Blue Highways

Today is Friday, January 19, 2018. Day 21,862.

69 days until Opening Day.

Edgar Allan Poe, born on this date in 1809 (died 1849), said, “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
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The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is enfant terrible, a noun, French, meaning, “an outrageously outspoken or bold person who says and does indiscreet or irresponsible things.” Also, “an incorrigible child, as one whose behavior is embarrassing.”

C is feeling some better this morning. She still had some crazy dreams, but is feeling better.

I’m taking my car back to the dealership, in the morning. I need to go fairly early, so they have time to get the work done while I wait. It’s supposed to only take an hour to ninety minutes. I’m not sure what effect that will have on my morning devotional. Depends on how late I stay up tonight and what time I get up in the morning.

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

With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 
with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. 
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. 
For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. 
For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. 
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. 
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?— 
the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. 
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. 
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. 
You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. 
I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. 
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. 
For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. 
You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. 
They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. 
I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. 
You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. 
As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. 
Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. 
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— 
the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, 
who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. 
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name. 
Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.

Psalm 18:25-50

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Advice to the Clergy

“There is a danger . . . of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines . . . are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defence of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of another.” (Christian Apologetics)

In other words, if a clergyman no longer holds the views of the organization for which he ministers, he should cease being a member of that organization. I had to look up “obloquy.” It means “strong public criticism or verbal abuse.”

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)
Miles That Matter

In this reading, Charles Swindoll makes reference to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways. Both are what we call “travelogues,” true accounts of authors just leaving everything behind and traveling the country. I have read Blue Highways. It is a delightful book, making me wish I could do what the author did. Only I would want to take my wife along.

Swindoll then gives us an account of when he drove his son across the country to an apartment near a school he would be attending. 2500+ miles, they drove, stopping at motels, eating at dives, simply enjoying each other and the scenery.

How does this relate to God? Only in that we need to take time; time to enjoy what God has created; time to enjoy people that we encounter. Time to simply slow down and live. It’s been 24 years since this book has been published. It’s hard to imagine how much more fast-paced our lives have become since Chuck wrote this. To give you some idea, he makes references to “floppy disks” in this reading. A lot of people reading this might not even know what that is. Hahaha.

Charles’s recommendation today: “Get off the freeway and travel some blue highways. You’ll love the scenery. And, more importantly, you need the break.”

A Psalm of David.
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 
for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah. 
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah.

Psalm 24

Father, I thank you for life and for living. I pray that you help me enjoy life more intensely. Help me to enjoy the people, not only those you have placed in my life on a daily basis, but those I “randomly” encounter along the way. Thank you for lighting my “lamp” and lighting my darkness. Thank you for being my God and my rock.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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My Times Are In Your Hand

Today is Thursday, January 18, 2018. Day 21,861.

70 days until Opening Day.

A.A. Milne, born on this date in 1882 (died 1956), said, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
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The word for the day, fittingly, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is Eeyorish, an adjective which means, of course, “deeply pessimistic; gloomy.”

Not a lot to talk about around here, lately. It’s cold, still. 12 degrees again, this morning. C is struggling with blood pressure medication. Hopefully, they can get that figured out quickly. They put her on one this week, that has made her dizzy and stuff, plus she’s having the most weird, vivid, crazy dreams. She’s starting another one (medication, not dream) this morning. It’s one she has taken before that seemed to work, but they’ve doubled the dosage. This all goes back to that aneurysm they found before her knee surgery. They want to keep her blood pressure a bit lower than normal.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 
The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; 
the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. 
Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 
Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. 
He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. 
He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. 
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. 
Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. 
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. 
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. 
Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. 
He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. 
He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 
They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. 
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. 
The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 
For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 
For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 
I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 
So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

Psalm 18:1-24

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:9-10
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Psalm 71:5-6

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
The Theologian’s Danger

“There have been men . . . who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ! Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organizer of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all snares.” (Great Divorce)

In regard to this quote, I have decided, some time ago, that I no longer need to try to prove that God exists. I need, rather, to simply live the life that God has given me, walking in His kingdom and speak of his grace and mercy through Christ when called upon.

For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Psalm 31:13-15

Father, “You are my God. My times are in your hand.” I may not have any “enemies” or even “persecutors,” but there are always things out there that threaten my peace, my joy. I’m sure I will encounter some of those during my day today. But you are my God and my times are in your hands. And, as in Psalm 139, no matter where I go, your hand will lead me and hold me. “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of 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.

Grace and peace, friends.

