Reconciliation Before Worship

Today is Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 22,327

Ten days until Vegas!!!

Quote of the Day

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
H. L. Mencken, American writer, 1880-1956
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Clown car ~ a group whose size seems absurdly excessive for the purported function of the group, and whose effectiveness is therefore questionable. For example, “The planning committee has added yet another member to its clown car, almost guaranteeing further delays.”

It was a pretty good weekend. The wedding was very nice, Saturday evening, and we had a lovely time. At the reception, most of the Exchange people sat at two tables next to each other. We had a great time talking as we ate the reception meal.

Yesterday’s worship gathering went well. The main leader was out, so there were only two of us leading. The sermon series that started yesterday is in preparation for what is coming in the future of our church. We will be hearing, over the next four weeks, about the four essential things that the New Testament church did. They were devoted to the Apostles’ teachings (Scripture, for us), fellowship, breaking of bread (the Supper, as well as other meals together), and prayer. That’s what we will be focusing on over the next four weeks, and it will be our focus during the bi-weekly house church gatherings.

The Texas Rangers walloped the Mariners again, yesterday, almost as bad as Saturday night. They won 14-1, getting 17 hits in the game. Lance Lynn got his third win. This puts the Rangers back over .500, at 14-13. It also knocked Seattle out of first place. The Rangers remain in third place, 2.5 games behind the Astros. They are off tonight, and will face the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday night, with Adrian Sampson taking the mound.

The Boston Red Sox didn’t fare so well, losing the series to the Tampa Bay Rays. The games were close, but the lost 5-2 yesterday, as Chris Sale failed, yet again, to notch his first win of the season. They lost 2-1 on Saturday. The Sox are now 11-17, in fourth place in the AL East, dangerously close to being the worst team in MLB. They will face Oakland tonight at Fenway, with E Rodriguez taking the mound.

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

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 
His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. 

Psalm 25:12-14

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day with opportunities to walk in his kingdom
2. For a better night’s sleep than I have been getting, lately
3. For coffee
4. That Christ makes peace possible
5. For the relationships I have in the body of Christ

Our Father, who are in heaven,
hallowed by thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

O Lord, let thy mercy be showed upon us;
As we do put our trust in thee.
(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Offer Forgiveness Before Worship,” by Dallas Willard.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23=24

Imagine a minister in the middle of some kind of service. Then imagine him (or her) suddenly walking out of the proceedings to seek reconciliation, perhaps with someone who is not ever there. This is the picture of kingdom love and righteousness that is being drawn by Jesus, here. The moral is more important than the ritual.

Consider the quality of life that must be in this kind of person, one who would “routinely interrupt sacred rituals to pursue reconciliation with a fellow human being.” Imagine what kind of thoughts, moods, and habits you would find in such a person. This is the vision of “the true ‘righteousness beyond’ that is at home in God’s kingdom of power and love.”

As we examine our lives, do we find that we have strained relationships? Perhaps there are times when it is not possible to reconcile them. We certainly hope that this does not happen within the Church. But it is up to us, as Paul says, to be at peace with everyone, as much as we possibly can.

Father, help me, today, to be at peace in all of my relationships, as far as it is up to me. May your kingdom shine in me today.
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.

Advertisements

I Must Have God

Today is Saturday, February 23, 2019.

Day 22,262

19 days until our next Glen Rose weekend!!!

Quote of the Day

“Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956

Word of the Day

Prodigal ~ wastefully or recklessly extravagant. Also, giving or yielding profusely; very generous; lavish. You know, when I was growing up, hearing the parable of “the prodigal son,” I always misunderstood that word. And the fact is, the word, “prodigal” is not in the Bible anywhere (paragraph headings don’t count; those aren’t “inspired”). I used to think it mean “lost” or “missing” or maybe even “rebellious.” And, as Timothy Keller pointed out, it may be God who is actually “prodigal,” for is He not extravagant in the grace and love with which he lavishes us? He is “very generous,” and He yields profusely. Just something to think about.

Yesterday was the first full Friday I have worked in several weeks. Fortunately, I only wound up working about a half hour over, getting off around 5:00 PM. I picked up Subway on the way home and C picked up our Sonic drinks. We watched a couple episodes of “The Keepers” on Netflix. I would not recommend this show for the faint of heart. It concerns the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik in November of 1969. The corruption and sheer horror of depravity that was uncovered in that Catholic school in Baltimore is mind-boggling. “Disturbing” is not a strong enough word.

After that, I played Metro: Exodus on the PS4 for a couple hours.

