Memorials of Faith

Today is Saturday, January 19, 2019.

Day 22,227

24 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.”
T.S. Eliot, British critic, dramatist, and poet, 1888-1965
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is frogpondian. This is “Poe’s word for: an adherent of transcendentalism.” (Oxford English Dictionary) Apparently, Frog Pond was the name of a pond on Boston Common, and Boston was the center of New England Transcendentalism.

I worked a half day, yesterday, which was nice. I got to the doctor’s office about forty-five minutes before my appointment time. So I got in a little reading while waiting, and then a little more as I sat in the exam room. I really like the PA (Physician Assistant) I had yesterday. She was quite personable, which isn’t always the case. I have had experience with PAs in the past, and they weren’t always good. I like this one, and will try to have future appointments with her. Since my visit was on Friday, I anticipate that I will not get lab results until Monday. I’m expecting a “mixed bag” on those. Blood sugar will likely be high. Cholesterol might be okay. I think my weight was pretty close to the same as the last visit, which is, in my opinion, a good thing, because it means at least I didn’t gain, right?

Got my meds refilled, and will be picking them up at Kroger, later today. I signed up for their prescription plan which costs $36 for a year. After checking the prices, my meds will be cheaper than any insurance plan I’ve ever had. In fact, two of my meds, according to their website, will be “free.” Hard to beat that, and that’s for ninety day supplies.

We don’t have much going on this weekend, which is always nice. I need to practice some music and go pick up the groceries and my scripts. C needs to get her car inspected and oil changed. Then we have our worship gathering tomorrow. I’m anticipating a nice day of rest tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t know if I will watch football tomorrow or not. There are two games. The NFC Championship, between the Rams and Saints, will be at 2:05, and the AFC Championship, between the Patriots and Chiefs, will be at 5:40 (all times are CDT). I’m on the fence about who will win, honestly. Both games feature the two best teams in the conference and should both be good games. I’m pretty sure I have talked about football more this year than I have since Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys.

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

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

Today I am grateful:
1. My wife. I just can’t say enough how thankful I am for her. For reasons I have chosen not to mention, she really feels like she has let me down, right now, and that just simply isn’t true.
2. For the nice weather we had earlier this week. Cold today and tomorrow.
3. For the peace of Christ, when I do allow it to rule in my heart. And yesterday, in spite of circumstances, I was actually successful in that.
4. For new creations.
5. For memorials of faith.

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation;
the old has passed away,
behold the new has come.
All this is from God,
who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Thanks be to God.

(The Book of Common Prayer, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

And then he told the People of Israel, “In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What are these stones doing here?’ tell your children this: ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.'”
Joshua 4:21-22 (The Message)

Today’s reading is called, “Memorialize God’s Work in Your Life.”

When Joshua led Israel across/through the Jordan River, “It was a miracle on the same scale as the Red Sea crossing under Moses.” It is said that the Jordan River stopped flowing at Adam, all the way to what was called the Salt Sea. I have to assume that this is what we now call the Dead Sea. This distance is at least 30 kilometers, probably around 20 miles.

After all the people crossed, Joshua instructed twelve men, one from each tribe, to get a stone from the exposed riverbed. When they set up camp at Gilgal, just northeast of Jericho, Joshua set up a monument comprised of each of the twelve stones. This was to be “a memorial altar.” It served no other purpose than to be a reminder.

At some point, their children, and their children’s children, would ask, “Why are these stones here?” The answer would be simple, yet full of meaning. “Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.” But if we keep reading in the passage: “Yes, GOD, your God, dried up the Jordan’s waters for you until you had crossed, just as GOD, your God, did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed. This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong GOD’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold GOD in solemn reverence always.” (vv. 23-24, The Message)

“The existence of that altar, the architecture of that place of worship, contained a meaning that was to remain central to the people of Israel from that time down to our own.”

Do you have memorials of your faith? Do you have “symbols of God’s redemption that you hold on to?” I have one.

