Balancing Inner and Outer

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 4, 2015. Independence Day in the U.S.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is more of a phrase than a word, and it is Latin. It is e pluribus unum. It seems that there are a great many people who have forgotten what this motto of the United States of America means. It means, “out of many, one.”

Today is Hop A Park Day. And I have a feeling that a lot of people will be doing exactly that, since there will be many outdoor events celebrating Independence Day today.

Last night was tremendous, in so many ways. We had a great trip, picking up my mother, in the afternoon, and stopped at Pastafina, in Mineral Wells, for lunch, before heading back to Fort Worth. We had a few minutes to sit and relax, before heading to the Southlake Town Square for the event. We got to the Town Square at around 5:30, and the traffic and parking were already pretty bad. However, we were blessed (I don’t believe in “luck,” you know) to find a woman walking from a store toward the parking lot we were in. Miraculously, we were the only car following her. She went to a car, got in, and the car left, leaving a perfect parking space for us! We unloaded everything (three canvas chairs, a folding chair, a music stand, a trombone, and my bag of mutes and music), and headed for the pavilion.

When we first got there, we found a place that looked good for Christi, Mama, and Stephanie to sit. It was in the parking area, on the asphalt, but looked like a good vantage point for the concert. I went on up to the stage, where the Swing Band was preparing for their performance, which started at 6:00. I set my gear down, and went back for the stand. When I got there, Stephanie was the only one there, with one chair. She said that Christi had found a place close by, that we under a tree! And under a tree it was, as we had to kind of duck to get in there, but it was a beautiful spot to watch the concert from one side of the pavilion! For the next hour and a half, we listened to the Swing Band, walked around the area, and just had a nice time.

Just after 7:30, the Swing Band finished, and the Southlake Community Band took the stage. Around 8:00, we played “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to kick off the evening’s celebrations. The mayor talked for a little bit, a plane flew over, a lovely young lady with a magnificent voice sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” the plane flew over again, Tony Lopez from KLTY talked a little, and then we got to play the rest of our concert. It was great fun, and, a few times, quite emotional for me. The most emotional moments came when I remembered that my mother was out there listening to this concert. We wound up having to cut three numbers, due to time (we were fully prepared for that), and finished up with a wonderful fireworks display.

The exit from the event was not bad, either. The Police Department did a magnificent job of traffic management, and people were NICE, stopping to let others in, when there were lines waiting! Sure, it took a while to get out of the parking lot and to an area where traffic flowed smoothly, but it could have been so much worse!! I have been at events where it took an hour just to get out of the parking lot (coughcoughDALLAScoughcough).

On the way home, we went through a Jack In the Box drive-thru and got a very late dinner (it was, I believe, after 11:00 before we got home). We had some nice conversation (albeit, very sleepy) as we ate our dinner, after which we promptly went to bed. I slept very well last night!

Today, we have our church picnic, which I believe we are calling a “Family Feast,” at 5:00. After that, we will take my mother back to Mineral Wells. I believe Rachel and Justin might be coming over tomorrow for some game time.

On this date in 1776, the U.S. declared independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was not signed, however, until August 2. In 1863, the Confederates surrendered Vicksburg. On this date in 1826, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. And in 1885, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published.

Today’s birthdays include Nathaniel Hawthorne (American writer), Stephen Foster (American songwriter), Calvin Coolidge (30th President), Rube Goldberg (American cartoonist), Mitch Miller (American entertainer), Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers (American advice columnists), Leona Helmsley (American hotel operator), Eva Marie Saint (American actress), Neil Simon (American playwright), Gina Lollobrigida (Italian actress), George Steinbrenner (American businessman/Yankees owner), Bill Withers (American singer/songwriter), Geraldo Rivera (American reporter), John Waite (English singer), Pam Shriver (American tennis player), and Becki Newton (American actress).

John Waite was born on this date in 1952. He has been lead singer for The Babys and Bad English, as well as having a solo career. Here is one of the songs by Bad English, “When I See You Smile.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:16-19

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

“If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be dark and scary.” Thus begins a section called “The Integrity of Prayer.” I love that sentence, too. It is so full of truth. And so many of us make the mistake of giving priority to the outer life, even those of us who call the name of Jesus! We are so uncomfortable with solitude and silence. I rather like both of them, myself, but not for very long. But when we prioritize the outer life, we are also extremely uncomfortable with self-examination and have a short attention span when it comes to reflection. We try to project this sense of confidence (even spiritual confidence), while being full of “self-doubts, anxieties, self-pity, and old grudges.” Ouch.

“In short, unless we put a priority on the inner life, we turn ourselves into hypocrites.” Ouch, again. Keller quotes John Owen:

A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.

“To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular.” I don’t know if I can finish this section. We want to be seen as humble; do we spend time confessing our sins before God? We want to be seen as positive and cheerful; do we spend time thanking God for all we have? We talk about being blessed, and about how our faith is true and how much we love the Lord, but if we are prayerless . . . can it really be true? What we profess in public needs to match up with how we are in private.

Jesus told us, via his instructions to the disciples in Matthew 6, that the “infallible test of spiritual integrity . . . is your private prayer life.” Lots of people pray when called upon in cultural or social settings. Some even pray when they are filled with anxiety over circumstances. “Those with a genuinely lived relationship with God as Father, however, will inwardly want to pray and therefore will pray even though nothing on the outside is pressing them to do so.”

Let us not make the mistake, however, of thinking that having an inner prayer life means that we can do it alone. “Knowing the God of the Bible better can’t be achieved all by yourself.” We must have the community of the church alongside us, the act of corporate worship to go along with private devotion, and public Bible instruction to go along with silent meditation. It is possible to ascertain someone’s private prayer life by listening to their public prayers. Do they pray as though they are trying to impress people around them with their theological prowess? Or do they pray as someone who is used to having conversations with God?

“The depths of private prayer and public prayer grow together.”

Father, I pray that you would help me with prioritizing my inner life properly, and balancing the inner devotion with the public worship life. At times, I feel like I have this down fairly well, but then I read statements like the one above that shine the light on where my mind goes when no one else is around, or when I am not being compelled to think about anything in particular. I am also reminded of how my mind and spirit react in certain circumstances, primarily revolving around work situations. Father, I need humility, and I know how dangerous it is to pray for such things. Yet, I know I need it. May your Spirit move me to humility, to a more sanctified inner life, and to better knowledge of you through prayer.

I pray for this day, that we will be safe in everything we do. May the rest of our time with Mama be blessed and simply a good time. Thank you so much for the great time and blessings we experienced last night! I praise you for music and for bringing me back to it.

Your grace is sufficient.

We simply must balance our inner and outer lives. I don’t believe that we truly desire to be hypocritical.

Grace and peace, friends.

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