Good morning! Today is Wednesday, December 19. Only seven days until we leave for Cancun! “Seven daaaayyysss…” (Spoken in that creepy “The Ring” telephone voice.)
Today is “Look For An Evergreen Day.” That’s easier said than done where we live, but there are a few of those in north central Texas.
On this date:
In 1924, the last Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was sold in London.
Adolf Hitler became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army in 1941.
In 1963, Zanzibar gained independence from the U.K.
In 1972, Apollo 17 returned to earth.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the second U.S. President to be impeached. He was, of course, acquitted.
Today’s birthdays include Ford Frick (baseball commissioner), 1894, Martin Luther King, Sr., 1899, Leonid Brezhnev, 1906, W. A. Criswell (preacher), 1909, Professor Longhair (blues musician), 1918, David Susskind (TV talk show host), 1920, Cicely Tyson (actress), 1933, Al Kaline (baseball player), 1934, Joanne Weaver (baseball player)(seriously), 1935, Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), 1941, Zal Yanovsky (guitarist for The Lovin’ Spoonful), 1944, Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), 1944, Robert Urich (actor), 1946, Jennifer Beals, 1963, Kristy Swanson (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer), 1969, Alyssa Milano, 1972, Jake Gyllenhaal, 1980.
We had the most awesome time at our lifehouse Christmas party last night! We had great snacks and the white elephant gifts were great. I wound up with a nice “flameless” candle set. Christi got a Kermit plush holding a Butterfinger and a Twix. I hope she shares. We also had some awesome fudge (made with Kahlua) that Christi made, and some pretty amazing chocolate cake, brought by the Hennekes. It was, in Christi’s words, very comfortable. We are truly like family. Oh, and we also had apple butter. That’s become a bit of an inside joke. Our lifehouse leader LOVES apple butter (as do I).
I’ll be honest…it’s very difficult to think about anything but our trip to Cancun, which begins next Wednesday morning. I think we still a little Christmas shopping to do, though.
Christi got a “boot” from her doctor yesterday, which she is supposed to wear for four weeks. He did, however, tell her she could wait until we get back from our vacation to start wearing it. 😀 He didn’t think that it’s an old injury, and that she might have done that to her foot doing a thing with the leg press machine. There is definitely a “stress fracture” in her foot. She also can’t work out until it heals.
I’m calling for urgent prayer for our pastor’s wife. She has pneumonia, which has now been diagnosed as “double pneumonia.” Her name is Valerie.
While I’m asking for prayer, my manager is having shoulder surgery this morning, and will be out for a while. I’m praying for successful surgery and quick recovery for him. His name is Phillip.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)
Father, as my mouth speaks your praises this morning, I pray that your Spirit guide me to a vision of you that will keep me looking to your grace throughout this day.
Today, I’m reading Isaiah 11:1-5.
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
What a powerful passage! This passage is speaking of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Inspired by verse 3, I pray that I might be able to also judge, not by what I see and hear, but by the righteousness of Christ. Lest I sound arrogant, I quickly say that I possess no righteousness of my own. However, the righteousness of Christ resides within me, and is available to me, when I submit to it, and allow it to reign in me. May righteousness and faithfulness be “the belt of my loins.”
Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “What to Concentrate on.” The scripture reference is Matthew 10:34. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
This reading is a little tricky. I’ll see if I can make sense of it. It begins, “Never be sympathetic with the soul whose case makes you come to the conclusion that God is hard.” “God,” says Chambers, “is more tender than we can conceive…” If I cannot get through to God, it is because there is something that I’m not willing to give up. Even if I admit I’m doing wrong, if I don’t give it up, I might as well try to fly. “People want the blessing of God, but they will not stand the thing that goes straight to the quick.” In other words, people want God’s blessings, but they don’t want to have to do the thing that he most requires from them.
“If God has had His way with you, your message as His servant is merciless insistence on the one line, cut down to the very root, otherwise there will be no healing.” We must drive this message home until there is no place to hide, “no possible refuge from its application.”
Before the message of the Gospel is of any use, there must be a sense of need. Of course, we discussed earlier that the Gospel creates the very need that it satisfies. But we have to recognize that there are, quite literally, millions of people in this world who are perfectly happy without God. The kind of “sword” that Jesus came to bring is the kind that cuts through this false sense of peace to the quick of a man, making him realize that he is, in fact, lacking the most important thing in his life, the peace of God. “Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself.” It’s a difficult message, and it tends to make the messenger unpopular. I pray that this would be the only thing that makes a Christian unpopular. Sadly, there are many of us out there who are doing other, senseless, things that are making us unpopular. Let’s stick to the message, let us know “What to Concentrate on.”
Father, I will praise you with my mouth, and pray that all flesh would do the same. I so look forward to the day that is prophesied when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I thank you for your steadfast love that reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness that stretches to the clouds.
I thank you for the righteousness and faithfulness that is the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I thank you that he judges based on your righteousness, rather than on what he sees and hears, for righteousness pierces to the very soul of a man, judging motives and intent over visible action. I pray that you would give your people the same righteousness. I pray that we would recognize your infinite tenderness in our lives, and that we would stick with the message of the Gospel, driving it home until people have a true sense of true peace. And, Lord, please help us understand that, while Jesus came to “bring a sword,” we are to be people of peace. There are many of us who run around wielding that sword with no thought whatsoever of who they are cutting. We even tend to cut each other with it, and that ought not be so. Jesus commanded us to love each other as he loved us. I pray that we can fulfill that command, Lord. Last night, to me, was a perfect example of how we love each other. We had great fellowship with other believers, and it was amazing. I thank you for the sense of community that you have brought in us through this lifehouse ministry.
I pray for this day. May Christi have a good day today, with no anxiety. I pray that Stephanie will also have a good, anxiety-free day, and that you would draw her heart closer to yours. I ask for a smooth day at my work, with no issues. As we get closer to our vacation, I ask that you prepare my heart for finding you in the places we will go in Cancun. While this trip is definitely about R&R, may it also be about discovering you in new places. I fully intend to “experience” you in the beauty of the jungle.
I lift up Valerie Engle to you this morning, desperately praying for her healing, Lord. Touch her with your healing hand and fill her with your Spirit this morning. I pray for complete healing from this double pneumonia. Give Joel more strength as he ministers to her, and as he takes care of the children. I pray that brothers and sisters will rise up to help and provide for them.
I also pray for my manager, Phillip, that his surgery will go well this morning, and that his recovery would be quicker than expected.
Today’s reading was one of the tough ones. As Christians we need to bring peace, but it needs to be true peace, the peace that passes all understanding.
Grace and peace, friends.