Me or Us?

“Loved. You can’t use it in the past tense. Death does not stop that love at all.” – Ken Kesey

The word of the day, from, is campestral, which means something close to what I though when I first saw the word, “of or relating to fields or open country.”

Today is Different Colored Eyes Day. Do you know anyone who fits that description?

Today is the day that C travels to Indianapolis. She won’t be leaving until after work, but we won’t see her this evening. She will be returning next Monday. I’m not totally sure, but this may be the longest she’s been away from us. We will, of course, be praying for safe travels and return, as well as success in everything that is supposed to happen on this trip.

I didn’t watch it, but apparently Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby last night, crushing a record-breaking 61 home runs. He hit 20 of them in the final round. That’s pretty amazing. Of course, you have to realize that they get made-to-order pitches for this thing, thrown by a pitcher of their choice.

Tonight is the All-Star Game, which I probably won’t watch, either. I’m just not a big fan of the “Mid-Summer Classic.” I’m not sure what I will do, tonight, since C will be gone on her trip. I have these grand intentions of being wise with my time, and not just sitting in front of the PS4 the whole time she is gone. There are a few more important things that I could be doing, one of which is getting in some prime practice time on trombone, guitar, and keyboards. I need to spend some time cleaning up in my study. I could also spend the time studying, reading, or beginning to arrange my life around the practice of the spiritual disciplines. It all begins tonight.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

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;
but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.
But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
Psalm 92:5-11

There are times when we seem to be completely oblivious to causes and consequences. But if we would keep our eyes open, we would see evidence of God all around us. And when we observe with our minds, as well as our spirits, we find “ever new materials for praise.”

“Give me a quickness of mind to see your hand in all things, O God–your gracious acts in creation and your steady purposes in redemption. I do not want to be among those who grope in the dark but with those who walk in your light. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Spiritual Society

. . . until we all attain . . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

What we are after is Chambers’s definition of rehabilitation: “the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in.” This is what Jesus began in Redemption, and it is the Church’s job to continue that, working alongside Jesus in this venture. But when the Church attempts to develop its own organization, it fails to be a “spiritual society.” It is interesting to note that in the early days of the Methodist Church, the individual churches were not called “churches,” but “societies.” The goal is “the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life.” I am not here to only develop my own spiritual life or to seek “spiritual retirement.” My purpose, along with all other believers and ministers, is “so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up.”

This brings me something to think seriously about in my pursuit of the spiritual disciplines. Am I praying, fasting, practicing solitude, simplicity, and all of these other things solely for my own benefit? If so, then I am missing the point. “Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only?” My personal relationship with Christ is important. I need to know him. That has to happen before anything else can. And I need to be completely abandoned to him and his purposes. However, if I am only seeking things for myself, my relationship is distorted. The purpose of all of my work needs to be for the building up of the Body of Christ. Us, not just me.

Father, drive this home in my spirit. I think that, in my heart, I understood this truth, but I need to make sure that I fully understand it. Let all of my spiritual exercises be for the building up of the Body, as well as my own spiritual growth. May I not be seeking growth for just me, but that I might work to increase the body (not just in numbers, here, but in spiritual growth). I have been placed in a position of assisting the pastors of our church in spiritual formation. I need to learn all I can about these things, that I may accomplish this purpose, Father, so teach me, and work in me to make me less selfish and more giving.

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.


“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 12, 2014.

Today is Different Colored Eyes Day. If you are one of those rare people who have different colored eyes, this day is all yours! Mine are both green. We once had a cat that had different colored eyes.

Christi’s job seems to have taken a couple of steps backward. It seems they keep throwing more responsibility on her. She’s got a ton of work (not literally, but then who knows how much work weighs?) to do this weekend. I’m telling her she needs to get away from that place (along with the person who hired her). Bless her heart, she hates to give up. “I’m not a quitter,” she says. But I’m afraid the situation cannot be “won.” We shall see, though. I keep praying for God to intervene and bring some peace, calm, and sense into the situation. Perhaps that will happen before it’s all said and done. Or before “the end of the day.” Or any other relatively meaningless cliche I can think of. On top of everything else, she apparently tore a calf muscle while hurrying between meetings yesterday. So, once again, she is in great pain.

