How Wide, How Long, How Deep, How High

This one goes to eleven.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pogonic. This adjective means, “of or relating to a beard.”

Today is Mulligan Day. Normally referring to golf, the term “Mulligan” refers to taking a second shot from the same spot. Consider other areas of life, though, on this day, and give yourself a second chance on something; a real-life “Mulligan.”

We had a really fine day, yesterday. Rachel and Justin met us in Mineral Wells, where we had a great lunch at The Mesquite Pit. From there, we went straight out to the cemetery where my father is buried, and met with the caretaker there. He showed us a variety of available gravestones, and we selected one, along with a vase for flowers. All of the gravestones at that cemetery are ground level and flat, making things much easier for groundskeepers. The vases must attach to the stone, and can be inverted when not in use. We picked out a nice one, in basic granite grey, that has room for both of their names, along with their wedding date.

The caretaker has to request a sketch of what is desired on the stone, and he will show that to my mother whenever it comes in.

After that, we had time to go back to the house and chat for a bit before the lawyer appointment. Rachel and Justin headed on back home, while we went to the lawyer’s office. My mother’s lawyer is the son of the lady I took piano lessons from, as a youth, so I remember him well. He quickly worked up papers for us to sign, granting us power of attorney over Stephanie’s medical and financial decision-making, which is something we have felt the need to do for a while now. Unexpectedly, he did not charge us!

We went back to the house, where we talked for a little bit longer, then we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping at Taco Bell for some dinner. We watched several TV shows, including the season premier of Fargo, which did not disappoint. What a bizarre show it is! Christi went on to bed, while I watched the season premier of American Horror Story: Hotel, which was bizarre in a completely different way. I think it has potential, but it all depends on the direction that the writers take it. If they follow their pattern, this season should be pretty good. We shall see, though.

This morning (or right around noon, perhaps) we will hit the grocery store for our weekly good deed and our own groceries. I don’t know what we will do this afternoon, since we don’t have church today. I’m sure we will figure something out.

On this date in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great marched into Babylon and released the Jews from about 70 years of exile, allowing them to return home to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. In 1888, Thomas Edison filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph. In 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion. Two years later, Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany, moving to the United States. In 1956, the first commercial nuclear power plant was opened in Cumbria, England. In 1965, the New York World’s Fair closed after a two year run. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today’s birthdays include Jerry Siegel (American cartoonist), Arthur Miller (American playwright), Rita Hayworth (American actress), Montgomery Clift (American actor), Tom Poston (American actor), Barney Kessel (American musician), Evel Knievel (American motorcycle daredevil), Gary Puckett (American musician), Michael McKean (American actor, Laverne & Shirley, This Is Spinal Tap), Margot Kidder (Canadian actress), Alan Jackson (American singer/songwriter), Rob Marshall (American director), Norm MacDonald (Canadian comedian), and Ziggy Marley (Jamaican musician).

Michael McKean was born on this date in 1947. He might be more known for his portrayal of Lenny in Laverne & Shirley, but I love him as part of Spinal Tap. Here is a video of a Spinal Tap performance of “Gimme Some Money.”

Frederic Chopin, Julia Ward Howe, Billy Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Joey Bishop, and Vic Mizzy are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

In this passage, Paul prays that that we might be able, through the Spirit, to comprehend, or, as it says in the NIV, to “grasp” the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ.

“The word grasp means ‘to wrestle’ or it could mean ‘to capture,’ as in capturing a city in battle.” When we meditate on a biblical truth, we are wrestling with it until we “capture” it or until we break through, or, as some say, until it “hits” you. This can only happen with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

We might say that Paul is proposing a means of meditation here. Keller works through an examination of this process, beginning with the question, “How wide is the love of God?” Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Red, crimson, scarlet, all colors that depict blood. God says, here, that, even if your guilt is to the point of shedding blood, if you have “blood-guilt” on your hands, even then, his love is “wide enough to enfold you and embrace you. . . . If Jesus Christ died on the cross so that you are saved by grace alone, then my love is infinitely wide. It is wide enough for you.”

