To Live Gladly

Today is Friday, April 19, 2019.

Good Friday

Day 22,317

Twenty days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“When love is not madness, it is not love.”
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spanish dramatist, 1600-1681
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Skinkle ~ To glitter, glisten; to sparkle, twinkle.

We are a little bit tired, this morning. We got home from work last night to an unexpected scene. One of the main branches of our Bradford Pear tree had broken off. We’re guessing that it was twenty to twenty-five feet tall. It spanned from the base of the tree trunk, where it landed, all the way to our neighbor’s driveway. The smaller, leafy end was all over our neighbor’s pickup. It was quite an adventure. I was able to find our small, electric chainsaw, but the chain immediately came loose. The section of the tree was much too heavy to move.

When C got home a few minutes later, she was able to get the chain back together (she had dealt with this before). While she was working on that, I started texting church family folks, asking for help. Two of them showed up within thirty minutes, one with a gas chainsaw. We had gotten the top portion cut away with our electric one, getting everything out of our neighbor’s yard and off his truck (fortunately, we have a good relationship with these folks). At this point, we don’t think there is any damage to his truck. Our friends/brothers helped us get the rest of the tree cut up. So it’s all piled up in the front of our yard, now. We just have to find someone to haul it off, and probably need to get the rest of the tree trimmed by a professional, so that it doesn’t lose any more, or fall on our cars on the other side.

As previously mentioned, it is Good Friday, the traditional day when we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. I have my own ways of observing this day, but choose not to share them with anyone, not publicly, at least. These are things that are between me and God.

There were no baseball games of any importance to me, yesterday. The Texas Rangers host the Houston Astros tonight at 7:05, with Smyly taking the mound for Texas. The Boston Red Sox will be in Tampa, facing one of the hottest teams in the MLB, the Rays. E. Rodriguez will be pitching for the Sox.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:1-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For brothers in Christ who are willing to come help us, even before they get home from work
2. For the community of saints
3. That the fallen tree situation wasn’t worse
4. That God stands ready to reveal himself to me when I seek him
5. That I can “live gladly” because of the knowledge of God

“Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy
family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be
betrayed, and given up into the hands of sinners, and to suffer
death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Good Friday)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Live Gladly,” by James Bryan Smith.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

“How do we come to know such love? We must ask for it. We must pray that we will come to know and feel this love. We must plead to God before we will hear this gentle voice.”

The interesting thing about God is that he will typically not intrude upon our lives. There are isolated cases where he did. Saul is a big example of this. But, for most of us “ordinary” Christians, he will wait until we seek him, or ask him. And he has promised, in the above verse, that if we seek him we will find him.

Ironically, Smith quotes another of the authors in this collection of devotions, Frederick Buechner: “If you have never known the power of God’s love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it–I mean really asked, expecting an answer.” If we are ready to ask, God stands ready to give. “Nothing gives God more pleasure than filling his children with love and hearing them exclaim, ‘Abba, Daddy!'” While I agree with the sentiment of that statement I always hesitate to make statements like “Nothing gives God more pleasure than . . .” You can fill in the blanks with a lot of things. The point is, yes, God takes great pleasure in having his children ask for him and cry out to him in love.

Smith quotes another of the great devotional writers, Julian of Norwich, “The greatest honor we can give to Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” May we ask God for this knowledge, “not in your head but in your heart.”

Father, help me to seek you with all of my heart on this Good Friday. May I take my break times today and make them times of worship. May I consider often your sacrifice and the benefit I obtained from it. Let this day be a day of worship and contemplation for me and other Christians in the world. Today is not a normal day. Let me not approach it as such.
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.

Advertisements

The Grace to Forgive

Today is Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Day 22,314

Tuesday of Holy Week

Twenty-three days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“The man who never in his mind and thoughts travel’d to heaven is no artist.”
William Blake, English poet, 1757-1827
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Bouquiniste ~ A dealer in old and used books. (Wordsmith Word A Day)

Anyone who doesn’t live in a cave or under a rock knows the big news yesterday was the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. The spire and most of the roof are gone, but officials say that the main structure was saved. The cathedral was undergoing renovations and the fire was likely a result of something accidental. Many people are immediately accusing Muslim terrorists. I’m holding out my opinion on more facts. I work hard to not be a bigot, so I’m not immediately blaming anyone. I do acknowledge that something of this magnitude happening on Monday of Holy Week seems more than coincidence. But I haven’t heard any reports of anyone claiming responsibility, and terrorist groups normally do that pretty quickly. At any rate, it’s a terrible event, on an architectural and historical scale. The cathedral is almost 900 years old, and has survived, among other things, two major world wars.

