Seek the Lord

Good morning. It is Saturday, November 24, 2012. I’m actually at work. Shh…don’t tell anybody. Today is “Tie One On Day.” Before you rush off and get that fifth of vodka, let me explain that this is, apparently, referring to aprons, specifically of the kitchen kind. According to the Hallmark Ultimate Holiday app, this is “about the apron and all it symbolizes: home, family, mothering, and yummy meals.” So “tie one on,” and bake a loaf of bread. Or a pie. Or something.

On this date in 1835, the Texas Rangers were formed. Not the baseball team.
Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species on this date in 1859. Some people call this “Evolution Day.”
On this date in 1952, the FBI Crime Lab officially opened.
The “Storm of the Century” occurred on this date in 1950. It paralyzed the northeastern U.S. and the Appalachians, with winds up to 100mph and subzero temperatures. Pickens, West Virginia received 57 inches of snow. It is reported that 323 people died in the storm.
On this date in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby in the Dallas Police Department headquarters.
On this date in 1968, Wilt Chamberlain got 55 rebounds in a single game, setting an NBA record.
On this date in 1971, a hijacker known as D.B. Cooper parachuted from a plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He was never found.
On this date in 1973, Ringo Starr had a #1 solo hit with “Photograph.”

Today’s birthdays include Zachary Taylor (12th President), 1784, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French painter), 1864, Scott Joplin (composer), 1868, Dale Carnegie, 1888, William F. Buckley, Jr. (writer), 1925, Pete Best (original drummer for The Beatles), 1941, Lee Michaels (musician), 1945, Spider Robinson (S.F. author), 1948, Denise Crosby (actress), 1957, Katherine Heigl (actress), 1978, Becca Barlow (Barlow Girl), 1979.

Yesterday was a nice day of mostly relaxing. Sadly, Rachel and Justin had to leave a bit early, as Rachel was not feeling well. Hopefully, she is feeling better today. We still had a nice time, and were able to get a good bit of our Christmas decorating done last night. Some of the lights for the tree did not work, though, so we will have to go out and get some new ones sometime today. We also didn’t get the outside lights up yet. We will try to do that this afternoon, hopefully. That kind of depends on how long I have to monitor our deliveries.

Father, I pray that you give me some vision of you this morning, as I look into your word. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 2:20-22. Isaiah continues his description of “that day.”
20 In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,
21 to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?

In yesterday’s passage, I noted that people will attempt to flee from the “terror of the LORD” by running to caves in the rocks and holes in the ground. Today, it is added that, in order to do so, they will have to cast off the false gods and idols that they constructed for themselves to worship. These will do them no good, now. Actually, they never did. Verse 22 speaks volumes to the culture of our world today. “Stop regarding man! Of what account is he?” We live in a culture that celebrates and worships people. Even in the “Christian subculture” we tend to do that. I’ve probably been guilty of exalting people like Jonathan Edwards and John Piper higher than I should. They are just men, “in whose nostrils is breath.” While it is true that they have some great wisdom and knowledge to impart, they are still just men, and we should not regard them too highly. Martin Luther cringed at the idea that a group of Christians should name themselves after him!

In our culture, however, we raise people to the highest heights of celebrity, and, should they happen to espouse an opinion about something, we fall all over ourselves to get in line with them, as though they have suddenly become experts in the matter. This is nothing short of idolatry. Even though we have not physically constructed an image from wood or stone, we have built an idol in our hearts if we fall into the trap of regarding people higher than we ought.

Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “Direction of Aspiration.” The scripture reference is Psalm 123:2, which says, Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God till he has mercy upon us.
“This verse is a description of entire reliance upon God.” We start experiencing what Chambers calls “spiritual leakage” when we stop lifting our eyes to the Lord. And this leakage doesn’t come from trouble on the outside so much as it comes from our imagination. We begin to think we are reaching too high, that we need to start behaving more like an “ordinary humble person.” At this point, we fail to realize that “no effort can be too high.” We cannot afford to allow anything to come between us and God.