Several decades ago, during a particularly dark time in my life, I spent a week (maybe two, I can’t remember) out in East Texas. Half of the time with my Grandmother and Granddaddy and the other half with my Grandmama. They lived about five to ten miles apart. One afternoon, while outside at Grandmother and Granddaddy’s place, I was in front of their house, where there used to be a swing on which we played, as children.

I was struggling in my faith at the time. I desperately and honestly asked God, out loud, “Am I really Your child?”

I want to tell you that what I experienced that day will never be forgotten. It was like our Father reached down and hugged me. To this day, I get goosebumps, even as I’m typing this. It was the single most powerful expression of God’s love that I have ever felt.

I looked down on the ground and found a single Blue Jay feather. I picked it up. I still have it. It’s in a box in the garage. I know exactly where it is. I wanted to post a picture of it here, but I can’t get to the box, today. But here is a stock photo that resembles it.

That is a memorial to God’s love in my life. When I see that feather, when I even think about that feather, I am reminded of the time that God answered my question with a definitive YES!

I highly recommend doing something similar for times in your life when God acts or answers or expresses His presence to you.

Father, I still give You thanks for that day when You showed me how much You love me. I thank You that that day is still fresh in my mind and heart, as if it happened yesterday. I also praise You for how far You have brought me since that day, and how mightily You have worked in my life since that day. You are great, O God! And I will worship and praise You as long as I have breath, and then forever more in eternity!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Train me, GOD, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. (Psalm 86:11, The Message)

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Be Content With Second Place

Today is Friday, January 18, 2019.

Day 22,226

25 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.”
Rita Mae Brown, U.S. author and social activist
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is perfunctory. It means, “performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial.” Also, “lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic.”

It’s Friday!!! And we don’t have any big plans for the weekend. Of course, I’m playing/singing in church Sunday morning, but that’s about it. Good thing, too, because it’s supposed to be really cold, this weekend. Now, you have to understand that a low of 25 degrees is “cold” in Texas. I realize that for some parts of the world, 25 degrees is go-outside-in-t-shirts-and-shorts weather. It’s all relative.

Yesterday was the QBR (Quarterly Business Review) for our company. That’s when our managers meet with the client and discuss metrics and other boring stuff like that. However, during the mid-morning, we were all called together on the dock, where a couple of the upper managers (including the Director of Logistics) for our client wanted to speak to us. We were thanked for the great job we did in the last quarter of 2018, which resulted in the biggest revenue quarter in the thirteen years that the current Director of Logistics has been there. I was also recognize, by name, for my work in clearing out the unreceivables in the last couple of weeks of the year. I have to say, that’s a good feeling.

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

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For that choosing, sanctification, truth.
2. For a commitment to get healthier this year. I have my yearly checkup today, and I’m thinking the results won’t be great. So I have a lot of work to do.
3. For the love of God.
4. That Jesus is patient with me when I stray from the path, fall down, get back up, go backwards, and so on.
5. That I don’t have to be first.

The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Romans 5:5
Thanks be to God.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.
Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

My eye was drawn to a single phrase in this verse from The Message. “Content with second place.” I’m not sure what part of the Greek text causes Eugene Peterson to include that phrase, as there doesn’t seem to be anything close to that in other translations. The King James Version does say, “forbearing one another,” but even that isn’t quite the same.

Nevertheless, that phrase captures my attention.

“Be . . . content with second place.”

If ever there was a phrase that is out of place in our current culture, that is it. Be content with second place. This isn’t referring to the kind of thinking that came about with the “I Am Second” movement. That group was speaking of me being behind Christ in my thinking, which is not a bad way to think. But I remember a book/movie from the sixties or seventies. The book was I Am Third, written by Gale Sayers and Al Silverman. It described Gale’s friendship with one Brian Piccolo. The movie was Brian’s Song. The pattern described in this book was “God is first, others are second, I am third.” I believe this way of thinking to be better than “I Am Second.”

And the “I am third” phrase is more in line with what Peterson indicates in this verse. He is speaking of us in relationship to other humans. If we insert Christ in the picture, as it is implied, anyway, we would be content with third place.

