God May Disappoint You, But He Will Never Fail You

Today is Saturday, August 17, 2019. Blessings to you!!

Day 22,437

Only TWO DAYS until S turns 26!!

I’m up quite early, this morning, as we get ready for Greg’s funeral. I’m to be at the church by 8:00 to set up my keyboard and get sound checks with the other folks who are playing/singing this morning. I’ve only been in that church auditorium once, so I really don’t know what kind of setup they have. Our main worship leader visited yesterday afternoon, and he said that the music minister has set up direct boxes and mic stands for us. A direct box is a connecting box that allows us to plug guitars and keyboards into microphone channels on a mixing board.

The funeral begins at 10:00. After the service at the church, we will be driving about an hour, up to Pilot Point, for the burial. Then, there is a meal that is being provided by the church, for the “family.” However, the family has invited all of The Exchange people to the meal.

The visitation last night was crowded. I’m not surprised, of course, after all of the testimonies to Greg on Facebook. For the whole time we were there, there was a line pretty much out the door of the funeral home, going into the room where the family was receiving people. We stood in the line for at least 30 minutes. The sweetest thing happened. While we were in line, a gentleman was talking to C and S, when he suddenly started beaming and said to S, “I know who you are! Greg talked about you all the time!”

There’s a hole in the world today.

This morning, I want to share a song that Greg introduced me to. He kept coming up to me after our worship gatherings and telling me that I needed to learn this song. I eventually did, and I am grateful to him for sharing it with me, because it is a great song. “Your Love Defends Me,” by Matt Maher.

The Texas Rangers did much better against the Twins, last night, but still wound up with a loss, 4-3. Mike Minor took the loss. The Rangers are now 60-62, in third place in the AL West (but in danger of dropping to fourth, soon), 17.5 games out of first place, and 10.5 games out of the wild card race. The elimination number is 23. The wild card elimination number is 30. They play the Twins again tonight, with Ariel Jurado starting. I’m not sure why they are still trying that. There are 40 games left.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles (as it should be), 9-1. Rick Porcello got the win for the Sox, who are now 65-59. They remain in third place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and 6.5 out of the wild card race. The elimination number is 22. The wild card elimination number is 33. They play Baltimore again tonight, with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound. There are 38 games left.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!
Psalm 50:23

Today I am grateful:
1. That I was privileged to call Greg Jordan “friend”
2. For the opportunity to honor him by celebrating his life today
3. That the Lord is my light and salvation, and I have nothing/no one to fear (Psalm 27:1)
4. That the Lord can (and will) turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11)
5. That God has not failed us and will not fail us

“Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget:
the homeless and the destitute,
the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them.
Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit,
and to turn their sorrow into joy.
Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son,
who for our sake become poor, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 35. For the Poor and Neglected)

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8

I’m going to depart from my usual format and leave you with this. As we went through the line last night, and finally got up to Bliss, Jared, Jacob, and Lori, I felt compelled to say something to them. In fact, I had been rehearsing this “speech” in my head and heart all day. I said I wanted to tell them something. Looking at Jacob, I said, “I know you know this because you are the preacher. But sometimes, the preacher needs someone else to tell him something.”

Then, I said, to all of them, “God has not failed us! In spite of all the prayers I prayed and all the hopes I hoped, I refuse to believe that God has failed us.”

And he has not failed us. He will never fail us. He will, however, disappoint us. There’s a huge difference. Dallas Willard once said, “If you follow Jesus long enough, he will disappoint you.” And it’s true. Because God will not always give us what we want, will he?

Father, thank you for bringing me to a place where I can see that you have not failed us, and you never will. Help my desires be the same as your desires so I’m never disappointed. But also lift me up when I am disappointed, and show me where I went wrong. Thank you for your love and your grace and your mercy in all things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Resting in What God Is

Today is Thursday, August 15, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,435

Only FOUR DAYS until S turns 26!!!