I’ve been reading In Touch magazine, lately, usually during a mid-day break at work. Today’s weekend reading has the simple title, “Seek the Lord.” The scripture reference is Psalm 27:4-8. Verse 4 says, One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire [meditate] in his temple. Verse 8 says, You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, O LORD, do I seek.”
The kind of relationship that delights in intimate fellowship with God doesn’t happen accidentally. It has to be intentional, and it has to be practiced consistently. “Intimacy with Him is not something that can be achieved in an inspiring weekend conference, nor can it be accomplished by reading a chapter or two in the Bible and praying for ten minutes a day.” It is a lifetime commitment, day by day, year by year, decade by decade.
I am not satisfied having a shallow relationship with the Lord. I want to always be going deeper. This requires time and effort, and, honestly, some days I do much better than others. As Chambers stated above, “no effort can be too high.” There is a balance, of course, in living the humble life, following him in the “mundaneness” of life, while at the same time reaching for the heights of intimacy with him.

Father, I pray that I will never stop seeking your face. While I realize that this is largely up to me, I rely also on the inspiration of your Spirit that resides me, both to empower me and to enable me. I will seek your face for as long as I live. I will never give up this journey; I will never forsake this path. I’m sure I will waver, from time to time, and I’m sure I will chase something down a side trail, at times, as well. But I have confidence and faith that you will always bring me back to the path, seeking your face. My eyes will continue to look to you for the mercy that you give me, for the grace that you give me, every day.

I pray for the rest of this day. I thank you that things are going well so far, for work. I pray that this will continue. I pray for some good rest this evening, as well as some fruitful practice time as I prepare for playing in the worship service again tomorrow. I am also grateful for being asked to play again.

Thank you, Father, for a wonderful Thanksgiving day/weekend. It has been a very rewarding time, spent with family and resting, giving thanks to you for the many blessings that we have received. May we continue to be thankful throughout the entire year.

You cannot reach too high. It is possible to think too highly of ourselves. But our efforts to reach God cannot go too high. As he has said, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Grace and peace, friends.

Far Too Easily Distracted

Good morning. Today is Friday, November 23, 2012. Today is “Black Friday.” It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and as another blog aptly stated, only in America do we trample each other in the retail stores exactly one day after giving thanks for everything we already have. However, there is one good thing about this Black Friday. Sonic has breakfast burritos for half-price all day long! Today is both “Eat A Cranberry Day” and “National Cashew Day.” They might be good together!

Oddly enough, the day after Thanksgiving, the only “thanks” I see on Facebook is someone being thankful that they got ten hours of sleep. I guess the “thanksgiving” is over. I’m challenging myself to keep it going. My heart’s desire is to live a life of gratitude and service. I’m thankful, today, that my family was together yesterday for Thanksgiving in Mineral Wells. We had a really great day together. Here’s a photo that I took of all of us.

On this date in 534 B.C., Thespis of Icaria became the first actor to portray a character onstage.
On this date in 1644, John Milton published a pamphlet criticizing censorship, called Areopagitica.
On this date in 1876, corrupt Tammany Hall leader, Boss Tweed, was delivered to authorities in New York City, after being captured in Spain.
The first jukebox began operation in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on this date in 1889.
On this date in 1890, King William III of the Netherlands died without a male heir. A special law was passed to allow his daughter Princess Wilhelmina to become his heir. I suppose this is the “Queen Wilhelmina” that the lodge and state park in Mena, Arkansas are named after.
The first edition of Life magazine was published on this date in 1936.
Also on this date in 1936, blues legend Robert Johnson made his first recording.
The first episode of Doctor Who was aired on BBC on this date in 1963. It starred William Hartnell.
On this date in 1966, Elvis Presley’s movie Spinout opened in U.S. theaters.
On this date in 1990, Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, passed away at the age of 74.
On this date in 1996, Rachel Whiteread won a 20,000 pound award for the best British modern artist and a 40,000 pound Foundation art award for being the worst artist of the year. Okay… (Those are British monetary pounds, not units of weight.)

Today’s birthdays include Franklin Pierce (14th President), 1804, Billy the Kid (which one??), 1859, Boris Karloff, 1887, Harpo Marx, 1888, R.L. Burnside (Mississippi Blues musician), 1923, Hal Lindsey (Late Great Planet Earth), 1929, Krzysztof Penderecki (composer of “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima”), 1933, Luis Tiant (baseball pitcher), 1940, Tom Joyner (radio DJ), 1949, Bruce Hornsby (musician), 1954, Maxwell Caulfield (actor in “Grease 2”), 1959, Adam Eaton (baseball player), 1977, Jonathan Papelbon (ex-closer for the Boston Red Sox), 1980, Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana), 1992.