Today is our first Night of Worship this year. We’re meeting at our pastor’s house tonight, instead of Brandon’s house. They are having some work done on their house, so we moved it for this month. The set list will be as follows: Word of God Speak, Great Are You Lord, Come Fall On Us, Surrounded (Fight My Battles), Lord I Need You, Oh How We Love You, Stand In Your Love, God Is So Good, I Surrender, Sails, Reckless Love, and Death Was Arrested.

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

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 
I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.

Psalm 3:3-4

Today I am grateful:
1. That I didn’t have to work too late last night.
2. That the sounds of baseball have begun in Arizona and Florida.
3. For an opportunity to be in community tonight, worshiping, praying, and breaking bread together.
4. The overwhelming, never-ending, reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.
5. For opportunities to seek and find God.

That this day may be holy, good, and peaceful,
We entreat you, O Lord.
That your holy angels may lead us in paths of peace and goodwill,
We entreat you, O Lord.
That we may be pardoned and forgiven for our sins and offenses,
We entreat you, O Lord.
That there may be peace to your Church and to the whole world,
We entreat you, O Lord.
That we may depart this life in your faith and fear,
and not be condemned before the great judgment seat of Christ,
We entreat you, O Lord.
That we may be bound together by your Holy Spirit in the 
  communion of all your saints,
entrusting one another and all our life to Christ,
We entreat you, O Lord.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is “Longing for God’s Freshness.”

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
Psalm 42:1 (The Message)

Peterson’s words are so poetic that I dare not attempt to paraphrase them.

"A deer thirsty for water is the metaphor. 
What water is to the deer, God is to me.
I simply must have God. And it must be the living God.
Nothing stale or stagnant.
The deer runs past all the mud puddles and swamps and marshes to 
  clear, flowing streams.
I don't want my God out of a bottle.
I don't want what is left over from God after last week's 
  thundershower.
I want him fresh, flowing, living.
What I learned in Sunday school in the third grade will not 
  satisfy me.
What I read in the Bible last week will not satisfy me.
What someone told me this morning on television or radio 
  will not quench my thirst.
I want to get to the water myself.
I
  must
       have
            God.
Every natural appetite is a reminder of this thirst for God.
Every thirst,
  every hunger,
  every longing for satisfaction--
it is a metaphor for the fundamental desire in our lives 
  for God."

(The arrangement of the text is mine.)

This stirs my soul in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I have, over the course of the last week or so, been reading a book called The Cloud of Unknowing. It was written by an anonymous fourteenth century mystic. It is stretching me in ways I never thought I could be stretched, devotionally. The premise of the book is that, in contemplating God, He is all we need contemplate. In other words, during contemplative prayer, we should think of nothing, desire nothing, seek nothing, other than God, Himself, resting solely in His existence. We should entertain no other thoughts during this time. It is difficult, because our minds are not trained in this way. It is hard for me to sit still and silent for any length of time without a kabillion thoughts running through my brain, unbidden, most of them. I have to retrain my brain to reject them, that I might focus solely on God and nothing or no one else.

There are people who are uncomfortable with this kind of contemplation, and I get it. There are portions in the book that dangerously edge toward practices resembling Buddhism. But I’m not one to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Because, as Eugene Peterson has made so eloquently clear, I need God. I must have God. He is the only One who can quench my thirst.

Lamentations 3:23 says, “They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!” (The Message) “They” being God’s mercies. His mercies are new every morning. Says Peterson, “God did not go on hiatus last week or last year. He is present at the start of every day and when you to to sleep at night. Don’t rely on a dim memory of God; seek him in every moment.”

Father, this reading renders me almost speechless. I don’t know what to pray other than to ask you to help me get to You in this way. Show me the fresh, living water stream that is You. Help me to seek You in every moment, fresh. Quench my thirst, but increase my thirst for You, as well. Let my desire be for only You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. Psalm 42:11 (The Message)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Prayer: History, Forgiveness, and Others

Today is Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Day 22,249

THREE DAYS until Spring Training!!!!

“We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is finicky. It means, “extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards.” In other words, “cat.”

I got new glasses ordered, yesterday. My distance vision had changed a bit, but my vision for computers/music had not changed enough to replace those glasses. I will still need two pair. The doctor told me that we could combine distance/medium-range/reading all in one pair, but he didn’t seem to think I would like it. And since I already have a good pair for medium-range, I just left it that way. I added the “transition” to the new pair, this time. They change darker when outside.