How willing am I to be in second place? God is teaching me, most especially in the last couple of years, that I don’t need to be first. When I’m driving to work and back, it’s okay if someone gets in front of me. Do you see that? It’s okay if someone gets in front of me. In fact, I don’t care if you get in front of me. I don’t need to be first!

It’s getting late, and I need to get going. But consider this today. Be content with second place.

Father, help me today, to dress in compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. And most of all, help me to be content with second place. Or third place. Or even further down.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Faith Expressed In Love

Today is Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Day 22,225

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author, 1874-1936
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is quiddity. It means, “The inherent nature or essence of a person or thing; what makes a thing what it is.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

We exercised again, last night. spending about thirty minutes on the elliptical at the Y. C had put our taco soup in the crockpot before leaving for work, yesterday morning, so it was ready to eat when we got home from exercising. We finished season one of Silicon Valley while we ate dinner. The sad thing about HBO series is that they typically only have eight to ten episodes, unlike commercial broadcast shows, which could have as many as twenty-two episodes in a season.

I think we may be planning to exercise again tonight, and maybe pick up Subway on the way home.

Oh, and I have a doctor’s appointment at 2:00 PM Friday, so I’ll be taking a half day off. So far, I have managed to avoid working a complete 40-hour week, this year. I wonder how long I can keep that going. Hahaha!

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

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Today I am grateful:
1. That I finally have an appointment for my yearly checkup.
2. That so far, my job has been much less stressful, this year.
3. For the joy of the Lord.
4. For the Word of God and all of the promises and encouragement within.
5. For the peace that passes all understanding.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
   then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
   "The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
   and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
   like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears
   will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
   will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
   as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. 
Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 126)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “God’s Whole Law: Love,” by James Bryan Smith.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

First of all, let me point out that this is not Jesus speaking, rather a lawyer answering Jesus’s question, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” When Jesus was asked what the most important command was, he also grouped those two Old Testament commands together. The first part is from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18.

Why does Jesus combine these two commands? “Because he knew that they were essentially one law. Love comes from one source: God.” In 1 John 4:19, John writes, “We love because he first loved us.”

“In the face of God’s magnificent love for us, we cannot but love in return.”

When we know God’s love, truly know it, it must have an effect on how we view ourselves and others. “God’s love for us results in a proper love for ourselves, and then extends to love for our neighbors.”

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, He writes this: “What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (The Message) Join me today in examining how my faith measures up to this. Is my faith a faith that loves?

Father, as I consider these words today, help me to be honest with myself in checking the measure of my faith. Does it express itself in love towards other people? If I find that it does not, may Your Holy Spirit guide me toward that result. Then help me develop the discipline of listening to the words of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Precious In His Sight

Today is Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

Day 22,224

27 days until pitches and catchers report for Spring Training.

“To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.”
William Makepeace Thackeray, English Novelist, 1811-1863
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is querulist. It means, “A person who complains, a complainer.”

We were both pretty tired when we got home from work, last night, so I made chili and we relaxed, watching a couple of episodes of Silicon Valley on HBO. It’s a pretty funny comedy about some IT guys doing a startup company in California. It’s kind of like an IT version of The Office.

I believe we are planning to exercise again tonight. We’ll see how the day goes.

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

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For the unknown that is ahead of me.
2. For faith that will help me take the next step, whatever it needs to be.
3. That my security in this life is based, not on tangible things, but only in God.
4. For a couple of days of pretty weather coming up before the cold weekend.
5. For the privilege of praying for people.

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
   from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved
   and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel
   shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The LORD himself watches over you;
   the LORD is you shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
   it is he who shall keep you safe.
The LORD shall watch over your going out and
                  and your coming in,
   from this time forth for evermore.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 121)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:4-5

Most of us probably are in some amount of traffic a couple of times a day, unless you are fortunate enough to be only minutes away from your job. I have to drive thirty miles one way to work, so there is a lot of potential for heavy traffic. Usually more coming home than going in.

