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!

Advertisements

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!

Let My Words Be Few

Today is Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Day 22,216

36 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy, Russian mystic and novelist, 1828-1910
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is labyrinthine. It means, “complicated; tortuous,” or, “of, relating to, or resembling a labyrinth.” (Dictionary.com)

Well, we didn’t make it to the Y last night. We don’t really have a good reason. We just didn’t do it. Instead, we made chili and watched an episode of Speechless and an episode of Big Bang Theory. That was pretty much it.

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

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4

Today I am grateful:
1. For the people God has placed in my life, thus far. I’m feeling pretty blessed right now.
2. For the Holy Spirit, who continues to gently nudge me toward a deeper experience with Jesus.
3. For Jesus, who shows me the way to the Father.
4. For the Father, who is always near me, always with me, everywhere I could possibly go
5. For the truth that, no matter how I feel, spiritually or emotionally, all of the above are still true.

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful
people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers which we 
offer before you for all members of your holy Church,
that in their vocation and ministry they may
truly and devoutly serve you;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

I’m starting with this verse, but will segue into something else; different, but related, I think.

This verse is the inspiration for a Matt Redman song, “Let My Words Be Few.”

It’s a verse and concept that I keep needing to go back to. You see, I have a problem with letting my words be few. Big problem. My words have gotten me into more trouble than I care to speak of. It’s a constant case of, “Did I say that out loud??”

I think the point of this verse in Ecclesiastes, though, is more about the things we say before, or to, God. Jesus makes a sort of reference to the idea when He tells us not to make rash vows to God. God is in heaven; I am on earth. I will let my words be few.

Now for the segue.

In Every Step An Arrival, by Eugene H. Peterson, today’s reading begins with a verse about Moses.

GOD said to Moses, “Climb higher up the mountain and wait there for me; I’ll give you tablets of stone, the teachings and commandments that I’ve written to instruct them.”
Exodus 24:12 (The Message)

Moses is at his pinnacle, here; the highest point of his life. And I’m not just talking about physical location, either. He’s the leader of the people; he has brought them out of Egypt (with God’s help, of course); he is God’s spokesperson. “He is the key person in the people’s relation with God; he is the key person in God’s relation with the people.”

In all of this, we might make the mistake of thinking that Moses is indispensable. But he is not. He is necessary, but not indispensable. “If Moses had not done it, God would have prepared another.”

So what we need to realize is that the “great thing in this story is not what Moses did but what God did. God calls; God gives; God instructs.” Moses simply answered God’s call and waited for God to speak. Moses “knew how to get out of the way so God could be in the way.”

This is where I believe the two ideas are related. Moses knew how to let his words be few. When he came back down from the mountain, he “gave the people God’s word. He didn’t tell the exciting story of his forty days on the mountain. He did not show a set of slides of the views from Sinai. He was absolutely silent about himself in order that he might talk about God.”

I especially got a kick out of that statement about the slides. I’ve been a part of far too many missionary presentations in my life.

Anyway . . . These concepts are important, especially as we think about gathering to worship. “We come to a place of worship to find out about God, not about man. We are here to get ourselves in relation with God, not to be entertained with religious tales of the saints and sinners.”

May we stand in awe of God today, and let our words be few.

Father, as I go through this day, help me to let my words be few, and to stand in awe of you, as you are in heaven and I am on earth.
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!