You Gotta Serve Somebody

Good morning. It is Saturday, December 14, 2013.

Today is “Monkey Day.” Really? So we’re supposed to monkey around today?

Yesterday was a pretty fine day. Christi went to her foot doctor yesterday afternoon. This doctor is wonderful! She is Dr. Sara Suttle. Anyway, she said that Christi’s feet were exhibiting classic, textbook symptoms of something or other that resembles carpal tunnel syndrome. She gave Christi an injection of a steroid substance in each foot. This morning, Christi’s feet feel wonderful. We’re hoping that this lasts, and is not just a temporary result of the injections. However, she is supposed to return in a couple of weeks for a followup visit.

I got off work early yesterday, as it was a rather slow day, and everything was done by 4pm. That was really nice, because, as noted in yesterday’s entry, Christi and I rode to work together. She came and got me after her doctor appointment, and we went over to Grapevine Mills Mall area, where we looked at some chairs in furniture stores, and then went into the mall for a few minutes. We were a little hungry, so we went to the food court. All we wound up buying was a couple of drinks from the Sonic there, because several of the restaurants had people standing out front, giving away samples. We got enough samples to curb our hunger until we got to the party. This party was in Flower Mound, at the home of Christi’s ex-boss. We had a great time, having snacks and chatting with people, some of whom we knew, some of whom we had never met before. Good times.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1799, George Washington died at the age of 67. He died at about 10pm, having suffered for a couple of days with what seemed to begin as a simple cold. He had gone for a horseback ride a couple of mornings earlier, riding “for several hours in the damp cold of a snowy Virginia December.” He had a sore throat the next morning, and “remained in the house to pursue farm business at his desk.” However, he went back out later in the afternoon, “to mark trees for removal.” His cold had gotten worse by dinner, and he was hoarse, but remained cheerful, refusing to take any medications. However, the next day, he was seriously ill, “suffering from fever and acute laryngitis, possibly with diphtheria.” The local doctor ordered him to be bled (that was the way they did things back then), but none of the doctor’s methods had any effect. He knew death was imminent. He was afraid of being buried alive, though, and ordered that his body not be put in the vault for at least three days. Just before he died, he said, “I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.” His last words were, “‘Tis well.”

One year ago today, in Newtown, Connecticut, a mentally disturbed lone man entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting. Before it was over, six adult women, 12 girls and eight boys (all between 6-7 years of age), were dead. As the nation reflects on the one year anniversary of this tragedy (the second deadliest mass shooting in US history), this video was brought to my attention. It was made by the family of Emelie Parker, one of the girls who was killed. Grab some tissue and watch this. It is aptly titled, “Evil Did Not Win.”

Today’s birthdays just might be Nostradamus, 1503, Francis Beauvier, 1902, Morey Amsterdam, 1908 (or 1912), Spike Jones, 1911, Shirley Jackson, 1916, Charlie Rich, 1932, Lee Remick, 1935, Patty Duke, 1946, Christopher Parkening, 1947, Dee Wallace Stone, 1948, Bill Buckner, 1949, Spider Tracy, 1958, and Craig Biggio, 1965.

Bill Buckner is a retired baseball player who played for the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, he is most remembered for the ground ball that dribbled between his legs in game six of the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox went on to lose that game, and, subsequently, the World Series title. However, as is made evident by Joe Castiglione’s welcoming speech in this video, they might not have even made it to the World Series that year without Buckner. Here he is, throwing out the first pitch of the 2008 season.


Second Week of Advent

Psa 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
Psa 141:3-5 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.

Psa 119:174-175 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me.

Psa 71:17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
Eze 34:11, 15-16 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”

“O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon all of us who
watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship
may give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

Today’s reading in A Year With God is “Treasures on Earth.” The scripture reading is Matthew 6:19-21, 24.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

All of this relates to what we put our trust in, and where we allow our security to lie. Do we count on earthly treasures and possessions for our security? They will not last. Rust will destroy them, moths will eat them, thieves will steal them, the market will crash, totally devastating retirement accounts. We cannot serve two masters. The reading points out the irony of the statement “In God we trust,” printed on our money. As we consider giving away unneeded possessions, it is good to consider their finite nature.

