Revealing Angels

Today is Friday, August 25, 2017. Woohoo, Friday!!! Day 21,715. Only ten days until our Labor Day holiday!!

Quote of the Day

“If you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet, and you can find a lot of people there who don’t like you.” ~ Tina Fey, Golden Globes Acceptance Speech, 2009

Word of the Day

Incogitant ~ “thoughtless; inconsiderate.”

Today is Kiss and Make Up Day. Having a tiff? A lovers’ quarrel? Time to kiss and make up!

We have coffee again!! We have coffee again!! There’s a bit of a peculiar taste to it, this morning, but it was the first time we used it. Trust me, it’s still coffee, and it’s wonderful!

Not much else going on. The Rangers beat the Angels 3-0, last night. The Twins lost, so the Rangers are now only one game out of the second wild card spot. And the Astros are fading. They’re only playing .500 ball right now.

The Red Sox lost a slug-fest to the Indians, 13-6. They split the series. I’m beginning to think that there’s something wrong with Chris Sale, who has been hit pretty badly in his last two outings. But the Yankees lost, too, so the Sox maintain their 4.5 game lead in the AL East.

The Dodgers won their 90th game, last night.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 
He redeems my soul in safety

Psalm 55:16-18
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 
Psalm 28:1
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
Psalm 13:5
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Psalm 13:1-2
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 3:1-2

(From Living the Message)

Twice in the book of Revelation, John has to be told not to worship the angel who is revealing these things to him. I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9)

Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we have such a difficult time with this concept? Because, says Peterson, it is easier. “It is easier to indulge in ecstasies than to engage in obedience. It is easier to pursue a fascination with the supernatural than to enter into the service of God.” It happens frequently in the lives of well-meaning people who get caught up in the ecstatic.

“Revealing angels have always proved more popular than the revealed God.”

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they went wild, calling out in their Lyconian dialect, “The gods have come down! These men are gods!”
When Barnabas and Paul finally realized what was going on, they stopped them. Waving their arms, they interrupted the parade, calling out, “What do you think you’re doing! We’re not gods! We are men just like you, and we’re here to bring you the Message, to persuade you to abandon these silly god-superstitions and embrace God himself, the living God.”

Acts 14:11, 14-15a (The Message)

Father, help me to be more about looking for and obeying you, rather than seeking the excitement of the fantastic and ecstatic.
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.

In Touch With Reality

Today is Monday, August 21, 2017. Day 21,711.

Quote of the Day

“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.” ~ Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyperreality

Word of the Day

Hebetude ~ “lethargy; dullness. Tired from being out late the night before, Jennifer allowed herself to fall into the hebetude of a lazy Sunday afternoon.”

Today is Poet’s Day, which would explain the Goodreads quote of the day, “Once, poets were magicians. Poets were strong, stronger than warriors or kings — stronger than old hapless gods. And they will be strong once again.” (Greg Bear)

It was a marvelous weekend! We got to Mineral Wells around 1:30 or so, talked for a couple of minutes, then headed over to Pastafina (S’s choice) for lunch. We had a delicious Italian lunch, S having the ravioli special, C having lasagna, and my mother and I having veal parmigiana. After that, we went back to the house, where S opened her presents. My mother gives the best presents! Nothing real fancy, but so imaginative, and lots of them! We visited for a while, then had some homemade strawberry cake. Then C and Mama went back to the den to look at Mama’s computer, because she was having some minor trouble with something. S fell asleep on the couch, and I drifted in and out in a chair, while playing games on my phone.

We headed over to the hotel around 7:00. We had a small amount of trouble checking in, as the hotel didn’t seem to have our reservation. But we had a confirmation number with Expedia, so he called someone (I assume the Best Western main office?) and then checked us in, saying they were supposed to fax him something. Fax? People still use those?? Anyway, after getting everything up to the room, C and I drove over to Jack in the Box for some dinner, which we took back to the hotel room.

