Never Isolated

“Worship . . . makes certain that we know that we are never isolated in this calling/walking life. We are all necessarily in relation to one another. What each of us does affects all the others. When we hear and respond to God, we usually do it alone but implicitly always in community, whether we are in the same room with others or not.”

Today is Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Day 21,678. 31 days until S’s birthday!

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is edacious, an adjective meaning “having a huge appetite : ravenous,” or, “excessively eager : insatiable.”

I don’t know who let this happen, but today is both Ice Cream Day and Hot Dog Day!! How on earth am I supposed to choose between those? I already knew Hot Dog Day was coming, because Sonic has been advertising dollar hot dogs for a couple of weeks, now. I didn’t know it was Ice Cream Day until about a minute ago. So have a hot dog. And some ice cream. Maybe not together, though. But who knows??

Tonight is bowling night, and it looks like we will all be there. I hope so. It just wasn’t as much fun without C, last week. We’ve already decided we won’t continue with this league in the fall. I would love to keep bowling, but not on a weeknight. That’s just too difficult for us. It creates stress, and we don’t need that. So we’ll check out weekend leagues and see if there are any we can get into.

The Red Sox had another fifteen-inning game, last night. This time they won, beating the Boo Jays 5-4. It was one minute shy of five hours. The Sox maintain a two game lead in the AL East. The Rangers, on the other hand, lost 12-1 to the Orioles, with the starting pitcher giving up six runs in the first inning. Seems to me he did that last time he started. (Insert definition of insanity.) I have to question management’s strategy, here. The Rangers are 17.5 out, now, in third place.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 
He redeems my soul . . .
God will give ear . . . he who is enthroned from of old, Selah.

Psalm 55:16-19
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:7
But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
Psalm 76:7
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Psalm 115:3
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Mark 13:28-32
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. 
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. 
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

Psalm 33:6-11

(From Practice Resurrection)

One of the most common complaints that we hear when talking to non-church-goers about worship is, “I just don’t get anything out of it.” The incorrect response to that is to try to make it something that people will get something out of, to infuse it with adrenaline. Hence what I call “emotional manipulation” that comprises most of today’s worship music.

The thing is, worship is not supposed to make something happen. “Worship brings us into a presence in which God makes something happen.” I like our pastor’s take on it. He tells us not to think of God sitting in a chair, being a spectator, during our worship gatherings, but, rather, to think of Jesus walking up and down the aisles and rows of our people, working in our lives.

“Worship uses personal, conversational language to nurture the recognition of our essential capacity for hearing ourselves personally addressed (called) by the voice of God. It then treats us with the dignity of being able to live (walk) worthily, that is, appropriately, into the calling. It makes certain that we know that we are never isolated in this calling/walking life. We are all necessarily in relation to one another. What each of us does affects all the others. When we hear and respond to God, we usually do it alone but implicitly always in community, whether we are in the same room with others or not.”

“Worship is the most characteristic act of the Christian community as it makes itself at home in the conditions conducive to growing to maturity in Christ.”

Father, thank you for this community. Thank you for placing me in a community of faith, people with whom I can worship and walk. Thank you for making them challenging to me, and for making me challenging to them. If we were all of like mind on all things, it would be pretty boring. But we challenge each other (sometimes, not in good ways) and, as Scripture says, “iron sharpens iron.” Help me to love all of these as you have loved me. Help me to never consider myself isolated, but realize and remember that everything I do is done in community with all other believers.
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.

“Formed In Community”

“The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

Today is Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Day 21,677.

“There is an evil tendency underlying all our technology – the tendency to do what is reasonable even when it isn’t any good.” ~ Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ovine, an adjective meaning, “pertaining to, of the nature of, or like sheep.”

Today is Mandela Day, celebrated each year on the birthday of Nelson Mandela. “The heart of Mandela Day is service to others and the creation of a better world for everyone.”

We didn’t have any actual peach ice cream, yesterday, but we had frozen peaches and vanilla ice cream, which were delicious together. We still have several more bags of frozen peaches, some of which, no doubt, will become peach cobbler, at some point.

The Rangers and Red Sox both lost, last night. Boston is still in first, two games up on the Rays. Texas has dropped to third, as Seattle has overtaken them. The Rangers are 16.5 games out.

