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.”

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.

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.


It Is Good To Give Thanks

Today is Sunday, November 12, 2017. It is C’s birthday!! Day 21,794.

Eleven days until Thanksgiving!

Neil Young, who was born on this date in 1945, said, “The ’60s was one of the first times the power of music was used by a generation to bind them together.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is eurhythmic. More than just the name of a group, it is an adjective, which means, “characterized by a pleasing rhythm; harmoniously ordered or proportioned.”

Today is International Tongue Twister Day. You know . . . “She sells sea shells by the sea shore,” “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” “A sheet I slit . . .” No, never mind that last one. In my opinion, the greatest tongue twister of them all is Dr. Seuss’s book, “Fox in Socks.”

As mentioned above, today is C’s birthday. She will be celebrating by doing the same thing she’s done every day for the past week and a half . . . recovering from knee surgery. We had a good day, yesterday, though, as R & J came down. We ordered Jason’s Deli and had it delivered. And then we ate cake! Remember the cake? It turned out marvelously delicious! I was both pleased and surprised at how good it was.

Later in the day, some more church friends brought us dinner. They made some kind of stuffed shells thing with a Mexican flair. Oh, and a Caesar salad kit. It was delicious, and we have enough left to have lunch today, after I get back from church. I’ll go to the grocery store after that. I need to look for more of those salad kits. That was actually quite good, and easy.

I’m getting ready for church this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach St, in Fort Worth.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:1-3
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,

Psalm 92:1-2
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! 
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 119:36-37
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:33-34
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, 
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:10-13
O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, I may purify myself as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, I may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

Sadly, my PC froze up on me midway through this blog entry, which required a total reboot. This took valuable time, and I need to stop and get ready for church.

Father, I pray for peace for those who need peace, this morning. We have multiple families in our midst who are hurting for various reasons. I pray that your presence will be strong with them, this morning, as we worship you. Lift our hearts to you and let us revel in your presence, this morning.
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.

Strength in Temptation

Today is Saturday, November 11, 2017. Veterans Day in the U.S. Day 21,793.

One day until C’s birthday!!

Kurt Vonnegut, who was born on this date in 1922 (died 2007), said, “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is fortitudinous, an adjective, meaning, “marked by bravery or courage; having or showing fortitude.”

Today is Origami Day. Origami is that famous art of folding a piece of paper into a bird. Okay, there are other things besides birds, but that seems to be the most popular thing to make. Origami was famously featured in the 1982 movie Blade Runner, in which the man chasing after Decker kept leaving behind little origami figures, one of which was a unicorn.

I made the cake last night. R & J are coming over in a little while, so I decided to get the cake done last night, so I wouldn’t have to be dealing with that today. Plus I wanted it to be ready to eat this afternoon. It was a major undertaking, bigger than anything I had ever done before. It looks nice, but is much taller than I expected. In fact, it is taller than our cake holder, so we had to improvise to get it covered.

The frosting tasted wonderful, but turned out a little lighter colored than I hoped for. It still looks pretty good, though, especially for my first “from scratch” cake. Hopefully, it will taste as good as it looks.

C is feeling better this morning, after breaking down and taking a second pain pill. The prescription says to take one or two every four hours, and she keeps trying to get by with only one. Mobility-wise, she’s getting better and better all the time. She goes back to the doctor on Monday for a follow-up. We’ll see what he has to say about her progress.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD.
Psalm 135:1
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Psalm 71:2
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42
What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
(Luke 4:1-2)

There’s something interesting in these two verses. Something that gets overlooked a lot. We all (or at least most of us) are familiar with the three temptations that follow these two verses. Jesus is hungry, so Satan tempts him to turn stones into bread, which he could have easily done. That shouldn’t be any more difficult than turning water into wine, right? Then Satan tempts Jesus with power and authority, which in truth, wasn’t Satan’s to grant. Then, finally, Satan tempts Jesus to be a showman, a performer. “Jump off of this tower and show everyone how the Father will protect you!”

We all know about these three. But look carefully at the first two verses. Satan tempted Jesus for forty days! And we have no record of how intense that temptation was. We only know about those last three. I think what we need to take away from this is that temptation is a daily thing. We have a couple of passages in Hebrews that relate to this. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

We can learn from this that, during those forty days, Jesus was tempted in any and every way that we could possibly be tempted. We can take comfort from that, which is the intent of the Hebrews passages, and should be strengthened by it. We might say, “That’s not fair because Jesus was God.” True, he was. But he was also man. He was human. The controversy has been brewing for decades, perhaps centuries. “Could Jesus have sinned?” Many insist that, no, he could not because of his divine nature. I believe that he could have because of his human nature. But he did not, because of his divine nature.

