Love Vs. Law

Today is Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Day 22,246

SIX DAYS until Spring Training!

“It’s never just a game when you’re winning.”
George Carlin, U.S. comedian and actor, 1937-2008
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is abstruse. It means, “difficult to comprehend.” (Merriam-Webster)

The wedding music is sounding better every day. The bride-to-be is coming over tonight to listen. I hope I don’t let the nervousness and anxiety get the best of me, and that it sounds at least as good as it did last night. Would you believe . . . practice actually helps!!! Amazing!! Hahaha!

Not much else going on, right now. My energy will be almost entirely consumed with this wedding until it is over. Which is next Friday. Rehearsal on Wednesday.

C is getting an adjustment/correction on one of her eyes tomorrow, from the Lasik surgery she had a few months back. I plan to take off a couple hours early so I can go pick her up.

Speaking of eyes, I have an eye doctor appointment Saturday morning. I’m a bit overdue, as I didn’t have one at all last year. Doctors want one since I have type 2 Diabetes. Speaking of that, my blood sugar levels are much better since 1) I began taking that additional medication, and 2) I started taking my diet more seriously. I have drastically cut down on sugary snacks. You know, like candy. Which I love.

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

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
1 Timothy 4:4

Today I am grateful:
1. That my practice is paying off.
2. For the nice temperatures we have had over the past few days. It’s getting cold tonight.
3. For the grace of God that can help me deal with various issues in my life.
4. That God began freeing me from the confines of legalism years ago.
5. That I am able to love (but I still have much work to do on that).

Almighty, everlasting God,
let our prayer in your sight be as incense,
the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice.
Give us grace to behold you,
present in your Word and Sacraments,
and to recognize you in the lives of those around us.
Stir up in us the flame of that love which 
burned in the heart of your Son as he bore his passion,
and let it burn in us to eternal life
to the ages of ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Freed From Legalism To Love,” by Brennan Manning.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations . . . according to human precepts and teachings?
Colossians 2:20, 22

The idea of legalism has been a topic in this blog before. “A reliance on ceremonies and the observances of commandments too easily leads to a false trust in the external elements of religion and creates a mystique of spiritual superiority.” You only have to look at the Pharisees to see the truth of that statement. “Does the neutral onlooker identify a Christian by his pious practices and cultic regularity or by the loving quality of his everyday presence in the workaday world?”

That’s an excellent question, Mr. Manning! Let’s make it personal. How do people on the “outside” view me in my daily practice? Do I come across as someone who loves unconditionally, following the commands of Christ, or do I come across as more “Old Testamenty,” demanding adherence to a set of rules?

When every choice or decision is based on black and white rules, the law becomes “an end in itself rather than a means to an end.” While there certainly some things that are black and white, there are also many things that are more “gray.” Some things are just more complicated than we want to accept. Life is easier in black and white.

“Jesus resolutely insisted that law was the expression of the love of God and neighbor and that piety that stands in the way of love stands in the way of God himself.”

Our highest expression of spirituality is love, not law. Love God; love people.

Father, I am so grateful that You began freeing me from legalism a number of years ago. I confess, and how well You know, that I was caught up in that at one point in my life. But You showed me the “better way.” Thank You, Lord.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Amen.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

Soli Deo Gloria!

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He Heals the Brokenhearted

Today is Tuesday, August 21, 2018. Day 22,076.

Thirteen days until the Labor Day holiday!

“It’s never just a game when you’re winning.” ~ George Carlin, 1937-2008, The Quotations Page

The word for today is cerulean, “resembling the blue of the sky.”

We went to the Y last night! Well, C and I did. S did her own workout at home. I did thirty minutes on the treadmill, and it felt really good. Hopefully, we can get back into the habit of doing this several times a week.

The Red Sox lost to the Indians, last night, 5-4. That’s two in a row. They haven’t done that very many times, this year. Their record is now 88-38, and they are nine games up in the AL East. There are 36 games left.

The Rangers lost to the scorching A’s, 9-0. Their record is 56-71, and they are 20 games out of both first place and the Wild Card, with 35 games left. The A’s have worked their way into a first place tie with the Astros.

