God and God Alone

Today is Thursday? Yes, Thursday, December 20, 2018. Third week of Advent.

Day 22,197


“I like to play chess with old men in the park. But it’s so hard to find 32 of them.” (You might have to think about that one for a second.)
Emo Phillips, US comedian
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is misosophy, “hatred of wisdom.” (Oxford English Dictionary) Seems to be a lot of that going around, these days.

I’m experiencing an unusual amount of pressure at work, but my manager came up with a plan, yesterday, that helped. I handle shipments that are, for one reason or another, “unreceivable” until they get fixed. The client looks closely at the dollar amount of those unreceivables, and, as of yesterday morning, we had approximately $850,000 worth of them. I actually managed to reduce that by more than $700,000 yesterday! At one point, I said that I would like a bonus of 1% of everything I received. Hahah! I still have a large number of “dispositions” (those are unreceivables that are allegedly fixed), though, so I may work late tonight. We’ll see what they say today. I told my manager, yesterday, that would work all night tonight, if I had to, to keep from having to work Saturday! At this point, at least, there is no talk of having to work on Christmas Eve.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Psalm 111:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That my manager formulated a good plan at work yesterday.
2. That God worked in me to change my attitude at work yesterday (I truly believe that this happened).
3. For an upcoming four-day weekend.
4. That God has placed within me a heart of gratitude.
5. That it doesn’t look like there will be any bad weather for Christmas.

O Lord and Ruler of the hosts and heaven,
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of all their righteous offspring:
You made the heavens and the earth,
with all their vast array.
All things quake with fear at your presence;
they tremble because of your power.
But your merciful promise is beyond all measure;
it surpasses all that our minds can fathom.
O Lord, you are full of compassion,
long-suffering, and abounding in mercy.
You hold back your hand;
you do not punish as we deserve.
In your great goodness, Lord,
you have promised forgiveness to sinners, that they may repent of their sin and be saved.
And now, O Lord, I bend the knee of my heart,
and make my appeal, sure of your gracious goodness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned,
and I know my wickedness only too well.
Therefore I make this prayer to you:
Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
Do not let me perish in my sin,
nor condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent,
and in me you will show forth your goodness.
Unworthy as I am, you will save me, in accordance with your great mercy,
and I will praise you without ceasing all the days of my life.
For all the powers of heaven sing your praises,
and yours is the glory to ages of ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Penitence, Prayer of Manasseh, 1-2, 4, 6-7, 11-15)

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38

We have to give up our self. C.S. Lewis writes about this in Mere Christianity. Jesus, he says, will give us our real personality, but if we go to Him looking for that, we will not find it. If we go to Christ looking for anything else other than Jesus, we will not find Him or the thing we are looking for. But if we go to Jesus looking only for Him, we will get what we were looking for to begin with. This is a sort of a paradox, I believe, and I believe it firmly to be true.

Many people go to Jesus, thinking that they are going to get rich, get healed, get famous. Some even go to Him thinking they will become more humble or compassionate. But the truth of the matter is, we must go to Jesus looking only for Jesus. The crux of the matter is summed up in Lewis’s statement: “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” This is very similar to another of Lewis’s popular quotes, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in.’ Aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Seek Jesus and Him alone. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Everything else will be added.

Father, may I seek You in Christ for no other reason than You and Jesus today. May Your Spirit guide me to look to You, to “seek Your face,” for no other reason than to be looking at You. I confess it is difficult to pray these things without feeling an ulterior motive. We are human, after all. There are things we want. But what I want right now is for the desire of my heart to be solely to seek You. Hang all the other stuff! Let me see You today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Grace and peace, friends.

Pairs of Opposites

Today is Saturday, December 8, 2018. First week of Advent.

Day 22,185

Seventeen days until Christmas!!

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”
John Adams, US president, diplomat, and politician, 1735-1826

The word of the day is noodledom, “Foolish people collectively; a set of foolish people.” Also, “Foolishness, stupidity; an instance of this.”