The Texas Rangers jumped all over the Angels last night. After falling behind 4-0, the Rangers battled back to tie and then go ahead, winning the game 12-7. Kyle Dowdy got the win in relief, and Jose Leclerc notched another save. They must have relaxed the save rules a bit, because I thought a save was in effect if the team was three or four runs ahead, not five. In my mind, if one batter can’t cause you to lose the game (for example, if the bases are loaded and the batter hits a home run), then it’s not a “save.” But MLB says it was a save. The Rangers are now 8-7, and with one win, they jumped to third place in the AL West. They play the Angels again tonight at 7:05.

The Red Sox didn’t fare so well. They lost their Patriots Day game to the Orioles, 8-1. Hector Velazquez took the loss for the Sox. The Sox are 6-11, tied for fourth place in the AL East. They play the Yankees in New York, this evening, at 5:35 CDT.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Psalm 23:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to walk in his kingdom, even though I seem to be developing a chest cold
2. For the power of the Gospel to change lives
3. For the impact of Holy Week
4. That I have been forgiven
5. That I have the grace and power to forgive others

“O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an
instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of live:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly
suffer shame and loss for the sake of they Son our Savior Jesus
Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Tuesday in Holy Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Forgiving in the Name of God,” by Henri Nouwen.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

“We are all wounded people.” So simple, yet so profound. Yes, we are all wounded, in some way. We are all broken, in some way. And often, the people who have wounded us are the ones who are closest to us. In my experience, it is seldom a total stranger who wounds us. This is one of the great tragedies of life. I believe it is because you can most easily be wounded by someone you have trusted. When you trust or love someone, you let down your guard.

The typical human reaction is this: “You, who I expected to be there for me, you have abandoned me. How can I ever forgive you for that?”

But Jesus calls us to something different. We are called to forgive. Not only by this simple verse in Ephesians, but by the very words of our Savior.

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

These are serious words, not to be trifled with.

“Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.” The God who resides within us gives us grace and power to “go beyond our wounded selves and say, ‘In the name of God you are forgiven.'”

If we still struggle with that, we should consider the “incomprehensible reality that the God of the universe has forgiven every unloving, hurtful, wounding act we have perpetuated against him.” We should be ready and willing to treat others in the same way.

I have been the recipient of forgiveness, both from God, and from people I have wounded. How could I not, then, forgive others who have wounded me? That would be the tragedy.

Father, may I always be forgiving, because you have forgiven me, and because you have given others the grace to forgive me, as well. Search my heart, and if there is anyone in there whom I have not forgiven, please show me, then effect that forgiveness within me, by your grace, and by your Spirit.
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.

Like A Child

Today is Monday, April 15, 2019.

Day 22,313

Tax day in the U.S.A.

Monday of Holy Week

Twenty-four days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin, American politician, 1706-1790
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Bibliotaph ~ one who hoards books. (Wordsmith Word A Day) Haha!! That’s me!!

The Night of Worship Saturday night was phenomenal! Everything seemed to click, musically, and the Spirit was moving, I believe. After we were finished, a bunch of people hung around chatting for at least another half-hour, which is really what we want to happen.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite on my game, yesterday morning. Maybe I was tired, still, from the Night of Worship, but my brain seemed a little “fuzzy,” if you know what I mean. I made some mistakes during rehearsal, but, for the most part, played well during the worship gathering. Then at the end, I started our blessing song in the wrong key, so I had to stop and start over. Oh, well.

The Texas Rangers came back from a 7-2 deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics, pretty much doing the opposite of what happened Friday night (they were rained out Saturday). The final score was 8-7. During this rally, Elvis Andrus stole home and hit a solo home run. Jeffrey Springs got the win for the Rangers, and Jose Leclerc manage to not blow the save. This puts the Rangers bat at .500, being 7-7 and still in fifth place in the AL West, but only by .026 points. I find it somewhat startling for a .500 team to be in last place in any division. The Rangers host the Angels tonight at 7:05, with Shelby Miller taking the mound.

The Boston Red Sox had a nice, solid win over the Orioles, beating them 4-0, behind the pitching of David Price. He got the win for the game. The Sox are now 6-10, in fourth place in the AL East. They play the O’s again today at 10:05 CDT. Wait, what? Ah . . . it must be “Patriots Day.” Yes, the Boston Marathon is also today. They always play in the morning on this day.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

Today I am grateful:
1. For another week of opportunity to serve God and others
2. The rain we got Saturday
3. For a week to reflect on the resurrection of Christ
4. For the example of the child
5. For the hope to love Jesus as a child

“Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but
first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he
was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, talking in the way
of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and
peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Monday in Holy Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Live Like A Child,” by Frederick Buechner.

