Tomorrow . . . He Is Able

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of August, 2022, in the twenty-first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,540

The mild weather continues after Monday’s monsoon rains. We had a high of 82, yesterday, and, according to Weather Underground, we had a small amount of rain in the area. The record high for yesterday’s date is 107. Today’s anticipated high is 86, and the ten-day forecast shows temps ranging from 87 to 94.

My evening at the library went fine, yesterday, and I shelved a couple carts of adult books. There was almost a whole shelf of Spanish language books on one of them, which was unusual. When I commented on that to one of our adult services ladies, she said that she thought we recently got some new Spanish books, so that probably explains that.

I have to take S to the doctor, this morning, for a routine check. It’s been about a year since she has seen the doctor, so it’s overdue. Neither one of us is looking forward to it, but it’s part of the deal I “signed up for” when we agreed that I could retire last year. And, as “they” say, “this, too, shall pass.” In fact, the appointment is at 9:00, and we should be there by 8:45, because there will no doubt be paperwork to fill out. This means I will have to finish the blog entry after we get back home.

The Texas Rangers lost another one-run game, last night, to the Rockies, 7-6. However, in the course of the game, Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to twenty games, which is the second longest Rangers hitting streak, behind Josh Hamilton, who had 23 in 2010. Garcia also logged his twentieth stolen base, which, combined with his twentieth home run, hit in Minnesota, has put him in the “20/20/20 Club,” being only the second Rangers player in history to have twenty home runs, twenty stolen bases, and a twenty-game hitting streak. Pudge Rodriguez is the other one.

The Rangers are now 56-67 for the season, in third place in the AL West, 22.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Rockies again, today, at 2:10 CDT. They have 39 games left in the season.

The Red Sox also lost, last night, to the Blue Jays, 9-3. They are now 60-63 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 15.5 out of first and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They also have 39 games left, and play the Jays again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The LA Dodgers have now won 85 games, and have a MLB-leading 85-37 record. With forty games left, at the rate they are going, they could break the record of 116 games in a season. That record is shared by the 1906 Cubs (who only played 152 games), and the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who played 162. I would say that’s unlikely, though, as they would have to win 32 of their last 40 games. They are currently winning 60% of their games, which would give them only 24 more wins for the season. At any rate, they should easily win over 100.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could lose 100, as they have the worst MLB record of 41-83. The Tampa Bay Rays (BOO) have the current longest winning streak, at four games. The Twins, Angels, and Pirates all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a +269 run differential, and the Nationals have a -211 differential. The Rangers are at +4, and the Red Sox have dropped to -43.

Tonight, I plan to cook Chicken Taco Rice Skillet, from Emily Bites, one of the family’s favorites. For the record, I use two chicken breasts, which might be slightly more than one pound, and I increase the rice to 1.5 cups. I also use brown Minute Rice, which decreases the simmering time.

Update: The doctor appointment went well. S struggled a bit with anxiety, at the beginning, but by the time it was over, she was good. I’m very proud of her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we long to come into your light, to live in your strength, that we may do what pleases you and furthers your kingdom on earth. Protect us from evil and do not let us be wounded by the flaming arrows of the evil one. Make paths for us whenever we do not know how to go forward. We always know you are our Father. Because you are our Father, we want to be courageous and persevere to the end so that you can make our lives bear fruit for you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
Ephesians 6:16, NEB

Today I am grateful:

1. for the shield of faith; may I take it up consistently
2. that S's doctor appointment went well
3. that Jesus holds my tomorrows in His hands
4. for the power of music and song
5. that I would rather love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in
6. that He is able . . . able to accomplish what concerns me today, able to handle anything that comes my way, able to do much more than I could ever dream

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
(Job 38:41 NIV)

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
(Luke 12:24 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)


This is a theme that arises frequently in this blog. Tomorrow. When I read the above four references, I immediately thought of an old hymn, written by the great Ira Stanphill.

I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t really know what else to say. I certainly can’t add to this. God cares about us. He loves us. And while it is true that Jesus is the only doorway into the Kingdom, I would much rather try to love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in.

