Being Over Function

Today is Monday, November 20, 2017. Day 21,802.

Only three more days until Thanksgiving!

Dick Clark, who was born on this date in 1929 (died 2012), said, “I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.”

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is bombinate, a verb that means, “to make a sustained deep murmuring, humming, or buzzing sound : buzz, drone.”

Today is Name Your PC Day. With a laptop, a desktop, and a work desktop, I’m at somewhat of a loss as to what to name them. I might name my work PC “Molasses,” because that’s about how fast it runs.

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. The worship gathering went well, and once we got home from that, we were pretty much free for the day. For the most part, we just rested, which was nice. C was dealing with a pinched nerve or something, as we got ready for bed, but I think that finally got better. I think she slept pretty well. She’s not up, just yet, but I’m hearing waking up noises from in there.

News sources are reporting that Charles Manson has died. I figure I will see a bit of celebrating and name-calling on Facebook. Which makes me wonder . . . is it ever right to celebrate that someone has died?

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. 
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 31:23-24
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.

Psalm 31:2-3
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19
Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
Psalm 31:21
But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
Luke 16:17
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:18

(From Practice Resurrection)

(Pages 123-124)

Springing off of an example of attending lacrosse games with his wife-to-be, Eugene Peterson identifies three common responses to what is perceived as messiness and chaos in the church. Some people find “a place in the bleachers with a few other likeminded people and make do with what they find there.” There are others who are frustrated by what they see and set out to fix it, to “do something about it.” Others will leave and try to find another place where they are more comfortable.

Peterson says that none of these responses is actually without some value. However, “by reducing church to matters of function and personal preference,” people “miss church in its richness, its intricacy, the complex aliveness that is inherent to everything that is going on.”

Once again, he returns to this thought of “ontology,” the philosophy of being. Paul, in his writings, wants us to understand this and then participate in what church truly is, which is the body of Christ. Again, we need to focus on what it is, rather than what it does. Sure, there are functions, “things happen, things are done, there are jobs to do, there are tasks to be obeyed.” But if we don’t understand the being first, “we will always be dissatisfied, impatient, angry, dismayed, or disgusted with what we see.”

I know this from experience. I have been there. I will admit that I occasionally even slip back into that mode. But God draws me back into the “being” of church, over its function. By focusing on the “being,” we can see “the elegance and intricacy of church.” We can see what God is doing, rather than focusing on what the people are doing (or not doing). And if we don’t have a healthy ontology of church, we will only see what we see with our eyes. “A great deal of what is observable in church is simply incomprehensible as church if we have no ontology of church.”

Father, thank you for this truth. I thank you that you have helped me see the “being” of church, and focus on it more than the functions and what people do. Thank you for helping me understand that it is more important to see what you are doing than what we are doing. Remind me, each week, as we gather for worship, that you are there, moving in our midst, actively working. You are not simply a passive audience, soaking in our worship and adoration. You are working in us and around us. Help us to see this, receive it, and join in.
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.

Advertisements

Casting Anxieties

Today is Sunday, November 19, 2017. Day 21,801.

Four more days until Thanksgiving. 130 days until Opening Day.

Indira Ghandi, who was born on this date in 1917 (died 1984), said, “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is macaronic, which, oddly, has nothing to do with macaroni. It is an adjective, meaning, “composed of a mixture of languages.”

Today is World Toilet Day. Far from being a joke, this day is set aside to raise awareness of sanitation issues in many parts of the world. You can read about that, if you wish, at the linked web site.

It’s finally beginning to act like Autumn around here. The high temperatures over the next week are mostly in the sixties, with a couple of days in the upper seventies. It’s currently 41 degrees outside, this morning.

C is feeling better. She is still tired, but better than Friday. She is going to go to church this morning.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
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
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'”
Acts 13:38-41
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! 
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, 
to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. 
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:1-5
O Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come unto you. Thanks be to God.
The Cry of the Church
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

. . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

We’ve had a good bit of anxieties this week. Yet, we were never overly worried. I will say that I was close to tears when the doctor gave us the good news that C didn’t have any blood clots. But I don’t think we were ever worried. We have grown to a place where we, dare I say, are more abiding in Christ. Don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t mean that we have “arrived.” It means we’ve gotten better at dealing with the stuff that life throws at us. We still have far to go.

