When I Look At the Heavens

Today is Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

Day 22,245

SEVEN DAYS until Spring Training starts! One week until baseball!!!

“I loathe the expression ‘What makes him tick.’ It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.”
James Thurber, U.S. author, cartoonist, humorist, and satirist, 1894-1961
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ratiocination. It means, “the process of exact thinking, reasoning.” (Merriam-Webster)

Once again, we stayed home last night, mostly so I could practice some more. I think it’s getting better, but I’m still struggling with moments of inaccuracy. I don’t know how else to describe it. I don’t have the songs down to where they simply flow naturally, yet, and that’s my goal. Oh, and, for the record, I’m not using any music. Everything is being played “by ear.” I did borrow from a few chord charts online when I couldn’t figure out an exact chord, but the rest is, as they say, on the fly.

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

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

Today I am grateful:
1. For technology that allows me to order sandwiches and salads from Subway from my phone and have them ready to pick up when I get to the store.
2. That I have the privilege of lifting others up to the Lord in prayer.
3. That I have the faith to believe that He can answer those prayers.
4. For the glory of creation that displays the love of God.
5. That His love is never-ending.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
creator of the changes of day and night,
giving rest to the weary,
renewing the strength of those who are spent,
bestowing upon us occasions of song in the evening.
As you have protected us in the day that is past,
so be with us in the coming night;
keep us from every sin, every evil, and every fear;
for you are our light and salvation,
and the strength of our life.
To you be glory for endless ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Creation is Proof of God’s Love,” by James Bryan Smith.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“All around us are hints and evidences of God’s desire for us to be full of joy.” That is interesting if you consider how “joy-less” we typically are, say, for example, during that morning drive to work. But even in the midst of the steel and concrete of the road systems that lead us where we are going, there is joy to be found, if we but look at it with the correct eyes.

We can find joy in creation itself, says Smith. “We live in a world that is magnificent and beyond our understanding.” Smith confesses that, at one point in his life, he did not see it this way, but rather as “a hunk of matter and molecules spinning endlessly in a pattern of evolution.” but he was inspired by the work of G.K. Chesterton who pointed out that “nature is not a system of necessity. Yes, the sun will probably come up tomorrow, but it need not. Perhaps each day God says to the sun, ‘Arise! Go forth!'”

I believe (and have experienced this) that if we look at creation with our eyes truly open, we will see the goodness of God and know how much He loves us. Remember, David, himself, was in awe of God’s care for man when he looked at the stars (Psalm 8).

Father, thank You for the beauty of creation, that demonstrates Your great love and care for us. May we look with our eyes open, today, as we do whatever it is that we do, driving to work, going to the stores, whatever. May we see Your great love for us wherever we look.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Advertisements

The State of the Heart

Today is Tuesday (I think), October 30, 2018. Yeah. Tuesday. Tomorrow’s Halloween. Tuesday.

Day 22,146

Fifteen days until Fallout 76!!!

“Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?”
James Thurber, American author, 1894-1961
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is caterwaul, “to make a harsh cry,” or, “to protest or complain noisily.”

I don’t know what to write about today. Baseball is over for this year. I don’t follow any other sportsing. I know I was still tired last night, so we were actually asleep by around 8:30! I feel better this morning, but still struggling to wake up.

A friend asked me, Sunday night, after congratulating me on the Sox winning, how many days until Spring Training begins. Hahaha!! I said I was going to savor this for a bit before beginning that countdown.

I’ll be cooking three batches of chili tonight. One to eat for dinner, and two to take to work tomorrow for our Halloween Chili Cook-off. I hope a lot of other people participate. I know one of at least one person who should be bringing venison chili, and maybe a couple others, as well. Then, tomorrow night, we’ll be heading to our pastor’s mother’s house for her annual Halloween chili, which is one of the best chilis I have ever had. We always enjoy that. It also keeps us from having to hand out candy at home.

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

“O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Peace)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
With Your Whole Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

“The fruit of our waiting depends on the state of our heart.” This sounds so simple, yet is so profound. And, yet, does it not seem that it should also be the other way around? But the truth is, the condition of my heart dictates how close I can be to God. “We can advance no further or deeper into the Holy Place of God’s presence than our heart is prepared for it by the Holy Spirit.”

We believe with our hearts and it is with our hearts that we come “into contact with God.” While it is true that we also believe with our minds, the deeper belief comes from the heart, and that is where God places His Holy Spirit within us. And in our heart, the Holy Spirit reveals “the presence and power of God working in us.” And here is where Murray mentions the mind. Even though we can believe things with our minds, “the mind is completely incapable of creating or maintaining the spiritual life. It is the heart that must wait on God.”

