The Truth that Dazzles Gradually

Today is Monday, July 3, 2017. Day 21,662. One day until Independence Day!

“Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.” ~ Sinclair Lewis
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is sotto voce, an adverb, meaning, “in a low, soft voice so as not to be overheard.”

Today is Stay Out of the Sun Day. No problem here. I’m all over that one!

We had a wonderful day, yesterday. R came over for lunch (J wasn’t feeling well, so he did not come). We decided to try something different, so we drove up I-35 to a newer area, and tried a new Uncle Julio’s up there. It was okay. But just okay. Somewhat overpriced, in our opinion, and the food was only okay, not great. We won’t be going back there. But we had a great time, anyway.

After lunch, we decided to go bowling. So we stopped by the house and picked up our bowling balls and headed to Brunswick Zone in Watauga. We had an awesome time bowling! R surprised herself and bowled better than she expected. I didn’t do great, but I was “practicing,” messing around with delivery style and placement. C and I both get two free games a week, if we can find the time to bowl outside of league, and yesterday was the first day we had taken advantage of that.

We stopped at Sonic for drinks afterward, and then, after we got home, R headed on back to Denton. It was an awesome day!

Today, C and I are off work (as you can tell by the lateness of this post), and don’t really have any plans, other than heading to Southlake around 5:00 or so, for the band concert tonight. Tomorrow, we have no plans at all. And that’s the way, uhhuh uhhuh, I like it, uhhuh uhhuh!

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Psalm 113:1
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. 
I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, 
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 

Psalm 26:2-7
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! 
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Psalm 145:10-12
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 
(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:15-19

(From Practice Resurrection)

When the Church was created in the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit could very well have formed her out of “talented men and women who hungered for the ‘beauty of holiness.'” But he didn’t do that. And if we compare the stories, we know that this is not the way the Spirit brought Jesus into the world. “Why would the Spirit change strategies in bringing the salvation community, the church, the congregation, into our lives?”

As Eugene Peterson continued studying the writings of Luke, he saw more and more parallels between the story of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and the story of the church in the book of Acts. This enabled him to see the story “being lived and told in [his] congregation.” This came gradually, though, as he struggled to give up the image of the “beautiful Tirzah,” as well as the temptations of “adrenaline and ego satisfaction” in the “control of a religious business.” He quotes a line from poet Emily Dickinson: “the truth must dazzle gradually/Or every man be blind.”

Peterson realized that this was his place in the church, his work; to witness to this truth that dazzles gradually. He would proclaim the Holy Spirit’s formation of Church, of congregation out of this “mixed bag of humanity,” out of these broken people.

“Men at fifty who have failed a dozen times and know that they will never amount to anything.
Women who have been ignored and scorned and abused in a marriage in which they have been faithful.
People living with children and spouses deep in addictions.
Lepers and blind and deaf and dumb sinners.
Also fresh converts, excited to be in on this new life.
Spirited young people, energetic and eager to be guided into a life of love and compassion, mission and evangelism.
A few seasoned saints who know how to pray and listen and endure.
And a considerable number of people who pretty much just show up.
I wonder why they bother.
There they are.
The hot, the cold, and the lukewarm, Christians, half-Christians, almost Christians.
New-agers, angry ex-Catholics, sweet new converts.
I didn’t choose them.
I don’t get to choose them.”

And we don’t get to choose them. Just like our earthly, blood-born family. We can’t choose them, either. We don’t get to choose our family of faith, because everyone who calls the name of Jesus no matter how hot, cold, or lukewarm is part of this family. And our instructions, our orders from our commander, state that we are to love them as he loved us. Period.

We are all broken. And this is how we must live, how we must exist. I love the Church. I have always loved the Church, for as long as I can remember, and I will always love the Church. Because if you don’t love the Church, you don’t really love Jesus. And this is part of the truth that dazzles gradually.

Father, teach us this truth. I pray for the Church. For all of us broken people you have chosen to mush together in this unseemly group that will somehow succeed in glorifying you, in spite of ourselves. I praise you for your glory, and I pray for all of us together, that we might love each other as you have loved us.
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.

