To Live Gladly

Today is Friday, April 19, 2019.

Good Friday

Day 22,317

Twenty days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“When love is not madness, it is not love.”
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spanish dramatist, 1600-1681
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Skinkle ~ To glitter, glisten; to sparkle, twinkle.

We are a little bit tired, this morning. We got home from work last night to an unexpected scene. One of the main branches of our Bradford Pear tree had broken off. We’re guessing that it was twenty to twenty-five feet tall. It spanned from the base of the tree trunk, where it landed, all the way to our neighbor’s driveway. The smaller, leafy end was all over our neighbor’s pickup. It was quite an adventure. I was able to find our small, electric chainsaw, but the chain immediately came loose. The section of the tree was much too heavy to move.

When C got home a few minutes later, she was able to get the chain back together (she had dealt with this before). While she was working on that, I started texting church family folks, asking for help. Two of them showed up within thirty minutes, one with a gas chainsaw. We had gotten the top portion cut away with our electric one, getting everything out of our neighbor’s yard and off his truck (fortunately, we have a good relationship with these folks). At this point, we don’t think there is any damage to his truck. Our friends/brothers helped us get the rest of the tree cut up. So it’s all piled up in the front of our yard, now. We just have to find someone to haul it off, and probably need to get the rest of the tree trimmed by a professional, so that it doesn’t lose any more, or fall on our cars on the other side.

As previously mentioned, it is Good Friday, the traditional day when we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. I have my own ways of observing this day, but choose not to share them with anyone, not publicly, at least. These are things that are between me and God.

There were no baseball games of any importance to me, yesterday. The Texas Rangers host the Houston Astros tonight at 7:05, with Smyly taking the mound for Texas. The Boston Red Sox will be in Tampa, facing one of the hottest teams in the MLB, the Rays. E. Rodriguez will be pitching for the Sox.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:1-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For brothers in Christ who are willing to come help us, even before they get home from work
2. For the community of saints
3. That the fallen tree situation wasn’t worse
4. That God stands ready to reveal himself to me when I seek him
5. That I can “live gladly” because of the knowledge of God

“Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy
family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be
betrayed, and given up into the hands of sinners, and to suffer
death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Good Friday)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Live Gladly,” by James Bryan Smith.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

“How do we come to know such love? We must ask for it. We must pray that we will come to know and feel this love. We must plead to God before we will hear this gentle voice.”

The interesting thing about God is that he will typically not intrude upon our lives. There are isolated cases where he did. Saul is a big example of this. But, for most of us “ordinary” Christians, he will wait until we seek him, or ask him. And he has promised, in the above verse, that if we seek him we will find him.

Ironically, Smith quotes another of the authors in this collection of devotions, Frederick Buechner: “If you have never known the power of God’s love, then maybe it is because you have never asked to know it–I mean really asked, expecting an answer.” If we are ready to ask, God stands ready to give. “Nothing gives God more pleasure than filling his children with love and hearing them exclaim, ‘Abba, Daddy!'” While I agree with the sentiment of that statement I always hesitate to make statements like “Nothing gives God more pleasure than . . .” You can fill in the blanks with a lot of things. The point is, yes, God takes great pleasure in having his children ask for him and cry out to him in love.

Smith quotes another of the great devotional writers, Julian of Norwich, “The greatest honor we can give to Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” May we ask God for this knowledge, “not in your head but in your heart.”

Father, help me to seek you with all of my heart on this Good Friday. May I take my break times today and make them times of worship. May I consider often your sacrifice and the benefit I obtained from it. Let this day be a day of worship and contemplation for me and other Christians in the world. Today is not a normal day. Let me not approach it as such.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

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“Let Me Die”

“We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying.”

Today is Thursday, April 18, 2019.

Day 22,316

Maundy Thursday in Holy Week

Twenty-one days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“We live in an age when pizza gets to your home before the police.”
Jeff Marder, comedian
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Bibliolater ~ 1. One with extreme devotion to books. 2. One having excessive devotion to the Bible, especially to its literal interpretation. (Wordsmith A.Word.A.Day)

I’m feeling better this morning. I still don’t feel great, but I definitely feel better than I did yesterday morning. I also had begun feeling worse around 2:00 PM yesterday afternoon. This is weird stuff, whatever it is. My chest still feels congested, but overall, feeling better today. I’ve already taken my DayQuil dose for the morning.