There is a sharp difference between knowing with our minds and believing with our hearts. This is where Proverbs 3:5 comes in. We must beware of “the temptation to lean on [our] natural understanding.” We must present our hearts to God and, even though we cannot see into them, know and believe that He is working “there by His Holy Spirit. Allow the heart to wait at times in perfect silence and quiet; in its hidden depths God will work.”

Father, again, here I am asking You to teach me to wait. I believe that You are working in my heart. I also believe that my heart needs a lot of work. Some days, my heart feels good; it feels kind; I feel compassion and peace. Other days, my heart feels wicked and mean-spirited. This ought not be so. Take my heart, God, and make it Yours. Mold it into what You need it to be, by the power of Your Spirit. May I yield it to You, 100%.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Am I?

Today is Saturday, July 28, 2018. Day 22,052.

22 days until S turns 25!

“There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.” ~ James Thurber, 1894-1961, The Quotations Page

The word for today is hypnopedia, “sleep learning.” It is the idea that people can learn while they sleep.

C is on her way to Denton, again. She had planned to take our dining room table and chairs up there in a rented pickup, but that just didn’t work out the way she planned. Instead, she’s going car shopping with R, who is thinking about trading in her current vehicle (paid off) for a “new” used car. C really enjoys this sort of thing, and it will be good “therapy” for her, so that she doesn’t think she wasted her Saturday. She is the kind of person who always needs to feel some kind of accomplishment on weekends. I am exactly the opposite of that. I prefer to do as much nothing as possible on weekends. We balance each other out pretty well.

I will be practicing a little bit later, probably after I go pick up our Click List and some lunch for S and me. I need to play through the songs for tomorrow, and then, perhaps, wrestle with my technology a bit more to see if I can get something recorded. My “teacher” is out of town on vacation, so he is not available this weekend.

The Red Sox pulled off a tenth inning walk off win, last night, beating the Twins 4-3, on a Mookie Betts home run. This puts their record at 72-33, remaining five games up in the AL East.

The Rangers beat the Astros 11-2. I’ll give you a few minutes to process that. I’ll even repeat it. The Rangers (43-62) beat the Astros (67-38, tied with the Yankees for second best in all of baseball), 11-2. This reminds me so much of the Rangers of the seventies. They couldn’t beat the teams they should beat, but would go nuts on the best teams, beating them with similar scores. Gallardo got the win, who has been their best pitcher, since they got him back, earlier this season. I’ve always liked him.

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

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side— let Israel now say— 
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, 
then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 
then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 
then over us would have gone the raging waters. 
Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! 
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! 
Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124

We have to be careful, in reading Psalms such as this one, to remember who wrote it and of whom it speaks. One key is in verse 1, “let Israel now say.” Israel is the only nation in history who could ever say, accurately, “The Lord is on our side.” There seem to be some people in the USA who believe that the Lord is on “our side.” That is a false statement. Just as it is false to say that the USA is a Christian nation. I have said this before in this blog, and will, most likely, say it again. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation.” If you think there is, you are just wrong. Only people can be “Christian.” Now, if you are a part of the family of God, a follower of Jesus Christ, no matter what nation you are from, then, yes, God is on our side. But I think it is more accurate to say that we are on God’s side, because I believe God is on God’s side.

I do believe that we can confidently proclaim verse 8, though, if we are part of the family of Christ-followers. “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)

For the weekend reading, we are redirected back to yesterday’s topic, the incomprehensibility of God.

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8

What a great question is asked in verse 4! “What is man that you are mindful of him?” I have asked that about myself, numerous times. God, why do You even care about me?? You are so . . . “big” is not enough. Infinite. How can one be “so infinite?” Infinite needs no modifiers. It is impossible to be “very” infinite. One is either infinite or not. God is. I am not. Therefore, I cannot fathom how He could care so much for me.

“In a world consumed with thoughts of itself, filled with people impressed with each other, having disconnected with the only One worthy of praise, it’s time we return to Theology 101 and sit silently in His presence. It’s time we catch a fresh glimpse of Him who, alone, is awesome–yea, incomprehensible. He is our infinite, inexhaustible God. Any serious study of Him takes us from an unconscious to conscious awareness of our ignorance.
“The One we worship defies human analysis.”

