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.

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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.

Signs of the New Birth

Today is Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,426

Thirteen days until S turns 26!!

The Feast of the Transfiguration

Not much in the way of personal updates this morning.

The Texas Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0, last night. Mike Minor got the win, his tenth of the season. Elvis Andrus scored the lone run, driven in by Nomar Mazara. The Rangers are 58-54, in third place in the AL West, 14.5 games out of first place, and six games out of the wild card race. They have won five consecutive games. They play the Indians again tonight, in Cleveland, with Ariel Jurado starting.

The Boston Red Sox halted their losing streak last night, beating the KC Royals 7-5. Rick Porcello got his tenth win of the season. The Sox are 60-55, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 games out of first place, and 5.5 games out of the wild card race. They play the Royals again tonight, in Boston, with Andrew Cashner starting.

Cleveland and Oakland currently hold the wild card spots.

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

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Psalm 46:7

Today I am grateful:
1. That the Lord of hosts is with us and the God of Jacob is our fortress!
2. That “you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
3. That God continues to love us, even when we are unfaithful to him.
4. That my highest calling and opportunity in life is to love God with all my being.
5. That I have the ability to show signs of the new birth of the kingdom in the present age.

“O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, The Transfiguration)

(From Faith That Matters)

Ambassadors of A Surprising Hope, by N.T. Wright

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

“God’s new world of justice and joy, of hope for the whole earth, was launched when Jesus came out of the tomb on Easter morning, and I know that he calls his followers to live in him and by the power of his Spirit and so to be new-creation people here and now, bringing signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age.”

That sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Wait, I’m supposed to bring about signs and symbols of God’s new creation?? Consider, though, that this doesn’t mean that we are supposed to be going around parting seas and raising the dead. It’s not that complicated.

We have the new birth within us. We are born from above. Therefore, since we have this treasure in “jars of clay,” as Paul put it, we are to display those treasures, showing the signs of new birth, of new creation to this world. And there are plenty of ways that we can do that, without having to split seas in half or bring the dead back to life.

I’ll leave you with one verse that’s a good starting place. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 12-13) Okay, that’s two verses. But there are several ways in there that we can bring “signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven.”

Father, help me today to put on a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Help me to bear with others, forgiving others as you have forgiven me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

Express Your Feelings To God

Today is Monday, August 5, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,425

Fourteen days until S turns 26!!!

We had a great worship time, yesterday morning. I know some folks would say it wasn’t “worship” because we didn’t sing. But we read some Psalms, we read other passages of Scripture, we discussed them, we prayed, and we had the Lord’s Supper. And there was fellowship. If that’s not “worship,” then I’m not sure what is. Anyway, it was a good, sweet time. We also tried to involve the kids a little bit more, yesterday.

After church, we picked up Freebirds for lunch, then swung by Kroger to pick up our weekly grocery order. The rest of the day was pretty much relaxing.

The Texas Rangers completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, beating them 9-4. Weird. The Tigers scored four runs in all three games. Rafael Montero was credited for the win. Even though he only pitched two innings, while the starter pitched four. Come on, MLB, please fix this. Anyway. The Rangers are now 57-54, in third place in the AL West, fifteen games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. They play the Indians in Cleveland tonight, with Mike Minor starting, still seeking his tenth win.

The Boston Red Sox lost their eighth consecutive game, and were swept for the second straight time. The lost to the Yankees, 7-4. David Price took the loss for the game. The Sox are now 59-55, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race. They play the Kansas City Royals tonight, at Fenway Park, with Rick Porcello starting.

Cleveland and Tampa Bay continue to hold the wild card spots.

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

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Psalm 46:4-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For a new week, full of new opportunities to serve and glorify God.
2. For coffee.
3. That “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
4. That we all have something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that we can share with someone else.
5. That we are free (and encouraged) to pray to God what we honestly feel

“Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 27. For Social Justice)

(From Faith That Matters)

Pray Your Hate, Lay God’s Justice, by Eugene Peterson

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Psalm 139:19, 22

Since Peterson had such a great way with words, I’m going to quote this brief reading in its entirety. I also believe that it is appropriate for the time in which we are living.

“It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate. So we commonly suppress our negative emotions (unless, neurotically, we advertise them). Or when we do express them, we do it far from the presence, or what we think is the presence, of God, ashamed or embarrassed to be seen in these curse-stained bib overalls.

