Plan to Pray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Plan for Prayer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Soliloquy

Good morning. It is Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from WordThink, is predacious. An adjective, it means, “Predatory; Given to victimizing, plundering, or destroying for one’s own gain. ‘A victim of predacious behavior.'”

Today is Taco Day. What do I need to say about that? I wonder if Taco Casa will have a sale today?

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We got our errands done and had lunch, after which Christi headed on up to church, since she is supposed to be there by 3:00 PM (last time!). I stayed behind, thinking I would see the end of the Rangers game. It was the top of the ninth, and the Rangers were up 10-6. Sadly, I did not make it to the end. By the time I left for church (shortly before 4:00 PM), the Angels had scored 5 runs, to make the score 11-10, which would eventually be the final score of the game. What a nightmare.

Church went fine. We had a good prayer time (I think), focusing on upcoming events for the church, such as the Women’s retreat next weekend, and the move to a new day, time, and location. The “Family Worship Gathering” was okay, but seemed a little distracting. The pastor is continuing to think through the dynamics of this service. We had dinner with Jacob, our pastor, after church. He had sent us a text, earlier in the week, asking us if we wanted to have dinner after church. He basically just wanted to touch base with us about the upcoming move, and related topics. It was a great conversation, covering a lot of different topics along the way. I believe we left with him resting assured that we were on board, fully behind him in this journey.

Today, Rachel and Justin are coming over for lunch, and then whatever we decide to do after that.

On this date in 1535, the first complete English language Bible was printed. Called the Coverdale Bible, it was translated by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. In several countries, the next day was October 15. In 1824, Mexico adopted a constitution and became a federal republic. In 1876, Texas A&M opened, becoming the “first public institution of higher education in Texas.” In 1895, the first U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championship was held at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1965, Pope Paul VI visited New York, becoming the first Pope to visit the United States.

Today’s birthdays include Richard Cromwell (Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland), Rutherford B. Hayes (19th U.S. President), Buster Keaton (American comedian), Charlton Heston (American actor), Alvin Toffler (American writer), Jackie Collins (British author), Anne Rice (American writer), Tony La Russa (American baseball manager), Susan Sarandon (American actress), Liev Schreiber (American actor), Alicia Silverstone (American actress), Rachael Leigh Cook (American actress), Jered Weaver (American baseball player), Kurt Suzuki (American baseball player), and Dakota Johnson (American actress).

Well, there aren’t really any in there that I care to highlight, so I’ll move right along.

Teresa of Avila, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Max Planck, Janis Joplin, Glenn Gould, and Graham Chapman are among notable deaths on this date.

Janice Joplin joined the 27 club on this date in 1970.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity.
Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!

Psalm 106:43-48

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

We are now moving from engaging, or fixing, the mind, to “Inclining the Heart.” What happens here is, now that the believer has engaged the mind to see the truth in a particular passage of scripture, it is time to “incline the heart until its hope and joy more fully rests in these things.”

If you remember, we have been looking at some teaching by John Owen. He describes the concept of inclining the heart as “‘the inclination, disposition, and frame of . . . all . . . affections’ so that the heart ‘adheres and cleaves unto spiritual things . . . from the love and delight . . . in them and engagement unto them.'” A contemporary of Owen, Richard Baxter, calls this “soliloquy.” Keller says, “It means seeing how God’s truth should be affecting you, your life, and all your relationships–and then pleading and preaching to your heart until it connects to the truth and begins to turn away from its false hopes and to change its attitudes, feelings, and commitments.”

Keller mentions several practical ways to do this. First is Martin Luther’s approach, which involves more questioning of the self and the heart. After getting the truth of the instruction in the passage at hand, Luther says we should ask the following:

  • “how it shows you something about the character of God for which you can praise him”
  • “something wrong about yourself for which you can repent”
  • “something that is needed for which you can petition him”

In this way, “Luther is working the truth into his relationship to God, to himself, and to the world.

“Luther is de-abstracting the scriptural truth, refusing to regard it in a detached way, plunging himself into it, and pushing it into his soul to see how that truth should change him.” What does the Scripture that I have just read/studied mean for my relationship to God? What does it mean for my relationship to myself (something we probably don’t consider nearly enough)? What does it mean for my group relationships? What does it mean to my behaviors and habits? And what does it mean in relationship to the culture in which I live? All worthy questions to ponder.

This all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? For most of us, it is probably much more involving that any kind of Scripture reading we have ever done. For those of us who read a short passage of Scripture, along with a devotional reading, and then head off to work or whatever the day brings, this is a bit of a shock. But we need it. At least I need it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I strongly suspect that most of us would benefit greatly, in our prayer lives, with this kind of activity.

Father, keep my mind and heart open as I continue to study this book. When all is said and done, I am hoping for some new behaviors and habits to come out of it that strongly influence the effectiveness of my prayer life.

I pray for this day, that Rachel and Justin will have safe travel here and back home. May we have a good time together, this afternoon, in whatever we decide to do. I pray for your grace to surround us in all things.

Come, Lord Jesus.

May we learn how to faithfully incline our hearts to the truths that we have gained by engaging our minds in God’s Word.

Grace and peace, friends.