The longest current winning streak is held by the Rockies, with four consecutive wins.

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

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. 
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. 
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. 
The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. 
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! 
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. 
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. 
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. 
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 
For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. 
He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. 
He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 
He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. 
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? 
He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. 
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. 
He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 147

After saying “Praise the LORD,” the Psalmist gives a few reasons to do so. It is good and pleasant, and a “song of praise is fitting.” He builds up His city and gathers the outcasts. The Lord cares deeply for outcasts and refugees, something that a great number of “Christians” in our society should step back and consider well. The Lord heals the brokenhearted.

But the Psalmist goes beyond the Lord’s care for His people. He gives names to all of the stars! That’s a lot of names. There are at least a dozen reasons in this Psalm to praise the Lord. Reasons of the heart, and reasons from nature. And while part of it is written directly to Israel, I believe that we can still apply the truths to people who follow Jesus.

Father, I praise You, for it is good and pleasant. I sing a song of praise to You, for it is fitting. Thank You for building us up, for gathering us as outcasts, for it is truly what we are. I praise You for healing the brokenhearted, for it is only in You that the broken heart can truly be healed. We cry out to You when we are wounded, and You heal us! You are great and abundant in power. Your understanding cannot be measured or fathomed. Make me humble before You and before my brothers and sisters, Father. Loosen my lips that I might sing Your praises!
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.

Set A Guard Over My Lips!

Today is Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Day 22,069.

Only FIVE DAYS until S turns 25!!!!

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” ~ George Carlin, 1937-2003, BrainyQuote

The word for today is riant, “laughing; smiling; cheerful.” May we all have a riant day!

Yesterday morning, I wrote this:

But as the old Amy Grant song “Angels” said, I never really know what God protects me from, throughout the day, do I?

Ironically, I was rear-ended on the way to work, yesterday morning. Let us not be mistaken, however, and think that this means that God had momentarily stopped protecting me! While the young man’s 2016 Camaro (he was only sixteen, bless his heart) was in much worse shape than my car, neither one of us was visibly harmed. I don’t know how he feels this morning, but I am, as far as I can tell, fine. I thought I might be a bit sore, this morning, but I have no more aches and pains than I usually have in my sixty-year-old body. Another silver lining in this cloud was that I saw this coming, so I was prepared for the impact, and had left enough space between me and the car in front of me (we were at a red light) so that I was not thrust into the rear end of that car. I lost count of how many times the young man apologized, and he kept saying, “I’m just glad everyone is okay.” Yes. Cars can be fixed. Sometimes people cannot be. After a not-too-terribly-long delay, I was on my way to work.

As mentioned yesterday, the Red Sox did not play, last night. The Yankees did, though, and lost to the Mets, which widened the gap by yet another half game. The Sox now lead the AL East by ten games! They have forty-two games left. They play the Phillies tonight.

The Rangers beat the D-backs 5-3. Their record is now 53-68. They are 21 games out in the AL West, and 19 out in the Wild Card. They continue playing the D-backs tonight.

The Cardinals continue to hold the longest current winning streak, at six consecutive wins.

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

A Psalm of David.
O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant. 
As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol. 
But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! 
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.

Psalm 141

Most of the Psalms contain passages that we could easily (and profitably, I believe) pray back to God. In this one, for example, “O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!” David then proceeds to ask God to “keep watch” over his lips. I dare say that most of us could benefit from having God guard our lips! If I had a nickel for every time my mouth has gotten me in trouble . . .

Then he asks God to keep his heart from inclining toward evil. It is a direction that our hearts so easily move toward, if we are not diligent to maintain our souls. Soul-keeping is hard work, and if we slack off, our souls will get unkempt. Then we might too easily busy ourselves with wicked deeds.

And it is at that point that we should welcome the rebuke of a fellow believer, if necessary. This seems to be a practice we have lost. How many times have you been rebuked by a brother or sister? How many times have you rebuked a brother or sister? Kindly, of course, in love. And for something serious. Such as creating division in the Church, or gossip, or something like that.