Today is the day that we at the Bickleyhouse get out the Christmas decorations! The tree, the lights, our special ornaments, and all the other trimmings that go around the house will go up today. Unless the wind keeps gusting at 30mph outside. In which case the lights may have to wait.

For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:9)
Father, I pray for a vision of you this morning as I look into your word.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 2:12-19.
12 For the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted upโ€”and it shall be brought low;
13 against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan;
14 against all the lofty mountains, and against all the uplifted hills;
15 against every high tower, and against every fortified wall;
16 against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft.
17 And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
18 And the idols shall utterly pass away.
19 And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.

If you remember, verse 11 ended with the phrase, “and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” Verse 12 begins a description of “that day.” Verse 17 echoes that phrase. Everything that exalts itself as being higher and more important than the Lord will be brought down in that day, most importantly, the “lofty pride of men.” All of the idols that men have produced to try to take the place of the Lord will be destroyed, and people will try to hide from God in caves and even holes in the ground. I believe this day will come, eventually, and I believe it will be every bit as horrible as Isaiah describes it.

In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, called “Distraction of Antipathy,” the scripture reading is Psalm 123:3. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. I had to look up “antipathy.” It means a deep-seated dislike or aversion toward something or someone. It is the opposite of sympathy.

Chambers states that what we have to be most careful of is not what would damage our belief in God, rather, what would damage our “Christian temper.” “The temper of mind is tremendous in its effects, it is the enemy that penetrates right into the soul and distracts the mind from God.” I can let out a hearty “AMEN” to that! There are certain areas of our temper that, if we dare indulge them, they distract us from our faith in God.

“It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.” The ironic thing is that, as I sit here working on this devotional, I’m being distracted by moving files onto my Sony Reader. So while I’m reading this page from My Utmost For His Highest about being distracted, I’m distracted. I think I just got smacked. I’m laughing about this, but at the same time, it is sobering, because I see exactly what Chambers is talking about, here. I find it much to easy to get distracted by things that don’t matter, even though, in my own way of thinking, they do matter, because I’m working on the collection of theology and devotional books that I want on my ebook. But that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I’m supposed to be focusing on God and on my devotion for him, pondering the mysteries of his word in an effort to firm up my faith and get closer to him. The “cares of this life” can even come in the form of something with a noble purpose.

Another thing that Chambers mentions that can distract us is the need to always be vindicated. He quotes a prayer from St. Augustine, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” I don’t have to explain myself; I don’t need for people to always understand me. I must also never allow discernment to turn to criticism. That’s a tough one. We have a tendency to criticize if we discern that someone is not making spiritual progress, but “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” I’ve been guilty of that one, too.

There are many things than distract us from our faith in God. How do we keep ourselves focused? Sheer discipline. As Chambers said, “Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.” Blinders on, face straight ahead, eyes on God. It doesn’t mean that we don’t pay attention to things in life that must be handled. We still have to be responsible. But we can’t afford to allow things, trivial things, menial things, to distract us from our faith.

Father, I confess that I’ve been too easily distracted, especially today. I’ve been all over the place, mentally, today, and it has not made for a productive devotional time. It seems to hinder me when I have a seemingly unlimited amount of time during the morning. I guess I work better under pressure of a deadline. But I have gained wisdom from the writing of Chambers today. Hopefully, I have been given notice of the dangers of distraction and allowing the “cares of life” to get in the way of my devotion to you. I pray for more focus, sharper vision, and the ability to keep my eyes on the task at hand, especially when doing something as important as this.

I also pray that your Spirit would keep me from becoming critical when I think that someone is not making spiritual progress, or getting of the path. You have called me to intercessory prayer, not criticism, and I sometimes fall into the trap of being critical instead of praying. Sometimes, I even foolishly try to turn my criticism into prayer! Convict me quickly when I attempt to do this. Keep my eyes on you and your path, and may I follow Jesus all the way.

I pray for this day, as we spend this day with family. Today is the day we get out the Christmas decorations and “deck the halls.” I pray for peace today, and a good time with everyone as we decorate the house to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I pray for safe travel for all who may be returning home from Thanksgiving celebrations. I also pray for peace at the madness that is the mall today. May we, your children, not get caught up in the frenzy of commercialism that is “Black Friday.”