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-3

If you read verse 1, you see that the thing that preceded Jesus’s calling to this child was a question from his disciples. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

When Jesus did this, he was not being sentimental. “He was saying that the people who get into heaven are people who, like children, don’t worry about it too much. They are people who, like children, live with their hands open more than with their fists clenched. They are people who, like children, are so relatively unburdened by preconceptions that if somebody says there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they are perfectly willing to go take a look for themselves.”

They aren’t better than other people. “They are just apt to be better at telling the difference between a phony and the real thing.”

Am I living my spiritual life like a child? Not really only my spiritual life, is it? I’m finding it easier, these days to live with my hands open, not grasping things like I used to. I’m finding myself not worrying as much as I used to. I didn’t say I never worry. I haven’t gotten there yet. And I am also working real hard to dispense with those preconceptions and to go look for that pot of gold. By that, I mean that I’m trying to believe in Jesus as he is and as he speaks, not as some theologue tries to tell me he is.

Father, keep working with me. May your Spirit transform me into being more like a child, like one of these little ones that Jesus said would be great in the kingdom of heaven.
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.

We Are One

Today is Sunday, April 14, 2019.

Day 22,322

Palm Sunday, Holy Week

Twenty-five days until our Vegas trip!!

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

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 

Psalm 22:22-23

Today I am grateful:
1. The sweet time of worship and fellowship/prayer that we had last night.
2. Another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, this morning.
3. Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week
4. The Lord’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist
5. That we are all one in the Spirit

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love
towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the
cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his
great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the
example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his
resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Eat this Bread, Drink this Cup,” by N.T. Wright.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 
1 Corinthians 11:26

“In the Eucharist, the bread and the wine come to us as part of God’s new creation, the creation in whose reality Jesus already participates through the resurrection. They speak powerfully, as only encoded actions can speak (whether a handshake, a kiss, the tearing up of a contract, or whatever), both of the death he suffered, through which idolatry and sin have been defeated, and of his future arrival in which creation is to be renewed. We feed on that reality even though we may find it difficult to conceptualize what sort of reality it is. Knowing that we are thereby renewed as the people of Jesus who live and work in the tension between Easter and the final renewal enables us at least to relax and enjoy all that the sacrament has to offer.”

I like the word “reality” being used in connection with the Supper (what Wright and others call “Eucharist”). The word “Eucharist” comes from a Greek word which means thanksgiving or gratitude. Our church family partakes in the Supper every Sunday morning. It is, arguably, the highlight or climax of our worship gathering. Our pastor has made this so to us. After he presents the Word of God to us, we respond by thoughtfully taking the Supper together, considering the truths that we have been given in the previous words.

And what is truly coming to light for me, most recently, is the togetherness of the taking of the Supper. Last Sunday morning, as I was eating the bread and drinking the cup, I looked around me and considered the connectedness of all of the people in the room. We are all part of the Body of Christ, and together, we were taking the Supper. The Holy Spirit was moving in that room, inhabiting all of us together, as one.

And if I consider further, moving outside that room, there is the possibility of thousands upon thousands of people all worshiping God together at the same time, in my city, in my state, in my country. Worshiping together, taking the Supper together, praying together, all as one, in the Holy Spirit. Never mind the differences of minor points of theology. Never mind the differences in language. The Supper has no language barrier. We eat this bread and drink this cup, not as individual units, but as a body, all together.

This, I believe, is the heart of God, and the heart of worship. I ask you to consider this the next time you take the Supper with your church family. I know not everyone does it the same, and not everyone does it every Sunday. But the next time you eat the bread and drink the cup, look around you and consider that you are connected with all believers in the place.

Consider that we are, indeed, one.

Father, thank you for the Supper. I thank you for what you have shown me, recently, about the connectedness of the Body of Christ. This morning, when I take the Supper with The Exchange, remind me to look around and consider everyone else in the room, consider them with the love that you have bestowed upon us and love them with the same love that you have loved us.
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.

Pray Without Ceasing

Today is Friday!!! April 12, 2019.

Day 22,310

Thirty-eighth day of Lent

Twenty-seven days until our Vegas trip!

Quote of the Day

“We are no longer happy so soon as we wish to be happier.”
Walter Savage Landor, English Poet, 1775-1864
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Thole ~ endure (Merriam-Webster)

The Texas Rangers had the night off, last night. The Athletics come into town tonight. Smyly will take the mound for the Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM CDT. The Rangers are 6-6, in fifth place in the AL West by .029 percentage.