Before he prays for protection from the traps of the wicked, David says these beautiful words: “But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!” May that be our prayer today, that our eyes are directed toward our God, and that we seek refuge in Him.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
John 16:20
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Ecclesiastes 7:8

Just a reminder that God always works in our lives, and can easily turn bad things into good things. Or perhaps a better way to look at it is that things that are “bad” to us may not be bad at all, but just God working out things for our good. Have faith in God. He’s on His throne. He is God; we are not. We just need to trust Him.

Father, I am grateful that no one was injured in yesterday’s accident. I pray for the young man who ran into me. May you give him peace today as he considers the future. I also pray that he is still physically unhurt. Thank You for Your protection in all things. I thank You that You work out things that appear to be “bad.” May my eyes be ever toward You, my Father, and may I constantly seek refuge in You. Let me not stray from the path that You have laid before me. Set a guard over my lips today, and keep my heart from inclining toward evil.
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.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Today is Saturday, August 12, 2017. Day 21,702. Only SEVEN more days until S’s and J’s birthday!!!

Quote of the Day

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” ~ George Carlin

Word of the Day

Sapiosexual ~ a person who finds intelligence to be a sexually attractive quality in others.

Today is Vinyl Record Day! I just got through moving a bunch of those, after our floors got finished. They’re heavy. But I still think they sound better than digital music.

As mentioned, the floor is finished, except for the trim pieces to go between tile and vinyl, and the closet thresholds. The guy is here, now, installing those. he should be completely finished by this afternoon. It looks great, and I plan to take some photos after it is all done. We moved most of the stuff back into the study last night, but there’s still a lot to organize, all over the house. I suppose it will get done sometime this weekend.

I actually got off work on time, yesterday evening! It was wonderful. I picked up dinner on the way home, and since C was already home, we got finished with that pretty early, then started moving records and stuff back into the study.

That being said, I want to acknowledge what a wonderful job my wife has done all this week. Besides doing her “normal” work, from home, she has moved books and records, cleaned things, and just done some stuff that, in my opinion, requires superpowers. So, to C, I say, I love you with all my heart, and am more grateful than I could ever express with words. Thank you for all you have done this week.

The Rangers beat the Astros last night, 6-4, to decrease their deficit to 15.5 games (still in fourth place in the AL West). They are only three games out of the second wild card spot, at this point. And, I was curious to see how the “Silver Boot” series is going this year. The Astros are currently leading it 7-4. I believe they still have eight games left, between them, two of which will happen this weekend.

The Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 5-4, after leading 4-0 for most of the game. But apparently, Reed, a relief pitcher, came in and blew the game in the eighth inning. The Red Sox still lead the AL East by 3.5 games, though. And this game is indicative of one of the things I both love and hate about baseball. There’s no time limit, no clock that can run out. It’s not over until out number 27 has been recorded. Which means that anything can happen, in any inning. I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen the Red Sox both win and lose in the eighth inning. And when they’re playing the Yankees, no lead is ever safe.

Tomorrow, R & J will be coming over after church, and we’ll take them out to eat somewhere, to celebrate J’s birthday, which happens next Saturday (same day as S’s).

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
Psalm 106:48
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:12-13
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
Psalm 125:1
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 
Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59:16-17

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson mentions a novelist named Walker Percy, who wrote a number of novels in his lifetime. Peterson specifically mentions six of them, The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, The Second Coming, and The Thanatos Syndrome. In these books, Percy coins a phrase for a condition of humanity known as “lost in the cosmos.” The idea behind this condition is that “We don’t know who we are or where we are. We don’t know know where we came from or where we are going.” This is becoming more and more true as time marches on.

Percy began his career as a physician, with a sincere desire to “heal sick and damaged bodies.” Early on, he completely changed course and became a writer “so he could tend to the healing of souls, using nouns and verbs to cure what ails us.” Also a Christian, “His diagnosis of the spiritual ‘lostness’ of his American brothers and sisters was intended to wake us up to our desperate condition and set up a few signposts for finding our way home.”

Paul the Apostle, writer of Ephesians, as gave a similar diagnosis to the human condition. And in that letter to the Ephesians, Paul gives witness to the ways in which God is working in the cosmos in which we are lost.

