For the Common Good

Today is Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

Day 22,217

35 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.”
Dave Barry, U.S. columnist and humorist
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is pawky. Chiefly a British word, it means, “cunning; sly.”

C has a wicked catch in her right shoulder blade area, so we didn’t go exercise, last night. I stopped at Subway for dinner, though, on the way home. It still hurts, this morning, but she says it is some better.

Not much going on this week, otherwise. I’m thinking on what songs I’m going to lead, this Sunday. So far I’ve decided on “Word of God Speak,” and “10,000 Reasons.” I planning to simply focus on worshiping God.

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

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

Today I am grateful:
1. For the victory of which that verse speaks. I may not be experiencing all of the effects of it right now, but it is certainly there for me to grasp.
2. For the blood of Jesus, that has cleansed all my sin.
3. For the privilege of intercessory prayer.
4. For the miracle of God hearing and listening to our prayers.
5. For puppies and kittens.

O God, you have made of one blood
all the peoples of the earth,
and sent your blessed Son to preach peace
to those who are far off and to those who are near:
Grant that people everywhere may
seek after you and find you;
bring the nations into your fold;
pour out your Spirit upon all flesh;
and hasten the coming of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Extraordinary Grace-Gifts,” by Frederick Buechner

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7

When someone is described as being “charismatic,” what do we typically think of? If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you probably think of a celebrity who has that certain je ne sais quoi about them. (Did you know that literally means, “I do not know what?”) They have what we might call “presence.” But they don’t have to be celebrities to be charismatic. We might run across that quality in people who are “nobodies” or even children.

If we consider, though, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, or that guy who “risked his neck smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany,” and put them in everyday street clothes, we more than likely would not recognize them. Buechner calls these the “true charismatics,” because the word comes from the Greek charis, which means “grace.”

Side note . . . today is the first time I have heard that the word means “grace.” For most of my life, at least since the word “charismatic” began being used to describe a sect of Christianity, I was told that the word meant “gifted.” But it doesn’t. It means “grace.” I verified it, Buechner is right.

It is out of graciousness that “God gives certain men and women extraordinary gifts or charismata such as the ability to heal, to teach, to perform acts of mercy, to work miracles.”

And many of these people do not have what we would consider “presence.” “You don’t feel any special vibrations when they enter a room.” But they are the true miracle-workers.

Paul claims that we have all been given some kind of gift of the Spirit, some kind of “grace,” and for what purpose? “For the common good.” We are given this grace to share with others, not to draw attention to ourselves. This is me, not Buechner speaking, here. I believe that this is one area where the charismatic movement of the late twentieth century missed the proverbial boat. The “gifts” tended to be about “me.” Look at me, I’m speaking in tongues. Look at me, I’m prophetic.

That’s not the purpose of the gifts of grace at all. Again, they are “for the common good,” for the edification of the body of Christ.

Consider, if you will . . . “What extraordinary grace-gifts has God give you for the purpose of working ordinary miracles? How can you exercise them each day for God’s glory and the common good?”

Father, I pray, today, that You would remind me of the grace-gifts that You have given me; show me how I can best use them to build up the Body of Christ and to glorify Your great Name.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Soli Deo Gloria!

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“When I Am Afraid, I Put My Trust In You”

Today is Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Day 21,916.

18 days until Resurrection Sunday.

Dave Barry (not his birthday), said, “Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” The Quotations Page

The word for today is invigilate, a verb which means, “to keep watch; especially : to supervise students at an examination.” Also, “supervise, monitor.”

We arrived back home between 1:00 and 2:00 PM, yesterday. We stopped on the way and picked up a few movies from Redbox. We watched “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri,” which, while a decent movie with some excellent performances (Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both won Oscars), had a very unsatisfying ending. And I truly do not like endings like that. When I’m watching a movie, I want it END! I want closure. All we got at the end of this one was “huh?” After that, we watched the recent remake of “Murder On the Orient Express,” which was quite enjoyable. We started watching “Mother,” with Jennifer Lawrence, but C got tired and went to bed. I finished the movie, but still am not sure what happened or what it was about. Very strange movie. I looked it up online afterward and found that it is, allegedly, about Adam and Eve and creation, along with a message about how we are mistreating the earth? If you say so. Nobody in the movie had a name. J-Law was “mother,” Javier Bardem was “him,” Ed Harris was “man,” and Michelle Pfeiffer was “woman,” and so on. I wouldn’t recommend it, really. I’m a big fan of both J-Law and Michelle Pfeiffer, but did not enjoy this movie at all.