The book offers this prayer:

Father god, help me to break my addiction to material things. Help me
to identify and rid myself of those things that are keeping me from fully
serving you–not only the goods, but my vanity, my pride, my selfish am-
bition. Teach me what true simplicity is. In your name I pray. Amen.

Father, as I ponder what possessions I might give away during this season, I pray for the attitude of simplicity to prevail in my life and in my family’s life. Traditionally, certain members of our family have gone above and beyond necessity, lavishing expensive gifts, spending tons of money for things that really aren’t even necessary. There have been times when affections were obviously being purchased with lavish gifts. I pray against that attitude this season. Our direct family has scaled back Christmas spending a great deal this year, and in recent years. That’s not what this is about. I pray that, as we celebrate the season, and as Christmas Day approaches, we will remember what the day is celebrating. Let us celebrate the sacrifice made by you through your Son, and, in turn, be willing to sacrifice things that we have for the sake of others. Let us not attempt to serve two masters, but only serve you.

I pray for the rest of this day. We will be going out for a few errands. Keep us safe as we go, Lord. We look forward to worshiping with our Exchange family this evening, and also the possibility of connecting with an old friend tonight. Give us rest for the remainder of the weekend.

Your grace is sufficient.

As the holiday season progresses, may we consider who or what we serve with our lives. And if you think you don’t serve anyone or anything, think again. Everyone serves somebody or something.

Grace and peace, friends.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Today is Tuesday, December 25, 2012. I’m the only one up, so far; it’s 620am when I begin writing today’s blog. We are in the midst of thunderstorms, this morning, which have been happening since around 130am. The weather report has thunderstorms/rain until early afternoon, after which the temperatures are supposed to steadily drop until early in the morning, when it should hit a low of around 20-23 degrees. So we’ll have to dress warm for our flight to Cancun in the morning.

In addition to being Christmas Day, today is also “National Pumpkin Pie Day.” Makes sense. I had a piece last night, though. Does that count?

On this date:
In 333, Emperor Constantine elevated his son, Constans, to the rank of Caesar.
In 800, Charlemagne was crowned “Holy Roman Emperor.”
In 1000, Stephen I of Hungary established Hungary as a “Christian kingdom.”
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.
In contrast to yesterday’s item that Kiritimati was found by James Cook in 1777, I see an item today that says it was found in 1643 by William Mynors of the East India Company. Aha! Checking Wikipedia, I found that this is a different Christmas Island, which is a territory of Australia. Who knew??
In 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware. I doubt he was standing up in the boat.
In 1818, the first performance of “Silent Night” occurred in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria. I wonder if it sounded as pretty as this one.

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted unconditional pardon to all soldiers of the Confederacy.
In 1914, there was a temporary cease fire between German and British troops along the western front of WWI.
In 1941, this song was premiered on Bing Crosby’s weekly NBC radio program.

In 1950, the “Stone of Scone” was stolen from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students.
In 1962, the movie To Kill A Mockingbird debuted.
In 1974, Marshall Fields drove a vehicle through the gates of the White House, resulting in a four-hour standoff.
In 1990 the first successful trial run of what would eventually become the “World Wide Web.”
In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the president of the Soviet Union.
In 1996, JonBenet Ramsey was murdered.

Today’s birthdays include Orlando Gibbons (composer), 1583, Isaac Newton, 1642, Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), 1821, Conrad Hilton (hotel), 1887, Robert Ripley (Ripley’s Believe It Or Not), 1890, Humphrey Bogart, 1899, Cab Calloway, 1907, Rod Serling, 1924, Carlos Castaneda (author), 1925, Nellie Fox (baseball player), 1927, Phil Spector, 1940, Noel Redding (musician/bassist for Jimi Hendrix), 1945, Jimmy Buffet, 1946, Larry Csonka (football player), 1946, Barbara Mandrell, 1948, Sissy Spacek, 1949, Annie Lennox (singer), 1954, Alanna Myles (singer), 1955, Rickey Henderson (baseball player with record for stolen bases), 1958, Dido (singer), 1971, Mac Powell (Third Day), 1972, The Veronicas (singers/twin sisters), 1984. Goodness gracious, today was a busy day!!

