Building with Love

Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today!

Day 23,508

We almost got a break from the heat wave, yesterday, but as we know, “almost” only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons. It hit 100 in my area (at least the closest airport . . . my app said 101 at around 4:30 yesterday) to make our 27th day of triple digits and seventh consecutive. There was no rain. Today’s forecast calls for 101 with little to no chance of rain. July 29th (next Friday) remains the next forecast day below 100.

It’s my Saturday to work, so I’ll be at the library from 9:30 to 6:15, today. Since we don’t start until 9:30, we only get 45 minutes for lunch on Saturday, which is still more than I got at my old job, so that’s fine.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 5-4, last night. This makes Texas 42-50 for the season, still in third place in the AL West. They are 19 games out of first place and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 8:07 CDT.

Apparently a fake Red Sox team took the field, last night at Fenway Park, and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 28-5. The fiasco included an inside the park grand slam home run. I have no words. The Sox are now 48-46 for the season, dangerously close to dropping below .500. They are in fourth place in the AL East, only a game and a half ahead of the Orioles. They are 16.5 out of first place, and three games out of the Wild Card race. The three Wild Card spots are currently held by Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Seattle.

The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 31-64. Seattle finally lost a game, so the current longest win streak now belongs to the LA Dodgers, at six consecutive wins. The KC Royals and LA Angels are tied with four straight losses. The Nationals also remain in last place for run differentials, with -158. The Rangers dropped to +6, and with that ridiculous loss, the Red Sox have dropped to +5.

And, while we weren’t paying attention cases of COVID-19 have crept back up around 100,000 per day in the United States.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have revealed to us the name Jesus Christ, the name of your Son, who leads us to you as your children. May your hand be plainly seen over all the suffering and dying people of our time. May your hand soon bring in a new age, a time truly of God and of the Savior, fulfilling what has long been promised. Watch over us this night. Bless us. In suffering, continue to uphold us with your mighty hand. In grief, may your name still be honored. May your kingdom come, breaking into all the evil of the world, and may your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us. 
(Acts 4:12 TEV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my cats; may I be as good a person as they think I am
2. for the Kingdom of God, available now for all who want to walk in it
3. that God will never leave or forsake us
4. that it is perfectly okay to let God know when I feel forgotten or abandoned
5. that, when I am tempted, there is always a way of escape; God will not allow me to be tempted beyond my ability to resist

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

This does not say, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” That is a false statement, made up by humans. What it does say is that everyone is tempted, and there’s always a way out. “I had no choice,” is never a true statement.

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-33 ESV)

The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is build.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

I’m intrigued by this, a little. The word “build” can be found in Scripture over a hundred times. Almost 150, actually. Yet we don’t get a verse that includes it. And the reading itself only includes a form of the word (“building”) in the first sentence.

So I’m going to improvise. It’s a good word, I believe, to be included in our prayers. We are constantly trying to build something (I’m talking spiritually, here). The material we use will dictate the efficacy of what we build. The foundation must that of Jesus Christ, otherwise the building will fall. And here are some words from Paul:

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV)

So we must ask ourselves . . . are we building with wood, hay, and straw, or are we building with gold, silver, and precious stones?

There is another meaning to the word, as well. Paul admonishes us to “build up” one another. I think the KJV uses the word “edify.”

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
(Romans 15:2 ESV)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

So here’s the thing, as I attempt to tie all of this in with the Scripture verse included at the top. We know (or should know) the love God has for us, and we know that “God is love.” Therefore, we need to abide in this love, and, as we abide in this love, it should be automatic that we love one another and build one another up in Him.


I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
(Psalms 42:9 ESV)

I have no idea why the Sons of Korah felt compelled to write this. It comes in the middle of the Psalm that begins with the phrase that was made into a popular worship chorus decades ago, “As the deer . . .” But the psalmist doesn’t stop there. He (they?) finishes up with verse 11.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 ESV)

No matter how bad things look, God has not forgotten us. I have felt that, before, I won’t deny it. I have stood in my living room and declared that God has abandoned us. But that wasn’t true statement, and it didn’t take long for Him to demonstrate that.

God has promise to never leave or forsake us (again, the reason I don’t like the song, “Reckless Love”). He loves us with an everlasting love. And when we feel, as the psalmist did, in Psalm 42, that He has forgotten or forsaken us, it is perfectly fine to pray a prayer like this one:

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
(Psalms 25:16-17 ESV)

And then, it is good to remind ourselves of Psalm 42:11, quoted above.


Father, I am so grateful for Your love, and that I have knowledge of this love. I don’t fully comprehend it, I don’t believe anyone truly does, at least no one who still walks on this planet. I do believe that when I finally see You “face to face,” I will comprehend it, and it will blow my mind. But, for now, I can say that I am grateful for that which I do not fully understand. I know that, without Your love, I would cease to exist.

I thank You that I can pray what I feel to You, and You will not chastise me for it. You may correct me, and certainly I would hope for that. If I am feeling something that isn’t right, and I acknowledge it to You, then I fully expect You to set me straight, and I would accept that joyfully. Because when I do acknowledge those feelings to You, they come out of a place of great frustration and aggravation, and are more questions than declarations.

