Godly Sorrow for Sin

Today is Saturday, March 9, 2013. Not feeling real great today. I hope that it’s more allergy symptoms and not a cold coming on, especially since we have plans to get away to our favorite cabins in Glen Rose next weekend.

Today is Panic Day. I prefer, however, to follow the advice of Douglas Adams. Don’t panic. And always remember your towel.

Today is a day of chores. There is grocery shopping to be done. We have library books due. Christi’s car needs an oil change and inspection. I’m sure there is laundry that needs to be done and dishes that need to be done. But there is no hurry, and most certainly no need to panic!

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1796, future Emperor Napoleon was married to Josephine in a civil ceremony. He was 26 (but presented himself as 28 by using his brother’s birth certificate) and she was 32 (but presented herself as 29). Their marriage was rocky, at best. At one point, while he was campaigning in Egypt, Josephine had an affair with another army officer, “a scandal that almost brought on divorce.” She talked Napoleon into forgiving her and convinced him to have a church wedding on December 1, 1804, “the day before he was crowned by the Pope.” Even so, there was mutual infidelity, and the marriage was pretty much over by 1810, and was given the coup de grace by the state, as they had produced no heir.

Today’s birthday is Bobby Fischer, born on this date in 1943. Fischer was an American Chess Grandmaster, and the 11th World Chess Champion. He was considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. At one point in his life, however, he was pretty much an “outlaw,” living in Iceland because he had played an “illegal” chess match. He played a match against Boris Spassky, which took place in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was currently under a UN embargo, and this led to a conflict with the U.S. government. In 2004-2005, after his U.S. passport was revoked, he was detained in Japan. However, Iceland granted him full citizenship in 2005, after which Japan released him to go to Iceland. Such dangerous criminals, these chess players. Right up there with Martha Stewart. Sadly, Fischer passed away in 2008.

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:1-3
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

I pray, along with this psalmist, that my words and meditations might be pleasing and acceptable in your sight today. I pray for a glimpse of your face this morning.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:29-33.

29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.
30 And the LORD will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones.
31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the LORD, when he strikes with his rod.
32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the LORD lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them.
33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

The Lord will fight for his people and strike terror into the hearts of their enemies. He will give us a song in the night.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “I Am Sorry for My Sin.” The scripture reading is Psalm 38:1-4, 17-18.

1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

This psalm of David’s gives a long, detailed list of physical infirmities as he confesses his sin before the Lord. He looks at his illness as a sign of God’s judgment, finally getting to the point of everything in verse 18. This is a great model of accepting responsibility for sin. While it is not always healthy to view illness or physical infirmity as God’s judgment (every time we get a cold is not an indication that the Lord is angry with us over something), it is most certainly spiritually healthy to maintain an attitude of accepting responsibility for our actions. At these times, all that is necessary is, “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”

I don’t know that I can identify a time when I was so burdened by sin that it made me physically ill, but I can certainly remember times of deep mental distress while contemplating the effects of my iniquity. At those times, “the simplest of heartfelt confessions is all we need.” Note the word “heartfelt” in there. We must guard against the “I’m sorry I got caught” mindset. Confession is invalid if the heart is not in it.

Father, when I sin against you, may your Spirit convict me immediately to come before you with heartfelt confession, and then may you grant me repentance. I pray that I would not allow sin to fester within until physical infirmities erupt, as in the case of David in this psalm. I would deal with them promptly, that my fellowship with you would remain untainted. May I always be one who willingly accepts responsibility for my sin, not trying to pawn it off on someone else, always trying to point the finger of blame in another direction. No one has ever held a gun to my head and forced me to commit a sin. Every sin that I have ever committed has been willfully done, and, sometimes, to my shame, even cheerfully done. However, I will not dwell in the tent of past sins, as they are long forgiven and forgotten. I speak only of the future, desiring that my fellowship with you be ever growing and ever intimate.

I pray for this day ahead of us. May we get our tasks done today, and then spend the rest of the day resting. Prepare our hearts for serving you during the worship celebration tomorrow morning. I also pray that this congestion/drainage, or whatever it is will dissipate quickly.

True confession must include heartfelt sorrow for sins committed, taking full responsibility.

Grace and peace, friends.

Repentance Begins With Words

Today is Friday, March 8, 2013. I wish you a blessed day today.

Today is International Women’s Day. This was begun in 1911, and is sponsored by the United Nations. The focus is on working women and advancing women’s rights in the workforce, politics, and society at large. I’m all for that. Have been for as long as I can remember. In fact, I once took a quiz that told me at the end that I was, in fact, a feminist. 😀

Yesterday was a good day. After struggling with allergies all day on Wednesday, I felt pretty good all day yesterday. The work day went smoothly, and I got pretty much everything accomplished that I needed. And I felt really good, both physically, and emotionally. I can’t really explain this, but I was joking with Stephanie all the way to the gym last night, and had a really good workout on the elliptical, compared with Wednesday night’s workout, where I could barely pedal the thing. Is that what you do with an elliptical? Pedal? I don’t know…it’s not exactly running, but it sort of is, because you’re standing up, but there are these large “pedal” like things…oh, well…doesn’t really matter, does it? Anyway, it was a good day. Christi and I started watching the Tuesday night episode of American Idol, but didn’t get it finished. So, at this point, we still don’t know who the top 10 are. We will find out who America voted through either tonight or tomorrow.

