Ramblings

Today is Saturday, August 10, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,430

Only nine more days until S turns 26!!!

In a little while, we will be heading to Six Flags for C’s company picnic. The lunch is at noon. C wants to ride at least one ride, so we plan to get there a little early so she can do that. We won’t likely stay very long for a couple of reasons. One is that the projected high temperature for today is 102. Picnics in August in Texas. What a wonderful idea.

The other reason is that we will be heading up to the hospital to visit with our pastor and his family. His father is not doing well at all. He had been sent home for hospice care earlier in the week, but last night, he was taken back up to “inpatient hospice” at the hospital, as he was experiencing trouble breathing. This morning it was reported that he will not be returning home from the hospital, and, barring a miracle, all they can do is “keep him comfortable.” Our hearts are very heavy with sadness. No. Our hearts are broken. We realize, yes, that he will soon likely be free from any pain and with our Savior. But we have prayed so hard and intensely. It is difficult to not be aggravated, even angry, or just simply disappointed.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-5. Emmanuel Chase took the loss in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rangers are 58-57, in third place in the AL West, 17.5 games out of first place, and eight games out of the wild card race. They will play again tonight, in Milwaukee, with Pedro Payano starting for Texas.

Wow. The Boston Red Sox exploded on the LA Angels, last night, demolishing them 16-4. Marcus Walden got the win for the Sox. He didn’t start, but was the pitcher of record when the Sox took the lead in the fifth inning. J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Mitch Moreland all went yard in the game, Martinez doing it twice. The Sox are 62-56, in third place in the AL East, fifteen games out of first place, and 5.5 out of the wild card race.

The current wild card standings are tricky. Cleveland and Minnesota are tied for first place in the AL Central. So they are also both tied for the first wild card spot. Tampa Bay currently has the second wild card spot, a half game ahead of Oakland.

There is a virtual three-way tie for the best record in MLB. The Astros and the Yankees both have a 76-40 record (.655), and the Dodgers are at 77-41 (.653). The Detroit Tigers continue to have a pretty firm grip on last place.

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

For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 
The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

Psalm 47:7-9

Today I am grateful:
1. For the weekend to rest for the work week ahead
2. For the life of a dear friend, a life that found joy in everyone he met, and never knew a stranger
3. For times when I have received encouragement from a family member, or a brother/sister in Christ
4. That the Lord is at hand; always at hand
5. For peace

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah.

Psalm 20:1-3

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 
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. 
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16

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

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

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.
Philippians 4:5-7

A lot of verses this morning, as I try to sort out things in my brain and in my heart. Psalm 16 has become for me, over the past few weeks, a sanctuary of sorts. Psalm 86:11 has always been my “life verse.” “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” But Psalm 16:11 is becoming almost equally important to me. A few weeks ago, I began to wonder . . . what if we, the Christians in the world, truly lived as though we believe that there is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord, and that there are literal pleasures forevermore at his right hand?

We are always in the presence of the Lord. Always. There is never anywhere you can go where you are not in the presence of God. Believer or not, everyone on the planet (and not on the planet, in the case of folks up on that space station), is in the presence of God! “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7-8)

I am determined to arrange my life in such a way that I am living in that truth! Because I do believe it!

Verse 8 of Psalm 16 is also becoming more meaningful to me. “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” What does this mean, “I have set the Lord always before me?” It likely can mean more than one thing. But one thing I do believe is that it is meditation. How else can I “set the Lord always before me?” In order to do that, I have to be thinking about him. I have to keep my mind stayed on him. Which brings up another verse, doesn’t it? “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Right on the heels of that verse, is “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Can we truly get to a point where Psalm 73:25 is true and we desire nothing on earth besides God? I don’t know. I haven’t made it yet. But my heart longs for that.

A lot of rambling, this morning, but it all points to the same truth. “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Would that all Christians could live as though this is truth. Would that we could stop attacking each other, because we think differently. Perhaps, if we simply stopped paying attention to all the political bull, and staying our minds on Christ instead . . .

Father, my heart is a mess, this morning, and so is my mind. All of these Scriptures are dear to me. I pray that you keep me focused on their truths; keep my mind stayed on you; may I keep you always before me, in front of me, behind me, and beside me. May I live in the truth that there is fullness of joy in your presence and pleasure forevermore at your right hand. May I live, believing that, in you, there is nothing to fear because you are my God and that you will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me with your righteous right hand. May you be the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Could you please do a miracle for my brother in Christ?
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Grace and peace, friends.