One of the “contributing factors” to our lostness, says Peterson, “is the rampant secularizing debasement of language into depersonalized facts, with a corresponding evisceration of imagination into cardboard cutouts of roles and functions.” The person “you” gets debased to an “it,” while imagination is “crowded to the sidelines by numbers.” You can feel Peterson’s passion bleeding through those statements.

Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-14.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Just for kicks, let’s look at Peterson’s The Message version of the same passage.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. 
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. 
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. 
It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

We’ve already noted that, in the original Greek text, this is all one sentence. N.T. Wright calls this passage, “one of the most splendidly Jewish passages of praise and prayer in the New Testament . . . a prayer of blessing to the one God for his mighty acts in creation and redemption.” Peterson says, “This single sentence–201 nouns and verbs, adverbs and adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions cascading off Paul’s pen!–comprises an extravagant pageantry: the central action of the cosmos, God at work in comprehensive salvation ways, on parade. We are no longer lost. We can find our way home.”

Father, keep showing me this freedom, and help me to believe it to the depths of my soul. As I continue reading this and other works, along with your words, especially the words and acts of Jesus in the Gospels, draw my soul deeper and closer to you. Show me the deep truths of your Spirit and help me to walk in the easy yoke of Jesus, in your Kingdom, as your will is done on earth as in heaven. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.
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.

A Coherent Life

Today is Monday, July 31, 2017. Day 21,690. Last day of July. 19 days until S’s birthday!

“Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.” ~ George Carlin
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ergate, a noun meaning, “a worker ant.”

Today is, once again, Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. This time, I give you the Hydraulophone.

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. Our worship went well, even though some of us were still exhausted from the Night of Worship Saturday night. The message was good but hard. He gave us a lot to meditate on, concerning a people whose lips speak one thing but whose hearts go a different direction.

We had lunch with C’s step-brother, his wife, and their daughter, at a nice little Mexican restaurant in Lake Worth. C’s step-brother said several times that her step-father used to love eating there. It was a lovely time, and the food was pretty good.

Not much else happened for the rest of the day. Except for this.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Psalm 100:1-2
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
Psalm 140:6
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalm 110:4
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Mark 16:19-20

(From Living the Message)

“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe–some days trying to impose your opinion on others, other days just trying to please them–then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” (Eugene H. Peterson, quoting Romans 14:22-23 from The Message)

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; 
don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. 
When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love. 
Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. 
But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Romans 14:19-23 (The Message)

Father, help me to be sure that my beliefs and my life are lining up. So often, they do not, and this was the meat of Jacob’s message, yesterday. Let me not be part of a people that “draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13).
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.

Unconscious Habits

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” ― George Carlin
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is obviate, which means, “to anticipate and prevent or eliminate (difficulties, disadvantages, etc.) by effective measures; render unnecessary.”

Today is Nutty Fudge Day. Okay, I’m all over that. Give me some, now, please!

Yesterday was a mixed bag. I certainly struggled with practicing the kind of love that was described in my devotional for the morning. But the day ended well, as we had our prayer gathering. It was only Christi, me, and our host, that were there. We did pray a bit, but we mostly had some good conversation, which also resulted in more material for prayer. I think it was a very good evening.

My mother has finished her radiation treatments! We are all very excited about that. Now, we keep praying that they worked and that the cancer never returns. We are very hopeful, in this case, based on the doctors’ reports.

The Red Sox swept the A’s, winning the final game in the series 13-3. They scored 40 runs in three games. Tonight, they begin a weekend series (four games) with the Lastros. Wait. Third-place-stros? They aren’t in last place any more. The Angels are in last. Now, that’s fun! The Rangers won the series against the Other Sox, holding on for a 6-5 victory yesterday afternoon. It was intense, too, as they worked the ninth inning with a strike ’em out/throw ’em out double play, leaving the bases empty for the dangerous Melky Cabrera, who made the final out of the game. The Red Sox remain in a virtual tie with Baltimore, seven percentage points behind them, and the Rangers remain 1.5 behind the Mariners.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Psalm 68:5-6

The wicked in this world constantly oppress the weak and powerless. Our God, in his righteousness, will ultimately uphold the cause of the weak and defenseless, and show compassion to “the victim, the outcast, and the defenseless.”