There must be thousands of songs that speak of this same sentiment. There is a quote that is attributed to C.H. Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to make a mistake. When I can’t trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
(C.D. Martin)

That song even speaks to my constant longing for Home. If I’m trusting Jesus the way I claim to be, perhaps my sights shouldn’t be so fixed on “Home,” but on Jesus and the presence of His Kingdom, here and now.


Father, You know my heart, and You know how quickly it leans toward worry. It’s not that I don’t trust You. I do trust You. And I feel, so often, like that father from the New Testament, who proclaimed, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Maybe the problem is that, while I trust Your ability, I don’t always trust what You want to do. That needs to go away. It really does. I need to embrace the truth of Your love in my life. You love Your children, and You are faithful to provide and protect us. Help my unbelief. Help my lack of trust. Help me to know that You will provide, and that You will hear my prayers and, as Jesus said, whatever I ask for in His name, You will do.

Help me to remember . . . You are able to accomplish whatever concerns me today, You are able to handle anything that comes my way, and You are able to do much more than I could ever dream.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Fixers

The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.”

Good morning. Today is Monday, the seventeenth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,321

Six days until Hamilton!

We had a nice gathering, yesterday, for our house church. There were six of us in person, and two on Zoom. We only managed to get through one Psalm (52), but had some good discussion, and great fellowship. I really feel that we are closer to what the first century church did at their gatherings, anyway. We talk about our lives, read some Scripture, and pray together. Occasionally, we also break bread together. One thing I’m missing, though . . . we haven’t taken the supper in a while. I need to bring that up.

C is working from home, this week. She still doesn’t feel great, but feels better than yesterday. We feel like that terrible wind on Saturday blew in some junk or stirred it up in the air. Not even a hint of fever, for any of us, though. I’m sneezing and sniffling a bit, this morning, but have felt pretty much fine for a few days.

There is nothing much on today’s agenda. Tomorrow, I have an appointment to pick up my new CPAP machine, at 11:00 AM. Once I get that and get it set up, I may be looking at changing doctors. C’s doctor has moved from the clinic he was at, along with a couple other associates. I may be switching over to them. I haven’t decided, yet. It’s a lot easier for me to find time to visit a doctor’s office, these days, so they don’t have to be real close. Their new office is on South Main in Fort Worth, close to the “hospital district,” about twelve miles from my house. That’s not too bad, and is about fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the time of day.

All the wrong teams won, yesterday. The Buccaneers blew out the Eagles, the 49ers beat the ‘boys, and the Chiefs beat the Steelers. I’ll probably be rooting for the Bills from this point on. It feels like rooting for the end of the world, though, so I don’t know. The Cardinals and Rams play tonight, and I literally could not possibly care less who wins that game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 
And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins." 
(Mark 2:18-22 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are being criticized for not doing “religious things,” such as fasting. They are being compared to two different groups, neither of which had much in common. It is worth noting that Jesus, in His response, refers to Himself as “the bridegroom,” and seems to indicate that his “taking away” will be of a violent nature.

As I read this, I consider the idea of “religious things,” and how I feel about them. There is certainly nothing wrong with ritual. I’m somewhat a fan of it, actually. I am drawn toward church settings that employ ritual and liturgy, even though the current setting that I attend does not. I have not, however, ever been able to get a firm grip on the ritual of fasting. I have fasted before, but not on a regular basis.

But when ritualistic things are done “religiously,” without focus on the object (i.e., the “bridegroom”), they are meaningless. Ritual for the sake of ritual is worthless.

I will confess that I have never quite understood the examples of the cloth and the wineskins. I get the technical descriptions and understand the truth that, if you patch and old garment with a piece of new material, and then wash it, the new material will shrink, and destroy the work that was done. And I understand that fermenting wine swells, which would burst a wineskin that had already been stretched out.

What I’m not sure of is how this applies to people and their relationship to Jesus and the Father. I’m looking at some commentary at the moment, in particular by Alexander MacLaren, and it says that, “The attempt was made to keep Christianity within the limits of Judaism; it failed, but not before much harm had been done to Christianity. Over and over again the effort has been made in the Church, and it has always ended disastrously,-and it always will.” This makes sense, and I can see, as the New Testament progresses, that similar disagreements arose, especially concerning things like circumcision.