For the most part, the horrific storms we were supposed to get last night didn’t materialize, at least not around our house. I heard thunder somewhere around 11:30-ish, but never heard any hail, and our power never went out. Not sure about north of us, though, because that’s where the biggest part of the storms seem to have gone. There’s currently a huge line around the Louisiana border, stretching from Corpus Christi all the way to Springfield, MO. But it’s mostly green and yellow on the map.

The Texas Rangers swept Mike Trout!!!! They fell behind early, but battled back and scored four runs in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. They held on to beat Trout and the Angels 5-4. Lance Lynn got the win and Jose Leclerc notched save number five. I had been paying attention to the game, but not watching. It was the fifth inning when I saw that they had two on base, with Choo up to bat. I turned on the TV just in time to see Choo hit a two run triple that tied the game. Danny Santana (still not familiar with him) then hit a double to score Choo. The Rangers are 10-7, still in third place, but gaining on the struggling Mariners, who, once the best team in the league, are on a six game losing streak. The Rangers are 1.5 games behind the Astros. They had a ten-game winning streak, but lost yesterday. There is no game today. They host the Astros for the weekend, beginning Friday at 7:05 PM.

The Red Sox couldn’t hold on to a 3-1 lead in New York. Brandon Workman gave up a grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh, which made the score 5-3, and that’s where it stayed for the rest of the game. The Sox are now 6-13, in fifth place in the AL East, which still only has one team with a winning record. They also do not play today, and will be in Tampa for the weekend, beginning Friday evening at 6:10 PM CDT.

Tampa Bay continues to be the best team in baseball, with a 14-4 record. The Miami Marlins, at 4-15 continue to be the worst. The Red Sox seem determined to catch them.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:1-4

Today I am grateful:
1. That we didn’t get any hail last night, or other destructive weather
2. That I seem to be feeling better this morning
3. For the Spirit that draws me closer to Christ
4. For the Cross of Christ
5. That Jesus bids me come and die

“Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he
suffered, did institute the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:
Mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in
remembrance of him who in these holy mysteries giveth us a
pledge of life eternal, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit
ever, one God, world without end. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Maundy Thursday)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “We Must Die If We Would Live.”

Tozer begins by quoting St. Augustine.

“Let me die–lest I die–only let me see Thy face. . . . Oh! That I might repose on Thee. Oh! That Thou wouldst enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may not forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good.”

In this longing to “die,” we desire to get our “opaque form” out of the way of the face of God. The believer with a hungry heart understands this desire completely. We long to get our physical form out of the way of the intimacy and relationship with God in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. The desire for this Trinitarian fellowship supersedes all other desires. “To die that we might not die!” This is one of those things that sounds like utter foolishness to the unbeliever.

“To Augustine the sight of God inwardly enjoyed was life itself and anything less than that was death.” Anything that hid the face of God from him must be removed; ego, self-love, the most cherished treasures. Therefore, Augustine prayed, “Let me die.”

In my heart there is a throne and a cross. I am on the throne until I put myself on the cross. If I refuse the cross I remain on the throne, which rightfully belongs to Jesus. “Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying.”

Father, like Augustine, I pray that I would die to anything that keeps me away from you. I still have things in my life that would distract me from you; things that, in and of themselves, are not wicked or evil, yet they draw me from you. There are also thoughts and attitudes that are wicked and evil and need to be destroyed on the Cross of Christ. By your Spirit, Father, bring this to pass, that I might fully know you and live.
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.

The Power of the Cross

Today is Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

Day 22,315

Wednesday of Holy Week

Twenty-two days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.”
P.J. O’Rourke, American comedian, 1947-
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Florilegium ~ A compilation of excerpts; anthology. (Wordsmith A.Word.A.Day)

I am not feeling well, this morning. I wasn’t feeling too bad last night, when we went to bed, but it got worse during the night. Chest feels heavy, and my face feels full of gunk. I assume it’s the somewhat yearly case of “the crud,” as we call it around here, aka, sinu-bronchitis. I’m probably going on in to work, though. I don’t have fever, and, having taken Dayquil about a half hour ago, am already feeling a little better. I just feel like I could sleep all day.

