God May Disappoint You, But He Will Never Fail You

Today is Saturday, August 17, 2019. Blessings to you!!

Day 22,437

Only TWO DAYS until S turns 26!!

I’m up quite early, this morning, as we get ready for Greg’s funeral. I’m to be at the church by 8:00 to set up my keyboard and get sound checks with the other folks who are playing/singing this morning. I’ve only been in that church auditorium once, so I really don’t know what kind of setup they have. Our main worship leader visited yesterday afternoon, and he said that the music minister has set up direct boxes and mic stands for us. A direct box is a connecting box that allows us to plug guitars and keyboards into microphone channels on a mixing board.

The funeral begins at 10:00. After the service at the church, we will be driving about an hour, up to Pilot Point, for the burial. Then, there is a meal that is being provided by the church, for the “family.” However, the family has invited all of The Exchange people to the meal.

The visitation last night was crowded. I’m not surprised, of course, after all of the testimonies to Greg on Facebook. For the whole time we were there, there was a line pretty much out the door of the funeral home, going into the room where the family was receiving people. We stood in the line for at least 30 minutes. The sweetest thing happened. While we were in line, a gentleman was talking to C and S, when he suddenly started beaming and said to S, “I know who you are! Greg talked about you all the time!”

There’s a hole in the world today.

This morning, I want to share a song that Greg introduced me to. He kept coming up to me after our worship gatherings and telling me that I needed to learn this song. I eventually did, and I am grateful to him for sharing it with me, because it is a great song. “Your Love Defends Me,” by Matt Maher.

The Texas Rangers did much better against the Twins, last night, but still wound up with a loss, 4-3. Mike Minor took the loss. The Rangers are now 60-62, in third place in the AL West (but in danger of dropping to fourth, soon), 17.5 games out of first place, and 10.5 games out of the wild card race. The elimination number is 23. The wild card elimination number is 30. They play the Twins again tonight, with Ariel Jurado starting. I’m not sure why they are still trying that. There are 40 games left.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles (as it should be), 9-1. Rick Porcello got the win for the Sox, who are now 65-59. They remain in third place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and 6.5 out of the wild card race. The elimination number is 22. The wild card elimination number is 33. They play Baltimore again tonight, with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound. There are 38 games left.

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

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!
Psalm 50:23

Today I am grateful:
1. That I was privileged to call Greg Jordan “friend”
2. For the opportunity to honor him by celebrating his life today
3. That the Lord is my light and salvation, and I have nothing/no one to fear (Psalm 27:1)
4. That the Lord can (and will) turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11)
5. That God has not failed us and will not fail us

“Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget:
the homeless and the destitute,
the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them.
Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit,
and to turn their sorrow into joy.
Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son,
who for our sake become poor, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 35. For the Poor and Neglected)

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8

I’m going to depart from my usual format and leave you with this. As we went through the line last night, and finally got up to Bliss, Jared, Jacob, and Lori, I felt compelled to say something to them. In fact, I had been rehearsing this “speech” in my head and heart all day. I said I wanted to tell them something. Looking at Jacob, I said, “I know you know this because you are the preacher. But sometimes, the preacher needs someone else to tell him something.”

Then, I said, to all of them, “God has not failed us! In spite of all the prayers I prayed and all the hopes I hoped, I refuse to believe that God has failed us.”

And he has not failed us. He will never fail us. He will, however, disappoint us. There’s a huge difference. Dallas Willard once said, “If you follow Jesus long enough, he will disappoint you.” And it’s true. Because God will not always give us what we want, will he?

Father, thank you for bringing me to a place where I can see that you have not failed us, and you never will. Help my desires be the same as your desires so I’m never disappointed. But also lift me up when I am disappointed, and show me where I went wrong. Thank you for your love and your grace and your mercy in all things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

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The Still Small Voice

Today is Friday, August 16, 2019. Blessings to you!!

Day 22,436

Only THREE DAYS until S turns 26!!!!

I don’t have much to write about, on a personal level, this morning. We have the visitation for Greg this evening, between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. This means I will need to get approval from my manager to leave work on time, this evening. That shouldn’t be a problem, though. Then, the funeral is tomorrow morning. We three singers have agreed to be there at 8:00 in the morning for setup and sound check and so on. I think that may be too early, myself, as the “setup” should not be very involved. I’m trying to figure out how to get my gear packed up and out to the car in time to drive to the burial site with the procession. Hopefully, there will be time to do that. They are having a meal at the church at 2:30. It might be safe to leave my gear there until then. I guess we will play that by ear.

