Good morning. It is Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Hump Day. Welcome to July.
Today’s Word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is notaphily. On might, if one couldn’t spell, think that this word was designating the gender of a horse. However, it is a noun, meaning, “The study or collection of banknotes.”
Today (besides being Canada Day) is Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day. Every time we go to the store, it seems that Ben & Jerry’s has come out with a new flavor. My favorite is still Phish Food, though. I do enjoy the Birthday Cake Sunday, though, from Braum’s, which features blue, birthday cake flavored ice cream. Okay, now I’m getting hungry. I’d better stop.
I get free lunch today! Yes, it’s true. Our company is cooking (well, the “company” is not actually cooking . . . one of the managers will cook) burgers and hot dogs for us, for lunch today. I saw them loading watermelons and a bunch of other stuff into one of the company’s industrial fridges, yesterday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.
Last night’s Huddle meeting was good. One thing that happened, in the course of the meeting, was that, while we were discussing the learning circle, I talked about how much Christi has helped me when I get to the “discuss” portion of the circle. She has “talked me off the ledge” numerous times, when I was considering various courses of action. A couple of the guys expressed desire to have that kind of relationship with their spouses, one even calling me “lucky.” I replied that I don’t believe in luck. “Then you’re blessed,” he said. “That’s true,” I said, “but it also takes work.” I didn’t elaborate much more than that, last night. You see, some of these guys wouldn’t like my explanation, being somewhat “ultra-conservative,” but Christi and I treat each other as equals in this marriage. And I firmly believe that’s what has kept us together for almost 30 years. You can preach “head of the family” at me all day long, but we make decisions together. We discuss things together as equals. Sometimes I make the decision, and sometimes she makes the decision. The majority of the time, we agree, at the end. There have been times when one of us has had to go along with something we weren’t quite sure about, but that’s what compromise is all about. Another thing that has made this marriage so great is that I treat my wife with the utmost respect. I do NOT talk down or condescend to her. How could I “talk down to her” if we are equals? I do not EVER criticize my wife in public, and I rarely criticize her to her face. We love each other tremendously, and that’s how we treat each other.
Today, or tomorrow, I need to go find a black folding chair. I have to have one for the July 3 concert for the Southlake Community Band. Makes sense, I guess. We have to bring a black music stand and black folding chair for the concert. The band doesn’t actually own any equipment, I guess. I’m not sure about the percussion. Perhaps we borrow it from the school where we rehearse? I don’t know. Don’t really need to know.
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
Today, I’m beginning chapter two, “The Greatness of Prayer.” It begins with Ephesians 1:15-19:
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.
If we look at similar prayers, in other epistles, we see that this is a typical Pauline prayer for those he was close to. I pray this prayer, on a daily basis, for significant people in my church life, as well, along with one in Colossians. In the NIV, which Keller quotes, Paul says, “I keep asking that . . . you may know him better.”
One thing that is notable in all of these prayers is that Paul never prays for changes in circumstance. These people lived in dangers and hardships that we don’t even imagine, in our culture. “Yet in these prayers you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal.”
This, of course, does not mean that we are wrong to pray for such things. After all, Jesus instructed us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” and “deliver us from the evil one.” In 1 Timothy 2, Paul even directs his audience to pray for “peace, for good government, and for the needs of the world.” So, in prayers like this one in Ephesians, Paul is not giving us a model prayer. Rather, he is showing us his heart. This is how he prays for the people he loves. He prays for what he believes to be most important.
And what is most important is “to know him better.” The language he uses is beautiful. “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” In our culture, we conceive of the heart as the center of the self, controlling our “feeling, thinking, and behavior.” If we have “the eyes of our hearts enlightened,” means that truth has penetrated us deeply and gripped us to the point that it “changes the whole person.”
Father, may Paul’s prayer be true for all of us. I pray that you would enlighten the eyes of my heart, gripping me deeply and firmly with your truth. Most days, at some point I pray my life verse, teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I pray for others that I know, Father, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, as well. This is a serious and sincere prayer, even though I sometimes rush through it. Help me to be more faithful to pray with clear thought, unhurried and sincere, Lord. Let me not rush through prayers for believers who are friends and loved ones, but pray with thoughtfulness, with their spiritual well-being at the front of my heart.
Father, you are good! I pray for today’s travel, that it be smooth and safe. I pray for today’s work, that it, also, would go smoothly. Lift us above our circumstances, that we might abide in you throughout the work day. I didn’t do that very well, yesterday. Keep us aware of our surroundings, always seeking the ways that you are speaking to us, even in seemingly simple circumstances. I pray that you show yourself mighty to Stephanie today, giving her a glimpse of how much you love her. I pray that you provide for and protect Rachel and Justin, as well as my mother, keeping them strong and drawing them closer to you at all times.
I pray that our marriage might be an inspiration to others, Lord. I am so very grateful for this relationship and your place in it.
Your grace is sufficient.
Grace and peace, friends.