The Boston Red Sox got a much needed win, last night, beating the Blue Jays with some clutch hitting in the bottom of the ninth. The had fallen behind 5-0 at one point, but chiseled their way back up to a tie in the bottom of the seventh. A solo home run from the Jays put them back behind in the top of the eighth. But in the bottom of the ninth, Mookie reached first to be driven in by a clutch double from Mitch Moreland. Nunez came in to pinch run for Moreland. Martinez was intentionally walked. Nunez promptly stole third base (there’s still only one out at this point). Bogaerts drew a walk to load the bases. Then Devers chopped a single into right field to drive in the winning run. I believe Moreland’s at-bat was the highlight of the inning though, as he kept fighting with foul balls until he got that perfect pitch. Red Sox win 7-6. They are 4-9, tied with the Jays for fourth place in the AL East. They will face Baltimore tonight, at Fenway, at 6:10 CDT. E. Rodriguez will take the mound for the Sox.

As the weekend approaches, we are preparing for tomorrow night’s Night of Worship. That’s the main thing we have going on this weekend, other than our usual Sunday worship gathering. I don’t think we have anything planned for Sunday afternoon, which is good, because I’m usually exhausted after our Saturday Night of Worship.

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

In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:4-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to walk in his kingdom
2. For nice, spring-like weather today (currently 42, with a high of 74)
3. For the hope of some rain tomorrow
4. That praying without ceasing is posssible
5. For the desire to constantly commune with God

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance;
to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances;
and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers,
and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand;
to comfort and help the weak-hearted;
to raise up those who fall;
and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed eternal life and peace,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant that, in the fellowship of The Exchange Church and all the saints,
we may attain to thy heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “A Vital Part of Our Christian Life,” by Dallas Willard

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Acts 10:9

“Frank Laubach wrote of how, in his personal experiment of moment-by-moment submission to the will of God, the fine texture of his work and life experience was transformed. In January of 1930 he began to cultivate the habit of turning his mind to Christ for one second out of every minute.”

I’ve heard and read about this, before, and have read Laubach’s Letters from A Modern Mystic. It’s a truly amazing story. “God raised Frank Laubach from a lonely missionary post in the Philippines to the status of Christian world statesman and spokesman for Christ.” This practice of “constant conscious interface with God” brought him to a place where he felt that God simply carried him along from moment to moment. “This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt it this way before. I need something, and turn around to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.”

This kind of communion with God is, as the title of the reading says, vital for our lives. I don’t know how successful most of could be at Laubach’s “game of minutes,” but we can truly, as Paul tells us, “pray without ceasing.” This does not mean that we are praying every single second. That would be quite difficult, perhaps impossible for most people. But we can pray constantly and frequently throughout the day. We don’t have to only pray during planned blocks of time, devoted solely to that activity. We can pray at any given moment, driving down the road, walking through a store, doing our daily work. All it takes is simply turning our eyes, heart, and mind to the Lord for a second or two.

A perfect example was in today’s Facebook comic, “Coffee With Jesus.”

“Hey, Jesus. I’m stressin’ out over here.”

Yes. That’s a great place to start!

Thank you, Father, that we can pray at any moment. I thank you for the desire to commune with you throughout the day. I confess that I didn’t do that so well, yesterday, and ask for your Spirit’s help in reminding me, today.
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.

Pay It Forward

“Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

Today is Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Day 22,308

Thirty-sixth day of Lent

Twenty-nine days until our Vegas trip

Quote of the Day

“It’s a dangerous business going out your front door.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, British scholar and novelist, 1892-1973
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Flimflam ~ to trick, deceive, swindle, or cheat. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers managed to lose a game that they had well in hand, last night. They gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 5-4. The closer, Leclerc, took the loss. They are now 5-6, back in last place in the AL West. They play again tonight at 8:40 in Arizona.

The Red Sox lost their home opener to the Blue Jays, 7-5. Chris Sale got his third loss in the game as the Sox fall to 3-9, in last place in the AL East. They play again Thursday (that seems weird, to have a day off in the middle of the series) at 6:10.

The Seattle Mariners continue to rule baseball, at 11-2, with a percentage of .846. The Cincinnati Reds and KC Royals are holding the bottom at 2-8 (.200), with the Red Sox and Rockies just barely ahead of them. The Rangers are tied with the Yankees, just south of the middle of the pack.

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

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.