I worked until about 6:00 PM last night. It could have been worse. C already picked up our Sonic drinks, so I drove straight home. We had the crock pot going with cream of chicken soup with ranch dressing mix and rice. It was delicious. We watched a little bit of The Newsroom, and C fell asleep again, so we went to bed.

Today, C has some projects she’s working on, and, later, we have her company Christmas party. This year it is at the Jack Daniels Club in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They also have an escape room planned, which should be fun.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Today I am grateful:
1. For weekends
2. For coffee
3. For plenty of time to spend in Saturday morning devotions
4. For the means and willingness to help people
5. For employers who are generous to their employees

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.

“Our King and Savior now draws near: Come let us adore him.”
(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)

“Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body – different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbors, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else’s troubles because they are ‘no business of yours,’ remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself, you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or and Individualist.

“I feel a strong desire to tell you and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me which of these two errors is the worse. That is the Devil getting at us. He always sends offers into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.”

This excerpt from Mere Christianity nails the very reason that refuse to get political either in this blog or on Facebook. There are a lot of Christians out there who have fallen into the trap of believing that one of the pairs of opposites is less evil than the other. Those folks have also taken their eyes off of the goal. The devil has accomplished his goal in this.

My friends, politics is not the answer. A president will not save us. Only Jesus can do that. When we foolishly put our trust in men, we fail. We must keep our eyes dead center between the two opposites. Of course, Lewis’s opposites are different than the ones to which I am referring, but I believe the principle applies.

All that being said, I love his reference to trying to make people just like us. I agree that this is not what God intends. He made everyone different. We are all so very different, and we need to embrace those differences and enjoy God together. Every organ in my body is not the same. If my liver was a heart, and my brain was a heart, and my skin was a heart, I would not be able to survive. And I would be quite a horrible sight to behold, as well. This is the reason for Paul’s discussion in Scripture about each of us being a different part of the body. The body needs all parts working together to survive.

Embrace what you are in the body of Christ. Don’t try to be someone else. As Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Father, help me to stay in the center, between all of the pairs of opposites that our enemy throws our way to distract us. I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well, that they would regain their focus on what is important, namely the great salvation that You have given us in the person of Jesus Christ, and Your indwelling power through the Holy Spirit in our lives. May we not get thrown off course by believing in people who have only their own interests at heart. May we follow Your Son through the center of everything and proclaim Him and Him only as worthy to be praised and worshiped.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12:1-3

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15

Grace and peace, friends.

Not My Will, But Thine Be Done

Today is Wednesday, November 14, 2018.

Day 22,161

Fallout 76 arrives today!!!!

Eight days until Thanksgiving!!

“At 18 our convictions are hills from which we look; At 45 they are caves in which we hide.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, US novelist, 1896-1940
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is catastrophize, “to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe.”

There really isn’t much going on in my personal life, to speak of. Oh, wait. I’m taking Friday off to go to my great-uncle’s funeral. I will be going to pick up Mama and bring her to Fort Worth so she can attend the funeral, as well. He was the last of my Grandmother’s siblings. I may have mentioned that.

In case you didn’t hear, we lost a great one this week. Stan Lee passed away Monday, at the age of 95. He was the creator of Spiderman, along with many other Marvel Comics heroes. I was a huge Spidey-fan when I was a kid. He will be greatly missed.

On the same day, the news broke that Kurt Kaiser, songwriter from my youth choir days, had also passed away. He was the writer of one of our favorite songs from back in the day, “Pass It On.” If you’re old like me, and grew up in church, you will know that song.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. 
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.

Psalm 74:16-17

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:7-8

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Prayer is Not a ‘Gimmick’

“There are, no doubt, passages in the New Testament which may seem at first sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers. But that cannot be what they really mean. For in the very heart of the story we meet a glaring instance to the contrary. In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.”

To be honest, Mr. Lewis has raised a point that I never considered before. I had certainly considered that the passages that seem to make prayer a “blank check” sort of transaction were not exactly that, and I had my own explanations of why not. But Lewis has pointed out the most obvious example of why we cannot view those promises in that way. God did not grant Jesus’s most passionate prayer in that hour.