I’ve been experiencing such feelings lately. I am frustrated with the shape of things on earth, right now, especially in the country where I live. You know my frustrations, so I don’t need to air them here, again. I pray for resolution and unity. I pray for Your children to be able to obey the commands to think of others as more important than ourselves, and to not seek our own good, but the good of our neighbors. In short, help us to love others as Christ (You) have loved us!

I pray that I would build with gold, silver, and precious stones, rather than wood, hay, and straw. Even so, though, I rejoice that my name is written in the Book of Life, and, even if what I build is destroyed by the consuming, purifying fire, I, myself, will survive.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


Let us go forward quietly, forever making for the light, and lifting up our hearts in the knowledge that we are as others are (and that others are as we are), and that it is right to love one another in the best possible way – believing all things, hoping for all things, and enduring all things.…And let us not be too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he thinks he has none, and anyone who believes himself to be so perfect or wise would do well to become foolish all over again.
(The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Daily Dig, from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Silence

Today is Saturday, the twenty-eighth of August, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,179

Nine days until Labor Day

Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day. I’ve never learned why it is popularly called the “rainbow bridge,” but that’s the common terminology used when a beloved pet passes away. Since we have recently experienced this (Tessie – dog) I chose this “holiday” to recognize today. If you have recently lost a beloved fur-baby, my heart goes out to you, today.

The word for today is cruciverbalist, a noun which designates “a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles.”

Today’s quote, from Lao Tzu, is, “To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

Birthdays for August 28:

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and social philosopher (Faust), born in Frankfurt am Main, Holy Roman Empire (d. 1832)
1774 Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, 1st American Catholic saint (1975), born in NYC, New York (d. 1821)
1831 Lucy Ware Webb Hayes, 1st lady of the United States (1877-81), born in Chillicothe, Ohio (d. 1889)
1840 Ira D. Sankey, American evangelist, composer and singer (Gospel hymns), born in Edinburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1908)
1916 Jack [Holbrook] Vance, American sci-fi author (2 Hugo, Dirdir, Pnume), born in San Francisco, California (d. 2013)
1917 Jack Kirby, American cartoonist (X-Men; Spider-Man; Hulk; Captain America), born in NYC, New York (d. 1994)
1921 Nancy Kulp, American actress (The Beverly Hillbillies - Jane Hathaway, The Aristocats, Shane), born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (d. 1991)
1925 Donald O'Connor, American dancer and actor (Singin' in the Rain), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2003)
1930 Ben Gazzara, American actor (Run for Your Life, QB VII), born in NYC, New York (d. 2012)
1939 [Catherine] Cassie Mackin, American newswoman (NBC TV) and 1st woman to regularly anchor an evening network newscast alone, born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1982)
1943 David Soul [Solberg], American-British actor (Starsky & Hutch) and singer (Don't Give Up On Us), born in Chicago, Illinois
1943 Lou Piniella, American baseball outfielder (1969 AL rookie of the year TEST) and manager (NY Yankees, Seattle Mariners), born in Tampa, Florida
1948 Daniel "Danny" Seraphine, American rock drummer (Chicago, 1969-90 - "25 or 6 to 4"), born in Chicago, Illinois
1948 Vonda N. McIntyre, American sci-fi author (Star Trek II, III, IV), born in Louisville, Kentucky
1950 Ron Guidry, Yankee pitcher (Cy Young 1978), born in Lafayette, Louisiana
1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (Osmond Brothers, Donnie & Marie), born in Ogden, Utah
1956 Luis Guzmán, Puerto Rican actor (The Limey), born in Cayey, Puerto Rico
1957 Daniel Stern, American actor (City Slickers, Wonder Years), born in Stamford, Connecticut
1958 Scott Hamilton, American figure skater (Olympic gold 1984), born in Bowling Green, Ohio
1960 Emma [Elizabeth Wylie Samuelson] Samms, British actress (Colby's, General Hospital), born in London, England
1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer (You're Still the One), born in Windsor Ontario
1969 Jason Priestley, Canadian-American actor (Brandon-Beverly Hills 90210), born in Vancouver, British Columbia
1969 Mary McCartney, English photographer and daughter of Beatle Paul and Linda McCartney, born in London
1969 Jack Black, American actor (High Fidelity, Kung Fu Panda), comedian and singer (Tenacious D), born in Santa Monica, California
1971 Todd Eldredge, American figure skater (1996 World champion and a six-time U.S. national champion), born in Chatham, Massachusetts
1982 LeAnn Rimes [Margaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian], American country singer (Blue), born in Jackson, Mississippi
1985 James Jagger, American actor (Vinyl) and son of Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall, born in NYC, New York
1986 Florence Welch, British blues and swing jazz singer (Florence and the Machine), born in London, England
1986 Armand "Armie" Hammer, American actor, born in Santa Monica, California
Lou Piniella, 78 years old today
Danny Seraphine, original drummer, 73 years old today

So, what’s up for today? C and I have decided to get out of the house and do something today, and it looks like we’re going to go up to where she works and go bowling. Apparently, because she pays a small amount per paycheck to use the workout room, she also has access to the bowling lanes anytime there is open bowling. We thought about doing some geocaching, but it’s going to be pretty warm today, around 93 degrees. And I’m sure there is probably an orange ozone alert or something.