Weight wise, I am .2 pound away from my lightest weight in over three years (which I hit in late September of last year, before I slacked off and gained about 20 pounds back through the holidays). Unfortunately, I have a weekend coming up. Then I have my birthday coming up next week, with a loooooong weekend (three days of vacation). This is going to take some extra discipline, along with the determination to enjoy myself as well. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but, as they say, “It is what it is.” 😀

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1265, Simon de Montfort “gathered together in Westminster Hall some peers of the land, a sprinkling of bishops, two knights from each shire and two to four ‘good and loyal men’ from each city and borough.” For the first time ever, ordinary citizens met together to “discuss the government and to give opinions regarding the laws they were to live under.” (This all happened after Montfort led a rebellion against Henry III.) This event is considered by historians to be the first parliament, and the beginning of what is, today, the House of Commons.

Today’s birthday is…I can’t pick just one today, sorry. The reason being, we have Mickey Dolenz in 1945, Randy Meisner in 1946, and Michael Allsup in 1947. Plus there is Alan Hale, Jr. back in 1921. Dolenz, for you youngsters out there, was one of The Monkees…the drummer. With the hair. Here’s a clip of him getting all emotional at Davy Jones’s memorial (I confess…I got a little emotional, too).

Meisner is a bass player and was a founding member of Poco and Eagles. (It is not “The” Eagles…never has been. It is simply “Eagles.”) Here is a clip of him singing “Take It To the Limit.

Finally, Michael Allsup is a guitarist and best known for his work with Three Dog Night. As far as I know, he is still touring with two of the three “dogs.” Here is a live clip of “Easy To Be Hard,” from 1969. The video, of course, focuses on Chuck (who was both Christi’s and my favorite), but Michael is over there playing the guitar.

And Alan Hale, Jr., of course, was the “Skipper” on Gilligan’s Island. He passed away back in 1990.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:76-77
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Psalm 108:3-4

I will sing to you, this day, my Father, and let my mouth declare a new song to you. You have, indeed, done marvelous things, and I will praise you with all of my being. By your mercy and grace, show me your face today, that I may live. I will take delight in whatever you will teach me today.

Today’s reading from In Touch magazine (Hah! You thought I was going to say A Year With God, didn’t you?) focuses on Matthew 7:9-11, which says, Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! The point is, God is worthy of our trust. He loves us unconditionally, because his very nature is love. In fact, it could be said (and is said) that he IS love. “God knows everything about you, including the unseemly details, and loves you just the same. That alone is good reason to feel perfectly safe with Him.”

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:27-28.

27 Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire;
28 his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.

It is believed that this passage is describing the anger of the Lord as he comes against the Assyrian army.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Sincere Repentance.” The scripture reading is Hosea 14:1-2.

1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips.

(The phrase, “pay with bulls the vows of our lips” may also be translated, “offer the fruit of our lips.”)

Repentance is, of course, an action, it is doing something. However, it often begins with words. Yet, it seems that sometimes that for which we need repentance sometimes keeps us from finding the right words. Notice that, in this passage, the command to bring words is immediately followed by the provision of those words. “The divine grace that responds to our confession of sin is already at work in eliciting it.” These words, the “fruit of our lips,” are all that we need to confess and receive our forgiveness. We have nothing more to offer than our repentance; animal sacrifice is no longer required. And God’s grace provides us with the words that we need. “Take time today to respond to God’s grace with a sincere confession of your heart.”

Father, I praise you that you provide words for confession and repentance when our hearts cannot find them. Sometimes the sin that so easily besets us is also that which prevents us from coming up with the right words to begin the process of confession and repentance. Your grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit, helps us along in that. Where would I be today, were it not for this grace? I would still be lost and entrenched in my sin. I would be alone, so very alone. But, thanks be to God, I am not alone! And I am growing in you, on a daily basis, thanks to your grace and mercy! I love the way you gently bring me along, a little bit further each day, sometimes showing me the most marvelous things, and other times gently reminding me of things that you have already taught me. I keep praying back to you the verse that you brought to my heart so many years ago, Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. And you are honoring that prayer! Show me, each day, where I sin and fall short of your glory, that I may confess and exercise true repentance. Even that repentance is granted me by you!

I lift up this Friday, this last work day of this week. May it be a pleasant day today, full of you. I pray for Christi, that she might keep feeling better each day, and that her work day would be stress-free today. Grant that she would find favor among those who have authority over her. I pray for my work day, and hope for good news today. I lift up Stephanie to you, asking that you would draw her closer to you during this day. Give us a pleasant, restful weekend, and prepare our hearts to serve you this Sunday morning.