A Day of Action

Today is Friday, June 30, 2017. Day 21,659. Last day of June. Four days until our July 4 holiday!

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

The word of the day is divagate, a verb, meaning, “to wander; stray.” It also means, “to digress in speech.”

It says today is Social Media Day. Seeing as how social media has pretty much taken over our lives, I don’t think it needs a day named after it.

Did I mention we had a pot luck for lunch, yesterday? Well, this one was truly “pot luck,” in every sense of the word. About half of the offerings were dessert, most of the other half was snacks or sides, and there were about two or three items that could be considered a “main course.” One guy brought in some tamales, there were a couple of trays of smoked sausage (one person brought Eckrich, and it was amazing!), and then, after we had started, someone else brought in three containers of wings. I stopped at Tom Thumb and got some potato salad and cookies. There was some of each left at the end of the day, so I brought them home. My guess is that S will eat the potato salad for lunch today. 😀

Nothing planned for tonight or for the weekend, until Monday night, when we have the Stars & Stripes event in Southlake. Then we are off on Tuesday, for a day of chilling and just hanging out. Maybe I’ll grill. Or maybe it will be too hot.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

Psalm 98:1-2
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:76-77
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Psalm 108:3-4
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 
And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 
And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:29-32
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.” ~ Florence Nightingale, “Letter to a Friend”

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
1 John 3:18 (The Message)

“A prayer for action:
Dear God, you did not just say that you would bring the children of Israel out of Egypt; you brought them.
You did not just promise to deliver Daniel from the lion; you delivered him.
You did not just assure Mary that she would bear a child; you came into the world.
You did not just offer yourself as a sacrifice for our sin; you were and are our sacrifice.
In the same manner, let me live out my words into the world today. Let this day be one of action.
(Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer today. Let me live out my words. Let my actions speak louder than my words, and let those actions be those which would be inspired by the steps and words of my Savior. I pray that my actions never contradict my words, as I know they have, at times, in the past. That is shameful, and I always ask forgiveness for those failings. Help me to show love, understanding, and compassion to my fellow humans. May the love of Christ overflow from my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Miracle of Church

“The Holy Spirit descended into the womb of Mary in the Galilean village of Nazareth. Thirty of so years later the same Holy Spirit descended into the collective spiritual womb of men and women, which included Mary, who had been followers of Jesus. It happened as they were at worship on the Jewish feast of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem. The first conception gave us Jesus; the second conception gave us church.”

Today is Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Day 21,657. Six days until our July 4 holiday!

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” ~ E. B. White

Bonus quote!
“All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” ~ Harry S Truman, Letter to his sister, Nov. 14, 1947
The Quotations Page

Today’s word of the day is interdigitate. It is a verb, meaning, “to interlock, as or like the fingers of both hands.” I didn’t know there was a word for that!

Today is Happy Heart Hugs Day. I’m all about the hugs. I’m a hugger. If you’re a hugger, this is your day!

I feel much better this morning than I did yesterday. In fact, by bed time last night, I was feeling 100% better. Who knows what was wrong? I may have actually had a touch of something the night before. But I seem to be fine this morning.

It’s bowling d+9*-kl (Um . . . Rocky the cat just jumped on the keyboard). What I was trying to type before I was so felinely interrupted was, it’s bowling night! I’m always excited about bowling night. Sometimes, after it’s over, I’m not so excited. But I’ve been doing pretty good in this league, for someone who hasn’t bowled consistently in close to 30 years. My average should be around 163, or so, tonight.

The Red Sox are back in first place! The Rangers are in second place, but 12.5 behind the Astros, who have won an incredible 52 games already. The only other team that has won over 50 games is the Dodgers.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Psalm 31:23
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
Psalm 28:1
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Psalm 77:13
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 25:20
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 
Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:17-19

(From Practice Resurrection)

As Eugene Peterson set out on his search for “church,” he didn’t begin with Ephesians, but it is where he wound up. He began with the book of Acts, “in which the term ‘church’ occurs twenty-four times.” Ephesus is mentioned for the first time in Acts.

