Plan to Pray

Back home, but not back to work! Two more days of vacation left!

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is miasma. This noun means, “a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease; also : a heavy vaporous emanation or atmosphere, or, “an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt; also : an atmosphere that obscures : fog.”

Today is Conflict Resolution Day, a global event intended to “promote the concept of peaceful conflict resolution.”

We had a splendid trip back home, yesterday. After this trip, we are definitely fans of Sun Country Airlines. Their motto seems to be, “We want to go early.” They said that numerous times as we were preparing for take off and landing. And they did seem to be in a hurry, too, which we certainly didn’t mind. The only downside to yesterday was Apple Vacations insisting on picking us up at our hotel at 9:00 AM when our flight didn’t leave until 1:40 PM. The excuse used was that we had booked “shared transport.” Okay, we understand that. There are other people to be picked up for other flights. However, as it turned out, all of the other people were at the same Iberostar complex, and all of their flights left after 1:00 PM. Two of them were even on the same flight we were on!

We got to the airport, and had to sit for an hour before we could even check in, as there were no Sun Country reps at the counter until 10:50. And why would they be? The next flight wasn’t scheduled until 1:40! Then, after we finally got checked in (very smooth process both ways), we had to sit for another two hours at the gate.

So, as we consider this vacation trip, we would give high ratings to the airline, Sun Country, but low ratings for Apple Vacations (which we will definitely not use again), and Iberostar. However, we might stay at an Iberostar again. The place was nice, and the room service food was delicious. We also liked the one in Cancun, when we stayed there. It’s just that, in our opinion, neither Apple Vacations nor Iberostar handled this crisis in the best way. Christi read some accounts that were even worse than ours. Apparently, not everyone booked at the Tucan got to go to another Iberostar. But it sounds like no one was given a choice in the matter.

One other thing we have learned. For us, at least, October is not a good month to go to Mexico. It’s just as hot as Texas, and about twice as humid. It’s much better in the winter, when it’s cold (sometimes) in Texas, but mild, in the seventies, in Mexico. We have filed that information for future reference.

We have no plans today, and Christi isn’t feeling well. She started feeling under the weather Tuesday night, and wasn’t well all day, yesterday, which is truly a bummer. She might have a bit of a cold or something. Tomorrow, we plan to go to Mineral Wells to see my mother and take care of some business, such as ordering a gravestone for my father’s (and mother’s, eventually) grave site. We also need to take care of legal business with her lawyer, in town.

This date in 1582 directly followed October 4, as Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. In 1793, Marie-Antoinette was tried, convicted, and condemned to death the next day. On this date in 1815, Napoleon I began his exile on Saint Helena. In 1888, the letter known as the “From Hell” letter was posted by a person claiming to be Jack the Ripper. It was received by George Lusk the following day.

In 1928, the Graf Zeppelin completed its first trans-Atlantic flight. In 1956, the first modern computer language, Fortran, was first shared with the coding community.

Today’s birthdays include Virgil (Roman poet), Friedrich Nietzsche (German philosopher), P.G. Wodehouse (British novelist), Mario Puzo (American novelist), Lee Iacocca (American auto exec), Berry McGuire (American singer), Linda Lavin (American actress), Penny Marshall (American actress/director), Jim Palmer (American baseball player), Richard Carpenter (American musician, The Carpenters), Chris de Burgh (Irish singer/songwriter), Tanya Roberts (American actress), Emerial Lagasse (American chef), Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York), and Dominic West (British actor).

Mata Hari, Cole Porter, and Edie Adams are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Plan for Prayer.”

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

“Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others.”

And when we pray, we glorify God by treating him as “the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help.” When we pray, we admit our poverty, and we confess God’s bounty. We acknowledge our misery and claim his mercy.

We exalt and glorify God in prayer when we pursue all that we long for in him, and not in ourselves. In John 16:24, Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” If we combine this passage with some other words of Jesus, we could come up with, “Ask, and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.” One of the primary reasons that so many Christians don’t have a fulfilled prayer life probably has to do more with the lack of planning than the lack of desire.

Christi and I did not wake up Saturday morning and say, “Hey, let’s go to Mexico today!” We planned in advance, for many months. (And even with that, some of our plans did not quite go as we expected.) But isn’t that how we tend to treat prayer? We get up every day, and, at some point, we realize that significant prayer times should be part of our lives, but nothing is ready. We haven’t planned. We don’t know where to go, or how to get there. “The opposite of planning is the rut.”

Piper says this: “Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.”

We find ourselves all too easily “tyrannized by the press of busy days.” Even someone who has a good habit of prayer could use some “midcourse corrections.” May we turn to prayer and plan to pray, “for the glory of God and the fullness of your joy.”