The Texas Rangers lost badly to the Twins, last night, 13-6. Pedro Payano took the loss for Texas. They are 60-61, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place, and 10.5 out of the wild card race. The elimination number for the division is 24. For the wild card, it is 31. They will play again, this evening, in Arlington, with Mike Minor taking the mound for Texas. 41 games left.

The Red Sox were off, last night, and will begin a series with Baltimore tonight, at Fenway. Rick Porcello will start for Boston. The Sox are 64-59, in third place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place, and 7.5 out of the wild card race. The division elimination number is 23, and the wild card elimination number is 33. 39 games left.

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

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

Psalm 50:14-15

Today I am grateful:
1. For the opportunity to serve our friends this weekend
2. For the light of the Lord, that shines on our brokenness and heals us
3. For the strength that I know God will provide for this weekend
4. That God is teaching me how to quiet myself, that I might hear his voice
5. For another day to live

“Lord Christ, when you came among us, you proclaimed the kingdom of God in villages, towns, and lonely places:
Grant that your presence and power may be known throughout this land.
Have mercy upon all of us who live and work in rural areas;
and grant that all the people of our nation may give thanks to you for food and drink
and all other bodily necessities of life,
respect those who labor to produce them,
and honor the land and the water from which these good things come.
All this we ask in your holy Name. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 34. For Towns and Rural Areas)

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12

Elijah has just demonstrated his humanity in this story, showing us that he is, in at least some ways, just like you and me. He ran for his life. Jezebel threatened him, on the heels of his victory at the altar of Baal. Read 1 Kings 18 if you need the background for this part.

So Elijah has run away. He is hiding. He is sleeping, resting. When he awakes, he finds a cake and a jar of water waiting for him, and an angel appears and tells him to get up and eat. Then he lays down again, sleeping some more. This scene is repeated again, only this time, the angel adds the words, “for the journey is too great for you.” This time, after Elijah eats, he travels for forty days and forty nights, solely on the strength of these two small meals!

When he reaches Horeb, “the mount of God,” he goes into a cave. This is where God appears to him.

But how does God appear? That is the key, here, I believe, for us. We always want God to come in a strong wind or earthquake or fire. And, while Elijah saw and experienced all three of those, the Lord was not in any of them. God appeared in “the sound of a low whisper.” Old translations call it the “still small voice,” and, to this day, we still think of God’s voice in that way.

This is why we have to attentively listen for the voice of God. No one has to listen for the wind. It overpowers everything. I’ve never experienced an earthquake, but I would imagine you don’t have to listen very hard for one of those, either. And a fire of any size makes a significant amount of noise. It has often been described as a “roar.” It is not really necessary to listen for any of those.

But the “still small voice,” or “the sound of a low whisper,” you have to shut up and listen. If you’re talking, you won’t hear it. And sometimes, I’m thinking so loud I can’t hear it! Have you ever experienced that? Your thoughts so loud in your brain that you can’t hear anything else? Or, perhaps, as I experienced early this morning, they are so loud you can’t sleep.

We have to quiet ourselves to hear the voice of God, and that takes practice. Hence the disciplines of solitude and silence. We need to take the time to be alone and quiet for short periods of time, so we can quiet ourselves and learn to hear the voice of God. We have to practice to learn how to shut out the noise of the wind, earthquake, and fire with which the world assaults our souls.

(This material was derived from an exercise in Hearing God, by Dallas Willard)

Father, keep teaching me these things. Help me to quiet myself, and to shut out the noises of the world and people around me, that I might hear your voice. You have spoken to me this morning, in this passage. As I continue to meditate/contemplate on this passage, I pray to hear even more from you.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20

Grace and peace, friends!

Resting in What God Is

Today is Thursday, August 15, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,435

Only FOUR DAYS until S turns 26!!!

We had originally planned to go visit with R and J on Saturday and take our old breakfast nook table to them. C had rented a cargo van to do this. However, Greg’s funeral is Saturday morning, and S really wants to go to the burial, which is in Pilot Point. Then the church where the funeral is being held is hosting a lunch for the “family” (according to Jacob, we have all been invited) at 2:30. So we have postponed that piece of the birthday celebrations until August 31, a couple of Saturdays away.

We will still go to Mineral Wells on Monday to celebrate with Grandma, though. I’m not yet sure where the birthday girl will want to have lunch, but Pastafina is high on the list, possibly the front-runner.