I forgot to mention, yesterday, that we lost both George Romero (filmmaker) and Martin Landau (actor) over the weekend. Landau was 89. Romero was only 77. I was surprised that he wasn’t older. I guess I didn’t realize he was only in his late twenties when he did Night of the Living Dead.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 
Psalm 96:1
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
Psalm 65:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 
who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:44-46
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

A quote from C.S. Lewis for today, from Mere Christianity:

“We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”

(From Practice Resurrection)

In yesterday’s portion, we talked about language in conversations with God. As we mature, the language becomes more personal. But it also becomes “more inter-personal.” It becomes a conversation with many voices, which cannot be held down to a sort of “private Jesus-and-me-in-the-garden-alone” kind of thing. To be sure, there will be, and should, moments of private devotion and conversation with Jesus. But we can’t have him all to ourselves. The conversation must be extended to the other people whom God is calling. “The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

That last sentence is an important one. “The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

As we study Ephesians, we are shaped into awareness of, not just ourselves, but “all the other pilgrims on the road in simultaneous diversity and unity.” Paul calls this collective “the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

As we worship together, we have “the basic form and . . . the essential content for this aspect of ‘growing up’ to the ‘full stature of Christ.'” Trying to worship alone in front of the TV is “not mature worship.” Sure, just like the conversations, we can have some pretty intense moments of private worship. I experienced some of those on the coast of Oregon last month. However, “what we must not do is deliberately exclude others from our worship or worship selectively with like-minded friends.” Ephesians does not offer those options. In truth, the early church knew nothing of that way of thinking. “Maturity develops in worship as we develop in friendship with the friends of God, not just our preferred friends.”

“If we are going to grow up into Christ we have to do it in the company of everyone who is responding to the call of God. Whether we happen to like them or not has nothing to do with it.” (Emphasis mine)

Father, these are some hard truths, and difficult for most of us to handle. Nevertheless, they are truths that we must take in and truths by which we must abide. Help me to be of the same mind in this, that worship must be in community of all who are called in this walk with Christ, regardless of whether I like them. And, in truth, as we worship together, the “liking” part will become irrelevant. Teach me your ways, Lord, that I may walk in your truth, and that I may walk in that truth in community.
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.

God’s Call and My Ears

Today is Monday, July 17, 2017. Day 21,676.

“We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.” ~ Stewart Udall
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is steadfast, an adjective which means, “firmly fixed in place : immovable.” Also, “not subject to change,” or, “firm in belief, determination, or adherence : loyal.” Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

Today is Peach Ice Cream Day. As if I could find any anywhere!! Blue Bell has not resumed making their Peaches and Homemade Vanilla flavor, and who knows if they will. Well, I’ve got frozen peaches, and I’ve got vanilla ice cream. Perhaps I will create my own, this evening.

Speaking of this evening, I don’t have band practice again, as we are off until the first Monday in August. So we have three more weeks off.

Yesterday was an okay day. The worship gathering went pretty well, I think, and C spent most of the afternoon stripping wallpaper in the kitchen. Oh, I forgot to mention that she started that project Saturday. I could not dissuade her. She’s been wanting that wallpaper gone for a while, now. And, now, it’s gone. She plans to paint the walls, instead.

Back to work today.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:15-17
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 119:145
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. 
Psalm 19:14
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
Psalm 119:12
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 
and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.

Luke 17:3-4
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. 
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. 
Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

Psalm 36:5-10

(From Practice Resurrection)

We last talked about God’s call in our lives. This is what God does. Our response to this call is walking. “Walk is what we do. We follow God’s call. We respond with our lives.” We don’t want to begin by seeking out ideas and information about God. “God is not an idea. We hear and respond. We obey.” But this obedience is not some kind of automated response, like a dog when we say “sit.” “It is the act of following a personally addressed command or invitation.” God calls us by name.

This calling is also not some kind of impersonal cause that just makes something happen, mechanically. It is personal, and it beckons us into a new kind of life “a resurrection life.”

“When the calling and walking are in equilibrium, we are worthy.” Remember the picture of the balancing scales? This picture is not of something rigid that, once gotten into balance, will automatically stay there. When measuring items in physics class, the slightest inconsistency could jar the scales out of balance. There is a “delicate, sensitive connection between call and walk, a relation that is never one-sided but always reciprocal.”