Father, help me to abide more in you and your words. Keep showing me the way, and remind me to be aware of your presence at all times. Also, remind me of the truth of the resurrection of Christ, and how that affects my daily life. Please keep C safe and help her continue to recover well.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Plunge In

Today is Saturday, November 18, 2017. Day 21,800.

Five more days until Thanksgiving (and four day weekend)!

Margaret Atwood, who was born on this date in 1939, said, “I was warped early by Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe. I was very fond of Franz Kafka.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is nonbook, a noun, meaning, “a book without artistic or literary merit or substance, especially one that has been developed primarily to exploit a fad or make a profit quickly.” The first thing that comes to my mind is books hurriedly written on the coattails of successful movies.

Today is Mickey Mouse Day. Pretty much everyone knows who Mickey Mouse is, and today is a day to celebrate the iconic mouse and the “kingdom” that was built around him.

Last night was an interesting night. Actually, it started earlier in the day. C had trouble sleeping Thursday night, and when she got up Friday morning, she didn’t feel well. She had a low-grade fever (99.6), and was having trouble breathing. When her therapist showed up, she recommended that C get to a doctor. So she got an appointment for 3:30, yesterday afternoon. When I offered to leave work early, she said she would get her niece to take her. But her niece had a job interview, so C said, “I’ll be okay to drive.” I said, “No, let me come take you.” So I used my last three hours of PTO and left work early.

They checked her over, and didn’t see anything immediately wrong, but they did some blood work and checked something called “d’dimers.” This, apparently is an indicator that could signal the presence of blood clots. They said that if this test came back positive or elevated, they would call in the evening, and direct us to an emergency room.

At about 8:30 last night, we started getting ready for bed. I was tired, even too tired to play on the Playstation! I had just laid down when C’s phone rang. The d’dimers was elevated. So we got dressed again and headed for the closest hospital (at least the closest one that wasn’t North Hills Medical Center). We checked into the ER at around 9:10, and proceeded to wait for triage. Emergency rooms are interesting. There was a lady sitting across from me who was obviously in tremendous pain, and was holding her hand up to her jaw the whole time. I felt really bad for her.

We were finally called back at around 9:45-ish, and as the nurse was doing the triage, when C described what was going on, he said he had a room for her. So we weren’t sent back out to the waiting room. I think the magic words in that scenario are “blood clot.” Over the course of the next three hours, C had a chest X-ray, an ultrasound on her surgery leg, a CT scan on her chest, and some blood work. At the end, the attending doctor came in and said he had good news. There were no blood clots detected. Apparently, there are a number of things that could cause d’dimers to be elevated, but, since one of them is blood clots, they don’t want to take any chances. I’m fine with that.

What they did find was a very small aortic aneurysm and a small spot on an upper lobe of one of C’s lungs. The doctor indicated that neither one was cause for immediate concern, but should be watched closely. He recommended a vascular surgeon to check on the aneurysm, and getting another chest CT scan in three months, which can be done by C’s primary physician. We were sent home with those reports, and got home around 1:30 AM.

I slept until around 10:45, and C just got up about fifteen-twenty minutes ago. This is why my blog entry is later than usual for a Saturday morning.

I don’t have any other news, than to mention that Angus Young, co-founding member and guitarist for AC/DC, has reportedly passed away this morning. He was 64. There has also been a report that Charles Manson has died. But only one source was seen reporting that. Most other sources state that he has been hospitalized, and that his condition “remains a mystery.”

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 29:2
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1
O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.
Psalm 44:1
They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness.
Psalm 82:5
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 
John 6:35
He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, 
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. 
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 
And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; 
they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. 
By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. 
When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, 
he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 
but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. 
The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. 
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 107:33-43
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.
The Gloria
Dear Father always near us, may your name be treasured and loved, may your rule be completed in us-may your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven.
Give us today the things we need today, and forgive us our sins and impositions on you as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.
Please don’t put us through trials, but deliver us from everything bad.
Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours-forever- which is just the way we want it!

The Lord’s Prayer, paraphrased by Dallas Willard

(From The President’s Devotional)

Today’s reading is called “Plunging In.”

Joshua DuBois makes note of two different approaches to the “risen Savior, a King who has triumphed over death and brought us to life.”

In John 21, the disciples are out fishing. Jesus had revealed himself in risen form to many of the disciples. There is no indication of how much time had lapsed before this particular encounter. Jesus appeared on the shore and, once again, gave them helpful advice as to where to cast their net. Once they realized it was Jesus, Peter put on his outer cloak and plunged into the sea to swim to the shore. The rest of the disciples rowed back in the boat (along with all the fish).