The Texas Rangers finally beat the Blue Jays, in the series finale, 7-3. Other than one inning where the Jays threatened to tie, the Rangers had control of the game. Kolby Allard got his first win as a Ranger. The Rangers are 60-60, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place. They have now started showing elimination numbers (the combinations of first place wins and Rangers losses that it would take to eliminate them from any chance of winning the division). The Rangers’ elimination number is 25. They are ten games out of the wild card race. The wild card elimination number is thirty-two. They have forty-two games left. They begin a four game series with the Twins tonight, in Arlington, with Pedro Payano starting.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Indians 5-1. Nathan Eovaldi got his first win of the season in that game. After going six for six the night before, Rafael Devers hit his 25th home run of the season. Xander Bogaerts also went yard, twice, one time for three runs. The Sox are 64-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first. Elimination number is 23. They are 7.5 games out of the wild card race. That elimination number is 33. They have 39 games left. They have the night off before starting a series with Baltimore in Boston tomorrow night.

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

Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah.

Psalm 50:3-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the way the people of our church come together to support one another in difficult times
2. For encouragement that I have received from others
3. That those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame
4. That my faith is in what/who God is, and does not rely on the evidence of the senses
5. That God will do what he says he will do

“Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory:
Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders.
Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression,
that peace may prevail with righteousness, and just with order,
and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 33. For Cities)

(From Faith That Matters)

Rest in What God Is, by A.W. Tozer

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

“In spite of tears and pain and death we believe that the God who made us all is infinitely wise and good.” Abraham believed that God was able to do what he said he would do, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Just as Abraham did, “so we base our hope in God alone and hope against hope till the day breaks. We rest in what God is. I believe that this alone is true faith. Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith.”

No matter how things look in this world, we know that God has perfect wisdom. He never fails. Even if we think he did, he didn’t, because we just aren’t thinking right. God did not fail me/us when Greg Jordan passed away. I refuse to believe that. It’s true that my prayers were not answered the way I wanted them to be answered. But God did not fail me. He did not fail Greg, Lori, Jacob, and Jared. We have true faith and hope, against all physical evidence, that Greg is walking in the presence of Christ, and is fully healed, just as my own father is.

No matter how disastrous our circumstances appear, true faith trusts God fully. I don’t need miracles to believe in God. I don’t need a “Shroud of Turin” to believe that Jesus rose from the grave.

And I believe that God will do what he says he will do.

Oh, Father, I do believe! Help my unbelief! When I stumble into darkness, and begin to long for physical manifestations, draw me back into your reality, where true faith believes in you no matter what I see with my eyes. Open the eyes of my heart, so that I might see you fully. Help me to know the length and width and depth and height of the unsurpassing, unknowable love of Christ for us. Help me to rest in who you are!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Turn Worry Into Prayer

Today is Wednesday, August 14, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,434

Only five days until S turns 26!!!

The birthday celebrations will be bittersweet, of course, as we pause to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Greg Jordan. The funeral will be Saturday morning at 10:00, at the church that they attended before they started coming to our church. Brandon, Terry, and I have been asked to lead a couple of songs at the funeral. This, I’m sure, will be quite the challenge for all three of us. We will be singing “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” (Chris Tomlin), and “God Is So Good (You Are Worth)” (Pat Barrett). In addition, I will be leading our usual blessing song at the end, “Benediction,” by Matt Redman. There will also be visitation on Friday evening.

We still plan to go to Mineral Wells on Monday, as C and I are both taking the day off for S’s birthday. There, we will have lunch with Grandma and celebrate the birthday girl. It has also been decreed that we will be getting mani/pedis on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays again, but at least it wasn’t a blowout this time. 3-0. Much better than 19-4, but, in the long run, it’s still an “L.” The score doesn’t really matter, does it? Lance Lynn took the loss. The Rangers are 59-60, in third place in the AL West, 18.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of the wild card race. They will try one more time this afternoon, in Toronto, with Kolby Allard taking the mound. They have forty-three games left.

The Red Sox managed to beat the Indians, 7-6, in ten innings. Brandon Workman got the win in relief, and Andrew Cashner got a save. Maybe that’s what he needs to do instead of starting? The Sox are 63-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first, and 8.5 out of the wild card race. They will also play an afternoon game today, in Cleveland. Brian Johnson will get the start. They have forty games left.