As we mature, and our language matures, these “God-initiated conversations . . . become increasingly personal.” Many times in our lives, we start out by seeking information about God, but soon find ourselves in an intimacy with God. Information is not bad, mind you. But it should not be the end goal. There is an “organic intimacy” between God’s voice and our ears. If that is reduced to simple information, it will go dead.

Father, open my ears, that I may hear your constant calling in my life. Help me to mature in my language and this “organic intimacy” between your call and my ears. I want to hear you. I want to walk with you, not just know about you. Deepen that desire in my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Abiding

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

Today is Saturday, July 15, 2017. Day 21,674.

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” ~ Yogi Berra
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is uptalk. It’s a noun. You know it well, I’m sure. It’s that annoying pitch rise that some people do at the end of every. Single. Sentence. “A rise in pitch at the end usually of a declarative sentence, especially if habitual: often represented in writing by a question mark as in Hi, I’m here to read the meter?” I found a You Tube clip of Connie Chung talking about it, way back in 1994.

Today is Gummi Worm Day. I especially like the sour ones. “Brite Crawlers,” I think they call them.

Yesterday was a busy day. I wound up working an hour over time, just to try to get somewhat caught up. I’m still behind, but will hopefully be able to get caught up on Monday.

I did manage to get some mac and cheese, yesterday! C stopped at Slim Chickens on the way home, and picked up some dinner. S and I had mac and cheese for our side dish. Slim Chickens has really good mac and cheese!

To start off the second half, the Rangers beat the Royals 5-3 in KC. They are still 16.5 games out, but along in second place. The Red Sox came back in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees 5-4. This dropped the Bronx Bombers into third place, while the Rays moved into second. The Sox are 3.5 games up, in first place. Here is a video recap of the crazy ninth inning, in which the Sox scored two runs without even getting a hit out of the infield.
http://m.mlb.com/news/article/242168424/red-sox-walk-off-against-chapman-yankees/?topicId=27118122&partnerId=ed-11711041-1004818173

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 5:1-3
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 119:141
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 
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. 
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5

These two verses in Psalms have been close to my heart, recently. In today’s Guideposts reading, Katie Ganshert tells of a shopping adventure.

“It happened so fast, I barely had time to panic. One second, my son was lagging behind me and a friend, hiding down various aisles as he goofed around. The next, he was gone.”

She had just managed to call his name a second time when the intercom came alive. “Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers. Ms. Ganshert, please come to the cash registers.”

When she got to the front, there was her son, next to a cashier, tears in his eyes. He ran and hugged her and said, “I got lost!”

“‘Brogan,’ I said, hugging him back. ‘I told you that you have to stay by Mommy’s side. As long as you’re by my side, I promise you will never ever get lost.'”

As she spoke those words, Katie remembered a decision that she had been struggling with. She was afraid of stepping outside of God’s plans for her family’s life.

“He’s not some aloof God wishing me good luck from afar; He is a loving Father. If I’m on my knees in prayer, if I’m studying His Word and begging Him to guide my steps, if I’m staying close to His side, He isn’t going to let me get lost. I’m becoming more convinced of that when my heart’s desire seeks His.”

These are true statements. And these statements are what the Spiritual Disciplines are all about. If we walk with Jesus, walking in the Kingdom, sharing the “easy yoke” with him, there’s no way we will lose our way. We must abide in him.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Psalm 27:8
“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.”
Isaiah 45:19

Father, I thank you for these truths, that you will never forsake us. Help me to walk in your ways. Make me to know your ways; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me.
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.

“God Calls; We Walk” (Part 2)

“The Bible is not a book to carry around and read for information on God, but a voice to listen to. The word of God that we name Bible, book, is not at root a word to be read and looked at and discussed. It is a word to be listened to and obeyed, a word that gets us going. Fundamentally, it is a call. God calls us.”

Today is Friday, July 14, 2017. Day 21,673.

“Famous remarks are very seldom quoted correctly.” ~ Simeon Strunsky, No Mean City (1944)
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is savant, a noun which means, “a person affected with a mental disability (such as autism or mental retardation) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music).”

Today is Mac and Cheese Day. Who doesn’t love mac and cheese?? Don’t answer that; I don’t really want to know.

We had the best time last night! Only four other people came to our gathering, but it was a blast. We had pizza delivered, and played in the pool until around 9:00 PM. It was a great time of fellowship, enjoyed by all. The highlight was probably when B was throwing his eight-year-old daughter across the pool like a cannonball. Good times.

