Live Wisely and Well

Today is Saturday, January 12, 2019.

Day 22,220

32 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.”
Samuel Johnson, English author, critic, & lexicographer, 1709-1784
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is iceblink. It means, “a yellowish luminosity near the horizon or on the underside of a cloud, caused by the reflection of light from sea ice.” (Dictionary.com)

I got off work on time, last night! It was amazing! Then it was raining and the traffic was awful, so it took me a lot longer to get home. No worries, though. It was Friday, and the beginning of the weekend.

We had our somewhat usual dinner of Freebirds burrito bowls, last night, and watched the last two episodes of Big Little Lies. At least until later in the year, when there is allegedly a second season coming. My understanding, though, is that they have exhausted the content of the book, so I’m curious as to where they will go from here. Similar to The Handmaid’s Tale, I think. But we have yet to watch the second season of that show. I’m not sure what we will watch next.

Today, C and S are going to a wedding shower at noon. That leaves me all alone to do whatever I want. Mwahahaha! Tonight, I may actually watch football again! I know, right? The Cowboys are playing in LA against the newly (and properly) relocated Rams. Also today, in the afternoon, the Colts play the Chiefs. This may wind up being the best game of the weekend. Tomorrow, the Chargers, who recently lost their way and wound up in LA, are playing the Patriots. Also tomorrow, the Eagles play the Saints. My predictions, mostly ignorant, are as follows: The NFC championship game will be the Rams vs. the Saints. The AFC championship will be the Chargers (yes, they will beat Tom Brady) vs. the Chiefs. I’m less sure about the Chiefs and Colts, though. I don’t plan to watch all of these games, by the way.

Tomorrow, I’m leading worship all by myself. I’m actually looking forward to this. The songs I have chosen are “Here I Am To Worship,” “Word of God Speak,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “Surrounded (Fight My Battles).”

I’ll be right back. I need another cup of coffee.

I’m back. Thanks for waiting.

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

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Today I am grateful:
1. For weekends, especially when we don’t have a lot to do.
2. For the grace of God in showing me when I’m wrong about something.
3. For the help of the Holy Spirit in repentance and forgiveness.
4. That I can talk to my wife about these things, and for the advice she gives.
5. That I have time for a second cup of coffee (related to number 1, of course).

Almighty God,
you have given us grace at this time with one accord 
to make our common supplication to you;
and you have promised through your well-beloved Son 
that when two or three are gathered together in his Name 
you will be in the midst of them:
Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions 
as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of your truth,
and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Prayer of St. Chrysostom)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

A while back, I read this verse, and started taking it literally. That’s what those numbers mean at the top of the page. Today, I am 22,220 days old. I am “numbering my days.” Silly, perhaps, and a bit too literal. But it’s fun for me.

I like Eugene Peterson’s translation of this verse in The Message. “Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” Perhaps that gets the gist of the verse better than numbering days.

I think the point is to consider the days. There’s a word we don’t use a whole lot, these days. “Consider.” It means more than just to think. It means, “think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.” Typically, but not necessarily regarding an impending decision. Think carefully about the days.

We live in a world where “hurry” is the norm. I get up at 5:15 AM, do a morning devotional, along with this blog, and then it’s off to work. I usually barely make it to work on time, especially if I stop along the way for something to eat. People around me, driving like bats out of you-know-where. The closer it gets to 8:00 AM, the worse people drive. I saw a funny meme on Facebook, the other day. It said, “It’s funny how people get so angry in traffic on the way to work. Like they’ll be any happier once they get there.”

Everyone is in a hurry. But Eugene H. Peterson once said, “Hurry is a form of violence practiced on time. But time is sacred.” And Dallas Willard famously said, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a famous passage, made even more famous by a song.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

If you can read that without thinking, “Turn, turn, turn,” after the first few phrases, I’m surprised.

This passage makes a point that there are certain times for certain things. And we need to consider, to think carefully, about those times, and what time it is right now. I’m not talking about clock time, you know. What time is it in my life?

To bring this into perspective, especially regarding “hurry,” let’s look at one last verse. 2 Peter 3:8.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

You see, God never hurries. So why should I? Well, because I might be late. If that is the case, then I need to consider how I’m approaching the time. Am I getting up early enough? Am I wasting time? (That’s a huge one for me!) Am I spending my time wisely. So I need to rearrange my life so that I never have to hurry. I need to number my days, learn to “live wisely and well.”

