“Draw Me After You”

“It was love, not a theory of redemption, that made the martyrs sing praise while being tortured. It was love, not a doctrine of the atonement, that kept Jesus on the cross.”

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Today is Friday, February 15, 2019.

Day 22,254

27 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!

“Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.”
Jules Renard, French author, 1864-1910
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is apotheosis. It means, “the perfect form or example of something : quintessence.”

Today is the wedding day! We are so excited for our two friends, and looking forward to this wedding. I’m not nearly as nervous as before, but still a bit. I had a good practice last night, and am taking off at noon again today, so I will get one last practice session in before the event. One thing I have learned from this experience. If you play something every day for two weeks, you get pretty good at it.

What??? Practice works???

Fortunately, there isn’t much else planned for the weekend.

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

I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
Psalm 118:21

Today I am grateful:
1. That love is in the air.
2. That baseball is also in the air.
3. That God has, at various times in my life, revealed Himself to me.
4. That He has drawn me after Him, and will continue to do so.
5. That He has placed it in my heart to follow Jesus.

Jesus said, 
"I am the light of the world;
whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."

(The Book of Common Prayer, John 8:12)

How did I do yesterday? It’s hard to answer that question, today. It seems that I walked through yesterday with a bit more positive attitude, but, again, did I go through my day with more knowledge of walking with/following Christ? I’m not sure about that. It’s hard to break the habit of simply going through the motions of the day like an automaton. Especially when you do the same thing, day in, day out. For example . . . have you ever left your house, going somewhere other than work, and absent-mindedly discovered that you are en route to your work place? That’s kind of what I mean.

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is, “God Woos Us,” by James Bryan Smith.

For your love is better than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

“Philosophy tries to reduce God to a first mover and science attempts to remove God entirely. But God looms quietly in the wings and allows us such silly speculation.” Frederick Buechner once compared our attempts to explain God to “a dung beetle looking at a human and trying to do humanology.”

“Whatever we are allowed to discover about God, he is more.”

I like that Smith uses the world “allowed” in that sentence. Because anything we “discover” about God, He has allowed us to see. In truth, I don’t believe we “discover” anything about God. God reveals Himself to us.

Says Smith, “When God revealed himself to me it blew my belief system to bits.” What we do discover is that our speculation about God is like straw compared to His reality. Like the lover in the Song of Solomon, we can only cry out, “Draw me after you!” “God woos us like a lover who seeks his beloved. The torrid passion sometimes felt between two human beings is a pale reflection of the burning desire God has for us. It was love, not a theory of redemption, that made the martyrs sing praise while being tortured. It was love, not a doctrine of the atonement, that kept Jesus on the cross.”

Powerful words, and, I believe, true. Our comprehension of the love that God has for us, and our subsequent love for Him is much more valuable than any doctrine we could learn and know. Doctrine is important, sure. It’s good to know what we believe and why. But it’s better to know His love.

There is a reason Rich Mullins called it, “the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.”

Father, help me to know that love today. Reveal Yourself to me, more and more. Just like James Bryan Smith, blow my belief systems to bits. I would rather know Your love, beyond the shadow of a doubt, than to understand all the theology in history. And then teach me to love both You and others the same way.
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!

Called to Follow

Today is Thursday, February 14, 2019. Oh, right. Valentine’s Day.

Day 22,253

28 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
A.A. Milne, English author, 1882-1956
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is attractancy. It means, “the capacity, especially of a pheromone, to attract.”

The rehearsal went fabulously, last night! There were a few hitches at the beginning. Well, one major hitch, but since the groom is our sound guy at church, he helped us get it fixed. Apparently, the sound system for the venue is brand new, and we were the first people to use it. The settings were all wonky when we fired it up and the keyboard was barely coming through the speakers, and what did come through sounded overdriven and distorted. We pushed buttons and twisted knobs until we got it sounding decent. Everything else went pretty well. The best part was when everyone started singing along to the bride’s song! I told them they should totally do that tomorrow night!

The rehearsal dinner afterward was at Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant, in Southlake. It was delicious. And they have this creamy jalapeno ranch sauce for the chips . . . Wow!!!

I’ll get in another round of practice this evening, and then tomorrow, as well, because I’m taking off at noon again. I don’t want to skip a day of playing this music.