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Reading Bible Stories

Today is Friday, August 9, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,429

Ten days until S turns 26!!

Tomorrow is C’s company picnic. They’re doing it at Six Flags again. Everyone gets free access to the park, and then lunch will be served at noon at one of the pavilions. It’s only going to be 103 degrees tomorrow. Good times! Hahaha!

Hooray for Friday!

The Rangers were off last night. They are still 58-56, in third place in the AL West, 16.5 games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. There are forty-eight games left. They play the Brewers in Milwaukee tonight, with Kolby Allard starting.

The Boston Red Sox beat the LA Angels 3-0. Chris Sale got his sixth win. They are now 61-56, in third place in the AL East, sixteen games out of first place, and 5.5 games out of the wild card race. They have forty-five games left. They will continue their series with the Angels tonight, in Boston, with Brian Johnson starting.

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

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

Psalm 47:5-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the precious and very great promises of God (2 Peter 1:4).
2. That the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1)
3. That “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
4. That our God is full of surprises.
5. That the work week is coming to a close.

“Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 30. For the Unemployed)

(From Hearing God, Dallas Willard)

If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll remember that it was concerning that the great “heroes” of faith from the Bible were simply human, just like you and me. Says, Willard, “Conversely, if we are really to understand the Bible record, we must enter into our study of it on the assumption that the experiences recorded there are basically of the same type as ours would have been if we had been there.” I think we need to stop and ponder that truth for a bit. Because, he continues, if we don’t realize this, all of those stories and experiences will be just that . . . only stories. They will “remain unreal to us.”

When we fail to read the bible in this way, we encounter “two common problems.” “The first problem is that it becomes simply a book of doctrine, of abstract truth about God, which one can search endlessly without encountering God himself or hearing his voice.” Willard quotes A. T. Tozer, from The Root of the Righteous: “It is altogether possible to be instructed in the rudiments of the faith and still have no real understanding of the whole thing.” Sadly, I know someone just like this. Someone who knows the Bible backwards and forwards, yet seems to have very little knowledge of the One who inspired it.

“The other problem is that we simply stop reading the Bible altogether when we do not understand the experience of biblical characters in terms of how we experience life’s events.” Or, perhaps, we stubbornly follow a Bible reading plan, forcing ourselves to read several chapters a day, “because someone told us that it would be good for us.”

Sadly, “The open secret of many ‘Bible-believing’ churches is that only a very small percentage of their members study the Bible with even the degree of interest, intelligence or joy that they bring to bear upon their favorite newspaper of magazine.”

We need to go back to the Word and see it as a record of experiences that were “substantially like our own.” What would it be like if I had been Moses standing in front of that burning bush? What if I had been the child Samuel lying in his bed, hearing the voice of God? What if I had been Peter on the rooftop when the sheets of “unclean” animals descended?

“We must pray for the faith and for the experiences that would enable us to believe that such things could happen to us.

Father, help me to see these truths when I read the stories in your Word. Help me to see that the experiences of these people were no different than things that could potentially happen in my life, if I am following you closely and intimately.
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.

Merely Human

Today is Thursday, August 8, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,428

Eleven days until S turns 26!!

I think my interview went well, yesterday. I must have been more nervous about it than I knew, because afterward, I felt like I was “walking on air.” My manager and the assistant general manager took turns asking me questions that really made me think. I should have been expecting those kinds of questions, but it’s been, what, almost nine years since I had to do a job interview. And fourteen years before that. I tend to stay at a place for a long time. Anyway, the questions were things like, “What was the hardest decision you had to make in the last six months?” “Tell us about a time when you had to work with someone who is hard to get along with.” And so on. Oh, and, “Tell us about a time when you were asked to do something you’ve never done before. How did you react? What did you learn?” It was a little more relaxed than an interview with a new company would be, because I know both people. I was not given a time line on when they would make their decision. However, at the end of the interview, I told them, being perfectly honest, that, should they give the job to one of the other candidates, I would not be upset, nor would I be resentful.

The Texas Rangers lost a double-header to the Cleveland Indians, yesterday. In the first game, they were shut out, 2-0. Ariel Jurado took the loss. In the second game, they lost 5-1. Lance Lynn took the loss. The Rangers are 58-56, 16.5 games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. They have tonight off, and will be traveling to Milwaukee to play the Brewers tomorrow night. Kolby Allard will start for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox game was suspended in the tenth inning, tied 4-4, because of rain. The game will be continued on August 22. The Sox are 60-56, sixteen games out of first place and six games out of the wild card race. They play the LA Angels tonight, with Chris Sale starting.

