We Need Community

Today is Monday, February 18, 2019.

Day 22,257

24 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!

Quote of the Day

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, American President, 1882-1945

Word of the Day

Personalia–“Personal allusions, belongings, writings, information, etc.”

We had a great worship gathering, yesterday morning. It’s really great how the three of us (Brandon, Terry, and me) have gelled as a worship team. Each week, it seems like the harmonies sound better, at least to me. Each of us has a different musical strength to add to the mix and we all come together as a pretty tight band. Jacob’s message about spiritual gifts was also quite good. I like his thinking on them, which is that they are more like “opportunities of ministry” than “Christian superpowers,” which is what popular thinking seems to be over the years. We have to remember that the Bible says that the Spirit grants the gifts as He wills, which means that you might be an evangelist one day and a prophet the next, depending on the need of the moment.

We got our wireless chargers yesterday, and they seem to work great. My phone was charged overnight, just laying on this little circular pad thingy. Truly amazing! The cables are a bit short, though, so we ordered some longer cables for them. Our new cases work great, as well.

Not much else happened, yesterday. And, of course, it’s Monday, so back to work. Unless you’re a government employee, in which case you have today off. And I think most schools might be out, as well, which means our drive to work should be a little less stressful. Presidents’ Day. Or is it “Presidents Day” with no apostrophe? I’ve seen it both ways. And I really don’t care. It’s just another day for me, with no mail or banking.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
Romans 1:8

Today I am grateful:
1. For another good day of worship, yesterday.
2. For a new prayer app that someone showed me, yesterday. (It’s called “Echo.”)
3. For good rest last night, out of which I can, hopefully, work well today.
4. That God has given me the community of our local church.
5. That God has created me to love and to need to be loved.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
  for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
  the Almighty has done great things for me,
  and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
  in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
  he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the might from their thrones,
  and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
  and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
  for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
  to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
  as It was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The Song of Mary)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Good To Be in Company,” by James Bryan Smith.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18

“God has made us interdependent. From the moment of our creation God felt it was important for us to live in community.” We all, from the center of our very being, have a great need to “love and be loved by others.” It seems, doesn’t it, that we have been created incomplete. “Only by living in community can we find the fulfillment for which we hunger.”

This need to love and be loved is inescapable (unless you happen to be a sociopath). “God has designed us this way because God values human community.” Here’s the thing: God could easily just give everyone everything he or she needs for life, so that we have absolutely no need for each other. But He didn’t do that. “Instead, he gives us all of the resources we need to care for one another and encourages us to share those resources.”

This goes along so well with the messages we have been hearing from our pastor, recently. And it all ties in with the Trinity! You see, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been living in holy community for all eternity, and we, as followers of Christ, are invited to share in this community! It’s rather mind-boggling, if you think about it.

Consider, if you will, whom God has given you that cares for you, and whom God has given you to care for? That was probably a terrible sentence. But hopefully, the meaning is clear.

Father, I thank You for the understanding (I’m using that word quite loosely) of the Trinity that You have given me in the past year or so. To know the kind of community that You, the Son, and the Holy Spirit live in brings joy to my spirit and makes me want to be in the same kind of community. I thank You for our church group and pray that our sense of community will only expand and enlarge as we meditate on the Trinity.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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. Alleluia. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Hold Me, Jesus

Today is Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Day 21,873.

58 days until Opening Day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, born on this date in 1885 (died 1945), said, “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”

The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is obsequious, an adjective which means, “characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning.”

Band practice went pretty well, last night. Unfortunately, we did not have ten trombones, last night. But we did have six, so all the parts were represented.

C and S went to the Y while I was at band practice, and the report was that S did much better on the bike this time. We are quite proud of her. If all goes as planned, we will all go tonight.

I just saw, this morning, that Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey, has died at the age of 94.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Of David.
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. 
Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. 
Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. 
Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. 
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. 
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. 
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. 

Psalm 28

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 40:11

If you are struggling with anything, today, allow this verse to guide you to the truth that Jesus is holding you like a lamb in his arms.