Baseball finally resumes tonight after the break for the pointless thing called the All Star Game. The Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway, and the Rangers play the Royals in KC. Current standings, the Sox are in first 3.5 ahead of the Bronx Bombers, and the Rangers are tied for second with the Angels, 16.5 behind the Astros. No one else matters.

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

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 
He redeems my soul in safety

Psalm 55:16-18
Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
Psalm 50:3
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 
Psalm 25:11
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! 
Psalm 109:26
Jesus taught us, saying, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 
And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 
and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

John 5:25-30

(From Practice Resurrection)

God does not just hand us information. Nor does he explain (at least not very much, sometimes). He calls us. No condemnation, no excuses. God calls us.

It began with Adam in the garden. Adam disobeyed God’s command and “broke the intimacy that had been created by God’s speech. The equilibrium between God’s word and Adam’s walk was destroyed.” But God called Adam and began restoring him.

God called Abraham when he was in Ur, and told him to leave his home and family and go “to the land that I will show you.” This wound up being Canaan. Abraham walked according to God’s call, which “resulted in Abraham becoming our father in the faith.”

Moses, while tending sheep in Midian, heard his name being spoken from a burning bush. He learned the name of the one who called him: “Yahweh.” His walk “developed into a congregation of people walking out of Egypt through the sea into freedom.”

When Jesus was on the shores of Galilee, he called four men by name. He kept calling . . . those four became twelve. “They followed him up and down the roads of Galilee, listening, obeying, questioning, observing, praying.” Later, Jesus would call them again; calling them to “take up their cross and follow him to his cross, his death in Jerusalem.” They heard, and they walked with him, becoming “the company that the Holy Spirit formed into the church.”

Saul walked on the Damascus road, seeking “Christians” to kill. He was called by name, and learned the name of the one who called him: “Jesus.” His very name was changed, and his walk became the majority of what we know as the New Testament.

“God speaks the decisive word that puts us on the way, the road, the path of life.” The Hebrew word for Bible is Miqra, “a noun formed from the verb ‘to call,’ qara. The Bible is not a book to carry around and read for information on God, but a voice to listen to.”

“The word of God that we name Bible, book, is not at root a word to be read and looked at and discussed. It is a word to be listened to and obeyed, a word that gets us going. Fundamentally, it is a call. God calls us.”

Father, thank you for calling me many years ago. My walk has not been even remotely close to perfect. Several times, it has been disrupted, but you always called me back. I pray for a walk like Abraham’s, Moses’s, the disciples’, and Paul’s. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Help me to walk in the easy yoke of Jesus, in your Kingdom, in your Kingdom ways. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates, day and night.” Let me be that man, Father.
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.

Discover and Receive

Today is Thursday, July 13, 2017. Day 21,672.

“A tiger doesn’t proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.” ― Wole Soyinka
Goodreads

The word of the day is meme, a noun which means, “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture,” or, “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.”

Today is Embrace Your Geekness Day. “Pokemon fans to Final Fantasy nerds, LARP’ers to Medieval Reenactors, rise up and be proud! Don your Lyre Pipe hats and your rattan swords, polish up your gunblades and bundle up your pokeballs, Embrace Your Geekness Day is for you! No matter what your fandom or what impassions you to creativity and brings a skip to your step, cry it loud and proud! The Geek and fan community is truly one of the most amazing and creative groups out there, and every year more geeks are crying their fandoms loud and proud.”

Okay, so last night was one of those nights when I wished I had been doing something other than bowling. To begin with, C wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t go. But practice started out well. I got a couple of strikes in a row, so I sat down. Then I struck in the first frame, followed by several spares in a row. After that, I left four-fifths of a “Greek Church.” That looks like this.

A Greek Church has the ten pin on the right side, as well. So I rolled toward the right side and actually got the six and seven pins. One on the right, and the back pin on the lift. That was crazy. For one thing, I have NEVER picked up a 6-7 split! So the one time I do, it just so happens that there are two other pins up, and I miss both of them. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, the night declined from there. I bowled 152, 160, and 135. Three not so good games, not hitting my average even once. We lost all three games, along with total pins, as well.