We had originally planned to go visit with R and J on Saturday and take our old breakfast nook table to them. C had rented a cargo van to do this. However, Greg’s funeral is Saturday morning, and S really wants to go to the burial, which is in Pilot Point. Then the church where the funeral is being held is hosting a lunch for the “family” (according to Jacob, we have all been invited) at 2:30. So we have postponed that piece of the birthday celebrations until August 31, a couple of Saturdays away.

We will still go to Mineral Wells on Monday to celebrate with Grandma, though. I’m not yet sure where the birthday girl will want to have lunch, but Pastafina is high on the list, possibly the front-runner.

The Texas Rangers finally beat the Blue Jays, in the series finale, 7-3. Other than one inning where the Jays threatened to tie, the Rangers had control of the game. Kolby Allard got his first win as a Ranger. The Rangers are 60-60, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place. They have now started showing elimination numbers (the combinations of first place wins and Rangers losses that it would take to eliminate them from any chance of winning the division). The Rangers’ elimination number is 25. They are ten games out of the wild card race. The wild card elimination number is thirty-two. They have forty-two games left. They begin a four game series with the Twins tonight, in Arlington, with Pedro Payano starting.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Indians 5-1. Nathan Eovaldi got his first win of the season in that game. After going six for six the night before, Rafael Devers hit his 25th home run of the season. Xander Bogaerts also went yard, twice, one time for three runs. The Sox are 64-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first. Elimination number is 23. They are 7.5 games out of the wild card race. That elimination number is 33. They have 39 games left. They have the night off before starting a series with Baltimore in Boston tomorrow night.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah.

Psalm 50:3-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the way the people of our church come together to support one another in difficult times
2. For encouragement that I have received from others
3. That those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame
4. That my faith is in what/who God is, and does not rely on the evidence of the senses
5. That God will do what he says he will do

“Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory:
Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders.
Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression,
that peace may prevail with righteousness, and just with order,
and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 33. For Cities)

(From Faith That Matters)

Rest in What God Is, by A.W. Tozer

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

“In spite of tears and pain and death we believe that the God who made us all is infinitely wise and good.” Abraham believed that God was able to do what he said he would do, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Just as Abraham did, “so we base our hope in God alone and hope against hope till the day breaks. We rest in what God is. I believe that this alone is true faith. Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith.”

No matter how things look in this world, we know that God has perfect wisdom. He never fails. Even if we think he did, he didn’t, because we just aren’t thinking right. God did not fail me/us when Greg Jordan passed away. I refuse to believe that. It’s true that my prayers were not answered the way I wanted them to be answered. But God did not fail me. He did not fail Greg, Lori, Jacob, and Jared. We have true faith and hope, against all physical evidence, that Greg is walking in the presence of Christ, and is fully healed, just as my own father is.

No matter how disastrous our circumstances appear, true faith trusts God fully. I don’t need miracles to believe in God. I don’t need a “Shroud of Turin” to believe that Jesus rose from the grave.

And I believe that God will do what he says he will do.

Oh, Father, I do believe! Help my unbelief! When I stumble into darkness, and begin to long for physical manifestations, draw me back into your reality, where true faith believes in you no matter what I see with my eyes. Open the eyes of my heart, so that I might see you fully. Help me to know the length and width and depth and height of the unsurpassing, unknowable love of Christ for us. Help me to rest in who you are!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Turn Worry Into Prayer

Today is Wednesday, August 14, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,434

Only five days until S turns 26!!!

The birthday celebrations will be bittersweet, of course, as we pause to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Greg Jordan. The funeral will be Saturday morning at 10:00, at the church that they attended before they started coming to our church. Brandon, Terry, and I have been asked to lead a couple of songs at the funeral. This, I’m sure, will be quite the challenge for all three of us. We will be singing “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” (Chris Tomlin), and “God Is So Good (You Are Worth)” (Pat Barrett). In addition, I will be leading our usual blessing song at the end, “Benediction,” by Matt Redman. There will also be visitation on Friday evening.

