Today is Thursday, the twenty-sixth of May, 2022, in the sixth week of Easter.
May the peace of Christ find you, today.
Just a little catching up to do, as I ran out of time, yesterday morning. Yesterday turned out to be a great day at work, and our lunch event went quite well. It was the quarterly birthday lunch that we have, and, for this one, the theme was soup and salad. About five or six of us brought some kind of soup to share, and there was a veritable plethora of salad ingredients from which to choose. I brought our latest soup creation, the “Creamy Italian Chicken,” and it was well-received.
I’ll give a quick recap of Tuesday night’s PWBA USBC Queens tournament finale. It was fun to watch, as I really didn’t have a strong feeling about who would win. Danielle McEwan, fourth seed, defeated Hope Gramly (from Texas, so I wouldn’t have minded if she had won) in the first game. Then Laura Plazas, a tiny bowler from Columbia who was third seed, narrowly defeated McEwan in the second game. Plazas missed two “easy” spares (is there really any such thing??) in the game, but, thanks to a split in McEwan’s tenth frame, had an opportunity to win the game by getting two strikes and five pins. She got two strikes and six. But alas, Ms. Plazas fell to the number two seed, Birgit Noreiks, from Germany, who then went on to win the tournament, beating Clara Guerrero, also from Columbia, in the final match. It was Birgit’s first major tournament win.
This week, beginning with qualifying rounds today, the PWBA is in Minnesota, for the Twin Cities Open. Oops. I’m wrong. Practice is today, and qualifying rounds will be tomorrow and Saturday, with the live finale on CBS Sports on Sunday afternoon. I will be able to see some of the qualifying, probably, on Bowl TV. At least tomorrow’s, but I am scheduled to work this Saturday.
C is leaving for Addison, IL, tomorrow morning, to take part in the Women’s Open Championship, which is being hosted at the same center the PWBA just finished with, Stardust Bowl. She will be bowling tomorrow evening and Saturday morning, after which she will drive southeastward to Indianapolis, to visit with R & J for a few days, before coming home on June 1. This works out well with my work schedule, as I will be able to drive her to the airport tomorrow morning, and then pick her up on Wednesday, as I will not be working next Wednesday.
The Texas Rangers beat the LA Angels, last night, 7-2, after losing Tuesday night, 5-3. The Rangers are now 19-23 for the season, still in third place in the AL West. This was a two-game series with the Angels, so they split it. Tonight, Martin Perez will start a four game series against Oakland, also on the west coast, so the games will be late.
The Boston Red Sox, after beating the Other Sox 16-3 Tuesday night, lost 3-1 last night. The Red Sox are 20-23 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East. They will play the Other Sox again, tonight.
While I wasn’t looking, the Yankees won their thirtieth game (and their thirty-first), and continue to dominate MLB, at 31-13. The Reds continue to hold down the cellar, but only because the Nationals have played two more games than them. Both teams have lost thirty games. There are currently eight teams with two-game win streaks. But only one with a six-game losing streak, which would be the KC Royals. The Dodgers continue to dominate the run differential column, with +101, and the Pirates continue to bring up the rear with -83. The Rangers are currently at -6, and the Red Sox are at +12 (that 16-3 win over the Other Sox certainly helped that statistic).
Since this is Thursday, I’ll be heading in for my regular 11:15-8:15 shift at the library, in a couple hours.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for wanting to give us happiness and for holding our earthly life firmly in your hands. May we have the confidence that we are in your hands. Grant us the light of faith. Let this light of faith guide us in material things and help us to wait in patience until the doors open for us to pass through according to your pleasure. So bless us all. Bless our life. May we grow joyful and free of heart through all that Jesus Christ gives. On the foundation he establishes for us may your divine working, your fatherly love, lift and support us throughout our lives. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that my life is held firmly in our Father's hands 2. for joy, that circumstances of life cannot steal or wither 3. for all the colors that I can see, both in nature and in humanity 4. that my heart's desire is to desire God more than anything in this world 5. that God is constantly teaching me to pray, working on the interior life as much as, if not more than, the exterior
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
(Romans 1:19-20 ESV)
Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me and angrily hunt me down. My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking. Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting you to save me. (Psalms 55:1-7, 22-23 NLT)
Today’s prayer word is “color.”
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalms 19:1 NIV)
I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, when the sky is splashed with the most beautiful colors. Countless people, upon seeing a photo of one, will say something like, “God’s paintbrush.”
It’s more than just the sky, too. I’ll never forget our first trip to New England, back in 2000. We went in October, for our fifteenth anniversary. Never had we seen such vibrant colors in the trees. There were a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” on that trip.