The grocery order will be ready to pick up at 11:00, so we will probably get those picked up, have some lunch, and then head over to the IBC (International Bowling Campus, not root beer).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Where Are My Thoughts, by Daryl Madden

A question to ponder
Throughout our day
Where are my thoughts?
Am I living astray?

Are they lost in?
What I must do
Thinking of goals
I need to pursue

Are they consumed?
Of threats, I’m aware
Is my view of dwelling
From a place of fear

Let’s be of this moment
Our thoughts to profess
To see, smell and feel
The ways we are blessed

Let me be absorbed
In what I sense here
When it’s of Gods’ Presence
It’s a living prayer

It is good to be aware of our thoughts, throughout the day. My prayer, though, is that I be absorbed in God’s Presence, for the next few minutes.

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.
(Psalms 52:8-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for You
2. for Your presence in this place
3. for the hope that I can be like that olive tree and thrive in Your house
4. for Your unfailing love, in which I will always trust
5. for the spiritual discipline of silence

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FOURTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Your name, Yahweh, endures forever; your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations.
(Psalms 135:13 WEB)

During this quiet moment, I think about the Lord, about how grateful I am to simply have Him in my life.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.

Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.

The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
(Psalms 58:1-5, 10-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.
“Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.”
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:1-8, 34-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in the presence of the Lord, I linger over these passages, looking for truth and inspiration to guide my life.

I admit that I struggle with passages like Psalm 58. While I do acknowledge that earthly rulers and judges are mostly corrupt, devising injustice constantly, and meting out violence right and left, I am more than a little uncomfortable with the thought of dipping my feet in the blood of the wicked.

That just doesn’t seem very Christlike to me. I know, it’s right there in the Bible. But I also know that David was not allowed to build the temple of the Lord because he was a man of war.

David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a Temple where the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it, but God said to me, ‘You must not build a Temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’”
(1 Chronicles 28:2-3 NLT)

I do, however, look forward with great anticipation to the day when the righteous will receive their eternal reward.

In contrast, I really love reading the ending of Exodus. All the preparations have been finished, and the tabernacle is complete and set up, so what happens?

The presence of the Lord fills the tabernacle, and is so strong and intense that no human being can stand to enter it.

I have often longed for that kind of thing to happen in our present day. What would it be like if, in the middle of a worship gathering, the presence of the Lord became so thick that we couldn’t continue what we were doing? I picture an extended period of total silence in worship, because what could you say that would do anything but detract from the moment?

This makes me wonder why modern churches are so terrified of silence. I have been a music minister and a worship leader. I have worked with pastors who always insist that some kind of music be playing in the background, even during prayers.

Why???

I could never get a straight answer.

I’m a fan of silence. If someone else is praying, and the instruments are playing a song, guess what I’m thinking about! That’s right . . . the words of the song! And what if it’s a song I don’t care for? That makes it even more distracting.

In the book of Revelation, the last word on everything in the Bible, when the seventh seal was opened, there was silence, complete and utter silence, in heaven for about a half an hour.

Can you even imagine having thirty minutes of complete silence in the middle of your Sunday morning worship service?

Father, we seem to be really afraid of silence. We have gotten so used to noise in our culture, yet it is noise that distracts us from You and keeps us from hearing Your voice. We love to talk about the “quiet whisper” or the “still small voice” that Elijah encountered in that cave, but then we make all this noise! How can we expect to hear Your still, small voice, when there is always some kind of noise going on? Help us to quiet down. Help us to fall in love with silence, so we can hear You speak to us. I pray for opportunities, in my future, to observe and practice the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. And I pray that all of us might experience something similar to Moses’s experience when Your Presence filled the tabernacle.

I pray, Lord, for Your Church to flourish around the world. May our worship glorify You, no matter how we choose to observe it and participate in it. May our worship gather, unite, and bless Your people. I pray for all denominations, agencies, and programs in Your Church around the world.

"God with us,
the tabernacle represented the place you lived among your pilgrim people.
How can I thank you,
Jesus,
for becoming the true tabernacle by dwelling among us and providing the way into your holy presence through the blood of your sacrifice?
Make my everyday living a place where I and others find heaven on earth.
Amen."

BLESSING

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 WEB)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
(Jude 1:24 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
(Jude 1:25 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiveness

Today is Friday, the twentieth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,171

Seventeen days until Labor Day, the next official holiday in the U.S.