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

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
Psalm 47:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That my company has enough confidence in me to consider me for a promotion.
2. For free pizza lunches at work.
3. That the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge (Psalm 18:2).
4. For the legacy of faith in my family, which God used to draw me into his kingdom.
5. That the biblical examples of people who had an intimate relationship with God were mere humans, just like me.

“Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share the fruits of the earth, rejoicing in your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 29. For Agriculture)

(From Hearing God, Dallas Willard)

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

How many times have you seen someone who is strongly “in touch” with God, through the power of the Holy Spirit? Have you found yourself thinking, “They just can’t be human?” We do tend to think that our experience couldn’t possibly be the same as theirs. May they are super-special in some way that we aren’t.

This is a misconception, though. I truly believe this. And I believe that the Bible bears this out for us. “Elijah was cited by James, the Lord’s brother, as a case well known in this respect, which could help the believers understand their own experience and its possibilities. The story of Elijah’s terror before Jezebel, his running for his life and his dissolving into a mass of righteous self-pity (1 Kings 19), shows clearly that he really was human.” He was, as James said, “a man with a nature like ours.”

There are other examples in Scripture. Moses, David, Elijah, Paul, Peter. The key point is, “Our humanity will not by itself prevent us from knowing and interacting with God just as they did.”

Father, thank you for these reminders, that the “giants of faith” that we frequently look at in Scripture, were mere humans, just like me. There is nothing, outside of my own inactivity and failure to seek your face, that can prevent me from being a “giant of faith” just like them.
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. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

Worry Is Meditation

Today is Wednesday, August 7, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,427

Twelve days until S turns 26!!!

I applied for the receiving lead position a month or so ago. They’re finally getting around to interviewing the three of us that applied for the job, internally, this morning. My interview is at 10:00. I’m only slightly nervous. I told my manager the day after I applied for it that I wouldn’t be mad if someone else got the position. I’m fine, whether I get it or not.

The Texas Rangers go postponed, I believe, last night, in Cleveland. I hear they’re playing a double-header today. Ariel Jurado is scheduled to start the afternoon game. Lance Lynn is scheduled to start the evening game. The Rangers are 58-54, in third place in the AL West, fifteen games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the KC Royals, 6-2. Andrew Cashner was pegged for the loss. The Sox are 60-56, in third place in the AL East, 15.5 games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race. They will play again today, in Boston, with Eduardo Rodriguez starting for Boston.

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

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

Psalm 46:10-11

Today I am grateful:
1. For God’s word, which always manages to draw me out of myself and put my eyes on things that matter.
2. For the peace that passes all understanding
3. For the love between my wife and I, that transcends all thing temporal
4. That the Lord will show his steadfast love to all who seek refuge in him (Psalm 17:7)
5. That God’s grace is enough, no matter what our past looks like

“O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the mist of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 28. In Times of Conflict)

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.
Philippians 4:5-7

I read this today in one of the many blogs I follow: “If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. You work and do many activities, while worrying. Think instead about what the Lord means to you.” (Pure Glory)

I have to confess that I have never thought of it this way before, and am grateful for whoever wrote that blog. We all, well, most of us, anyway, worry about things, don’t we? And what is worry if not meditation? Right? It’s just meditation on the wrong things! So “Apostle Gabriel Cross” is right. Instead of worrying while we work (or whatever we do), we need to think about the Lord and what he means to us and what he has done for us.

I plan to work on that today.

Father help me to meditate today on the positive things, rather than worry on the negative things. Help me to be more focused on you and who you are, rather than on things that have not yet happened, and may not ever happen. Thank you for your Word. May I spend much time meditating on your Word today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Grace and peace, friends.

Signs of the New Birth

Today is Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,426

Thirteen days until S turns 26!!

The Feast of the Transfiguration

Not much in the way of personal updates this morning.

The Texas Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0, last night. Mike Minor got the win, his tenth of the season. Elvis Andrus scored the lone run, driven in by Nomar Mazara. The Rangers are 58-54, in third place in the AL West, 14.5 games out of first place, and six games out of the wild card race. They have won five consecutive games. They play the Indians again tonight, in Cleveland, with Ariel Jurado starting.

