Listen to the Word

Today is Friday, October 27, 2017. Day 21,778.

Four days until C’s knee replacement surgery.

Dylan Thomas, who was born on this date in 1914 (died 1953), said, “As I read more and more – and it was not all verse, by any means – my love for the real life of words increased until I knew that I must live with them and in them, always. I knew, in fact, that I must be a writer of words, and nothing else.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is preta, a word from Hindu mythology, meaning, “a wandering or disturbed ghost.”

Today is Black Cat Day. We miss our black cat.

Game three of the World Series will be tonight, with Yu Darvish and the Dodgers facing off against Lance McCullers Jr. and the Astros. “Facing off.” That’s a hockey term. Oh, well. Anyway, this game will be in Houston.

Tomorrow, C and I are volunteering to help our church work at the YMCA’s “Boo Bash,” their yearly Halloween festival. It’s only from 4-6 PM, and should be fun.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!
Psalm 99:9
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
Psalm 40:13
But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! 
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. 

Psalm 109:21-22
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Psalm 103:8
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 1:35
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Psalm 145:18-20
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:17
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
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 Living the Message)

In today’s reading, called, “Learn to Listen to the Word,” Eugene Peterson says this:

“We are mistaken when we look at the Bible as a spiritual toolbox. We can’t take things out of the Bible and make them work for us. The whole process of the spiritual life is to come before the God who is alive, who becomes present to us in his Word, and who by means of that Word creates and redeems. We don’t use Scripture; God uses Scripture to work his will in us.”

While we should be reading and studying the Bible, it is all about the motive or intent with which we do this. If we are studying just to get information, so that we can put down all the right answers on the test, we will fail in the spiritual life. But if we read and study for the purpose of transformation, for the purpose of allowing God to do miraculous things in and through us, we will be successful.

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.”
John 5:39-40 (The Message)

Father, thank you for your Word and for the spiritual depths to which it can take me. Thank you for the truths you are revealing to me. Keep me focused on the path of spiritual transformation, and help me work out a plan to begin to practice the disciplines more seriously.
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 Real Thing

Today is Thursday, October 27, 2016. Fourteen days until our Glen Rose Weekend.

Quote of the Day

“A book is not supposed to be a mirror. It’s supposed to be a door.” ― Fran Lebowitz

Word of the Day

Delectation – delight; enjoyment.

Today is Black Cat Day. We have one of those, so we always celebrate it. Ours is eighteen years old. Happy Black Cat Day, Screamer.

Terry Francona has finally lost a World Series game. The Cubs beat the Indians 5-1, last night, to tie the series 1-1. They have a day off, and will resume the series in Chicago tomorrow.

Apparently, they are making a Toy Story 4 movie. But it’s not due out until 2019. Why even bother to tell me that?

I don’t have much else to say, so on to the devotions.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! Psalm 99:1
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Psalm 106:47
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Psalm 33:8

(From Praying With the Psalms)

In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!
Psalm 120

We are immersed in a culture full of lies and malice. Sometimes, it feels as if we are drowning. “We can trust nothing we hear, depend on no one we meet.” We have a longing for peach and truth that directs us “on a pilgrim search for wholeness in God.” Our discontent with this world of sin is one motivation for the journey of discipleship.

“God, in a world where more lies are told than truth, and where enmity is more common than peace, I thank you for your constancy and your fidelity. Give me the strength to be a peacemaker when those around me are scornful of your peace. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:19

The King James Version says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” What Jesus did not say was “Go and save souls.” Salvation is the supernatural work of God. Jesus said, “Go and teach; go and make disciples.” And it should go without saying that you cannot make disciples unless you are one. How do you become a disciple? This is a question that I have struggled to answer for most of my life. I like the way Dallas Willard answers the question. You put the words of Jesus into practice in your daily life and find them to be true. In other words, you become a disciple by believing in and acting upon the words of Jesus, not just simply by believing in Jesus.

When the original disciples came back from their first mission, they rejoiced, but for the wrong reasons. Jesus tells us not to rejoice because of successful service. The secret of joy is to be rightly related to Jesus. “Rejoice because your names are written in the book of life.” The “great essential” of the missionary’s work is that he be true to God’s call. The single purpose is to make disciples. “There is a passion for souls that does not spring from God, but from the desire to make converts to our point of view.

