Choose To Die

Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is quisling. This is a noun, meaning, “one who commits treason : traitor, collaborator.”

Today is Be A Millionaire Day. I would, naturally, love to oblige. I’ll see what I can do.

Last night was a rough night for my home town of Mineral Wells. While the damage they received was not nearly as devastating as what happened to Van last week, it is still heartbreaking to see, especially places that are so familiar to me. My mother is fine, as she lives a few miles from downtown, which is where the major damage occurred on this one. A portion of the old First National Bank building drive through is laying in the middle of Oak St. Trees and power lines are down all over. And my mother’s church, First Baptist Church, lost an entire section of outside wall, above the gym.

Oak Street
Oak Street

First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church

Fortunately, no one has been injured, at least that I know of at this point. As people are saying, buildings can be replaced.

We will still be visiting my mother on Monday, if the Lord says so, too. We are really looking forward to that holiday. The weather is still potentially rainy for another week or so, with possible thunderstorms predicted on Sunday, but nothing too serious looking, at this point.


A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 57

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “How to Hate Your Life.”

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
John 12:24-25

This flies in the face of modern-day “pop psychology,” which is all about loving ourselves. Even some modern “evangelistic” churches preach the same stuff. It is not popular to “hate yourself” in our culture. But it is exactly what Jesus instructed us to do. But wait. Or did he? What he said, there, is that “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” It sure sounds like that is loving myself, to me!

But what does it mean? Here are some ideas.

“If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.”

But it goes even beyond these things. All of these things are relatively passive in nature. We must go beyond this and make conscious choices to follow Christ, from Gethsemane to the cross. “Jesus is not just saying: If things go bad, don’t fret, since you are dead anyway. He is saying: choose to die with me. Choose to hate your life in this world the way I have chosen the cross.”

It doesn’t really matter what happens to us, as long as we are living to the glory of the grace of God.

Father, as I reflect on these things, right on the heels of yesterday’s reading about being complete in Christ, help me to make the right choices today, choices that would indicate that my life in this world is nothing to me. Help me to follow Jesus into this day and beyond, choosing to “die to myself,” and live to your glory. May I be fully satisfied in you today.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and back would be safe. I pray for our work day, that you would give us the grace and mercy we need, for this day only. Give us today our daily bread. I pray for the people of Mineral Wells and First Baptist Church, as they continue cleaning up from yesterday’s tornadoes. May your strength and guiding hand be with them. I thank you that, as far as we know, there are no reports of injury. I also thank you that my mother, along with other families of friends, are safe. I pray that this will be all of this kind of weather for now, for this town. May you show your great love to Stephanie, Justin, and Rachel, today, as they go about their business. I especially pray for Rachel, as she continues to suss out her future.

Your grace is sufficient.

Let us who follow Christ make choices that would move us toward the cross.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Least of These

“There is no escaping the gospel logic that all our thoughts, words, and deeds addressed to others are in a real way addressed to Christ himself.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is post-Monday, May 20, 2014.

Today is Be A Millionaire Day. Sure. You go right ahead and do that.

Christi went to a job network meeting yesterday, that is held on a regular basis at North Fort Worth Baptist Church. She said, however, that it was mostly a waste of time. The main thing she got out of it was what she already knew. The best way to get a job is networking. Apparently, hundreds of jobs never make it to the public, online job boards, so the best way to get a job is knowing someone. I can attest to that fact, because, after three months of filling out online applications, and even a few interviews, I got a job because I knew someone from a previous job. And, honestly, two of the jobs that seemed so promising, at first, were due to contacts with which Christi had worked in the past.

Not much else going on, around here. I’ll be going to a men’s retreat this coming weekend, Saturday evening through Monday, so there won’t be blog entries on Sunday morning and Monday morning.


(From The Divine Hours)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Psalm 67:1-2
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 61:5
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Mysterious Substitution.”

“Because of the mysterious substitution of Christ for the Christian, each encounter with a brother or sister is a real encounter with the risen Lord, an opportunity to respond creatively to the gospel, and mature in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.”

There is a statement worthy of further pondering. We have been given time to grow in our love, and our success will be measured by “how delicately and sensitively we have loved.”

“There is no escaping the gospel logic that all our thoughts, words, and deeds addressed to others are in a real way addressed to Christ himself.”

That statement is even more sobering than the first one. These are things that we should be seriously thinking about.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:12

Father, you have been working on this theme in my life for at least a couple of years, now. Sometimes, it is difficult for me to tell if there has been progress. Other times, it is obvious that there has been progress. I pray that you don’t give up on me, and that you keep driving home this thought, this command, of love. I am to love others as myself, and, further, I am to love my brothers and sisters as Christ loved us. Keep teaching me to do this.

