Made For the Valleys

Today is Saturday, October 1, 2016. Thirteen more days until Galveston!!

Quote of the Day

“If fear is the great enemy of intimacy, love is its true friend.” – Henri Nouwen

Word of the Day

Amphiboly – ambiguity of speech, especially from uncertainty of the grammatical construction rather than of the meaning of the words.

Today is International Coffee Day. What more do I need to say? Drink up!

As this Saturday dawns, it finds the Texas Rangers having clinched the best record in the AL for this season! They beat the Rays 3-1 last night, to clinch home field advantage in the ALCS. Some people say that this clinched home field advantage “throughout the playoffs,” but that’s not exactly accurate. If they get to the World Series, they will have home field advantage because the AL won the otherwise meaningless All Star Game. So, in reality, this simply insures that they will have home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. It also insures that they will play the winner of the Wild Card playoff game, which may not be decided until a Monday makeup game between Detroit and Cleveland.

To further muddy the waters, Boston beat the Boo Jays on a seventh inning two-run homer by none other than Big Papi, himself, who wrapped a line shot around the famous Pesky Pole in right field. Needless to say, Fenway Park went absolutely bonkers when that happened. This put the Jays behind the Orioles, and only a half game ahead of the Tigers, who beat the horrible Braves last night. I’m sure the Boo Jays are giving glares to the PTBs who put the schedule together, thinking it’s not fair that they are having to play the AL East champs while the Tigers get to play the worst team in the NL. Detroit and Cleveland had a rain-out on Thursday (I think), so the way things are going that will have to be made up on Monday. I also keep forgetting that the Mariners are still in this race, only one game behind the Boo Jays. It’s a very exciting weekend for the Wild Card contenders. Even in the NL, there are still three teams in the race. It’s always fun when it all comes down to the last weekend.

We will be arriving in Galveston on the day that the ALCS begins, and will be there for the whole next week. There will probably be some baseball watched during this trip. Unless of course . . . no. I won’t even say it.

It’s a busy weekend, as we have our monthly-ish Night of Worship tonight, at the home of one our church families. I’ll be playing keys for it, and possibly leading some prayer times. We’re still working through the details, but we have decided to merge our bi-weekly Anchor prayer gathering and the Night of Worship, to create a prayer and worship gathering. I’m excited about the potential for this.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

“O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.” – The Divine Hours

(From Praying With the Psalms)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Psalm 119:9-16

As I read this, this morning, I am stunned by the wealth of truth in each of these verses. Especially in light of the book I have been reading, Hearing God, by Dallas Willard. Each verse declares something fresh about the Word of God.

“The heart well-stocked with God’s word is like a well-armed arsenal. Confident in the strength of its weaponry, it is fearless in the face of attacks from without or insurrection from within.”

“‘Thy word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair, and find for life’s long battle day all needful weapons there. O may I find my armor there: Thy Word my trusty sword, I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord’ (Edwin Hodder, ‘Thy Word Is Like a Garden, Lord’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them. Mark 9:2

Who doesn’t love the mountaintop? Hopefully, we have all had what we refer to as “mountaintop experiences,” where the glory of God resonated and everything felt perfect for a little while. But we aren’t made to stay there. God will not allow us to stay there. “The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend.” The mountains, the dawns, those beautiful moments . . . they are all meant for inspiration. “We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in.”

This is not a popular teaching. We don’t want to hear this. But even the writings of Dallas Willard agree with it. In the above referenced book, Hearing God, Willard talks about how to accomplish transformation in our world. “Those who receive the grace of God’s saving companionship in his word are by that fact also fitted to show humankind how to live. They, and they alone, are at home in the universe as it really is. In that sense they are the light of the world.” (p. 190, italics mine) We cannot possibly “show humankind how to live” if we insist on staying on the mountain.

“The moments on the mountain tops are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.” That “something” is for character; not so much to teach us something, as to make us something.

Father, I desperately want to be one who is “at home in the universe as it really is.” I don’t see very many who fit this, not even in the community of the Church. We all seem to be too busy trying to change things on our own, rather than simply living the life and showing others how to do the same. Make me one of these, Lord. Let me take the rare “mountaintop moments” and let them build character. Always keep me willing to descend so that I can live in the world, being comfortable doing so. I believe it is time that the Church dispense with the “only passing through” mentality and begin to live comfortably in the world so that we can show others how to do the same. Help me to step into the easy yoke of Christ.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

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