True repentance begins with words of confession. We can trust God to give us those words.

Grace and peace, friends.

“Confession Is Good For the Soul”

Good morning. Today is Thursday, March 7, 2013. I woke up to the news that Alvin Lee, of Ten Years After, has died at the age of 68. Not a happy way to start the day.

Today is National Crown Roast of Pork Day. I’ve never heard of this, but it looks pretty good.stuffed-crown-roast-of-pork It’s not likely that we will be preparing one of these today.

Yesterday was a pretty typical day around here. Work, then home, then gym. Not much else to report. I had allergies pretty bad all day yesterday, after waking up sneezing at around 4am. It’s better this morning. I don’t know if the pollen is lower, or if my defenses have adapted, or it was the fake Nyquil I took last night (I have finally figured out that the difference between brand names and generics, when it comes to OTC medicines, is the difficulty in opening the package). Either way, I’m feeling much better this morning, so that’s good.

Today, I stop by and weigh in for the Biggest Loser contest. I’ve lost approximately 2 pounds since the last weigh-in. I guess I should be happy with that, but it’s not quite what I had hoped for. Any loss is a good loss, though, and my goal gets that much closer with each pound lost.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in AD 161, Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus Pius as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. He was just a few weeks short of turning 40 when he became Emperor. His first act was to have the Senate make his “younger adoptive brother Verus co-Emperor.” He is, perhaps, most remembered for his Meditations, “a series of fragmentary musings jotted down over his years as Emperor.” Marcus was the last of the “five good emperors,” an era that came to an end when he died and his 18 year old son Commodus “(the villain of the film Gladiator)” took his place.

Today’s birthday is Maurice Ravel, born on this date in 1875. Ravel is most known for his one-movement orchestral piece, Bolero. Oddly enough, legend has it that the piece was originally called “Fandango.” The idea was to have a single line melody repeated over and over, with no development, simply increasing the orchestra each time around. It is, some might argue, quite maddening. Here is a very nice performance of the piece.

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

My Father, I pray that you show me something this morning, as I read and meditate on your Word, that will inspire me to live this day looking to your grace.

Today, I am reading Isaiah 30:19-26.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures,
24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.
25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Isaiah speaks of a time of great blessing for the people of God, a time when he is readily available to all who seek him, even though there may be adversity and affliction present. His guidance will be constantly present, as his people walk with him. Idols will be destroyed and scattered. There will be great blessing of crops and livestock. It will be a time of great healing for his people.

Today, in A Year With God, I begin a new segment on the discipline of Confession. Yesterday was the last reading on the discipline of study. Confession is defined as, “Sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.” When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all of our sins. All we must do is confess and ask his forgiveness, and this requires complete honesty. Sometimes, we attempt to hide our sins, out of shame, as did Adam and Eve. Sometimes, we are even unwilling to forsake our sin, so we even attempt to hide it from ourselves. We must have the courage to shine God’s healing light on our sin, else it can do much damage in our lives (as well as the lives of those around us).

Confession can be simply between the individual and God, or it can also involve another human, one who is trusted implicitly. There are three distinct parts to confession (as described in this book). First is the examination of the conscience, second is sorrow, and third is the determination to avoid future sin. I’m not sure I see the third as an actual part of the confession process, however, without that which is called “repentance,” confession does not accomplish much. We must seek the Lord’s strength, guidance, and courage to avoid further sin; we must love and desire his ways, and hate anything that keeps us from following his truth.

1 John 1:9, a rather famous memory verse, says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Today’s reading is simply called “Confessing Our Sins.” The scripture reading includes the above verse, found in 1 John 1:8-2:1.

1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Right off the bat, a challenge is issued, as is customary on the first day of a new segment. For this discipline, I am challenged, over the next ten days, to make time for confession during my daily prayer time. If this is already part of the prayer time, then I am encouraged to pay extra attention to that particular portion each day. It is suggested to go through the three steps listed above.

It might be necessary to ask God to “reach into the deepest recesses of our soul and show us our sin more clearly.” Believe me, this is a painful request, but God will most certainly honor it. There are other times when we are already burdened by sin, and the act of confession releases a weight from our shoulders that makes us feel as though we are walking on air, afterwards. In extreme cases, where a sin is particularly difficult to release, confession to another might be necessary. Great caution is called for in such cases. Great trust is needed in whoever is chosen to be the confessor. Richard Foster says, “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin.” It also helps to be part of a church body that does not pass judgment on people for particular sins. My wife and I are blessed to be part of such a fellowship. We are both a fellowship of saints and sinners!

Father, over the next ten days, I pray that you would show me my sin as you see it! Reach down into the depths of my soul and show me where I have failed you (on some days, that reach will not need to be very far). Make me aware of sin, the moment I engage in it, that I might confess immediately. Make me sorrowful over my sin. One of the beatitudes tells us that those who mourn are blessed. I take that to mean mourning over sin. That is why I pray every day that you cause me to be mournful, both over the sin of our people, and my own sin. And then grant me repentance, as even the act of repenting must be a gift from you, lest I should boast that I have done anything of value in my own strength. My God, everything that I possess I have gotten from you. Even repentance for my sin, and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. Teach me your ways, O Father, that I may truly walk in your truth.