100%

Today is Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Day 21,860.

71 days until Opening Day.

James Earl Jones, born on this date in 1931, said, “Stuttering is painful. In Sunday school, I’d try to read my lessons, and the children behind me were falling on the floor with laughter.”
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The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is paralipsis, a noun which means, “the suggestion, by deliberately concise treatment of a topic, that much of significance is being omitted, as in “not to mention other faults.”

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

A Prayer of David.
Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! 
From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! 
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. 
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. 
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. 
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, 
from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. 
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly. 
They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground. 
He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush. 
Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, 
from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. 
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 17

I’ve always loved that last verse. “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” I can’t decide if that means waking every morning, or that final “awake,” when we meet him face to face.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Screwtape on Hell’s Plan for Christians

“My dear Wormwood,

“The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And.’ You know – Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.

“The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart – an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. but since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast before. . . . We pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty.” (Screwtape Letters)

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)
How About 99.9%?

In today’s reading, Charles Swindoll reminds us that, when God declared us righteous, He declared us 100% righteous. Anything else, and we would be in big trouble. Our sins are totally forgiven. If we were, say, only 99.9% forgiven and the rest was up to us, we would never make it. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant “finished.” Not, “almost finished.” These are encouraging words, especially when we remember that God declared us righteous, even though we aren’t quite there, yet.

Father, thank you for the reminder that, when I awake, whether each new morning, or in my final “waking,” I will be satisfied with seeing you. Thank you, also, for the reminder that I need to concentrate on “mere Christianity,” rather than adding anything else to my faith or to my list of “causes.” There need be only one “cause,” and that one being the cause of living for you, walking in your Kingdom, and sharing the easy yoke of Christ. Finally, thank you for that much-needed reminder that you have declared me righteous, even while I am still a sinner. You love me. You love us. Drive that home in our hearts today, please.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Transcendental Love

Today is Monday, January 15, 2018. Day 21,858.

73 days until Opening Day.

Martin Luther King, Jr., born on this date in 1929 (died 1968), said, “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
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The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is nonviolence, a noun which means, “the policy, practice, or technique of refraining from the use of violence, especially when reacting to or protesting against oppression, injustice, discrimination, or the like.”

Yesterday was a pretty nice day. We had a good worship gathering in the morning, and picked up lunch at Subway on the way home. The rest of the day was spent pretty much relaxing. I did not practice, though, which I had intended to do. Oh, well.

I’m entertaining the possibility that I will not be going to work tomorrow morning. If the weather performs as forecast, It is supposed to snow, tonight, beginning around 8:00 PM, and stopping around midnight to 1:00 AM. The low for tonight is supposed to be 23. It is supposed to get above freezing tomorrow, but not very much above, and then drop back down to 18 tomorrow night. We shall see.

The Jaguars won their playoff game against Pittsburgh, and the Vikings stunned the Saints with a literal last minute (more like fourteen seconds) touchdown to win their birth in the Conference championship game. Next weekend, the Jags will play the Pats, and the Vikings will play the Eagles. I predict the Patriots and Eagles to win and advance to the Stupor Bowl. Super. I meant Super.

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

A Psalm of David.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 15

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Reunion of Christ’s Church

“It was never more needed. A united Christendom should be the answer to the new Paganism. But how reconciliation of the churches, as opposed to conversions of individuals from one church to another, is to come about, I confess I cannot see. I am inclined to think that the immediate task is vigorous co-operation on the basis of what even now is common – combined, of course, with full admission of the differences. An experienced unity on some things might then prove the prelude to a confessional unity on all things. Nothing would give such strong support to the Papal claims as the spectacle of a Pope actually functioning as head of Christendom.” (Letters, May 8 1939)

While I agree with Lewis’s call for unity on some level, I shudder to think of the Pope as being leader of all Christendom. I certainly don’t see that ever happening. That being said, I believe that, on some level, there is a lot less of a chasm between Catholics and some branches of Protestantism, these days.

(From The Finishing Touch)
A Full Empty Nest

Charles Swindoll writes about the day when their last child rode “off into the sunset,” after having gotten married. As he and his wife, Cynthia, watched, he looked at her and said, “Well, Hon . . . we’re back where we started.”

They started, as all couples do, at “ground zero, having never before known what it was like to be a husband or a wife.” They discovered, and still discover what that means.

“We started without knowing what the future held. We still don’t. We started in simple faith, excited about God’s leading. We’re there again. If our God does not lead, we’re still not interested in going. We started with hearts in tune to each other. Though young, we had no disagreement over who would have the final word. Our Lord, who had called us to become one, would remain preeminent.”