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Other Religions

“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do not have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does not mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic–there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.” (Mere Christianity)

I love this one. In the past couple of decades, I have moved more toward this kind of thinking. Other religions have tenets from which we can learn. We need not shut them all out because they are different from us, or, even, perhaps, wrong. As Lewis said, we don’t have to believe that every single thing about them is totally wrong. That being said, I do believe that there are not many roads that lead to God. There is only one road, that being through Jesus Christ. But, as our pastor said in his message this past Sunday, we need not think that God is on top of a mountain, waiting for us to get to the top to meet Him. He came down to us, and made it quite easy to meet Him, in the person of Jesus.

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)
Forgotten Side of Success

In today’s reading, Charles Swindoll discusses the nature of success in our society. He notes that dozens and dozens of resources can be found, telling us how to achieve success in just about everything imaginable. Few of them, however, address what most people truly desire, which is “contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and relief.” He quotes Executive Digest as saying, “The trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown.” “Work longer hours, push ahead, let nothing hinder your quest.”

Swindoll offers some different advice, borrowed from Peter.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5-7

For true success, we can start by submitting ourselves to someone wiser than us. Trust me, there is always someone wiser. As I’ve heard before, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Next, we need to humble ourselves beneath the mighty hand of God. We should realize that God’s hand does not simply signify discipline. It also signifies deliverance. If we humble ourselves, we will eventually see success His way, and not have to worry about achieving it on our own terms. The last thing is that we simply must throw everything in the lap of God’s mercy and grace. Cast all our anxieties on him. Why? “Because he cares for you!”

It always helps to remember the oft-quoted verse from Matthew 6, which caps off a beautiful discourse of Jesus on worrying. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Father, you have so much to teach us if we would simply submit and humble ourselves. But we are proud people, and surrender doesn’t come naturally to us. So help us to do that. Show us your worth, that we might worship you appropriately. And above all, hold us, like the verse in Isaiah tells us. Hold me, Jesus . . .
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.

Structure in Prayer

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”~~Oscar Wilde

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is absolve, “to set free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt; to remit (a sin) by absolution.”

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. I mean, seriously. What else would you need?

I only had to work about thirty minutes over, last night, so that was nice. We had a nice, relaxing evening, watching TV for a while. Today, we have our usual grocery shopping, and then Rachel and Justin will be coming over this afternoon.

We have nailed down some plans for later this month. The Southlake Community Band will play at the Christmas Tree Lighting event on November 21, at the Southlake Town Square. We plan to go pick up my mother Friday night, the 20th, so she can come listen to the band play Christmas music. She will spend Saturday night and go to church with us on Sunday morning. Then we’ll take her home after lunch. Our church will be having Thanksgiving dinner that evening, so we’ll be back for that. Then on Thanksgiving Day, which is the following Thursday, we plan to cook stuff and take it to Mineral Wells for Thanksgiving lunch. Good times.

Birthdays are coming up next week, as Christi’s is the 12th. My dad’s birthday is November 15, which is next Sunday. We have not decided if we will try to go to Mineral Wells for that day. It is the first birthday since he passed away in April.

On this date in 1665, the London Gazette was first published. On this date in 1872, the ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York. She would be discovered on December 4, completely deserted, life boat missing. The cargo and crew’s belongings were intact and undisturbed. The crew was never heard from or seen again. No one knows what happened to them. The last journal entry had been ten days earlier. In 1908, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kind were allegedly killed in San Vicente, Bolivia. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to be elected to the United States Congress. In 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed due to an unfortunate engineering anomaly.

The wind blowing through the cables matched the resonant frequency of the bridge, causing it to sway, even from the first day it was opened to the public, just four months prior to the collapse. People called the bridge “Galloping Gertie.”
Three years later, Franklin D Roosevelt was elected for an unprecedented fourth term as President of the United States.

Today’s birthdays include Captain James Cook (British naval officer), Archie Campbell (American comedian), Billy Graham (American evangelist), Al Hirt (American trumpet player), Jim Kaat (American baseball player), Johnny Rivers (American singer/songwriter), and Joni Mitchell (Canadian musician).