I pray for this day, Father. May Christi’s day be full of your grace and mercy. Keep her confident that you are in control of all things. I pray for something to break through in the job arena. I pray for her back to not hurt. I pray for Stephanie to increase in wisdom, understanding, and confidence. I pray for your path for her life. I pray for safe travel to and from work. I also pray for my prayer times today, that my intercession for others will be effective and fervent. Keep me in a mindset of prayer throughout the day, as people make their needs known.

Your grace is sufficient.

Remember, when you encounter others today, that the way you treat them is the way you’re treating Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.

One Flickering Hope

Good morning. Today is Monday (how did that happen so fast?), May 20, 2013. I’m rather sleepy this morning, as I had trouble falling asleep last night. I’ll explain later. Christi continues to be recovering well, I think. she was happy yesterday afternoon, because she had gone longer without taking pain meds. She is very cautious about those things.

It was a pretty good day yesterday. We had a good worship celebration, and Steph and I went to the gym, where we got also got Christi’s account frozen for two months, so they won’t bill us while she can’t go exercise. There was a semi-long meltdown, but we won’t talk about that today.

There are now 25 more working days until the account I’m working on goes away. That’s about 25 days too long.

Today is Be A Millionaire Day. Too bad that’s not federally mandated.

I apologize, but I don’t have time for history and birthdays today, as I need to leave early to stop by the credit union office to obtain funds for the closing on our refinancing.


Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-2
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Psalm 16:1-2
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2

Grant me peace, this morning, Father, as I look into your Word. Prepare me for this day.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Let No One Boast.” The scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 3:16-21a.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men.

“The first and most prominent theme of 1 Corinthians is that God alone is the source of the Spirit-filled life.” All of the benefits of this with-God life are attributed to God. God calls us, God gives us grace, God strengthens us, and God sustains us. “Let no one boast,” Paul says in verse 21. That’s not the only place he says that, either. In 1:29, he says, . . . so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. We can never take credit for anything in our lives! Especially the spiritual “anything.” Everything that we have gotten in this with-God life has come from God. Therefore, we have no grounds for boasting. If we think we are wise, we must “become a fool” so we can be truly wise. “It is ironic that even those insights we receive while actively seeking God we are prone to crediting to ourselves.” I am challenged to consider any time I have claimed credit for something that God did or brought to me. That will take some serious thinking. One thing I do know, and that is, the older I get, the less I know. We say things like that facetiously, but it’s true. There are things that I have believed to be true all my life, and as I get older and study the Bible more, I find that these things may not be truth. The bottom line is, we don’t know half of the things that we claim we know about God. Be believe that he is good, and we know that he loves us with a love that is, as Francis Chan says, “Crazy.” And right now, at this point in my life, all I need to know is God’s crazy, overwhelming love. If that makes me a fool, then so be it. In the words of a dear friend of mine, “And in the end, I am left with one flickering hope.” What does that mean? It means that our hope in God is all that we have. Everything else is rubbish.

In 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, we have come to number 10. “We cry, ‘Abba!'” Brennan speaks of visiting a bar mitzvah with a rabbi. As the four-year-old son of the rabbi wandered away, he lost sight of his father. As he panicked, he found him, ran back to him and “flung himself into his father’s lap, shouting, ‘Ab . . .Ab . . .Abba!'” In spite of evidence that, originally, this word did not carry the meaning of our word, “Daddy,” there is still an intimacy involved that the people of the New Testament were not used to. They were used to the Old Testament God, not one they could call, “Father.” “What Jesus Christ reveals is that the God in whose presence Moses had to remove his shoes, the God from whose fingertips this universe fell, the God beside whose grandeur the Grand Canyon is only a glimpse, the God besides whose power the nuclear bomb is as nothing–this infinite, holy God, Jesus announces, we may dare to address with intimacy.” This is unbelievably beautiful.

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 3:26-4:7

“We make ourselves what we are by the way we address God.”~~Thomas Merton

Father, and yes, I do mean “Father!” I revel in the fact that I can address you with this kind of intimacy; that Jesus Christ has made it so that I can run to you and say, “Abba!” This love that you have for me (and all the saints) is still sinking into my spirit, into my brain, after all these years. You have only been telling me about it for 55 years! You would think I would have caught on sooner. I implore you to keep teaching me this love. Keep showing me your crazy, overwhelming love! You are the source of everything that I am. I praise you and thank you this morning. You are my “one flickering hope.”

I pray for this day. May I get everything done that needs to be done today, and may I feel no anxiety or stress during this day. Continue Christi’s healing and recovery from her surgery. I pray for her return visit tomorrow, that the progress will be ahead of schedule. I pray for Stephanie today. She needs an extra dose of your love today, Lord. Draw her heart into yours.

“If I had no voice, if I had no tongue,
I would dance for you like the morning sun.
And when that day comes and I see your face,
I will shout your endless, glorious praise!”~~Colton Dixon

Grace and peace, friends.