I cannot imagine not being able to see color. I also celebrate the colors that I see in humanity. What a wonderful mosaic picture it will be when we all get to heaven, and join in that majestic choir that is depicted in the book of Revelation, singing the praises of the Lamb together.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NLT)
(From Pray a Word a Day)
Father, I praise You for color. Of course, we understand that the phenomenon of color is caused by light, which is one of the first things You spoke into existence. Without light, there would be no color. Jesus is the Light of the world. Therefore, He is the source of all color. I am grateful for the many wonders that the miracle of color brings to me. I am also grateful for the palette of colors in the human race. Some people believe we should be “color-blind” when it comes to humanity. I believe the opposite. I think we should celebrate the colors, not ignore them. You do not show favoritism, and neither do we. But ignoring the colors in the human race would be like not being able to see the colors in the sunset. It would make life plain.
It is true, Father, that in many ways we are the same. But we are also all different. You created us each in a unique way, and I celebrate this uniqueness. All praise to You, Father!
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
(Psalms 73:25 NLT)
“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
(John 3:30-36 NLT; the words of John the Baptizer)
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
(Colossians 3:2 NLT)
Father, my heart’s desire is that I desire nothing more than You. There is nothing on earth that is worthy of the same desire that I should have for You. I say “should have,” because that desire is not always as it should be. Help me to repent of this and to focus my desire on You. I do not desire, however, to be “so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good.” (I bet You’ve never heard that one before.) Let my desire for You work itself out in the way I interact with people and circumstances on earth. Let it work out in love for You and visible love for other people. After all, love cannot simply be words and thoughts. Love must be shown in action. I cannot simply say, “I love you” to people. I must demonstrate this love by the things that I do. So help me to do that more and more, especially during these challenging days.
“There is nothing more important for a pastor to do than teach people how to pray,” says Eugene Peterson.
I know many pastors who would not agree with this statement, but I find that I do agree with it. He is quick to clarify that he doesn’t mean teaching people to say their prayers better. “The term prayer refers to the cultivation of your interior self, the experienced practice of God’s presence in the entirety of your life, not just the ‘religious’ parts.”
This, to me, is quite deep and profound. “In prayer,” he says, “we deal with our most ordinary self, everybody’s ordinary self, and learn to answer in the simplest and most direct language the God who speaks to us.”
I’ve heard many public prayers that were anything but simple and direct.
Peterson, here, is focusing on the interior, though, not the outward. There are countless books and lectures on how to deal with the outward pieces of our lives. It seems, these days, that there is a higher emphasis being placed on the interior life. I’m seeing a lot more focus on meditation and such. This is good, but not so much when it is misdirected.
When Peterson says he wants us to “get good at prayer,” he is not referring to the words we say when we pray out loud in public. Nor is he referring to getting the words right when we are praying in private. There is no set form or formula of words that will magically cause God to answer the way we want Him to.
What Peterson is getting at is living a life of prayer. “Prayer” begins deep inside us. Sometimes, there is no more adequate prayer than the word “help.” On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that the ten minute public prayer by deacon so-and-so at the end of the weekly church service is never warranted. God is not impressed by the number of and largeness of the words we use, nor is He impressed when we put on our deep, “pastoral” voice when we pray.
I believe what God is “impressed” (I don’t even like using that word, because, I mean, what in the world could we ever do that would “impress” the Almight??) with is the quality of our interior life.
And this is what Peterson is getting at when he speaks of teaching someone how to “pray.”
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I have a feeling that, when Jesus’s disciples asked him to teach them to pray, this was not what they had in mind. Or maybe they did. I’m not sure that the answer He gave is what they were looking for, either. Were they asking for a formula to gain Your approval? I’m not wise enough to know. And, while a large part of Christendom takes what Jesus answered with as a formula, I see it more as a guide. I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with quoting the prayer verbatim. I do it frequently. But I also believe that it is something we can use as a sort of “springboard.” It seems to cover all of the necessary categories of prayer.
And I believe it addresses the interior life quite well. It speaks of our relationship with You, to begin with, with a desire that Your most Holy Name be hallowed or revered in all the earth. It speaks of a desire that You would bring about Your kingdom on this earth and that Your perfect will would come to pass. These are interior desires more than outward circumstances. Attitudes are addressed in the prayer of Jesus. And maybe it’s more about attitude than we realize.
As I continue, at this late state in my life, to learn how to pray, I ask that You would keep working in my interior life, drawing me ever closer to You. Because I find that the places I struggle the most with are inside me; thoughts that come to my mind, frequently unbidden, with which I must wrestle, and sometimes just push on out the other window. I acknowledge that, just because a thought comes to mind, doesn’t mean I must entertain it.
So help me to work this out, Lord, as I continue to learn to pray. And then, I ask, please keep me in more of an attitude of prayer all day, that I might be in constant connection with You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
I want to end this by sharing a weekly devotional from a local Lutheran church that I visit, sometimes. It’s not directly related to today’s blog (or is it?) but most definitely related to our week, here. The hymn included, “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross,” is most certainly appropriate.
Grace and peace, friends.