We still plan to go to Mineral Wells on Monday, as C and I are both taking the day off for S’s birthday. There, we will have lunch with Grandma and celebrate the birthday girl. It has also been decreed that we will be getting mani/pedis on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays again, but at least it wasn’t a blowout this time. 3-0. Much better than 19-4, but, in the long run, it’s still an “L.” The score doesn’t really matter, does it? Lance Lynn took the loss. The Rangers are 59-60, in third place in the AL West, 18.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of the wild card race. They will try one more time this afternoon, in Toronto, with Kolby Allard taking the mound. They have forty-three games left.

The Red Sox managed to beat the Indians, 7-6, in ten innings. Brandon Workman got the win in relief, and Andrew Cashner got a save. Maybe that’s what he needs to do instead of starting? The Sox are 63-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first, and 8.5 out of the wild card race. They will also play an afternoon game today, in Cleveland. Brian Johnson will get the start. They have forty games left.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Psalm 50:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For the mercy of God, that sustains us in times of grief and mourning
2. For the many testimonies of the kind of life that Greg Jordan lived
3. That my fate doesn’t rest in my hands, but is fully in God’s hands
4. That we can turn worry into prayer
5. That in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)

“O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace;
and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds,
that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 32. For the Good Use of Leisure)

(From Daily Guideposts 2019)

PRAYING THROUGH THE PSALMS; The Value of Honest Confession, by Julie Garmon

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
Psalm 119:133

I won’t go into great detail about the circumstances of today’s reading, but simply summarize to say that Julie and her friend discovered that they were both trying to control what their husbands were doing. Well, not so much what they were doing, as much as the outcomes.

That’s a big problem for a lot of us, isn’t it? We want to control the outcome. We do lots of preparation, or, in many cases, just as these two friends were doing, worry a lot about how things are going to work out.

But here’s the thing . . . look back up at number three in my gratitude list. The outcome is not in my hands! We don’t want to minimize the importance of solid preparation and hard work. But the point here is to not worry about the outcome. That’s God’s job.

A few days back I quoted another blog that said something to the effect of, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. What an insightful statement of truth that is, because worry is nothing more than negative meditation.

Now, I’ve never been one to jump on the whole “positive thinking” bandwagon. I don’t believe that all negative thoughts/statements are necessarily bad. I refuse to use the word “opportunity” instead of “problem.” The problem doesn’t go away because you call it something different.

But in this reading, today, Julie Garmon said, “we turned the sin of worry into prayer.”

How profound! Just as my fellow blogger indicated, worry can become something positive if we turn it around and focus on the right thing/person. If, instead of worrying, I immediately went to prayer, I don’t imagine the outcome would be affected, but my attitude certainly would. And, if, instead of worrying, I meditated on either the Lord, himself, or some passage of Scripture, my mindset would change.

We can have confidence in the Lord. As I’ve repeated several times in the past week or so, we have this statement in Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. And, while we are always in the presence of the Lord, when we are meditating on him, purposeful, focused, thinking, we seem to be more in his presence, if that’s possible.

And in his presence, there is fullness of joy!

Father, thank you for these reminders about worry. Help me to turn any thoughts of worry directly into prayer and meditation today. Help me meditate on the right things and on just you. May I enjoy your presence today, and fullness of joy, even in the face of unspeakable sadness. Joy, unspeakable joy.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t Hate Yourself

Today is Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,433

Only six more days until S turns 26!!

The Texas Rangers lost (that’s one word for it) to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. 19-4. While you try to wrap your head around that score, think about the fact that the Blue Jays have a losing record against the Baltimore Orioles, who are the second worst team in MLB. It seems that one thing that should be learned, but has yet to be, is that they need to stop letting Ariel Jurado start. The Rangers are 59-59, still in third place in the AL West, eighteen games out of first place, and ten out of the wild card race. They will try again tonight, with Lance Lynn starting. They are in Toronto.

The Red Sox lost to the Indians, 6-5. At least that’s reasonable, considering the Indians are in the lead wild card spot. Marcus Walden took the loss in the ninth inning. The Sox are 65-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first (the Blue Jays are thirty games out of first, so there isn’t much chance of the Sox losing third place, at least), and 8.5 out of the wild card race. They play again tonight, in Cleveland, with Chris Sale trying again.

