Jars of Clay

Today is Monday, March 6, 2017. FOUR days until our Glen Rose weekend!

Quote of the Day

“There are times when parenthood seems nothing but feeding the mouth that bites you.” ~ Peter De Vries

Word of the Day

Fusillade ~ a general discharge or outpouring of anything.

Today is Fun Facts About Names Day. Odd, because yesterday was Namesake Day, right? But today, the idea is to learn “fun facts” about yours or other peoples’ names, or even, perhaps, names of places. For example, my name, Jeffrey, means “God’s peace,” or “divine peace.” Perhaps I should start living up to that.

This week will be a fun week. Tonight, band practice will be held at the church where the concert will be held tomorrow night. That was probably a terrible sentence. Oh, well. This will be the first time, since I’ve been a member, that we have actually rehearsed at the venue. I am taking PTO tomorrow. I simply decided that I didn’t want to have to change into dress clothes at work, then have to worry about eating something in a white dress shirt, and all that. So I’ll have a leisurely day at home, and then show up at the church for the concert, and S can ride with me, if she wants to go, and I think she does. C plans to meet us there. Our concert will be at Whites Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, at 7:00 PM, Tuesday, March 7.

Saturday, we head to Glen Rose for four days to celebrate another year on this planet. My birthday is next Monday, March 13. I’m completing my 59th year, officially beginning year number 60. Egad. To help this, we’re taking PTO next Monday and Tuesday.

Twenty-eight days until Opening Day!


My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. 
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Psalm 71:8-9
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

Psalm 88:1-2
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
Psalm 3:8

(From Living the Message)

In recent years, there has been a lot of anger and disappointment toward “the church,” especially in the U.S. A lot of it comes from people outside the church, but some comes from within, as well. The cause of this is, according to Eugene H. Peterson, “failed expectations.”

“We expect a disciplined army of committed men and women who courageously lay siege to the worldly powers; instead we find some people who are more concerned with getting rid of the crabgrass in their lawns. We expect a community of saints who are mature in the virtues of love and mercy, and find ourselves working on a church supper where there is more gossip than there are casseroles. We expect to meet minds that are informed and shaped by the great truths and rhythms of scripture, and find persons whose intellectual energy is barely sufficient to get them from the comics to the sports page.”

The key just might possibly be that our expectations need to be re-examined and changed, rather than trying to change the church. You see, the church is not our organization, it’s God’s. It’s what he has given us. And the church should not be the people we want to be with, but the people God has given us to be with, “a community created by the descent of the Holy Spirit in which we submit ourselves to the Spirit’s affirmation, reformation, and motivation.”

We must not idealize the church.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 (The Message)

Father, this is a beautiful picture of your church. Yes, we are feeble. Yes, we fail to meet the expectations of the world around us, but are those expectations even fair? More than likely, not. Nevertheless, I pray that we, your Church, will be empowered by your Holy Spirit to meet your expectations of us! Let us not be concerned with what the world expects from us. Let us only be concerned with what you expect from us.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Simply Be

“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.”~~Albert Schweitzer

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is autoschediasm which means “something that is improvised or extemporized.”

Today is Fun Facts About Names Day, a day that falls on the first Monday of March each year, and encourages us to learn “historical meanings and influences” behind our names.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. The worship gathering went well, and we had PAT (Pastoral Assist Team) meeting afterward. In this meeting, we had a very good discussion on the “spiritual” side of our church. We discussed a couple of different church models, and all agreed that, right from the beginning, we had set out to do something different. The typical evangelical church model has all attention pointing to the middle of the circle, with very thick walls of delineation between the church and “not the church.” The model is pastoral-driven, while the members make occasional forays out into the “wild” to feed the poor, minister to the sick, and try to get “bad people” to stop doing “bad things.” Sometimes this looks like what we called “love from a distance,” while other times it doesn’t resemble love at all, especially when we try to get “bad people” to stop doing “bad things.” The basic idea for the model is that “they come in.”