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

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Psalm 50:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For the mercy of God, that sustains us in times of grief and mourning
2. For the many testimonies of the kind of life that Greg Jordan lived
3. That my fate doesn’t rest in my hands, but is fully in God’s hands
4. That we can turn worry into prayer
5. That in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)

“O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace;
and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds,
that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 32. For the Good Use of Leisure)

(From Daily Guideposts 2019)

PRAYING THROUGH THE PSALMS; The Value of Honest Confession, by Julie Garmon

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
Psalm 119:133

I won’t go into great detail about the circumstances of today’s reading, but simply summarize to say that Julie and her friend discovered that they were both trying to control what their husbands were doing. Well, not so much what they were doing, as much as the outcomes.

That’s a big problem for a lot of us, isn’t it? We want to control the outcome. We do lots of preparation, or, in many cases, just as these two friends were doing, worry a lot about how things are going to work out.

But here’s the thing . . . look back up at number three in my gratitude list. The outcome is not in my hands! We don’t want to minimize the importance of solid preparation and hard work. But the point here is to not worry about the outcome. That’s God’s job.

A few days back I quoted another blog that said something to the effect of, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. What an insightful statement of truth that is, because worry is nothing more than negative meditation.

Now, I’ve never been one to jump on the whole “positive thinking” bandwagon. I don’t believe that all negative thoughts/statements are necessarily bad. I refuse to use the word “opportunity” instead of “problem.” The problem doesn’t go away because you call it something different.

But in this reading, today, Julie Garmon said, “we turned the sin of worry into prayer.”

How profound! Just as my fellow blogger indicated, worry can become something positive if we turn it around and focus on the right thing/person. If, instead of worrying, I immediately went to prayer, I don’t imagine the outcome would be affected, but my attitude certainly would. And, if, instead of worrying, I meditated on either the Lord, himself, or some passage of Scripture, my mindset would change.

We can have confidence in the Lord. As I’ve repeated several times in the past week or so, we have this statement in Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. And, while we are always in the presence of the Lord, when we are meditating on him, purposeful, focused, thinking, we seem to be more in his presence, if that’s possible.

And in his presence, there is fullness of joy!

Father, thank you for these reminders about worry. Help me to turn any thoughts of worry directly into prayer and meditation today. Help me meditate on the right things and on just you. May I enjoy your presence today, and fullness of joy, even in the face of unspeakable sadness. Joy, unspeakable joy.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t Hate Yourself

Today is Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,433

Only six more days until S turns 26!!

The Texas Rangers lost (that’s one word for it) to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. 19-4. While you try to wrap your head around that score, think about the fact that the Blue Jays have a losing record against the Baltimore Orioles, who are the second worst team in MLB. It seems that one thing that should be learned, but has yet to be, is that they need to stop letting Ariel Jurado start. The Rangers are 59-59, still in third place in the AL West, eighteen games out of first place, and ten out of the wild card race. They will try again tonight, with Lance Lynn starting. They are in Toronto.

The Red Sox lost to the Indians, 6-5. At least that’s reasonable, considering the Indians are in the lead wild card spot. Marcus Walden took the loss in the ninth inning. The Sox are 65-59, in third place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first (the Blue Jays are thirty games out of first, so there isn’t much chance of the Sox losing third place, at least), and 8.5 out of the wild card race. They play again tonight, in Cleveland, with Chris Sale trying again.

I actually misspoke. Cleveland is atop the AL Central, at the moment. Minnesota and Tampa are in the two wild card spots.

We are broken-hearted this morning, as we received word that our pastor’s father passed away early this morning. Please be in prayer for his family, as well as us, his church family, as he was dearly loved by us. And he was a great friend to S, so she will be taking this very hard. We are grateful to God for the joy of knowing that our brother and friend is fully healed and in the presence of the Lord. We are also very grateful for the love and sense of family that abides in The Exchange Church.

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

Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! 
Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, 
consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation 
that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

Psalm 48:11-14

Today I am grateful:
1. For the never-ending lovingkindness of the Lord.
2. That, as God provides for us, we have resources to serve him by serving others.
3. That he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
4. That the Lord has called me by name.
5. That God will never leave us or forsake us.

“O merciful Father, who has taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servants for who our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 55. For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement)

(From Faith That Matters)

Let Christ Rewrite Your Script, by Brennan Manning

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
Psalm 5:11

How many of us are locked in a “script” of self-hatred? For some, it is a misunderstanding of words that Jesus spoke. We understand that we don’t have to be first, and shouldn’t try to be first, but, rather strive to be last. But we humans tend to over-reach that and take it too far. Not only do I need to be last, I need to hate myself while I’m doing it. This cannot be true; I don’t for a minute believe this is what Jesus is getting at. It’s even a common thread in the “Christian self-help” industry. How can you lover your neighbor as yourself if you hate yourself? Cliche, yes, but still true.

