Ordinary Vessels

Today is Thursday, the twelfth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,163

Only seven more days until S’s birthday! We will be spending that weekend in Mineral Wells, visiting Grandma and FBC Mineral Wells for worship that Sunday.

Today is Vinyl Record Day. For my younger readers (if there are any), “records” are large disks, made of vinyl, out of which emanate the sounds of music, when rotated on a proper device called a turntable (or, more commonly, record player). I think I may actually play some records today.

The word for today is flump. As a verb, it means, “to plump down suddenly or heavily; flop.” We have a cat that does this, although more “suddenly,” than “heavily.” C says that Luna “flupes.” Or maybe that’s spelled “floop,” I’m not sure. I think I will start calling it “flump.”

Today’s quote is from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

And now for the birthdays:

1762 George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover (1820-30), born in St James's Palace, London (d. 1830)
1781 Robert Mills, American architect (Washington Monument)(d. 1855)
1856 "Diamond Jim" Brady, American financier (d. 1917)
1859 Katharine Lee Bates, American author (America the Beautiful), born in Falmouth, Massachusetts (d. 1929)
1867 Edith Hamilton, American writer (Mythology)
1876 Mary Roberts Rinehart, American mystery writer (The Circular Staircase), born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (d. 1958)
1881 Cecil B. DeMille, American filmmaker (The Ten Commandments), born in Ashfield, Massachusetts (d. 1959)
1887 Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize Laureate (wave mechanics), born in Vienna, Austria (d. 1961)
1889 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane) (d. 1981)
1907 Joe Besser, American actor and comedian (The Three Stooges, Let's Make Love, Africa Screams), born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 1988)
1910 Jane Wyatt, American actress (Father Knows Best, Star Trek), born in Mahwah, New Jersey (d. 2006)
1918 Sid Bernstein, music producer and concert promoter (Beatles; Rolling Stones), born in NYC, New York (d. 2013)
1925 Norris McWhirter, English author (founded Guinness Book of World Records), born in Winchmore Hill, England (d. 2004)
1925 Ross McWhirter, English author (founded Guinness Book of World Records), born in Winchmore Hill, England (d. 1975)
1926 John Derek, American actor, director and photographer (Knock on Any Door, All the King's Men, Rogues of Sherwood Forest), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 1998)
1927 Porter Wagoner, American country singer, discovered Dolly Parton ("Y'All Come"; "A Satisfied Mind"), born in West Plains, Missouri (d. 2007)
1929 Buck Owens [Alvis Edgar], American country singer-songwriter ("Act Naturally"), and TV personality (Hee Haw), born in Sherman, Texas (d. 2006)
1931 William Goldman, American screenwriter and author (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2018)
1932 Charlie O'Donnell, American game show announcer (Wheel of Fortune), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 2010)
1939 George Hamilton, American actor (Love at First Bite), born in Memphis, Tennessee
1941 Deborah Walley, actress (Mothers-in-Law, Beach Blanket, Gidget Goes Hawaiian), born in Bridgeport, Connecticut (d. 2001)
1941 Jennifer Warren, American actress (Slap Shot, Fatal Beauty, Mutant), born in NYC, New York
1949 Mark Knopfler, British singer-songwriter, guitarist (Dire Straits - "Walk Of Life"; "Sultans Of Swing"), and film score composer (Local Hero; Princess Bride), born in Glasgow, Scotland
1954 Pat Metheny, American jazz and fusion guitarist ("As Wichita Falls, So Falls Wichita"), born in Lee's Summit, Missouri
1956 Bruce Greenwood, actor (Spy, Another Chance, Malibu Bikini Shop)
1959 Lynette Woodard, (Olympic gold 1984, first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters), born in Wichita, Kansas
1963 Sir Mix A Lot [Anthony Ray], American rapper (Baby Got Back), born in Auburn, Washington
1965 Peter Krause, American actor (Six Feet Under)
1975 Casey Affleck, American actor (Manchester by the Sea, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), born in Falmouth, Massachusetts
1980 Matt Thiessen, Canadian-American musician (Relient K)
1992 Cara Delevingne, English fashion model, actress, and LGBT activist, born in London, England
Mark Knopfler, singer and lead guitar

The kitchen sink/faucet installation is finally complete. Our guy showed up a little after 10:00 yesterday morning, switched the garbage disposal to the right side and fixed the hot water valve. That turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought. There was some Teflon tape clogging the old valve, which was keeping any hot water at all from coming through. However, some of that debris managed to make its way into the tube connected to the new faucet, so he had to get a compressor and blow it out. But it’s all good, now, and everything works right. We love our “new kitchen.”

I got my sleep study kit yesterday, finally. I successfully got it hooked up and did the first night last night. I will finish it up tonight and then take the kit to a UPS shipping location sometime tomorrow to send it back. I do hope that it shows that I don’t need a CPAP machine any more, but if I do, the doctor will get me a new one that provides the updated data transmissions, and so on. I will say that it is tough to sleep without one, since I have been doing it so long.

The only thing that I need to get done today is go pick up some scripts at CVS, for C and S. Otherwise, the day is wide open. As previously stated, I might actually play some records in here. It’s been a while since I did that.

I haven’t talked about baseball, lately, and it’s not just because our Rangers are groveling around in the cellar, this year. The Red Sox have also managed to slip out of first place, into second, behind the Rays. They have been struggling, lately, but last night, they managed to beat the Rays. 20-8.