The birthday celebrations have taken a bit of a bittersweet turn. The first thing that is causing this is that our dog, Tessie, is not doing well. Over the course of the past week or so, she has developed a condition in her hind legs that is giving her tremendous struggle in walking. It seems like it hurts her, but we are not sure. She hasn’t eaten consistently and, when she has eaten, she has some pretty gross diarrhea. So we aren’t sure what’s in the future for her.

The other thing has to do with our church. There seems to have developed a rift in our fellowship over some opinions that were shared last Sunday, concerning the vaccine and some who have elected to not receive it. That’s all I’m going to say about it, as the situation seems to be being resolved.

In the meantime, we are considering going to the zoo, later today. S has said that she would like to do that, and we haven’t been there in quite some time.

Today is World Mosquito Day. Why on earth would we have a day that celebrates mosquitos?? They answer that question in the link, should you care to read it.

The word for today is mickle. This is an archaic word that means, “great; large; much.”

Today’s quote, from Oscar Wilde, is, “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”

And now for today’s birthdays, right after I get back with another cup of coffee:

1561 Jacopo Peri, Italian composer and singer who wrote the 1st recognized opera "Dafne", born in Rome (d. 1633)
1833 Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States (Republican: 1889-93), born in North Bend, Ohio (d. 1901)
1890 H. P. Lovecraft, American horror writer (At the Mountains of Madness, Weird Tales), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1937)
1905 Jack Teagarden [Weldon Leo Teagarden], American trombonist and actor (Meet Band Leaders), born in Vernon, Texas (d. 1964)
1907 Alan Reed, American actor (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and voice artist (Fred Flintstone, Lady and the Tramp), born in NYC, New York (d. 1977)
1918 Jacqueline Susann, American author (Valley of the Dolls), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1974)

1923 Jim Reeves, American country singer and actor (Gun Fury, Kimberley Jim), born in Panola County, Texas (d. 1964)
1926 Frank Rosolino, American jazz trombonist (The Frank Rosolino Sextet), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 1978)
1931 Don King, American boxing promoter best known for his association with Mike Tyson and for his unusual hairstyles, born in Cleveland, Ohio
1932 Anthony Ainley, British actor (Doctor Who), born in Stanmore, Middlesex (d. 2004)
1935 Ron Paul, American author and politician (3 times presidential candidate, 1988, 2008, 12), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1942 Isaac Hayes, American musician and composer (Shaft), born in Covington, Tennessee (d. 2008)
1943 Sylvester McCoy, Scottish actor (Seventh Doctor in Doctor Who), born in Dunoon
1944 Graig Nettles, American MLB 3rd baseman (NY Yankees, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians), born in San Diego, California
1946 Connie Chung [Constance Yu-Hwa Chung Povich], American news anchor (NBC, CBS), born in Washington, D.C.
1946 Ralf Hütter, German musician (Kraftwerk), born in Krefeld, Germany
1947 James Pankow, American trombonist, arranger and composer (Chicago - "Make Me Smile"; "Colour My World"), born in St. Louis, Missouri
1948 Robert Plant, English rock vocalist (Led Zeppelin), born in West Bromwich, England
1949 Phil Lynott, Irish rock singer and bass player (Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back In Town"), born in West Bromwich, England. (d. 1986)
1951 Greg Bear, American sci-fi author (2 Hugos, Eon, Eternity), born in San Diego, California
1952 John Hiatt, American singer and songwriter (Have a Little Faith in Me), born in Indianapolis, Indiana
1952 Rudy Gatlin, American country singer (Gatlin Bros-Broken Lady), born in Olney, Texas
1952 Doug Fieger, American singer–songwriter (The Knack - "My Sharona"), born in Oak Park, Michigan (d. 2010)
1954 Al Roker, American weatherman (NBC, Today), born in Queens, New York
1956 Joan Allen, American actress (Peggy Sue Got Married, Tucker, In Country), born in Rochelle, Illinois
1956 Rick Olsen, American rock guitarist (Berlin-Take My Breath Away)
1962 James Marsters, American actor (Spike-Buffy the Vampire Slayer), born in Greenville, California
1966 "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, American heavy metal guitarist (Pantera), born in Arlington, Texas (d. 2004)
1970 Fred Durst, American singer (Limp Bizkit), born in Gastonia, North Carolina
1971 Brad Avery, American musician (former guitarist for Third Day)
1974 Amy Adams, American actress and singer (Arrival, Man of Steel, American Hustle), born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
1979 Jamie Cullum, English singer-songwriter, pianist and radio presenter, born in Rochford, England
1992 Demi Lovato, American actress (Camp Rock) and singer/songwriter (Unbroken), born in Albuquerque, New Mexico
James Pankow, trombone player, is the writer of this suite of songs
James Marsters

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory.
(Psalms 48:9-10 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your steadfast, unfailing love
2. for the victory of Your strong right hand
3. for forgiveness, which is central in Your model prayer for us, and central to our very existence
4. for Your great and might acts, both in history and in our lives
5. for loving us, in spite of ourselves

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK THIRTEEN – DAY SIX

We will celebrate and praise you, LORD! You are good to us, and your love never fails.
(Psalms 106:1 CEV)

I pause for a moment to reflect on Your unfailing love, so grateful that Your love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.
(Psalms 50:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
(Exodus 14:26-31 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I linger, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

The visual of Psalm 50:2 is beautiful to me. God shines forth from Zion, perfect in beauty.