Says Brennan Manning, “With a graciousness, a kindness, and an understanding of human weakness that only God could inhabit and exhibit, he liberates us from alienation and self-condemnation and offers a new possibility to each of us in our brokenness. He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves. His gospel is Good News indeed! Jesus, in effect, says, ‘Burn the old tapes spinning round in your head that bind you up and lock you into a self-centered stereotype. Listen to the new song of salvation written for those who know that they are poor. Let go of your fear of my Father and your dislike of yourself.'”

Our God has compassion on us, “like a rising sun, drenching the dawn’s shadows with inescapable light.” May the light of Christ show us the way.

Father, thank you for this great love with which you have loved us. I pray for our brother’s family today. May you bring peace and comfort, and, yes, even joy, to their hearts today as they grieve and mourn this loss. Blessed are those who mourn . . . Teach us to love ourselves, not despise ourselves. And teach us to love others as you have loved us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Grace and peace, friends.

“Yet I Will Rejoice In the LORD”

Today is Sunday, August 11, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,431

It was pretty hot at Six Flags, yesterday, but we had a good time. C had time to ride the “El Diablo” before we went to the picnic. Lunch was barbecue (brisket), along with the usual barbecue trimmings and sides. It was pretty good for Six Flags food. After lunch, we walked over to the other side of the park, so C could ride the tall swings and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity. I waited at an umbrella table outside Johnny Rocket’s restaurant. I would have waited inside, but of course there were no tables available in there. At least I was in the shade. For your viewing pleasure, I give you the Harley Quinn Spinsanity. Yes. C rode that!

After we left Six Flags, we swung by the house and picked up S, because she wanted to go to the hospital with us to visit with Greg and Lori and Jacob. We didn’t really get to “visit” with Greg, as he was/is heavily sedated and asleep. We had a good visit with Jacob and Lori, though. We also had a chance to hug Jared and Bliss, and Bill (Lori’s mother) was there, as well. It was a most bittersweet time. We prayed together, and right before we left, S went over and leaned down and said, “I love you, Greg,” at which point everyone else in the room pretty much lost it.

Nevertheless, God is good. And the beauty of being a Christian is being able to say that in the face of “bad” things.

The Rangers lost to the Brewers again, 3-2, Pedro Payano took the loss. The Rangers are back at .500, 58-58. They remain in third place in the AL West, 18.5 games out of first place, and nine games out of the wild card race. They play the Brewers in Milwaukee again this afternoon. Mike Minor will start for Texas.

The Angels got back at the Red Sox yesterday, beating them 12-4. Rick Porcello took the loss for Boston. The Sox are 62-57. They also remain in third place in the AL East, fifteen games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race. They will play again this afternoon, in Boston. Andrew Cashner will start for Boston.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering. We are “gathered” this morning, meeting at the YMCA, 9100 N. Beach Street, Fort Worth, at 10:15 AM. We do not expect to see our pastor there, as he will likely be at the hospital, as all they can do is wait. After our worship gathering, this morning, we will be heading over to the house of one of our member families, who have graciously invited us all over for lunch. Hot dogs and burgers on the grill, from what I hear.

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

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 
beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. 
Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.

Psalm 48:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. These times are becoming more and more sweet as we grow together.
2. For the nice time, thought bittersweet, that we had yesterday.
3. For the way God works in S’s heart. She was so sweet yesterday.
4. For the daily blessings that come my way, no matter how small.
5. That no matter what happens, I am able to rejoice in the Lord, and that he is the strength of my life.

“Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot exist without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, Proper 14)

(From Our Daily Bread)

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

In the NIV (New International Version), the word “though” appears three times in verse 17. “Though the fig tree does not bud . . . though the olive crop fails . . . though there are no sheep in the pen.” For the Old Testament people in the time of Habakkuk, these were three disastrous circumstances. But, even so, the prophet says, “I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (verse 18).

We have heard it said many times that joy does not depend on circumstances. True joy. Yet we often confuse joy with happiness. I’m surely not telling you anything you haven’t heard before. I may not have been happy in that hospital room, yesterday afternoon. But there was joy present. Because we were in the presence of God, and, as I have mentioned, in his presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Even though the worst imaginable circumstances may occur, we can find joy in the Lord. Let us rejoice in him, even though we lost our jobs, or loved ones get sick or pass away, or we lost things that are precious to us. “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Father, you are my strength. Indeed, you make “my feet like the deer’s” feet and put me on high, level ground. I praise you God, that you are are mighty and strong and that you are my refuge, my rock, and my fortress.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus! May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Ramblings

Today is Saturday, August 10, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,430

Only nine more days until S turns 26!!!