Many people that I have known have scoffed at adding the phrase, “if it be Your will” at the end of a prayer. But Jesus did exactly that, didn’t he? And if Jesus adds “Not my will but Thine be done” at the end of prayer, how much more should we do the same?? After all, our vision is skewed. We do not see the end of the matter the way Jesus did. We don’t always know God’s will, do we? To glibly state that whatever we pray will be granted us by God is, at the least, misguided.

C.S. Lewis is correct, here. Prayer is, indeed, not a “gimmick.” Real prayer is communion with God. It is talking to God and listening to Him. If all we ever do is ask God for stuff, we aren’t really praying. We should talk with God as though what Dallas Willard believed truly happens; that is, that when we begin praying, Jesus walks right up to us and listens to us. Next time you pray, consider that He is sitting right beside you in the room or the car or wherever you are. I promise you, it will change your entire attitude.

I want to close this with a quote from Andrew Murray’s “Power in Prayer,” and excerpt from his book, “The Fullness of the Spirit.”

“Our daily life depends on God’s will, His grace, His omnipotence. Every moment He must work in our inner life and strengthen us by His Spirit in order that we might live as He would have us live. No creature in the natural world can exist for a moment without God’s sustaining power. Our dependence must be entirely on God. He alone can finish the work He has begun in us.”

Father, may I truly interact with You in prayer today, all throughout the day; as I drive to work, as I sit at my workstation, as I interact with co-workers and clients; as I drive home; as I interact with my family. Teach me to pray, Father. Help me to listen to You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

. . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19

Grace and peace friends.

The Efficacy of Prayer

Today is Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Day 22,160

Fallout 76 releases tomorrow!!!

“The best way to compile inaccurate information that no one wants is to make it up.”
Scott Adams, American cartoonist
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is sequacious, “Archaic. following, imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly.”

We had a nice evening, yesterday. At one point, we had planned to go to Hoffbrau for dinner, but at quitting time, C decided she would rather have something picked up and eat at home. I called in a couple orders of “Italian Nachos” from Chef Point Cafe and picked them up on the way home. They were delicious! And, of course, we had chocolate cake afterward. While eating, we watched the last two episodes of Saturday Night Live. The one from two weeks ago, with Jonah Hill hosting, was bloody awful. It was like all the writers took the week off, or something. This last week’s, with Liev Schreiber, was much better, and he was actually quite good, even though, as he admits in the opening monologue, he is not known for being funny. The only downside in that episode was the musical guest, Lil Wayne. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. And I don’t think it’s because I’m old. I think it’s because I’m actually a trained musician.

S gave her present to C after we got home from work. We got her one of those triangular bed pillows, so she can prop herself up when laying in bed watching TV or whatever. I suppose it could also be used on the other end, as well, should the need to elevate feet arise. My birthday present to C was the Cinderella show, which we will be seeing this coming Sunday. For real, this time.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
The Efficacy of Prayer

C.S. Lewis recounts a time when he had planned a visit to London. He arose one morning with the intention of going to get a haircut to prepare for this trip. But the first letter he opened that morning made it clear that his trip to London was now unnecessary. So he decided that he didn’t need to get the haircut, either. “But then there began the most unaccountable little nagging in my mind, almost like a voice saying, ‘Get it cut all the same. Go and get it cut.'”

Eventually, he could stand it no longer, and made his way to the barber shop. At this point, he reveals that his barber “was a fellow Christian and a man of many troubles whom my brother and I had sometimes been able to help.” As he entered the shop, the barber said, “Oh, I was praying you might come today.” If, in fact, he had delayed his visit, it would have been of no use to the barber.

“It awed me,” says Lewis,” it awes me still. But of course one cannot rigorously prove a causal connection between the barber’s prayer and my visit.” This is, primarily, the point that he continues to address in this reading.

How can we prove the efficacy of prayer? “The thing we pray for may happen, but how can you ever know it was not going to happen anyway?” Even if it were miraculous beyond all explanation, we could still not prove that it happened because of our prayer. “The answer surely is that a compulsive empirical proof such as we have in the sciences can never be attained.”