When we read things like Psalm 50, it is easy to allow our misconceptions about God come through. I’ve written before about the dangers of thinking about God in terms of “us vs them.” We get this cockamamie idea in our brains that God is “on our side,” and then we read things like: “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.”

We then read our preconceived incorrect thoughts about God into those verses and get all self-confident in our “causes” and believe that God is going to come down and wipe out all of “them,” whom we foolishly believe to be the sole source of all the evil in the world.

But here’s the thing. When God does come and send devouring fire before Him and His raging tempest, it’s not going to be pretty or pleasant. And many, if not most, of us are going to be surprised at the results.

I’ve said it before, and I will, no doubt, say it again.

God is on God’s side. And we need to (all of us) do a much better job of making sure that we are on His side.

When Pharaoh chased Israel into the middle of the Red Sea, God came, with a raging tempest. He instructed Moses to stretch his hand back out over the sea so that the walls of water would crash back down, engulfing the Egyptians. “Not one of them survived.”

The words of Moses turned out to be true. “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

What is sad is that what is stated in verse 31, “And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant,” didn’t stick. It lasted only a few chapters, in fact.

So fast-forward a few thousand years. If the fickle human beings that saw, first hand, the miracles of the Lord, couldn’t be faithful to Him and His Word for more than a few days or weeks, how do we expect to do better?

The beauty of all of this is that He knows it. Nothing that we do surprises Him. He knows everything that there is to know about us, and, because He is outside of time, He already knows everything we are going to do before we do it. Therefore, I think it is even safe to say that He isn’t even “disappointed” in us, not the way we tend to get disappointed in one another.

For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
(Psalms 103:14 NLT)

And, in the words of a great Easter song that used to love to sing, “But still He loved me . . .”

Let’s go back to that one prayer that we have. You know the one . . . we usually call it “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Is it a coincidence that “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is pretty much right smack in the middle of that prayer? I’d like to think not. I’m not much of a believer in coincidences.

Now, let’s go back up to that bit at the top about some church issues. While I’ve been typing this blog (which has taken most of the morning), people have been talking. There have been multiple conversations, both in texting and verbally. It looks like things are working out, which is good, because we believe that this church is worth preserving. I don’t think any of us simply want to walk away. Forgiveness is central. It is the center of this prayer, and it is the center of our lives.

Honestly, we can’t survive without it.

Father, thank You. Thank You for forgiving us for our sins. Thank You for loving us, when we get so unlovable. Thank You for being faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to You. Thank You that “Your love never fails, it never gives up; it never runs out.” And thank You for giving us the ability to forgive one another. Help us to be stronger, though, and to not be so easily offended. Help us to be stronger for one another; help us to love one another and carry one another’s burdens. Also, help us to reach out when there are misunderstandings, rather than jerking our knees.

Please give us the Christlike ability to deny ourselves and serve others. Give us the commitment to do justice and show mercy. And please show mercy to those who are imprisoned, and give grace to those who minister to them.

"Strong and mighty God,
retrieve holy fear for you from the depths of fright and anxiety.
Make me deeply intimate with your awesome presence and mightily aware of your costly mercy.
Mingle in my heart a holy fusion of reverence,
love,
awe,
and trust,
freeing me to lovingly,
willingly yield my all to you.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

You have shown me the path to life, and you make me glad by being near to me. Sitting at your right side, I will always be joyful.
(Psalms 16:11 CEV)

Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.
(Proverbs 20:30 GNB)

The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.
(Psalms 118:22-23 NLT)

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:28-30 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Do Not Be Anxious

Good morning. It is Sunday, September 13, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is multiloquence This noun means, ” Excessive talkativeness or loquaciousness; prolixity.” Great, now I have to look up two more words. “Loquacious” is another word for “full of excessive talk.” “Prolixity” is a form of “prolix,” which means, “marked by or using an excess of words.” So today, you get three words for the price of one! I call that a bargain.

Today is Grandparent’s Day. I always thought this was just another day thought up by Hallmark, but apparently, it has some deeper meaning. Someone named Marian McQuade “instigated a campaign in the early 1970s aimed at highlighting the plight of lonely elderly people in care homes and encouraging grandchildren to take advantage of the wisdom and guidance their grandparents could provide.” So there you go. If you have any grandparents left, show them some love. Listen to their stories. Even better, record their stories! I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had recorded my grandparents talking.

We had a truly amazing time, yesterday! We went down for the lunch buffet at around 11:00 AM. The place we ate had pretty good food, with a very wide variety of types of cuisine. They had Asian, Mexican, Italian, American, and seafood, along with a very large salad bar and dessert bar. The dessert was actually quite good, too, which is rare for buffet places.