Stephanie came home from Megan’s last night. Without Megan. There was much rejoicing. At least between Christi and me. We’re a little weary of the sleepover that wouldn’t end.

The Red Sox won their third straight game last night, while the Rangers lost their sixth straight. The Rangers are currently the worst team in baseball by ten percentage points. The Red Sox are no longer in last place! The Tampa Bay Rays are in last place. There is no way to convey how happy that makes me. I am very close to a point where I dislike the Rays as much as or worse than I dislike the Evil Empire.

Today, we have a few chores that need to get done, then we have church this evening. I now lead the “Anchor” pray time before our service, so I need to do some preparation for that. Tomorrow will probably be the day when Christi tries to get all her work done that she needs to do.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1739, “As David Brainerd is walking through a dark grove to his secret place of prayer, God speaks to him and he has a glorious salvation experience. The twenty-one-year-old will live only eight more years but inspire many others through the diary he pens.” Indeed, his diary was so inspirational that Jonathan Edwards wrote a biography on his life. In fact, Brainerd died at Edwards’s house, after suffering for months from “incurable consumption” (Wikipedia).

Sharing a birthday on July 12 are Bill Cosby, George Washington Carver, Topher Grace, Richard Simmons, Cheryl Ladd, Kristi Yamaguchi, Christine Mcvie, John Petrucci, Henrey David Thoreau, Oscar Hammerstein II, Milton Berle, Andrew Wyeth, Van Cliburn, Kirsten Flagstad, and Curly Joe Derita.

Christine McVie is a singer, most famous for her time as one of the lead singers for Fleetwood Mac. She has returned to the band, and, at the age of 71, is actually touring with them this year. Here is their song, “You Make Loving Fun.”

Van Cliburn was known as one of the world’s greatest piano players for much of his life. He passed away in 2013, and would have been 80 years old today. Here is a clip of him playing some Rachmaninoff Preludes.


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD.
Psalm 135:1
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Psalm 71:2
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
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.
Psalm 103:10-14

Glory be to God the Father,
God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
so it is now and so it shall ever be,
world without end.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Philippians 1:21-23
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Philippians 3:20-21
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13

Give thanks today for the hope and promise of the Resurrection!

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “A Consuming Fire.”

Most of us have been sexually aroused at many points in our lives. Otherwise, a lot of us wouldn’t be here, right? We know the intense passion of what this feels like. Well, “the Scripture and the liturgy of the Christian community say that human sexual arousal is but a pale imitation of God’s passion for his people.” Human love is the best image we have to illustrate the love of God, but it is still inadequate.

“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.” The saints “can only stutter and stammer about the reality;” Blaise Pascal had his famous “night of fire” on November 23, 1654, about which he could not speak, but wrote about it on a note, which was sewn into the lining of his clothes, and wasn’t discovered until after he died. Bede Griffiths wrote, “The love of Jesus Christ is not a mild benevolence: it is a consuming fire.”

“It is only the revelation that God is love that clarifies the happy irrationality of God’s conduct and his relentless pursuit.” Who among us has not experienced the irrationality of human love? Even in the face of infidelity, one who truly loves will continue to pursue. Even the anger of Jesus during the act of cleansing the Temple “reveals his keen interest, his frantic involvement in his brothers and sisters coming into right relationship with Abba God.”

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire,
a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24

Consuming Fire
Once again, I am drawn to the beautiful hymn, “The Love of God,” written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917. The last verse is especially powerful:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Father, may we know and acknowledge your passionate love for us, that love which can not be satisfactorily described by human words or emotions. Help us to know that which is unknowable. I pray for more and more of an understanding of your love, that I might grow closer to you, more intimate with you, as I grow older. I pray that I may know you as I am known by you.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s calf muscle to heal. I pray that you would relieve her pain. I pray that we can get the things done that need to be accomplished today. I also pray that this evening’s worship service would be exactly that. I pray that we would worship you and love you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give us grace, endurance, and power to serve you in the coming week.

Your grace is sufficient.

Consider the emotion that you feel for the person in your life whom you love the most. Then consider that that feeling doesn’t even come close to the passionate love God has for us.

Grace and peace, friends.