In a little while, we will be heading to Six Flags for C’s company picnic. The lunch is at noon. C wants to ride at least one ride, so we plan to get there a little early so she can do that. We won’t likely stay very long for a couple of reasons. One is that the projected high temperature for today is 102. Picnics in August in Texas. What a wonderful idea.

The other reason is that we will be heading up to the hospital to visit with our pastor and his family. His father is not doing well at all. He had been sent home for hospice care earlier in the week, but last night, he was taken back up to “inpatient hospice” at the hospital, as he was experiencing trouble breathing. This morning it was reported that he will not be returning home from the hospital, and, barring a miracle, all they can do is “keep him comfortable.” Our hearts are very heavy with sadness. No. Our hearts are broken. We realize, yes, that he will soon likely be free from any pain and with our Savior. But we have prayed so hard and intensely. It is difficult to not be aggravated, even angry, or just simply disappointed.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-5. Emmanuel Chase took the loss in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rangers are 58-57, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place, and eight games out of the wild card race. They will play again tonight, in Milwaukee, with Pedro Payano starting for Texas.

Wow. The Boston Red Sox exploded on the LA Angels, last night, demolishing them 16-4. Marcus Walden got the win for the Sox. He didn’t start, but was the pitcher of record when the Sox took the lead in the fifth inning. J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Mitch Moreland all went yard in the game, Martinez doing it twice. The Sox are 62-56, in third place in the AL East, fifteen games out of first place, and 5.5 out of the wild card race.

The current wild card standings are tricky. Cleveland and Minnesota are tied for first place in the AL Central. So they are also both tied for the first wild card spot. Tampa Bay currently has the second wild card spot, a half game ahead of Oakland.

There is a virtual three-way tie for the best record in MLB. The Astros and the Yankees both have a 76-40 record (.655), and the Dodgers are at 77-41 (.653). The Detroit Tigers continue to have a pretty firm grip on last place.

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

For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 
The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

Psalm 47:7-9

Today I am grateful:
1. For the weekend to rest for the work week ahead
2. For the life of a dear friend, a life that found joy in everyone he met, and never knew a stranger
3. For times when I have received encouragement from a family member, or a brother/sister in Christ
4. That the Lord is at hand; always at hand
5. For peace

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah.

Psalm 20:1-3

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:5-7

A lot of verses this morning, as I try to sort out things in my brain and in my heart. Psalm 16 has become for me, over the past few weeks, a sanctuary of sorts. Psalm 86:11 has always been my “life verse.” “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” But Psalm 16:11 is becoming almost equally important to me. A few weeks ago, I began to wonder . . . what if we, the Christians in the world, truly lived as though we believe that there is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord, and that there are literal pleasures forevermore at his right hand?

We are always in the presence of the Lord. Always. There is never anywhere you can go where you are not in the presence of God. Believer or not, everyone on the planet (and not on the planet, in the case of folks up on that space station), is in the presence of God! “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7-8)

I am determined to arrange my life in such a way that I am living in that truth! Because I do believe it!

Verse 8 of Psalm 16 is also becoming more meaningful to me. “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” What does this mean, “I have set the Lord always before me?” It likely can mean more than one thing. But one thing I do believe is that it is meditation. How else can I “set the Lord always before me?” In order to do that, I have to be thinking about him. I have to keep my mind stayed on him. Which brings up another verse, doesn’t it? “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Right on the heels of that verse, is “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Can we truly get to a point where Psalm 73:25 is true and we desire nothing on earth besides God? I don’t know. I haven’t made it yet. But my heart longs for that.

A lot of rambling, this morning, but it all points to the same truth. “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Would that all Christians could live as though this is truth. Would that we could stop attacking each other, because we think differently. Perhaps, if we simply stopped paying attention to all the political bull, and staying our minds on Christ instead . . .

Father, my heart is a mess, this morning, and so is my mind. All of these Scriptures are dear to me. I pray that you keep me focused on their truths; keep my mind stayed on you; may I keep you always before me, in front of me, behind me, and beside me. May I live in the truth that there is fullness of joy in your presence and pleasure forevermore at your right hand. May I live, believing that, in you, there is nothing to fear because you are my God and that you will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me with your righteous right hand. May you be the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Could you please do a miracle for my brother in Christ?
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

Grace and peace, friends.