Worship Together

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), October 19, 2017. Day 21,770.

Twelve days until C’s knee replacement surgery.

John Lithgow, who was born on this date in 1945, said, “In animation, there’s this exhilarating moment of discovery when you see the film and you say, Oh THAT’S what I was doing.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is nocent, which means, “harmful; injurious.”

Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. That’s too heavy. I think I’ll celebrate Chocolate Cupcake Day, which I missed yesterday.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD . . . For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Psalm 95:1-3
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:4
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:5
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
Psalm 69:6
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me, that I may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(From Living the Message)

We have been given many different means of spiritual growth: Scripture and prayer, silence and solitude, service and suffering, and so on. But one of the biggest and most foundational ways of growth is worshiping together. “Spiritual growth cannot take place in isolation.” While the disciplines of silence and solitude are important, spiritual growth, at its heart, is not “a private thing between the Christian and God. In worship, we come before God who loves us in the presence of others whom he also loves. In worship, more than at any other time, we set ourselves in deliberate openness to the actions of God and the need of the neighbor.”

The regular gathering with the saints to worship is essential to the growth of the Christian. It’s spiritual food and water. It is “the light and air in which spiritual growth takes place.”

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.
Acts 2:46-47a (The Message)

Father, I’m glad that you have made me love worship. For decades, I have believed that worship, specifically the act of public worship, is one of, if not the, most important activities in which the Church can engage. When we gather together this coming Sunday, help me to engage with each individual that I see there, and help me to worship you more fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and 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.

Soak Before God

Today is Wednesday, October 19, 2016. Day six in Galveston.

Quote of the Day

“Sometimes we spend so much time and energy thinking about where we want to go that we don’t notice where we happen to be.” ― Dan Gutman, The Genius Files #4: From Texas with Love

Word of the Day

Harum-scarum – reckless; rash; irresponsible: He had a harum-scarum youth.

Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. Not to get all heavy and instrospective, here, but it never hurts to occasionally step back and see where you are in your life. I’ve been doing a little of that this week, as I sit here and stare at the ocean. But mine has been more of an evaluation on a spiritual level.

Yesterday morning, we went for brunch at ShyKatZ, a local bakery/cafe. The breakfast was good, but the setting is very tight. They have too many tables crammed into the room, so if it’s full, you really can’t walk between the tables. Otherwise, it was fine, though. The food was good, not great, except that they serve Boar’s Head meats, which are always good. After brunch, we drove back over to LaKing’s Confections, where I got some more salt water taffy, as well as some treats for others.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent out on the beach. C and I took the canopy that we brought, and set it up close to the water. We intermittently played in the water and sat in the shade, reading. We did this for several hours, and it was relaxing. R and J came out for a bit, and C went back to the house to get S, who also came out for a while.

After that, we went out for a seafood dinner. It took a little while to decide, but we finally landed on Fish Tales, a local seafood restaurant that appears to be owned by the Landry’s people. It’s not nearly as frou-frou as Landry’s, though, so the atmosphere is nice, but still casual. Of course, it’s expensive, as are all seafood restaurants. Mama and I had the special, which was blackened salmon with shrimp and fried asparagus, on a bed of mashed potatoes. Mama substituted grilled vegetables for her shrimp. The first thing I tasted was the mashed potatoes, which were the absolute best I have ever had at a restaurant. They were obviously real potatoes, and delicious. Then the salmon, which was also the most delicious that I have ever had! It practically melted in my mouth! The shrimp was the weakest part of the dish, and was just okay. It was shrimp. Nothing really special about it. The fried asparagus was a new thing to me, and was also delicious. We had a great time, good food, after which we drove back to the house, and had some of the desert that we had picked up at ShyKatz, earlier; strawberry cake, chocolate cake, and a couple of types of cheesecake.

It was a good day.

Today, I think we’re going to go to a lunch buffet at a local Italian restaurant that we have been to a couple of times on past visits. R & J, I think, are going to head out on their own today, and do whatever they want to do, which is perfectly fine. In fact, that was our intent all along. We may take the ferry over to Bolivar Peninsula, and then go sit in the breezeway at Murdock’s sipping daiquiris.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

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. Psalm 26:2
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.
Psalm 145:10-11

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
Psalm 119:129-134

“When we first look at the word of God, it is like a bud–a small concentration of beauty. As we hold it before us in meditation, it unfolds, layer by layer, until the full flower is in blossom, ready to be viewed in all its intricately related parts.”