Psalm 21:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For an opportunity to be with Jesus
2. For time for God to calm my spirit and point me in the right direction
3. For the hope of opportunities to serve someone today
4. That God has had love and compassion for me
5. That I have the ability to pay that compassion forward

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord;
and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives,
the homeless and the hungry,
and all who are desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the bountiful fruits of the earth,
so that in due time all may enjoy them,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us,
in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants,
and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Pay Forward God’s Compassion,” by Dallas Willard.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12

“A person of compassion is one who feels the needs of others and whose compassion is not something that can be turned on and off like a water faucet.” The person who feels this kind of compassion is constantly burdened for others. That is why so many people reject Jesus’s commandment to love others. It takes “resources of personal strength and wisdom in action. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

That’s an important statement, I believe . . . let’s take another look at it.

“Loving your neighbor as yourself is a matter of who you are, not primarily of what you decide to do.”

The thing is, though, that we can only be compassionate if we have, within ourselves, a sort of “well” of compassion that we have received from another person or being. That being, of course, is God. Consider 1 John 4:19. “We love because he first loved us.” And if he had not loved us, we would be unable to love. Keep in mind that the context of 1 John 4:19 is not love God, but loving others. Also, verse 18 says, “perfect love casts out fear.” Consider the role of fear in the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Our experience of God’s love is what allows us, empowers us, to set aside anger, selfishness, lusting, and so on in our relationships to others.”

So let us, indeed, pay forward God’s compassion to us.

Father, I read words like this and I feel so lacking. I have so much work to do in this area. You have had great compassion on me and great love for me. Your lovingkindness toward me has been immeasurable. Yet, I have been so stingy in paying that forward to others. Release my inhibitions, Father. Destroy my fear in the presence of Jesus. Send me out to show compassion on others, that I might demonstrate your great love for me and them, both.
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.

In the Garden

Today is Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Day 22,302

Thirtieth day of Lent

Thirty-five days until our Vegas trip!

Quote of the Day

“Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.”
Ambrose Bierce, U.S. author and satirist, 1842-1914
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Multiverse ~ a hypothetical collection of identical or diverse universes, including our own. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers shut down the Houston Astros, last night, to win 4-0. Mike Minor got the win and Gerrit Cole took the loss for the Astros. Nomar Mazara went yard in the eighth with a solo shot to make it 4-0. The Rangers are 4-2, in second place in the AL West. Tonight, they will be in Los Angeles to play the Angels at 9:07 CDT.

The Boston Red Sox helped the Rangers by finally winning another game. They beat Oakland 6-3. It took another three-run top of the ninth to do this, though. Matt Barnes got the win in relief, Ryan Brasier got a save, and Fernando Rodney took the loss for the A’s. The Sox are 2-5, still in last place in the AL East, but only a half game behind the Yankees. The will face Oakland again this afternoon at 2:37 CDT.

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

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

Today I am grateful:
1. For the glory of God that is visible in the heavens and in the rest of creation
2. For another day to walk in the kingdom of God
3. That there is promise of God’s presence with me, no matter where I am
4. For the power of his voice in times of solitude
5. For the record of the gospels that show us how to walk with Jesus

O Come, let us sing unto the Lord;
let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,
and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hands are all the corners of the earth,
and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his and he made it,
and his hands prepared the dry land.

O come, let us worship and fall down
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God,
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.

Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts
as in the provocation,
ad as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;
When your fathers tempted me,
proved me, and saw my works.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said,
It is a people that do err in their hearts,
for they have not known my ways;
Unto whom I sware in my wrath,
that they should not enter my rest.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 95: Traditional)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “The Voice in the Garden of Solitude,” by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 1:35

“Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives.”

If you pay attention to the gospel record, Jesus does what he did in Mark 1:35 frequently. I don’t know if he did it every day, but he did it a lot. It was a common practice for him to rise before the dawn and go out to a “desolate place” to pray.

Solitude, especially at first, is not easy. We are insecure and we are easily distracted by whatever comes along, either in real life or in our minds. It is also “not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But,” says Nouwen, “if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, ‘Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness.'”

I’m still searching for a good place to practice solitude and silence. Perhaps it is a close as the swing out on our back porch. I might be joined by a cat, but otherwise, I would likely be alone. It is also, of course, to be “alone in a crowd.” I’m not sure that you have to be physically alone to practice solitude, but it helps if, like me, you are easily distracted by people.

I’m still seeking a strategy for seeking the voice of God in a solitary place. Perhaps soon I will find it. Perhaps I am not seeking it seriously enough.

Father, with about fifteen days left in this Lenten season, I pray that you might lead me to this place of solitude and silence, that I might hear your voice “in the garden of solitude to obtain companionship, security, release, and guidance.” I know you are with me always. But there is something about a place of aloneness that heightens the awareness of you. Help me to find this in my world.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!