Sunday morning, we had our free breakfast in the hotel, which was actually pretty good. Except for the biscuits. They were crunchy. I almost couldn’t split one of the open, they were so hard. But gravy fixed that. Gravy fixes a lot of things.

We got back to my mother’s house around 10:15, visited for a few minutes, then headed to church. We had a good time worshiping with the folks at FBC Mineral Wells, and heard a good message by their youth pastor. After that, it was lunch at a new Mexican restaurant in town, the name of which I cannot remember. Wait, I found it. It is Taqueria La Estrella. It is a charming little place with amazing service and great food. I have learned that they must not be a new restaurant, but just moved to a new location. Anyway. Good times.

We went back to the house, visited some more, watched some of the Rangers game, had some more strawberry cake, then headed home. As I mentioned earlier, it was a marvelous weekend. S was very happy.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
Psalm 147:1
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
Psalm 28:2
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,

Psalm 92:1-2
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Psalm 79:13
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 
All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:7-9
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. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23

(From Living the Message)

“The claim of the gospel is that it puts us in touch with reality — all of it, not just a part. It puts us in touch with a God who creates and with the people and world he created. It puts us in touch with a Christ who redeems and the people whom he loves. It puts us in touch with our feelings of hope and despair, with our thoughts of doubt and faith, with our acts of virtue and vice. It puts us in touch with everything, visible and invisible, right and wrong, good and evil. It puts us in touch and then trains us in mature ways of living.

“We live in a world where people are going crazy. We have a gospel that sets us free to think, and in so doing it develops us in a rich and robust sanity. The sanity of the gospel is one of its most attractive features. Persons who truly live by faith are in touch with reality and become conspicuously sane.” (Eugene H. Peterson)

I would add that it puts us in touch with the Kingdom of God, which is the only true reality.

Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
John 8:31-32 (The Message)

Thank you, Father, for putting me in touch with reality through the truth of the Gospel. Thank you for showing me your kingdom and allowing me to walk in it. Help me to walk more completely, and to follow in the steps of Jesus, as I try to demonstrate this gospel to those around me. Forgive me when I fail.
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.

Spirit

Today is Friday, August 18, 2017. Day 21,708. ONE MORE DAY until S’s and J’s birthday!!!!!!!!

Quote of the Day

“Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.” ~ Laurence J. Peter

Word of the Day

Confabulate ~ to converse informally; chat.

Today is Bad Poetry Day. In honor of that, here is some Vogon poetry.

Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me,
As plurdled gabbleblotchits,
On a lurgid bee,
That mordiously hath blurted out,
Its earted jurtles, grumbling
Into a rancid festering confectious organ squealer. [drowned out by moaning and screaming]
Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles,
Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegrurts,
And living glupules frart and stipulate,
Like jowling meated liverslime,
Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes,
And hooptiously drangle me,
With crinkly bindlewurdles,mashurbitries.
Or else I shall rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don’t!

(Much thanks to Douglas Adams!)

So, today, C is taking a half day off (the after lunch half), and will be taking S to have lunch and get a mani/pedi. I wish I could go, but I can’t take today off, as someone else with an important role already had the day off. I don’t really want a manicure, but those fancy pedicures are the bomb diggity, man!

Tomorrow, we will be heading to Mineral Wells for the weekend, to visit Grandma, and go to church with her on Sunday morning. Good times. I also plan to stop by the Crazy Water store and pick up another case or two of that number four Crazy Water. It’s good stuff, and I swear it helped the arthritic pain I was experiencing in my right knee.

The Rangers beat the Other Sox, last night, 9-8. They gained a half game on the wild card because the Angels didn’t play. They also gained a game on the Astros, who lost. So they are tied for third place, with Seattle, 13.5 games out, and 1.5 out of the second wild card spot.

The Red Sox didn’t play, but lost a half game because the Yankees won. They are four games up in the AL East. I’m thinking September could be quite exciting!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Psalm 31:23
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!
Psalm 30:10
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
Psalm 27:4
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 
For what can a man give in return for his soul? 
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

(From Living the Message)

It’s one of those times I will quote the reading verbatim.