Once this wedding is over, I have a couple things to get going on. I have a song from our Night of Worship guy that needs some keys recorded on it, and then we have our next Night of Worship coming in just over a week, so I need to figure out songs for that. Oh, and let’s not forget my usual one song for Sunday morning. Too much to think about!

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

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Psalm 107:8 (also verse 15 and 21 and 31)

Today I am grateful:
1. That the wedding rehearsal went well.
2. For the joy that the soon to be married couple is experiencing.
3. For the joy of witnessing two people begin a life together.
4. That we are not called to “religion,” but to relationship.
5. That Jesus calls us to follow Him.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me,
and the light around me turn to night,"
darkness is not dark to you, O Lord;
the night is as bright as the day;
darkness and light to you are both alike.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 139:10-11)

How did I do yesterday? I’m trying to make this a regular thing that I consider each morning. To be honest, I barely remembered what yesterday’s reading and topic was about. Looking at it again, this morning, I see that it was about letting God do what He needs to do without complaint or trying to “help Him.” Looking back at my day, yesterday, I have to confess that I don’t remember even thinking about it. Totally honesty, here. Accountability of sorts. No matter what I write in this daily blog, I don’t “have it all together,” and everyone needs to know that. I’m flawed, and sometimes deeply. That’s why I need Jesus all the time.

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

Today’s reading is, “Religion Versus Knowing God.”

King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar. Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar.
2 Kings 16:10-11

When Ahaz visited the king of Assyria, he was terribly impressed with their altar. It must have been a huge altar; an “extensive religious symbol.” So, naturally, Ahaz decided he had to have one exactly like it. So he had servants copy the dimensions and specs of the altar, and sent them back to Jerusalem with instructions to build one just like it.

“But the Assyrian altar did not represent atheism. Nor did it represent a repudiation of Israel’s faith, at lest not in an overt, public way. The Assyrian alter represented an increase in religious activity; a compulsive desire to have the best religion, the most powerful faith, to be up on the latest developments in theology and liturgical practice.”

This is pretty important. Ahaz was, no doubt sincere and loyal to the traditions of Moses, David, and Solomon. “The sin that he became involved in was a religious sin, and it proceeded from religious motives: to be secure, to be at the center of God’s attention, to have a workable faith.” If we commit ourselves to a “religious life,” we will be prey to Ahaz’s Assyrian altar. When we experience failure or danger, even doubt, “the latest fad or the thing that seems to be working best will have a great attraction” to us. I still remember watching in dismay as many of my closest friends fell prey to the “Prayer of Jabez” fad, whenever that happened. I don’t even remember what decade it was. But I remember shaking my head in complete disbelief as people bought into that thing, hook, line, and sinker.

This type of thing is pure religion. But “the gospel is the dissolving of religion.” The Pharisees represented “religion” in Jesus’s day. And Jesus was not about establishing a religion. He is about establishing relationships.

“Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish Christianity, why he didn’t invite people to become Christians? Instead, he called people to follow him. Take time to consider the difference.”

Father, thank You for these reminders that I am called to follow Jesus, not to join a religion. While we call ourselves “Christian,” we are not called “join Christianity.” We aren’t called to “join” anything. We are called to follow, to walk with, to love and listen to Jesus. Help me to do that a little better today.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Prophet and the General

Today is Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

Day 22,252

Spring Training begins today!!!!

“Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven.”
John Lubbock, British statesman, 1834-1913
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is cacophony. It means, “harsh or discordant sound : dissonance; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases.”

Tonight is the wedding rehearsal, at 6:00 PM. Ish. That’s the scheduled start time. However, it may be a little delayed, depending on peoples’ arrivals from work. I’m taking a half day of PTO so I don’t have to carry my keyboard gear to work with me. I’m getting gradually more confident with the music, but I will still be terribly nervous tonight and Friday night. I’m honored and excited to do this, and will be grateful when it is over. I’ve got at least one other project I need to spend some time on.

Unless you live under a rock (or in a country where it’s not a thing) you know that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the biggest day of the year for the greeting card industry. With the possible exception of Mother’s Day. Having been together for almost 34 years (35 if you count the first year of “dating”), C and I have long ago agreed that “celebrating” Valentine’s Day is somewhat foolish for us. Cards are expensive, flowers have jacked-up prices for this day, and any restaurant that we might visit will be packed to the proverbial gills. We might go out for a steak lunch on Saturday. Plus we have our semi-annual trip to Glen Rose next month.