Archie Campbell was a comedian who is probably most known for his run on the country comedy/music variety show, Hee Haw. Here is a You Tube video tribute, containing several of his skits, one being his retelling of the fairy tale, “Rindercella.” Archie was born on this date in 1914 and died in 1987.

Dwight Frye, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Steve McQueen are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Today, I’m looking at a second way that Timothy Keller gives us to develop a habit of adoration and praise. This comes from the sixteenth-century English Reformer Thomas Cranmer, who was the author of the original Book of Common Prayer. In that book, he had what is known as “collects,” or corporate prayers. They followed this general structure:

1. The address–a name of God
2. The doctrine–a truth about God’s nature that is the basis for the prayer
3. The petition–what is being asked for
4. The aspiration–what good result will come if the request is granted
5. In Jesus’ name–this remembers the mediatorial role of Jesus

here is an example of one of the prayers that follows this structure:

1. Almighty God,
2. unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid,
3. cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,
4. that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name,
5. through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Obviously, the prayers in the book do not have numbers. But this is to show how they line up structurally. The prayer moves “from a grounding in God’s nature (why we can ask) to the petition (what we want) to the aspiration (what we will do with it if we get it).” This pattern also combines “praise with petition, sound theology with deep aspirations of the heart, and concrete goals for our daily life.”

One way to cultivate this is to write prayers to God in a journal, attempting to follow this structure until it becomes a habit. “Eventually, you will find that when praying aloud or praying privately, you will instinctively start any petition by looking at God himself and appealing to that as you cry out to him.”

Father in heaven, you know everything about me. I pray that you would help me to pray effectively to you, daily. I pray that my life would be a life of constant prayer, and that all that I do I would do for your name and your glory. In doing this, your name would be magnified in all the earth, and people would see the benefit of living such a life. These things I pray through the Son and by the Spirit.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.

Hopeless and Helpless

Good morning. It is Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is lotusland. This is “a place inducing contentment especially through offering an idyllic living situation,” or, “a state or an ideal marked by contentment often achieved through self-indulgence.”

Today is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. That sounds especially yummy, for some reason.

We had a nice visit at the hospital last night. We went straight there after our worship gathering. Well, not exactly straight, as we stopped by a store to get my mother some magazines and snacks. The fever (I can’t remember . . . did I write about the fever? Yes, I did) was significantly down, and he seemed a bit more aware. He was pretty much awake the whole time we were there. We watched a few innings of the Rangers game with them. He did struggle a little with time lines, when the nurse came in with some meds. But overall, I think it was a positive, encouraging visit. They had confirmed a UTI (urinary tract infection), which could definitely explain the earlier confusion. We’ll be going back up there sometime today.

Rachel and Justin are supposed to be coming down for lunch today, and we need to get groceries before they get here. Plus I need to put go juice in my car.

We continue to feel the love and support from the Body of Christ through all of this. The prayers and encouragement that we have felt from people is nothing short of amazing. We are so very grateful.

The Rangers and Red Sox both won their games yesterday. This put the Rangers back at .500 and tied for first place with Oakland (the Rangers have won every other game, so far). The Red Sox are currently along atop the AL East, with a 4-1 record. Their next game is in NY tonight, at 7:05 CT. I’m guessing it must be tonight’s ESPN game. I wonder how many times I will hear the word “Jeter?”

On this date in 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded their smash hit, “Rock Around the Clock.” It was originally a “B” side for “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town),” but became a bigger hit after being the first rock & roll song to be included in a movie soundtrack. The movie was 1955’s Blackboard Jungle, starring a very young Sydney Poitier.

Nine years earlier, to the day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died while in office.

Today’s birthdays include Beverly Cleary (author), Tiny Tim (musician, sort of), Herbie Hancock (musician), John Kay (Steppenwolf), Ed O’Neill (actor), David Letterman (talk show), Tom Clancy (author), David Cassidy (singer, The Partridge Family), Pat Travers (musician), Andy Garcia (actor), Vince Gill (musician), Shannen Doherty (actress), Nicholas Brendon (actor, Xander on Buffy), Jennifer Morrison (actress), and Claire Danes (actress).