C.S. Lewis said, “We are far too easily pleased.” We could just as well insert the word “distracted” in that sentence, too. I pray that we will all be able to be better focused on that which is important as we launch ourselves full-force into this “holiday season.”

Grace and peace, friends.

PS, lest you think I’m “distracted” by all that trivia at the beginning of the blog entry, I do that after I’ve written everything else in the blog, even after I type “Grace and peace, friends.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Am I A Fraud?

Good morning. Today is Thursday, November 22, 2012. Today is Thanksgiving Day. I wish everyone who reads this a very happy Thanksgiving. I pray that you all have at least one thing to be thankful for today. I recently read a quote by Max Lucado that made me ponder my thankfulness (or lack thereof). He said, “What if you woke up this morning and had only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Obviously, if we took the time to thank God for everything in our lives every day, we would never get anything else done. But it is still something to think about, that attitude of thankfulness. This is something that I’m working on each day. I watched a lot of people begin their yearly daily thanksgiving posts, beginning on November 1. While I won’t deny that it’s a good thing to be thankful, I can’t help but wonder where those posts are the rest of the year. What’s so magical about November, that we can only publicly proclaim our thanks during this one month? For this reason, I purposefully did not start such a list. I want to be thankful every day, and every day, I try to remember to give thanks to God for something in my life, if nothing more than for something as basic as the fact that I am breathing this morning. Yesterday, I remember thanking God for the colors in a tree on my street as I started my journey to work. Today, I am most thankful that my family is together. Rachel and Justin are here, and in a few hours, the five of us will all be in Mineral Wells, having our Thanksgiving meal with my parents.

On a lighter note, today is also, apparently, designated as “National Start Your Own Country Day.” Hmmm…”Bickleyvania.” I kind of like the sound of that…

On this date in 1718, British pirate Edward Teach (aka “Blackbeard”) was killed in a battle of the coast of North Carolina.
On this date in 1869, the clipper Cutty Sark was launched. It was one of the last clippers ever built and survives to this day.
On this date in 1916, Jack London died of kidney disease, at the age of 40.
Ravel’s Bolero premiered on this date in 1928, in Paris. If he had only known…
The U.S. Humane Society was founded on this date in 1954.
On this date in 1963, in Dallas, Texas…(caution…not for the squeamish)

On this date in 1995, Toy Story was released. It was the first feature-length film completely made by CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

Today’s birthdays include Robert Cavelier de La Salle (French Explorer), 1643, George Eliot (author), 1819, Charles de Gaulle, 1890, Hoagy Carmichael, 1899, Benjamin Britten (British composer), 1913, Rodney Dangerfield, 1921, Geraldine Page (actress), 1924, Gunther Schuller (composer), 1925, Lew Burdette (baseball player), 1926, Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), 1932, Terry Gilliam (the only American member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus), 1940, Jesse Colin Young (musician), 1941, Billie Jean King, 1943, Steven Van Zandt (musician), 1950, Jamie Lee Curtis, 1958, Mariel Hemingway, 1961, Mark Ruffalo and Boris Becker, 1967, Joe Nathan (baseball player), 1974, Karen O (lead singer of the “Yeah Yeah Yeahs”), 1978, Scarlett Johansson, 1984.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning, my rock, my refuge, my shield, and my salvation.

I was moved by a reading from In Touch magazine yesterday. Beginning with Psalm 105:1-5, the writer proceeded to expound on some of the benefits of gratitude.
1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.

Gratitude, the act of giving thanks can
Refocus our attention… Our lives are filled with distractions. Perhaps if we began our day with gratitude, we would not get up with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Relieve anxiety… Most of us know Philippians 4:6-7. … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thanksgiving shoves aside anxiety and replaces it with peace, not just any peace, but the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding!”
Refresh our relationship… When I’m showing gratitude, it keeps me from thinking that it’s all about me and my needs. I’m focused on God instead of me. That one’s a little tricky, because I’m giving thanks for things that are important to me. Still, I’m giving glory to God for those things.
Reinforce our faith… Remembering God’s past faithfulness boosts confidence in his present and future grace.
Rejoice our spirit… “Thanksgiving is the best way to dig ourselves out of the doldrums of discouragement.”