“O God, search out the weak places in my life, the parts of me that are vulnerable and immature. Establish your rule there so that I may grow into wholeness, receiving your strength and expressing it in the love that you revealed in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Make a Habit of Having No Habits”

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:8

At the beginning of a habit, when we are forming it, we are very aware of it. But if we stop at that point, we become arrogant about it. “The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practical that there is no conscious habit at all.”

This is what developing the Spiritual Disciplines is all about. It is developing “habits” that fix and maintain the various “parts” of our life; the mind, soul, heart, and so on. But we have to get to that place where the “habit” becomes not a habit, but a natural part of our existence. “Your god may be your little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. God will certainly upset those times if we begin to worship them instead of what they represent.

We must come to the place where the “habit is lost,” and we do it unconsciously.

Father, work this out in me as I work it out in myself. I pray for the teaching of your Holy Spirit in my life, to guide me into this place of spiritual discipline/formation, so that the parts of my life are in line with the words of Jesus.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Principle of Retribution

And it’s Friday!! Friday, June 22, 2012. Good morning. Today is “National Onion Rings Day.” Oops. I had those last night at Buffalo Wild Wings with our lifehouse. Oh, well. Along with some yummy Parmesan garlic boneless wings that are not actually wings at all but breast meat. I learned more about wings last night than I have ever known. Which didn’t take much. Fortunately, I only gained a half pound. Back to the gym tonight…

On this date in 1962, a Boeing 707 mysteriously crashed on the island of Guadalupe. The passengers wandered around for months in a hazy fantasy before finally realizing that they had all been killed in the crash. Later, a TV show was written. Everything after the first sentence was made up. Well…there WAS a TV show… On this date in 2008, comedian George Carlin died of heart failure at the age of 71. And on this date in 1950, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Pete Seeger were named as Communists. There were others listed, as well, but…REALLY??? Leonard Bernstein??? Pete Seeger, I understand. But LEONARD BERNSTEIN?? This “red scare” got totally out of hand!

We had a pretty good time last night with our lifehouse, but Buffalo Wild Wings is really noisy. Several of us decided that, if we choose to do something like that again, we’ll pick up food to go and take it back to one of our houses. So we can do things like, oh, I don’t know, have conversations? Of course, several of us had some fun playing the games on the wall around the place. There’s an app for that. Oh, and they have a TV set. Or two. Hundred.

Tomorrow, for the first time in months, we have nothing planned. We have to be nowhere. We aren’t sure how to do that on Saturday. Who knows what we’ll do? Sunday night, we’re going to see the Rangers play the Rockies. Naturally, the temperature is supposed to be 103 Sunday afternoon, and our tickets are in left field. Ugh.

We got word last night that they have found what is wrong with our friend Bart! Praise God! He has some kind of hernia that has caused his stomach to get twisted up somehow. I really don’t understand it very well, but he’s supposed to have surgery this morning to fix it. So today, we’ll be praying for the surgery to be successful.


Father, I pray for more inspiration today, to help me live this day looking to you in the power of the Risen and Ascended Christ. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 22. This is one of the “Messianic” Psalms, because much of it seems to be prophetic about Christ. The first verse, for example, was quoted by Jesus, while hanging on the cross. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? I like verses 9-11, because I believe they can apply to anyone, and I think they certainly are truthful for me. Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. I don’t feel especially close to trouble at this moment in my life, but I know that it’s always just around the corner, right? the part I’m focusing on is from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Even though I know it is true that no one can claim to have been “born a Christian,” I have known God for as long as I can remember. I’m a “lifer” in the church. I was born onto the “cradle roll.” I’m sure I was at church as soon as it was safe to take me out. God has been my God since I was born. And I am very grateful to him for that, and praise his name. I’m also, of course, grateful to my parents for their influence in this.