The rest of the day was nice. I picked up lunch right after my eye doctor, and by the time we ate, it was time to go get the groceries.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. The main worship leader is sick, and, to my knowledge (although he has never told me decisively), will not be there. So Brandon and I will each be leading two songs. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters at The Exchange Church.
2. For my brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world.
3. That the dream I had last night was just that – a dream.
4. For the privilege of praying.
5. For the three lessons involving prayer.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 96:9)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is called, “Prayer Lessons from History’s Wisest Person.” Peterson is speaking of Solomon. I would take issue with that (I rarely do with Eugene Peterson), and say that Jesus was history’s wisest person. Nevertheless, the lesson is a good one.

Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
1 Kings 8:29-30

“In Solomon’s prayer, we can see three areas in which the visible is a conduit for the invisible, and they are areas that we are still involved with today.”

First, is history. Solomon remembers the great acts of God from the past. “A poor memory is a threat to our prayers.” If, when praying, we forget the actions of God in the past, we will likely pray with “small faith and for tiny ends.”

The second thing is forgivness. Solomon specifically prays that God will forgive. “Self-deception and selfishness are threats to our prayers as well.” Too often, our prayers are an attempt to get God on our side, to do what we want Him to do. Peterson says, “the visible church is a check against that. Forgiveness is the turning point in prayer, the transition from seeking our own way from God to yielding our lives to him so that he may perform his will in it.” Remember that line from Jesus’s model prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The third area involves others; foreigners, strangers. “Our prayers are strangled when they become too narrow.” How often do we only pray for ourselves, our familes, and our close acquaintances? We must be more sensitive “to the vast church of Christ and the world Christ is seeking to bring into fellowship with him. The visible church is proof against that, bringing people together under one roof whom you would ordinarily not associate with.”

Our pastor has really driven that home in past weeks. The church is made up of people with whom we would normally not associate. People with whom we otherwise have nothing in common. And we must get along because Christ died for all of us, regardless of race, sex, hobbies, and political persuasions.

Three areas in prayer: history, forgiveness, and others.

Father, may I be mindful of all of these things as I pray, today and every day. Let me never forget Your might acts in history, both my history and the history of Your people. May I always be humble and remember whence I came, the marvelous forgiveness with which You have blessed me. And may I expand the scope of my prayers to the world Church and beyond.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Blessed Be Your Name

It is January 1, 2019. Happy New Year!! Also, the eighth day of Christmas.

Day 22,209

43 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is auspicate. It means, “to initiate with ceremonies calculated to ensure good luck; inaugurate.” (Dictionary.com)

So today, we auspicate a new year. Or, last night, I suppose. I was up for it. S was up for it. C was not up for it. 🙂 S and I watched the last few minutes of 2018 fade into the foggy distance. We also watched the local NBC affiliate, channel 5, running their countdown approximately twenty seconds behind. Perhaps there was simply a slight delay in their broadcast feed. Both S and I observed that our clocks were turning over minutes right at twenty seconds before the TV was changing.

Then, at midnight (or twenty seconds after), Reunion Tower exploded (not literally) with, allegedly, fifteen THOUSAND pounds of fireworks! It was pretty incredible.

So it’s 2019, now.

In many ways, today, January 1, is just another day. It doesn’t feel any different from yesterday, other than the fact that we are at home, not at work. Feels like Saturday, actually. I’m not a huge fans of mid-week holidays. It makes for an awkward work week. But, as “they” say, “It is what it is.” But what if it isn’t??

I don’t make New Years’ Resolutions. So don’t expect any of that from me. However, I have aspirations, goals, if you will. Not really measurable, mind you. I would like to be healthier, this year. Part of that is measurable in the form of pounds, but that’s the only part, really. I would like to drastically improve my spiritual walk with God in Christ. I plan to get more serious about working the spiritual disciplines in my life, which is going to require me to get off butt and find a place/time to practice solitude on a regular basis. I also plan to work on the discipline of silence, which can be practiced anywhere. It does go hand in hand with solitude, but can also be practiced at work and elsewhere. Those are the two biggest ones I need to work on, but I’ll be working on improving the prayer, life, as well, along with my worship, which, even though I play/sing in the worship band at church, could use some improvement.

We don’t have much in the way of plans for today. We’re going to cook steaks for lunch, and I’ll probably drive over to Sonic at some point for some drinks. Otherwise, it will simply be a day of relaxing.