Moving on, “How long is the love of God?” In John 10, Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (27-28) In a very well-known verse, Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It does not say that God “might” finish the work he started. It says he will. God’s love is infinitely long. In fact, this love began, according to the book of Revelation, “before the foundation of the world.” Keller says, “God put his love on you in the depths of time, and he will never remove it from you.”

“How deep is the love of God?” In order to understand this, we must contemplate the depths to which Jesus went in order to love us. I think all we need, in order to grasp this, is to look at one question that he asked. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In essence, that is hell. He was thrown into the deepest pit anybody ever went into, and he went in voluntarily.” This is the infinite depth of God’s love for us.

“What is the height of God’s love?” In John 17, Jesus said, And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. . . . The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. (vv 5, 22) Then, in 1 John 3:2, we see, 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. This is the height of God’s love, to fill us with the same glory that he has given Christ since before the world was created. “He is going to give us the same thing that fills his heart with infallible joy from all eternity.”

So, then, this has been a brief meditation on the love of Christ, attempting to grasp the breadth, length, depth, and height of his love for us. If the Spirit graces us with some “power to grasp it” as we meditate, then we will encounter God. “That will change the way we see all of life and how we behave in this world.”

I’ll finish with a song that I haven’t heard in a long time, “Your Love Is Deep,” by Jami Smith.

Your love is deep
Your love is high
Your love is long
Your love is wide

Deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than this road I travel
Wider than the gap you filled

Who shall separate us?
Who shall separate us from your love?
Nothing can separate us!
Nothing can separate us from your love!

Grace and peace, friends.

God’s Glorious Creations

Good morning. Today is Friday, January 25, 2013. Did you catch the emphasis, there?

Today is “National Irish Coffee Day.” Irish Coffee consists of coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, topped with thick cream. I would go make one, but 1) I don’t have any thick cream, and 2) it’s 7am and I have to drive to work this morning. Maybe after work? Hah. Turns out I don’t have any Irish whiskey, either. I have Irish cream. Oh, well. Mom, don’t read that part. đŸ™‚

The glass on my car is fixed.
2013-01-24 15.47.31
Fortunately, when we got the “Serenity” decal, we got two of them. So I have an extra to replace the one that got thrown out with the broken glass. I’ll try to get that done over the weekend.
Yesterday was pretty much a normal day, other than that. Fortunately, the glass guy (the guy that fixed the glass…not made of glass) showed up at work in mid-afternoon, so I didn’t have to stay late. That enabled Stephanie and me to get to the gym in time for her 7pm training session. While she did that, I got in a good 45 minute run on the elliptical, and some strength training afterwards. We went home, where Christi had worked up a nice batch of Rotel chili. Yum!! We use 96% lean ground beef for our chili, so it’s both delicious and healthy. As of this morning, I’ve lost 11.8 pounds on the year.
We have no big plans for the weekend, yet. There’s an extra service at church on Sunday, as we have a big meeting Sunday evening, along with a meal, to discuss vision for the coming year. Should be exciting.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1947, Al Capone, “the most notorious gangster in US history,” died at the age of 48. What killed him was an “apoplectic stroke complicated by pneumonia.” Of course, he also had syphilis, and had lived for the last eight years “in retirement on his Florida estate after eight and a half years in prison.” Capone became violent early in his life, leaving school at the age of twelve. As a teen, he murdered at least two, never being convicted for it. He also gained the nickname “Scarface” during this time. He insulted a woman in a bar/brothel, and “her hoodlum brother slashed his face with a razor.” He moved to Chicago at the age of 20, where he soon became the city’s leading mobster. The thing that eventually landed him in prison was tax evasion. He actually spent time at Alcatraz during his imprisonment. It was there that the effects of tertiary syphilis began to take their toll on him.

Today’s birthday is Dean Jones, born in 1931. Jones is an actor who got his start on Broadway, and eventually became one of Disney’s main actors in the sixties. He starred in, among others, That Darn Cat, The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard’s Ghost, and The Love Bug. Jones became a Christian in 1986, after which he had a successful tour in a one man show called St. John in Exile, where he played the last surviving apostle of Jesus.

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. Psalm 66:5
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:7-8
Father, I pray for a glimpse of you this morning, as I read and meditate on your word. Show yourself to me today.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 22:15-25.
15 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him:
16 What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock?
17 Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you
18 and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master’s house.
19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station.
20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah,
21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.
24 And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons.
25 In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken.”