There are things that can be proved by “the unbroken uniformity of our experiences. The law of gravitation is established by the fact that, in our experience, all bodies without exception obey it.” But even if everything that everyone prayed for happened (which does not happen), it would not “prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer.” Prayer is, after all, a request, and requests are not compulsive, but “may or may not be granted.” And our infinitely wise Creator, who hears our requests, sometimes grants them and sometimes does not.

The reading rather abruptly cuts off at this point, which, to me is a somewhat unsatisfactory ending. I suppose the point of all this is that, no, we can never prove “scientifically” that our prayers work, or that anything at all happened because we prayed for it. But proof and faith are different things. I can believe that something happened because I prayed for it. Or because a number of us prayed for it. And that is why I believe in “the efficacy of prayer.” Not because I can prove it, but because I have the gift of faith.

There are many things that happen in our lives, that, just as Lewis’s visit to the barber, appear to be coincidental. The thing is, I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe in “luck.” I do believe that God is sovereign, and that He will arrange things, sometimes based on the prayers that we pray. Perhaps the thing that we prayed for was already going to happen! But maybe it was going to happen because we were going to pray for it! Mull that one over for a while!

Father, I praise You for Your sovereignty in our lives. I thank You for prayer, and for leading us to pray. I thank You that You hear and answer our prayers. That, in itself is most miraculous, I believe. Help me to be more faithful in prayer, and to believe that You will hear and act, especially if my prayers are in line with Your will on earth as it is in 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.

Great Words from C.S. Lewis

Today is Sunday, October 21, 2018.

Day 22,137.

One more day until the World Series begins!!

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”
Jonas Salk, American Scientist, 1914-1995

The word of the day is rebuff, “to reject or criticize sharply : snub.”

Not much happened, yesterday. Well, for me, at least. C was out and about most of the day. She met up with some ladies from church, and they planned their car decoration for this coming Friday’s “Boo Bash” trunk or treat at the YMCA where our church meets. Then she and one of the other ladies went shopping for stuff for their theme. What are they doing, you ask? Sorry. I’m sworn to secrecy. But I will say that their idea blows the guys’ idea out of the water. I’m really not involved in any of this, because the event starts at 6:30 Friday evening, and I never get home from work before 6:00, and on Fridays, I typically have to work late. I will try to show up so I can see what they’ve done, though.

The Red Sox will be playing the Dodgers in the World Series. I have seen reports that the last time these two played each other in the World Series was the last year that Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox. The series begins Tuesday night, in Fenway Park, at 7:09.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,
which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers,
and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham,
that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.

And thous, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest,
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Song of Zechariah, Benedictus Dominus Deus Luke 1:68-79)

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
The Shocking Alternative

“Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we would attribute to some of His sayings.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
(From Mere Christianity)

These are, in my opinion, among the greatest words that C.S. Lewis ever wrote. In short, either Jesus was and is who He said He was, or He was a raving lunatic, or He was an evil liar. Those are the choices. It is folly to believe that He was nothing more than a “great teacher.”

As for me, I believe He was and is who He said He is. He is the Son of God, and He is God incarnate. Therefore, I will worship Him as such.

Father, thank You for revealing these truths to me, and to us, Your children. Help us to fully believe these truths, and to live our lives on the foundations that they represent. Jesus Christ is Lord. Give us the strength and ability to walk in Your kingdom, daily.
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.

What Did God Do?

Today is Friday, October 19, 2018.

Day 22,135

Four days until the World Series begins!

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Will Rogers, American actor, 1879-1935

The word of the day is linchpin, “a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft),” or, “one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.”

I’m a bit sleepy this morning, but it was worth it. The Red Sox finished off the ALCS by beating the Astros 4-1, last night, in a game where all the runs were scored on home runs. J.D. Martinez started it off with a solo shot in the third, and then Devers sealed the deal with a three run shot in the sixth. The Astros managed to get one back in the seventh, but that was it. David Price had excellent command and dominated the game. And even Craig Kimbrel pitched well to get the save in the ninth. The World Series will begin next Tuesday. I’m hoping the Brewers can pull it off and get there. If not, it will be the Dodgers. Again. Either way, I’m confident (not over-confident, mind you) that the Sox will win.