Take heart when you are tempted. And draw strength from Jesus.
(Thanks to Joshua Dubois, in The President’s Devotional)

Father, I thank you that we have the example of Jesus, who was tempted in every way that we are. I thank you for the divine strength that he had, and that he gives to us in our own temptations. And I thank you that, when I fail, the blood of Christ gives me forgiveness and cleansing. But I pray to find that strength that you have already given me, in Jesus.
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.

Here Together

Today is Friday, November 10, 2017. Day 21,792.

Two days until C’s birthday!!

139 days until Opening Day.

Greg Lake, who was born on this date in 1947 (died 2016), said, “‘Lucky Man’ I wrote when I was twelve years old. I wrote it when I first was given a guitar by my mother. I only knew four chords, but I used them all to write that song. And it just stayed with me, stayed in my head. I didn’t even write it on a piece of paper. I remembered it.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is arete, a noun, meaning, “the aggregate of qualities, as valor and virtue, making up good character.”

C had a different therapist, yesterday, who was a bit more aggressive. As a result, she has been a bit more pain all day and all night. She wound up going back to the couch last night (no I didn’t make her mad)(if that had happened, I would have been on the couch). We’ll see how today goes. Otherwise, she is getting around much better, and almost doesn’t need the walker.

C’s birthday is Sunday, but, obviously, there won’t be any big shindig this year. Just a quite “celebration” at home, and the cake that I will try to make tomorrow. We’re getting a new dishwasher for her birthday. The old one works, but it’s making some pretty horrific noises. Heck, it’s only eighteen years old! It’s the original dishwasher that came with our house.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, 
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

Psalm 66:8-9
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.

Psalm 119:145, 149
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:12-13
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Psalm 86:2
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
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah. 
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. 
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Psalm 84:4-10
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

The Cry of the Church

(From The President’s Devotional)

Today’s reading is “The Places You Dwell.”

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, 
“‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 
Did not my hand make all these things?'”

Acts 7:48-50

“Dear God, bring me to the places where you dwell.
If it is not in temples made by hand, then take me where you are.
Outside, with your creation, in the valleys, where your light breaks through darkness. With the poor and outcasts, those whom you love. In the quiet spaces, where it’s just me and you. ‘The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands.’ Then, Lord, bring me to the places where you dwell. And there, let me encounter you.
(Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo Joshua’s prayer. And then, I remember that you are everywhere, and that I don’t necessarily need you to bring me to a certain place, physically. Rather, I need you to bring me to that “place” spiritually. Today, I cry out to you. Remind me of your presence. Help me to call out to you constantly throughout this day. You are here. I am here. Let us be here together.
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.

Tension Between

Today is Thursday, November 9, 2017. Day 21,791.

Three days until C’s birthday!

Whitey Herzog, who was born on this date in 1931, said, “The only thing bad about winning the pennant is that you have to manage the All-Star Game the next year. I’d rather go fishing for three days.” He also said, “We need just two players to be a contender. Just Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is earthshine, an astronomical term which means, “the faint illumination of the part of the moon not illuminated by sunlight, as during a crescent phase, caused by the reflection of light from the earth.”

C continues to get stronger. She has slept really well, the last couple of nights, since she decided to try sleeping in the bed again. I think she is still planning to try working from home next week.

Some more folks from our church brought dinner last night. It was a delicious soup, with ground beef, green beans, carrots, pinto beans, tomato sauce, and penne pasta. They also brought homemade cornbread and cookies. It was all delicious. In fact, we’re asking for the soup recipe, it was so good.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
Luke 13:18-19
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. 
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

Psalm 20:1-5
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church

(From The President’s Devotional)

Today’s reading is called “Science and Love.”

“The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me to be purely factitious–fabricated, on the one hand, by short-sighted religious people who confound a certain branch of science, theology, with religion; and, on the other, by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension, and that outside the boundaries of that province, they must be content with imagination, with hope, and with ignorance.”
(Thomas Henry Huxley, “The Interpreters of Genesis and the Interpreters of Nature“)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33

There has existed, and probably always will, a tension between science and “religion.” But, in my opinion, the true follower of Christ is not afraid of science, but, in fact, embraces it. After all, science is discovering, not creating. And everything that science discovers was created by our Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. We live in a world full of the operations of the Trinity, and, to me, science continues to show the beauty of that creation.

“Dear God, today, help me hold equally to the wonders of your creation, and the glory of your presence. Remove the tension between what I can explain and what I cannot; allow them to coexist easily within me. Thank you for being the God of both science and love. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Yes, Father, give me eyes to see the beauty of your creation, today, while holding fast to your presence.
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.

The Ontological Church

Today is Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Day 21,790.

Four days until C’s birthday!

Bonnie Raitt, who was born on this date in 1949, said, “I just play the music that I love with musicians that I respect, and fortunately, I’m in a position where people are willing to play with me, and perhaps I can do something to help them.”