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is Monday, October 15, 2012, and we are back to the real world. What a wonderful weekend we had! Once again, if you are close by this place (even if you are not), I would encourage you to check out Paluxy River Bed Cabins, in Glen Rose, Texas. It’s a magical, peaceful retreat from the “real” world.

Today is “National White Cane Safety Day,” so proclaimed many years ago by President LBJ. Be on the lookout for the visually impaired today (as you should be every day).

On this date in 1793, Marie-Antoinette was tried and convicted and sentenced to death the next day.
The Edison Electric Light Company began operation on this date in 1878.
On this date in 1888, investigators receive a letter from Jack the Ripper. It has been called the “From Hell” letter.
Mata Hari was executed in 1917 for being a spy for the German Empire.
On this date in 1956, the computer language Fortran was first shared with the coding community.
Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky became the all time scoring leader in the NHL on this date in 1989.
On this date in 1930, Duke Ellington recorded “Mood Indigo,” his first big hit.

Birthdays today include the Roman poet, Virgil, 70 BC, Friedrich Nietzche, 1844, P.G. Wodehouse, 1881, Mario Puzo, 1920, Barry McGuire, 1935, Linda Lavin, 1937, Penny Marshall, 1942, Jim Palmer, 1945, Richard Carpenter, 1946, Chris de Burgh, 1948, Emeril Lagasse (BAM!), 1959, Sarah Ferguson, 1959.

As we head back to our work week this morning, we are very thankful that we were able to get away for that beautiful weekend. The one down side of the whole thing is that Christi’s leg/foot is hurting again, just as it was before the back injection. This is pretty disappointing. But she has another appointment for followup this week, so we will see what the doctor says. In the meantime, I continue to pray that God would heal this problem.

Father, I pry for a glimpse of your face this morning as I look into your word. Please give me something to make my day a worship celebration to you.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:145-152.

145 Qoph. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

The intensity of the psalmist’s prayers are seen in the first few verses. I, too, “rise before dawn and cry for help,” each day. I find that this gives me fuel for the day.

In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, called “The Key to the Missionary Message” (remember yesterday’s reading was “The Key to the Missionary”), the scripture verse is 1 John 2:2, which says, He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. “The key to the missionary message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus.” What is “propitiation?” It’s a big word. Basically, it is the act of appeasing. So if Jesus is our propitiation, it means that he has satisfied God for the account of our sins. “The missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.”

The message of the missionary is not the kindness of Jesus, or his goodness, not even the revealing of “the Fatherhood of God.” It is not a patriotic message (the “religious right” in the U.S. really needs to heed that truth), “it is irrespective of nations and of individuals, it is for the whole world.” When the Holy Spirit brings the revelation of Jesus to me, nothing that went before matters whatsoever. My personality does not matter; my preconceived ideas about anything don’t matter; “He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus.”

The missionary is not on task to share his own point of view, he is to “proclaim the Lamb of God.” His task is not to proclaim what Christ has done for him. His task is not to proclaim divine healing, or a “special type of sanctification,” or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “Paul did not say, ‘Woe is unto me, if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,’ but, ‘Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.'” What is the gospel? “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Father, I pray that I would continue to come to you with the cries of my heart, with the intensity that the psalmist has in Psalm 119. May I continue to rise before dawn to share my heart with you, that you might share your heart with me. I seek your face each day. I seek just the slightest glimpse of the One who is the Creator and Master of all, that I might know your heart for me, for my family, and for all that I know.

As I acknowledge that each of us who call ourselves by the name of Christ are, indeed “missionaries,” I pray that we do not, out of pride or self-interest, blur the message of Christ. May we be clear in the message, “Make the message plain…” Christ is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He is the propitiation for our sins. May we not be scared away by the “big word,” and try to dumb it down too much, oversimplify it. It’s an easy concept, really. Jesus Christ, by his sacrifice, has appeased your wrath toward us. That’s the message of the gospel, and we should proclaim that cheerfully and clearly in all that we do every day. May we be faithful missionaries.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray that Christi might be healed from this leg and foot pain. There was brief relief with the injection, but the pain is back. I pray for wisdom from the doctor this week. Show him what needs to be done. I pray that Christi will have a great work day today, that there will be some good news when she arrives today. I also pray that you would surround her with your Spirit, absorbing any stress that might come her way today. Do the same for me, as well, throughout this day. Give me peace and wisdom to handle anything that comes my way today with grace. I also pray for Stephanie today, that her heart would be drawn into your heart, giving her peace and knowledge of you during this day.

Oh, missionary, don’t confuse the message. The key is simply this: Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sin! Nothing more, nothing less. May that be the message of the Church of Jesus Christ in today’s world.

Grace and peace, friends.