The Psalms Bucket

Today is Friday, May 26, 2017. Day 21,624. EIGHT days until our Oregon vacation!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke, “Profiles of The Future”, 1961 (Clarke’s third law)
(From The Quotations Page)

Backronym ~ an existing word turned into an acronym by creating an apt phrase whose initial letters match the word, as to help remember it or offer a theory of its origin. For example, rap has been said to be a backronym of “rhythm and poetry.”

Today is Dracula Day. And, being Friday, it would be really easy to “celebrate” by having an all-night Dracula movie binge. There are so many of them.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only eight days until we head to Oregon. We’re actually having a hard time not planning too many things on this trip. After all, we want to be able to spend some days doing nothing but enjoying the sights and sounds of the Pacific coast, you know.

This weekend is Memorial Day in the U.S. We get Monday off, for a long weekend. We don’t have much planned. We did reach out to another family to see if they want to go bowling after church on Sunday, and they said yes, sounds like fun. But, as far as Monday goes, I’m thinking it will be simply a day of relaxation. Maybe some movie watching if we can find something we want to see.

The Red Sox swept the Rangers, winning last night’s game 6-2. They play Seattle next, who is in last place in the AL West. The Rangers move on to a newly formed rivalry with the Boo Jays.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD, 
who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God! 
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!

Psalm 135:1-3
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
Psalm 140:6
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 97:9
Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done.
Psalm 64:9

(From Living the Message)

We all have the impulse to pray. Even those who claim that they don’t believe in a God surely have, at some points in their lives, some impulse to pray . . . toward somewhere. There is certainly no lack of things to pray for and about, especially in the lives of Christ-followers. “Desire and demand keep the matter of prayer before us constantly.”

So why is prayerlessness such an issue? Eugene H. Peterson says that the answer is that “‘the well is deep and you have nothing to draw with.'” That’s right. We need a bucket. We need something that “holds water. Desires and demands are a sieve.”

“The Psalms are such a bucket.”

The reading ends there. But I will add my agreement to Peterson’s statement. I have long been fascinated and drawn to the Psalms, the central book in most Bibles. And I have long had the opinion that this is no accident. For, in the Psalms, you will find pretty much any topic you need help with in prayer. In Psalms, we even see the darkest emotions being displayed in prayer. I firmly believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with praying Psalms verbatim back to God. Many well-meaning people believe that all of our prayers must be original, coming from our own souls. Yet, there stand the Psalms, in the middle of our sacred Scriptures, crying out to be prayed, to be recited, to be read back to the One from whom they originated.

Pray the Psalms. Take them to God. Your own prayers will spring forth from them as you do so. The Psalms are a good “bucket.”

Father, every day, I bring my prayers to you in the bucket that is the Psalms. Help me to draw deeply from the well through them. Help me to find my own soul in them, that I might, then, cry out to you with my own words. In the meantime, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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.

On Being Right

Today is Thursday, May 25, 2017. Day 21,623. Nine days until our Oregon vacation!

“Everything popular is wrong.” ~ Oscar Wilde
From Brainy Quote

Chinwag ~ an idle chat; to chat idly; gossip.

Today is Towel Day. For those who are not “in the know,” this is a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The first thing to remember is, of course, DON’T PANIC! The second thing is to always remember your towel.

C hasn’t been feeling well over the past couple of days. Both days, she set out for work and wound up coming back home. She thinks she’s feeling better this morning. She was having chills and a very low-grade fever (barely over normal, most of the time).

The Red Sox beat the Rangers again, last night, 9-4. Perhaps it would be better to say that Sam Dyson beat the Rangers. I’m not sure why they are still letting him pitch. If he hadn’t pitched, last night, the Rangers might have won that game. Of course, you never know. The Twins beat the Orioles, so the Sox are now only 3.5 games out of first. The Rangers are 7 out, behind the Astros, who remain the best team in baseball, for the time being.

We finally watched the two episodes of The Voice, from this week, including the finale. So we now know who won this season. I somehow managed to get all the way through yesterday without finding out. I was slightly disappointed, but not unhappy when Chris Blue won the competition, edging out Lauren Duski, who, in my opinion, is one of the best female country vocalists I have ever heard. And I don’t even like country music that much. All four contestants sang an original song that was written just for them. Lauren wrote hers, herself, and it was really good. I didn’t care for Chris’s original. As for the performances on Monday night, I think Jesse Larson’s were the best for that particular night. He and Adam Levine nailed Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” But Jesse came in fourth place, followed by the youngest to ever reach the finale, Aliyah Moulden.