The Boston Red Sox halted their losing streak last night, beating the KC Royals 7-5. Rick Porcello got his tenth win of the season. The Sox are 60-55, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 games out of first place, and 5.5 games out of the wild card race. They play the Royals again tonight, in Boston, with Andrew Cashner starting.

Cleveland and Oakland currently hold the wild card spots.

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

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Psalm 46:7

Today I am grateful:
1. That the Lord of hosts is with us and the God of Jacob is our fortress!
2. That “you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
3. That God continues to love us, even when we are unfaithful to him.
4. That my highest calling and opportunity in life is to love God with all my being.
5. That I have the ability to show signs of the new birth of the kingdom in the present age.

“O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, The Transfiguration)

(From Faith That Matters)

Ambassadors of A Surprising Hope, by N.T. Wright

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

“God’s new world of justice and joy, of hope for the whole earth, was launched when Jesus came out of the tomb on Easter morning, and I know that he calls his followers to live in him and by the power of his Spirit and so to be new-creation people here and now, bringing signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring real and effective signs of God’s renewed creation to birth even in the midst of the present age.”

That sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Wait, I’m supposed to bring about signs and symbols of God’s new creation?? Consider, though, that this doesn’t mean that we are supposed to be going around parting seas and raising the dead. It’s not that complicated.

We have the new birth within us. We are born from above. Therefore, since we have this treasure in “jars of clay,” as Paul put it, we are to display those treasures, showing the signs of new birth, of new creation to this world. And there are plenty of ways that we can do that, without having to split seas in half or bring the dead back to life.

I’ll leave you with one verse that’s a good starting place. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 12-13) Okay, that’s two verses. But there are several ways in there that we can bring “signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven.”

Father, help me today to put on a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Help me to bear with others, forgiving others as you have forgiven me.
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.

Express Your Feelings To God

Today is Monday, August 5, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,425

Fourteen days until S turns 26!!!

We had a great worship time, yesterday morning. I know some folks would say it wasn’t “worship” because we didn’t sing. But we read some Psalms, we read other passages of Scripture, we discussed them, we prayed, and we had the Lord’s Supper. And there was fellowship. If that’s not “worship,” then I’m not sure what is. Anyway, it was a good, sweet time. We also tried to involve the kids a little bit more, yesterday.

After church, we picked up Freebirds for lunch, then swung by Kroger to pick up our weekly grocery order. The rest of the day was pretty much relaxing.

The Texas Rangers completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, beating them 9-4. Weird. The Tigers scored four runs in all three games. Rafael Montero was credited for the win. Even though he only pitched two innings, while the starter pitched four. Come on, MLB, please fix this. Anyway. The Rangers are now 57-54, in third place in the AL West, fifteen games out of first place, and seven games out of the wild card race. They play the Indians in Cleveland tonight, with Mike Minor starting, still seeking his tenth win.

The Boston Red Sox lost their eighth consecutive game, and were swept for the second straight time. The lost to the Yankees, 7-4. David Price took the loss for the game. The Sox are now 59-55, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 games out of first place, and 6.5 out of the wild card race. They play the Kansas City Royals tonight, at Fenway Park, with Rick Porcello starting.

Cleveland and Tampa Bay continue to hold the wild card spots.

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

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Psalm 46:4-5

Today I am grateful:
1. For a new week, full of new opportunities to serve and glorify God.
2. For coffee.
3. That “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
4. That we all have something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that we can share with someone else.
5. That we are free (and encouraged) to pray to God what we honestly feel

“Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 27. For Social Justice)

(From Faith That Matters)

Pray Your Hate, Lay God’s Justice, by Eugene Peterson

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Psalm 139:19, 22

Since Peterson had such a great way with words, I’m going to quote this brief reading in its entirety. I also believe that it is appropriate for the time in which we are living.

“It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate. So we commonly suppress our negative emotions (unless, neurotically, we advertise them). Or when we do express them, we do it far from the presence, or what we think is the presence, of God, ashamed or embarrassed to be seen in these curse-stained bib overalls.

“But when we pray the Psalms, these classic prayers of God’s people, we find that will not do. We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be. In prayer, all is not sweetness and light. The way of prayer is not to cover our unlovely emotions so that they will appear respectable but expose them so that they can be enlisted in the work of the kingdom. Hate, prayed, takes our lives to bedrock where the foundations of justice are being laid.”