I thought this was a good list and decided to share it today. It’s not always easy to give thanks. Six years ago today, my best friend from high school and his family buried his niece, who was killed by a drunk driver. They haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving together since. It doesn’t mean that they can’t find something to be thankful for. But sometimes it’s very, very tough.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 2:6-11.
6 For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.
7 Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.
9 So man is humbled, and each one is brought lowโ€” do not forgive them!
10 Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty.
11 The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

What a terrible passage for Thanksgiving, right? Not so fast…maybe not. Perhaps it can make us stop and think about what we allow into our lives. God had rejected his people because they had allowed the idolatrous practices of other lands to permeate their culture. They became attached to their gold, silver, and other treasures. If we are honest, I think we have to admit that, when we get attached to and dependent upon our treasures, we cease being thankful to God for things, because we don’t recognize his provision in our lives. This is a basic definition of idolatry, allowing things to replace God. Eventually, “the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” “That day?” What day? That is described in the next passage, which I will read tomorrow.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Shallow and Profound.” I like that title, it grabs my interest. The scripture reference is 1 Corinthians 10:31. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Haha…that’s an appropriate verse for today, don’t you think?

“Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow concerns of life are not ordained of God; they are as much of God as the profound.” We like to fancy ourselves as not ever being shallow. This is nothing more than an effort to impress people with the fact that we are what Chambers calls a “spiritual prig.” We run the risk of becoming a “walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow” than we are. Chambers says, “Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby.” BAM! Listen, I’ve caught myself falling into this trap before. God has slapped me up side the head, too, when I begin to develop this attitude of pride, thinking that I’m more profound than others. Lately, he’s been keeping me humble, and I’m cool with that.

The appearance of shallowness does not mean that one is wicked, neither does it mean that there is no depth. Remember, “the ocean has a shore,” and is quite shallow for a good distance. All of these so-called “shallow” things, these amenities of life, “eating and drinking, walking and talking, area ll ordained by God.” Jesus participated in these things and did everything to the glory of his Father.

“Our safeguard is in the shallow things.” It is in these things that we anchor ourselves in God. It is in these things where we live. When those deeper things come, they will be given to us “apart from the shallow concerns.” We get so serious…”so desperately interested in our own characters,” that we forget to act like Christians in the shallow areas.

“Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.”


Father, I give you thanks this morning, and pray that you will remind me to give you thanks every morning, and all day, every day. I thank you for my family, and that we are together this morning. I thank you for providing the jobs that we have that enable us to have the meal that is being prepared while I type these words. I thank you for the transportation that we have that enables us to travel to my parents’ house to share this meal with them. I am thankful for godly parents, who taught me to love you and follow you at an early age. I am thankful that you kept me on that path that they showed me, and that it stretches out before me from her to the end of my days and even beyond. You are good, Lord. You are good. May we eat and drink to your glory today.

I thank you that, somewhere down the line, you taught me not to take myself so seriously. I thank you that you showed me the value of being “shallow,” of living in the common-place areas of life with the life that Christ lives in me. I cannot rise above your life. I will not pose as one who is more profound than he really is. Oh, sure, I want to think of myself is intelligent and a “deep thinker.” In reality, I’m just a man who occasionally has a thought. ๐Ÿ™‚ I pray that you would inspire me by your Spirit, daily, to lift up those shallow moments to you, walking in them as Jesus did, in the character of Jesus, as he lives in me. Let me glorify you in the mundane, Father, and you will lift me to the divine, sometimes. I pray that I am not, nor ever will be, a fraud.

I pray for this day. May the rest of the preparations go smoothly, and grant us safe travel to Mineral Wells in a little while. I pray for a good time of family fellowship this afternoon, and, most of all, I pray for peace.

“All praises to the one who made it all, who made it all;
All praises to the one who made it all, and finds it beautiful!”

Grace and peace, friends.

It Is Finished

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, November 21, 2012. Normally, this would be “hump day,” but I guess it doesn’t fall into that category this week, because it’s kind of like Friday for a lot of people. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so most people are off, unless you are unfortunate enough to work for one of these evil retailers that have decided to move Black Friday to Thursday.

Today is “World Hello Day.” I like that. HELLO, WORLD!