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

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
Psalm 56:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For almost 34 years of marriage, and a love that doesn’t need cards and other acts to prove itself.
2. That the Spirit reminded me to pray through some things yesterday.
3. That God works in mysterious ways.
4. That God doesn’t always work the way we thing He should.
5. For the times that I am spurred on to obedience, no matter what I’m feeling.

Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning,
and darkens the day into night;
who calls for the waters of the sea
  and pours them out upon the surface
  of the earth:
The Lord is his name.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Amos 5:8)

How did I do yesterday? I did manage to remember the suggestion of praying through the Ten Commandments, along with a couple other things. I made it a little more than halfway through the commandments, and may try to complete that today. I didn’t get to the Apostle’s Creed, which I may still try to work through. Finding the text online shouldn’t be difficult. I will say that it was interesting to try to pray through the commandments. It’s a good exercise, I believe, reading them and trying to discern if I have been guilty, at any point, of violating them.

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

Today’s reading is called “What Gets in the Way of God’s Work?”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
2 Kings 5:9-10, The Message

This is a curious, and somewhat amusing, story. Naaman was a general in Aram’s army. He was afflicted with what was probably leprosy, “a grievous skin disease.” It was a captured Israelite slave girl who suggested to her “mistress” that he should go visit Elisha, the prophet of God, to be healed. This, in itself is somewhat astounding (it was yesterday’s reading, by the way, that I didn’t share here).

Naaman gets approval from his king to go to Israel, but instead of seeing the prophet, he starts with the king of Israel, who was so upset that he tore his clothes. Elisha heard about this and asked the king what he was so upset about. “Just send the guy to me,” he said. Which is where our story picks up today.

Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house. But instead of Elisha coming to the door, he sent a servant who told the general what to do.

Naaman was furious. First of all, he was insulted because Elisha didn’t come to the door himself, but only sent a servant. Didn’t Elisha know that he was a general?? Second, he was upset that he was told to go dunk himself in the muddy old Jordan river. “The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean,” he said in verse 12. So he stomped off in a huff.

His servants caught up with him and talked some reason into him. He finally did what Elisha told him and wound up coming out totally healed, his skin as new as a baby’s.

Eugene Peterson wonders how many of us are guilty of similar attitudes. “We recognize our need, so we go to a church or a friend or a pastor for help. But then what is offered is so beneath our dignity or diverges so wildly from our expectations that we angrily go away.” We are disappointed because we expected excitement, drama, or action, maybe even something original! “And what did we get? The same old thing, the old virtues, the grace of God, and the love of Christ.”

What do we have to lose? Only pride. What do we have to gain? “Possibly everything. The real question is, Do we want to be healed?”

So, when we pray, do we find ourselves edging into a practice of trying to “mansplain” to God how He should be helping someone with their problem? Or even worse, do we miss something that He might have done because He didn’t do it in quite the way we expected? “Can you trust God to act as he sees fit?”

Father, I thank You for this strange lesson. I pray that You help me to always be looking for how You are working, regardless of how I think it should look. And if I get instruction from You that seems below my so-called “dignity,” let me dump my “dignity” in the garbage for the greater glory of serving You.
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!

Into the Holy Place

Today is Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Day 22,251

Spring Training begins tomorrow!!!!

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, stated in 1977

The word of the day is marvy. It means, “marvelous; delightful.”

I wound up having a brief conversation with my mother yesterday morning, so I didn’t call last night. Plus, we were looking at possible vacation plans last night. We haven’t nailed anything down, just yet. We had talked about going to Memphis/Nashville, as I have never had any kind of leisure trip to either place. I would love to see the Sun Studios, and, hey, I might as well be able to say I’ve been to Graceland, right? Plus what musician wouldn’t want to see Nashville just once, right? I have been there, but it was for a college trip when the ETSU Trombone Choir attended the International Trombone Workshop at Peabody College. There wasn’t much time for sight-seeing, plus we didn’t have any transportation to get around the city.

Nothing else much going on, so on to the devotions.