“But when we pray the Psalms, these classic prayers of God’s people, we find that will not do. We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be. In prayer, all is not sweetness and light. The way of prayer is not to cover our unlovely emotions so that they will appear respectable but expose them so that they can be enlisted in the work of the kingdom. Hate, prayed, takes our lives to bedrock where the foundations of justice are being laid.”

We must lean into those emotions when we pray, not run away from them. So, today, tomorrow, whenever you pray, go ahead and show those feelings to God. He can certainly handle it. And in the light of the tragic events of this past weekend, I’m sure there is plenty of hatred to pray. I know I’m struggling with it. So take it God, not to social media. Because that’s just the wrong place to air anything. And social media can’t help you at all. I promise you . . . it will only increase the hatred.

Father, when I feel anger, help me to lay it out before you. Help me to not suppress it, only praying what I think you want to hear from me. I agree with Peterson, Lord. Prayer is not all sweetness and light. There is darkness, as well. And there is plenty of darkness, right now. Help us, your people to express that, deal with it, and then shine your light into that darkness with love and forgiveness. Our hate must be directed to you in prayer, not to the world in anger.
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.

Don’t Drink the Poison

Today is Saturday, August 3, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,423

Sixteen days until S turns 26!!

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We got done with work on time, which makes it even better. Then, tragedy struck. C forgot to stop at Freebird’s on the way home from work. I know. How could she possibly forget to do that?? She was engrossed in a new podcast she started listening to, and just kept right on driving until she was home. All is well, though. We decided to order delivery from that new Italian restaurant we went to Monday night, Luigi’s. C and I both had the same thing we had Monday, while S ordered their Pasta Sampler, which, I believe came with lasagna, manicotti, and cheese ravioli, all covered in marinara and mozzarella cheese. Just typing that made me hungry again! Anyway, it was all delicious. C and I watched a couple episodes of Bosch on Amazon Prime, then I played Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey for a bit. By 10:00, I was ready for bed. I’m still not quite recovered from Wednesday night! Hahaha!

We have our monthly Night of Worship tonight, at 6:00 PM. We will head to the house at around 3:00 PM to set up and practice. All are welcome to come. There will be snacks, worship and prayer, and who knows what else? We never quite know what to expect when the Holy Spirit “shows up.” I put that in quotes because the Holy Spirit is always there. But, as a lot of us know, there are times when He manifests Himself in unexpected ways. The address for the NoW is 4033 Jackie Lee Street in North Richland Hills, TX.

Does anyone else start immediately humming “Jackie Blue” when they see that street address?? Does anyone else even remember that song?? Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

The Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 last night. Seeing that the Tigers are the worst team in MLB, that should have been a higher score. But a “W” is a “W,” right? Lance Lynn got his fourteenth win of the season. Rougned Odor and Hunter Pence both homered in the game. The Rangers are 55-54, tied for third place in the AL West, fifteen games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. They play Detroit again tonight, in Arlington, with Adrian Sampson starting.

The Boston Red Sox lost their fifth consecutive game last night, to the New York Yankees, 4-2. Eduardo Rodriguez took the loss for Boston. J.D. Martinez got his 24th home run of the season. The Red Sox are 59-52, in third place in the AL east, 11.5 games out of first place, and four games out of the wild card race. They will play the Yankees again this afternoon (in about a half hour, actually), in New York, with Chris Sale starting, still seeking his fifth win.

Cleveland and Tampa Bay currently have the two wild card spots for the AL. The LA Dodgers have the best record in MLB (by .003 percentage), and the Detroit Tigers continue to hold down the worst record.

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

You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! 
Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. 
For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. 
But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. 
In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah.

Psalm 44:4-8

Today I am grateful:
1. For the weekend, to rest for the coming work week.
2. For the opportunity to worship and pray tonight, as well as for the fellowship that happens.
3. That we have a God in whom we can boast, because he will never forsake us.
4. That Jesus gives me the ability and power to forgive.
5. That if justice is due, God will see to that, not me.

“O God our Father, whose Son forgave his enemies while he was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 26. For those who suffer for the sake of Conscience)

(From Faith That Matters)

Forgive to Heal, by James Bryan Smith

. . .bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Colossians 3:13

In The Joyful Christian, C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” How true this is. When we have been really hurt, forgiveness is difficult. “In fact, forgiving the one who hurt us is the last thing we want to do.” We want justice. “We want to see our offender punished.” We want to see the offender crawling to our feet, begging forgiveness.