“O Father, there is so much that I am eager to learn from your word. I have seen so little, but that little has whetted my appetite for more. As I hunger and thirst for your righteousness, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

“The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God.” I point out, once again, that this was published in 1935.

For decades, Christian communities and churches have put the emphasis on the wrong thing. “My kingdom is not of this world,” yet we get our work inspiration from the world, rather than from Jesus. Chambers says that we spend too much time living in the “shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of life.”

In the life of Jesus and his original disciples, there was none of this rush of activity that we seem to regard so highly today. “The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men.”

Chambers also names a strength of the Bible Training College where he taught: “here you are put into soak before God.” If we spend too much time in “overactive energies” instead of soaking in God and his truth, we will snap under the strain of ministry. We must get into soak before God, becoming rooted and grounded in him; then we will remain true, regardless of what happens.

This is somewhat along the lines of the question of whether we simply believe in Jesus or believe Jesus, meaning, do we believe the words he said? It’s easy to believe in Jesus. It’s much more difficult to put his words into practice, believing them to be truth.

Father, I want to soak before you. I want to take your Word and bathe myself in it, immerse myself, baptize myself in your word! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee! Help me to walk in your kingdom, taking the words of Jesus and putting them into practice in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

True Love

Here we go again. Back into the routine.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is oldster. As you might guess, this means, ” an old or elderly person.” Pretty much what I feel like, this morning. 🙂

Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. Oh, man. I don’t know if I’m brave enough . . .

Maybe I am, though, because today, we’re embarking on a serious, healthier lifestyle. This will start with a better diet, and, eventually, work into more exercise. We have to get the diet under control first, though.

So maybe it’s a good thing that we discovered that our favorite Mexican restaurant closed while we were in Mexico. That’s right, Fogata’s has, apparently, closed its doors, permanently. We finally got in touch with the owner’s business partner’s son, who told us the bad news. We still don’t know why, though.

Our first real worship service at the new location went pretty well, yesterday. I think that the setup process took longer than they had planned, but, overall, I think it was good. We like the place, too. It seems brighter, even with the main lights off and only the spotlights shining. Plus, no stairs. We may even consider joining the YMCA. The place looks really nice, and they have a lot of workout equipment. Right now, though, the main question is, when would we go? We have something going on three out of five weeknights, currently. Much to consider.

Alas, it is back to work today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Love’s Greatest Happiness.”

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:29-30

“The union between Christ and his bride is so close (‘one flesh’) that any good done to her is a good done to himself. The blatant assertion of this text is that this fact motivates the Lord to nourish, cherish, sanctify, and cleanse his bride.”

Some people claim that true love must be free from self-interest, especially love that is said to be Christ-like. But does this line up with this Scripture? “According to this text, love is the pursuit of our joy in the holy joy of the beloved.” What is happening in this passage is that husbands are being told to love their wives as they love their own bodies (28).

Where we make the mistake is in thinking that love can be free from self-interest. In truth, it cannot. We are also mistaken in thinking that self-interest is the same thing as selfishness. Selfishness seeks happiness at the expense of others. True love seeks its happiness in the happiness of others, especially its beloved. “It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be full in the life and purity of the beloved.”

“This is how Christ loved us, and this is how he calls us to love one another.”

Father, teach us to love in this way. May we seek our own happiness in the happiness of those whom we love, including you in Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.

Right Here At Home

Good morning. It is Sunday, October 19, 2014. My one day off this weekend.

Today is Evaluate Your Life Day. Hmmm. . . I don’t know. Maybe I’d rather go with World Toy Camera Day. That sounds like much more fun. I’ll let you pick.

I actually had a very nice day at work, yesterday. Out of the three Saturdays that I have worked, it was definitely the best one. The right combination of people was there to help out, and not only did we get all the work done early, we actually had a very pleasant time doing so. We got finished between 2:00 and 2:30, and I was on my way home before 2:30, which is over an hour early. The way I understand it, I am more than welcome to stay for the whole eight hours if I want to, but I’d rather get home. I was actually home in time to get to our church’s prayer gathering before the service. That was a pleasant surprise, and I’m sure it took a small burden off of the pastor, who was prepared to lead it if I didn’t make it.

Speaking of our pastor, he is heading to Thailand tonight, for an eleven day trip. We wish him the best during this trip, and will be praying for his safety, that he will have a marvelous time, and that God will use him in a mighty way as he travels.

Today, Stephanie will be going on a “horse outing” with good friends, Summer and Terry. Christi and I will do the grocery shopping for us and her mother and step-dad. After that, we will sit around and do nothing for the rest of the day. 😀 Well, not technically “nothing.” I’m sure we will get caught up on some TV watching and eat something. Not much else, though.