One thing that Peterson noticed was the parallel between the birth of Jesus and the birth of the church. I confess that I had never noticed this, but Peterson brings it to light in a marvelous way that only he can do. But there is a great parallel between Luke 1-2 and Acts 1-2. Of course, they were written by the same author, weren’t they?

But God brought our Savior into the world in somewhat “unkingly” circumstances. He could have come to the world and solved all of the hunger troubles. He could have come with a loud, spectacular entrance and filled all the amphitheaters and “hippodromes.” He could have performed circus-like miracle shows. He could have overthrown the Roman government. But he didn’t do any of those things.

Jesus came, by a miracle, “in the form of a helpless infant born in poverty in a dangerous place with neither understanding nor support from the political, religious, or cultural surroundings.”

Our “salvation community” came into the world in much the same way. It was, in fact, miraculous, but under much the same circumstances as the birth of Jesus. While the story in Acts seems somewhat outrageous, that is only if you were in the same room. From the outside, things carried on just as usual, with governments, religious leaders, and culture being largely oblivious to what was happening.

Both of these things happened by what Charles Williams called the Descent of the Dove. “The Holy Spirit descended into the womb of Mary in the Galilean village of Nazareth. Thirty of so years later the same Holy Spirit descended into the collective spiritual womb of men and women, which included Mary, who had been followers of Jesus. It happened as they were at worship on the Jewish feast of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem. The first conception gave us Jesus; the second conception gave us church.”

Father, thank you for the “miracle of church.” I thank you that you chose to send your Holy Spirit, not once, but twice. Once to save us, and the second time, to unite us in Trinitarian Community. I pray for the advancement of that community as the Church. I pray for unity within a body of believers that is, in some cases, intensely divided. Make us one in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, as we seek to walk in your kingdom.
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.

It’s Not About the Parking Lot

Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Day 21,656. Yesterday, I was wrong. Today is seven days until our July 4 holiday.

“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.” ~ Doug Larson
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is parallax, a noun meaning, “the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer.”

Today is Sunglasses Day. It might be a good day for that, here. Warm and partly sunny. But the projected high seems unusually “un-hot” for the day.

I’m not sure what is causing this, but I was really thirsty all night. This started between dinner and band practice, last night, and continued all night long. I remember waking up several times during the night with dry mouth and extreme thirst. I kept a glass of water nearby, so I could drink it, and I’m having water instead of coffee this morning. That right there should tell you something’s up! I didn’t do anything different, yesterday, though, so I don’t know what’s going on. I’ll try to stay more hydrated throughout the day today.

The band practice went well, and we got out early again, which is always nice. We just ran through all the pieces for next Monday night’s concert. We’ll be playing at the Southlake Stars & Stripes event, starting around 8:00 PM, and finishing between 9:00 and 9:30, at which point the fireworks will begin. C and I both have Monday off.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; 
they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. 
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Psalm 107:23-32
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
Psalm 119:18
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

Matthew 7:21-23
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! 
The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: 
that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever;

Psalm 92:5-7

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson was seventy-five years old when he wrote this book, and says that he has been “a participating member of the Christian church in North America” for all of his life, including fifty of those years as a pastor. During those fifty years, he observed both the church and the vocation of pastor being “relentlessly diminished and corrupted by being redefined in terms of running an ecclesiastical business.” He was barely ordained before he was being told that the expectation, or his main task, was that he would run a church in much the same way that his Christian brothers and sisters ran “service stations, grocery stores, corporations, banks hospitals, and financial services.” In one book, by a so-called “expert,” he read that the size of the parking lot had more to do with the success of the church than what text he preached from on Sunday morning. After a number of years of “trying to take all of this seriously,” he decided that he “was being lied to.”

Peterson calls this “the Americanization of congregation. It means turning each congregation into a market for religious consumers, an ecclesiastical business run along the lines of advertising techniques and organizational flow charts, and then energized by impressive motivational rhetoric.”

The next time, we will begin to look at his search for “church,” as he begins to seriously search God’s word for what church is really supposed to look like.