We had a bit of unwanted excitement, yesterday. At around 11:30 AM, our pastor messaged our prayer team that our trailer was stolen from outside the YMCA where our church gathers to worship. This trailer has all of our stuff in it, from sound equipment to children’s ministry materials to Bibles, pens, and prayer request cards to coffee and a coffee maker. At around 7:00 PM, he let us know that the trailer had been found. It had been dropped behind a Chicken Express, about a half mile from the YMCA. It seems the would-be thieves could not manage to cut through the heavy-duty locks on the back of the trailer, so they ditched it. I’m not sure what we plan to do with it, at this point. Our pastor’s initial reaction blesses me, though. Upon learning that the trailer had been stolen, he said, “I’ve been saying for a while now that all we need is the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Table, and each other. Nothing can steal those things from us.”

Mike Minor and the Texas Rangers shut out Mike Trout and the rest of the LA Angels last night, 5-0. Minor pitched the complete game and only gave up three hits. I am stunned. Cabrera and Gallo both hit home runs in the game. The Rangers are now 9-7, in third place in the AL West. They will play again tonight at 7:05 PM, weather permitting. The weather folks are threatening us with storms this evening. Lance Lynn will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox were shut out in New York, 8-0, as Chris Sale took his fourth loss for the season. Not much else to say about it. The Sox aren’t hitting, at least not very often, and the pitching is not there. And it’s mostly the same team that won over 100 games last season, along with the World Series. Oh, well. They are now 6-12, back in fifth place in the AL East. They have another game in NY this evening at 5:35 PM CDT. Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound for the Sox.

The Tampa Bay Rays are currently the best team in baseball. I’m taking a minute to process this fact. They are also the only team in the AL East with a winning record. The Miami Marlins are holding down the worst spot at the moment, at 4-14.

And I have a question for other bloggers who might read this. Are you all getting followed and liked by a bunch of mortgage blogs?? I have at least six of them that are liking almost every post. Seriously.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 

Psalm 23:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. For coffee
2. For over-the-counter cold medication
3. For the hope of resurrection Sunday
4. The power of the Cross
5. For the grace of God to help me carry the cross

“O Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his back to
the smiters and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace
to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full
assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same
thy Son 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, Wednesday in Holy Week)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “The Cross Is A Radical Thing.”

“The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men.”

The Roman cross was one of, if not the, most terrible, tortuous methods of execution ever devised by the minds of men. It always won; it won by killing all of its opponents and silencing them forever. Jesus Christ was placed on the cross, alive, and six hours later, they took him down, completely dead. Of course, he was not silenced forever, as we know.

After that Sunday morning, when he arose from the dead, his apostles went out to preach the gospel message, and they preached the cross. “And wherever they went into the wide world they carried the cross, and the same revolutionary power went with them.” This message of the cross changed Saul of Tarsus from a persecutor and killer of Christians to a believer “and an apostle of faith.”

When did the cross lose it’s power? “When it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When men made of it a symbol, hung it around their necks as an ornament or made its outline before their faces as a magic sign to ward off evil, then it became at best a weak emblem, at worst a positive fetish. As such it is revered today by millions who know absolutely nothing about its power.”

What the true cross does is destroy one established pattern and establish another. “It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace.”

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said this: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Just as the cross ended Jesus’s human life, it brings our “first life” to an end. “It destroys the old patter, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.”

This is the essence of Christianity. But, “A shallow ans worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the entertainment-mad saintlings who will have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.”

We must be willing to follow in the steps of Jesus and “endure the cross and despise its same for the joy that is set before us.”

Father, help me to carry my cross today. Help me to endure it, not alter it, not change its message. I pray for the Church today, that it would stop muddying the waters with all of the flashy lights and entertainment-styled “worship.” Change our hearts, O God. Give us, once again, the power of the Cross of 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.