After lunch, we all split up to play some more, with plans to meet up at 5:00 PM for dinner. Christi and I played for what must have been close to four hours. I ran out of my “free” $50 bonus money early on, and started using money we had allocated for playing. The winnings ebbed and flowed, as the amounts dwindled. As it got later, we started on a journey to get to the other end of the casino. Winstar is set up in pretty much linear design, with a right angle turn in the middle. Each gaming area is named after a city in the world. Our hotel is on the London end, which is followed by Madrid, and then Rome, which is where the Global Event Center is located. More on that later. At the other end of the casino, is New York City. There is Venice and Cairo in there, somewhere, too. I can’t remember if there are any more cities represented.

We would stop and play a machine, here and there, but really had no good luck. We reached New York and turned around to head back. As we walked, we stumbled on a machine that I had really liked in a previous visit, a Wizard of Oz “Haunted Forest” themed machine. So I sat down to play. I used up what was on the last voucher I had printed, and put $40 more in the machine. On this machine, you could bet with $.40, $.80, $1.20, $2.00, or $4.00. On a whim, I placed a $1.20 bet, and got this “Flying Monkey” feature which randomly places some “wilds” on the playing board. I won a significant amount, getting my total up around $50 or so. Feeling bold, I placed a $4.00 bet, and won only $2.00. I turned around and put that $2.00 back up, and got the Flying Monkeys again. This time, they put a “wild” in all five columns! As the reels stopped turning, the machine started playing this lush orchestral version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the amount I had won started going up. It stopped at $199 and some change! I had just won $199 on a $2 bet. I cashed out. Total won on that machine, $241 and some change. As I got up, Christi was coming to find me to show me that she had finished up with over $60 winnings on the machine she was playing. We walked away with just over $300.
Winstar vouchers

We met back up with Rachel and Justin at 5:00 PM and went back down to have some dinner. We ate a a place in the London area, called “Chips and Ales.” We didn’t have any ale. But we had some pretty good fish and chips and other stuff. We still had close to two hours before Jim Gaffigan’s show as was to start, so we agreed to meet in front of the Global Event Center at 7:00. I had found out that they would begin seating at 6:30. Since there’s nothing else to do in a casino, we played some more. I pretty much lost $20 during that time, cashing out with forty cents. Christi had put in $40 and finished up with around $11 or so.

The show was really great. I probably would not entertain the idea of going to another one at that venue, however. The place is totally flat (no incline until you’re so far back you couldn’t see, anyway), and they use those portable plain chairs that hook together for seating. What this means is that the chairs are right next to each other. All of us are pretty big people, which makes this type of setting VERY uncomfortable. Added to the fact that this show was sold out, it made things even worse, because there would be someone sitting next to us. However, a few minutes before time for the show to begin, a nice gentleman came over and showed us how to unhook the chairs, so that we could at least spread them out a few inches between us. That brought us some welcome relief. We probably weren’t supposed to do that, but no one official seemed to notice.

I can’t remember the name of the “warm-up” comedian, but he was pretty good, telling jokes about old commercials that we grew up with, and how politically incorrect they were. Such as the “Frito Bandito,” the “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch” commercial, and the Armour Hot Dogs jingle with spoke of “fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks; tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox . . .” Anyone in their forties or fifties would have loved those jokes.

Jim Gaffigan did not disappoint. He was hilarious, as always, constantly making fun of himself, without being vulgar or off color at all. He joked about hiking, kids, Disney World, and, to my pleasant surprise, finished the show with his entire “Hot Pocket” routine. It was all great fun. Except for when the possibly drunk person came in to the row right behind us, with only about 15 minutes left in the show and constantly giggled “He’s so funny” while loudly repeating every joke that Jim told, to the person sitting next to him. Ah, well. There’s always something, right? I didn’t let that ruin my good time. The show was fantastic, and we laughed more than we had ever laughed in an hour, before.

After the show, we hit the restrooms, and Justin and Rachel went off in search of snacks and, maybe, coffee. Christi still had that $11 voucher burning a hole in her pocket, so she found a machine just like the one she had won $60 on, earlier. There were two together, so I sat down next to her and put in my forty cent voucher. And another $20. A few minutes later, another $20. Then I got a couple of “Bonus” rounds almost back to back. I cashed out with $60, while Christi went on to cash out with $40. Walking out with $100, we had broken even for the night, which, in casino-speak, is the same thing as winning!

Winning

As I type this, this morning, we are roughly $100 up for our trip. And that’s including the $40 I dropped in about 5 minutes, playing Blackjack! Yeah. I don’t think I’ll ever try that again.

We have to check out by 11:00, this morning, after which we will pack up the car, park it somewhere else (it’s in valet parking), and go back to the buffet restaurant for our complimentary brunches. We will likely head back to Denton after that, and then on to home. We still have to get in our grocery shopping after we get home, which is not a great way to finish off an otherwise spectacular weekend!