Father, forgive us for taking your church down such a dark path, but I give you praise for men like Eugene Peterson, who tired of the things that he was being told, and began to look at what you say about church in the Scriptures. I pray for a restoration of your people who are seriously intent on doing church the way you intended it to be. Not so much about form, as it is about purpose and relationship. Relationship. That’s it. Help us to enter into and maintain relationship with both you and our brothers and sisters.
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.

From Beautiful Tirzah to Media Manipulation

Today is Monday, June 26, 2017. Day 21,655. Seven days until our July 4 holiday.

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” ― Pearl S. Buck

The word of the day is beatinest, an adjective meaning, “most remarkable or unusual.”

Today is Please Take My Children to Work Day. I just like that because it’s funny. And certainly makes sense!

For what it was, it was an okay weekend. After church, yesterday, we stopped by Los Molcajetes for lunch, then Sonic for drinks. After we got home, we put together a grocery list, then I went to the store. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon playing Fallout: New Vegas, which helped me to relax, both physically and mentally. Playing a video game, for me, is a lot like watching a good movie. I am able to totally lose myself in the world of the game, and pretty much forget about anything else.

Back to work today, and band practice tonight, so it’s a long day. It’s our last practice until August, though, as our Independence Day shindig is next Monday night, and we have the rest of July off.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. 
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Psalm 71:8-9
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

Psalm 88:1-2
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
Psalm 3:8
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”

John 16:12-16
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

Psalm 97:1-6

(From Practice Resurrection)

As Eugene Peterson was growing up, his understanding of church was that of “a badly constructed house that had been lived in by renters who didn’t keep up with repairs.” When he became a pastor, he assumed that his job “was to do major repair work, renovating it from top to bottom.” This understanding was acquired from years of listening to pastors that served at his childhood church. Unfortunately, they never lasted very long.

One of his favorite texts, that was preached by virtually every pastor he can remember, was from the Song of Solomon, chapter 6, verse 4. You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners. “This was a favorite text in that long-ago Montana culture to refer to church.” The image of the church was that she was this “beautiful Tirzah,” and that she was an awesome army with banners. His pastors filled this metaphor out with “glorious imagery.” Says Peterson, “For at least thirty or forty minutes our shabby fixer-upper church with its rotting front porch was tansformed into something almost as good as the Second Coming.”

He compares those sermons with the picture on the front of a jigsaw puzzle box. You see the pictures, you have a thousand pieces spread out before you, and know that, if you keep at it long enough, those pieces will finally fit together to make that beautiful picture. Turns out his pastors weren’t that patient. Perhaps they decided that some of the pieces were missing. Maybe they finally decided that this particular church was “too far gone in disrepair to spend any more time on it.” But it seemed like they bounced from church to church, never spending much time at any single one.

Peterson never forgot that metaphor though, and when he became a pastor, at first, he was unable to abandon this romantic vision of church. Eventually, the illusion became delusion, but it didn’t last long. He soon found out that the popular imagery had changed into a “new and fresh imagery . . . provided by American business.” There was a new generation of pastors that were reimagining the church. Tirzah had been scrapped. The replacement was an “imagery of an ecclesiastical business with a mission to market spirituality to consumers to make them happy. Simultaneously, campaigns targeted outsiders to get them to buy whatever it was that was making us happy.”

The church was no longer considered to be something that needed repair, but, rather, “a business opportunity that would cater to the consumer tastes of spiritually minded sinners both within and without the congregation.” There was no longer a need for “fantasy sermons,” based on what the church should look like. “Media manipulation” became the tool to get people “to do something they were already pretty good at doing: being consumers.” The pictures of Sodom and Gomorrah and Golgotha were removed from the walls. God was depersonalized and “repackaged as a principle or formula,” and “people could shop at their convenience for whatever sounded or looked as if it would make their lives more interesting and satisfying on their own terms.”