While it is true that I have all eternity in front of me, I don’t have that here on earth. There is a limited amount of time for us. We don’t know how long it will be. So we need to “number our days,” we need to consider the times. And we need to learn to live wisely and well.

Father, teach me to live wisely and well, to number my days properly. Help me to eliminate hurry from my life. I read (or heard) that Willard quote a long time ago, and it had an impact on me. But I forget a lot. I forget, and I catch myself hurrying. I catch myself worrying about things, about time. Help me to consider time more like it is to You. Help me to consider.
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

Soli Deo Gloria!

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The Rhythm of Worship

Today is Friday, January 11, 2019.

Day 22,219

33 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
Marilyn Monroe, U.S. actress, 1926-1962

The word of the day is syllogism. It means, “a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.” (Merriam-Webster)

Our new table was successfully delivered and assembled yesterday afternoon. It’s quite nice, and looks exactly like the one in the store. C sent me some pictures of the ones she was considering, and we selected this one together.

We already had the cat. That’s Rocky (short for Rachmaninoff), checking out the new table. When I was moving the old one out to the garage, yesterday morning, I had moved all the chairs out, and came back to find him walking around on the table with a most concerned expression on his face. It was as if he were saying, “What on EARTH are you DOING??” I assured him that we would have new one later in the day.

I had a productive day, as well, getting music set up for Sunday, taking a look at one song that I’m supposed to play at an upcoming wedding in February, getting dishes done, AND putting away two loads of laundry!! So I did not do nothing but sit around and play Red Dead Redemption 2 all day. I did a lot of that, but I did some other things, too. Then I cooked dinner, too!

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

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Today I am grateful:
1. For our new table and chairs.
2. For God’s “inexpressible gift,” mentioned in that verse.
3. For the songs I will be leading at our worship gathering, this Sunday.
4. That the leadership of our church trusts me enough to leave the music in my hands for Sunday.
5. For weekends.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor glory throughout all ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The General Thanksgiving)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

The reading for today is, “Serving God Involves Being Served by Him.”

Finally, he erected the Courtyard all around The Dwelling and the Altar, and put up the screen for the Courtyard entrance.
Moses finished the work. 
The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.

Exodus 40:33-34 (The Message)

“All the depth and profundity of worship is summarized in those last two sentences.”

First we see that “Moses finished the work.” The tabernacle, the dwelling place of God in the presence of the Children of Israel, was completed. This represents the service that man brings to God.

Then we see, “The Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of GOD filled The Dwelling.” This represents “the service that God brings to man.” In this, God’s Spirit invades our hearts with His “healing, restoring, redeeming, renewing presence. Love is released, knowledge is shed abroad, peace is infused, and grace is lavished.”

All of our worship should have this kind of rhythm. When I think of rhythm in this way, I think of a pendulum swinging back and forth. On the one side is man’s service to God, and on the other side is God’s service to man. “Man builds a tent, and God fills it with his glory. Man constructs a church; God’s cloud of providence covers it.”

About a year ago, we began to think of our worship gatherings in terms of us worshiping God, but at the same time, picturing God walking among us, back and forth between the chairs, ministering to us, working in our lives. This is the kind of rhythm we are talking about. I used to think of worship as a sort of performance, man worshiping while God sat on His throne, taking it in. I no longer see it this way. I see it more in the rhythm of which Peterson speaks, here.

“This is no quid pro quo, this rhythm of our service to God and God’s service to us. it is not a matter of his rewarding our worthiness or our hard work. It is rather the rhythm of life in God’s system. He gives, we give, he gives more, and we respond in gratitude. This is part of the beauty that God brings to our lives.”

Father, I am grateful for the beauty of this rhythm in worship. I look forward to practicing and observing this on Sunday morning.
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

Soli Deo Gloria!

My Significance Comes From God

Today is Thursday, January 10, 2019.

Day 22,218

34 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.”
P.G. Wodehouse, British humorist and novelist, 1881-1975

The word of the day is impresario. It means, “a person who organizes or manages public entertainments, especially operas, ballets, or concerts.”

I’m getting a little bit later start, this morning. C bought a new breakfast nook table Sunday, and it is being delivered today, so I decided to use my “floating holiday” today, to be at home when the delivery is made. We also paid them extra to have it assembled.