That’s all I got, so on to the devotional.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou for the name of thy Majesty;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holiness;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths,
and dwellest between the Cherubim;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven;
praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
praised and exalted above all for ever.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Praise)

In the category of “things that make you go ‘hmmm,'” I’m reading Daniel, beginning today. I’ve noticed this before, but I find it interesting that we traditionally call Daniel by his Hebrew name, which is Daniel. However, we traditionally call Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I wonder why that is? Daniel’s Babylonian name was Belteshazzar.

I guess Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go better in songs.

No extra charge for that bit of trivia.

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
God’s Answer to a Fallen World

“What did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of the very hard) to obey it. None of them every quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was–that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.
“Then comes the real shock. Among those Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.”
(From Mere Christianity)

Father, may I take the words of this man, Jesus, of which Lewis speaks, more seriously every day. Help me to listen to Him, to whatever He says. When I read Your Word, may it take root in my soul and flourish with the watering of Your Holy Spirit.
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.

Do All to the Glory of God

Today is Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Day 22,090.

32 days until Galveston!

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Walter Hagen, 1892-1969, BrainyQuote

The word for today is smeech, “Smoke, esp. foul-smelling or pungent smoke; dense or thick vapour; fine dust suspended in the air. Also as a count noun: a quantity of smoke or dust; a stench.”

Yesterday was mostly a nice day. There was some rest and relaxation, but for part of the day, C worked in the small bathroom, finishing the painting. She has all new towel racks and other accessories that need to be installed, but it looks real nice. I spent part of the afternoon struggling with the recording. At one point, I was ready to give up, very frustrated, but then suddenly got something to work right. I don’t know why it has to be so complicated. I sent the file to my buddy who’s doing the album, but haven’t heard back from him, yet. I hope it works. The rest of the day was nice and restful. I rather enjoyed the rain outside during the day.

The Red Sox had a solid victory against the Braves, beating them 8-2. This puts their record at 95-44. The Yankees lost to the Athletics, so the Sox are 8.5 up in the AL East. Their magic number is 16. 23 games left. They play the Braves again tonight.

The Rangers lost to the Angels, 3-1, to put their record at 60-78. The Astros won, so the Rangers are eliminated from the division race. They are 22.5 games behind in the Wild Card, with an elimination number of 2. 24 games left.

Kansas City has won six consecutive games. And it doesn’t matter. Well, it might matter to the teams they are playing against!

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)

I chose to use this quote, this morning, because of how it seems to fit hand-in-hand with the first chapter of Peterson’s book that I have been reading.

“Religion cannot occupy the whole of life in the sense of excluding all our natural activities. For, of course, in some sense, it must occupy the whole of life. There is no question of a compromise between the claims of God and the claims of culture, or politics, or anything else. God’s claim is infinite and inexorable. You can refuse it: or you can begin to try to grant it. There is no middle way. Yet in spite of this it is clear that Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary human activities. St. Paul tells people to get on with their jobs. He even assumes that Christians may go to dinner parties, and, what is more, dinner parties given by pagans. Our Lord attends a wedding and provides miraculous wine. Under the aegis of His Church, and in the most Christian ages, learning and the arts flourish. The solution of this paradox is, of course, well known to you. ‘Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’
“All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest; and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not. Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one: it is rather a new organization which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.”

Father, today, as I work, interact with others, eat, rest, and exercise, may I do all to Your glory.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Alabaster Box

Today is Sunday, July 22, 2018. Day 22,046.

28 days until S turns 25!

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thought in clear form.” ~ Albert Einstein, 1897-1955, The Quotations Page

The word for today is festinate, which means, simply, “hasten.”

S and I wound up going to the Night of Worship, last night. C got home shortly before we left, and decided that she would stay home and rest. I can’t speak for S, but I had a wonderful time worshiping and praying. It was nice to not be playing, for a change. I feel like that freed me to worship more and focus more on God during the time. We wound up leaving before it was over, as I needed to come home and look over the PowerPoint slides for this morning’s worship at FBC Smithfield.