“Peter couldn’t hold himself back – in his excitement, he just plunged in!”

If we look around us, we can see that God is still moving in our world, “raising dead and broken things to life.” This knowledge should not be “mundane to us, should never feel ordinary.” It should build excitement within us, to the point that we, like Peter, should want to simply plunge in.

I’ve been reading a book by Frederick Beuchner, called, The Magnificent Defeat. It’s a series of short messages, on different topics. Last night, while waiting at the emergency room, I read one about the resurrection. Essentially, it was about what the Jews were afraid would happen after Jesus had been crucified and entombed. One fear was that the disciples would come steal the body, and then claim that he had risen from the dead. This should not have been a serious fear, though, because had that happened, the phenomenon would have eventually died down and faded away. The other fear, perhaps more real, was that exactly what Jesus claimed would happen, would happen. He would, indeed, come back to life.

Which is, of course, what really happened. The big question for us is, what do we believe happened on that “Sunday” morning? What do we really believe? There’s a lot to think about here, because if I believe what I say I believe, I mean really believe it, then what effect does that have on my life? I do believe that Jesus rose from the grave. I believe that the Biblical record is truth. My life needs to indicate this better than it does.

I need to plunge in, like Peter.

“Dear God, light a fire within me when I see your healing manifested in the world. Help me greet evidence of you with excitement and great joy. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, give me the willingness to “plunge in,” whenever I see you at work. Increase my excitement when I see evidence of you in this world. I’m not talking about external excitement, such as when my favorite team wins. I’m talking about spiritual excitement that is consistent and alive, that drives me toward a closer relationship with you and my fellow believers; a truth that gives me life and peace and hope in this fallen world, and the willingness to share that with the people around 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.

Stay On the Up Escalator

Today is Friday, November 17, 2017. Day 21,799.

Six days until Thanksgiving!

Jeff Buckley, who was born on this date in 1966 (died 1997), said, “I don’t really need to be remembered. I hope the music’s remembered.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is claque, a noun, meaning, “a group of persons hired to applaud an act or performer.” Also, “a group of sycophants.”

Today is Unfriend Day. Has that one Facebook “friend” grated on your nerves one too many times with his overt political posts? Today’s the day!

Last night, we finally ate the last of the food that people have brought to us over the past couple of weeks. Hold on. Wait. There are still two pieces of pie left. Never mind.

We have finally made our Thanksgiving plans. Unless something changes between now and then, we plan to cook a few things Thursday morning, and then drive to Mineral Wells to have lunch with my mother, and, hopefully, R & J. Then we will come on back home Thursday evening, and not try to spend the night in a hotel. While C is getting stronger all the time, I don’t think we’re up to trying to sleep in hotel beds, just yet.

Jose Altuve rightfully won the AL MVP award, yesterday. Stanton won the award for the NL.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
Psalm 66:5
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Psalm 85:10
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:36-38
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. 
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, 
who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. 
For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 
For our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 89:14-18

(From The President’s Devotional)

Today’s reading is called “Religion.”

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

“I would not so dishonour God as to lend my voice to perpetuate all the mad and foolish things which men have dared to say of Him. I believe that we may find in the Bible the highest and purest religion . . . most of all in the history of Him in whose name we all are called. His religion – not the Christian religion, but the religion of Christ – the poor man’s gospel; the message of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of love; and, oh, how gladly would I spend my life, in season and out of season, in preaching this!” (James Anthony Froude, The Nemesis of Faith

Sometimes, Joshua DuBois says, we have to search deeply through the “layers of religion to find Christ.” When we encounter churches and pastors who point us to Jesus, encouraging us to follow in his steps and his words, we should fully embrace them.

But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, “we encounter religion and leave feeling less connected with Christ.” Something is definitely wrong in those cases. At that point, we must “return to the basics: reading the Bible for ourselves, experiencing a prayerful communion with God, and engaging in gentle fellowship with other believers.” Please note that he does not exclude the fellowship with other believers, as this is a very important piece of our life with God.

“Religion is either an up-escalator to our Savior or a down-escalator to something else. When it goes up, let’s ride. When it goes down, let’s be sure to get off.”