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1985 that the first Blockbuster Video Store opened in Dallas, Texas. Less than thirty years later, only about 50 stores are left (and this information may be outdated). At its peak, there were up to 9000 stores open, world-wide.

Today’s birthdays include Colton Dixon, Robert Reed, John Lithgow, Chris Kattan, Michael Young, Rodney Carrington, Desmond Harrington, Peter Max, Pete Loeffler, Amy Carter, Jeannie C. Riley, Patrick Simmons, and Tracy Chevalier.

Pete Loeffler, 38 years old today, is the lead guitarist/vocalist for the Chicago-based rock group, Chevelle. My favorite song of theirs is a song from their album, This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In), called “Vitamin R.” The song is about the ADHD/Autism drug, Ritalin.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1-3
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12-13
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.
God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?
There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Psalm 53
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations:
Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere
with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:34-39

Another troubling paragraph in this discourse of Christ in Matthew. Jesus wants prospective disciples to understand that following him may bring strife to a family. This is more true in other countries than it is in the U.S. I have heard true stories of people being disowned by their families, even to the point that a funeral is given for a child who embraces Christianity. In Jesus’s day, there would likely have been an uproar if a family member followed him, departing from traditional Jewish ways. Verse 38 speaks of a willing surrender of personal rights to follow Christ. Taking up my cross is deliberately obeying and identifying with Jesus, even to the point of death, if need be. What it does NOT mean is some particular burden in our lives, over which we have no control. Most of the time, when people say, “That’s just my cross to bear,” it really is not. Neither does it mean I have to pick up a literal cross and walk across the country, carrying it.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Jesus’ Work In Us.” (This is actually the reading for October 18)

We don’t have to go halfway around the globe to do “mission work.” “The compassionate love of Jesus at work within us empowers us to suffer with, endure with, struggle with, partake of, be moved in the depths of our being for the hunger, nakedness, loneliness, pain, squalid choices, and failed dreams of our brothers and sisters in the human family.” We don’t have to be Mother Teresa or Medical Missionaries in order to live this out. (Now, mind you, if God has called you to such a life, you’d best be on your way.) “The Passion of Christ is being played out in our own communities, perhaps in our own homes, in anyone who is in agony of flesh or spirit.” The presence of Christ in our lives is not some vague, ethereal thing. It is reality, and whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for Jesus Christ.

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
Luke 19:8

Father, I am grateful, first of all, that my family is not hostile toward the gospel, and that there is no enmity between any of us because of our faith in you. This is a great blessing that many do not have. I pray that I will be always willing to take up my cross and follow you in obedience, as well as identifying with you in all circumstances. I pray for boldness and faith should true persecution come my way because of my faith. I also pray for the compassion of Jesus to be at work in me in regards to people around me in my community. I pray especially for this compassion as I relate to my brothers and sisters in the community of our local church. Help us to understand that “mission work” can be done right in our own community, with people who are near and dear to us.

I pray for this day. I pray that Stephanie will have a good time with Summer on their horse outing. I pray that we will have a pleasant time as we have to do our errands this afternoon, and that we will get some good rest during the rest of the day. May your presence be evident with us as we do whatever we do today.

I pray that Jacob has a safe trip to Thailand tonight, and that his journey will be spectacular!

May we all find ways to be the Church in our communities around us, being Christ to “the least of these” wherever we are.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Small Sacrifice

Good morning. It is Saturday, October 19, 2013.

Today is “Evaluate Your Life Day.” That could be rather depressing. Or it could be affirming, depending on where your life is. I could potentially find myself in either camp, depending on what frame of reference I use. For the most part, though, I think my life is pretty good. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman for 28 years. I have one daughter who is about to embark on her doctorate program (psychology), and another who is autistic and still lives at home. The older daughter is married, but afraid to have any kids, because autism is thought to be largely genetic, and she has watched the younger one grow up. Things could be better, sure, but they could be a lot worse, too. I’m playing keyboard in our worship band at church, so I’m getting to use my musical talent (even if it is to only play four chords). And I’m leading the Intercessory Prayer Ministry at our church, as well.


Yesterday was a really busy day at work for me. In fact, I wound up putting in close to an hour of overtime. We had nine trucks to load, and the last two showed up thirty minutes late and an hour late. We had a nice evening at home, though, catching up on some TV watching. While we were watching other TV shows, the Cardinals put the Dodgers away for the season, crushing them 9-0 in game six of the NLCS. So, if the Red Sox can manage to beat the Tigers today, we will see a repeat of the 2004 World Series. Today’s game is at 3:30 CDT.