On September 13, in 122, the construction of Hadrian’s Wall began. In 335, Emperor Constantine consecrated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In 1501, Michelangelo began work on his statue of David. In 1609, Henry Hudson finally reached the river that would later be named after him. In 1788, the Philadelphia Convention set the date for the first presidential election, and New York City was established as the temporary capital of the U.S. In 1898, Hannibal Goodwin patented celluloid photographic film. In 1899, Henry Bliss was the first person in the U.S. to be killed in an auto accident. In 1971, the National Guard, along with state police, stormed Attica to end a prison revolt. In 2001, civilian aircraft flights were resumed in the U.S., following the 9/11 attacks. And, in 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in the Gulf Coast, causing heavy damage to Galveston, Houston, and surrounding areas.

Today’s birthdays include Milton S. Hershey (American confectioner), Arnold Schoenberg (Austrian-born composer), Claudette Colbert (American actress), Bill Monroe (American musician credited with the invention of bluegrass), Roald Dahl (British writer), Mel Torme (American singer), Barbara Bain (American actress), David Clayton-Thomas (Canadian singer, Blood, Sweat & Tears), Peter Cetera (American musician, Chicago), Jacqueline Bisset (British actress), Nell Carter (American actress), Jean Smart (American actress), Anne Geddes (Australian photographer), Dave Mustaine (American musician), Tyler Perry (American filmmaker), Fiona Apple (American singer), Ben Savage (American actor), and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japanese pitcher, previously Boston Red Sox).

Peter Cetera is a bass player/singer, born on this date in 1944, making him 71 years old today. Egad. His best years were with Chicago as their bass player and one of their singers. He had a relatively dismal solo career, and I have no idea what he is doing today. Here is an early clip of Chicago performing “Dialogue,” with Terry Kath playing guitar and singing, long before he accidentally killed himself.

Leopold Stokowski, Tupac Shakur, George Wallace, Dorothy McQuire, and Ann Richards are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 103:14-16.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

(From Solid Joys)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:31-34

Today’s reading is, “Reasons Not To Worry.”

There are several great promises in this passage of Scripture. The first is in verse 31-32, telling us that there is no need to be anxious about daily needs, because God knows what we need. We simply need to trust his timing, as he is not ignorant about our needs.

In verse 33, we are told that, if we give our lives to seeking God’s cause, which is his Kingdom, all of these things will be added to us. In other words, if we seek the Lord and his interests above our own, he will provide for us. In my opinion, the cause of the Gospel is the only worthy “cause” on earth to support.

Finally, in verse 34, we are again told to not be anxious, specifically about tomorrow. God will take care of us. As my mother used to tell me, “Don’t borrow trouble.”

Father, I pray for my faith to be stronger, that I might follow these promises and commands, not worrying, trusting that you will provide for me. Help me to selflessly seek your Kingdom and support your cause with my entire being.

I pray for safety as we travel home today. Thank you for giving us a great weekend of fun and relaxation.

Come, Lord Jesus.

My brothers and sisters, try with all your being to shed your anxieties and trust in God’s timing and provision.

Grace and peace, friends.

Stand Out From the Crowd

“The crowd does not take kindly to noncomformity.” “There is nothing more maddening to the mob than a free person.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, September 13, 2014. It’s 56 degrees outside this morning. Mmmmmm. . .

I never got a chance to get that chocolate milk shake yesterday. But today is Defy Superstition Day. I’ll try to find some sidewalk cracks to step on while carrying a black cat under a ladder while breaking a mirror. That should do it.

Yesterday evening was a bit strange. By the time I got home, I had this awful feeling that I was catching a cold (just what I need, right?). I was very tired, and could barely stay awake through the two episodes of House of Cards that we watched on Netflix. We love that show, by the way. I can’t decide whether to love or hate Francis Underwood. So, anyway, I took some NyQuil (or at least CVS’s version of it) and went to bed around 9:00 PM. I finished a book that I have been reading for the last month (Drood, by Dan Simmons) and dropped off to sleep, to not awaken (as far as I know) until around 6:00 AM. I kept sleeping (in spite of Screamer the cat’s incessant yowling) until almost 7:00. I feel much better this morning, no hint, at least at this time, of any “cold” activity.

We received some sad news yesterday. A family that we used to go to church with, back in our South Haltom days, has had a tragedy. The oldest son in the family died suddenly on Thursday night. The preliminary findings are that it was either a heart attack or brain aneurysm. I’m not sure how old he was, but I think he couldn’t have been much more than his early thirties. We are going to take some lunch to their house today, after Christi gets done with her morning run for groceries for us and her mother.

This evening, as usual, we have our Anchor prayer gathering and worship service, beginning at 4:45 (I was told I got the times wrong last weekend). Worship happens at 5:45. If you’re in the area, you are invited to visit us at The Exchange.

(Source: This Day In History)

On this date in 1936, a seventeen-year-old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians struck out seventeen batters, setting a new American League record. That pitcher’s name was Bob Feller. He signed with the Indians when he was sixteen years old, for an autographed baseball and one dollar. My how times have changed!