Yes, this all sounds kind of harsh. But there is truth to it, and I have observed the same truth over the decades that I have been in church, and I have been in church since I was an infant. I don’t remember much about those days. But I have to confess that I fell into the consumerism trap, right along with many others. But I embrace Eugene Peterson’s vision at this point, which is why I’m re-reading this book. And it’s not all so harsh, because he soon gets into the teaching of Paul on what we should see, and how God works in and through the Church.

Father, teach us to step away from the consumerism mentality in your Church. There should never have been any place for this, and I pray for forgiveness for all who drove her into that mentality. Show us what the true Church should look like, as we interact with one another in Trinitarian community. Teach us your was, that we may walk in your truth and in your kingdom.
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.

Whose Purpose Am I After?

Today is FRIDAY!! (I’m so excited I had to back up and re-spell it twice!) August 5, 2016. 14 days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.” – Charles M. Schulz

Word of the Day

Cosmopolis – an internationally important city inhabited by many different peoples reflecting a great variety of cultures, attitudes, etc.

Today is International Beer Day. Personally, I can’t stand the stuff. But I have some friends who like beer, especially all of those weird “craft” beers. Like Peter Cotton Ale, Hoptimus Prime, Audrey Hopburn IPA, Honey Boo Brew American Honey Ale, Blind Pig IPA, Bad Elf, Magic Hat #9, Dogfish Head. I know you think I’m making those up, but those are all real beers.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.
Psalm 104:14-23

This psalm shows the “detailed thoughtfulness evident throughout creation.” As man simply goes about his daily work, all of these other things just happen, exactly as they were designed by the Creator.

“I walk in wonder through this world which you, O God, made and called good. You forgot nothing. You left nothing out. I will never, it seems, come to the end of discovering what is before my eyes, and never run out of reasons for lifting up my discoveries in praise to your great name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Baffling Call of God

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” . . . But they understood none of these things. Luke 18:31, 34

By all appearances, the life of Christ was a dismal failure. He was called by God to what appeared to be disaster, and he called his disciples to watch him die. “He led every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. . . . But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.”

So, in our own lives, God also issues this “baffling call.” It’s like what some call “the call of the sea.” No one can hear it, save he who has the nature of the sea within him. It is impossible for us to describe God’s call on our lives. Oh, sure, many people have said, “God has called me to thus and so.” But in many cases, they have set their own purposes and simply believe that God has endorsed them. The Republican party had about a dozen “candidates” this year that all said God told them to run. The outcome makes their statements doubtful.

The call of God is “to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after.” I don’t have to know what he is after. I just have to believe in him and follow him in faith. “If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are.” This is important. And it actually makes the Christian life easier. Dallas Willard spoke frequently of what he called “the easy yoke.” The yoke is easy because we are simply walking in God’s Kingdom, letting him be the guide and letting him show us what to do. It is his work, we are just helping. We don’t have to figure it out. But, “if we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.”

Father, may I step into this easy yoke today, living my day in your grace, allowing you to direct my path. May I not try to figure things out, and may I most especially not try to direct things toward my own purposes. I long for the simplicity of life that is spoken of. I long for the kind of communion with you that makes this life easier. Draw me into your kingdom, Father.

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.

You Set A Boundary

Today is Wednesday, August 3, 2016. 16 more days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.” – Charles Gord

Word of the Day

Fletcherize – to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly. It comes from an early 1900s nutritionist named Horace Fletcher.

Today is Watermelon Day. Perfect refreshment on such a hot summer day! (It’s supposed to be 102 here, today.)

I have to hurry, this morning. Our main computer system was down from lunch-time yesterday, and most of us wound up leaving at around 3:00 PM. So I need to go in early this morning, both to make up for the lost time and to try to get caught up on the work I couldn’t do yesterday afternoon.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
Psalm 104:5-9

As we consider God as Creator, we do not meditate on boundless infinity. Rather, we see the boundaries which he has created, “the framework and structure within which our habitation takes place.” We also see the obedience of creation, “evidence that God’s commanding word is obeyed.”

“Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, Creator of all the things I see and all the things I don’t see: thank you for this carefully crafted world in which I can daily experience your love and your grace. All praise to you in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I, too, celebrate your creation almost daily. I confess that there are some days that I forget; some days that I don’t recognize the awesomeness of everything around me that you have created and put on display. But when I do remember, I experience you, your grace, and your mercy. I pray that all people would recognize and experience the same things from observing your creation. May they see it as something that was “carefully crafted,” and not something that just kind of fell together by accident.

I also praise you that you have a path for me. I may not always see it; in fact I seldom do. But my faith in you keeps me moving toward whatever it is that you have for me to do in your big picture. Keep me following you and keep me determined to work on your purpose and ambitions, not on my own.

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.

No Strain, No Strength

Today is Tuesday, August 2, 2016. 17 days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.” – Andre Maurois

Word of the Day

Galluses – a pair of suspenders for trousers.

Today is Ice Cream Sandwich Day. I’m a big fan of ice cream sandwiches. Especially those round ones with chocolate chips all around the edge!

Band practice went well, last night. We started working on some “new” music (I put it in quotes because it’s all music that the band has played before, but not recently, and I have never played it) for a concert on September 17. I was thrilled when I realized that one of the pieces incorporates the theme music from Looney Tunes! Or maybe Merry Melodies. Or perhaps both. It’s the first one in this clip.

The band is going to be busy over the next few months, as they are talking about two potential concerts in October, and there is a great possibility that I might not be able to make either one, as my 40 year HS reunion is the first weekend in October, and we are leaving for Galveston on October 14, for a week. I’m really looking forward to that trip!

The Rangers made some good deals at the trade deadline, yesterday. The acquired Carlos Beltran from the Yankees, who, even though he is toward the end of his career, is still putting up some good numbers at the bat. They also acquired Jonathan Lucroy, a catcher, from the Brewers, who is reported to be a great catcher and a good hitter, as well. Thrown in with that deal was a decent relief pitcher. Still lacking a fifth starter, though. The Red Sox didn’t do a lot, landing a relief pitcher from the Twins. The Rangers were off last night, and play in Baltimore tonight, while the Red Sox helped the Rangers by beating the Mariners 2-1, in Seattle. This also put the Sox back in second place (tied with the Boo Jays) and only one game behind Baltimore. So tonight could be a win-win for both of my favorite teams, if the Rangers beat Baltimore. As an added bonus, Cleveland lost last night, which puts the Rangers back on top of the AL.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.
Psalm 104:1-4

Eugene Peterson points out that there are no “nature psalms,” but there are “Creator psalms.” In other words, the writers of the psalms did not glorify nature; rather, they used nature to glorify the Creator. They developed “a rich vocabulary of praise to God out of the stuff of his creation.”

“Like the wind, O God, you are invisible; yet all your effects are visible–from the gentle breeze that cools and comforts, to the roaring hurricane that moves and rearranges. I ready myself to respond to every aspect of your creative work in me: ‘Breathe on me, breath of God’ (Edwin Hatch). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Discipline of Difficulty

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

You won’t see many lists of “spiritual disciplines” that include the discipline of difficulty. It’s not one of the “classic” disciplines. However, Chambers certainly makes a good case for it. “An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It is deliverance in trouble, which is very different.” That “average view” is what spawns the proliferation of incorrect statements such as “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I have discussed the serious issue with that statement in previous blogs.

The psalmists also addressed this truth. For example, Psalm 34:19 says, Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. It does not say that the Lord keeps the righteous from having trouble. God gives us strength through the strains of difficulty. “If there is no strain, there is no strength.” It’s just like muscle strength. You have to strain the muscles in order to build up strength. And God gives us strength for the moment. “God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute.”

Father, I pray for this attitude about difficulties. Of course, I never want to face any difficulties, because they’re, well, difficult. But I know that, in your plan for my life, there must be difficulties so I can grow in strength and in faith. So help me to face them head-on, with the confidence that, as the psalmist wrote, you will deliver me out of those difficulties. Let me never lose heart and cave in.

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.

As Far As the East Is From the West

Today is Sunday, July 31, 2016. 19 days until S turns 23! Last day of July.