I swear I’m not making that up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A Prayer of Silent Union with God, by Daryl Madden

Just sit down and keep
Your back straight but free
Quieting your mind
And quiet your body

Taking some deep breaths
Awareness to begin
On the silent, infinite
Of God’s Presence within

Let the Spirit lead you
The silent realm of seeing
Where God dwells as the source
And grounds your inner being

Center your attention
On the hushed point to find
Within where the human
Touches the divine

Where the branch intersects
With Jesus, the vine
Where you and God are one
Our dwelling to align

Let yourself sink in
To Gods’ immensity
Simply let your prayer
Be a silent, be

No need for thought or word
Let quiet love flow
As long as you feel
Inspired to do so

Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.
(Psalms 44:5-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence, with me always;
2. that You have moved my heart to trust only in You;
3. that You are faithful to do what You say You will do, even when I am unfaithful;
4. that You give us victory over our enemy, which is not flesh and blood;
5. that You use ordinary vessels to do Your work.

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWELVE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD judges in favor of the oppressed and gives them their rights.
(Psalms 103:6 GNB)

During this quiet moment, I consider Your presence in this place, in every place; You are with me wherever I am, and I find great comfort in this. I center my attention on You and Your Word.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
(Psalms 42:1-6a NIV)

BIBLE READING

Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
(Exodus 5:22-6:5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The process of dwelling involves stopping to meditate. It involves reading the passages more than once, and asking/inviting the Holy Spirit to lead me to words, phrases, or thoughts that speak to me at this time in my life. The Word of God is living and active, and ever new in our lives. Anyone who is well-familiar with it knows that you can read the same passage over and over for years, and suddenly, it will become fresh and new, gushing forth with life. This is what I pray for each morning as I enter this time.

I can easily envision unbelievers, today, taunting us with the question, “Where is your God?” In some cases, it might not even be taunting, but a legitimate plea for help. Our world has been in the throes of pandemic for well over a year, now, and it is, recently, getting worse again. People are desperate for relief, for worldwide healing.

“Where is your God??” they may be asking. “Why hasn’t He stopped this??”

I know where my God is. He is right here, as He has always been. I cannot, however, answer the second question. Nevertheless, I can echo the psalmist, when he says, “Put your hope in God,” to his soul, “for I will yet praise him.”

I confess concern for the world, for my country. But my soul is not downcast, because it knows that, as Psalm 44 says, above, that He is the One who gives us victory over our enemies. But here’s the thing . . . we never know exactly what “victory” looks like. And, in addition, we often get confused as to who our enemy is.

Sometimes I feel as though I am kicking a dead horse, but I’ll reinforce what I have already said. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. My enemy is spiritual; my enemy is not human beings who think differently than me about political issues. My enemy is not Democrat or Republican (or Tea Party or Communist). My enemy is Satan and his forces, because that is who God’s enemy is.

And, in the grand scheme of things, my enemy has no power and is already defeated. Nevertheless, when he can get us bickering among ourselves, and fighting fellow human beings, he gains a brief win.

But I do not trust in bow or sword; I do not trust in princes, presidents, chariots, and horses. I trust in the Lord God Almighty and Him alone.

That does not mean that I never question what He is doing. Moses did that. Check out his question to the Lord in Exodus 5. “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Moses asks questions like this, frequently. Moses, it seems, was a bit of a whiner.

Another thing I have frequently emphasized in this forum is the type of characters that God used in the Old and New Testaments. We do well to note that they are far from perfect. They are ordinary folk, who, if they wore pants, would put them on one leg at a time, just like I do. I don’t think they actually wore pants, though, but who knows?

And God did not chide Moses for his questioning. Instead, the Lord made a firm proclamation in Exodus 6. Several times, he starts with “I am the LORD.” That should be enough for us, right? But He goes on.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'”
(Exodus 6:1-8 NIV)

Note that Moses’s speech to Pharaoh both begins and ends with “I am the LORD.”

And those of us who know the story know that God did exactly what He said He was going to do. And that is our God. He does that. He does what He says He will do. He is faithful. We are not. We are fickle. We make foolish deals with God, as if He believes our promises, anyway. Then, once we get what we are after (if we do), we go right back to our old ways.

I can say this, because I have done it. I am a fickle, sinful, human being, selfishly trying to get what I want out of the Lord. Or at least I used to be. I’m still sinful. That part won’t stop until I reach Home.

But I have stopped the foolishness of trying to make promises and deals with God. Instead I just pray. I pray for my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my family. I plead with God on their behalf. But I don’t try to bargain.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Which is good, because we are always not.

Father, I am so thankful that You are faithful to do what You say You will do. Help me, however, to be correct in what I think You said You will do. There are many people, Lord, who make proclamations in Your Name, stating that You say things that You never said. I do not want to be one of those. I want to speak only truth about You. And Jesus is the Truth. So help me to follow Him, and Him alone, as I trust in You and You alone. May Your Spirit guide us into truth, Lord, that we may faithfully follow You and walk in Your Kingdom.

I am also grateful that You show us that You used ordinary vessels for Your various ministries, throughout Scripture. There were no “superhumans” in Your “army,” Lord. Even people like Elijah had flaws, that are visibly displayed to us in Your Word. This gives us hope that You can use people like us, and that we can do Your work on the earth, even with our own flaws, that sometimes seem so huge to us.

Lord, please give us growth in holiness as we follow You. May You uncover any idols that we have in our hearts, those things that threaten our devotion to You. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and make us willing and ready to extend the same grace to others that You have extended to us. May we not be hypocrites in this, Lord!

"God of Abraham,
Isaac,
and Jacob,
today I pray for people across the globe who groan under unjust rulers and crooked governments.
Whether it's brutal dictators,
corrupt city officials,
or neighborhood bullies,
bring freedom through your mighty hand.
Amen."

BLESSING

The LORD is my strong defender; he is the one who has saved me. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will sing about his greatness.
(Exodus 15:2 GNB)

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:14 NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
(1 John 3:18-20 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“The greatest spiritual battle begins—and never ends—with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.” ~ Henri Nowen

Grace and peace, friends.