As this day comes our way, I pray for strength to meet it head on. I pray for Christi, that, as she works today, she might have relief from pain (it does seem to be getting gradually better). I pray that she might have healing in her bones and joints. I pray that her work day will progress seamlessly, without issue or drama. I pray the same for my own work day. I also pray that my company may receive some good news either today or tomorrow. And I pray that Stephanie may be drawn closer to your heart today. Show her the path that you have for her to walk.

I lift up special prayers for two on this day, who have lost their mothers. One named Dawn, a close friend of a lifehouse member, whose mother passed early this morning, and another, Mr. Reynolds, our favorite of Stephanie’s teachers, who lost his mother sometime yesterday. Give these comfort over their loss, and help them find solace in your grace and mercy.

“Confession is good for the soul,” seems to be an old Scottish proverb. Turns out, is also seems to be true.

Grace and peace, friends.

Overtaken By Glory

Today is Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Oh, dear. The Hallmark “Ultimate Holiday Site” has closed! Whatever shall I do?? They have, thoughtfully, suggested a few other links that might help. I’m trying THIS ONE. It lists today as National Frozen Food Day. I’m all over that one. I participate in that every weekday, as my standard lunch at work is a frozen Lean Cuisine meal. So crank up that microwave and take part in National Frozen Food Day. Or don’t crank up the microwave and enjoy a Salisbury steak Popsicle.


Last night’s lifehouse meeting was bittersweet. Due to a rather new ministry that the church is beginning, which involves another incarnation of the small group, our lifehouse will cease and desist as of next Tuesday night. At this point in time, Christi and I will not be participating in the new thing (unless an agreement can be made for an earlier start time…the current starting time seems to be at 9pm…ridiculous, if you ask me), and we are sad that our lifehouse is disbanding. But change happens, and can be a good thing, even though bittersweet. Our leader used the word “bittersweet” last night, and my mind immediately went here:

And with technology being what it is, these days, within a minute (literally), I had the song playing on my iPhone. Anyway, we will be having a bit of a celebration next Tuesday night, a final party, as it were.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1204, Richard the Lion-Heart’s massive fortress, Chateau Gaillard, was finally over come by the French, under the command of King Philip Augustus of France. Chateau gaillard Originally, the fortress had “seventeen massive towers, walls eight feet thick and a moat 45 feet deep,” and was virtually impenetrable. Philip was so determined to take the fortress that he is said to have stated, “I should take it if it were made of steel,” to which Richard replied, “I should hold it were it made of butter.” Unfortunately, Richard died, and the fortress was inherited by his cowardly brother John. At that point, Philip made his move, but was still unable to get into the fortress. For six months, the French camped outside the fortress, “suffering the daily jeers from the defenders.” (I have to confess that, upon reading this, my mind was drawn to a silly place…)

Of course, in that clip, the countries are reversed…the French are in the castle and the English are outside. Anyway, after a direct attack on the walls proved unsuccessful, Philip sent a small group through the latrines (EW?) who lowered the drawbridge that led into the main keep. Using their “massive siege machinery, the French hammered a breach in the last remaining walls, compelling the English garrison to surrender on this day in 1204.” The fall of this fortress marked the beginning of the end for the Angevin Empire.

Today’s birthday is Lou Costello, born on this date in 1906. Lou, of course was half of the famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello. And of course, since we are on the verge of baseball season, we have to see what is probably their most famous routine.

Lou passed away three days shy of his birthday in 1959.
Honorable mention goes to the guitar great Wes Montgomery, born on this date in 1925.

Wes passed away in 1968.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. Psalm 98:1-2
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18

Father, I pray that you give me a glimpse of your face this morning as I meditate on your Word. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:18.

18 Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

I don’t think this verse needs any commentary. Just take heart in the truth of the last phrase!

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Transformed into the Image of Jesus Christ.” The scripture reading is 2 Corinthians 3:18.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

“When we rest in the splendor of God revealed by Christ, we find ourselves changed by it.” We gradually grow toward the divine glory as it overtakes us and consumes us. Our pastor calls this “the one-percent grade.” We should always be moving forward, growing gradually in Christ Jesus, ever becoming more like him. We do not accomplish this on our own, of course, but are aided by the power of the Holy Spirit. “We are transformed into his likeness, becoming splendid and glorious, to the glory of God.”

Herein is the point of this discipline we call study–“to be changed, overtaken by God as revealed in Christ.” If you’re like me, and I’m sure you are sometimes, you aren’t feeling very “divine,” “splendid,” or “glorious.” Perhaps this prayer, quoted from the book, will help. Lord God, with all the mistakes I make on a daily basis, sometimes I feel so far from becoming Christlike. Grant me patience with the gradual process of transformation and help me to place myself in your hands without hesitation, that you may mold me into your likeness. In your name I pray. Amen.