This evening, if time allows, we plan to watch “Goodbye Christopher Robin.”

We had a marvelous weekend at Paluxy River Bed Cabins. The weather was as close to perfect as possible, I suppose. It was a bit chilly in the mornings, but absolutely beautiful the rest of the time. The highlight of this trip was the afternoon we took our canvas chairs down to the river in front of the cabin, and just sat for a few hours, reading or watching the river, which was so clear we could see fish in it. It was so very peaceful and relaxing.

As I mentioned Saturday, I elected to use PTO for the remainder of this week, as well, so I’m off today, tomorrow, and Friday. We have a technician coming this afternoon to look at our swimming pool/spa heater, which is on the fritz. Then Friday morning, I have a doctor’s appointment to get blood work for meds to be refilled. Tomorrow afternoon, I just might go see “A Wrinkle In Time,” as I re-read the book Sunday and Monday.

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

To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; 
my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. 
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 
All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. 
They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. 
For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God! 
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? 
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, 
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (vv. 3-4) These are a couple of favorite verses for me. They remind me of an old children’s video-tape that featured Steve Green singing little scripture songs. My best memory of this is on a “dark and stormy night,” when C was going to school for to finish her college degree. R and I were at home; S was not around yet. As the storm raged outside, R suggested we sit in the hallway with pillows and sing the song from that video that featured those two verses. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

Father, should I ever be afraid, may I fully trust in you. When I doubt myself, help me to trust in you. When my faith falters, remind me that my trust is in you. Help me to trust fully, walking in your kingdom, in the words and steps of Jesus, my savior and my strength.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Rejoice!

Today is Wednesday, February 28, 2018. Last day of February. Day 21,902.

TEN days until Glen Rose.

Dave Barry (not his birthday) said, “Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business.” I tend to agree with him.
The Quotations Page

The word for today is ufology, a noun which means, “the study of unidentified flying objects.”

We finally made it back to the Y last night. C and I went, at least. S wasn’t feeling well, but says she is going tonight. I had a nice, brisk walk on the treadmill for thirty minutes. We do plan on going back tonight. I don’t know if we will try every night, but we will definitely attempt to go more nights than we don’t go.

I’m already feeling the stress-relieving effect of a weekend in Glen Rose, even though it’s ten days away. That cabin is one of our favorite places on the planet. Right up there with a house on the beach in Galveston. Which, if the Lord says so, too, we will be doing in October.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. 
He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. 
He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah. 
God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 
The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

Psalm 47

Over and over, the Bible admonishes/encourages us to be joyful. I think C.S. Lewis nailed it with this quote: “My own idea, for what it is worth, is that all sadness which is not either arising from the repentance of a concrete sin and hastening towards concrete amendment or restitution, or else arising from pity and hastening to active assistance, is simply bad; and I think that we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to “rejoice” as by anything else.”

While there are legitimate reasons to be sad, many of us are too sad too much of the time. Let us rejoice in the Lord, and again, I say, “Rejoice!”

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 13:34
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 3:16

There are two ways in which John 13:34 is a “new commandment.” The first is that, whereas God had already given the command to love our neighbors as ourselves, here Jesus gives us a command to love one another, as in the Church. Here, he is speaking solely to his disciples, telling them that they are to love each other. The other way in which it is new is in the way they are to love one another. Rather than “as yourselves,” in the previous command, now they are to love each other as Jesus has loved them. And he will show his ultimate love by dying for them on the cross. So this new command . . . we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, yes. But we are to love one another in the family of faith as Jesus has loved us, being willing to lay down our very lives for each other.

Father, I need a great deal of help in both of these areas. Not that I am frequently sad. But I do find myself occasionally burrowing into the depth of depression for a day or so, and for no good reason, really, other than I’m not crazy about my job. But who is? Help me to rejoice. After all, I have much to rejoice about! My sins are forgiven. I am your child; a brother to the Son of God. Help me to rejoice in those things, always. Then help me to love my brothers and sisters as Christ has loved us. I spend too much time judging your children, Father, I confess it. I acknowledge it. I know it is true. Chisel that habit away from me, Lord, and help me work the disciplines that are needed to remove that part of my character and replace it with love and compassion.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.