Forgiveness seems unjust, so it is difficult for us. After all, if someone has hurt us, it is only fair that they pay, right? “Forgiveness does not make sense to us; retribution seems warranted.” We could go on saying this a hundred different ways.

But the truth stands. Forgiveness is the way to true freedom, “and if we can navigate through the turbulent waters of our pain and ask God’s help in forgiving those we need to forgive, we will experience an inner peace that this world does not understand.” Heck, we don’t even understand it, most of the time.

It is said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I didn’t put quotes around that because many different versions of that statement are attributed to a lot of different people, and no one really knows who said it first. Nevertheless, it is true. Holding on to anger is bad for you. Worse than drinking energy drinks, it will eat at you, it will give you indigestion, it will make your stomach hurt, your heart hurt, and it might even give you an ulcer. It’s just bad. Jesus knew that, Solomon knew that, the Psalmists knew that.

We all want justice. But remember what Paul says in Romans 12:19. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” Yes. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” is a real quote. And it’s okay to pray for it, because we see that done in Psalm after Psalm after Psalm. But we still have to forgive. We have to. It is not an option for the Christian.

Because, there is this chilling statement by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) Heaven help us if we refuse to forgive.

Father, I hope I’m not holding any grudges right now. I don’t think I am. But I ask you this: search me and let me know. If I have grudges or anger against anyone, right now, show me, that I might forgive. Let me not harbor anger toward anyone, that I might be free and pure in your sight. Let the love of Jesus be manifested in me and through me.
I pray for our Night of Worship tonight. Let it be a sweet time of singing and praying, and may we also experience your presence in ways that we have not experienced before. May we truly delight in you and your presence tonight, and seek no other benefit from you.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

Grace and peace, friends.

Paradise

Today is Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,420

Nineteen days until S turns 26!!!

C and I went up to the hospital to visit Greg and Lori, last night. Jacob was there, as well as Jared and Bliss (Jacob’s brother and sister-in-law). Of course, it was a bittersweet visit. Things are not good. That’s all I’m going to say about it, at this point, because the family has not shared any explicit details, yet, on social media. We are still praying for a miracle.

Tonight, I’m going to see Alice Cooper in concert, in Irving. I’m excited about it. I didn’t decide to go until this past weekend. I kept deciding not to, because, well, it’s Wednesday night. A weeknight. I have work tomorrow. I could have taken PTO, but I only have four days left for the rest of the year, after our October trip to Galveston. I’ll be fine. Just tired all day tomorrow. Ironically, I have never seen Alice before, in spite of the fact that he has been one of my favorite music acts since the seventies. I just never had the opportunity to do it. But tonight, I decided, I’m going to, as Nike says, “just do it.” A buddy of mine, that I worked with over thirty years ago, at Tex Pack Express, is going to join me. I’ll be picking him up on my way from work. A female vocalist led group, Halestorm, will be opening for Cooper.

The Texas Rangers lost to the last-place Seattle Mariners, 8-5. Brett Martin gets pegged for the loss, as even though Ariel Jurado started and gave up the first four runs, Martin came in and, when the Rangers had tied the game at five each, gave up three more. Danny Santana got a home run in the game. The Rangers have dropped below .500, at 53-54, and are in fourth place in the AL West, 15.5 games out of first place, and 7.5 games out of the wild card race. They will play Seattle again tonight, in Arlington, with Mike Minor starting for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-5. Josh Taylor took the loss for Boston. Andrew Benintendi had a home run in the game. The Sox are 59-49, in third place in the AL East, nine games out of first, and two games out of the wild card race. They will play Tampa again tonight, in Boston, with Rick Porcello starting for the Sox.

Cleveland and Oakland are in the wild card spots for the AL. The LA Dodgers have the best record in MLB, at 70-39. The Detroit Tigers have the worst record, at 31-72.

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

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:7-8

Today I am grateful:
1. For the opportunity to go to a concert show tonight.
2. For the wonderful grace of God, even in hard situations that would seem hopeless to some.
3. That what Christ sees in me is often greater than what I see in myself.
4. That God is teaching me mercy.
5. That God has arranged a beautiful future for us. In “Paradise.”

“To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.”
Give grace to your servants, O Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 22. For Sound Government)

(From Faith That Matters)

Our God-Arranged Future, by Dallas Willard

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 14:2-3

Those are some of the most beautiful words in Scripture, aren’t they? What hope they bring to us!!