Both churches will be voting on the merger, two weeks from today. We have found that we can vote in absentia, via email, as long as we send our vote before the actual vote happens. That’s a good thing, because our worship leader and his wife will also be out on August 5.

The Red Sox lost a rare shutout game, last night, as the Tigers beat them 5-0. Their record is 69-31, and they are 4.5 games up in the AL East. The remain the best in baseball, 3.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros, who are being favored by many “experts” to repeat in the World Series.

The Rangers lost to the Indians, wait, what?? 16-3! Now, the Indians are in first place in the AL Central. But they would be in third in the AL East, and fourth in the AL West.

The Orioles continue to hold down the worst spot, 40.5 games behind the Red Sox. They traded their best player during the All Star break. I keep wondering when they will fire Buck Showalter.

We’re getting ready to go worship, this morning. I will be leading worship at FBC Smithfield, and will be, at least through August 5, maybe a Sunday or two after that. If the merge is approved, I don’t know how long it will be before we begin worshiping as one church. Hopefully not too long, as I miss worshiping with my Exchange family. After today’s worship, I will be hanging out with the guy who hosts Night of Worship for a bit, so he can try to teach me some more about using the recording software.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Sin and Shin.
Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. 
I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. 
I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. 
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. 
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. 
I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments. 
My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. 
I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Psalm 119:161-168

Verse 165 presents a great truth. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” (Emphasis added) Does this mean that if I stumble, I don’t love God’s word? Well, right at the moment, I didn’t, did I? The thing is, if we cherish and meditate on God’s word, the things that would normally make us stumble will not be issues for us. That’s part of the value of Scripture memory, which I have recently rediscovered. Even with that, I still don’t spend enough time going over those memory verses.

I also find verse 168 interesting. The Psalmist says he keeps the precepts and testimonies of God, “for all my ways are before you.” I’m not sure if I’m reading something into this that is not there, but it speaks to me of an essence of fear. If we truly understood that God sees everything we do, think, and say, would we be more careful of the things that we do, think, and say? The next time you are tempted to sin in some way, try considering that God would be right there beside you when you do it. We can’t hide anything from him. It’s the ultimate “Big Brother is watching you,” in a way. Now, I’m certain that God doesn’t really want that to be my motivation for doing good things (or not doing bad things), but it is definitely a start, no?

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
St Mary Magdalen

“It is nice to still be under the care of St Mary Magdalen. . . . The allegorical sense of her great action dawned on me the other day. The precious alabaster box which one must break over the Holy Feet is one’s heart. Easier said than done. And the contents become perfume only when it is broken. While they are safe inside they are more like sewage. All very alarming.” (Excerpt from Letters to an American Lady)

I confess that this is an interpretation that I have never considered, nor have I ever heard anyone else describe it in this way. I like it. I think Lewis has given us something about which to think seriously.

Father, I pray that, as I consider this, that I would, indeed, break my heart over the holy feet of Jesus, and that the contents spilling out would be as sweet perfume to you. May I not hold on to anything in my heart, most especially to sinful desires and practices, as well as any accomplishments of which I might be prideful. I have accomplished nothing outside of you and your power. I have owned nothing that I did not receive from you, other than my own sin. That is the one thing which I can call “my own.” Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Show me your path, that I may walk in your Kingdom, in the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ.
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.

Locked On the Inside

Today is Thursday, June 7, 2018. Day 22,001.

Ten more days until Father’s Day!

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” ~ Langston Hughes, 1902-1967, BrainyQuote

The word for today is Disnefy, a verb. I bet you can guess what it means. “To create or alter in a simplified, sentimentalized, or contrived form or manner.” Those fairy tales got Disnefied.”

As far as my back is concerned, I had the best day, so far, yesterday. It still hurts, but not nearly as bad as it was. Walking is getting easier. However, standing still for any length of time is still a challenge. I am simply trying to take it slowly, hoping that, as they say, “This, too, shall pass.” I figure I will be able to play at church, this Sunday, but I may sit down for it.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers again, last night, 7-1, to improve their record to 43-19. Still one game ahead of the Yankees; still the best in MLB. They continue their series tonight.