Feller would go on to retire from the Indians in 1956, having won more games than any other Indians pitcher, and that even with a four year interruption, as he served in the Navy during WWII. In 1957, his jersey number, 19, was the first to be retired by the Indians organization.

Looking at today’s birthdays: Ben Savage, Roald Dahl, Milton S. Hershey, Dave Mustaine, Fiona Apple, Nell Carter, David Clayton Thomas, Jacqueline Bisset, Peter Cetera, Zak Starkey (son of Ringo), Richard Kiel (passed away this week), Claudette Colbert, Mel Torme, Bill Monroe, Jean Smart, Bela Karolyi, Daniel Defoe, Arnold Schoenberg, Barbara Bain, Don Was, and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I’m going to feature three of these, today. Fiona Apple is 37 today, an American singer/songwriter who won a Grammy from her first album, Tidal, in 1996. Here is the video for her song “Paper Bag.”

Peter Cetera is, unbelievably, 70 years old today. Cetera was lead singer and bass player for Chicago until 1984. He departed the band to pursue a troubled solo career after their album, Chicago 17, arguably the best album in the band’s history. Here is the video for my always and forever favorite song of theirs, “Hard Habit to Break.” It is unfortunate that it is my favorite, because it reminds me of what was probably the most difficult time of my life. But it also reminds me of the beginning of the best time of my life, so that’s okay. 🙂 Oh, for those who don’t know, Peter Cetera is the one with the high voice.

And finally, David Clayton Thomas. He turns 73 years old today, and was the voice of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Here is a clip of one of their great songs, “God Bless the Child.”

I hope you have enjoyed these musical selections as much as I did. 🙂

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
Psalm 46:8
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
Psalm 59:9
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

Psalm 103:15-16
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Luke 21:33

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
1 Chronicles 16:10
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27

Today’s Gospel Reading

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, these two verses have caused quite a conflict in your life. Out of all of the phrases in the Model Prayer, Jesus chooses this one to backtrack and highlight with further commentary. Not hallowing the Father’s name. Not bringing in the Kingdom. Not daily provision. Not deliverance from the devil. Forgiveness. He seems to be making MY state of forgiveness contingent upon whether or not I forgive others! Doesn’t this go against all of what we believe about grace?? The point is, if we have not received enough grace to forgive others when they “trespass” against us, then we had best not count on receiving God’s forgiveness. Even those words fall far short of what I’m trying to say here. If I cannot forgive my brother, then I cannot claim to have received God’s forgiveness. So if I’m harboring a grudge against anyone, I had best step back and examine my own faith. We must relinquish those feelings! It doesn’t matter who we are holding a grudge against. It doesn’t matter what they have done to us. Hear this well! Jesus thought it important enough to be the only phrase in the Model Prayer to add further commentary to! The bottom line is that we, as Christians, cannot afford to ignore these two verses.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Noncomformity.”

“The crowd does not take kindly to noncomformity.” Haha! That seems like an incredible understatement, does it not? What distracts us the most from our goal of living out of the center of God’s holiness and will for our lives? Could it be the “scorn of our peers?” Do we worry all too much about what others will think about us if we get a little too radical? Unfortunately, there seem to be those who carry that so far as to trample others completely, with no regard, whatsoever, for their feelings. That’s a topic for a different day, though. How much do I fail to do because I fear ridicule? It seems that I would argue, publicly, opinions about my favorite baseball teams before I would defend my devotion to Christ. How wrong is that? “The irony is that the opinions we fear most are not those of people we really respect, yet these very persons influence our lives more than we want to admit.” Now, there’s a statement to really think about! I guess I hadn’t considered that, at all.

When we live “out of the center,” we become liberated Christians. Alfred Camus is quoted as saying, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very act of existence becomes an act of rebellion.” Brennan follows this up by saying, “There is nothing more maddening to the mob than a free person.”

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
1 Corinthians 9:19

Father, help me to be free from the “mob mentality.” And it is sad that, sometimes, this means even rejecting what a large number of well-meaning Christians want me to think or believe. Help me to live out of the center of your holiness and your will for my life. I would desire that my “very act of existence” would be an “act of rebellion.” I desire that because I desire to be yours and yours alone. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Make the life of Christ my life. Make the characteristics of the Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit be the very lifelines of my life. Teach me to be aware of your presence all day, every day.

Father, I pray for this day. We have already been active. I pray that the Knight family will be able to enjoy the lunch we took over for them. I pray for comfort and peace for them at this terrible, unexpected loss on Thursday evening. We cannot even imagine the heartbreak and sadness that they are experiencing. May you draw them very close to you during this time. I pray for us as we continue to take care of the day’s errands and activities. I pray for our worship time this evening, that it will be glorifying to you and that your name will be lifted high. May the Gospel be clear tonight, and may our prayer time exalt your name. Bring us ever closer to you through our worship and through the words that Jacob will speak tonight. Teach us how to glorify you with our finances.

stand-out-from-the-crowd1

May we all have the faith to stand out from the crowd. And, yes, I do believe that we can collectively accomplish that, because we do not all have to look the same.

Grace and peace, friends.