Memorials of Faith

Today is Saturday, January 19, 2019.

Day 22,227

24 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Be Content With Second Place

Today is Friday, January 18, 2019.

Day 22,226

25 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, that phrase captures my attention.

“Be . . . content with second place.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

Faith Expressed In Love

Today is Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Day 22,225

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 126)

(From Faith That Matters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

Precious In His Sight

Today is Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

Day 22,224

27 days until pitches and catchers report for Spring Training.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 121)

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

Psalm 8:4-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Basis of My Security

Today is Monday, January 14, 2019.

Day 22,222

30 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”
Mark Twain, American author, 1835-1910
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is phatic. It means, “denoting speech used to express or create an atmosphere of shared feelings, goodwill, or sociability rather than to impart information.” (Dictionary.com)

Yesterday morning went, in my opinion, quite well. The setup was great, even though several main people were out. We all kind of pitched in together and got the sound equipment up and working, and it worked the first time! Then, since it was just me on the music, I was done practicing with plenty of time to spare. The actual worship gathering went pretty well. I had a slight rough start because I forgot to turn on my vocal reverb effect, but other than that, I think it went very smoothly.

Now, I have to focus on some wedding music, because I’m supposed to be playing piano at a wedding in must over a month. This will be a first for me. It’s on Friday, February 15.

It’s Monday again, so we start over on the week. As far as I know, there is nothing out of the ordinary happening this week, or next weekend.

Oh. I was 3-1 on my football predictions, for the weekend. The Chiefs beat the Colts 31-13 on Saturday, and the Rams beat the Cowboys 30-22 Saturday night. Yesterday afternoon, the Patriots pretty much destroyed the Chargers 41-28. The only really close game was yesterday evening as the Saints came back from a first quarter deficit of 14-0 to beat the Eagles 20-14. The Eagles had one last chance, but it all ended when a pass slipped through the hands of an Eagles receiver to fall right into the waiting arms of a Saints defender.

I’m going out on a proverbial limb to predict that the Super Bowl will be the Patriots (I’m not making that mistake again!) against the Rams.

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

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Today I am grateful:
1. That yesterday’s setup and worship gathering went so well.
2. For the beginning of a new week.
3. For the promise of God’s hand in my life as I work to live in His kingdom.
4. For the promise that I need not be anxious for anything in my life.
5. For hope in future grace.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory to the Father, 
and to the Son, 
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever. Amen.
Alleluia.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is The Basis of Our Security, by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.
Psalm 18:33

“What is the basis of our security?” That’s a question that may bring up a number of answers: “success, money, friends, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, and so on.” Many of us may even say that God is the basis of our security. And that may be, to a large degree, true. But then what happens when a job is lost and the money stops coming in? Or when the circle of friends begins to fall apart? Or when our reputations becomes tainted?

“A spiritual life is a life in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is everlasting love.” I like to think that this is at least partially true for me. As Nouwen points out, I may never be completely free from my attachments to this world, but I had, as he says, “better not belong to it.”

“What is the basis of your security? Is it success or money, property or popularity, friends of family, connections or insurance? Or is the Lord your God, who has set you securely on the high places?”

“Lord, may my spiritual life be rooted not in the fleeting security of created things, but in the steadfast security of your will, flowing from your everlasting love for me. Amen.”

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!

Wreck ‘Em With Love

Today is Sunday, January 13, 2019.

Day 22,221

31 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
Francis of Assisi, Italian Saint, 1182-1226
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is clement. It means, “inclined to be merciful : lenient.” (Merriam-Webster)

S and C had a marvelous time at the wedding shower, yesterday. It was Harry Potter themed, and it appears that a lovely time was had by all in attendance.

The Cowboys couldn’t quite keep up with the Rams, last night. They made it a close one, losing 30-22. They scored their last touchdown with just over two minutes left to play, having all three of their timeouts left. Rather than try an onside kick, they kicked away, hoping to hold the Rams offense to three downs and a punt, using all of their timeouts. However, they were unable to hold the Rams. They made two first downs, enabling them to run out the clock and win the game. Basically, the Rams outran them. The Cowboys celebrated defense was unable to contain the Rams running game.

In the other game, yesterday, the Chiefs beat the Colts 31-13. It does not appear that the Colts were ever really in the game. Today, the Patriots play the Chargers and the Eagles play the Saints. I’m predicting wins by the Chargers and Saints. This would make the NFC Championship between the Saints and Rams, and the AFC Championship between the Chargers and Chiefs. Some are predicting an all LA Super Bowl. I’m not willing to make that prediction.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15. As previously mentioned, I will be leading the worship music all by myself, this morning. Our pastor is out, as well, so our other elder will be preacing.

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

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Colossians 1:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with the saints.
2. For the chance to be the worship leader today.
3. For the above-mentioned qualification to share in the inheritance of the saints.
4. That S and C were able to have such a great time at the shower, yesterday.
5. For two friends who will be getting married in just over a month.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Romans 15:13
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
(From The Book of Common Prayer)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

This is always a challenging verse for me, whenever it comes around. I’ve mentioned (multiple times, I’m sure) that I tend to get into trouble with my tongue. But here is a verse that challenges us to use our tongues only for grace and blessing and edification (building up).

The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.
Ecclesiastes 10:12

I fear that, all too often, my tongue and I have been the fool in that verse. In the past few years, I’ve gotten better, as the Holy Spirit molds me into something that comes closer to resembling Jesus. But there are still way too many times, that my mouth opens and words come out before I can stop them, surely making me appear the fool. The discipline of silence is very helpful in combating this issue.

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 
Romans 14:19

Remember that time when Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers?” (Matthew 5:9) Here is where we can use our words for positive outcomes. The context of the verse in Romans is not necessarily about speech, but more about causing others to stumble. But we can do that with the attitudes that are behind our speech, can’t we? And it saddens me to see so many “Christians” in our culture that are doing the opposite of these verses, but not pursuing peace, but, rather, pursuing whatever makes them feel good about things. If we are following in the words and steps of Christ, we should be doing these things.

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Romans 15:2

Finally, this verse. After being challenged about the nature of my speech and pursuing peace and mutual edification, I am told that I need to please my neighbor, for his own good, to build him up. The writer of today’s Daily Guideposts reading used a phrase that I like, in describing an encounter with a person who he thought was going to be overly critical of him. “She wrecked me with love.”

I think that phrase sums up all of these verses quite well. If we are obeying each of these challenges from God’s Word, that’s what we will be doing. Wrecking them with love.

Father, help me to wreck people with love. Today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life. May the Holy Spirit grab my tongue and never let it go. Help me to practice silence whenever possible, and to never speak out of turn. Teach me love above all other things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

Live Wisely and Well

Today is Saturday, January 12, 2019.

Day 22,220

32 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m back. Thanks for waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soli Deo Gloria!