Not much else going on, so on to the devotional.

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

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Today I am grateful:
1. For a random day off from work.
2. For people work delivering and assembling furniture.
3. For time to work on music for Sunday (and other times).
4. For coffee. Not that it makes me feel that much different. I just like coffee.
5. That I get my significance and value from God.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love 
on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within 
the reach of your saving embrace:
So clothe us in your Spirit that we, 
reaching forth our hands in love, 
may bring those who do not know you 
to the knowledge of and love of you;
for the honor of your Name. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
Ephesians 3:14-15

This morning, I want to write a bit about gratitude point number five, “That I get my significance and value from God.”

This is a thing that I have known for a long time. Of course, as most of us are aware, “knowing” something and truly knowing something are completely different things. Have I confused you, yet? I have had the head knowledge for a long time that my true identity comes from God. It does not come from what I do for a living. It does not come from my talents (or lack thereof). It does not come from my hobbies, the things I like and don’t like. It comes from God.

Back when we were doing “huddle,” we were introduced to some shapes. I’ve not been a huge fan of “Life Shapes,” but there are a couple of them that I have grown to like. This one is what I call the “identity triangle.” The triangle has been used for a number of purposes, but today it will serve for my topic.

As you can see, the Father is at the top of the triangle. If you follow the arrow down and right, you get to “identity.” My identity comes from God. Following the next arrow over to the left, you get to “obedience.” The order is of utmost importance. If identity comes out of obedience, instead of the other way around, we wind up with strict legalism, or “works salvation.” But when identity comes first, from God, then moves on to obedience, it all flows from grace.

Yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. No, I did not get a visit from some Magi. In this context, “epiphany” means “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” Also, “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.”

Yesterday, there occurred a confluence of a couple of “streams” in my life. Two events crashed together in a thunder of crisis. And I emerged victorious. Sounds like I’m writing poetry, doesn’t it? I’m not really at liberty to discuss the two events, and the nature of them is not that significant. All that matters is the result.

You see, yesterday, I came to the startling realization that I do not get my significance from any human relationships or activity. It does not arise from any kind of performance or approval. It doesn’t come from how others think of me. It doesn’t come from whether I am included in any events or activities.

It comes from God through my relationship with the Trinity. As in the triangle above, I get my identity from the Father, through Jesus Christ, and am maintained by the Holy Spirit.

Something I have known for a while suddenly clicked yesterday. And it was liberating.

So consider this today. Your identity is not in what you do or who you know or who likes you or doesn’t like you. It’s not even dictated by your “pet sins.” Your identity comes from God and God alone. Let’s see what God says about us.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:30-31
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Psalm 8:5-8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
Ephesians 1:5
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

I could go on and on and on. But hopefully, by now, you get it. We are children of God. Recently, I had a DNA test done to try to gain a little more insight into my heritage. I’m not sure it was worth the money we paid for it, but it was still interesting. We get our DNA from our parents. But my “spiritual DNA” comes from one source only. From God our Father. And it is NOT diluted through centuries of family relationships. It is pure in all of us.

I get my identity, my value, my significance from God and God alone. You get your identity, your value, your significance from God and God alone.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently, most especially our enemy.

Father, I don’t have enough words to thank You for the revelation I received yesterday. My prayer, now, is that You will help me remember this tomorrow, when I feel slighted by someone, or when I fail to be what I believe You have called me to be. Thank You for the freedom that comes from this truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Soli Deo Gloria!

For the Common Good

Today is Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

Day 22,217

35 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.”
Dave Barry, U.S. columnist and humorist
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is pawky. Chiefly a British word, it means, “cunning; sly.”

C has a wicked catch in her right shoulder blade area, so we didn’t go exercise, last night. I stopped at Subway for dinner, though, on the way home. It still hurts, this morning, but she says it is some better.

Not much going on this week, otherwise. I’m thinking on what songs I’m going to lead, this Sunday. So far I’ve decided on “Word of God Speak,” and “10,000 Reasons.” I planning to simply focus on worshiping God.

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

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

Today I am grateful:
1. For the victory of which that verse speaks. I may not be experiencing all of the effects of it right now, but it is certainly there for me to grasp.
2. For the blood of Jesus, that has cleansed all my sin.
3. For the privilege of intercessory prayer.
4. For the miracle of God hearing and listening to our prayers.
5. For puppies and kittens.