We had our Christmas Eve dinner at Christi’s mom’s place. It was weird. Christi, Stephanie, and I were there, along with Rachel and Justin. Jennifer, Christi’s niece, was also there. Christi’s mom hardly said a word to us, the whole time, except to at least show some appreciation for the gift Christi got her. She did, however, perk up and talk to Jennifer’s friend on the phone and even told him “Merry Christmas.” We all got money from them for gifts, which I’m pretty sure they really couldn’t afford. Since Christi’s sister was in the hospital, we all got cards with money in them from her, as well. The dinner was delicious, though. Christi did a great job on the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. You have to have green bean casserole, right? Also, the ham was very good. Yes, we had ham for Christmas dinner. No turkey. We had that for Thanksgiving.

Today, we plan to drive to Mineral Wells to have Christmas lunch with my parents. My mother is taking care of the meat and a few other things, and Christi is making more mashed potatoes and, you guessed it, green bean casserole. She’s gotten to be a real master at those potatoes. Last night’s were amazing.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Father, I pray for a vision of you, on this Christmas Day. Show me your face, that I might know you more.

Today, since it is Christmas Day, I’m reading the account of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2.
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

I’ve never grown tired of this passage. It’s one of the most beautiful passages in the whole Bible. Just in case anyone wonders, I’m not one who believes that Jesus was born on December 25. I hold to the theory that he was born somewhere around (or even precisely on) the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We may, however, be accidentally celebrating the miraculous conception of Jesus. And yes, I do believe that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.

I believe too much is made of that one little sentence that says “there was no place for them in the inn.” There have been entire sermons preached on the non-existent inn-keeper “who missed Christmas.” Sorry, but I don’t see an innkeeper anywhere in this passage of scripture. I just see a simple statement. Bethlehem was crowded that night. There was a census going on. The inn was full. They’re lucky they got a stable.

I want to share one of my favorite Christmas songs of old, from The Harry Simeone Chorale. I grew up listening to their album “O Bambino,” and this song, “The First Christmas Carol,” sets to music the scene described in Luke 2.

(This is my first attempt at “Soundcloud.”)
So today, along with those angels, I share with you the good news of great joy that will be for all people. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “His Birth and Our New Birth.” The scripture reference is Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Chambers begins with the topic of “His birth in history.” In Luke 1:35, the angel told Mary, “therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Jesus came into history from the outside. He was “born into this world, not from it.” He cannot even truly be considered “the best human being,” because he is “a Being Who cannot be accounted for by the human race at all.” Jesus was not a man who became God, he was “God Incarnate.”

Moving from there to “His birth in me,” Chambers states that, “Just as Our Lord came into human history from the outside, so He must come into me from outside.” I cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless I am “born from above by a birth totally unlike natural birth.” When Jesus said, “You must be born again,” it was not a command, it was a “foundational fact.” “The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me. Immediately Christ is formed in me, His nature begins to work through me.” This is part of my daily prayer, that Christ would be formed in me, and that his nature would work through me. I see this nature as being the embodiment of the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-12
I see this nature as being the embodiment of 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
And I see this nature as being the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
These are things that I pray to see in increasing measure every day of my life. God manifest in the flesh…made “profoundly possible by the Redemption,” which was initiated (at least in human terms) on the day that we celebrate today.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2
The glory of the Lord shines upon the darkness of the world today.

Father, thank you for shining your Light on this world. And thank you, even more, for shining this Light into my soul. Today, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I pray that there will truly be peace on earth. I know that it is pretty much impossible, as long as fallen men “control” things in our world, but I pray for it, nevertheless. I long for the day when the peace of Christ will rule over all. May we, your children, be faithful to present your message of peace and love to the world around us. May the light and glory of the Christ child fill our lives today, overflowing into our world.
We, of all people, should be the ones displaying love to this dark world.
We, of all people, should be the ones displaying peace and patience at the checkout counters of our local stores.
We, of all people, should be the ones displaying patience and understanding on the highways.
We, of all people, should be the ones displaying gentleness and kindness, wherever we may find ourselves.

Now, Father, I ask that you remind me of those words when I’m at the airport tomorrow morning, no matter what the circumstances may be. I pray again, today, just as I do every day, that all of those characteristics of Christ be formed in me and be made manifest in my life today. May your Spirit fill my spirit on this Christmas Day.

I pray for this day. May our little part of Christmas me joyful and fun, this morning, and may our trip to Mineral Wells later be peaceful and safe. I pray for a joyous celebration with my parents today. May your love fill us all today.