My devotional books, at least to start the year will be as follows:
Daily Guideposts 2018, 364 readings by the usual assortment of Guideposts writers. This year’s theme is In the Shadow of Your Wings.
Faith That Matters, 365 devotions from classic Christian leaders, including Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner, A.W. Tozer, N.T. Wright, James Bryan Smith, Eugene Peterson, and Brennan Manning (I’ll have to work in that reading for February 29, I guess)
Every Step An Arrival, a 90-day devotional for exploring God’s Word, by Eugene Peterson. So, after the end of March, I will take on another short devotional book to replace that.

I’m also going to begin reading Conversations: The Message Bible with its Translator. I’m anticipating that it will take me longer than a year, but we will see.

I also need a verse for the year. For the last couple of years, I have used the verse on the bookmark that accompanies my Daily Guideposts book. I believe this year, I will also do that. It is Psalm 91:4. “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Pinions are, essentially, feathers.

Finally, of course, my “life verse,” which will never change. God drew me to this verse decades ago. Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

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

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
Psalm 145:10

Today I am grateful:
1. For new beginnings. Even though this day is just another day, we tend to look at New Year’s Day as a time to begin again, to reflect on what has been, and to look forward to what will be.
2. Again, for my wife. I am more blessed than words can express. Yesterday, while off work, she hung two light fixtures in the house. She just can’t stand sitting around, doing nothing for too long.
3. For the anticipated blessings of a new year. There will be challenges, no doubt. And we will pray that we can meet those challenges head-on with faith and confidence in God’s hand.
4. For a day off, savoring this one, because, outside of PTO, it is the last one until Memorial Day. I’d really like to have a serious talk with whoever planned out the year that way.
5. For the overwhelming steadfast love of God.

O God, the King eternal, 
whose light divides the day from the night 
and turns the shadow of death into the morning:
Drive far from us all wrong desires, 
incline our hearts to keep your law, 
and guide our feet into the way of peace;
that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, 
we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for the Renewal of Life)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

(From Faith That Matters)

The Spiritual Work of Gratitude, by Henri Nouwen

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job 1:21

It is easy to be grateful for the good things in life. I come up with five things every morning. And, as noted, they are, at least so far, always “good” things. But, says Nouwen, “to be grateful for all of our lives–the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections–that requires hard spiritual work.”

There it is. “Hard spiritual work.”

All too often, that frightens us, that thought of “hard spiritual work.” Somewhere along the way, we have been fed a false bill of goods that this “Christian” life is supposed to be easy. Sure, Jesus calls us into his “easy yoke.” But that’s HIS yoke that is easy! And the reason His yoke is easy is that He is God! When we walk alongside Him in that “easy yoke,” He is doing the bulk of the work. But He is not doing all of the work, and that’s where a lot of us get off track.

One preacher I know used to say (maybe he still does), “The Christian life isn’t hard; it’s impossible.” If that is taken out of context, one’s reaction might be, “Well, then, why even try.” But the point is that I can’t do it. Not by myself. The “hard spiritual work” must be done in the context of walking in the yoke of Christ, alongside Him, allowing Him to take on the hardest part of the work. But I still have to work; I still have to do it.

I alluded, earlier, to the Spiritual Disciplines. Well, I alluded to a few of them. There are more. These disciplines are the “hard spiritual work” that I must do in order to be, as Nouwen suggests, “grateful for all of” my life.

We are most fully grateful when we can say, without flinching, “thank you” to “all that has brought us to the present moment.” There are things and people that I would just as soon forget. But those things and people, along with the ones I want to remember, have made me who I am today, for better or worse. And if I try to forget those things and people, I “cannot claim the fullness of [my being] as a gift of God to be grateful for.”

“Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.” And what better day to begin that than New Year’s Day?

Can we truly join Job in saying “blessed be the name of the Lord?”

“Lord, cultivate within me a spirit of gratitude for all you’ve given and all you’ve taken away. Blessed be your name, Lord. Amen.”

I know this is already too long, but I feel compelled to share this prayer from The Valley of Vision.

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
   my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
   in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
   ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
   ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
   ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
   crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
   for adorning it, sanctifying it,
      though it is fixed in barren soil;
   for the body thou hast given me,
   for preserving its strength and vigor,
   for providing senses to enjoy delights,
   for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
   for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
   for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
   for a full table and overflowing cup,
   for appetite, taste, sweetness,
   for social joys of relatives and friends,
   for ability to serve others,
   for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
   for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
   for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
   for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
   for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love the above the powers of language
      to express,
   for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Yes, and amen, Father! May I look back with gratitude to all of the people and events of my life, even those that I would rather forget, and be eternally grateful to You for bringing me to where I am today. Draw me closer, in 2019, closer to Jesus, closer to You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

For Such A Time As This

Today is Saturday, March 4, 2017. Six days until our Glen Rose weekend!!