They had been married 37 years, when their “primary job of parenting” was finished. From this point on, they would be available, keeping their mouths shut until asked, willing to help at the drop of the proverbial hat.

Chuck says that, according to a book called Passages of Marriage, they have reached this fifth and final stage of marriage, called “Transcendent Love,” which is described as “a profound and peaceful perspective toward your partner and toward life.”

While Christi and I may never have an “empty nest” (our 24-year-old autistic daughter still lives with us, and and we’re okay with that), I dare say that we might be close to that stage of “transcendent love.” I believe our marriage has reached that point of “a profound and peaceful perspective” toward each other. And I certainly know that my own parents reached that stage well before my father passed over to his heavenly home.

Charles Swindoll recommends cultivating your own “transcendent perspective with the one you love. Find one way this week to rekindle the fires of intimacy.” Today, Mr. Swindoll is 83 years old (it’s not is birthday . . . that’s just how old he is today), and he and Cynthia are still married . . . 63 years. It would be awesome to reach that. I will have to make it to 90 years old, though. As fast as time goes by, that seems like it’s an awful long way off.

Father, I thank you for our marriage. I thank you for the good years with Christi, and the level of maturity that our marriage has reached. Of course it’s not perfect, because we aren’t perfect. But it is wonderful, and I think that others see that in us, as well. I hope that we can be an example for younger couples who decide to embark upon this journey. And I pray for all of them, in advance that they would understand the seriousness of this journey called marriage.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Therefore, 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; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Grace and peace, friends.

“Out of His Own Age”

Today is Sunday, January 14, 2018. Day 21,857.

74 days until Opening Day.

Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), born on this date in 1969, said, “I know a lot of people who wouldn’t be comfortable with everything that comes with being in a band as big as Nirvana. The thing that I don’t understand is not appreciating that simple gift of being able to play music.”
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The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is vatic, an adjective, meaning, “of, relating to, or characteristic of a prophet.”

We had a nice day with R & J, yesterday. We went to lunch at Cotton Patch, after which we played a game called “ReWordable,” which turned out to be good fun, although it is slow moving, because we all tend to over-think games like that. It’s kind of like playing Scrabble with no board, using cards with letters on them. Except you can steal other people’s words.

The Eagles and Patriots won their games yesterday. Just like I said. Hahaha!

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

To the choirmaster. Of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? 
There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 
You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. 
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Psalm 14

I’ve always felt that words are important, and the way things are worded is significant. I’ve noted that this Psalm says that the fool is the person who says, “There is no God.” Not necessarily one who doesn’t believe there is a God, but the one who unequivocally states, “There is no God.” That is one is the fool.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 64:10

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Divisions of Christendom

“If any man is tempted to think – as one might be tempted who read only contemporaries – that ‘Christianity’ is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages ‘mere Christianity’ turns out to be no insipid inter-denominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognize, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dane. . . .
“We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact, despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age. It is not enough, but it is more than you had thought till then. Once you are well soaked in it, if you then venture to speak, you will have an amusing experience. You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas, and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheeptracks.” (On the Reading of Old Books)

Father, first, I would ask you that you allow me, nay, HELP me, to be still and know . . . “Hold me, Jesus!” I am so, so judgmental, Lord! Please heal that within me! Take that away from me, I implore you! Then I would ask that you would also help me continue in my journey to discover, as C.S. Lewis advises, those writings that are “out of his own age.” Take me back . . . further back. Show me truth from ages gone by, beginning at the beginning, with your Word, and then into ages shortly after that. Let me not get bogged down in only contemporaries. I would know you as Jesus knew you; I would know you as the Apostles knew you; and I would know you as Augustine knew 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.

Grace and peace, friends.

My Heart Shall Rejoice

Today is Saturday, January 13, 2018. Day 21,856.

75 days until Opening Day.

Trevor Rabin (Yes), born on this date in 1955, said, “When you listen to a Yes album, you should listen to the whole thing through headphones with the lights off.”
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I find myself to be in agreement with that statement. Yes is just one of those kinds of bands. Especially albums like Close To the Edge, or Tales From Topographic Oceans. Here is a live recording of Rabin and Yes performing “Changes.”

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is pseud, a noun, meaning, “a person of fatuously earnest intellectual, artistic, or social pretensions.” What, you might ask, does “fatuously” mean? I’m glad you asked. I had to look it up. It means, “foolish or inane, especially in an unconscious, complacent manner; silly.”