“Spirit is the scriptural word for God sharing his life in our lives. It means that God is not an anonymous somebody ‘out there’ or an idea explained in a book, but a living presence whom I experience in the life I live day by day. God gives himself to me. I receive God into myself. Spirit is God’s gift of himself in my experience.”

When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
Romans 8:11b (The Message)

Father, live and breathe in me today! Help me to know your presence in my life today. Help me to see, feel, and know the presence of your Spirit as I walk through this day. Also, I ask that you help me to notice the people you put in my path today, people that also represent you in this world.
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.

Included In the Workforce

“The nature of Christ’s sovereignty is not to lord it over his people but to invite them into the exercise of his self-giving.”

Today is Sunday, August 6, 2017. Day 21,696. Only thirteen days until S’s and J’s birthday!!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
Psalm 47:1
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
Psalm 119:149
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

Psalm 36:7-9
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Psalm 105:3
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 
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 14:1-3
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.
The Gloria
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.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Living the Message)

At the end of chapter 2, Eugene H. Peterson comes back to that word, axios, that occurs at the central point of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. If you remember, that Greek word, translated “worthy” in the text, is a symbol of balancing scales. The two sides of the scale are represented by God’s calling and the Church walking.

Paul uses is paraphrase of Psalm 68 to anchor that metaphor “in Christ’s kingly rule and Christ’s generosity.” In other words, Paul shows us that, while Christ is exercising his rule as High King in his Ascension, he exercises “his rule most conspicuously by giving gifts. The nature of Christ’s sovereignty is not to lord it over his people but to invite them into the exercise of his self-giving.”

We begin to mature when we realize that we are “included in the workforce. We embrace the work as a gift.” What a wonderful gift this is, too! We get to work alongside Jesus, or Lord, “in this great salvation enterprise.”

Father, thank you for Jesus and his gifts to us. What a joy to walk alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ as we work alongside Christ! I pray that we all enter into this maturity with gusto and joy. Show all of your Church how to mature in Christ as we walk in our daily lives. Help us to recognize your calling on our lives and then to walk in that obedience, sharing the easy yoke with Jesus, walking in your Kingdom.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Never Give Up

Today is Friday, August 4, 2017. Day 21,694. 15 days until S’s and J’s birthday!

“The sunlight claps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea:
what are all these kissings worth, if thou kiss not me?” ― Percy Bysshe Shelley
Goodreads

The word of the day is hobbyhorse, a noun. We’re probably all familiar with the definition, “a stick with a horse’s head, or a rocking horse, ridden by children.” But it can also mean, “a pet idea or project.”

Today is International Beer Day. Personally, I don’t care for the stuff. And not for lack of trying. I just don’t like the taste of beer, and even the most fancy-schmancy craft beers still taste like beer to me. However, I have some good friends who like beer, so I’ll raise a glass (but not beer) to them.

We now have several stacks of vinyl planks in our front hallway. The guy who will be doing our floor delivered them all last night. They have to sit inside the house for at least 24 hours to get acclimated to the room temperature. We signed the contract, payed 50% of the cost last night (he won’t take the rest until they are finished and we are satisfied), and they will begin the work Monday morning. C will be working from home during the installation, which will probably take all week.

It’s Friday again, so I’m wondering how late I will have to work tonight. It would be nice to get to come home on time for a change.

The Red Sox and Rangers both won, last night. The Sox beat the Other Sox 9-5. They now lead the AL East again, by 2 games. The Rangers beat the Twins 4-1, behind another Joey Gallo monster smash. They remain in fourth place in the AL West, 17 games behind the Astros, but only 4.5 out of the wild card position.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!
Psalm 70:5
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
Psalm 103:15
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 
There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 
coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 7:14-15, 21-23
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:8-12
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Living the Message)

Several of my readings had a similar theme, this morning, a theme of not giving up. One was on the subject of doing good, based on that verse that tells us to not grow weary from doing good (Galatians 6:9). Then this one from Eugene H. Peterson, called “Never Give Up,” spoke to me, as well.