Shebna was, apparently, steward over the household of Hezekiah (although Hezekiah is not mentioned in this specific passage). Because of his pride, he was ejected from office and his role taken over by Eliakim. This passage should be seen as a warning against pride, and against thinking too highly of oneself.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “The Lord God Will Be Our Light.” The scripture reading is Revelation 22:1-5.
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

As the book concludes the section on “The With-God Life,” it has come full circle. We began with Adam and Eve walking in the garden of Eden with God, and here, in Revelation, we see the community of loving people with God and the Lamb (Jesus Christ) as the center of it.

Father God, as I reflect on all the ways you have been with your people throughout the Bible, in history, and in my own life, I find myself so grateful for your constant presence–your guidance, companionship, and love. I know that so often I overlook, ignore, or misunderstand your presence and work in the world, so I eagerly anticipate those days in eternity in which I will not see through a glass darkly, but clearly, face to face, where I will live in this glorious community of which you are the center. Thank you once again for creating me, for wishing to be in relationship with me. Teach me to honor you by recognizing and treating all people as your glorious creations. In your name I pray. Amen.~~quoted from the book.

That last line resonates deeply within me. “Teach me to honor you by recognizing and treating all people as your glorious creations.” If only all who call themselves “Christian” would live in this way. Sounds suspiciously like the Golden Rule, doesn’t it?

Father, as I get ready for this day, I thank you, indeed, that you created and chose me to be a part of your eternal community. I pray that, as I go about my normal activities for this day, I will treat others as your creations. I pray that I will obey the words of Jesus Christ when he told us to treat others as we would be treated. He did, after all, state that by doing this one thing, we would fulfill all of the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12). So, I pray that you would enable me to live in this way, by the power of your Spirit. I thank you that you will be our light in eternity. The description of our eternal destination in Revelation is astounding and simply makes my spiritual mouth water. It causes such anticipation within my spirit! Oh, I long for the day when your name will be on my forehead, and there will be nothing accursed in our presence.

I pray for my family on this day, Father. May you give us a good, productive work day, free from anxiety and stress. Surround us with your Spirit and protect us from attack. I pray for Stephanie as she takes these online courses she has enrolled in. May she learn some useful things as she begins to look forward in her life. Draw us all closer to your heart today.

May we all live by the idea of the Golden Rule today. I purpose, this day, to treat all people as “God’s glorious creations.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Prayer Is the Greater Work

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Today is “National Pasta Day.” I can do that. In fact the Lean Cuisine meal I’m taking to work today has pasta in it. Cool.

On this date in 539 BC (didn’t they use a different calendar then??), Cyrus the Great marched into Babylon and released the Jews from exile, allowing them to return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
On this date in 1771, the opera Ascanio in Alba premiered in Milan. It was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at the age of 15.
The London Beer Flood occurred on this date in 1814. Nine people were killed. Really??
On this date in 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion.
Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany and moved to the U.S. on this date in 1933.
On this date in 1956, the first commercial nuclear power station was opened in Cumbria, England.
On this date in 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
On this date in 1989, a 7.1 earthquake occurred in the San Francisco Bay area, killing 63 people, and interrupting the 1989 World Series. They were in the warmup phase for game three, between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.

Birthdays today include Arthur Miller, 1915, Rita Hayworth, 1918, Tom Poston, 1921, Evel Knievel, 1938, Earl Thomas Conley, 1941, Gary Puckett, 1942, Robert Jordan and Margot Kidder, 1948, Alan Jackson, 1958, Norm MacDonald, 1963, Ziggy Marley, 1968, Eminem, 1972, John Rocker, 1974.
Deaths of note on today’s date include Joey Bishop, 2007, Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1991, Julia Ward Howe, 1910, and Frederic Chopin, 1849.

We had a good Lifehouse meeting last night, during which we watched part of a Francis Chan series on DVD. The segment we watched last night was on fearing God. I really enjoyed it. I had never read or heard Chan until last night, and I was pretty impressed. I also noticed he sounds almost exactly like Owen Wilson. Maybe it’s just me.