Father, help me to get to a place where I can sit silently in Your presence for a while. I still haven’t managed to find that place, yet. Sure, I can have silence in this room, but there are still too many distractions, because, hey, I’m on the Internet while I do this. Facebook is open in one tab, my email is open in another. So, I may have audio silence, but not media silence. Show me a place where I can be solitary and silent before You for a while. I need this. Give me that fresh glimpse of Your awesomeness. I also pray for Your Church, that we may drift away from the world’s disconnectedness and habit of being impressed with itself. I am nothing before You! Who am I that You care for me, that You are mindful of me! I am Your child, and one who desires to follow Your Son more closely.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Such Knowledge Is Too Wonderful For Me

Today is Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Day 22,013. Juneteenth.

Fifteen days until July 4!

148 days until Fallout 76!

“I loathe the expression ‘What makes him tick.’ It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.” ~ James Thurber, 1894-1961, The Quotations Page

The word for today is turophile, “a connoisseur or lover of cheese.” I would think I qualify. I’m no connoisseur, but I certainly love cheese.

Not really a whole lot to write about on a personal level, this morning. The Rangers beat the Royals by the score of 6-3, and are on a three-game winning streak. Their record is 30-44, and they remain 19 games out in the AL West. The Red Sox did not play last night.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
Be not silent, O God of my praise! 
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. 
They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. 
In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. 
So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 
Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand. 
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin! 
May his days be few; may another take his office! 
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! 
May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit! 
May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil! 
Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children! 
May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation! 
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out! 
Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth! 
For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. 
He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him! 
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones! 
May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day! 
May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

Psalm 109:1-20

So this is in the Bible. And, while it must be here for a reason, I’m pretty sure I could never bring myself to pray this kind of thing against someone, no matter how badly I had been treated. But I think it is okay for us to vent to God. Tell him how you feel about things. He can handle it.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
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. 
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139

This Psalm was in my Bible reading plan for the day. This plan bounces around in the Psalms, depending on what the other portions for the day are. It has long been one of my favorites, as it speaks of the absolute, infinite knowledge that God has about us. It also speaks of his presence. Since he is everywhere, there is nowhere I can go that he is not. For some, this creates awkwardness, uncomfortableness, or even terror. For me, it is comfort.

Father, I do, indeed, praise you, for I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” When I think about the human body, and the way it works, I am amazed. When I think about the fact that you are everywhere, all the time, my mind cannot take it in. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Remind me of these things as I navigate the day ahead of me. There will be challenges; there will be pleasures; there will be joys. May they all reflect your presence in my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

“Do You Love Me?”

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”~~James Thurber
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is a capella, which means “without instrumental music,” or, “without instrumental accompaniment.”

Today is Horse Protection Day. I chose this option because of our friend, Summer Guilliams, who loves horses.

Welcome to March. Today is March 1. My birthday fell in this month, in 1958.

Band practice went well, last night. It was a challenging one, as we played through all of our music for the upcoming concert. It was the first time we had played all of the music straight through. Well, almost straight through. Those of you who have been, or are currently in, band know what I’m talking about. When I was in college, we never played all the way through a piece without stopping until the actual performance!

Not much else going on, over here, so on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.

Psalm 31:21-22

When we are in trouble, we feel like a “besieged city.” We feel trapped by the very defenses that we set up to keep trouble out. “Our own defenses, however useful they are for a time, finally become part of our problem.” We don’t need better defense against evil; we need “a great deliverer from it.”

“‘Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through;
strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield,
be Thou still my strength and shield’
(William Williams, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,’ translated by Peter Williams). Amen.”

“Do you love me?” John 21:17

In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, entitled “The Undeviating Question,” Oswald Chambers addresses this great question that Jesus asked Peter. In this verse, it was the third time Jesus asked the question. Peter had nothing left to declare. “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” “Peter loved Jesus in the way in which any natural man loves a good man.” But after this, Peter began to confess his love, “not merely by his words, but by everything he does.”

God’s word can hurt us like no sin can hurt , “because sin blunts feeling.” But when Jesus comes to us and asks, “Do you love me?” it intensifies our feelings. We can’t get sentimental with our answer, either. We can’t just say “nice things” when Jesus speaks to us. All we can do is, like Peter, look at him and say, “Lord, you know . . .”

Father, I have struggled with the answer to this question many times. Do I love you? I say that I do. I proclaim it. But sometimes, what I do does not match up with what I say. I pray for your Spirit to empower my actions to speak louder than my words. Yes, words are necessary. But actions must accompany them. Teach me your way that I may walk in your truth. Not talk your truth.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.