O God, you have made of one blood
all the peoples of the earth,
and sent your blessed Son to preach peace
to those who are far off and to those who are near:
Grant that people everywhere may
seek after you and find you;
bring the nations into your fold;
pour out your Spirit upon all flesh;
and hasten the coming of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Extraordinary Grace-Gifts,” by Frederick Buechner

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7

When someone is described as being “charismatic,” what do we typically think of? If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you probably think of a celebrity who has that certain je ne sais quoi about them. (Did you know that literally means, “I do not know what?”) They have what we might call “presence.” But they don’t have to be celebrities to be charismatic. We might run across that quality in people who are “nobodies” or even children.

If we consider, though, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, or that guy who “risked his neck smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany,” and put them in everyday street clothes, we more than likely would not recognize them. Buechner calls these the “true charismatics,” because the word comes from the Greek charis, which means “grace.”

Side note . . . today is the first time I have heard that the word means “grace.” For most of my life, at least since the word “charismatic” began being used to describe a sect of Christianity, I was told that the word meant “gifted.” But it doesn’t. It means “grace.” I verified it, Buechner is right.

It is out of graciousness that “God gives certain men and women extraordinary gifts or charismata such as the ability to heal, to teach, to perform acts of mercy, to work miracles.”

And many of these people do not have what we would consider “presence.” “You don’t feel any special vibrations when they enter a room.” But they are the true miracle-workers.

Paul claims that we have all been given some kind of gift of the Spirit, some kind of “grace,” and for what purpose? “For the common good.” We are given this grace to share with others, not to draw attention to ourselves. This is me, not Buechner speaking, here. I believe that this is one area where the charismatic movement of the late twentieth century missed the proverbial boat. The “gifts” tended to be about “me.” Look at me, I’m speaking in tongues. Look at me, I’m prophetic.

That’s not the purpose of the gifts of grace at all. Again, they are “for the common good,” for the edification of the body of Christ.

Consider, if you will . . . “What extraordinary grace-gifts has God give you for the purpose of working ordinary miracles? How can you exercise them each day for God’s glory and the common good?”

Father, I pray, today, that You would remind me of the grace-gifts that You have given me; show me how I can best use them to build up the Body of Christ and to glorify Your great Name.
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)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Let My Words Be Few

Today is Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Day 22,216

36 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy, Russian mystic and novelist, 1828-1910
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is labyrinthine. It means, “complicated; tortuous,” or, “of, relating to, or resembling a labyrinth.” (Dictionary.com)

Well, we didn’t make it to the Y last night. We don’t really have a good reason. We just didn’t do it. Instead, we made chili and watched an episode of Speechless and an episode of Big Bang Theory. That was pretty much it.

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

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4

Today I am grateful:
1. For the people God has placed in my life, thus far. I’m feeling pretty blessed right now.
2. For the Holy Spirit, who continues to gently nudge me toward a deeper experience with Jesus.
3. For Jesus, who shows me the way to the Father.
4. For the Father, who is always near me, always with me, everywhere I could possibly go
5. For the truth that, no matter how I feel, spiritually or emotionally, all of the above are still true.

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful
people is governed and sanctified:
Receive our supplications and prayers which we 
offer before you for all members of your holy Church,
that in their vocation and ministry they may
truly and devoutly serve you;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

I’m starting with this verse, but will segue into something else; different, but related, I think.

This verse is the inspiration for a Matt Redman song, “Let My Words Be Few.”

It’s a verse and concept that I keep needing to go back to. You see, I have a problem with letting my words be few. Big problem. My words have gotten me into more trouble than I care to speak of. It’s a constant case of, “Did I say that out loud??”

I think the point of this verse in Ecclesiastes, though, is more about the things we say before, or to, God. Jesus makes a sort of reference to the idea when He tells us not to make rash vows to God. God is in heaven; I am on earth. I will let my words be few.

Now for the segue.

In Every Step An Arrival, by Eugene H. Peterson, today’s reading begins with a verse about Moses.