Father, I pray that you would reveal yourself to me this morning. Teach me more about fearing you properly.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:161-168.

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

In verse 162, the psalmist recognizes that God’s word is like finding great treasure. Perhaps I should follow his lead and praise the Lord “seven times a day.” Those who love God’s word have great peace available to them, and the second half of verse 165 is powerful. “…nothing can make them stumble.” Meditating on and following God’s word provides great strength for his people.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Greater Works.” The scripture reference is John 14:12, which says, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. There have been many opinions offered as to what, exactly, Jesus meant by “greater works.” Here is the opinion of Oswald Chambers. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Looking at the context of Jesus’s statement in verse 12, I pretty much agree with Chambers, here. And it is true that we do tend to think of prayer as preparation for the work. But what prayer really is is the “working of the miracle of Redemption in me…” And then, Chambers says this: “Only a child gets prayer answered; a wise man does not.”

It doesn’t matter where you are. I makes no difference where God has dumped me. My duty is to pray. God engineers the circumstances however he sees fit. I can’t afford to start thinking that “I am no use where I am.” Because I can “certainly be of no use where [I am] not.” We don’t want to pray unless we get thrills. It needs to be exciting. But that is “the intensest form of spiritual selfishness.” God’s directions are for us to pray.

It also doesn’t matter whether I can see results. That is the toughest part for me. I want to give up, because I don’t see anything happening; I don’t see results. “You labour at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint. What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.” That last statement is one of those “goosebump” statements. You see, we have no idea what God is doing on the other side of our prayers! And it is not any concern of mine, what the results are, or what the answers are! My responsibility, nay, my privilege, is to obey Jesus Christ and pray! I thank God that he has counted me worthy of this task!

Father, I praise you, once again, for leading me down this path of prayer. I praise you, like the psalmist, for the treasures that I have found in your word. I pray that, as I continue down this path, I will find more and more treasure. I praise you for the security that is found by meditating on your word. May it be true in my life that, as I love your word, nothing will cause me to stumble. I also pray that you will instill more of this fear in me that was discussed last night. I believe that the “modern church” has lost this sense of fear of you and has tried to whitewash it as “respect” or “awe.” While we most definitely should be respectful and be in awe of you, I do believe that there is a sense of true fear that should be present, as well. Everything that you are is infinitely higher than anything that I am, and I am 100% certain that, should I come face to face with you at this very moment, I would have no choice but to fall on my face in absolute terror. I am certainly not better than Isaiah or the apostle John, who both fell down in your presence, as though dead, in terror of being killed by your very presence. Who am I to think that I would do any differently? I am nothing, Father, and I am actually grateful for that truth. I rejoice in being poor in spirit.

I thank you for the promise of Jesus that we, your children, would do “greater works.” And may you make us faithful to do so. I do believe that at least part of this greater work is prayer. And I agree that prayer is not preparation, but it is the task at hand. Keep me faithful to pray daily. Keep me in an attitude of prayer throughout the day. Not to the neglect of daily duties, such as the work that I owe my employer, but in addition to, even while I am performing those tasks, I can still pray to you. Give me direction in my prayer, especially when someone comes to mind, placed there by your Holy Spirit. Make me faithful to be sensitive to the needs of others, and help me identify with your interests in other people as I pray. I don’t want to just pray for blessings on people. I want to pray your will for them, and I would see everyone for whom I pray drawn into your heart, and saved by your grace.

This prayer will continue on my drive to work. There is much more I need to ponder on this subject.

I pray for this day. I continue to knock on heaven’s door concerning the pain Christi is experiencing. I pray that you would heal her, Father. Take away the thing that is causing the pain in her foot and leg, Lord. I pray for her work day today, that it would be not stressful. Fill her with your Spirit; surround her with your embrace, that any stressful situation might reflect off of her. May you live through her today. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would fill her with your love and mercy and grace. Give her purpose as she lives today. Inspire her to pray and meditate on your words. Give her wisdom. I pray for my work day today, that it might be productive and successful, without issues or stress. Live through me today, Jesus!

Prayer is not preparation for the greater work; prayer IS the greater work!

Grace and peace, friends.