Today would have been the 60th anniversary of my parents’ wedding day.

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

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Psalm 69:16
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
. . . who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
Psalm 104:32

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

Joshua DuBois says, “We can do anything today–and we’d probably be right.” We can probably back up our words with “unassailable facts and solid figures.” We might even be justified in the way we feel and/or act toward those who may have wronged us, and our judgments upon others might be justified, as well, “given their misdeeds.”

However, is being right always worth it? “Once we’ve summited the mountain of our own correctness, what great prize will we receive?”

The words of Maya Angelou, above, closely echo those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. There are times when how we make people feel will be much more important than whether or not we are right.

Dallas Willard once said, “One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it.”

“Dear God, let me put first things first–not my own ‘rightness’ but my love for you and others.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer. It’s not always important to be “right,” or to exercise our “rights.” Truthfully, if we are following Jesus, we have surrendered those rights, including the “right” to be “right.” Let me always consider others more than myself, Father, in my walk with Christ.
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.

The House of My Soul

Today is Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Day 21,622. Ten days until our Oregon vacation.

“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling, I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” ~ Mitch Hedberg (The Quotations Page)

Cantankerous ~ disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish.

Today is Brother’s Day. I don’t have one of those (not by blood, anyway). C doesn’t have one of those. Neither of our girls has a brother. But my mother has a brother. A twin, no less. If you have a brother, let him know you’re thinking about him today.

Not a lot to talk about this morning. The Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6, last night. I was able to watch part of it, before the DVR kicked us off of live TV. I’m not a big fan of Charter’s DVR, but it’s who we have, right now, so I’ll just have to live with it.

So far, this morning, I have managed to avoid finding out who won The Voice last night. If we can both make it through the day without finding out, we will likely watch the finale tonight.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
Psalm 25:8
Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 
For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117
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.

O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it, that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases your sight; I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, Lord,
and spare your servant from strange sins.
(Augustine of Hippo, in Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name)
(From The President’s Devotional)

Father, what a beautiful prayer from Augustine! There are definitely times when I feel the same way, that the house of my soul is ruinous and needs so much cleaning. Indeed, to whom shall I turn but to you, for you are the only one who can truly cleanse me. Keep cleansing me, Father, by the blood of your Son and the power of your Spirit. May the Holy Trinity be active in my life 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.

Charged With Hope

Today is Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Day 21,621. The countdown still says eleven days until our Oregon vacation. That’s because I did my blog so late in the morning, yesterday. So, yes. Eleven.

Quote of the Day

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Word of the Day

Nudnik ~ a person who is a bore or nuisance.

Today is Title Track Day, referring to those great albums that were defined by a track with the same name as the album. Which ones are your favorites? Tarkus, by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, comes to mind. In the realm of worship music, I immediately think of Shout To the Lord, the album that launched Hillsongs into notoriety.

We had nice day, yesterday. After C took care of some business in the early afternoon, we watched some TV while eating lunch. After that, the three of us headed up to the local bowling alley, got a ball drilled for me and for S, then bowled a couple of games. It was great fun. C won the first game, while I struggled to get some kind of decent form and keep my ball on the right side of the head pin. Then she let me win the second game. S did better with her very own ball, drilled just for her, and improved in the second game. It was great fun.

I did not go to band practice last night, so I won’t be back there until June 10. Next Monday is Memorial Day, and the Monday after that, we plan to be in Oregon.

The Texas Rangers will be in Boston for the next three days, causing division in our household. Hahaha! Not too much, though. I’ll just cheer for whoever does something good! It will be Cashner vs. Porcello on the mound.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are ESV unless otherwise indicated

(From The Divine Hours)

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:12
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?
Psalm 18:31
Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules. 
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 
My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words. 
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. 
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts. 
Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. 
Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. 
Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

Psalm 119:137-144
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.

Agnus Dei

(From Living the Message)

“The way we conceive the future sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day,” writes Eugene H. Peterson, in today’s reading, called, simply, “The Future.”

The way some people lives indicates that they have no thought, whatsoever, of the future. “If our sense of future is weak, we live listlessly.” There is a lot of mental illness surrounding the lack of hope for any future. Sometimes, this results in the tragedy of suicide. The entire concept of worry revolves around a lack of confidence in what the future will bring.

As believers in Jesus, our future is “characterized [or at least should be] by a strong and focused sense of future, with belief in the Second Coming of Jesus as the most distinctive detail.” It is the focal point of our future.

