinclair Lewis.

Today is Take Your Child To the Library Day. Running a close second was Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. That was a tough decision, but libraries will usually win over most things, even ice cream. Now, if they had ice cream at the library? I mean, who would ever leave, right?? Seriously, though, please! Take your children to the library. I am eternally indebted to my parents for doing that. I can still remember the smell . . . brings tears to my eyes.

Christi is preparing to head back to Kate’s house for the Saturday sessions of the “IF” women’s conference. Sounds like they had a pretty good time last night, although they are experiencing some technology issues. They will have to cut today’s short, of course, as we have church this evening.

Work yesterday went pretty well. I got completely caught up from Tuesday’s sick day, so my queue was completely empty when I left. That’s a good feeling. I’m not sure what’s “on my plate” for today. I watched Godzilla, last night ( the newest one), and have to admit, I was slightly confused. I’m not sure I understood which one was actually Godzilla. There were a couple of other monsters, that looked more like huge praying mantises. One of them could even fly. Between the three of them, they pretty much destroyed Honolulu, Las Vegas, and, was that Oakland? I forget. It was entertaining, but not “great.” After that, I started watching Horns, on Netflix. This is a movie, starring Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe, based on the book of the same name, by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son). I really enjoyed the book, and got about halfway through the movie before Christi got home. They seem to be following the book pretty well, best I can remember. The movie is very entertaining. I’ll probably finish it today.

This evening, we will have our Anchor prayer gathering at 4:45, followed by our worship time at 5:45. The new sermon series, beginning tonight, will be about why church membership is important. In the spirit of that, I offer this quote from Timothy Keller’s latest book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. “Giving priority to the inner life doesn’t mean an individualistic life. Knowing the God of the Bible better can’t be achieved all by yourself. It entails the community of the church, participation in corporate worship as well as private devotion, and instruction in the Bible as well as silent meditation. At the heart of all the various ways of knowing God is both public and private prayer.” (p. 23) As always, all are welcome to join us. We are The Exchange.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It was on this date in 1894 that the Cripple Creek Miners’ Strike began, in Cripple Creek, Colorado. It lasted for five months.

Today’s birthdays include Sir Thomas More (author and philosopher), John Deere (tractor guy), Charles Dickens (author), Laura Ingalls Wilder (author), Alfred Adler (psychologist), Sinclair Lewis (author), Eubie Blake (musician), Buster Crabbe (swimmer/actor), An Wang (Chinese computer pioneer), Juan Pizzaro (baseball player), Pete Postlethwaite (actor), Joe English (drummer), Migeul Ferrer (actor), James Spader (actor), Eddie Izzard (comedian), Steve Nash (basketball player), Endy Chavez (baseball player), Ashton Kutcher (actor), and Tina Majorino (actress).

James Spader is an actor who has had a pretty long and successful career. I remember enjoying him immensely in the 1994 movie, Wolf, along with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson. But Spader is currently enjoying success as Ray Redington, in the NBC hit series, The Blacklist. Spader turns 55 years old today (I did not realize he was two years younger than me). Here is a You Tube clip, made by a fan of the show, that includes some of his best lines.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “Eleventh-hour Breakthroughs.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Luke 23:42

“One of the greatest hope-killers is that you have tried for so long to change and have not succeeded.” After a while, you begin to wonder, “What’s the use? Why keep trying?” We might think we are too old, and that, even if we did change, there’s not enough life left for it to matter.

The words in the verse from Luke, quoted above, come from one of the robbers who was crucified next to Jesus. This man lived another hour or so, probably, after he spoke those words. It didn’t matter how much time he had left, he was a changed man because of his encounter with Jesus. “He lived on the cross as a new man with new attitudes and actions (no more reviling).” 99% of his life had been “wasted,” but it all led up to that one moment.

In reality, however, the only thing that truly matters is when that robber stands before the judgment seat, just as we all will. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” The way he lived in the last minutes, after his encounter with Christ, is what will tell the story. “This man was new. His faith was real. He is truly united to Christ. Christ’s righteousness is his. His sins are forgiven.”

Regardless of how short the remainder of his life was, it was still “a beautiful testimony to the power of God’s grace and the reality of his faith and his union with Christ.”

So, is this trying to compare struggling believers with this robber on the cross? Not exactly, because, even though we may struggle, we are still believers. What it is trying to say is that we should never stop struggling, no matter how many times we have failed, because all of the years and hours matter, even the last ones. “If in the last 1% of our lives, we can get a victory over some longstanding sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment of our faith in Christ and our union with him.”

So to all of us who struggle, “Keep asking, seeking, knocking. Keep looking to Christ.” If God gets glory in an “eleventh-hour conversion,” then he can surely get glory by finally giving us the breakthrough we have sought for so many years.

Never give up.

Father, I take these words to heart. Don’t ever let me give up struggling against habits or sins in my life that need to be destroyed. I don’t consider my life to be nearly over, by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, it could end in the next breath. We never know how long we have. But, as long as you still have use for me, I will be around. So I pray that any breakthroughs that I might be seeking will eventually come, and that I will never give up the fight. I have fought through some hard times, and you have kept me in your grace. I am eternally grateful for this, and cannot wait to spend eternity lavishing my praise and worship upon you. Keep teaching me your ways, and keep teaching me to pray.

I pray for the rest of this day. May your grace and mercy be strong on the women who are gathering right now, listening to speakers and discussing points of faith among themselves. I pray for spiritual growth; I pray for relationships to be forged that will stand strong in the future; I pray for lives to be touched, both in the house where they are meeting, as well as outside the scope of that place. I also pray for our prayer time and worship service, this evening. May your name be lifted high as we gather together. Open our ears to hear what you have to say to us through your servant, Jacob. I pray that the message of the importance of church membership would ring loud and true to the ears of all who hear. This is a message that needs to be shouted loudly in our modern culture. Strengthen your church, Father! Prepare us for the return of Christ.

No matter what the struggle, and no matter how long it has been going on, never give up!

Grace and peace, friends!

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