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

I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalm 52:9

Today I am grateful:
1. For the bond that exists between the people of God, especially in our local church group.
2. For examples of prayer in the Bible.
3. For Jesus’s model prayer.
4. For the Ten Commandments.
5. For Martin Luther’s suggestions on prayer.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 16:7-8)

So, how did I do yesterday? The topic of yesterday’s devotion was listening to God. I have to confess that I didn’t do all that great on it. There was one moment where I felt the prompting to ask a fellow associate how her dog was doing. She doesn’t have any kids, so her dog is like family to her, and the dog had been having some health issues, last week. She was very grateful that I asked and said the the dog was doing better. But, as is so often the case, the rest of the day pretty much went by without me remembering to listen for God.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16

Today, I’m focusing on a Tabletalk reading called “How to Pray.”

As Paul explains the benefits of being counted righteous by God, in Romans 5, he describes one of the blessings in verse 2: Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. In other words, we have access to “enter into the most holy place and commune with the Lord because of Jesus.”

This is the purpose of prayer; it is why prayer has been given to us. Through prayer, we enter into that holy place and commune with God. Sadly, too many of us (myself included) do not often take advantage of this privilege. Yes, I have certain times of day dedicated to “prayer,” but all too often all I wind up doing is bringing God what more or less amounts to a “laundry list” of my own needs. Or maybe it’s not even my own needs but needs of people I know who have given me prayer requests. I also find that my mind wanders quite easily.

The obvious model that we have comes from Jesus. He gives us a model prayer in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11. It is more than a Scripture passage to be quoted in unison at some churches. It is a guide to how our communication with God should be structured. “Fundamentally, this prayer tells us to ask that God’s name be hallowed so that His kingdom may come and His will be done.” Personally, I have found great blessing in going through my list of friends and their needs and praying that God’s will would be done in their lives, on earth as it is in heaven.

Martin Luther suggests, in A Simple Way to Pray, that we should pray through the Ten Commandments. I have to confess I have never thought of that. He also suggested praying through the model prayer, as well as the Apostles’ Creed, “using each line as a springboard for adoring God, confessing sin, expressing gratitude and pouring forth supplications.”

As the “Coram Deo” segment of the reading (Coram Deo means “living before the face of God”), the following is suggested: “As an illustration of Luther’s advice, take some time today to pray through the Ten Commandments. Take each stipulation and confess how you have violated that particular law. Worship Him for the perfection of His character revealed in each commandment. Thank Him for enabling you by the Spirit to be faithful to His Law and ask for His kingdom to come so that all may love and obey Him. Make it your aim to pray to our heavenly Father without ceasing.”

Father, today I pray that I might be more faithful in prayer, and that I might follow the above suggestion. Remind me, throughout this day, to do this, that I might enter into Your holy place and commune with You.
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!

Prayer: History, Forgiveness, and Others

Today is Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Day 22,249

THREE DAYS until Spring Training!!!!

“We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is finicky. It means, “extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards.” In other words, “cat.”

I got new glasses ordered, yesterday. My distance vision had changed a bit, but my vision for computers/music had not changed enough to replace those glasses. I will still need two pair. The doctor told me that we could combine distance/medium-range/reading all in one pair, but he didn’t seem to think I would like it. And since I already have a good pair for medium-range, I just left it that way. I added the “transition” to the new pair, this time. They change darker when outside.

The rest of the day was nice. I picked up lunch right after my eye doctor, and by the time we ate, it was time to go get the groceries.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. The main worship leader is sick, and, to my knowledge (although he has never told me decisively), will not be there. So Brandon and I will each be leading two songs. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters at The Exchange Church.
2. For my brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world.
3. That the dream I had last night was just that – a dream.
4. For the privilege of praying.
5. For the three lessons involving prayer.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 96:9)

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

Today’s reading is called, “Prayer Lessons from History’s Wisest Person.” Peterson is speaking of Solomon. I would take issue with that (I rarely do with Eugene Peterson), and say that Jesus was history’s wisest person. Nevertheless, the lesson is a good one.

Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
1 Kings 8:29-30

“In Solomon’s prayer, we can see three areas in which the visible is a conduit for the invisible, and they are areas that we are still involved with today.”

First, is history. Solomon remembers the great acts of God from the past. “A poor memory is a threat to our prayers.” If, when praying, we forget the actions of God in the past, we will likely pray with “small faith and for tiny ends.”