The Rangers beat the A’s again, as well, 8-2, for their first sweep of the season. It was only a two-game series, but a sweep is a sweep. Their record is 27-37, and since Houston beat Seattle, they are back to 12.5 games out in the AL West.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

He sent Moses, his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. 
They performed his signs among them and miracles in the land of Ham. 
He sent darkness, and made the land dark; they did not rebel against his words. 
He turned their waters into blood and caused their fish to die. 
Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the chambers of their kings. 
He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country. 
He gave them hail for rain, and fiery lightning bolts through their land. 
He struck down their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country. 
He spoke, and the locusts came, young locusts without number, 
which devoured all the vegetation in their land and ate up the fruit of their ground. 
He struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their strength.

Psalm 105:26-36

For the next phase of Israel’s history, this passage does a quick run-down of the plagues of Egypt.

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
Proverbs 20:3

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)

“The demand that God should forgive such a man while he remains what he is, is based on a confusion between condoning and forgiving. To condone an evil is simply to ignore it, to treat it as if it were good. But forgiveness needs to be accepted as well as offered if it is to be complete: and a man who admits no guilt can accept no forgiveness. . . .
“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of Hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of Hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man ‘wishes’ to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.
“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of Hell, is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I’m afraid that is what He does.” (From Problem of Pain)

Yes, I believe in Hell. I know that is an unpopular belief, these days, even among a large number of Christians. Yet I believe in it, because I see Jesus teaching about it. I do not completely understand it, any more than I completely understand heaven. Nevertheless, I believe in it. And I think this snippet of C.S. Lewis is an excellent description of the people who will be there. Dallas Willard once said, and this is a paraphrase, that everyone who wants to be in heaven will be there.

Father, I am grateful that you have placed the desire for you and for heaven in my heart. I cannot express the gratitude sufficiently. I pray for others around me, that, somehow, I might show them that same desire, and somehow influence them in the same direction. Yet, I fail, so often. May my life today reflect the life of Jesus as I walk in your kingdom.
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.

In the End

Today is Thursday, May 31, 2018. Last day of May. Day 21,994.

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.” ~ Jackie Mason (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is palpebral, an adjective which means, “of or relating to the eyelids.” Now there’s a word everyone needs to know!

Feeling a little better each day. I haven’t had any sinus or cough medicine, this morning, yet, and will try to get through today without any. I might feel like going to the Y tonight, even.

The Red Sox swept the Blue Jays, winning yesterday afternoon’s game by a score of 6-4, as E-Rod got his sixth win. The Sox are now 39-17 on the season, and remain two games up on the Yankees in the AL East. They begin a series in Houston tonight. Houston just lost a series to the Yankees, and has the fourth best record in MLB.

The Rangers beat the Mariners by a score of 7-6, this time scoring four runs in the seventh inning. They are now 24-34 on the season, 11.5 back in the AL West. They play Seattle again tonight.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 
covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. 
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; 
he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. 
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. 
You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 
At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. 
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. 
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

Psalm 104:1-9

Another of the “Bless the Lord, O my soul” Psalms, this one is full of beautiful metaphors and language about the splendor and majesty of God. I find myself, again, wishing I could have heard the original music that went with this song. I know it probably would have sounded strange to my ears, but I can’t help but think it would still be beautiful, knowing the content of the words.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 13:3

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Two Kinds of People in the End

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” (The Great Divorce)

Father, I thank you that you have put it in my heart to choose life. I believe, with all my heart, that if you had not chosen me for this life, that I would be living a life destined for hell, with no second thought about it. My life has not been perfect, and I have made many bad decisions, and I have paid the consequences for those decisions. Nevertheless, my heart is steadfast and my gaze is firmly fixed on you as I walk in this journey toward your kingdom. May I walk in your kingdom today; may I walk in the easy yoke of Jesus today; may my lips be guarded and keep my mouth closed, unless some edifying word is needed.
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.