John Kay is a singer/guitar player that is one of the founding members of the rock group Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf was one of my favorite rock bands when I was growing up. With songs like “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born To Be Wild,” they still get a moderate amount of airplay on classic rock stations today. John was born on this date in 1944, and turns 71 today. Here is a video of my father’s favorite song of theirs, “Snowblind Friend.”


In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 31:1-5

“Whoever relies not on the providence of God, so as to commit his life to its faithful guardianship, has not yet learned aright what it is to live.” (John Calvin, in Heart Aflame)

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:11

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Hope for the Hopeless.” The scripture references are Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 4:18-19; 8:43-48; and John 5:1-15.

“Hopeless, helpless people of all stripes populate the earth’s landscapes, though they may fall out of sight behind the gleaming skyscrapers of our metropolises or disappear in the teeming villages of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”

Do we get too used to the stories, to the point that we simply carry on with our lives, “blissfully absorbed in our interests, jobs, families, investments, homes, careers, vacations, and health clubs?” How do we respond to panhandlers on our occasional trips to the inner cities? What about when they knock on the doors of our churches? Yet, we seem to be inundated with “multitudes of welfare services and Christian missions” (which is not a bad thing, mind you).

When Jesus walked the earth, the circumstances were much the same. No one cared about the “hopeless outcasts, lepers, cripples, widows,” and especially those who were typecast as “sinners.” Jesus was probably comfortable, growing up as the “son” of an artisan, but had to have noticed the hopeless, helpless people around him.

At the beginning of his ministry years, he announced “that he was God’s fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy to bring Good News to the poor and the prisoners.” Those hopeless and helpless people thronged to wherever he was, to hear him preach, and maybe get a chance to simply touch the hem of his garment. “They hung on his words and his touch because he offered them hope and a chance to join God’s new kingdom and be liberated from sin and oppression.”

It is worthy to notice that one thing Jesus did NOT do was to attack the causes of their conditions! He never said, “Well, you wouldn’t be blind if you hadn’t sinned so much!” Or, “You wouldn’t be poor if you had managed your money better.” He did not say, “Let’s see if you are trying to help yourself before I help you.” He simply told them that they would find relief, rest, and salvation in him. “He offered people a distinctive yoke, not another yoke of oppression but the yoke of freedom in a faith relationship with him.” Jesus was able to “replace their despair with hope.”

It is also worthy of noticing that he was not afraid to touch those whom most people considered untouchable. He touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable. “If we are to walk the Jesus way, we must find ways to give the helpless both material and spiritual aid, comfort, and hope.” And we must do this without judging people, which we are so terribly good at doing. Judging, that is. I distinctly remember a time when I was a music minister, many years ago. Some of the men were discussing helping a family with a Thanksgiving meal. During the discussion, one of them said, and I speak truthfully, I am not making this up, “We need to make sure that they are trying to get a job and help themselves before we give them something.” Okay . . . I don’t remember his exact words, but that was the gist of it. I was so disappointed and horrified that a man who claimed to be following Christ would say such a thing. But that is how we are raised in this culture, isn’t it?

Jesus repeatedly turned his world upside-down with his actions and teachings. I don’t have much doubt that, if he had waited until today to come the first time, he would be treated much the same, if not worse.

We, as his followers, “must become generous in our giving and get used to taking risks in relationships with the hopeless. . . . Being Jesus to the helpless and hopeless will be costly in terms of pride, money, and energy, but it is the example he set for us.”

Father, as we walk in our world, living our lives, keep our eyes open, that we might notice those who are hopeless and helpless. We may find them anywhere, including our places of work. May we not be so absorbed in our own lives, trials, and pleasures that we do not notice those for whom we are to be salt and light. Help us to walk more like Jesus in our world. Help us to bring the Kingdom to the people around us.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray for healing and recovery for my father and strength for my mother. I pray that there might be more contact from their church family at home. I thank you for the people who have given of themselves to help them so much in the past, and who are offering help, going forward. Your people are truly a blessing to us, Father! Keep us safe as we do what needs to be done today, and give us some rest for the week ahead.

Your grace is sufficient.

We cannot afford to not notice the helpless around us. It is part of our mission as Christians to be Jesus to the people we encounter. We must look up and notice.

Grace and peace, friends.