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 low— 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. 🙂 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.

His Temple Is Us

Good morning. It is Pre-Friday, November 8, 2012. Today is “National Dunce Day.” Make of that what you will.

On this date in 1793, the Louvre was opened to the public as a museum.
On this date in 1887, Doc Holliday died of tuberculosis. I’m your huckleberry.
Montana became a U.S. state on this date in 1889. All twelve people became citizens. I made that last part up.
On this date in 1895, while experimenting with electricity, Wilhelm Rontgen discovered X-rays.
On this date in 1933, FDR unveiled the Civil Works Administration, an organization that would give jobs to over four million unemployed people.
On this date in 1951, NY catcher Yogi Berra was awarded the American League MVP.
On this date in 1960, John F Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in one the closest presidential races of the 20th century.
On this date in 1966 Lyndon B Johnson signed an antitrust exemption bill that would allow the National Football League to merge with the American Football League.
On this date in 1973, the right ear of John Paul Getty III was delivered to his father, along with a ransom note demanding 2.9 million dollars.
On this date in 1994, Salvatore “Sonny” Bono was elected to the U.S. Congress. I got you, babe.

Today’s birthdays include Julian of Norwich (an English saint), 1342, Edmund Halley (the comet guy), 1656, Milton Bradley (the game inventor, not the baseball player), 1836, Bram Stoker (YEAH!), 1847, Hermann Rorschach, 1884, Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind), 1900, Ivy Bean (look her up), 1905, Christiaan Barnard (heart surgeon), 1922, Joe Flynn (McHale’s Navy), 1924, Patti Page (the singer), 1927, Morley Safer (journalist), 1931, Bonnie Bramlett (singer), 1944, Bonnie Raitt (blues singer/guitar player), 1949, Jerry Remy (baseball player and Red Sox TV announcer), 1952, Rickie Lee Jones (singer), 1954, Leif Garrett (singer), 1961, Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen), 1966, Parker Posey (actress), 1968, Tara Reid, 1975, Nick Punto (baseball player), 1977, Azura Skye (actress), 1981.

For some reason, THIS POST got ten hits yesterday. It’s actually funny that, almost every day that I check my stats (don’t judge me, you do it, too), there is at least one search for this cartoon. I guess it’s a very popular Peanuts cartoon.

We took a break from working out last night and cooked at home. It was nice, but we plan to get right back to the gym tonight. We are struggling a little with motivation right now. We’ve been hard at it for 10 months, and, you know, you just get weary. Doesn’t mean we’re quitting, we’ve just hit a little plateau. With the holiday season on us, we have to ramp up so that we don’t gain during all the festivities. Speaking of festivities, it’s 48 days until we leave for Cancun.

I miss baseball.

Father, I pray for a vision of you today, as well as a vision of my purpose and your plan for me in this life.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 140. This psalm of David is a prayer for protection and deliverance from “evil men.” David, as both king and military leader, knows that there are wicked and violent men who plan traps for him, desiring to take his life.

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men,
2 who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.
3 They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah.
4 Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah.

The first five verses have the appearance of being like two stanzas in a song, which makes sense, since the Psalms are songs. Note the characteristics of evil men. The plan evil things in their hearts, they have sharp tongues, they hide traps and try to trip people up.

6 I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
7 O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
8 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah.

David pauses to give some praise to the Lord, declaring that the Lord is his God and the strength of his salvation.

9 As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
10 Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
11 Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!

David prays for just recompense on the heads of the wicked, praying that their own lies and mischief come back to burn them.

12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

At this point, David shows that he is not just concerned for himself. He knows that evil men prey on the poor and afflicted, so he prays for justice for them, as well.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Unrivaled Power of Prayer.” Note the similarity to yesterday’s title, “The Undetected Sacredness of Circumstances.” Today’s scripture reference comes from the same chapter as yesterday’s, as well, Romans 8. Today it is verse 26, which says, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. I’ve been a “fan” of this verse for many years. There are frequently instances, during my prayer times, that I cannot come up with words to pray, or that I come to a certain person on my prayer list, and I just don’t know what to pray for them. At that point, I turn it over to the Holy Spirit, confessing that I don’t know what to pray for them. I have such a person right now. I also think that there are times that the Holy Spirit may “interpret” our prayers for us. I can’t really back this up, biblically, other than using an interpretation of this very verse. I can picture the Holy Spirit, telling the Father, “That’s not really what he means…what he is really asking for is this…” You know, God knows our hearts. So when we pray, we may not be able to quite articulate what it is we mean. I have every confidence that God hears what we mean more than what we say. That’s why I have no problem asking God for strength, even though he says he’s already given us everything that we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3).