I have friends and family who are in the hospital today. I pray for my sister-in-law, Karen, in the hospital recovering from her emergency surgery on Sunday. Give her peace and quick recovery. Shine your light in her heart today. I pray for a sister in Christ, Samantha Alexander, who is in the hospital this morning with a very similar symptom, that her tests will give the doctors wisdom to know what to do to fix her issues. I pray that her recovery will be quick, and that she still might find joy in this day, in spite of her pain. I pray for her husband Craig, as he celebrates Christmas at home with their kids. I pray for our pastor’s wife, Valerie, not in the hospital, but still recovering from her bout with pneumonia. I pray for Susie Hale and her sister, Jeanne, who have both been sick this week. Jeanne was taken to the ER on Sunday. Too much sickness for Christmas, Father. I pray for relief for all of these.

I pray that we have a good, fun, and safe trip to Cancun, beginning tomorrow morning. I pray that our flight will be able to leave without issue, in spite of the wintry weather heading our way. Give us grace to accept whatever comes, though, and peace to not worry about it, because we can’t change a thing by worrying, anyway.

Your grace is sufficient!

I hope you can find a place in your heart for the Jesus whose birth we celebrate this morning. Even if you don’t, I wish you peace and joy in your life today.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Great Life Still Has Problems

Good morning. Friday finally got here! Today is December 14, 2012. Today is National Bouillabaisse Day. I welcome any explanations as to what that is. I see something about “fish stew.” Doesn’t sound very appetizing. Maybe I’ll have clam chowder instead. Is that close?

On this date in 1542, Princess Mary Stuart became Mary, Queen of Scots.
George Washington died on this date in 1799. Should we call that his “deathday?”
Alabama became the 22nd state in 1819. Roll tide.
On this date in 1903, the Wright Brothers made their first flight attempt at Kitty Hawk.
Roald Amundsen and his team became the first to reach the South Pole on this date in 1911. They found the Anti-Santa.
On this date in 1947, NASCAR was founded in Daytona Beach, Florida. They’re still making a left turn.
On this date in 1962, the Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to fly by Venus.
On this date in 1977, Saturday Night Fever made its world premier. Sadly, the effects are still being felt today.
On this date in 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at President George W. Bush.

Today’s birthdays include Nostradamus, 1503, Tycho Brahe (Danish astronomer), 1546, Morey Amsterdam (actor in The Dick Van Dyke Show), 1908, Spike Jones (musician), 1911, Shirley Jackson (writer of The Haunting of Hill House), 1916, Charlie Rich (country singer), 1932, Lee Remick (actress), 1935, Patty Duke (actress), 1946, Christopher Parkening (classical guitarist), 1947, Dee Wallace (actress), 1948, Bill Buckner (baseball player), 1949, Paul Zaloom (Beakman’s World), 1951 (I always liked him better than Bill Nye), Craig Biggio (baseball player), 1965, Beth Orton (singer/songwriter), 1970, Vanessa Hudgens (Disney girl), 1988.

Christi and I realized, with great anticipation last night, that we have less than two weeks until our Christmas Cancun Vacation. Here’s hoping it goes better than Clark Griswold’s Christmas Vacation.

Work yesterday finally went pretty smoothly. The thing that has been causing an issue all week has still not been resolved, but it wasn’t as big a factor yesterday. I guess we’ve gotten used to it.

Christi didn’t make it to the gym last night. For some reason, she was having a lot of joint pain, in a lot of places. She’s still in a bit of pain this morning. We’re certainly not sure what’s up with that. She thinks that maybe she got too tense during the MRI procedure. Christi and MRIs don’t get along very well.

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness…; make your way straight before me. (Psalm 5:8)
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)
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 28:6-9)
Father, I pray for a vision of you this morning, that will keep me looking to your grace throughout this day.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 9:13-17.
13 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the LORD of hosts.
14 So the LORD cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day—
15 the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
17 Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

Like much of the book of Isaiah, this passage is sobering. While written specifically to Israel, I think it still may hold some lesson for us. Verse 13 is tragic. The people did not turn to the Lord, even in their desolation. The one place they could have gone for relief, for refuge, they refused to turn. Note verse 15, in which their prophet teaches lies. Many faithful Christians in our day have been able to identify “false teachers,” even those who claim to be preachers of the gospel of Christ. This is tragic, as they are also those who, like those in verse 16, are “leading them astray,” and cause people to be “swallowed up” by their falsehoods. We must be careful, not only in what we teach, if we are teachers, but in who we follow. Follow Jesus, and it will be difficult to go wrong. When we start following men, we may run into problems.