Indeed, Father, most days, I feel far from splendid! Most days, I don’t feel like I’m being transformed at all. But this is not about feeling. This is not about appearances. This is about the truth that you, through the blood of Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are transforming me gradually, into the likeness of Jesus Christ. I have faith to believe this, in spite of my daily mistakes and shortcomings. I thank you for the times when I do see the transformation taking place. May those times give me even more faith and hope to know that you are working on me at all times, even when I don’t see or feel it. May I truly rest in your splendor, and may I truly be changed as your glory overtakes me. May I also recognize the blessings of waiting on you as you show mercy to me and my family.

I pray for this day today. I ask for healing for Christi, relief from her pain. I pray that we have a smooth and productive work day today. I pray that, as I pray through my private prayers later, I would have minimal distractions and not be sidetracked by my own thoughts and desires, but that I would pray your heart for all that I pray for. I pray that you would draw Stephanie closer to you today and inspire her to meditate on your word.

Imagine being overtaken by God’s glory as we are transformed into the image of Christ. Imagine the glory…

Grace and peace, friends.

“Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.”

*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

Beyond Bookishness

It is Tuesday, March 5, 2013. I pray you are well and blessed today.

Today is National Multiple Personality Day. I had no idea…neither did I. Okay. That wasn’t funny. And, truthfully, neither is MPD, although it is frequently used as joke material.

I have been nominated for another blogging award! A rather surprised “thank you” to Katrina Perkins, who nominated me yesterday on her blog. versatileblogger11 (It is actually a dual award, both inspirational and versatile!)

Why am I surprised, you ask? Katrina Perkins is an actress, a TV and movie personality (according to a blog post, she will be appearing in at least one episode of “Smash” this season, on NBC). I’m honored that someone in that genre of entertainment has noticed my humble scribbling over here, and considers it inspirational. As with all blogging awards, there are some guidelines that go along with receiving them, and I will get to those soon, hopefully within the next day or so. I have to study to see what fifteen other blogs I wish to pass this along to, as well as trying to come up with seven interesting facts about me. I have enough trouble coming up with one interesting fact about me.

Christi continues to troop along, and says that she thinks it is gradually getting better. Sleeping is difficult, though, because it really hurts if she sleeps on her right side. This morning, she said she felt like a rotisserie chicken. See? She can even maintain a sense of humor in spite of all this.
Steph and I got to the gym again last night. I’m pretty sure that was six consecutive days for her. I didn’t make it last Thursday, but I’ve been four straight days. Tonight, of course, is our lifehouse meeting, so no gym tonight. I may see if I can jump on the recumbent bike in our breakfast nook before going to work this morning.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1776, American rebels drove the British army, under the command of General Sir William How, out of Boston. “During the night they had constructed a fortified artillery position at the top of Dorchester Heights, across the bay from the city of Boston, and, even more remarkable, they had placed in it a battery of powerful cannon that now commanded not only the harbour, where the British fleet lay, but also the city itself…” It seems that the cannon had been acquired when they capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, and Henry Knox had them drug 300 miles, over frozen terrain, by oxen. Round one of the revolution had gone to the rebels.

Today’s birthday is David Fury, born on this date in 1959. Fury is a television writer and producer, possibly most known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Honorable mention goes to Dean Stockwell, born on this date in 1936. Stockwell might be best known as Scott Bakula’s sidekick in Quantum Leap, but I remember him best from this 1970 film.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1

Lord God Almighty, reveal yourself to me this morning.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:15-17.

15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,
16 and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.

God gave them the answer in verse 15. Salvation would come through returning (or repentance) and rest. Strength would be in quietness and trust. But they would have none of that. They desired the strength of swift horses, therefore, they would flee in front of swift pursuers, and they would flee at the threat of as small a number as five people, until what was left would be as lonely as a single flagstaff at the top of a mountain.

I think there is something to be learned for us, here. We have a tendency to want to stay busy; we always want to be doing something, working for God. Yet, there are times where he desires for us quietness and rest; a trust that is calm and peaceful. We don’t know how to do that. We can’t even abide silence in our times of worship. There always has to be some noise of some kind going on (even if it is musical noise). In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Studying God’s Ways.” The scripture reading is Psalm 119:27-32.

27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

The psalmist asks, in various ways, for the Lord to teach him. “Make me understand,” “strengthen me,” “teach me,” “enlarge my heart.” In verse 18, it is “open my eyes.” In verse 36, “incline my heart.” “This points to a dynamic, continuing relationship between God and the singer, not to a bookishness that serves erudition and keeping rules.” “Erudition” means “extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books.” What the psalmist is after, here, is “practical, ongoing guidance and transformation.” This type of learning or study involves more than just the mind. It must listen deeply, prepared to respond. For example, when studying the psalms, it is easy to come up with a list of why we should praise God, or the variety of different ways in which God can be praised. However, the kind of study we are after is more than just memorizing lists; it is prepared to join in the praise, to meditate on why we are praising God.