That was all me. Now, let’s see what Chambers says. I believe, along with many others, that when we are “born again,” we are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In fact, it very well may be simultaneous, but that’s a different discussion. And this Holy Spirit which indwells us gives us power. That is one of his ministries to us. But he also “prays in us prayers which we cannot utter…He expresses for us the unutterable.” Chambers says that God searches our hearts to “find out what is the prayer of the Holy Spirit.”

We know also that scripture says that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Within this “temple,” the Holy Spirit can offer his intercession. If we are living in the Spirit, he will not allow us to use our bodies for our own convenience. Do we recognize this? Am I constantly aware that my body is his temple? Do I remember throughout the day that my “conscious life, though it is only a tiny bit of [my] personality, is to be regarded by [me] as a shrine of the Holy Ghost?” I must guard this conscious part of my life with great diligence. God will take care of the unconscious part, that of which I am not aware.

Father, I confess that I have not done a good job of maintaining my “temple.” This shrine for the Holy Spirit is in disarray. I have failed to be aware of the purpose of my life in regard to the Holy Spirit. I pray for more diligence in this matter. Garrison my imagination, repair this fortress that is my mind and my heart, that the Spirit might be able to successfully intercede in me and through me. I commit to more diligently guarding this shrine. When I pray that you not allow me to mess up this prayer ministry, this is what I mean. And today, you have brought my attention to a very important truth. I thank you for the truth of this verse today, that the Spirit truly does intercede for us, expressing for me the “unutterable.” I thank you for the power that the Spirit gives, both the power to act and the power to pray. I also thank you for remembrances throughout the day that I need to be praying about something, for someone.

I thank you that you know my heart when I pray. You know the intentions of my spirit, even though the words may not adequately reflect them. You also know that, even though I may say the same words every day, they are far from being “vain repetitions!” There are only a few ways to say certain things. If I’m praying for someone’s healing, there are only a certain number of ways to express that. But my heart is sincere. I am not repeating prayers just to repeat them out of ritual. Speaking of ritual, I pray, Father, that, even though this devotional time is a habit, it never become “ritual,” something that is done without feeling or thinking. May your Holy Spirit see to that, keeping this fresh every day. So far, you have done a fantastic job of that! I find your mercies to be new every morning! I find your word to be “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart!” (That verse just hit me so powerfully that I had to take moment and get on my knees and face before God!)

Father, I pray for this day. I pray for healing and relief from pain for Christi. She continues to feel some better, and her doctor appointment is tomorrow. I pray for some good results from that test. I pray for her work day, that you prepare her and enable her to deal with whatever stress may come her way. Keep her mind and heart focused on you today. I pray for Stephanie today, as well. Give her some hope and a purpose for her life. Draw her closer to you during this day. Give me a good work day today, keeping my eyes on you through all things. May I find myself in moments of prayer throughout this day, making those moments of “drudgery” into little times of worship to you. Fill me with your Spirit.

Today’s reading is important to all of us who call the name of Jesus. We must guard our hearts, our minds, and our spirits, so that the Holy Spirit can effectively intercede from his temple, which is us.

Grace and peace, friends.

“I Saw the Lord”

Good morning! It’s Friday, July 13! Today, it’s all about food. It’s “Beans ‘n’ Franks Day,” and it’s “National French Fries Day.” Honestly, there’s not a lot of chance that I’ll eat either one, today. I haven’t had “beans ‘n’ franks” in years, though…that kind of sounds good.
On this date, in 1985, the Live Aid concert took place. It began at Wembley Stadium in London, continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, and other arenas around the world, linked by satellite. It was put on to give aid to famine-stricken Africans. On this date in 1960, John F. Kennedy was nominated for president by the Democratic Party Convention. On this date in 1930, the first World Cup was held. And on this date in 2010, baseball became a little less interesting as George Steinbrenner passed away. Sadly, his kids had already messed up his baseball dynasty. Or not sadly, depending on who you root for…

I’m leaving work early today, for a doctor’s appointment at 2:15pm. It’s just a follow up to check up on my type 2 diabetes. My sugar levels have decreased dramatically as I’ve lost weight. I’m hoping they will cut back my Metformin dosage. I checked my chart, and I’ve lost over 40 pounds since my last visit in March. That should make the doctor very happy, right? Christi is working from home today, so we should have a nice evening after I get home from my appointment. We’ll get an early start to the weekend.