The Grace to Forgive

Today is Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Day 22,314

Tuesday of Holy Week

Twenty-three days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“The man who never in his mind and thoughts travel’d to heaven is no artist.”
William Blake, English poet, 1757-1827
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Bouquiniste ~ A dealer in old and used books. (Wordsmith Word A Day)

Anyone who doesn’t live in a cave or under a rock knows the big news yesterday was the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. The spire and most of the roof are gone, but officials say that the main structure was saved. The cathedral was undergoing renovations and the fire was likely a result of something accidental. Many people are immediately accusing Muslim terrorists. I’m holding out my opinion on more facts. I work hard to not be a bigot, so I’m not immediately blaming anyone. I do acknowledge that something of this magnitude happening on Monday of Holy Week seems more than coincidence. But I haven’t heard any reports of anyone claiming responsibility, and terrorist groups normally do that pretty quickly. At any rate, it’s a terrible event, on an architectural and historical scale. The cathedral is almost 900 years old, and has survived, among other things, two major world wars.

The Texas Rangers jumped all over the Angels last night. After falling behind 4-0, the Rangers battled back to tie and then go ahead, winning the game 12-7. Kyle Dowdy got the win in relief, and Jose Leclerc notched another save. They must have relaxed the save rules a bit, because I thought a save was in effect if the team was three or four runs ahead, not five. In my mind, if one batter can’t cause you to lose the game (for example, if the bases are loaded and the batter hits a home run), then it’s not a “save.” But MLB says it was a save. The Rangers are now 8-7, and with one win, they jumped to third place in the AL West. They play the Angels again tonight at 7:05.

The Red Sox didn’t fare so well. They lost their Patriots Day game to the Orioles, 8-1. Hector Velazquez took the loss for the Sox. The Sox are 6-11, tied for fourth place in the AL East. They play the Yankees in New York, this evening, at 5:35 CDT.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Psalm 23:1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day to walk in his kingdom, even though I seem to be developing a chest cold
2. For the power of the Gospel to change lives
3. For the impact of Holy Week
4. That I have been forgiven
5. That I have the grace and power to forgive others

“O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an
instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of live:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly
suffer shame and loss for the sake of they Son our Savior Jesus
Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Tuesday in Holy Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Forgiving in the Name of God,” by Henri Nouwen.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

“We are all wounded people.” So simple, yet so profound. Yes, we are all wounded, in some way. We are all broken, in some way. And often, the people who have wounded us are the ones who are closest to us. In my experience, it is seldom a total stranger who wounds us. This is one of the great tragedies of life. I believe it is because you can most easily be wounded by someone you have trusted. When you trust or love someone, you let down your guard.

The typical human reaction is this: “You, who I expected to be there for me, you have abandoned me. How can I ever forgive you for that?”

But Jesus calls us to something different. We are called to forgive. Not only by this simple verse in Ephesians, but by the very words of our Savior.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15

These are serious words, not to be trifled with.

“Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.” The God who resides within us gives us grace and power to “go beyond our wounded selves and say, ‘In the name of God you are forgiven.'”

If we still struggle with that, we should consider the “incomprehensible reality that the God of the universe has forgiven every unloving, hurtful, wounding act we have perpetuated against him.” We should be ready and willing to treat others in the same way.

I have been the recipient of forgiveness, both from God, and from people I have wounded. How could I not, then, forgive others who have wounded me? That would be the tragedy.

Father, may I always be forgiving, because you have forgiven me, and because you have given others the grace to forgive me, as well. Search my heart, and if there is anyone in there whom I have not forgiven, please show me, then effect that forgiveness within me, by your grace, and by your Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

Like A Child

Today is Monday, April 15, 2019.

Day 22,313

Tax day in the U.S.A.

Monday of Holy Week

Twenty-four days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin, American politician, 1706-1790
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Bibliotaph ~ one who hoards books. (Wordsmith Word A Day) Haha!! That’s me!!

The Night of Worship Saturday night was phenomenal! Everything seemed to click, musically, and the Spirit was moving, I believe. After we were finished, a bunch of people hung around chatting for at least another half-hour, which is really what we want to happen.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite on my game, yesterday morning. Maybe I was tired, still, from the Night of Worship, but my brain seemed a little “fuzzy,” if you know what I mean. I made some mistakes during rehearsal, but, for the most part, played well during the worship gathering. Then at the end, I started our blessing song in the wrong key, so I had to stop and start over. Oh, well.