C continues to gain better mobility. And she slept in the bed, last night. So things are definitely looking up. The DirecTV/ATT install went great, yesterday morning, and everything seems to be working just fine. We’re slowly getting our favorite shows set up to record. And the physical therapist finally showed up, as well, and C said that the therapy went well. Also, she called the doctor’s office and they are going to have another prescription for pain pills ready to pick up tomorrow. The therapist actually got angry that they didn’t give her more, to begin with.

Someone else from our church is bringing us dinner tonight.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Psalm 98:6-7
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17-18
The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.”
Psalm 132:11
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:29-31
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. 
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 
A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. 
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

Psalm 101:1-5
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that I may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Practice Resurrection)

(Pages 118-119)

When I last read from this book, Eugene Peterson was speaking of the church that we can’t see. But this understanding of church is difficult to grasp in American culture. In our society, there are endless volumes written about what the church should look like, what it must do to be effective. Failures are analyzed, strategies formed. I can remember, back in the eighties and nineties, “church growth” programs were a dime a dozen. “The church is understood almost exclusively in terms of function–what we can see. If we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” We look at everything “through the lens of pragmatism,” which, in my opinion, should be considered a dirty word, when used to describe church.

And this way of thinking “is pursued unthinkingly. The huge reality of God already at work in all the operations of the trinity is benched on the sideline while we call timeout, huddle together with our heads bowed, and figure out a strategy by which we can compensate for God’s regrettable retreat into invisibility.” This has caused a level of shallowness in the church, which leads to goals of attempting to achieve successes that people can see. Statistics rule; they help us “keep score.” “Programs provide the game plan. This way of going about things has done and continues to do immeasurable damage to the American church.”

This philosophy is almost exclusively American, and it’s “very, very wrong.” Says Peterson, “We have to submit ourselves to the revelation and receive church as the gift of Christ as he embodies himself in this world.”

Speaking of philosophy, we’re going to get a little more philosophical, now. Peterson introduces the word “ontology,” which is the philosophical study of being. “An ontological understanding of church has to do with what it is, not what it does. And what it is is far wider, deeper, higher than anything it does, or anything we can take charge of or manipulate.” Once again, he reminds us that church is not something we do for God; it is what God is doing in us. “It is the ‘fullness of him who fills all in all’ (Eph. 1:23) working comprehensively with and for us.”

Father, I thank you that you have led us into a church family that thinks more like Peterson and less like America. Help us to continue on that path of believing that “church” is not what we do, but what you do. Help us to be representatives of Christ in this world, led by the power of the Holy Spirit as we walk in your kingdom, acknowledging all of the operations of the Trinity in our lives.
I thank you for C’s progress, and pray that you would make it continue, relieving her pain.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

Grace and peace, friends.

Trinitarian Prayer

Today is Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Day 21,789.

Five days until C’s birthday!

Joni Mitchell, who was born on this date in 1943, said, “Rachmaninoff made a musician out of me. His ‘Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini’ was the piece that sent me into raptures. It spoke to me. To me, it was a tender entreaty for the misunderstood.”

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is logrolling, a noun, meaning, “the exchange of support or favors, especially by legislators for mutual political gain as by voting for each other’s bills.” Also, “cronyism or mutual favoritism among writers, editors, or critics, as in the form of reciprocal flattering reviews; back scratching.”

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. I could definitely get into some of that, for sure.

There’s not much news concerning C’s recover. The physical therapist never showed up, yesterday, calling to say that she had gotten stuck in traffic in Dallas, and wouldn’t make it until today. She is planning to come Saturday to make up for it. In the meantime, C still has that low-grade, fluctuating fever, and feels achy part of the time. She is also about to run out of the pain pills, which makes me wonder if they thought she shouldn’t need any more after five days or a week. Mobility seems to be increasing, though, which is good. But she still has quite a large bruise on her thigh and a good deal of swelling in that leg.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32:12
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
Psalm 119:18
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
Psalm 119:113
“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Mark 13:33-37
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
Psalm 119:113
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23
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.
The Lord’s Prayer

I wanted to share a brief quote from C.S. Lewis, this morning, regarding prayer. This quote gets to the heart of the Trinitarian nature of prayer.

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bed- room where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.”
From Mere Christianity

And then, also regarding prayer, Eugene H. Peterson says:

“All prayer finally, in one way or another, becomes praise. Psalm 150 is deliberately placed as the concluding prayer of the church’s book of prayers. No matter how much we suffer, no matter our doubts–everything finds its way into praise, the final consummating prayer. This is not to say that other prayers are inferior to praise, only that all prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise.”
From Living the Message

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150

Father, help my prayers to become praise today. There is so much on my mind and heart, and I confess that, during my work day, yesterday, I had feelings of being overwhelmed, and forgot to consider your presence with me throughout the day. The neglect of your presence had a negative impact on my day. It’s not that you weren’t there, because you were. I just forgot about it. Help me to remember that today, no matter what may come.
I also pray for C’s recover, that things will begin to feel better for her. I thank you for the positive things so far.
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.