The reading for today from My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Great Life.” Note that it is “great,” not “good.” The scripture reference is John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

When things get difficult in our personal experience, who do we blame? We tend to blame God, don’t we? We have to identify the thing that we will not let go; as soon as we do, “everything becomes as clear as daylight.” Well…I don’t know about that… But I do know that, when I let go of things that are hindering my fellowship with God, things do become, um, “easier” is probably not the best word. Clearer? Hopefully, you get my drift. The point is, we can’t serve two masters, can we? And as long as we try to serve our own ends, as well as God’s, we are going to have struggles; we will have “perplexity.” Chambers says, “once we get there, there is nothing easier than living the saintly life.” Obviously, I’m not there, yet, because this life ain’t easy! But it’s true, “difficulty comes in when we want to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own ends.” Note the last four words in that sentence. “…for our own ends.” There are a lot of people out there insisting that God wants to bless us (which is true, mind you), but their focus is on themselves and what they can get out of God. It’s like the prodigal son parable. When we truly focus on both of the brothers in that parable, we realize that both of them only wanted the father’s stuff, not the father. When we are only after God’s blessings, we are usurping the Holy Spirit’s authority “for our own ends.”

When we obey God, we get this peace. You know…the peace mentioned in that popular Bible verse. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This peace is, as Chambers says, “unfathomable.” It is not natural. It is the “peace of Jesus.” If I am not experiencing that peace, I must do two things. First, I must simply wait. But I must also try to figure out why. If the decisions come from God through the Holy Spirit, there will be a feeling of simplicity. When we humans get our fingers in the mix, things get too complicated. Of course, we fancy ourselves to be clever, but that’s not truly the case.

When I am obeying God, the problems in my life are not hindrances that come between me and God, they are, rather, “probes to keep the mind going on with amazement at the revelation of God.” If the problem comes between me and God, it is a result of disobedience; if it comes alongside me while I obey God, it should increase my delight in God, “because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He unravels this thing.” I love this! It truly helps me comprehend this past week. You see…I believe I can honestly say that the issues that I have experienced this week are not stemming from any disobedience on my part (at least none that have been revealed). So I wait. I endure them. I take them to God, and yes, I watch to see how he will “unravel this thing.” And my mind is full of the amazement of God. It’s actually a quite pleasant feeling. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still worn out and weary from the trials. But spiritually, I’m fine. Of course, the tricky thing is that it could all change tomorrow, with just one little act of disobedience. But until then, it truly is “The Great Life.”

Father, I praise you this morning for your awesome power in my life. I thank you for “The Great Life,” and the season of obedience that you have me in right now. Some would misunderstand and think that I’m saying life is perfect. It’s not. There are always problems. But these problems are designed to help me find your peace, not to push me back onto the right path. I thank you that you are my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in you; my heart dances with joy in your presence! I praise you for the peace that is in my life right now.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray that Christi might have relief from her pain. She says she’s alright, but I know she is hurting. I pray that you would heal whatever is causing this, or that the doctors will be able to see from the MRI what needs to be done. I pray for Stephanie today. Apparently, she had some stress yesterday that she didn’t talk about. I pray that you protect her from any anxiety-producing things today. Draw her heart closer to yours, Lord. I pray for my work day, that it might be as smooth as yesterday was. I also pray that I might help someone find your peace today. Lord Jesus, live your life through me; let the characteristics of the beatitudes flow out of my life today.

The great life is better than the good life. And the great life comes from being obedient to God and knowing his peace. Note that the great life still has problems. They just serve a different purpose.

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is Friday! November 2, 2012. Today is “Look for Circles Day.” Hey, there’s one! Holding my coffee! Well, it’s more of a cylinder, but the top is a circle! There’s another one! In the middle of my acoustic guitar! And that lamp! This is going to be a busy day. I’d better get moving.