The Texas Rangers came back from a 7-2 deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics, pretty much doing the opposite of what happened Friday night (they were rained out Saturday). The final score was 8-7. During this rally, Elvis Andrus stole home and hit a solo home run. Jeffrey Springs got the win for the Rangers, and Jose Leclerc manage to not blow the save. This puts the Rangers bat at .500, being 7-7 and still in fifth place in the AL West, but only by .026 points. I find it somewhat startling for a .500 team to be in last place in any division. The Rangers host the Angels tonight at 7:05, with Shelby Miller taking the mound.

The Boston Red Sox had a nice, solid win over the Orioles, beating them 4-0, behind the pitching of David Price. He got the win for the game. The Sox are now 6-10, in fourth place in the AL East. They play the O’s again today at 10:05 CDT. Wait, what? Ah . . . it must be “Patriots Day.” Yes, the Boston Marathon is also today. They always play in the morning on this day.

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

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

Today I am grateful:
1. For another week of opportunity to serve God and others
2. The rain we got Saturday
3. For a week to reflect on the resurrection of Christ
4. For the example of the child
5. For the hope to love Jesus as a child

“Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but
first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he
was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, talking in the way
of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and
peace; through the same thy Son 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, Monday in Holy Week)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Live Like A Child,” by Frederick Buechner.

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-3

If you read verse 1, you see that the thing that preceded Jesus’s calling to this child was a question from his disciples. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

When Jesus did this, he was not being sentimental. “He was saying that the people who get into heaven are people who, like children, don’t worry about it too much. They are people who, like children, live with their hands open more than with their fists clenched. They are people who, like children, are so relatively unburdened by preconceptions that if somebody says there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they are perfectly willing to go take a look for themselves.”

They aren’t better than other people. “They are just apt to be better at telling the difference between a phony and the real thing.”

Am I living my spiritual life like a child? Not really only my spiritual life, is it? I’m finding it easier, these days to live with my hands open, not grasping things like I used to. I’m finding myself not worrying as much as I used to. I didn’t say I never worry. I haven’t gotten there yet. And I am also working real hard to dispense with those preconceptions and to go look for that pot of gold. By that, I mean that I’m trying to believe in Jesus as he is and as he speaks, not as some theologue tries to tell me he is.

Father, keep working with me. May your Spirit transform me into being more like a child, like one of these little ones that Jesus said would be great in the kingdom of heaven.
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.

We Are One

Today is Sunday, April 14, 2019.

Day 22,322

Palm Sunday, Holy Week

Twenty-five days until our Vegas trip!!

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

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 

Psalm 22:22-23

Today I am grateful:
1. The sweet time of worship and fellowship/prayer that we had last night.
2. Another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, this morning.
3. Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week
4. The Lord’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist
5. That we are all one in the Spirit

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love
towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the
cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his
great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the
example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his
resurrection; through the same 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, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Eat this Bread, Drink this Cup,” by N.T. Wright.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 
1 Corinthians 11:26

“In the Eucharist, the bread and the wine come to us as part of God’s new creation, the creation in whose reality Jesus already participates through the resurrection. They speak powerfully, as only encoded actions can speak (whether a handshake, a kiss, the tearing up of a contract, or whatever), both of the death he suffered, through which idolatry and sin have been defeated, and of his future arrival in which creation is to be renewed. We feed on that reality even though we may find it difficult to conceptualize what sort of reality it is. Knowing that we are thereby renewed as the people of Jesus who live and work in the tension between Easter and the final renewal enables us at least to relax and enjoy all that the sacrament has to offer.”

I like the word “reality” being used in connection with the Supper (what Wright and others call “Eucharist”). The word “Eucharist” comes from a Greek word which means thanksgiving or gratitude. Our church family partakes in the Supper every Sunday morning. It is, arguably, the highlight or climax of our worship gathering. Our pastor has made this so to us. After he presents the Word of God to us, we respond by thoughtfully taking the Supper together, considering the truths that we have been given in the previous words.

And what is truly coming to light for me, most recently, is the togetherness of the taking of the Supper. Last Sunday morning, as I was eating the bread and drinking the cup, I looked around me and considered the connectedness of all of the people in the room. We are all part of the Body of Christ, and together, we were taking the Supper. The Holy Spirit was moving in that room, inhabiting all of us together, as one.

And if I consider further, moving outside that room, there is the possibility of thousands upon thousands of people all worshiping God together at the same time, in my city, in my state, in my country. Worshiping together, taking the Supper together, praying together, all as one, in the Holy Spirit. Never mind the differences of minor points of theology. Never mind the differences in language. The Supper has no language barrier. We eat this bread and drink this cup, not as individual units, but as a body, all together.