“The mark of a certain kind of genius is the ability and energy to keep returning to the same task relentlessly, imaginatively, curiously, for a lifetime. Never give up and go on to something else; never get distracted and be diverted to something else.”

He then gives examples of Augustine, who wrote fifteen commentaries on the book of Genesis, because he could never get to the depths of that first book of the Bible. Then Beethoven, who wrote sixteen string quartets, “because he was never satisfied with what he had done.” We all think his work was masterful, but he was never satisfied.

When we persist, we bring “fresh creative energy to each day’s attempt. The same thing over and over, and yet it is never the same thing, for each venture is resplendent with dazzling creativity.”

We should also be grateful for God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, those saints who never gave up, even though they never saw the outcome of their vision.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
Hebrews 11:39-40 (The Message)

Father, help me to never give up on whatever I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I feel that I have meandered back and forth across the path, and perhaps even lost my way a little bit. Return me to the path that you have for me, and show me your path, that I may walk in it. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Help me, by your Spirit, to never give up.
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.

In A Room By Myself

“We are made for personal relationships, and until we engage in them we are not complete.”

Today is Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Day 21,692. Seventeen days until S’s and J’s birthday! (Mustn’t forget our son-in-law!)

“The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” ― Isabel Allende
Goodreads

The word of the day is obambulate, a verb meaning, “To walk about; to wander here and there.”

Today is Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Especially like those round ones, made with chocolate chip cookies, that have chocolate chips all around the outside of the ice cream.

I don’t know if I have mentioned, or not, but we are getting our floor redone. We are replacing the laminate with vinyl planks, a new trend, it seems. They are, allegedly, completely waterproof, as well as softer and quieter than laminate, which will be great for us, having a dog and cats in the house. We’re going with a color that looks like wood, and is slightly darker than what we already have. Not too dark, though, as C was discouraged from getting darker by comments about pet hair and something called “dust” showing up too easily.

The Red Sox battled back into first place, last night, beating the Indians in a roller coaster of a game. The Sox won on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth (well, duh . . . when else would they have a “walk-off home run?”), after a play in which the game should have ended. There were two outs when Mitch Moreland struck out. But he struck out on a wild pitch, and ran to first (it has always been my opinion that a batter should be able to “steal” first on any wild pitch), making it safely. So the strike out is negated. Next batter hit a three-run home run. They won, 12-10, and the Yankees lost, so the Sox are back in first by a half game.

Tonight is bowling night. We’ll see if I can remember how to bowl tonight. I seem to have forgotten for two consecutive weeks.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
Psalm 123:1
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 97:9
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Psalm 103:11
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

(From Living the Message)

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 
The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 
And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:19-23

In a reading called “A Helper fit for Him,” Eugene H. Peterson says, “God does not provide a bare biological minimum in creation but a glorious personal richness.” Our entire existence is built in relationship. “We are not created to be self-sufficient.” We have to comprehend this, because there are too many of us who believe that we are self-sufficient, which is one of the biggest lies in our society. “We are made for personal relationships, and until we engage in them we are not complete.” I struggle with this a lot. I don’t like being around people very much. My own boss, at work, recognizes this, and made a comment, yesterday, saying, “He wants to be in a room by himself.” He was partly joking, sure. But there is a measure of truth to his statement. Nevertheless, I need to be involved in relationship, in community. This is an area where I truly need to step out of my “comfort zone.”

Peterson prays like this: “I thank you, O God, not only for creating me, but for creating others, for placing me in a world where I can recognize and explore the meaning of your purposes in the gift of another human face. Amen.”

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
Romans 12:5-6 (The Message)

Father, thank you for relationships. I thank you that we need each other, and I pray that you help me to be part of relationships, both inside and outside the Church. Help me to treat all people with respect and dignity, as everyone I meet possesses value that cannot be replaced or exchanged. Help me to follow Christ closely, and walk with him 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.

A Coherent Life

Today is Monday, July 31, 2017. Day 21,690. Last day of July. 19 days until S’s birthday!

“Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.” ~ George Carlin
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ergate, a noun meaning, “a worker ant.”

Today is, once again, Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. This time, I give you the Hydraulophone.

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. Our worship went well, even though some of us were still exhausted from the Night of Worship Saturday night. The message was good but hard. He gave us a lot to meditate on, concerning a people whose lips speak one thing but whose hearts go a different direction.

We had lunch with C’s step-brother, his wife, and their daughter, at a nice little Mexican restaurant in Lake Worth. C’s step-brother said several times that her step-father used to love eating there. It was a lovely time, and the food was pretty good.

Not much else happened for the rest of the day. Except for this.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Psalm 100:1-2
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
Psalm 140:6
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalm 110:4
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Mark 16:19-20

(From Living the Message)

“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe–some days trying to impose your opinion on others, other days just trying to please them–then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” (Eugene H. Peterson, quoting Romans 14:22-23 from The Message)

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; 
don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. 
When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love. 
Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. 
But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Romans 14:19-23 (The Message)

Father, help me to be sure that my beliefs and my life are lining up. So often, they do not, and this was the meat of Jacob’s message, yesterday. Let me not be part of a people that “draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13).
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.

Don’t Be A Religiopath

Today is Saturday, July 29, 2017. Day 21,688. 21 days until S’s birthday!

“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.” ~ Jef Mallett, Frazz, 4/4/07
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is membranophone, a noun meaning, “any musical instrument, as a drum, in which the sound is produced by striking, rubbing, or blowing against a membrane stretched over a frame.” A tambourine, for example, would be classified as a membranophone.

Today is Lasagna Day. I shouldn’t have seen that. I’m really hungry.

Yesterday being Friday, we naturally wound up having to work late again. This time, I didn’t get home until after 8:00 PM. Ugh. Oh, well. I am thankful that I have a job to go to, I say through gritted teeth.

Today, we have our monthly Night of Worship. So we will be at the host’s home at around 3:30 this afternoon. We’ll eat first, then practice for a bit, and the NoW starts at 6:00-ish. Hoping for a great time of intimate worship and prayer tonight.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.

Psalm 141:3-6
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Psa 25:5  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Psalm 145:18-20
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:11-12

(From Living the Message)

In today’s reading, called “Religiopath,” Eugene H. Peterson begins with a story about the 1980 Boston Marathon. A marathon, of course, is one of the most strenuous athletic events there is. 26.2 miles of steady running. I see frequently see cars, on my morning and afternoon drives, with those little oval stickers on them, “26.2,” “13.1.” I’ve thought about seeing if I could get one that said “0.0.”

Anyway. In 1980, a woman named Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line. “She had the laurel wreath placed on her head in a blaze of lights and cheering.”

No one had heard her name before. It was an amazing feat! She had won the Boston Marathon on her first try! But then, someone noticed the condition of her legs. They weren’t tight and muscular. There was visible cellulite. It came to light that no one else had seen her during the 26.2 mile race. “The truth came out: she had jumped into the race during the last mile.”

There was sudden and widespread interest in Rosie. Why would she do such a thing when it was certain that she would be exposed? A true athletic performance can never be faked. “But she never admitted her fraud. She repeatedly said that she would run another marathon to validate her ability. Somehow she never did.” Eventually, an interviewer came to the conclusion that she truly believed she had run the entire race and come in first place. “She was analyzed as a sociopath. She lied convincingly and naturally with no sense of conscience, no sense of reality in terms of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”

Peterson, in reading her story, began to think about people who want to “get in on the finish but who cleverly arrange not to run the race. They appear in church on Sunday wreathed in smiles, entering into the celebration, but there is no personal life that leads up to it or out from it.” There are occasional acts of service or love, but no consistency in the life. “They are plausible and convincing. But in the end they do not run the race, believing through the tough times, praying through the lonely, angry, hurt hours. They have no sense for what is real in religion.” Peterson calls these people religiopaths.