I would welcome any other thoughts or suggestions regarding this. And as we, as the opening song suggests, turn our eyes upon Jesus, may the things of the earth truly grow strangely dim.

(From Pray As You Go)

I find it interesting that, in Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson takes four chapters to go through the book of Job. Today, I’m in the third of the four, which deals with Job’s “friends” who come try to “fix” him, during his suffering.

And who among us has not experienced something similar to Job? The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.” I actually love that last sentence!

And, you might notice, these people are usually full of “advice” from God’s Word! They tend to play “fast and loose” with biblical quotations. The question is, though, “Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they’ve said their piece?”

Many of the things that Job’s “friends” said were “technically true.” But it is that “technical” part that spoils them. “They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy. The answers are slapped onto Job’s ravaged life like labels on a specimen bottle.” And here is how Job defended himself:

Then Job defended himself:
 "I've had all I can take of your talk. 
What a bunch of miserable comforters! 
Is there no end to your windbag speeches? 
What's your problem that you go on and on like this?
 If you were in my shoes, I could talk just like you. 
I could put together a terrific harangue and really let you have it. 
But I'd never do that. 
I'd console and comfort, make things better, not worse!
(Job 16:1-5 MSG)

“The book of Job does not reject answers as such. There is content to biblical religion. It is the secularization of answers that is rejected – answers severed from their Source, the living God, the Word that both batters us and heals us. We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.”

And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, 
holding everything in common. 
They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
(Acts 2:44-45 MSG)
"Let me give you a new command: 
Love one another. 
In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other."
(John 13:34-35 MSG)
And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives 
and splashes over on everyone around you, 
just as it does from us to you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 MSG)

Father, as I turn my eyes toward Jesus, this morning, I pray that my focus may stay sharp. By this point in my life, I am surely an “old wineskin,” but have I been fully stretched to my maximum capacity? I think not. I believe there is still room for me to be stretched, and You continue to do so, as each year goes by. I pray to You, constantly, that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. And just when I think I’ve got Your way figured out, You take me a little deeper and show me something that, while it may not be “new,” it is new to me. I pray that I will continue to be receptive to that wisdom and knowledge, as it comes.

I also pray that I would never fall prey to the temptation to be like Job’s friends. We all think we’ve got all the answers, and it is very easy to sit around and instruct someone who is suffering, to tell them why they’re suffering, and what they did wrong to get there. When, truthfully, we have no idea whatsoever. I pray that, when I encounter suffering in others, I would have the wisdom to know what to say and how to say it. I also pray that I might have the wisdom to not “say” at all, but to merely sit and listen, or simply be with the person, sitting in silent support. May we not be guilty of citing chapter and verse without having Your mind and heart on the matter.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Father, I pray for continued work in the area of racial reconciliation. We seem to have moved tremendously backward in recent years, and, sadly, driven largely by people claiming to be followers of Christ! May it never be, Lord! Help us, Your people, to be compassionate people who fight for the equality of all men, especially considering how we have been graciously given the salvation that began with Israel! Were it not for Your compassion and Your equal treatment of all people, we “Gentiles” would be permanently lost! Oh, how we seem to have forgotten this. God have mercy on us and help us!

Finally, in the spirit of yesterday’s readings, I invited Jesus to intervene and intercede in our world today. Jesus, please bring forth healing. We beg You to eradicate this plague from our world, and I pray that Your people would demonstrate more willingness to stop thinking selfishly and make sacrifices for the greater good.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Today I am grateful:

1. for the salvation that has been granted us and made available to people from every race, tribe, tongue, and nation
2. for people who know the mind and heart of God and can truly be helpful and compassionate to those who are suffering, without trying to "fix" them
3. for a mind and heart that desires to see equal rights and treatment for all people
4. that God continues to stretch me with new understanding of biblical concepts
5. for the mind and heart to be more devoted to God than to religious things
And now to him who can keep you on your feet, 
standing tall in his bright presence, 
fresh and celebrating— 
to our one God, 
our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master,
 be glory, 
majesty, 
strength, 
and rule before all time, and now,
 and to the end of all time. 
YES. 
(Jude 1:24-25 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.