My Utmost For His Highest

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

This is a principle of retribution. This is a simple basis of life. “If you have been shrewd in finding out the defects in others, remember that will be exactly the measure give to you. Life serves back in the coin you pay.” Even God follows this principle from his throne. With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. (Psalm 18:25-26)
In Romans 2, Paul even goes so far as to say that those who pass judgment on others are guilty of the same sins. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1) What it comes down to is, do we believe the statements of the Bible? Perhaps not, as we are very quick to pass judgment on others. “The reason we see hypocrisy and fraud and unreality in others is because they are all in our own hearts.” As saints, we need to have humility and see that all of these things, and even worse evils “would have been manifested in me but for the grace of God, therefore I have no right to judge.”
Will any of us be bold enough to stand before God and ask him to judge us as we have judged our fellow man? If he did, we would all be in hell. Thanks be for his marvelous grace, “God judges us through the marvelous Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

Now, to apply this to what God has been teaching me this week on prayer. How can I truly intercede for someone if I am judging that person? What, do I pray for them to stop sinning?? OH, dear Lord, I pray for ________! Please make him stop lusting! As Paul said, frequently, “God forbid!” That is not intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is pouring my heart out before the Lord for the true needs of my fellow man. It is attempting to see the heart of God for that other person. It is, to some degree, putting myself in their place, sympathizing with them. I’ve much to learn, but I remember this much from past experience. It is nigh impossible to hold animosity in one’s heart toward someone else while praying faithfully for them. I resolve today to stop judging harshly. I resolve to remember that whatever judgment I use will be used against me. I resolve to intercede, and pour out my heart to God on behalf of the needs of others. May God help me.


Father, I pray that you continue to teach me these truths. Each day seems to build upon the last as I draw closer to you. It is truly my heart’s desire to cease all judgmental behavior. But this is difficult, as I have a lifetime of bad habit working against me. Not that I have been a terribly judgmental person…surely there are some worse than I. But that really doesn’t matter right now. I am not comparing myself to anyone else. Stop me from judging, Lord. May I see people through your eyes and with your heart as I strive to be more of a pray-er. Give me the heart of an intercessor, Lord. (What am I asking??) Yes! Give me that heart, Father! I believe that, at this point in my life, that is what you want from me. Show me how to do this. Help me to see the true needs of others and pour my heart out to you on their behalf. Help me to be more understanding and compassionate toward others and their needs. But I also pray for wisdom to know how to pray. Sometimes, people think they need one thing, and you have other ideas for them. This requires wisdom and great connection with you. So I pray for that, too. I pray that this journey continue to bring me closer to you, Lord.

I pray this morning for Bart. I’m thankful that they have identified the problem. Now I pray for successful surgery and healing, Lord. And I pray that this fixes the issue so that it is done for good. Give the doctors supernatural wisdom and strength as they perform the surgery today. May your hand of protection be on our brother and his family today. I pray for courage and strength for Renee (his wife) and their kids as he goes through this.

I thank you for a good time with our lifehouse last night. I lift up Jacob, our leader, as he flies to Macedonia today for some kind of mission endeavor with a pastor friend of his. May their trip be safe, and may they accomplish whatever it is that they are setting out to do. I pray that you would draw Jacob even closer to you as he travels around parts of the world where the gospel got its early beginnings; places where the early church began. May he see things that inspire his faith. I also pray for the rest of our lifehouse…Jeremy, Jennifer, Alex, and Mary…may you bless their lives richly as the seek to draw closer to you each day. Give them strength and courage as they go about their daily lives. Draw us closer together as a family as you draw us closer to you.

I pray for this day for Christi, that she would have another good work day today. The reception that she has gotten back at Supermedia has been nothing short of stunning. I pray that you would shower her with your grace as she goes about her new responsibilities there, and make her successful at what she is doing. May people see your hand on her and be drawn to your grace through her. I pray the same for me at my work. Help me to approach the job with a lack of judgment toward anyone (even the problem-prone drivers…especially them) and may they see your hand working in my life daily.

I would ask that you make me sensitive to needs for prayer throughout the day, and that I would be faithful to pray when necessary. May I “pray without ceasing,” as I breathe air moment by moment. Make my life a life of prayer.


I shudder to think what it would be like were God to judge me with the same standard I have judged others in my life. I will show the same grace that he has shown me. If you catch me doing otherwise, please point it out.

Grace and peace, friends.