Have you ever, though, sat in that traffic and considered (there’s that word again) all of the people with whom you are stuck? And then, to take it even further, widen the scope to the rest of the city you are in, the state, the country, and even the world. Billions of people, perhaps, all stuck in traffic at the same time. And I am just a speck in the midst of all of this.

This is the scenario in which Daily Guideposts writer Gail Thorell Schilling found herself. And just before she spiraled into depression over how small that made her feel, grace happened. She remembered that “God has created each driver in His own image and endowed each person in the world with a soul.” And how incredible is it that God knows each and every one of us? Intimately.

The small speck that I am, in the midst of all that traffic; “I am precious in His sight.”

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

I won’t put the whole thing here, today, but, if you get a chance, read Psalm 139 today. It also fits in with this topic. “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!”

Father, remind me today how precious I am in Your sight. Not that I can gloat over that, but so that I can take that love and transfer it, direct it toward all those other people who are stuck in whatever kind of traffic they are in, be it real, or be it spiritual.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Blessed (Psalm 1)

Today is Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

Day 22,223

28 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. There has been an adjustment, as I discovered, yesterday, that I was using the wrong date as my basis. According to MLB, both the Red Sox and Rangers pitchers and catchers report on February 12, not 13. Their first workout is February 13.

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
R. Buckminster Fuller, American inventor, 1895-1983
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is verbarian. It means, “of or relating to words.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Surprise, surprise, surprise! C and I went to the Y last night!! We actually exercised! Maybe we’ll do it again tonight, who knows? It felt pretty good.

I had my first Girl Scout Cookie sighting, last night. It was on Facebook, but it still counts. I’m beginning to think it’s a conspiracy. Someone in the Girl Scouts organization has said, “Hey! Let’s start selling these cookies right when everyone is beginning their new diets for the new year!!” Shame, shame, SHAME, Girl Scouts!!!

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

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.
1 Thessalonians 1:2

Today I am grateful:
1. For the desire to be healthier, and the commitment to do something about it.
2. For truth.
3. That God is helping me to be a stronger believer.
4. For the desire to practice the discipline of silence, that I don’t always have to speak about something.
5. For the technology that allows me to listen to things like podcasts and books from my phone, any time I want to.

Your word is a lantern to my feet
   and a light upon my path.
I have sworn and am determined
   to keep your righteous judgments.
I am deeply troubled;
   preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept, O Lord, the willing tribute of my lips,
   and teach me your judgments.
My life is always in my hand,
   yet I do not forget your law.
The wicked have set a trap for me,
   but I have not strayed from your commandments.
Your decrees are my inheritance for ever;
   truly, they are the joy of my heart.
I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes
   for ever and to the end.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 119:105-112, RSV)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is Blessed Expectations, by Eugene Peterson.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.
Psalm 1:1

Peterson was so marvelous with words that I will not try to paraphrase today’s reading, but quote it in its entirety. It’s only a couple of paragraphs.

Blessed is a directional antenna, a mind-set for picking up signals we would otherwise miss. We get ready to pray. What are we getting into? We are on the outskirts of God’s ways, about to enter the deep interiors. What is the appropriate attitude before this unknown?
“Apprehension will make us cautious, crippled for taking risks, if risks need to be taken. Stoic dutifulness will make us heavy-footed, clumsy in the dance, if the dance is scheduled. The blessed arouses expectation, readiness for more that is also a good. We don’t know the contents of the blessed, or the difficulties–how could we, we are not there yet?–but we sense that we are entering a way on which we will become more of ourselves, not less, not other. The anticipation of being blessed works changes in us that make us capable of being blessed.”

“Living in the way God intended brings blessing both from this life and from God, for he blesses the way of the righteous.”

Father, I feel strongly that I am standing on the edge of eternity, waiting to step into the center of your holiness. Give me the proper attitude “before this unknown.” Help me to experience this blessedness by living in the way that You intend for me to live. Teach me Your ways, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name!
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Live Wisely and Well

Today is Saturday, January 12, 2019.

