Transcendental Love

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

73 days until Opening Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 15

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

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

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

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

(From The Finishing Touch)
A Full Empty Nest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Grace and peace, friends.

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“Out of His Own Age”

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

74 days until Opening Day.

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 14

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

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

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Divisions of Christendom

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

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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

My Heart Shall Rejoice

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

75 days until Opening Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 13

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

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

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

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Visible Church

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

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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

An Abundance of Lists

Today is Thursday, January 11, 2018. Day 21,854.

77 days until Opening Day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on this date in 1755 (died 1804), said, “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
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Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is meh, an interjection or adjective, meaning, “Expressing indifference or a lack of enthusiasm,” or, “Mediocre; unexceptional, uninspiring; (also) unenthusiastic.”

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

To the choirmaster. Of David.
In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 
for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 
The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 
Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 
For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Psalm 11

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Intolerable Compliment

“There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness . . . is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object–we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals less they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records that though He has often rebuked and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.” (The Problem of Pain)

(From The Finishing Touch)
Lists

“Lists are everywhere.” You can find lists about almost anything on the Internet, these days. Swindoll references the sports page, but there are now web sites that blow the sports page out of the water, especially regarding lists. And technology has made it so that, for example, baseball analysts can tell you a batter’s batting average with runners on first and third on the third Tuesday of months that have an “A” in them.

How much does God really care about all of these lists, though? Many of them list the biggest of this, the greatest of that. We even find them in the realm of the church, who has the biggest congregation, the biggest budget, and so on.

The Bible undoubtedly ranks quality above quantity, though (even though we do find some rather odd lists throughout the Old Testament). In fact, some of the best work for God has been done by people who can only best be called “remnant,” and many times in the face of seemingly impossible odds (David and Goliath).

There are, however, some lists that we might do well to pay close attention to. The first one that might come to mind is the Ten Commandments, a list that is timeless, no matter what some may think. But God also lists things that he hates: “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. There are several different lists of gifts of the Spirit. Peter gets in on the listing by giving us a list of the characteristics of a maturing Christian: For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

As time went by, much of these things were reduced down to two main spiritual lists, “the seven sins and the seven virtues” of saints. The seven “deadly” sins are “pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust.” There was once a movie that demonstrated these rather brutally. It was called Seven. Not for the faint-hearted. The seven virtues are “wisdom, justice, courage, temperance, faith, love, and hope.”

Mahatma Gandhi had a list that took the sins and put them in contrast. “Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.”

Charles Swindoll considers that to be a list worth considering. And looking at today’s culture, I can’t say I disagree.

“The prophet Micah names the absolute basics ‘required’ by the Lord. The next time you’re feeling that living for God is getting too complicated, blow the dust off Micah’s list to do justice, to love kindness, to walk humbly with God.”

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Father, as I look at all of these lists, I see things that need improvement in my life, especially in the area of the fruit of the Spirit. May your Spirit continue to live in me, building up these gifts, and maturing me, over time. Help me to meditate on these lists, so that my mind might be saturated with your word and the characteristics described therein.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

What Is Love?

Today is Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Day 21,853.

78 days until Opening Day.

Jim Croce, born on this date in 1943 (died 1973), said, “There’s something about approaching universal truths with the simplicity of the acoustic guitar. You can take it anywhere, and it helps me reach listeners of all ages and walks of life.”
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The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is denouement (pronounced “dey-noo-mahn), a noun, meaning, “the outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences.” Also, “the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel.”

I had to surrender the loan car, yesterday evening. Alas, the awaited parts never arrived. My service rep said it might be a couple of weeks. So, whenever they arrive, he will call me, and I’ll take it back in. That ES 350 sedan sure was nice, though.

Not much else going on, right now.

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

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. 
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. 
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” 
His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. 
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” 
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. 
He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 
he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. 
The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. 
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” 
Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. 
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? 
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. 
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. 
The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. 
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear 
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalm 10

(From The Business of Heaven)
The Difference Between Love and Kindness

“By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness–the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven–a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’ Not may people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to love in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.” (The Problem of Pain)

(From The Finishing Touch)
The Ideal Combination

When asked, by his sister, what his favorite feeling was, Charles Swindoll, after thinking for a few minutes, answered with “accomplishment.” He loves being able to cross that last thing off of a “to-do list.”

He remembers Jesus’s words during his high priestly prayer of John 17: I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

During this dialogue with his sister, he, in turn, was curious as to what her answer would be. It was a similar feeling, relief. Relief is the feeling when something is finally over, whether it is ending pain with the right procedure or medication, relief from financial burden by getting a bonus or unexpected raise, relief from panic by finding that important thing that was lost, or many other examples.

Swindoll’s example here, is of the biblical tale of the Prodigal Son. What relief (not to mention joy) that this father felt when that son came dragging up the road.

Which is better, relief or accomplishment? Perhaps they belong together. “After years of thinking, praying, planning, and dreaming, working to accomplish that goal, we then bask in the magnificent relief such accomplishment brings.”

God is faithful. He is faithful and good through years of toil and struggle, and he is faithful to see us through to the relief and accomplishment at the end.

“We don’t need more strength than the strength God gives us. We don’t need more knowledge than we already have. All we need is the will to do what needs to be done.”