For a few seconds, I’m going to do something that I seldom do. I have believed in Jesus Christ as long as I can remember. I have been a regular church attender for longer than I can remember (I’m sure I was at church the first Sunday that my parents could take me). Of course, going to church doesn’t make one a follower of Christ any more than sitting in a freezer makes one a carton of ice cream.

I believe that, albeit quite imperfectly, I am running the race. I have never stopped running the race. I have believed through tough times, some brought on by my own sin and stupidity. I have, even though tempted to believe that God had abandoned me, never given up on my faith in Jesus. I have watched countless friends “fall away” over the years. It hurts my soul when that happens. Again, my race is nowhere near perfect. I constantly stray off the path, fall in ditches, and trip over stones. But I always get up, brush myself off, and by the grace of God and the power of his Spirit, keep running. Or at least walking. I don’t run much, these days.

The thing is, I am not, in my opinion, a religioupath. But I know some people who seem to be. I know people with incredible knowledge of the Bible, who, for some reason, can’t seem to love their way out of a paper bag. All of that truth does no good without love. Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 13. I, admittedly, used to be a lot like that. There was a time in my life when I knew the Bible better than I know it now. I used to boast that I’ve read it from cover to cover almost twenty times. I don’t boast about that any more, because I don’t think it’s important. What’s important is how the Word of God works in us and through us; how it speaks to us.

And how we love one another.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (The Message)

Father, I’m trusting you in this journey, this “race.” The path that I am on (or at least try to be on) is that path on which you have placed me. It is my path. No one else’s path is of any concern to me, other than the necessity that I cheer them on as they run their path. But it is also important for me to realize that how I run my race affects other people, as well. Every action, thought, reaction, and word that comes from me has an effect on the body of Christ. We cannot run our race alone, and we dare not try. Help me to not be a religiopath. Help me to stay the course, run the race, and walk in the easy yoke of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10 (The Message)

Grace and peace, friends.

Discover and Receive

Today is Thursday, July 13, 2017. Day 21,672.

“A tiger doesn’t proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.” ― Wole Soyinka
Goodreads

The word of the day is meme, a noun which means, “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture,” or, “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.”

Today is Embrace Your Geekness Day. “Pokemon fans to Final Fantasy nerds, LARP’ers to Medieval Reenactors, rise up and be proud! Don your Lyre Pipe hats and your rattan swords, polish up your gunblades and bundle up your pokeballs, Embrace Your Geekness Day is for you! No matter what your fandom or what impassions you to creativity and brings a skip to your step, cry it loud and proud! The Geek and fan community is truly one of the most amazing and creative groups out there, and every year more geeks are crying their fandoms loud and proud.”

Okay, so last night was one of those nights when I wished I had been doing something other than bowling. To begin with, C wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t go. But practice started out well. I got a couple of strikes in a row, so I sat down. Then I struck in the first frame, followed by several spares in a row. After that, I left four-fifths of a “Greek Church.” That looks like this.

A Greek Church has the ten pin on the right side, as well. So I rolled toward the right side and actually got the six and seven pins. One on the right, and the back pin on the lift. That was crazy. For one thing, I have NEVER picked up a 6-7 split! So the one time I do, it just so happens that there are two other pins up, and I miss both of them. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, the night declined from there. I bowled 152, 160, and 135. Three not so good games, not hitting my average even once. We lost all three games, along with total pins, as well.

C is staying home from work today. She feels some better, but not quite right, yet. She has her work laptop, so she’ll probably do some work from home. We’re supposed to have the Night of Worship “Missional Gathering” at our house tonight, or, rather, in our swimming pool. Hopefully, C will feel well enough to do that.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Luke 17:5-6
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:11-13

(From Living the Message)

“Where all is gift, I do not own things or persons and thus don’t have to protect them. Therefore I don’t have to be anxious. In a world of grace I do not live in laborious struggle trying to fashion a world that suits my needs and desires, hammering together a life out of the bits and pieces of scrap lumber that come my way. I do not live in anxious suspicion, nervous about what others might do to me, what others might think of me. I simply discover and receive.