As the challenge is issued to ponder the different ways I can ask God to teach me, a quote from the great A.W. Tozer is offered. “What is God like? What kind of God is he? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? Such questions are not merely academic. They touch the far-in reaches of the human spirit, and their answers affect life and character and destiny. When asked in reverence and their answers sought in humility, these are questions that cannot but be pleasing to our Father which art in heaven.”

When we study God’s ways, it is imperative that we do more than make lists. We must engage him, learn about him and who he is, and be ready to join him, responding to what we learn.

Father, I pray that, as I study you and your ways, as I constantly ask you to teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth, I might join in the praise and actively ponder your ways, more than just memorizing lists of ten facts about you and eight ways that we should praise you. The life with you is more than lists, more than memorization. While there is certainly nothing wrong with memorizing scripture, it is pointless if I am not actively engaging you who brought those scriptures to me. Cause me to be more intimately acquainted with you, day by day. By your Spirit, I pray that you would make me ready to respond to what I learn about you and your ways. Anyone can rattle off facts and lists of academia. My heart’s desire is to be dwelling in the shelter of your wings, constantly learning from you. Incline my heart, Lord, enlarge my heart; open my eyes, do all these things in me!

I pray for the activities of this day ahead. Keep us safe as we travel to and from work. May our work day be productive and smooth, without stress, anxiety, or drama. I also pray that Christi’s back and foot issues will continue to improve. Draw Stephanie close to you during this day, and show yourself to her. May your grace and mercy fill our lives.

The study of God’s ways requires more than simply memorizing facts about him. To truly learn, we must actively engage his presence in our lives.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Today is Monday, March 4, 2013. Today is Hug A GI Day. Hallmark Ultimate Holiday Site says, “It’s March fourth, so march forth and find yourself a GI to hug.” I think that’s a swell idea. Just don’t sneak up behind them and surprise them, especially if they are suffering from PTSD. Seriously…if you see a soldier of any brand today, at least give them a “thanks.” I try to do that whenever possible. I never served in the military, so I always try to thank the ones who do.

Christi is still experiencing a great deal of pain, but she’s heading on to work today, because that’s the kind of person she is. She’s not going to let her bodily discomfort keep her from her responsibilities. I am, of course, trying to take on as much of the “around the house” responsibility as possible, to give her a break during this. She just said that her foot doesn’t hurt as bad because her back is hurting now. Yay?

Steph and I got in another workout yesterday after we got home from church and lunch. I’m really proud of her for carrying on like this. I’m frustrated, though, because I’m not dropping any serious pounds at the moment. I’ve lost about 20 on the year, so far, which is nothing to sneeze at. But over the past week, I’ve been basically level. Oh, well. Plateau, I guess.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1193, Saladin died. Saladin was the “legendary leader” who resisted Richard the Lion-Heart’s crusade to reconquer Jerusalem. Saladin, while an effective military leader, was also very chivalrous. It is said that, while engaged in battle with Richard, “he sent him and his captains chilled win, pears and grapes from Damascus to ease their life in camp.” There is even one story that says that, when he saw Richard’s horse killed under him, rather than have his men finish Richard off, he sent him a new horse. Richard finally gave up the crusade in October of 1192. Saladin died five months later, on this date, of a fever. While he was dying, it is said that he realized how ephemeral his triumphs were, and gave these instructions to his followers: “Go and take my shroud through the streets and cry loudly, ‘Behold all that Saladin, who conquered the East, bears away of his conquests.'”

Today’s birthday is Tom Grieve, born on this date in 1948. Tom has been involved with the Texas Rangers baseball organization, almost since its inception in 1972, actually before, as he played with the Washington Senators in 1970. He played for the Rangers from 1972-1977. After he retired in 1979, he joined the Rangers organization as a TV broadcaster, but then became the general manager in 1984, where he served until 1994. He is currently one of the TV broadcasters, a household name among Rangers fans, and well-loved by all (or at least should be). I have met Tom, personally, and he seems to be an extremely kind and gentle man. He has always treated Stephanie with great respect, which wins all kinds of points in my book.

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. Psalm 71:8-9
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! Psalm 88:1-2
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:4-5

I pray, Father, that I might get a glimpse of you this morning. Give me grace to carry me through this day. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:8-14.

8 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.
9 For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them,
13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.”