The second thing is forgivness. Solomon specifically prays that God will forgive. “Self-deception and selfishness are threats to our prayers as well.” Too often, our prayers are an attempt to get God on our side, to do what we want Him to do. Peterson says, “the visible church is a check against that. Forgiveness is the turning point in prayer, the transition from seeking our own way from God to yielding our lives to him so that he may perform his will in it.” Remember that line from Jesus’s model prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The third area involves others; foreigners, strangers. “Our prayers are strangled when they become too narrow.” How often do we only pray for ourselves, our familes, and our close acquaintances? We must be more sensitive “to the vast church of Christ and the world Christ is seeking to bring into fellowship with him. The visible church is proof against that, bringing people together under one roof whom you would ordinarily not associate with.”

Our pastor has really driven that home in past weeks. The church is made up of people with whom we would normally not associate. People with whom we otherwise have nothing in common. And we must get along because Christ died for all of us, regardless of race, sex, hobbies, and political persuasions.

Three areas in prayer: history, forgiveness, and others.

Father, may I be mindful of all of these things as I pray, today and every day. Let me never forget Your might acts in history, both my history and the history of Your people. May I always be humble and remember whence I came, the marvelous forgiveness with which You have blessed me. And may I expand the scope of my prayers to the world Church and beyond.
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!

What Is Idolatry?

Today is Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Day 22,248

FOUR DAYS until Spring Training!!!

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist, 1875-1961
BrainyQuote

No one really wants to hear that, do they? But have you ever stopped to consider the traits in others that are so irritating? Perhaps I will try to stop and consider why I am irritated by someone instead of just letting the irritation run away with my brain and emotions.

The word of the day is inculpate. It means, “to involve in a charge; incriminate.” Also, “to charge with fault; blame; accuse.” (Dictionary.com)

So C wound up not getting the lasik adjustment done, after all. She arrived at the center and that eye was checking out just fine. The issue, it turns out, may be that she just can’t do the “monovision” type of lasik surgery. Each eye checks out great, as long as the other one is closed or covered. But together, she has vision issues, such as double vision. So she wound up going to Lenscrafters and getting a pair of distance/driving glasses that help the right eye work better with the left eye. She said she could see perfectly driving home. She’s trying to be happy about the whole thing, but is very frustrated about the way it all turned out. I’m not concerned about the money spent, as long as she can see well. Her close-up vision seems to be a lot better, so that’s good.

Of course, I also got to leave work early, yesterday, because I had scheduled the PTO to leave at 2:30 and go pick C up at the surgery center. Instead, I went home, practiced the wedding music, got my new printer set up in the study, and took out the trash and recycling. Very productive me, don’t you think?

Today, I have my vision appointment at 11:45. I’ll probably pick up lunch after that, and then the groceries are set for pickup between 2:00 and 3:00. Funny story. We were watching an episode of Silicon Valley last night, and two of the characters were in the local grocery store. One of them said that she was probably the only person in the store buying stuff for herself. As the camera panned out, everyone else around them was working for “Instacart,” one of the grocery pickup and delivery services. I thought that was hilarious. We tried Instacart once. I much prefer Kroger’s Click List. It’s cheaper and much more efficient. Plus I’m not expected to tip anyone (says so right on the web site). I have, of course, but only when it was, like, twenty degrees outside and raining or something. The click list people are not supposed to even accept tips. I’ve never had one turn me down, though. 🙂

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

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For a weekend to rest in preparation for another work week.
2. The C was able to at least get some resolution for her vision, even if it meant a new pair of glasses.
3. That my wedding music practice continues to have positive results.
4. That God is God and I am not.
5. That “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

Grace to you and peace
from God our Father
and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Philippians 1:2)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Idolatry: Unworthy Ideas of God,” by A.W. Tozer.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:21

“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than he is and substitutes for the true God one made after his own likeness.”

I daresay most of us, when we hear the word “idolatry,” think of a carved image. You know, like the “golden calf” that Aaron made for the people when they all decided that Moses wasn’t coming back.

But we must expand our thoughts on this. Idolatry is much more than bowing to an image of some false god. It’s even more complex than, say, worshiping money or fame. The “god” in question will always “conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of mind from which it emerges.”

We might also make the mistake of assuming that only primitive peoples are still guilty of idolatry. I’m going to step out on a limb, here (not much of a stretch, since it seems to agree with Mr. Tozer), and say that it is even possible for a Christian to engage in idolatry.