Quote of the Day

“The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.” – Billy Graham

Word of the Day

Polyphonic – consisting of many voices or sounds. Or, in music, “a) having two or more voices or parts, each with an independent melody, but all harmonizing; contrapuntal (opposed to homophonic). b) pertaining to music of this kind. c) capable of producing more than one tone at a time, as an organ or a harp.”

Today is Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. And to celebrate this day, I give you . . . the nyckelharpa!

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange, which meets at 10:15, at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N Beach St., Fort Worth, TX. If you are in the area, please join us!


(From Praying With the Psalms)

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
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.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
Psalm 103:6-18

When we experience forgiveness, it prompts praise within us. “In forgiveness our sins are personally confronted, not impersonally condemned.” While we experience the severity of our Father, we also experience his grace.

“Merciful Father, I used to try to hide my true self from you, assuming that if you knew all about me you would necessarily condemn me. Now I know that your knowledge is gracious and that deception is futile. Come to me with just the right mixture of severity and kindness. Judge me and save me, both at the same time, in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I am so grateful for this forgiveness, and the fact that you do not impersonally condemn us for our sins. I have long rejoiced over the words of this Psalm, especially that particular verse that tells us that you have removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west, which is an infinite distance! Hallelujah!

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.

Clouds Are the Dust of His Feet

Today is Friday, July 29, 2016. The trade deadline is Sunday.

Quote of the Day

“I love the way that each book—any book—is its own journey. You open it, and off you go….” ― Sharon Creech

Word of the Day

Skylark – to frolic; sport: The children were skylarking on the beach. There once was a Buick called “Skylark.”


Today is Talk In An Elevator Day. I probably won’t be in an elevator today, so someone talk for me, okay?

Friday is here! The weekend is just around the corner. I have a few things that need to get done. For example, I need to put together music for band rehearsal, which kicks back off Monday night. But wait . . . I don’t know what part I’m going to be playing on this round. I’ll have to get with our section leader and find out. If I’m not playing first, I’ll have to get new music.

The gate is finally finished. So our fence is done. Now, we just wait for the replacement part on our pool heater, and all of this will be done. The guys did a great job on the fence and gate, in my opinion.

Nothing much going on this weekend, I think, other than a PAT meeting after church on Sunday. I do have a little “work” to do before the meeting, as we are supposed to do an analysis on how we think the church is doing since we moved to the Y location. I’ve been thinking about it, I just don’t have anything written down.

The Rangers pulled off a win, last night, over KC, 3-2, while the Red Sox managed to lose to the Angels in the bottom of the 9th, 2-1. Needless to say, I’m concerned about them, as they have now lost four in a row, and six of their last ten. But as “they” say, there’s still a lot of baseball left.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.
“O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!”
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.

The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.
Psalm 102:23-28

“All life is unfinished.” At face value, a rather depressing sentence. It seems like nothing in our lives is ever complete. But when we join the work of God, “we find a proper beginning and a satisfying ending to our existence.” Only then do our lives make sense.

“Take, Lord, all my parts–whatever years and whatever acts you can salvage out of my sin–and build a new life. Lay foundations of eternity in me; construct spacious stretches of salvation around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

What Do You See in Your Clouds?

Behold, he is coming with the clouds. . . Revelation 1:7

“In the Bible clouds are always connected with God.” However, clouds also seem to symbolize sorrows, sufferings, or other troubles that make us doubt God’s very existence. “It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith.” That reminds me of a false statement that became very popular a few years ago, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Poppycock! If God did not give me more than I could handle, I would never need him, would I? It’s the same with the clouds. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)

Now, Chambers makes an interesting statement. God does not want to teach us something in our trials. Rather, “He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child.” Other people in our lives will become shadows in our clouds. If we are relying on anyone but Jesus, our cloud will get darker.

Father, I pray that, when clouds come, I will recognize your presence in them. I pray that I will “unlearn” anything unhealthy that I have begun to believe about you and our relationship, while in the clouds. Let me get to a place where my life is so simplified that you are all there is, and that nothing else matters, at least spiritually. I pray for the wisdom and strength to rely solely on Jesus and no one else.

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.