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”

John 17:1-8

Father, I am grateful for your goodness and faithfulness. I am grateful for your love for us. Please remind us thought, that your idea of “love” is not allowing us to do whatever we want, whenever we want. I do believe that your idea of love involves us enjoying ourselves, but doing so in you and your will. You have shown us your will in your word. There is no need for us to be asking over and over, “What is your will for my life?” You have shown us. We need but to look, listen, and do. Mr. Swindoll is right. We don’t need more strength. Your word says that you have given us everything we need. May we simply receive and act on it.
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 Far Too Easily Pleased”

Today is Tuesday, January 9, 2017. Day 21,852.

79 days until Opening Day.

Charles Spurgeon (not his birthday), said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” I don’t know when he said that, but I bet that, in today’s world, it would travel around the world twice while the truth is putting on its shoes.
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The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is suspiration, a noun, meaning, “a long, deep sigh.”

I had a great time at band practice, last night. We are preparing for a concert that will occur in early March, likely the fifth or sixth, in the sanctuary of a Southlake church. The theme of the concert is heroes, whether they be radio, TV, movie, or literary. Last night, we rehearsed the finale of the William Tell Overture, which, as all of us old people know, was the theme for The Lone Ranger. We also looked at theme music from the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, as well as music from the old Christopher Reeve Superman. Should be a fun concert.

I still have the loaner car. They didn’t get the parts, yet, for my car, and if they don’t show up today, I’ll pick my car up, this evening, and they will just call me when the parts arrive. They’ll probably show up tomorrow.

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

To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 
I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. 
When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. 
For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. 
You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. 
But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 
and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. 
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. 
Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 
Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, 
that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. 
The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 
The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah. 
The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. 
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. 
Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 
Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah.

Psalm 9

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18

(From The Business of Heaven)
Half-Hearted Creatures

“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory)

Father, I have read the last couple of sentences of this quote from C.S. Lewis many times. And every time I read it, it’s like a punch in the gut. Yes, Lord. I am far too easily pleased. I have been half-hearted. Change my heart, O God . . . make it ever new. Make it ever true. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Be my stronghold, my rock, my fortress, and my refuge. As the father in the New Testament said to you, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Is Your Family?

Today is Monday, January 8, 2018. Day 21,851.

80 days until Opening Day.

Amber Benson, born on this date in 1977, said, “I think any good literature, whether it’s for children or for adults, will appeal to everybody. As far as children’s literature goes, adults should be able to read it and enjoy it as much as a child would.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is stardust, a noun, meaning, “a naively romantic quality.”

The prayer and worship gathering went pretty well, yesterday morning. Since I didn’t play, I had ample time before-hand to prepare, reading over the Scriptures that would be used, and meditating on them, as well. It seems to have been a good morning.

This evening, it’s back to Southlake for band rehearsals. I’m excited about playing again. Not so excited about getting home at 9:30PM, but that’s the trade-off. We’ll be preparing for an indoor concert in March.

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

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8

(From The Business of Heaven)
Into the Presence of God

“It is religion itself–prayer and sacrament and repentance and adoration–which is here, in the long run, our sole avenue to the real. Like mathematics, religion can grow from within, or decay. The Jew knows more than the Pagan, the Christian more than the Jew, the modern vaguely religious man less than any of the three. But, like mathematics, it remains simply itself, capable of being applied to any new theory of the material universe and outmoded by none.

“When any man comes into the presence of God he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seemed to make him so different from the men of other times, or even from his earlier self, have fallen off him. He is back where he always was, where every man always is. . . . No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God: there is no copse, no forest, no jungle thick enough to provide cover . . . In the twinkling of an eye, in a time too small to be measured, and in any place, all that seems to divide us from God can flee away, vanish, leaving us naked before Him, like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and I existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided for long and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to like it. That is the first and great commandment.” (Dogma and the Universe)

(From The Finishing Touch)
Memories Are Made of This

In this reading Charles Swindoll waxes nostalgic about raising children, memories sparked by a Thanksgiving gathering in which their daughter held her newborn infant. He reminisces over the joy of holding newborn children, and, subsequently raising them.

But then her realizes that not everyone has such memories. In some cases, “home” may have been a battleground, a place where the children were afraid to come home from school, or the mother afraid for the father to come home from work. In many cases, for such people, the Church has become “home” and “family” for them.

I remember when my own daughters were in school. It wasn’t nearly as frequent for the older one, who went to Christian school until eighth grace. But the younger one, being autistic, had to spend more time in public school. I remember being both shocked and saddened to find that the majority of her classmates had single parent homes.

We, as the Church, need to be reminded of the need to be “home” and “family” to all people, but especially those who have no “family” to speak of. Remember, it is the widows and orphans that truly have the attention of our Father. We would also do well to remember that Jesus found more comfort in his small band of disciples than in his own, earthly, family. And who can forget this scene in his life:

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” 
Mark 3:31-35

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Father, I thank you, first of all, that my family experience was a blessed one. I look around me, and am so grateful that you brought me into this world in the family I had around me. But I am also thankful for the family of Church. Help us to be more mindful of this need in our midst. After all, in our own little gathering of people, we have one who has lost a wife in the past year. What have we done to help him fill that empty space in his life? I would hope anyone who has lost family members, or who may feel alone in this world, would feel comfortable and accepted in our church. If they don’t, we have some work to do.
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.