On this date in 164 B.C., Judas Maccabaeus restored the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is commemorated by the festival of Hanukkah.
North Carolina became the 12th state on this date in 1789.
On this date in 1877, Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph. Possibly one of the greatest inventions ever. ๐Ÿ™‚
On this date in 1920, 31 people were killed in what eventually become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

On this date in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald won amateur night at the Apollo Theater.
On this date in 1953, the “Piltdown Man” was revealed to be a hoax.
The movie Rocky premiered on this date in 1976.

Today’s birthdays include Voltaire, 1694, Stan “The Man” Musial, 1920, Christopher Tolkien, 1924, Joseph Campanella, 1933, Marlo Thomas, 1937, Dr. John, 1940, Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters), 1944, Goldie Hawn, 1945, Steven Curtis Chapman (musician), 1962, Bjork, 1965, Troy Aikman, 1966, Ken Griffey, Jr., 1969, Hank Blalock (baseball player), 1980.

We got in one last workout before the Thanksgiving Feast. I’m trying to minimize the damage that will occur tomorrow, so I’ll be trying to eat really healthy today. We won’t work out tonight, because 1) Rachel and Justin will be coming over, and 2) the cooking begins tonight!
Stephanie’s psych visit went very well yesterday (outside of some confusion over his participation in Medicaid). He was thrilled to see her progress, health-wise, and behavior-wise, there wasn’t much to tell him, so we got her meds refilled for another three months. She felt better for most of the day, yesterday, but by the evening, after working out, she was felling a little down again. Hopefully, she will feel better this morning.

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. (Psalm 43:3-4)
Father, show me your light and truth this morning. Give me a clear vision of the path, that I may walk it faithfully.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 2:1-5.
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

What a beautiful picture is painted in this passage. There is no way to tell when this is supposed to be taking place, it is simply “in the latter days.” All nations will flock to the house of the Lord, seeking to learn his ways and walk in his paths. The best part is verse 4, the end of war. This leads me to believe that it is speaking of a time after the Lord returns, since, in my understanding, that is the only time war will cease to exist.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “It Is Finished.” The scripture reference is John 17:4, in which Jesus says, I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

We think wrongly if we think that the death of Jesus was something that “happened to Him which might have been prevented.” We need to wrap our brains (and our hearts) around the fact that “His death was the very reason why He came.”

Once again, Chambers reminds us (for the third day in a row, so this must be an important topic for us to grasp) that our preaching should not be built around the idea that God will forgive us because he loves us. This kind of thinking makes the cross unnecessary, “and the Redemption ‘much ado about nothing.'” It is only on the basis of the death of Christ that we are forgiven. “The greatest note of triumph that ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ–‘It is finished.'” (Emphasis mine) It is the final word in the redemption of mankind.

When we take a false view of the the love of God, we actually belittle his holiness, and this contradicts the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. We should never allow ourselves to think that Jesus became a curse for us out of sympathy or pity. He because a curse for us by “Divine decree.” Our part in this is our conviction of sin. “Jesus Christ hates the wrong in man, and Calvary is the estimate of His hatred.”

Father, I thank you for the cross of Christ. “Once again, I look upon the cross where you died; I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside. Once again I thank you, once again I pour out my life.” (Thanks to Matt Redman for that lyric.) I thank you, Jesus, for not shrinking back from the Divine decree that sent you to become a curse for us, out of hatred for the wrong within us. My only acceptable response is worship; and that worship involves me pouring out my life to you as an offering of thanksgiving. “It is finished” should be our battle cry, Lord. The work is accomplished. The battle is over, and it has been won. And it is upon the outcome of that battle that my forgiveness is completely based. I cannot praise you enough for that, Lord.

I pray for this day, Lord. Christi is working from home again, and I give you thanks that she is able to do this. I pray for her day to be stress free and enjoyable. I pray that Stephanie will continue to feel better today, and that she and her mother might have some good moments today. I also pray for Christi’s mother, who is, apparently back in surgery this morning, as the initial surgery was not quite successful. Keep her safe, Lord, and make her recovery quick. I pray that my work day will be smooth, as well, and I pray that this Saturday’s work will also go smoothly.

I lift up a special prayer this morning for Kandi Mitchell Sargent-Lowe and her family, as their hearts are unavoidably drawn back to the loss of a daughter, Janakae, in a drunk driving accident six years ago this month. Father, I pray for their comfort as they continue to deal with this loss.

The most triumphant words ever spoken:




Grace and peace, friends.