Quotes of the Day

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” ~ David Friedman

“Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time.” ~ H. L. Mencken

“A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves.” ~ Ralph W. Sockman

“The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

Word of the Day

Lotus-eater ~ a person who leads a life of dreamy, indolent ease, indifferent to the busy world; daydreamer.

Alternate Word of the Day

Nugatory ~ of little or no consequence : trifling, inconsequential

Today is Marching Band Day. As I shared on Facebook, my memories of Mineral Wells High School and ETSU marching bands are some of the happiest, most hard-working days of my youth. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I look back with pride on the accomplishments of those bands. I was part of the first band to ever win the Sweepstakes award at MWHS. And with the ETSU band, we (thanks to our director, James Keene) helped usher in an era of corp-style marching bands in colleges, which influenced high schools all over Texas.

We made it to Saturday! Yesterday was a pretty good day at work, with no major crises for me. C seems to be feeling better, after a checkup with her doctor on Thursday. He made some initial diagnoses and prescribed medication. Her bloodwork also showed a Vitamin D deficiency, so he has told her to start taking some of that. It makes sense. Vitamin D is, apparently, the one we get from exposure to sunlight. Since we hardly ever go outside except to walk from the car to a building or vice versa, that makes sense.

As previously mentioned, tonight is our monthly Night of Worship. C and I will be going to the host’s home at around 3:00 PM today, to set up and rehearse. She will be running the lyric slides on the Mac while we play and sing. I still have to print my music and go over a few songs, so I should probably get moving with this blog thing.

30 days until Opening Day!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

I will call upon God, and the LORD will deliver me. In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, he will hear my voice. He will bring me safely back . . . God who is enthroned of old, will hear me.

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
Psalm 85:7
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Psalm 65:4
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah. 
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Psalm 84:4-5
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
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

(From The President’s Devotional)

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

These words were spoken to Esther by her cousin Mordecai. On a side note, I just figured out that Mordecai was not, in fact, Esther’s uncle, but was her cousin. She was his uncle’s daughter, which makes them cousins. Anyway. Mordecai, along with the rest of the Jews were about to be eradicated from the land where they were living, by King Ahasuerus. It wasn’t really the king’s idea, but that of a wicked servant named Haman, who hated Mordecai.

Esther had an opportunity to approach the king and save her people, but was afraid. Mordecai challenged her with the words from the above verse.

Who knows?

“Perhaps we are right here, right now, for a very particular reason. To declare a bold word. To write a brave phrase. To take a new step. To tell a hard truth.”

Either way, God’s will will be done. His purpose will be achieved. “But maybe, just maybe, this is our time. Such a time as this.”

“Lord, if this is my time, my time to do a new thing, give me the courage to act boldly, unafraid. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I have felt your words in my heart, recently. I have felt the nudge of your Spirit, directing me in a certain direction. I pray for wisdom. I pray for you words to continue to speak to me, and that you would enable me to do that which you have chosen me to do. I am experiencing both anticipation and apprehension at the future, for I know not exactly where you are leading me. But that is what faith is all about, isn’t it? Do in me and with me what you will, my God.

I pray especially for tonight’s Night of Worship. I pray for your anointing on Brandon, Terry, Jared, Alex, Christi, Kristin, and myself. I pray for your Spirit to be active all through the afternoon’s rehearsals and the night’s worship. Make your presence known to us in a powerful way. If you choose to fill the place so strongly that we can’t even sing or talk, that would be awesome. I pray for restoration, filling, healing, salvation, and anything else that you want to do tonight. This night is all about you!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

This reading made me think of this song by Rich Mullins, and while looking for a video, I ran across him saying this (remember that an “ass” is a donkey): “God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and he has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to speak through you, you need not think too highly of yourself.” So there you go.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Domain of Drudgery

“The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” – H. L. Mencken
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is iatrogenic, means, “(of a medical disorder) caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of a physician.”

Today is Smile Power Day. Smile at people today. Make them wonder what you’re up to.

Did I mention that C got a raise? I can’t remember. That happened Monday, I think. It’s a nice one, too.

C’s step-dad is going to be moving, soon. I think the move is scheduled on June 25. He’s moving to a place that is closer to his son and daughter-in-law, and will have some assistance for him.