I actually misspoke. Cleveland is atop the AL Central, at the moment. Minnesota and Tampa are in the two wild card spots.

We are broken-hearted this morning, as we received word that our pastor’s father passed away early this morning. Please be in prayer for his family, as well as us, his church family, as he was dearly loved by us. And he was a great friend to S, so she will be taking this very hard. We are grateful to God for the joy of knowing that our brother and friend is fully healed and in the presence of the Lord. We are also very grateful for the love and sense of family that abides in The Exchange Church.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! 
Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, 
consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation 
that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

Psalm 48:11-14

Today I am grateful:
1. For the never-ending lovingkindness of the Lord.
2. That, as God provides for us, we have resources to serve him by serving others.
3. That he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
4. That the Lord has called me by name.
5. That God will never leave us or forsake us.

“O merciful Father, who has taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servants for who our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 55. For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement)

(From Faith That Matters)

Let Christ Rewrite Your Script, by Brennan Manning

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
Psalm 5:11

How many of us are locked in a “script” of self-hatred? For some, it is a misunderstanding of words that Jesus spoke. We understand that we don’t have to be first, and shouldn’t try to be first, but, rather strive to be last. But we humans tend to over-reach that and take it too far. Not only do I need to be last, I need to hate myself while I’m doing it. This cannot be true; I don’t for a minute believe this is what Jesus is getting at. It’s even a common thread in the “Christian self-help” industry. How can you lover your neighbor as yourself if you hate yourself? Cliche, yes, but still true.

Says Brennan Manning, “With a graciousness, a kindness, and an understanding of human weakness that only God could inhabit and exhibit, he liberates us from alienation and self-condemnation and offers a new possibility to each of us in our brokenness. He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves. His gospel is Good News indeed! Jesus, in effect, says, ‘Burn the old tapes spinning round in your head that bind you up and lock you into a self-centered stereotype. Listen to the new song of salvation written for those who know that they are poor. Let go of your fear of my Father and your dislike of yourself.'”

Our God has compassion on us, “like a rising sun, drenching the dawn’s shadows with inescapable light.” May the light of Christ show us the way.

Father, thank you for this great love with which you have loved us. I pray for our brother’s family today. May you bring peace and comfort, and, yes, even joy, to their hearts today as they grieve and mourn this loss. Blessed are those who mourn . . . Teach us to love ourselves, not despise ourselves. And teach us to love others as you have loved us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Grace and peace, friends.

The Face of God

Today is Monday, August 12, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,432

Seven days until S turns 26!!!! (I forgot to do that yesterday, sorry, S)

We had a great time at the Joyners’ house, yesterday. Lunch was great, burgers and hot dogs from the grill, with all the trimmings, plus potato salad. Dessert was peanut butter pie, chocolate pie, and rum cake. I had a little of the chocolate pie and the rum cake. It was all delicious. We had great fellowship during the meal, as well. Good times. We are all very grateful to this family for offering up their home and providing this meal.

The worship gathering was good, as well. Bittersweet, of course, in the absence of our pastor and his family. There is no further news on his father’s condition, at this time.

The Rangers avoided a sweep by the Brewers, yesterday, beating them 1-0. Mike Minor got the win for the game. The lone Ranger run (no pun intended)(no, really, I’m serious) was scored by Willie Calhoun on a Isiah Kiner-Falefa sacrifice fly. The Rangers are 59-58, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place, and nine games out of the wild card race. Tonight, they play the Blue Jays in Toronto, with Ariel Jurado starting. They have forty-five games left.

The Red Sox lost again, to the Angels, 5-4. In ten innings. Ryan Weber was the losing pitcher. The Sox are 62-58, sixteen games out of first place, and 7.5 out of the wild card race. They start a series with the Indians tonight, in Cleveland, with Eduardo Rodriguez starting for Boston. They have forty-two games left.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever. Selah. 
We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. 
As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness.