GOD said to Moses, “Climb higher up the mountain and wait there for me; I’ll give you tablets of stone, the teachings and commandments that I’ve written to instruct them.”
Exodus 24:12 (The Message)

Moses is at his pinnacle, here; the highest point of his life. And I’m not just talking about physical location, either. He’s the leader of the people; he has brought them out of Egypt (with God’s help, of course); he is God’s spokesperson. “He is the key person in the people’s relation with God; he is the key person in God’s relation with the people.”

In all of this, we might make the mistake of thinking that Moses is indispensable. But he is not. He is necessary, but not indispensable. “If Moses had not done it, God would have prepared another.”

So what we need to realize is that the “great thing in this story is not what Moses did but what God did. God calls; God gives; God instructs.” Moses simply answered God’s call and waited for God to speak. Moses “knew how to get out of the way so God could be in the way.”

This is where I believe the two ideas are related. Moses knew how to let his words be few. When he came back down from the mountain, he “gave the people God’s word. He didn’t tell the exciting story of his forty days on the mountain. He did not show a set of slides of the views from Sinai. He was absolutely silent about himself in order that he might talk about God.”

I especially got a kick out of that statement about the slides. I’ve been a part of far too many missionary presentations in my life.

Anyway . . . These concepts are important, especially as we think about gathering to worship. “We come to a place of worship to find out about God, not about man. We are here to get ourselves in relation with God, not to be entertained with religious tales of the saints and sinners.”

May we stand in awe of God today, and let our words be few.

Father, as I go through this day, help me to let my words be few, and to stand in awe of you, as you are in heaven and I am on earth.
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

Soli Deo Gloria!

What Do I Think About God?

Today is Monday, January 7, 2019.

Day 22,215

37 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

“There are three things you can do in a baseball game. You can win, or you can lose, or it can rain.”
Casey Stengel, American baseball player and manager, 1890-1975
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is salvific. It means, “of or relating to redemptive power.” (Dictionary.com)

We had a great worship gathering, yesterday. I think the music went quite well, and Jacob’s message was great.

After church, we had Lone Star BBQ for lunch, and then C went out table shopping. We are replacing the table in our breakfast nook. She went all the way to Nebraska Furniture Mart. Not in Nebraska, but almost. I think it’s in The Colony, which is almost in Nebraska. Or McKinney. One of those. Anyway, she picked out four different table sets and sent me pictures. Then we had a phone conversation about which one would work best, and agreed on one. It’s supposed to be delivered Thursday, I think she said. And, thankfully, she paid the extra $50 to have them assemble it.

It’s Monday, and also the first full work week since before Christmas. At least I won’t be getting my days mixed up. We might go to the YMCA tonight and start exercising again. More on that later.

Oh. The Ravens did not play like a playoff team, yesterday. I was not at all impressed by their quarterback. He didn’t seem to have much of a clue. They played like rookies, making sloppy mistakes. They lost much worse than the 23-17 score indicated. So, next Saturday, the Colts will play the Chiefs and the Cowboys will play the Rams. On Sunday, the Chargers will play the Patriots, and the Eagles will play the Saints. I don’t have any real predictions, other than to say I will be super-surprised if the Cowboys beat the Rams. Okay, yes I do. I think the NFC championship will be between the Rams and the Saints. I think the AFC championship will be between the Chiefs and the Chargers.

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

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Romans 14:6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the salvific power of Jesus Christ.
2. That God saw fit to choose me to be a part of His kingdom.
3. That He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in the struggles of this world.
4. For the forecast of some pretty days this week.
5. For worship songs that inspire me.

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:
We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us
by your Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life
we may not forget you,
but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Guidance)

(From Faith That Matters
Who Is God to You? by A.W. Tozer)

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

Just a few verses away from my “life verse” (Psalm 86:11), resides this gem of a verse. My reading for today springs from it, opening with this statement: “The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” That’s a statement that should make us all step back and examine the worship gatherings of our various churches. The quality of worship depends on the whether “the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”

What is the church’s idea of God, what does she say about God, what is her message? I see signs on my drive to work; we get flyers in our mailbox. Many of the sermon series that I see really don’t have much to do with God. They have a lot to do with worldly things, like relationships and money, but little to do with God.

“What comes into your mind when you think about God?” The answer to that question might very well predict our spiritual future. The answer to that question, especially for our “religious leaders,” might also “foretell where the church will stand tomorrow.”