We must lean into those emotions when we pray, not run away from them. So, today, tomorrow, whenever you pray, go ahead and show those feelings to God. He can certainly handle it. And in the light of the tragic events of this past weekend, I’m sure there is plenty of hatred to pray. I know I’m struggling with it. So take it God, not to social media. Because that’s just the wrong place to air anything. And social media can’t help you at all. I promise you . . . it will only increase the hatred.

Father, when I feel anger, help me to lay it out before you. Help me to not suppress it, only praying what I think you want to hear from me. I agree with Peterson, Lord. Prayer is not all sweetness and light. There is darkness, as well. And there is plenty of darkness, right now. Help us, your people to express that, deal with it, and then shine your light into that darkness with love and forgiveness. Our hate must be directed to you in prayer, not to the world in anger.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

His Grace Is Sufficient

Today is Sunday, August 4, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,424

Fifteen day until S turns 26!!

Yesterday morning, twenty people were killed by a terrorist in a Walmart in El Paso. No one is calling him a “terrorist,” because he was white. But he had allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto before going on his rampage. Just days before, someone killed two people in a Walmart in Mississippi. Turns out that one was a disgruntled employee (maybe “ex-“). Then, early this morning, nine people were killed by a shooter in downtown Dayton, Ohio. The police killed the shooter. They happened to be in the area and were able to stop him in a minute. (Literal minute) Just a week ago, there was a shooting at a festival in California.

My heart hurts. And it’s a helpless feeling, because the only thing I can do about this is pray. I can vote, when the time comes. But voting doesn’t really help a lot, here. Voting won’t stop the crazy people from doing crazy things. Of course, it’s pretty meaningless when all our leaders do is say that our “thoughts and prayers” are with them. People, “thoughts” don’t help anything. Prayers, though. Prayer helps things. At least real, legitimate prayer. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) I remember learning this verse in King James Version, when I was younger. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It’s true. But who is this “righteous person?” It’s not a person who never sins, because that person doesn’t exist. The person who is righteous is the person who truly follows Jesus Christ. And that person’s prayers are powerful, because the name of Jesus is powerful.

I’m sorry for getting spiritual above the double lines. But I think the situation warrants it.

We had a good Night of Worship last night. We were few, but the few that were there worshiped and prayed. And I believe the prayers were powerful. I think the band played well together. The instrumentation was different than usual, as we had a bass, two electric guitars, and me on the keys. It sounded nice. We also had three ladies singing BGVs (background vocals). I think the number of people not in the band was the same as the number of people in the band. But it’s not about how many people show up.

The Texas Rangers edged out the Detroit Tigers, last night, 5-4, on a walk off home run by Rougned Odor. Jose Leclerc got credit for the win, because he happened to be pitching in the half-inning before that happened. (Insert my usual discourse about changing the way wins and losses are credited to pitchers, here.) That was Odor’s twentieth home run of the season. Willie Calhoun also homered in the game. The Rangers are 56-54, in third place in the AL West, fifteen games out of first place, and seven out of the wild card race. They will play Detroit again, this afternoon, in Arlington, with Pedro Payano starting.

The Boston Red Sox lost TWO games to the Yankees, yesterday. I didn’t know there was a double-header until this morning. The first was 9-2, with Chris Sale taking another loss (maybe it’s time to stop trying this??). The second was 6-4, with Matt Barnes getting the loss in relief. The Sox are now 59-54, in third place in the AL East, 13.5 games out of first place, and 5.5 out of the wild card race. They will play the Yankees again, tonight, in New York, with David Price starting.

Cleveland and Tampa Bay continue to hold the two wild card spots for the AL.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. Today, we are “scattered,” still all meeting at the same house. It will begin at 10:15, this morning, at 4033 Jackie Lee Street, in North Richland Hills, Texas. The observant reader will note that this is the same house where our Night of Worship happens. We are The Exchange Church.

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

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. 

Psalm 46:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. That God is our refuge and strength, and that we truly have nothing to fear.
2. For another opportunity to worship together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. That God listens to our prayers.
4. That God has done great things for my soul.
5. That the grace of God is sufficient for me.

“O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church, and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succor, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, Proper 13)

Once again, I find myself out of time, this morning. The week’s tragedies have taken their toll. I leave you with these verses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

No matter what we face in our lives (and in our nation’s life), his grace is sufficient.

Father, thank you for your sufficient grace. I pray for the peace of our nation. May your Spirit reign in all things.
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.