The model we are aiming for, while having definite delineations between the church and “not the church,” has much thinner, even perforated “walls.” The arrows point out from a circle, which has, as its basis, relationship. It is “incarnational” in essence, as we attempt to share life with people. The basic idea of this model is that “we go out.”

In order for this to work, we must have two things. We must have what is called “oikos,” which is a Greek word that simply means “family.” We must do things in community. “No man is an island” in this model. We get this largely from the fact that Jesus never sent his disciples out alone. At the smallest, they were sent out in pairs. The other thing is that we must have a better understanding of the “spiritual side” of things. If we believe that there is an invisible, spiritual world out there, shouldn’t it have a greater impact on our lives? This is where we have been the weakest.

Jesus said the Father was seeking people to worship him in Spirit and Truth. There is a vast separation between the “Spirit” churches and the “Truth” (which we also call “Word”) churches. On the Spirit side, we have the full-blown “Charismatic” churches that don’t want to hear where the Bible (“Truth”) might differ from their practice. On the Truth side, we have the full-blown fundamentalists, the more radical of which will only use the King James Version, being sure to point out that the words spoken by Jesus must be in red, and all pronouns designating God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit must be capitalized.

Our church seeks to walk a path right smack in the middle of those two. We want to acknowledge the spiritual side of the equation. Our pastor has been humble enough to admit that he is lacking in this area. He had us read Proverbs 3:5 yesterday. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. He confessed that he has been wont to do exactly what this verse cautions us not to do, leaning mostly on his own understanding of things. We have covenanted to walk out into this area together, committed to maintain a balance between the Truth and the Spirit. This is not totally foreign to me, as I have dabbled in “charismatic” things in my past. One of our PAT members was brought up Assembly of God, so he is very familiar with these things. It should be an interesting road ahead. We are not going to turn full-blown Charismatic, nor will we retreat to fundamentalism. Again, we seek to walk right down the middle between Spirit and Truth, because that’s where we believe Christ wants us.

When I was in seminary, 30 years ago (egad), I had a professor who told us that, when you walk down the middle of the road, you will get “brick-bats” thrown at you from both sides. I’ve always remembered that statement. If you’re getting criticized from both sides, you must be doing something right. At least that’s how I feel about it.

Sorry about the lengthy explanation, there. Today is Monday again, so it’s back to work. Band practice tonight, but then we have a performance tomorrow night. We will be playing at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, which is located at 185 S White Chapel Blvd, Southlake, TX 76092. That’s right off of 1709 or Southlake Blvd. The concert begins at 7:00 PM.

This time next week, I will hopefully still be asleep in a cabin in Glen Rose. 🙂


(From Praying With the Psalms)

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

Psalm 33:10-12

I like the distinction Peterson makes here. “Belonging to a nation is not a secular option for people who don’t want to belong to God.” In other words, one is not the opposite of the other. “Nations, as well as individuals, find their proper rule and government under God.”

“Almighty God, rule this nation with justice and mercy. Under your rule may all realize the joy of your presence, and experience not only your providence, but also your redemption, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

In today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2016, Ashley Kappel writes of her daughter, Olivia. She calls her a “whirling dervish of a child.” Olivia was always moving, it seemed. If she was awake, “she was moving, crawling, rolling, climbing, and navigating the stairs over and over again.” It appeared that she never looked tired or ready for bed. But her mother knew differently. You see, the more she “partied and played,” the closer she was to “surrendering to sleep.”

When Olivia would be at her most frantic, Ashley would take her to her room, read a story, and rock her. “It was only then that she’d sigh and relax into my arms,” Ashley says.

As she sat and rocked her daughter, Ashley thought, “How often does my heavenly Father watch me as I bustle around, tackling my never-ending to-do list and hardly stopping for a minute to eat, much less pray?” God calls us out of the chaos of our lives, to “climb into His arms and simply be.”

What a beautiful picture! How many times have you envisioned yourself climbing into your Father’s arms to “simply be?”

Father, I pray for the discipline to do this, from time to time. In this year, when the theme of my devotions is “abiding,” I need to take more time to truly do that. My spiritual life depends on it. Let me just sit with you a while.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.