“The practical effect of this belief is to charge each moment of the present with hope. For if the future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, there is little room left on the screen for projecting our anxieties and fantasies.” We have freedom to be more spontaneous in our responses to both God and people. It frees us to celebrate life.

He who testifies to all these things says it again: “I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus!

Revelation 22:20 (The Message)

Father, remind me through this day of the hope and assurance that we have as believers; the hope that Jesus Christ will one day return to take us home to the place he has prepared 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.

Celebrate Life

Today is Monday, May 22, 2017. Day 21,620. Eleven days until our Oregon vacation.

Quote of the Day

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Word of the Day

Ultracrepidarian ~ noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise. This relates to probably 99% of the political posts I see on Facebook.

Today is Sherlock Holmes Day. Elementary, my dear.

I don’t have enough words to describe how amazingly, awesomely, wonderful this past weekend was. We arrived at Uncle Buddy’s house at around 12:30. Johnny and Shelia, Jayne and Jimmy, and Robbie and Katie (along with Hannah) were already there. Joan, Tiffany, and Darrell arrived shortly after. After visiting for a few minutes, lunch was served, delicious BBQ brisket and pork, cooked by Johnny, along with beans, pasta salad, baked potatoes, sopapilla cheesecake, chocolate cake, and peach cobbler.

After lunch, we took rides around the property on a “side-by-side” that Darrell had brought over. I saw part of the property I had never seen before. It’s all so beautiful and wild out there. I got a great picture of my mother and uncle about to take a spin around the place.

We even got to play some Forty-Two during the afternoon. We all manage to get together for a group picture, but I don’t have a digital copy of it yet, only a hard copy that my aunt printed. I have to get it scanned, and I’ll post it. It was a very good picture.

Later that evening, C and I went on into Henderson, had a quick bite to eat, then checked into our motel. S decided she wanted to spend the night with her cousin, who only lived a short distance from my uncle’s house. After our complimentary breakfast, we headed back over to Uncle Buddy’s house, visited a while longer, and then Joan and Tiffany came back over, as well as Johnny and Shelia. We had sandwiches made from leftover brisket from the day before, and then had a nice time just sitting and talking for a few hours.

We dropped Mama off at home in Mineral Wells, at about 8 PM last night, then headed on back home.

It was a phenomenal weekend, and I am grateful beyond words to everyone who made it happen.

Oh, and we took PTO for today, to get caught up on stuff we normally do on weekends.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 96:2-3
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:3
Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 21:14
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96:11-13
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! 
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. 
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. 
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Psalm 147:7-11

(From The President’s Devotional)

“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies
And be it gash or gold, it will never come
Again in this identical guise” ~ Gwendolyn Brooks, “Annie Allen”

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Psalm 100:4

Joshua DuBois, in this reading entitled “The Little Moment,” begins with, “Every day is precious. This one is no exception.”

What can I do to honor this day? What kind of “unique enthusiasm” can I bring to it?

Today is the 21,620th anniversary of my birth. That’s a lot of days. I don’t remember most of them. You probably don’t remember most of yours, either. But each day that we are alive is “a present gift wrapped by God, begging to be opened.”

In the past few days, I have begun to move toward an attitude of “celebrating life.” I have spent far too many days allowing myself to be drug down into a festering pool of misery, for whatever reason. I’m a moody person, always have been. But God can work through that, and he can certainly change that, if I work toward changing it, too. Again, I talk about spiritual formation and the Spiritual Disciplines. I didn’t get to practice the solitude I was hoping for over the weekend, but there was plenty of celebration! And that did us all good.

One of the things that is bringing this about is my realization that we spend far too much energy longing for the weekend. Every Monday morning, one of my work associates starts out moaning and sighing and wishing Friday would hurry up and get here. But, here’s the thing . . . what if we could just somehow skip from Monday to Friday and start the weekend? I’m sure some people would immediately say, “Yeah!” But then there’s five days gone from your life. Five days skipped. Five gift-wrapped presents from God that we never opened.

Each day is a gift. Each day is a potential treasure. Yes, they will bring challenges. They might even bring sorrow and tears, perhaps even fear. But, taken in context of the reality of the kingdom of God (Dallas Willard says, “things are really better than you can ever imagine as you live in the kingdom of God”), we can still unwrap these precious days and live them to the fullest of our potential, walking in the “easy yoke” of Christ.

Celebrate life!