Day 22,220

32 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.”
Samuel Johnson, English author, critic, & lexicographer, 1709-1784
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is iceblink. It means, “a yellowish luminosity near the horizon or on the underside of a cloud, caused by the reflection of light from sea ice.” (Dictionary.com)

I got off work on time, last night! It was amazing! Then it was raining and the traffic was awful, so it took me a lot longer to get home. No worries, though. It was Friday, and the beginning of the weekend.

We had our somewhat usual dinner of Freebirds burrito bowls, last night, and watched the last two episodes of Big Little Lies. At least until later in the year, when there is allegedly a second season coming. My understanding, though, is that they have exhausted the content of the book, so I’m curious as to where they will go from here. Similar to The Handmaid’s Tale, I think. But we have yet to watch the second season of that show. I’m not sure what we will watch next.

Today, C and S are going to a wedding shower at noon. That leaves me all alone to do whatever I want. Mwahahaha! Tonight, I may actually watch football again! I know, right? The Cowboys are playing in LA against the newly (and properly) relocated Rams. Also today, in the afternoon, the Colts play the Chiefs. This may wind up being the best game of the weekend. Tomorrow, the Chargers, who recently lost their way and wound up in LA, are playing the Patriots. Also tomorrow, the Eagles play the Saints. My predictions, mostly ignorant, are as follows: The NFC championship game will be the Rams vs. the Saints. The AFC championship will be the Chargers (yes, they will beat Tom Brady) vs. the Chiefs. I’m less sure about the Chiefs and Colts, though. I don’t plan to watch all of these games, by the way.

Tomorrow, I’m leading worship all by myself. I’m actually looking forward to this. The songs I have chosen are “Here I Am To Worship,” “Word of God Speak,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “Surrounded (Fight My Battles).”

I’ll be right back. I need another cup of coffee.

I’m back. Thanks for waiting.

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

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Today I am grateful:
1. For weekends, especially when we don’t have a lot to do.
2. For the grace of God in showing me when I’m wrong about something.
3. For the help of the Holy Spirit in repentance and forgiveness.
4. That I can talk to my wife about these things, and for the advice she gives.
5. That I have time for a second cup of coffee (related to number 1, of course).

Almighty God,
you have given us grace at this time with one accord 
to make our common supplication to you;
and you have promised through your well-beloved Son 
that when two or three are gathered together in his Name 
you will be in the midst of them:
Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions 
as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of your truth,
and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Prayer of St. Chrysostom)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

A while back, I read this verse, and started taking it literally. That’s what those numbers mean at the top of the page. Today, I am 22,220 days old. I am “numbering my days.” Silly, perhaps, and a bit too literal. But it’s fun for me.

I like Eugene Peterson’s translation of this verse in The Message. “Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” Perhaps that gets the gist of the verse better than numbering days.

I think the point is to consider the days. There’s a word we don’t use a whole lot, these days. “Consider.” It means more than just to think. It means, “think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.” Typically, but not necessarily regarding an impending decision. Think carefully about the days.

We live in a world where “hurry” is the norm. I get up at 5:15 AM, do a morning devotional, along with this blog, and then it’s off to work. I usually barely make it to work on time, especially if I stop along the way for something to eat. People around me, driving like bats out of you-know-where. The closer it gets to 8:00 AM, the worse people drive. I saw a funny meme on Facebook, the other day. It said, “It’s funny how people get so angry in traffic on the way to work. Like they’ll be any happier once they get there.”

Everyone is in a hurry. But Eugene H. Peterson once said, “Hurry is a form of violence practiced on time. But time is sacred.” And Dallas Willard famously said, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a famous passage, made even more famous by a song.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

If you can read that without thinking, “Turn, turn, turn,” after the first few phrases, I’m surprised.

This passage makes a point that there are certain times for certain things. And we need to consider, to think carefully, about those times, and what time it is right now. I’m not talking about clock time, you know. What time is it in my life?