Father, I pray for wisdom this morning, as I read your word. Keep me close to you in spirit all day today.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 43. This psalm (author not identified) begins with a prayer for vindication. There is a brief moment of felling rejected by God, then a prayer for light and truth. It closes with the same appeal to the soul that is in Psalm 42.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

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.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

I really like the middle section of that psalm, especially the line, “to God my exceeding joy.” If we know, as we do, that God loves us, and that his love is everlasting and steadfast, then he certainly should be our “exceeding joy.” Here’s something to think about; when you are in that high emotional state, in the middle of the best worship you’ve ever experienced, and then when you are in the midst of your deepest, darkest sin…God loves you exactly the same at both times. That truth should have a profound impact on all of us.

My Utmost For His Highest

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord… Isaiah 6:1

Uzziah had reigned for a long time, and reigned well. So there was great sadness when he died. Has God ever had to remove a close friend from our lives “in order to bring Himself in their place?” Don’t get all indignant and say, “Well, MY God would never do such a thing!” Be careful what you proclaim that “your” God would never do! God took one of Israel’s best kings. What was Isaiah’s reaction? “In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died – I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or – I saw the Lord?”
Here’s an important statement: “My vision of God depends upon the state of my character.” Yes. “Character determines revelation.” Before I can echo the statement of Isaiah and say “I saw the Lord,” there must be something related to God in my character. First of all, unless I am “born again,” I can only see along the lines of my prejudices, anyway. But even after salvation, it is a struggle, isn’t it? Those prejudices keep popping up and clouding my revelation. You don’t know how many times a day I catch myself with thoughts that are unholy and uncalled for. But God is faithful, and, by his Spirit, those times are becoming less frequent, as he chisels away at me.
‘It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatsoever.” Does this mean I don’t care about anyone else at all? No! But it means that God is the most important person in my life. As I have said before, with all due respect to the “I Am Second” campaign…I am not second! I am last!
I am willing to live up to the vision. God has given me vision. I don’t want to mess this one up.

“Thank you, Lord, for drawing us to Yourself.
You opened our blind eyes to see our desperate need for salvation.
You moved our stubborn wills to repent of our sin.
You awakened our cold, dead hearts to believe in Christ.”
At the Throne of Grace (p 129)

Yes, Lord! You have drawn me to yourself and opened my blind eyes to see your truth! You have moved my stubborn will, and long ago, you awakened my cold, dead heart, so that I would believe in Christ. I praise you for this, my God!
You have sent out your light and your truth, and they are guiding me toward your holy hill. You have become my exceeding joy, as I celebrate you throughout the day, more and more. I pray that, as I live this day, Father, that this will be true even more. Remind me frequently, during this day, to stop and breathe a prayer, either of intercession or of praise. Let my life be a life of prayer and worship.
You have given me a vision, Lord! I did not have to lose a close friend (at least not at this point in my life) or a beloved king to receive this vision, but you have stepped in and…
Suddenly, I am made aware that there may be something that you are “replacing” in my life. At this point, I will not go into it, but the thought is there. And I am glad for this, if it is true, because whatever it is that you have moved in front of was not worthy of my great devotion, anyway. Only you are worthy of my sincerest praise and devotion. I will celebrate you, Lord. I will worship you. I pray that this vision that you have given me will grow to fruition. Teach me to pray more effectively. Teach me to pour out my heart and soul on behalf of others; teach me to weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice. I would be nothing, Lord. I would be emptied so that you can fill me up.

I pray that you give your church wisdom, Father! It is your will to give us wisdom. Your word tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. And you are the only true source of wisdom. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; (Proverbs 2:6) I pray for wisdom for your children.

I pray for this day. May the morning go smoothly, so that I can leave work with confidence that my fill-in won’t have any serious issues. I pray that my doctor’s visit this afternoon will be a positive visit with positive results. I pray that Christi will have a smooth day, working from home.

My Father, as I now proceed into my private prayer time, I pray for wisdom, clarity and focus. If I do not know what to pray, I pray for the Spirit to intercede for me.

Your grace is sufficient.

If God has removed something or someone from your life, something that you held onto dearly, see if there is a vision of God there to stand in their place. Isaiah saw the Lord. Will we see God, or will we lose hope?

Grace and peace, friends.