It’s the weekend! We made our Kroger Click List order last night, and will be going to pick it up in about an hour. That’s my kind of grocery shopping!!

R & J are coming over later, for lunch, and so I can give her her license tag window sticker. I think we will go to Cotton Patch for lunch. Perhaps we will play some games after, or watch something on Netflix. Who knows?

There might be some football games this weekend. I’m not sure. 😀 Actually, out of curiosity, I looked it up. People who know me know that I don’t really follow football. So . . . today, the Falcons play the Eagles. Bird against bird. That’s fitting. I will pull for the Eagles. I like green. In the second game, the Titans play the Patriots. I will root for the Patriots. (Sorry, Mama.) Go ahead and hate Tom Brady if you want to. He’s one of the greatest that’s ever played the game. Plus, if you claim to love America, why wouldn’t you root for a team called “The Patriots?” Hmmmm?? I jest, of course. Tomorrow, first game, Jaguars vs. Steelers. That’s a tough one for me. I like Jaguars. The cats and the cars both. But I have a work associate that is a Steelers fan. I think I’ll still root for the Jags. Tomorrow, second game, Saints and Vikings. Another tough one. I’ve always been partial to the Saints, but I have also always liked the Vikings. Fran Tarkenton and all that, you know. I also have a couple of work associates who like the Saints. I’m not calling that one. I’ll root for both teams. And yes, I can, too, do that.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13

I love how this Psalm begins with a kind of lament, but ends with the positive affirmation, “My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Relationships are important, especially in the body of Christ. We need one another, and we need to build up one another.

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Visible Church

“If He can be known it will be by self-revelation on His part, not by speculation on ours. We, therefore, look for Him where it is claimed that He has revealed Himself by miracle, by inspired teachers, by enjoined ritual. The traditions conflict, yet the longer and more sympathetically we study them the more we become aware of a common element in many of them: the theme of sacrifice, of mystical communion through the shed blood, of death and rebirth, of redemption, is too clear to escape notice. We are fully entitled to use moral and intellectual criticism. What we are not, in my opinion, entitled to do is simply to abstract the ethical element and set that up as a religion on its own. Rather in that tradition which is at once more completely ethical and most transcends mere ethics . . . we may still most reasonably believe that we have the consummation of all religion, the fullest message from the wholly other, the living creator, who, if He is at all, must be the God not only of the philosophers, but of mystics and savages, not only of the head and heart, but also of the primitive emotions and the spiritual heights beyond all emotion. We may . . . attach ourselves to the Church, to the only concrete organization which has preserved down to this present time the core of all the messages, pagan and perhaps pre-pagan, that have ever come from beyond the world, and begin to practise the only religion which rests not upon some selection of certain supposedly ‘higher’ elements in our nature, but on the shattering and rebuilding, the death and rebirth, of that nature in every part: neither Greek nor Jew nor barbarian, but a new creation.” (Religion Without Dogma?)

Father, as this weekend goes by, may we be more in tune with the need for the relationships of which we are part, both familial and spiritual. May our time with our children by exceptional today. May our worship gathering tomorrow focus as much on the relationships with the people who attend as it does on the sermon or the songs. May we find our most special inspiration from the taking of The Supper as a community of faith. You have loved us. Help us to love one another as you love us. And remind us that you love us just as you love your Son, our Savior.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

God Loves You!

Today is Friday, January 12, 2018. Day 21,855.

76 days until Opening Day.

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is reprehensible, an adjective, meaning, “worthy of or deserving reprehension, blame, or censure : culpable.”

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

To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. 
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. 
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, 
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” 
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. 
You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. 
On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Psalm 12

(From The Business of Heaven)
Objects of the Divine Love

“When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested,’ because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect,’ is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know . . . We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased.’ to ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities.” (The Problem of Pain)

This is a topic that God has really been hammering home over the past few weeks. God loves me. God loves you. And, this past Sunday morning, I noticed something in Jesus’s “high priestly prayer.” John 17:23 says, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” God loves us as much as he loves Jesus?? That is what that verse certainly seems to be saying. I’ll leave you to ponder that for a bit.

Father, thank you for the Love that will not let me go, that loves me too much to allow me to stay the way I am. Yes, you love me as I am, but you are always working to improve me. Change my heart, O God, that I might be willing to allow you to work. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I pray that all of your children would be aware of the scope of your love for us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.