To bring this into perspective, especially regarding “hurry,” let’s look at one last verse. 2 Peter 3:8.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

You see, God never hurries. So why should I? Well, because I might be late. If that is the case, then I need to consider how I’m approaching the time. Am I getting up early enough? Am I wasting time? (That’s a huge one for me!) Am I spending my time wisely. So I need to rearrange my life so that I never have to hurry. I need to number my days, learn to “live wisely and well.”

While it is true that I have all eternity in front of me, I don’t have that here on earth. There is a limited amount of time for us. We don’t know how long it will be. So we need to “number our days,” we need to consider the times. And we need to learn to live wisely and well.

Father, teach me to live wisely and well, to number my days properly. Help me to eliminate hurry from my life. I read (or heard) that Willard quote a long time ago, and it had an impact on me. But I forget a lot. I forget, and I catch myself hurrying. I catch myself worrying about things, about time. Help me to consider time more like it is to You. Help me to consider.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Rhythm of Worship

Today is Friday, January 11, 2019.

Day 22,219

33 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
Marilyn Monroe, U.S. actress, 1926-1962

The word of the day is syllogism. It means, “a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.” (Merriam-Webster)

Our new table was successfully delivered and assembled yesterday afternoon. It’s quite nice, and looks exactly like the one in the store. C sent me some pictures of the ones she was considering, and we selected this one together.

We already had the cat. That’s Rocky (short for Rachmaninoff), checking out the new table. When I was moving the old one out to the garage, yesterday morning, I had moved all the chairs out, and came back to find him walking around on the table with a most concerned expression on his face. It was as if he were saying, “What on EARTH are you DOING??” I assured him that we would have new one later in the day.

I had a productive day, as well, getting music set up for Sunday, taking a look at one song that I’m supposed to play at an upcoming wedding in February, getting dishes done, AND putting away two loads of laundry!! So I did not do nothing but sit around and play Red Dead Redemption 2 all day. I did a lot of that, but I did some other things, too. Then I cooked dinner, too!

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

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Today I am grateful:
1. For our new table and chairs.
2. For God’s “inexpressible gift,” mentioned in that verse.
3. For the songs I will be leading at our worship gathering, this Sunday.
4. That the leadership of our church trusts me enough to leave the music in my hands for Sunday.
5. For weekends.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor glory throughout all ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The General Thanksgiving)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

The reading for today is, “Serving God Involves Being Served by Him.”

Finally, he erected the Courtyard all around The Dwelling and the Altar, and put up the screen for the Courtyard entrance.
Moses finished the work. 
The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.

Exodus 40:33-34 (The Message)

“All the depth and profundity of worship is summarized in those last two sentences.”

First we see that “Moses finished the work.” The tabernacle, the dwelling place of God in the presence of the Children of Israel, was completed. This represents the service that man brings to God.

Then we see, “The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.” This represents “the service that God brings to man.” In this, God’s Spirit invades our hearts with His “healing, restoring, redeeming, renewing presence. Love is released, knowledge is shed abroad, peace is infused, and grace is lavished.”

All of our worship should have this kind of rhythm. When I think of rhythm in this way, I think of a pendulum swinging back and forth. On the one side is man’s service to God, and on the other side is God’s service to man. “Man builds a tent, and God fills it with his glory. Man constructs a church; God’s cloud of providence covers it.”

About a year ago, we began to think of our worship gatherings in terms of us worshiping God, but at the same time, picturing God walking among us, back and forth between the chairs, ministering to us, working in our lives. This is the kind of rhythm we are talking about. I used to think of worship as a sort of performance, man worshiping while God sat on His throne, taking it in. I no longer see it this way. I see it more in the rhythm of which Peterson speaks, here.

“This is no quid pro quo, this rhythm of our service to God and God’s service to us. it is not a matter of his rewarding our worthiness or our hard work. It is rather the rhythm of life in God’s system. He gives, we give, he gives more, and we respond in gratitude. This is part of the beauty that God brings to our lives.”

Father, I am grateful for the beauty of this rhythm in worship. I look forward to practicing and observing this on Sunday morning.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!