This, I believe, is the heart of God, and the heart of worship. I ask you to consider this the next time you take the Supper with your church family. I know not everyone does it the same, and not everyone does it every Sunday. But the next time you eat the bread and drink the cup, look around you and consider that you are connected with all believers in the place.

Consider that we are, indeed, one.

Father, thank you for the Supper. I thank you for what you have shown me, recently, about the connectedness of the Body of Christ. This morning, when I take the Supper with The Exchange, remind me to look around and consider everyone else in the room, consider them with the love that you have bestowed upon us and love them with the same love that you have loved 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.

Real Faith or Pseudo Faith?

“For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.”

Today is Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Day 22,311

Thirty-ninth day of Lent (Holy Week begins tomorrow)

Twenty-six days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.”
Bill Watterson, American cartoonist (Calvin and Hobbes), 1958-
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Tootle ~ to move or proceed in a leisurely way. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers couldn’t hold on to a 6-1 lead last night. After Elvis Andrus padded the lead with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, they promptly gave up four runs in the top of the sixth, and then one more in each of the last three innings, to lose to the Oakland Athletics, 8-6. Chris Martin (not the one from Coldplay) took the loss for the Rangers. The Rangers are 6-7, in fifth place in the AL West. They play the Athletics again tonight at 7:05, in Arlington. If this torrential rain stops in time.

The Boston Red Sox had a nice win over the Baltimore Orioles. The took the lead early, and actually stayed ahead the whole game. Not only did they not have to come from behind to win, it was the first win of the season for any of their starting pitchers. E Rodriguez got the win in their 6-4 victory. Andrew Benintendi got his first home run in the third inning. Ryan Brasier picked up his third save. The Sox are 5-9, in fourth place in the AL East. They play again this afternoon at 12:05 CDT.

As previously mentioned, today is our monthly Night of Worship, so we will be heading over to the host’s home in a few hours. I have to go pick up our grocery list between 12-1 PM, and I think we are shooting for being over at the house by 3:00. The NoW begins at 6:00. Well, people start showing up around then. We usually start singing around 6:30.

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

On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:10

Today I am grateful:
1. That I was, as the above verse, cast on God from my birth, and that God has been my God ever since.
2. For the sweet opportunity to gather with the saints tonight and worship together.
3. That God is moving in the midst of our fellowship
4. That God has demonstrated his presence with us
5. That I have grown in real faith

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.

Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy upon us).
Christe eleison (Christ, have mercy upon us).
Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy upon us).
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “True Faith Brings Committal.”

“To many Christians Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal; He is not a fact.” A bold statement, indeed. But it is true that “our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk.” If we do not “walk the talk,” we are, in effect, frauds.

But this goes deeper than a cute, cliche, phrase. How do we prove our faith? By our committal to it. There is no other way. Our belief must command our actions. If it does not, it is only what Tozer calls “pseudo-belief.”

We have become quite skilled in arranging our lives “so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it. We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him.”

Ouch.

This is probably possible more in the USA than in any other culture in the world. Christians in countries like India, China, or North Korea do not have this luxury. In Francis Chan’s book, Letters To the Church, he speaks of Asian Christians who literally laughed at him when he described some of the goings on in the American church. Sadly, we have the luxury, over here, of pretending to live in faith when nothing actually challenges that faith.

But for true, real faith, “it is either God or collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on the earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.” Make note of that fact. God is trustworthy. He will not fail us. So why do we live as though we are afraid he will??

Please understand, I have been guilty of this, myself. I have claimed the faith in Christ while living a life that did not demonstrate any dependence on that faith. I am working to remedy this.

Says, Tozer, “What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.”

May we invite God to remove our false trusts and secret hiding places. May he “bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether or not we actually trust Him.”

Father, do I trust you? Do I really? Or am I guilty of “pseudo faith?” I believe the events of the past few weeks have opened up pathways of real faith, real trust. I am quite grateful for those events, even through the pain that they caused. You have shown us, recently, that you are there. You are always there for us. And we desire to be there for you. Show us the path, Lord. Make us to know your ways, that we might serve you faithfully and truly.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.