“Dear God, let me honor this day with gladness in my heart. Increase the joy within me, and the gratitude I feel for this life. Amen.” ~ Joshua DuBois

Father, help me to celebrate life. I talk big ideas and big concepts, sometimes, but when things get rough, or when something doesn’t go the way I want it to, I sure tend to fall back into my old habits. I’m praying, asking you to help me crawl out of those habits and stand, triumphantly, on the broad level ground that is your kingdom. Help me to live in the reality that “things are really better than [I] can ever imagine.” Reality. Reality is not what I see with my eyes, happening in this corrupt world around me. Too many “Christians” are wrapped up in that reality. Help us all to see the truth. Help us to know the truth so that the truth can set us free. Help me to celebrate life.
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.

“Your Face, LORD, Do I Seek.”

Today is Saturday, May 20, 2017. The family reunion day is here!

Quote of the Day

“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.” ~ Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio

There is actually no concrete evidence that Einstein ever said that, but it’s still fun. The statement is attributed to several others, as well, as cited by this article at Quote Investigator.

Word of the Day

Moggy ~ British informal. A cat.

Today is World Fiddle Day. In the article about this, it appears that they use “fiddle” and “violin” interchangeably. I, however, do not. While they may be the same instrument, technically, I consider it a “violin” when it plays in an orchestra or plays more classically oriented music. I consider it a “fiddle” when it plays bluegrass or country music.

Violin

Fiddle

We’re getting ready to head out to east Texas, in a little while, so I’d best get a move-on. There will not be a blog entry tomorrow. I’ll be back Monday morning.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! 
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” 
Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

Psalm 27:7-9
But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
Psalm 76:7
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 
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 91:8-13

Father, I pray to you, this morning, that I might seek you and your strength; that I would seek your presence continually. All too often, I seek other things, things that don’t matter, things that might satisfy, but only for a moment. Your presence will satisfy for all eternity. May your Spirit draw me toward your presence in my life, always. Motivate me to seek your face, O Lord!
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.

Why Do We Go To Church?

Today is Friday, May 19, 2017. One more day until our family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~ Joseph Addison

Word of the Day

Purloin ~ to take dishonestly; steal; filch; pilfer.

Today is Pizza Party Day! Sadly, it appears that I will not likely celebrate today. Perhaps next year.

Friday has arrived. This evening, after work, I will be driving to Mineral Wells to pick up my mother for our weekend in east Texas. We’ll be leaving as early as we can manage, tomorrow morning. I don’t know if all the cousins will be there tomorrow or Sunday, or even both. Whatever happens will be great.

The Rangers continued their winning streak yesterday afternoon, beating the Phillies 8-4. They have now won nine consecutive games. This evening, they will face the Tigers in Detroit, with Martinez on the mound. The Tigers are 20-19, while the Rangers are 22-20, so they are very close. They remain in second place, 7.5 games out.

The Red Sox, sadly, lost to the Athletics in Oakland, 8-3. They will play again tonight, with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. They remain in third place, four games out.

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

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
Psalm 65:3
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. 
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Psalm 25:6-8, 11

(From Living the Message)

Our pastor once asked us, “Why do we go to church?”

“The people in our congregations are, in fact, out shopping for idols. They enter our churches with the same mind-set in which they go to the shopping mall, to get something that will please them or satisfy an appetite or need,” says Eugene H. Peterson.

Theologian John Calvin considered the heart as “a relentlessly efficient factory for producing idols.” The pastor is usually thought of as the “quality-control engineer” of the factory.

While it is true that the folks who gather in our churches are looking for help through difficult times or meaning and significance to their lives, they want God on their own terms. They don’t want the “jealous God, and probably not even the “‘God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Mostly they want to be their own god and stay in control but have ancillary idol assistance for the hard parts, which the pastor can show them how to get.”

“John Calvin’s insight plus Henry Ford’s technology equals North American Religion.” Sadly, in our culture today, the pastors have the same success rate as Aaron did in Exodus 32.

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.”
Matthew 7:15-16 (The Message)

Father, teach us the truth in our churches. May we be people who are seeking you and your strength, seeking your presence continually, as Psalm 105:4 tells us to do. May we not be seeking idols, nothing more than a panacea for everything that ails us. May we be seeking you and you alone, for you alone are worthy of our worship and praise. I like to think that our own little gathering of “saints” is different, but I fear that many of the people who come suffer from the same issues described above. Help our pastor to change them in your strength. I pray for our church; I pray for all churches, that the truth may be taught as presented by Jesus. Let us follow his words and his actions, obeying what he told us to do, rather than simply hoping for a band-aid to soothe our latest foible.
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.