When I think about God, my thoughts typically line up with the above verse from Psalms. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (mercy) and faithfulness. He is here. He is there. He is wherever I am and wherever you are. He is always. God is present with me now, and will be present with me all day. He is other.

Father, I pray that You maintain right ideas about Yourself in my spirit and mind today. Show me what You are doing, that I might “rightly worship You in fullness.” Keep me firmly entrenched in Your mercy and grace.
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

Soli Deo Gloria!

Be Generous With Your Life

Today is Sunday, January 6, 2019. Epiphany

Day 22,214

38 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin, U.S. engineer and Science Fiction author
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is palladium. It means, “anything believed to provide protection or safety; safeguard.” (Dictionary.com)

I watched a football game last night! The whole thing! The Cowboys beat the Seahawks in a close game, 24-22. I don’t think it was quite as close as the score indicated, though. And the result may have been quite different if Seattle’s place kicker had not pulled a muscle on a too-long field goal attempt. The punter was drop-kicking in his place, and muffed the onside kick with just over a minute left in the game. That could have made a huge difference, but the Cowboys were able to run out the clock after that.

I may watch football again, today! The Ravens are playing the Chargers, on the noon game. I’ll be rooting for the Ravens in that game. I was not necessarily rooting in the game, last night, but I was also not rooting against the Cowboys, as I have done in the past.

I had a great talk session with our pastor, yesterday morning, and then, in the afternoon, he came over and we watched Ready Player One together. The movie was definitely entertaining. However, it was more different from the book than it was the same. It was most disappointing.

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

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

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:25

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship God with our Exchange family.
2. For another opportunity to lead others in worship.
3. For the potential for another beautiful day, weather-wise.
4. For the stirring of the Holy Spirit within me, leading on to better places.
5. For the love of God and the love of people.

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of
the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord:
Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you,
that the week to come may be spent in your favor;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays)

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (The Message)

During my conversation with our pastor, yesterday morning, two things kept cropping up. We were, at the center of it all, discussing the book Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung.

One thing that arose in our conversation was the topic of pusillanimity. I’ve mentioned this before. It is a shrinking back, probably out of fear, from things that God has for us to do. For me, it has been going up to a certain point in my life, but then failing to take that definitive step into the next phase. This has happened time and time again.

The other thing, though is what I want to focus on this morning. It comes from the above verse, Matthew 5:16. In our talks, Jacob said that, instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, he has chosen to only read the Gospels through, multiple times. He started with The Message, and plans to read several other translations throughout the year. This particular verse has caught his attention, and most specifically, the phrase, “Be generous with your lives.”

What does that mean? Both of us, my pastor and I, seem to struggle with a similar issue in our lives, and I would be willing to be that many other Christians are in the same proverbial boat. We are selfish with our lives. We declare ourselves too busy for other people. C and I rarely get home from work before 6:00 PM on weeknights. By the time we either cook, pick up, or order dinner and eat it, it’s quite close to our bedtime. We generally hit the pillows by 9:00 PM, as we get up at 5:15 in the mornings.

The thing is, though, we have to eat dinner, and you have to eat dinner. What’s to keep us from occasionally sharing that meal, even on a weeknight? I know we’re tire. So are you. But let me tell you something (and believe me, I’m stomping on my own toes, here). A year or so ago, we had a semi-regular Thursday night meeting for dinner with at lest two other families in our fellowship. We would all bring our own food to one family’s house, sit down and eat together, and just share conversation about whatever happened to come up. There was no agenda; no list to follow, no plans to make. We just “broke bread” together and had a good time. I have to confess that it was refreshing and rejuvenating. And I miss those days.

This is “being generous with our lives,” at least one way. Sharing our lives with others. There is something invigorating about breaking bread with others. It has lost a great deal of significance in our culture, but in Jesus’s day, it was very significant. Sharing a meal with someone was something much more intimate than it is, today.

How do we reclaim this? I’m not sure I have the answer to it. But we have to, my pastor and I agreed yesterday, figure out a way to do it. We need to “unself” a bit (to use a word that Eugene Peterson coined in another book). I need to let go of this feeling that when I have free time, I have to spend it doing only what I want to do. I need to be generous with my life.

Father, I need Your help in this, desperately, and I’m not the only one. Help us to be generous with our lives. Help us to unself. Help us to follow in the steps of Jesus and be more aware of the needs of others around us.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!