C is staying home from work today. She feels some better, but not quite right, yet. She has her work laptop, so she’ll probably do some work from home. We’re supposed to have the Night of Worship “Missional Gathering” at our house tonight, or, rather, in our swimming pool. Hopefully, C will feel well enough to do that.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Luke 17:5-6
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:11-13

(From Living the Message)

“Where all is gift, I do not own things or persons and thus don’t have to protect them. Therefore I don’t have to be anxious. In a world of grace I do not live in laborious struggle trying to fashion a world that suits my needs and desires, hammering together a life out of the bits and pieces of scrap lumber that come my way. I do not live in anxious suspicion, nervous about what others might do to me, what others might think of me. I simply discover and receive.

There is a world to enjoy, a salvation in which to rejoice. God gives. ‘Grace is everywhere’ [George Bernanos]. We receive and explore. We do not nullify the grace of God.”

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?
Galatians 3:5 (The Message)

Thank you for the gifts, oh, my Father! Truly, my “ownership” of things is unimportant. I do not own anything, and especially do not own any person! I praise you for the gift of life and that you have trusted me with the things with which you have trusted me. By your grace and by your Spirit, may I be a faithful steward of all things. May I also eagerly receive that which you are pleased to give me.
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.

“God Calls; We Walk”

“When our walking and God’s calling are in balance, we are whole; we are living maturely, living responsively to God’s calling, living congruent with the way God calls us into being. Axios, worthy–mature, healthy, robust.”

Today is Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Day 21,671.

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” ~ Kin Hubbard
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is onerous, an adjective meaning, “involving, imposing, or constituting a burden.”

Today is Simplicity Day. What a great thought! Simplicity is one of the Spiritual Disciplines. It is one of the disciplines of abstinence, going along with silence and solitude. Engaging in simplicity is a great way to get our minds off of the complexities that distract us and become focused on what really matters.

Did I mention we had peaches? I can’t remember. A work friend went to a peach festival in a nearby town, Saturday. We couldn’t go because we had lunch plans with our Egyptian friends, so I gave him $20 to get us some peaches. He brought me a bag of somewhere around eighteen large peaches, totally ripe, and smelling wonderful. C and I each took one to work with us yesterday, and they were delicious! Last night, she made some cookies, using the peaches, with a new recipe. They didn’t turn out as good as we hoped they would, but they are tasty. We cut up most of the rest of them and put them in the freezer, saving four of them to eat during the week. I’m thinking peach cobbler and ice cream might be in the near future.

The American League won the All Star Game last night. Not that I care. 2-1 in ten innings. Too many people would consider that a boring game. Not a true baseball fan, though. It sounds like pitching reigned in this game.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! 

Psalm 103:20-22
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-23
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. 
Psa 119:165  Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Psalm 119:164-165

(From Practice Resurrection)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Ephesians 4:1

Eugene H. Peterson begins in the center of Ephesians. There’s a word in the verse above, translated “worthy” in English. The word in Greek is axios. Peterson says that the entire letter of Ephesians pivots on this word, which, to me, looks a lot like axis.

Axios, though, is a picture word. The picture is that of a set of balancing scales. Anyone who took physics in school remembers these scales. There’s a crossbeam balanced on a vertical pole, with pans or trays suspended from each end of the beam. A known weight, usually of lead, is placed on one pan, and the object you wish to weigh is placed on the other. When they are balanced, then we know that the weights match up. The two items are axios, worthy. They have the same value.

The items that Paul is balancing in Ephesians are “God’s calling and human living.” Look at the verse again. “I . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” “When our walking and God’s calling are in balance, we are whole; we are living maturely, living responsively to God’s calling, living congruent with the way God calls us into being. Axios, worthy–mature, healthy, robust.”

The scales center the letter of Ephesians. Paul’s intent is “to keep God’s calling (chapters 1-3) and our walking (chapters 4-6) in equilibrium.” We can’t measure ourselves by ourselves, and we can’t make God into some kind of abstract, impersonal truth. “We can understand neither God nor ourselves in any living, adequate, and mature way that is an impersonal, non-relational way. When God’s calling and our walking fit, we are growing up in Christ.

“God calls; we walk.”

Father, help us to walk in the way of your calling. Help us to do what needs to be done in order to grow up in Christ, that our walking may be axios, worthy, of the calling with which you have called us. Help me to be centered today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.