“Jesus, be my religion. Help me find the support necessary to grow closer to you. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I do thank you for “religion” and the contributions it has given to our faith. However, make us wise and give us discernment to know when to abandon the skin of religion when it leads us away from you and toward something that is not you. I pray, especially, today, for all of the “religious leaders” who have gotten themselves so wrapped up in politics that they seem to have forgotten about you.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Is At Hand

Today is Thursday, November 16, 2017. Day 21,798.

Seven days until Thanksgiving!

Paul Hindemith, born on this date in 1895 (died 1963), said, “People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is scrimshank, a verb, meaning, “to avoid one’s obligations or share of work; shirk.”

Today is Fast Food Day. If you are so inclined, celebrate by making every meal of the day “fast food.” I’ve already messed up, having prepared myself a bowl of oatmeal and a couple pieces of sausage for breakfast. Oh, well.

C continues to improve. She’s walking around pretty much freely this morning, not even using a cane (although I think she is supposed to be using a cane). And her pain level was minimal when she got up this morning, so that’s good. She was hurting pretty bad when I got home, last night, because her therapist pushed her pretty hard yesterday. She slept on the couch again, mostly because of how she can rest her leg up on the back of the couch to get it elevated.

Corey Kluber of the Indians won the AL Cy Young award (with Red Sox Chris Sale coming in second), and Max Scherzer of the Nationals won the NL Cy Young. The MVP awards will be announced this evening.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Psalm 106:1
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 119:145
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;

Psalm 25:1-3
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Luke 12:47-48
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. 
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. 
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Psalm 5:1-8
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

The Cry of the Church

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9

I’m short on time, and I was just planning to post the verses and pray. But I just noticed something. We are always quoting Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything,” and so on. But it sure looks like the last phrase of verse 5 goes with that sentence! “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything . . .” The reason that we have for not being anxious about anything is that the Lord is at hand! He is here; all around us. Everything we do, we do in the midst of God! Therefore, do not be anxious.

I’m taking that with me today.

Father, thank you for this little detail that I just noticed today. May your presence be known to me throughout this day, and may I truly not be anxious about anything because you are at hand.
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.

When Our Plans Fall Apart

Today is Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Day 21,797.

Eight more days until Thanksgiving!

Today, my father would have been 80 years old.

Judge Joseph Wapner, who was born on this date in 1919 (died 2017), said, “When I was on the bench, I used to have a yellow pad, and I put on the pad at the beginning of the day, ‘patience’ and ‘restraint.'”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is attenuate, a verb, meaning, “to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value.”

Today is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Let me tell you, this recent influx of food offerings from our church family has made me realize how much I need to do exactly that. We’re struggling to find room in there for the leftovers!

We got a pleasant surprise, last night. I was cooking chili, when our dog, Tessie, ran to the front door and started barking. I had not heard a knock or the doorbell, but went up there to find a couple from our church carrying a virtual feast! We didn’t know they were coming, but that was most definitely not an issue, as the chili could easily be saved for another time (in fact, I plan to take some for lunch today).

They brought a pasta dish which had several different kinds of pasta and several different meats, as well. Not exactly lasagna, although it was shaped like that and had a similar consistency. But it had sausage and pepperoni and I don’t know what all else in it, and it was delicious. She had also made fresh bread for us, as well as a salad and a chocolate pie. In terms of a complete meal, this family wins the prize! And the main dish was huge, so we’ll have at least two more meals out of that.

We’ve got enough leftover food, at this point, to feed us for the rest of the week.

C had a pretty good day, yesterday, working through most of it, but taking a short nap in the afternoon. However, she wound up having to go to the couch to sleep, last night.

As for our Thanksgiving plans, we are still working that out. We have some ideas, but need to consult with my mother, as well. With just over a week left, there’s not a lot of time left, and I haven’t done any grocery shopping for it, yet.

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
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
Psalm 71:23
Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
Psalm 68:28
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45
Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. 
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; 
may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; 
may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! 
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD! 

Psalm 144:11-15

I won’t go into the details of the reading, but this morning’s reading in Daily Guideposts has to do with our plans not quite going the way we want them to. Our family is all too familiar with this scenario!

This past June (I think it was June), we had a trip to Oregon planned. We had a house rented for the week, right on the Pacific coast, the car rental reserved, and the flights booked. We woke up, got packed, and headed for the airport. We were almost to the airport, when C checked our flight. It had been cancelled! The weather was “iffy” that morning, and had been worse the day before. We made some phone calls, and found a flight that would leave later in the day, but had a connecting flight, and would not arrive in Portland until late at night. With an almost two-hour drive from Portland to Rockaway Beach, we would not arrive at the house until the wee hours of the morning.