There is a world to enjoy, a salvation in which to rejoice. God gives. ‘Grace is everywhere’ [George Bernanos]. We receive and explore. We do not nullify the grace of God.”

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?
Galatians 3:5 (The Message)

Thank you for the gifts, oh, my Father! Truly, my “ownership” of things is unimportant. I do not own anything, and especially do not own any person! I praise you for the gift of life and that you have trusted me with the things with which you have trusted me. By your grace and by your Spirit, may I be a faithful steward of all things. May I also eagerly receive that which you are pleased to give me.
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.

Our Faith Is Not Private

Today is Sunday, July 9, 2017. Day 21,668.

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. While I like sugar cookies, I prefer them with icing on them. You know, sugar on the sugar.

We had the most wonderful time, yesterday afternoon! As mentioned yesterday, we had lunch at one of C’s co-worker’s home, with his family. And he has such a sweet family. S did not go, as she said she wasn’t feeling well. I, however, was feeling better, so I went, and am very glad that I did. The family seemed genuinely glad to see all of us, and even went so far as to say that we were their “new family.” They even seemed sincerely disappointed that S didn’t come. They have two children, both at intermediate/middle school age. The son is a computer whiz! I walked into his room, and he had, essentially two things in there. A bed and a computer. His PC is set up with three large monitors, and he’s a gamer. Very powerful and fast computer! He showed me how well it played on Assassin’s Creed III. He was very excited to keep showing me things, too. It was kind of adorable.

The appetizers were delicious. First, did I mention that they are from Egypt? So everything that we ate yesterday was Egyptian. Except for the guacamole. His wife likes guac, so she made some, and it was delicious! There was also hummus, which was good, and then some other things that I don’t remember the names of. Oh, and a little bit of octopus, which we tried. It was definitely different. They had these hors deuvres (I had to look that up) that were like little, round pita or tortilla bread with a small piece of salmon, some cream cheese, and an olive. They were delicious!!

The lunch table was amazing! There was fried fish, shrimp, some kind of fish on a shish kabob, a rice dish with shrimp on top, and this soup! Oh, my the soup was unbelievable! It had some kind of fish, oyster, calimari, and the broth was amazing! It was my favorite. Later, we had dessert, which was a sort of an Egyptian version of baklava. Everything was great, and we felt so welcome at their home. In fact, at one point, C and I acted like we were about to leave (which we were) and Emmy (not sure of the spelling) looked so sad and told us to sit for a while longer. So we did. Oh, and Ramez has a lute! A real lute. I had never seen one of those up close before. He played it for us, and let me play it for a bit. That was fun.

In other news, the Rangers beat the Angels last night, 5-2, and Adrian Beltre tied Carl Yastrzemski’s home run total last night. And I’m okay with that. The Red Sox lost a close one to the Rays, 1-0.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Traditional Doxology
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Psalm 108:1
Jesus said, But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 4:23-24
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2
O God, you have taught me to keep all your commandments by loving you and my neighbor:
Grant me the grace of your Holy Spirit, that I may be devoted to you with my whole heart,
and united to others with pure affection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

(From Living the Message)

There is a popular belief that peoples’ religion is something that is personal and private. Here’s what Eugene H. Peterson has to say about that:

“No life of faith can be lived privately. There must be overflow into the lives of others.”

This is not to imply that we are to “beat people over the head with our Bibles.” May it never be! We are supposed to love people, and in that love, we share our faith with them. But sharing faith with people also doesn’t mean constantly chattering about Jesus and the cross and salvation. The Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is here and available now, not something that we have to wait for until we die. This is what we need to walk in; this is our faith, and this is what we share with people by the way we walk and live our lives, in obedience to the words of Jesus.

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. 
If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

Galatians 6:2-3

Father, teach us to let our faith “overflow into the lives of others.” Let us not hoard it, keep it to ourselves, as if it were something private that needs to be protected. But let us be wise and discerning, as well, never “casting our pearls before swine.” Help us to live the Gospel, to walk in the Kingdom, and to obey the words of Jesus.
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.