There is a song by my all time favorite Christian group (Daniel Amos), called “Colored By.” It addresses that very issue. Here’s a piece of those lyrics:

“Down at the little church, they all wear hats
They feel they’re doing right
Over at the big church, they hate those hats
It get’s them uptight, now is that right?

You might not recognize, the truth gets colored by
Wrong things, bad things do disguise
Afraid you might despise the real thing”

Our call is not to convert people to our own view, but to make disciples of them, following the words and steps of Jesus Christ. The challenge comes in a question from Jesus: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” If we take up any other method, we totally depart from his methods.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.

Father, I believe I have made more progress on the road of discipleship this year, than I have made in all of the 58 years before it. I pray that it continue in that direction. I thank you for the teaching that you have brought my way, and the influence and brotherhood of my brothers in Christ on this journey with me. We are, as iron sharpens iron, walking together in this and helping each other along. Help me to be one who fulfills the calling of your Great Commission. Help me to somehow make disciples as I go.

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.

Swallowed Up in Glory

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is lycanthrope, “a werewolf or alien spirit in the physical form of a bloodthirsty wolf,” or, “a person affected with lycanthropy.” Hey, Halloween is right around the corner, right?

Today is Black Cat Day. I’m a fan of black cats. Heck, I’m a fan of any colored cat. But I especially like black cats. Here is our black cat, the old man Screamer. He is 17 years old!

Screamer
Screamer

Yesterday was pretty good, for a Monday. I guess, for a Monday, it was fantastic. Band rehearsal was fun, last night, and almost reminded me of college days. It was one of the first real rehearsals we’ve had since I’ve been going there. When I first started, there were, like, two rehearsals before the next concert, so we were pretty much just playing through the concert music. The next concert we (I should say “they” because I missed it) played, we only had about four or five rehearsals to get ready. We have three more before the November 21 concert, and last night, we only got through three pieces in two hours. But actually enjoyed that, so my “band geek” mode is still alive and kicking! 😀

We have Huddle tonight, which, fortunately, doesn’t last quite as long as band practice, and is closer to home. The only negative thing about band practice is that I don’t get home until 9:30 or later, which makes for a short night of sleep.

The World Series starts tonight. I don’t really have “a dog in this hunt,” so I don’t really care that much. I would say that I slightly favor Kansas City to win. I do believe that there is potential for a really great series.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As this chapter on seeking the face of God comes to a close, Keller tell us that John Owen’s “critique of what he considers unbiblical mysticism goes hand in hand with appreciation for those who intensely desire–as the medieval mystics did–to be swallowed up by the glory of God.” He firmly believed that we should definitely desire contemplation on God in Christ until our souls were “swallowed up in admiration and delight.” But this contemplation must be firmly grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Keller recommends that any who find delight in the works of John Owen or Jonathan Edwards read the “medieval mystics with appreciation but also plenty of caution.” There are errors or distortions to beware: “the idea that you can purge and qualify yourself for higher experiences, the strong impression that you can connect to God directly [without the mediation of Christ], and a general lack of us use of the gospel itself in prayer.”

When our “parents” sinned in the Garden of Eden, we “lost the face of God.” People like Moses, who desired to have all of his longings fulfilled in the “beatific vision,” were still prohibited by their sin. We have this barrier taken away through Jesus Christ and “we can begin to see, though only partially and by faith, the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When we meditate and pray the gospel and its attendant truths into our hearts with the power of the Spirit, those longings are slowly satisfied, and other things in life become gifts rather than gods, and we slowly but surely and radically change in our character and in all our relationships.”

The chapter closes with this quote from Augustine, from his Confessions:

But what do I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any body or the rhythm of time in its movement; not the radiance of light, so dear to your eyes; not the sweet melodies in the world of manifold sounds; not the perfume of flowers, ointments and spices; not manna and not honey; not the limbs so delightful to the body’s embrace; it is none of those things that I love when I love my God.
And yet when I love my God I do indeed love a light and a sound and a perfume and a food and an embrace–a light and sound and perfume and food and embrace in my inward self. There my soul is flooded with a radiance which no space can contain; there a music sounds which time never bears away; there I smell a perfume which no wind disperses; there I taste a food that no surfeit embitters; there is an embrace which no satiety severs. It is this that I love when I love my God.

Father, may I know these delights when I meditate on you and your Word through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when I seek your face in seeking his face. Let these delights be my delight, and may I seek no other enjoyment in life as vigorously as I seek your presence, and to be swallowed up in your glory.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.