We went back home to wait until time for the new flight. Then it got delayed. To the point that it would miss the connecting flight. We were getting depressed. But then C got on the phone again and started negotiating (she does that very well). Turns out that there were three available first class seats on an Alaska Airlines flight. Since our flight had been cancelled, we were booked on that flight with no extra charges! As we sat in those first class seats, I told C, “You know flying has been ruined forever, right?”

We made it to our destination, mid-afternoon, and had a wonderful vacation on the Oregon coast.

The point of all this is that our plans don’t always go the way we think they should. But God’s plans do. Not to say, necessarily, that God planned for us to be riding in first class. But he might have.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Father, help us to trust your plans and your heart for us all the time, but most especially, when it looks like our plans are falling apart.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

What Church Is Not

Today is Monday, November 13, 2017. Day 21,795.

Only ten more days until Thanksgiving!

Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born on this date in 1850 (died 1894), said, “He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is wastrel, a noun, meaning, “a wasteful person; spendthrift.” In chiefly British usage, it may also mean, “a. refuse; waste. b. a waif; abandoned child. c. an idler or good-for-nothing.”

Today is World Kindness Day. Show some kindness today. And don’t make it random. Make it purposeful.

Yesterday was a good day. It was busy for me, until around 2:00 PM, but once I got groceries done, trash and recycling taken out, and lunch prepared for the family, it was smooth sailing from there on. I wish it could have been a better birthday for C, but “it is what it is,” as they say. “But what if it isn’t?” asked The Grinder. However, she did, at one point yesterday, proclaim that my cake was the best chocolate cake she had ever eaten. I was shocked, flattered, and pleased, all at the same time.

Our worship gathering seemed like it went well, yesterday. I was given another food dish (a cheeseburger casserole) by a good friend of ours, after the gathering was over. It was frozen, so I put it in the freezer because we still had enough of Saturday evening’s meal to make lunch yesterday. Perhaps we will have that casserole tonight after I get home from work.

C has her follow-up doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and she plans to begin working from home tomorrow.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
Isaiah 1:18
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
Psalm 12:6
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
Psalm 12:5
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Matthew 12:30-32
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful. 
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:2-9
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The Cry of the Church

(From Practice Resurrection)

Once Paul introduces the term “church” to his readers (Ephesians 1:22-23), he “sets out to stimulate a praying imagination in us that is adequate for taking in all that is involved in church.”

But in order to do this, he must renovate our understanding of church by reminding us “what church is not.” In Ephesians 2:11-12, there are several things that Paul tells Ephesians that they must remember. He calls on them to remember what their “pre-church life was like.” “This is important;” Peterson says,” if you are going to understand what it is to be a church, you must keep in mind what church is not, remember your pre-church life.” Peterson counts seven negatives that Paul reminds them about: “Gentiles (all the Ephesians were Gentiles, that is, not-Jews), uncircumcised, without Christ, aliens to the commonwealth, strangers to the covenants, having no hope, godless.”

Peterson paraphrases this: “Remember what that transition was like when you crossed the threshold into church, the transition from exclusion to inclusion? Remember the surprise of being an insider to God and his revelation after being an outsider? Remember this well, for church cannot be comprehended by negatives, by what it is not. And neither can you.”

It helps to remember the culture into which these Ephesian Gentile Christians were entering. The first “Christians” were Jewish. And the Jews had gotten quite good at being “God’s chosen people.” So much so that “they had . . . developed an entrenched prejudice against non-Jews as a rejected people, which they were not.” If we look back at the original covenant with Abraham, God told him, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Then, later, in Isaiah, “and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD'” (Isaiah 2:3), and, “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)

So, it was difficult for the Jewish Christians to accept the Gentile Christians. But they did, eventually. And Paul was instrumental in this, being “tireless in insisting that church brooks no divisions, no condescension, no rejection of anyone for any reason.” He drives this point home in Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Father, thank you for “church,” and thank you for these teachings that church is to be all-inclusive of all peoples. Help us, as modern Christians, to remember these things, as we tend to fall into a kind of “chosen people” mentality, especially in America. There is still a strong feeling in our country of being a “Christian nation” (of which there is no such thing), and that you favor us for some reason. But you are not playing favorites. Everyone who calls on your name is looked at equally by you. Help us to treat people in the same way.
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.