For example, have you ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is this a true statement about God? I say it is not. The Bible most certainly does not support it. Therefore, the person who believes this about God is guilty of idolatry.

What about, “Well, MY God wouldn’t _______!” Fill in the blank with whatever bigotry you want. The problem with this statement, to begin with, is the word “my.” He is not “my” God. He is God. Period.

“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.”

Here is the most important statement in this reading. “Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.”

I have grown to be very careful with declarations about God, as time goes on. If the Bible doesn’t say it, or at least imply it (and I’m extremely careful with implications, too), then I will not say it about God. In the words of the Psalmist, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) We had best think twice before saying, “MY God wouldn’t do thus and so.” We had best be cautious about thinking anything about God that may not be true.

Father, I pray for right understanding and wisdom concerning who You are, that might not entertain idolatrous thoughts about You. I desire to worship You in truth, as You truly are, not some idea that I have manufactured about You. I pray for Your Church, that all who call themselves by the Name of Jesus would do the same.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Soli Deo Gloria!

What the Photo Can’t Capture

Today is Friday, February 8, 2019.

Day 22,247

FIVE DAYS until Spring Training!!!

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.”
Don Marquis, U.S. humorist, 1878-1937
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is wiseacre. It means, “one who pretends to knowledge or cleverness; especially : smart aleck.” (Merriam-Webster)

The practice session with the bride-to-be went pretty well last night. Oh, her maid of honor was present, as well. She was pleased, and even said that my playing on her “walking-down-the-aisle” song sounded better than the video she sent me as an example. She’s very sweet to say that. There were a few rough spots, but I have until next Friday to get it all polished up. It’s feeling more and more natural every day, so my confidence level is rising. I won’t get overconfident, though, no worries, there. I don’t know that I have ever been overconfident about performing music. I am always terrified when the moment of performance arrives, no matter how much I have practiced. And this is the first time I have ever played at a wedding.

It’s Friday!!! And I won’t have to work late, because I’m leaving early to pick up C at the Lasik surgery center. As previously mentioned, she is getting an adjustment/correction on one eye from her previous surgery.

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

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:12

Today I am grateful:
1. For a good practice session last night.
2. That the bride was pleased with my playing.
3. For the musical talent with which the Lord has blessed me.
4. That the Lord put it in my heart to use that talent to glorify Him.
5. For places like Glen Rose, where I can go and “be still.”

Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 141:2)

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

(This is inspired by today’s reading in Daily Guideposts, by Erika Bentsen)

At least once a year, my wife and I travel to nearby Glen Rose for a long weekend, staying in some cabins on the Paluxy River. I’ve written about it before. It’s one of our favorite places to be. The cabin settings are serene and rustic. They are nestled in the midst of trees and rocks, each one with its own unique view of the river and parts beyond. Our favorite cabin has an upstairs balcony, which has a magnificent view of the evening sunset in the west.

The beauty of the place cannot truly be captured in photographs. Sure, we have tried. And while the pictures look nice, there is one thing that they cannot capture; the atmosphere, the ambience, the sheer feeling of “with God” that we get when we get up in the morning and walk out onto that deck and simply breathe.

These are the times when I most feel Psalm 46:10. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We need these times of stillness and refreshing, especially in our current culture of hurry. We rush around everywhere. The crazy driving on my morning commute seems to have gotten worse as time marches on. And the closer it gets to 8:00 AM, the worse the driving. Not me, though. I refuse to participate. If you want to get in front of me, more power to you. I don’t care. Go ahead. I’ll give you space. No doubt this annoys drivers behind me. But that’s just the way I drive now. I’ll match the flow of the traffic around me, sure. But I won’t drive so close to the car in front of me that no one can get in. I’m not in that big of a hurry.

I saw a funny picture on Facebook once. It had a picture of traffic, and it said something to the effect of: “People get so angry in traffic on the way to work. Like they’re going to be any happier once they get there.”

One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes (yes, him again) is “Relentlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I like that word, “relentlessly.” Hurry is the enemy of time. I think Eugene Peterson may have said that.

When we hurry, it affects everything in our minds. And we become driven by something that may not be that important. What is important? Look at Psalm 46:10 again. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Father, help me to be still today. Sure, I have to do work. But there can still be moments of stillness. And I am grateful for the stillness of places like our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, where we can rest and know that You are God.
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!