On this date in 1783, George Washington gave his farewell address to the Army.
On this date in 1889, North and South Dakota became the 39th and 40th states in the U.S.
On this date in 1936, the British Broadcasting Company initiated the BBC Television Service. It was renamed BBC1 in 1964, and still runs to this day.
Also on this date in 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was established.
On this date in 1947, Howard Hughes flew the Spruce Goose for the first and only time. It was the largest fixed wing aircraft ever built.
On this date in 1959, game show contestant Charles Van Doren admitted to being given questions and answers in advance for the game show Twenty One.
On this date in 1965, Norman Morrison set himself on fire in front of the Pentagon to protest the use of napalm in Vietnam.
On this date in 1983, Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Today’s birthdays include Daniel Boone, 1734, Marie Antoinette, 1755, James Polk (11th President), 1795, Warren G. Harding (29th President), 1865, Burt Lancaster, 1913, Stephanie Powers, 1942, Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), 1944, kd lang, 1961, David Schwimmer (Friends), 1966, Orlando Cabrera (baseball player), 1974.

We finally all got to the gym last night. It’s the first time all three of us went in several weeks. Good times. Not a whole lot more to report. I think we might be taking Stephanie and Michael out for dinner tonight. I’m not sure what the weekend holds, either, besides the normal stuff.

Father, I pray for some revelation this morning as I continue to learn how to follow Jesus. May your Holy Spirit lead me today.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 134. This is the last “Song of Ascents.” Since it is placed last, there are many who feel that the first two verses sung by departing worshipers, as they encourage the priests who tend the temple at night.

1 A Song of Ascents. Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!
3 May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Authority and Independence.” The scripture reading is from John 14:15, which says, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. “Our Lord never insists upon obedience; He tells us very emphatically what we ought to do, but He never takes means to make us do it.” You’ll notice that most of the time, when speaking of discipleship, Jesus prefaced his statements with “if.” IF I want to be his disciple, I must give up my right to myself. I don’t have to do it. He will not force me to do it. It must be done out of a oneness of spirit with Jesus. We must also understand that these words do not refer to “eternal positions, but of being of value to Himself in this order of things.”

“The Lord does not give me rules, He makes His standard very clear, and if my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without any hesitation.” If there is hesitation, it is because I love something else more than I love Jesus, most likely myself. There is a point at which I must decide to leave self behind and obey Christ, if I want to be a true disciple. Chambers says that Christ will not help me obey. I’m not sure I totally agree with that. I would not be able to obey at all, were it not for his life in me. But I think I get what he means. I must get beyond the small, petty things in my life that hinder me. I must decide that they don’t matter. I must leave behind everything in my life that is not of Christ. This is difficult, perhaps even impossible. Again, the reason that I don’t agree with the thought the Jesus does not help me. Anyway, getting beyond that…once I do obey, redemption flows through me, out of me, into other lives and others are blessed. I have no idea how many people will ultimately be blessed through my obedience. Furthermore, that should not be my concern. It is simply my duty to lose myself and obey Jesus.

Father, I praise you this morning for the life of Christ in me. I do believe that his life in me helps me obey him. I know that my obedience is far from perfect, and I continually pray that I might be a faithful disciple. I do desire to be a disciple, therefore my heart’s desire is to obey your commandments. This is one reason, among many, that I do this thing in the mornings. I sense growth in my inner being, more of a desire to give up my right to myself and allow you to take over. Keep me working toward that, as I continue to discover the importance of allowing Jesus to live his life through me. I pray that people will see me as a “person of peace,” both at home and at work, and any place I happen to be. I pray daily for the characteristics of Christ to be manifest in my life. Make these things that don’t matter smaller and smaller in my life.

I pray for this day. Christi is working from home today. I pray that she will have plenty of uninterrupted time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Give her peace in this setting, and may the fact that she is working from home serve to shield her from the normal stress and tension of a work day. I also pray that you would continue to heal the pain in her leg and foot. I pray for Stephanie today, that she would not take too much liberty with the fact that her mother is home. Help her understand that Christi is home to work. I also pray that you draw Steph’s heart closer to yours I pray for my work day, as well, that you would make it a smooth day for us, with no issues to prevent us from achieving our goals.

I continue to lift up people affected by hurricane Sandy. I pray that power would be restored to the millions of people who may still be without power. I pray for comfort and hope for those whose lives have been drastically altered by this storm. I pray for relief efforts to be unimpeded, and that your Church would rise up and be a force of healing in this time.

Our obedience is voluntary, but what blessings come when we do obey! If we would be disciples…”IF.”

Grace and peace, friends.