Psalm 48:7-10

Today I am thankful:
1. For the great group of brothers and sisters in Christ with which we worship and fellowship. So much love . . .
2. For a new week, full of opportunities to serve and glorify the Lord. (That’s as much a pep talk as it is a gratitude point)
3. For the diversity of gifts given us by the Father.
4. That we can see the face of God in Jesus.
5. That God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

“O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 31. For Schools and Colleges)

(From Solid Joys), John Piper

My Soul Thirsts for God

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 

Psalm 42:1-2

It s important to note what the Psalms thirsts for. The beautiful thing in this Psalm is that he is “not thirsting mainly for relief from his threatening circumstances. He is not thirsting mainly for escape from his enemies or their destruction.”

There is, of course, nothing wrong with praying for relief, or even for the defeat of our enemies. “But more important than any of that is God himself.” The Psalmist thirsts for God.

The result of reading/praying/studying through all of the Psalms is this: “We come to love God, and we want to see God and be with God and be satisfied in admiring and exulting in God.”

Piper says it is possible to translate the ending of verse 2 to say, “When will I come and see the face of God?” Jesus answers this question in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Mark Lowry, in his famous and perhaps over-used song, “Mary, Did You Know?” wrote a magnificent line. “When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.”

“When we see the face of Christ, we see the face of God.” Most of us, would, of course, say, “But I have not seen the face of Jesus.” Not literally, no. But we have seen him in “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Then, in the same chapter, verse 6, Paul says that God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

“May the Lord increase [our] hunger and thirst to see the face of God. And may he grant [our] desire, even today, through the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Father, I echo John Piper’s prayer, that my hunger to see your face would increase. I pray that you would grant this desire, through “the gospel of the glory of Christ” who is your image.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

“Yet I Will Rejoice In the LORD”

Today is Sunday, August 11, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,431

It was pretty hot at Six Flags, yesterday, but we had a good time. C had time to ride the “El Diablo” before we went to the picnic. Lunch was barbecue (brisket), along with the usual barbecue trimmings and sides. It was pretty good for Six Flags food. After lunch, we walked over to the other side of the park, so C could ride the tall swings and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity. I waited at an umbrella table outside Johnny Rocket’s restaurant. I would have waited inside, but of course there were no tables available in there. At least I was in the shade. For your viewing pleasure, I give you the Harley Quinn Spinsanity. Yes. C rode that!

After we left Six Flags, we swung by the house and picked up S, because she wanted to go to the hospital with us to visit with Greg and Lori and Jacob. We didn’t really get to “visit” with Greg, as he was/is heavily sedated and asleep. We had a good visit with Jacob and Lori, though. We also had a chance to hug Jared and Bliss, and Bill (Lori’s mother) was there, as well. It was a most bittersweet time. We prayed together, and right before we left, S went over and leaned down and said, “I love you, Greg,” at which point everyone else in the room pretty much lost it.

Nevertheless, God is good. And the beauty of being a Christian is being able to say that in the face of “bad” things.

The Rangers lost to the Brewers again, 3-2, Pedro Payano took the loss. The Rangers are back at .500, 58-58. They remain in third place in the AL West, 18.5 games out of first place, and nine games out of the wild card race. They play the Brewers in Milwaukee again this afternoon. Mike Minor will start for Texas.

The Angels got back at the Red Sox yesterday, beating them 12-4. Rick Porcello took the loss for Boston. The Sox are 62-57. They also remain in third place in the AL East, fifteen games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race. They will play again this afternoon, in Boston. Andrew Cashner will start for Boston.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering. We are “gathered” this morning, meeting at the YMCA, 9100 N. Beach Street, Fort Worth, at 10:15 AM. We do not expect to see our pastor there, as he will likely be at the hospital, as all they can do is wait. After our worship gathering, this morning, we will be heading over to the house of one of our member families, who have graciously invited us all over for lunch. Hot dogs and burgers on the grill, from what I hear.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 
beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. 
Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.

Psalm 48:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. These times are becoming more and more sweet as we grow together.
2. For the nice time, thought bittersweet, that we had yesterday.
3. For the way God works in S’s heart. She was so sweet yesterday.
4. For the daily blessings that come my way, no matter how small.
5. That no matter what happens, I am able to rejoice in the Lord, and that he is the strength of my life.

“Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot exist without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, Proper 14)

(From Our Daily Bread)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

In the NIV (New International Version), the word “though” appears three times in verse 17. “Though the fig tree does not bud . . . though the olive crop fails . . . though there are no sheep in the pen.” For the Old Testament people in the time of Habakkuk, these were three disastrous circumstances. But, even so, the prophet says, “I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (verse 18).

We have heard it said many times that joy does not depend on circumstances. True joy. Yet we often confuse joy with happiness. I’m surely not telling you anything you haven’t heard before. I may not have been happy in that hospital room, yesterday afternoon. But there was joy present. Because we were in the presence of God, and, as I have mentioned, in his presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Even though the worst imaginable circumstances may occur, we can find joy in the Lord. Let us rejoice in him, even though we lost our jobs, or loved ones get sick or pass away, or we lost things that are precious to us. “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Father, you are my strength. Indeed, you make “my feet like the deer’s” feet and put me on high, level ground. I praise you God, that you are are mighty and strong and that you are my refuge, my rock, and my fortress.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Reading Bible Stories

Today is Friday, August 9, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,429

Ten days until S turns 26!!

Tomorrow is C’s company picnic. They’re doing it at Six Flags again. Everyone gets free access to the park, and then lunch will be served at noon at one of the pavilions. It’s only going to be 103 degrees tomorrow. Good times! Hahaha!

Hooray for Friday!

The Rangers were off last night. They are still 58-56, in third place in the AL West, 16.5 games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. There are forty-eight games left. They play the Brewers in Milwaukee tonight, with Kolby Allard starting.

The Boston Red Sox beat the LA Angels 3-0. Chris Sale got his sixth win. They are now 61-56, in third place in the AL East, sixteen games out of first place, and 5.5 games out of the wild card race. They have forty-five games left. They will continue their series with the Angels tonight, in Boston, with Brian Johnson starting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

Psalm 47:5-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the precious and very great promises of God (2 Peter 1:4).
2. That the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1)
3. That “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
4. That our God is full of surprises.
5. That the work week is coming to a close.

“Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 30. For the Unemployed)

(From Hearing God, Dallas Willard)

If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll remember that it was concerning that the great “heroes” of faith from the Bible were simply human, just like you and me. Says, Willard, “Conversely, if we are really to understand the Bible record, we must enter into our study of it on the assumption that the experiences recorded there are basically of the same type as ours would have been if we had been there.” I think we need to stop and ponder that truth for a bit. Because, he continues, if we don’t realize this, all of those stories and experiences will be just that . . . only stories. They will “remain unreal to us.”

When we fail to read the bible in this way, we encounter “two common problems.” “The first problem is that it becomes simply a book of doctrine, of abstract truth about God, which one can search endlessly without encountering God himself or hearing his voice.” Willard quotes A. T. Tozer, from The Root of the Righteous: “It is altogether possible to be instructed in the rudiments of the faith and still have no real understanding of the whole thing.” Sadly, I know someone just like this. Someone who knows the Bible backwards and forwards, yet seems to have very little knowledge of the One who inspired it.

“The other problem is that we simply stop reading the Bible altogether when we do not understand the experience of biblical characters in terms of how we experience life’s events.” Or, perhaps, we stubbornly follow a Bible reading plan, forcing ourselves to read several chapters a day, “because someone told us that it would be good for us.”

Sadly, “The open secret of many ‘Bible-believing’ churches is that only a very small percentage of their members study the Bible with even the degree of interest, intelligence or joy that they bring to bear upon their favorite newspaper of magazine.”

We need to go back to the Word and see it as a record of experiences that were “substantially like our own.” What would it be like if I had been Moses standing in front of that burning bush? What if I had been the child Samuel lying in his bed, hearing the voice of God? What if I had been Peter on the rooftop when the sheets of “unclean” animals descended?

“We must pray for the faith and for the experiences that would enable us to believe that such things could happen to us.

Father, help me to see these truths when I read the stories in your Word. Help me to see that the experiences of these people were no different than things that could potentially happen in my life, if I am following you closely and intimately.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.