I have to take my car to the dealership in Irving this morning to get the oil changed. The only reason I’m taking it all the way over there is because it’s free for a year (or five oil changes, whichever comes first), since we bought the car there. Otherwise, I would take it down the road to the local oil change/free car wash place. My appointment is at 10:30. Our pool guy is supposed to come over this morning, also, so Christi will be staying home while I do that. At some point, grocery shopping is necessary. Hopefully, we can get all this done by 3:30 so I can watch the Red Sox/Tigers game.

Our church (The Exchange) has two more Sunday services at the elementary school where we meet. On November 2, we move our services to another church that has facilities that we can use, and we will move our meetings to Saturday evening at 5:45. Most of us are actually pretty pumped up about this move. We shouldn’t have to do nearly as much set up and tear down (at least not after the initial set up which could be very challenging), and the time offers all kinds of new opportunities. One thing that our pastor is working on is changing the philosophy of the church so that the one worship meeting per week is not the main focus of the church. He is pushing for discipleship to be the main focus. I’m okay with this, because worship will still be a priority (and anyone who knows me knows that I believe that worship is the church’s highest priority), but discipleship will be elevated to a bigger place in the church. Things will definitely be different.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1781, General Cornwallis, along with his 8000 British troops, surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. “The victory was the result of a combined American-French land-sea campaign that remains a model of timing and co-operation.” Legend has it that the British soldiers marched out of Yorktown to this old song:

“If ponies rode men, and if grass at the cows,
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse. . .
If summer were spring, and the other way ’round,
Then all the world would be upside down.”

And it seems that it was, as the Americans had just defeated “the mightiest military power in the world.”


Today’s birthday is Pete Loeffler, born on this date in 1976 (egad, that’s the year I graduated HS), in Grayslake, IL. Pete is the lead singer/guitar player and co-founder of the alternative rock group Chevelle. Here is a video of my favorite song of theirs, “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along),” from the album This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In). The song is about Ritalin.

Honorable mentions go to Colton Dixon, 22, John Lithgow, 68, Michael Young, 37, Chris Kattan, 43, Peter Max, 76, Jeannie C. Riley, 68, Mordecai Brown, 1876-1948, and Dave Guard, 1934-1991.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:2
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Psalm 84:8
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
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 to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:7-11
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Father, I pray that you would show me wonderful things from your words this morning. May your Spirit guide me as I read the words of scripture.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Small Sacrifices.” The scripture reading is Hebrews 13:11-13, 15-16.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

This passage ties three things together. We have a brief description of the Old Testament sacrificial system, the way Jesus changed it, and one way we can respond to his sacrifice. In the Old Testament system, the animals were sacrificed outside the camp. Jesus was crucified outside the city. Our spiritual lives are, in a sense, lived “outside the camp.” “The true spiritual life is formed and lived outside the promises and security of this world, accepting Jesus’ mission and participating in his sufferings.” We are to make our own sacrifices, which may be nothing more than “a sacrifice of praise to God,” but also may be as much as giving up everything we have to follow his call to a mission field somewhere. We would do well to remember that everything we “own” truly belongs to God, anyway.

The challenge over the next ten days is to find “one small way you can make a sacrifice as an offering to God.” We should think of “each offering as a way of being obedient to God.” We should remember that the greatest sacrifice that we can make is simply obedience. We are not called upon to do “heroic deeds,” simply to obey.


Father, I pray that you would guide me, by the Holy Spirit, to find small sacrifices that I can make over the next couple of weeks. May they not be empty sacrifices, but deeds done for the sake of your glory, in obedience to your commands in scripture. May I be sensitive to the Spirit while seeking your will for my life. I sense that this discipline goes hand in hand with the previous discipline of submission. When I submit to the Spirit, I will be more willing to make sacrifices. May your glory always be the central focus of my acts.

I pray for this day today. May we get our chores accomplished today and have time for good rest this evening. Keep us safe as we travel around town today, and always draw our attention to you. I pray for our worship service tomorrow, that you would fill the worship team with your Spirit. As we worship you, may we lead others to follow. Let us never be seeking applause or attention for ourselves. Speak to us through your servant, Jacob. give him wisdom, courage, and strength as he leads our church in the direction you would have us go.


Regardless of your beliefs, it would be a good thing to look for ways to sacrifice, as that typically leads to helping someone else in some way. The whole world would be a better place if more of us would sacrifice just a little each day.

Grace and peace, friends.