“At this present time the eternally creative Christ is preparing places for his human sisters and brothers to join him. Some are already there–no doubt busy with him in his great works. On the day he died, he covenanted with another man being killed along with him to meet that very day in a place he called Paradise.”

Was Jesus just saying “pretty words” while hanging on the cross? I’m sure that a man, dangling from a cross, with only his hands to hold him up to keep him from suffocating, barely able to speak at all, is going to spout out “pretty words.” That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t get it. People who don’t think it is realistic or possible for this place called “Paradise” to exist are, says Willard, “more short on imagination than long on logic. They should have a close look at the universe God has already brought into being before they decide he could not arrange for the future life of which the Bible speaks.”

Further, he says, “Anyone who realizes that reality is God’s and has seen a little bit of what God has already done will understand that such a ‘paradise’ would be no problem at all.”

God has, indeed, arranged a beautiful future for us, and our Savior is in the process of preparing it for us.

Father, thank you for the future that you have arranged for me and all of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot wait to see this new home. I wait for it, treasuring the thought of it. And it is in that anticipation that I say . . .
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.

“Break the Arm of the Wicked”

Today is Monday, July 29, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,418

Twenty-one days until S turns 26!!

Yesterday morning’s worship and prayer time went quite well. At least that’s why I’m told. Yes, I was there, and I led the prayer time. But I never feel quite adequate for these things, and am never sure how it’s going. I guess that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are praying. The pastor said it went great, and he was very grateful to the three of us for essentially taking the reins, yesterday, so he didn’t have to come up with a teaching or message. He did talk a little, but mainly to give an update on what is going on with his Dad. Then, right before the prayer time, he said a few words. It was all good.

The rest of the day was spent, as usual, resting. “Chilling,” some might say.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 6-5. Jose Leclerc blew the save and took the loss in the bottom of the ninth. The Rangers are 53-53, in fourth place in the AL West, 14.5 games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the second wild card spot, which currently belongs to Oakland. The Rangers have the night off tonight.

The Boston Red Sox did’t pull off the sweep, as they lost to New York 9-6. Chris Sale took the loss for the Sox. They are 59-48, in third place in the AL East, nine games out of first place, and one game out of the second wild card spot. They also have the night off tonight.

C and I are planning to go up to the hospital to visit Greg this evening. It will be a short visit. Depending on how today goes, he may or may not still be in ICU.

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

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

Today I am grateful:
1. For the way your people come together in a crisis.
2. That the darkness can never overcome the light.
3. For the daily care of the Lord over our lives.
4. That is is God’s job to do battle with the wicked, not mine.
5. That the Lord hears the prayers of the afflicted.

“O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 22. For Sound Government)

(From Faith That Matters)

Lord, Do Battle Against the Wicked, by Eugene H. Peterson

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.
Psalm 10:15

This probably falls under the category of “imprecatory” psalms. These are psalms that invoke judgment upon one’s enemies.

“The psalmists are angry people. In the presence of God they have realized that the world is not a benign place where everyone is doing their best to get along with the others and that if we all just try a little harder things are going to turn out all right.” We have become aware of the “prophesied consequences” of Genesis 3:15. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.”

“We are easily duped by evil. Evil almost never looks like an enemy in its presenting forms.” Ted Bundy was a charming, friendly guy. Yet, he was, as the judge put it, “extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile.”

When Jesus was tempted by Satan, there was nothing that appeared to be evil in his offers. “Provide bread for hunger, furnish a miracle to encourage belief, acquire power that could be used to establish a just world society.” But Jesus had just spent forty days and nights in fasting and prayer. He saw through the “polite and plausible offers.” When Jesus emerged from the wilderness, “it was not to negotiate in sweet reasonableness but to do battle.”

From these examples, we can see that it is perfectly acceptable to pray for God to do battle against evil and wickedness. However, to put up a word of caution, it is also necessary to have the kind of discernment that Jesus had acquired in order to determine what is truly evil. Just because we don’t like someone doesn’t make them evil. Just because someone disagrees with you, politically, doesn’t make them evil. So be very careful with this.

“Our world is filled with the same kind of evildoers against whom the psalmists prayed. May our prayers ask God to do battle against such wickedness, until no more is found.”

Father, my prayer is two-fold, this morning. First, I ask you, as stated above, to continue to do battle against the evil in our world. Second, remind us all that that is your job, not ours. I praise you for all that you are and all that you do to glorify your great name.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus, as this would truly eradicate evil for all eternity!

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.