This is also palindrome week. It’s a little more than a week, as it actually began last Friday. A palindrome is, of course, a word or phrase (or in this case, dates) that is the same forwards and backwards. For example, “a car, a man, a maraca.” Obviously, punctuation does not have to be the same, just the letters. “A nut for a jar of tuna.” “Aibohphobia” (the fear of palindromes). Anyway, the reason this is palindrome week is that, from June 10, 2016 to June 19, 2016, the dates, in mm/ff/yy format, are palindromes! 6/10/16, 6/11/16, 6/12/16, and so on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:1-7

From the very beginning of creation, when God said, “Let there be light,” to the end of Revelation, that says, “They will see his face, . . . And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light,” we see the mighty acts of God “under the image of light, his shining forth in creation and redemption.”

“‘Light of light, enlighten me, now anew the day is dawning; sun of grace, the shadows flee; brighten Thou my Sabbath morning; with Thy joyous sunshine blest, happy is my day of rest’ (Benjamin Schmolck, ‘Light of Light, Enlighten Me,’ translated by Catherine Winkworth). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Get a Move On

. . .make every effort to supplement . . .
2 Peter 1:5

In verse 4, Peter tells us that we have “become partakers of the divine nature.” Chambers says that we now need to “screw your attention down and form habits, give diligence, concentration.” We are not born with habits; “we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us.” The exciting thing about this, to me, is that this is what the spiritual disciplines are all about. The timing of these readings, this year, is spot on. I am right in the middle of beginning to study and develop these disciplines in my life.

You see, we aren’t supposed to be illuminated all the time. We are to be “the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery is the touchstone of character.” We tend to look for these grand things to do, but we need to focus on being obedient in the routines, the drudgery, of life. “Learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God.”

“The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it.”

Father, make me obedient in the domain of drudgery. Help me to develop the habits in the disciplines, habits that will make my life, my common, ordinary life exhibit the marvel of your grace.

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.

The Foundations of Hell Were Shaken

“Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.”~~H. L. Mencken
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is psychagogic, which means, “That influences the mind; persuasive, attractive.”

Today is Plan Your Epitaph Day. I don’t have a clue what my epitaph will be. In fact, people rarely use epitaphs, these days. However, whenever I even hear the word “epitaph,” I immediately think, “Confusion will be my epitaph.”

Okay, so all that stuff I wrote about our reviews and raises, over the weekend, may not be true. Our site manager met with each department, individually, yesterday, and, almost frantically, insisted that the email/memo that was posted did not apply to us. In fact, he said, the email came from the C.O.O. of CEVA Ground, which is an entirely separate entity (one that constantly “underperforms,” in my opinion). He was rather upset that someone has posted that email on the bulletin board without running it through him, first. He insisted that, should any news such as that arise, we would hear it out of his mouth before it got posted on the board. He was out for a number days, because his wife just had a baby, so I have no problem believing what he said. He knows who posted the email, as well. I asked if he knew. I did not, however, ask him to tell us who it was.

Today is Wednesday. I’m still not feeling great. However, I think it’s better. I’m low on energy, though, that’s for sure.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.

You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;
yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Psalm 44:9-26

Paul borrowed from this Psalm in Romans 8:36. “A comparison between the psalmist and Paul as they write about suffering is a dramatic example of the difference Christ has made.”

“Reinforce my conviction, Father, that nothing can separate me from your love, that there are no places where you are absent, no times when you are asleep, that you are in all times and all places for me in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Collision of God and Sin”

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
1 Peter 2:24

In what may be my very favorite reading in this book, Chambers addresses the Cross of Christ. “The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin.” Jesus was not a “martyr.” The Cross was not something that “happened” to Jesus. “The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.” Anyone who believes that Satan was rejoicing in “victory” when Jesus hung on the cross does not understand, at all, what happened. With the Cross, Jesus Christ “switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God.”

The Cross was why Jesus was born. Many think he came to earth to “show us the way to God,” or to “be an example for us.” Jesus was born to die. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Jesus was “Plan A,” and there is no “Plan B.”

“The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened–but the crash is on the heart of God.”

Father, lead me to the cross, constantly. Always draw me back to the ultimate moment of sacrifice, made that all of humanity might be drawn back into right relationship with you. Thank you for choosing me to be one of yours, and then making sure it would happen. Thank you for putting me in an environment where I would be taught the truth of Scripture and raised to love you. My gratitude can never be properly expressed. Help me to lead others to this truth, as well. Thank you for the Cross.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.