Sometimes, things appear in scripture that sound as if they are written about our modern society. So I guess the idea of “preaching” a popular “gospel” is not new. Of course, as Isaiah points out, via the very words of God Almighty, a popular “gospel” is no gospel at all. I saw a quote by Charles H. Spurgeon yesterday, that said, “That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” Churches can spend a lot of time and money trying to be appealing to “lost” people, or they can simply preach the gospel, which, according to scripture, possesses all the power necessary for salvation. I have said before that God is infinitely attractive, and any effort on man’s part to make him more attractive actually has the opposite effect.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Learning from Creation.” The scripture reference is Psalm 19:1-4.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

There are terms called “natural revelation” and “general revelation,” which refer to “how the world itself pours out on us wordless speech about God.” Our lives are “wordy” and very busy, but if we simply take time to “listen” to creation, we can learn a lot about God. I am challenged, today, to consider what I have learned about God from creation. This prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is offered:

Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful…
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste…
Praised be you, My Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Please note (as there are some who will jump to erroneous conclusions) that it is God who is being praised in this prayer, not the creation. God is glorified through his creation, which serves the purpose for which it was created.

Father, I praise you for your creation, through which I frequently gain insight into you you and your ways, or at the very least am able to draw closer to you and praise you. Many times, I have gazed upon the night sky, especially when I am in a place that is away from the light pollution of the large city, and have almost had my breath taken away at the wonder of your majesty. I have been blessed to gaze numerous times upon the splendor and majesty of the oceans of the world. I can scarce take in the immensity of them with my feeble, finite brain. To me, the oceans and the night sky are similar, in that, to my small mind, they seem endless. Even though I know that the ocean ends somewhere, on another shore, I cannot see that shore from where I stand. The body of water is huge, seemingly infinite (though I know it is not) from my point of view. From these, I get a small glimpse of your infinite majesty. I am thankful that this “vision” that you have given me (for it is obvious that the ability to see you in creation is, in itself, a gift from you, for there are some who, apparently have not this vision). I revel in the thoughts of your majesty when I look at the stars, the oceans, the beautiful creatures, and the forests and jungles. I see you all around me, and I worship you in those settings. Teach me more of you, my Father! Teach me more!

I pray for my family on this day, Lord. May you grace my wife with some relief today, as she goes about her work day. Give her a good work day, free from any more anxiety than she is already experiencing. I pray that Stephanie be draw closer to you today, and I thank you for her continued enthusiasm over working out at the gym. It helps keep me motivated, as well. I pray for a good work day for me today, as well, as I continue to adjust my work schedules and time management to new responsibilities. Draw me closer to you and teach me more about yourself.

There is so much we can learn about God, if we only have eyes to see his glory and majesty in the creation around us.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Importance of Community

It’s Sunday morning, March 3, 2013. Blessings to you! I’m up, getting ready to go to set up and rehearsal, just like usual. Christi, however, is sleeping in this morning. More on that later.

Today is If Pets Had Thumbs Day. If only…the amount of help pets could be around the house if they had thumbs…wow.

We had an interesting day yesterday. When I left this blog, Christi was at the doctor’s office, being checked out, because the sensitivity of the pain and the area of the pain she was experiencing when she woke up. The doctor sent her to the ER, because it was in the area of the appendix. In the meantime, Stephanie and I had a group session at the gym, doing the cycles for an hour. After that, we went to the hospital, where Christi had just finally gotten to see a doctor. They ran tests for several hours, and determined that there was no appendix issue, or hernia, but that she had likely strained something in there, last weekend when we started trying to install that new toilet. (Which, I forgot to update, was fixed properly this past Friday afternoon!) So he gave her some pain pills and muscle relaxers and sent her home. She spent most of yesterday evening zoning in and out of sleep, and I think she slept pretty soundly last night. She’s staying home this morning while Steph and I go to church.

Sorry, no time for history and birthdays this morning.

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96:7-9
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
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

Father, as I prepare my heart for worship this morning, I ask that you show me something of yourself this morning. Unite my heart with yours today.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:6-7.

6 An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a people that cannot profit them.
7 Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”

There is a little bit of mockery going on, here. The “Rahab” mentioned in verse 7 is, apparently a mythical chaos monster defeated by gods in Canaanite mythology. By calling Egypt “Rahab who sits still” (or “Rahab, who does nothing”), the prophet is mocking both Egypt and the Canaanite myth.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Learning in Community.” The scripture reading is Acts 2:14-18.

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.
15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

Peter has become the spokesperson for the early church. And in this passage, which is occurring right after the event we call Pentecost, is explaining that what has just happened has fulfilled the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32. In that passage, it is declared that the Old Testament predicts Jesus, that Jesus is the Messiah, the one exalted by God the Father, and that God has sent his Holy Spirit to empower the Church. Also important, though, and perhaps not quite so readily noticeable, is that this passage shows how the early Church studied scripture to understand events. “Prayerful consideration of God’s word was crucial.”

I am challenged, this morning, to consider how community has shaped my knowledge of scripture. I have already been thinking about the various teachers and influences that I have had in my life. But community has influenced me, as well. “Preaching, group Bible study, church fellowship,” and other groups have had both positive and negative influences on me, over time. The older I get, the more important community is to me, as I understand how God uses the Church to grow his people, and his people to grow the Church. I cannot over-emphasize how I have grown to understand the importance of community in the life of the believer. We cannot do this life alone!

Father, as I continue to grow and understand you and your ways, I pray that you also continue to use other people and the Christian community to help me in this. I thank you for the revelations that you have given me, over past years, on how important community is in our lives. I pray that I will never fall out of this understanding and believe the lie that I can do this life on my own. I have treasured the times that our lifehouse has shared together, over the past couple of years. I pray that others in your precious Body are experiencing the same thing.

I pray for this morning, as we gather to worship you in our local body of believers. Bring us together with open hearts and open ears, to both send up worship and prayers to you, but to also receive what you have to teach us this morning, through our pastor. I pray that the words that he speaks will be your words only, with none of his own ideas mixed in. Inspire him, even as he speaks.

I pray for Christi as she rests at home this morning. May the medicines that the doctor prescribed do their work in her body and relieve the pain that she is experiencing.

Community shapes us all, whether we realize it or not Reflect on that today, and look for the ways that you have been influenced in your life.

Grace and peace, friends.

Never Forget

It’s Saturday, March 2, 2013. Blessings to you that stumble across this place. If you’re here on purpose, thanks for being a faithful reader.

Today is National Old Stuff Day. Not sure exactly what that means. I have a lot of it, though. Maybe it’s a day to identify some of the old stuff that needs to be “gone stuff?”

If you happen to be in the Dallas area, the North Texas Irish Festival is this weekend, at the Fair Park. Always good fun, with lots of Irish music, food, and other entertainment.

Stephanie has a new challenge. The challenge for March (which began yesterday) is to have 16 workout days in the month, including two “Group X” workouts. So, in order to facilitate this, we are going to the gym in about a half hour, so Steph can take part in a cycling class at 1000am. I may join in, if there is room. Otherwise, I will do my usual cardio workout.

Christi is currently at the doctor’s office, to see if the pain she is experiencing needs to be seen to more urgently. I’ll update when possible.

On this date in 1476, the Swiss defeated Charles the Bold for the first of three times, taking a great amount of his treasure in the process. Among the taken treasure was his gold dinnerware, twelve “exquisite enamel apostles,” and an amazing collection of jewelry.

Today’s birthday is Kurt Weill, born on this date in 1900. Weill, a German composer, was probably most famous for his production, “The Threepenny Opera,” from which we get the song, “Mack the Knife.” He composed a good bit of other music, as well, however. Here is a clip of Marianne Faithfull singing “Alabama Song.”

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
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

Father, I will sing of your strength, and my soul, indeed, longs for your courts. May my heart and flesh forever sing for joy to you. Give me, this day, my “daily bread,” not just physical, but spiritual, as well. Show me yourself as I meditate on your Word, this morning.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 30:1-5.

1 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;
2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
4 For though his officials are at Zoan and his envoys reach Hanes,
5 everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.”

This could be referring to a time in 701BC when Judah depended on Egypt to help them fight against Sennacherib. Nevertheless, it is an oracle warning against seeking alliances and assistance from ungodly nations, without inquiring of the Lord first. It leads to “neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.”

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Remember Jesus Christ.” The scripture reading is 2 timothy 2:8-14.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,
9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

There is, even in the most modern of churches, an element of tradition in our Sunday worship. There is a joyful celebration of remembering Jesus Christ. In just the act of reading the above passage of scripture, we are studying a letter written approximately two thousand years ago. That’s one of the ways that we continue as Christians. “Our remembering of the tradition is our revolutionary act of defiance against the lures of the present age, one of our most significant practices of the faith.” In doing so, we are loosed from the “merely contemporary.” Even though the “Word” is two thousand-plus years old, it “speaks anew, lives among us.” The word of God is not chained; it is not bound by any restrictions.

It is clear from reading Paul’s letter to Timothy that doctrinal teaching is necessary. There is a message that needs to be repeated on a regular basis, as we gather together. We must constantly remind ourselves of these truths. I am challenged to examine my worship life…is there enough biblical content, enough doctrine, to sustain me?

Father, as I go about my daily life, may it be a life of true worship. Remind me that worship is not simply something that is done on Sunday morning when the local church gathers. It is a lifestyle, something that I must be about on a daily basis, consistently and joyfully. Remind me of the traditions that are so cheerfully ignored in most of today’s modern gatherings. Remind us all that there is value in tradition, insofar as it does not become the object of worship in and of itself. The value is that it reminds me what Christ did for me. The Gospel needs to be preached to me regularly, even though I have received it years ago. I must practice what I have learned from scripture, and repeat it to myself consistently, lest I forget. Let me never forget.

As this day progresses, I pray for a day of rest, as well as getting certain chores accomplished. I pray for Christi, who is currently at the doctor’s office to ascertain if the pain she is currently enduring is something that needs to be attended to immediately. I keep praying for healing for her. I pray for Stephanie and me as we get ready for a morning workout today. May it be effective and successful. Prepare our hearts for worship tomorrow.

May we never forget the traditions that brought us where we are today, even in our most modern worship settings.

Grace and peace, friends.