What the World Needs Now…

Good morning. It’s Thursday morning, December 20. Five days to Christmas, six days to Cancun. Today is “Mudd Day,” apparently named after the doctor who tended to John Wilkes Boothe after he shot Lincoln and broke his leg. He went to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who apparently delayed contacting the authorities, and, subsequently, served four years in prison for participating in the conspiracy to assassinate the President.

It’s also “Go Caroling Day.” I like that one better. 🙂

On this date:
In 1803, the “Louisiana Purchase” was completed.
In 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede.
In 1941, the “Flying Tigers” had their first battle in Kunming, China.
In 1957, Elvis was drafted. (Presley, not Andrus.)
In 2007, Elizabeth II became the oldest monarch of the U.K, passing Queen Victoria.

Today’s birthdays include Samuel Mudd (see the info on “Mudd Day” above), 1833, Branch Rickey (baseball exec), 1881, Fred Merkle (first baseman, “Bonehead”), 1888, Peter Criss (drummer for KISS), 1945, Alan Parsons (musician and producer), 1948

Cecil Cooper (baseball player), 1949, Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), 1966, Aubrey Huff (baseball player), 1976 (grew up in Mineral Wells, Texas, my home town), James Shields (baseball pitcher), 1981, David Cook (winner of American Idol), 1982, Jonah Hill (actor), 1983.

We didn’t do much yesterday, other than watch the two episodes of The Voice from this week, including the season finale. I won’t be a spoiler, but let’s just suffice to say that I was VERY unhappy with the final result.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. (Psalm 51:15)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:1-2)
Father, you truly have been my refuge for all these years. Open my lips this morning, and I will praise you. Show me a vision of you, that I might serve you faithfully today.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 11:6-9.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

The beautiful scenario begun yesterday continues in today’s reading. The peace envisioned in the reign of the Messiah is almost unfathomable. Verse 9 is especially beautiful. “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
There also some interesting thoughts regarding children and animals that I don’t have time to get into this morning.

Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Right Lines of Work.” The scripture reference is John 12:32, in which Jesus says, And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

“Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is a farce, and there was no need for it.” The world doesn’t just need love, the world needs open-heart surgery.

If a soul that is in difficulty can get to God through any other line than the Cross of Christ, then that Cross was unnecessary. I’m about to say something very unpopular, so get ready. If what many people say is true, that there are “many roads to God,” then the horrible suffering that Jesus Christ went through was a tragic, terrible joke on him. If there is any other road to get to God besides the road of the Cross of Christ, than that God is a cruel, sadistic, jerk. The truth, as I believe it, is that there are only two roads, and they lead in opposite directions. (That’s a Timothy Keller thought, there.) Even Led Zeppelin only mentioned two roads. “If you can help others by your sympathy of understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ.” I must keep my soul rightly related to God, and I must only try to help others on his line, not trying to help on the “human line” and completely ignoring God.

I must show the world Jesus Christ and him crucified. I must lift him up, so that he may draw to himself. “Every doctrine that is not imbedded in the Cross of Jesus will lead astray.” My usefulness to God depends solely on my simple relationship to Jesus Christ, and nothing else.

Our calling as “New Testament workers” is to “uncover sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior.” Chambers says we “cannot be poetical,” we “must be surgical.” While I might agree with that sentiment, I find great comfort in waxing poetical, at times, especially since I’m a fledgling songwriter. However, I do agree that “We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful discourses.” The aesthetic quality of our speech matters not one iota as long as the message being presented is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

All that being said, there is still a need for the truth to be spoken in love. There is a way to “uncover sin” that is not so harsh as some want to make it. The Gospel of Christ can be shared without being “judgmental.” “You’re going to Hell because of your sin,’ is probably not the best way to win someone over. “Here’s how much the Creator of the universe loves you,” is probably a better start.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Father, I pray for compassion for all people. While I recognize that sympathy is not what the world needs, and that “what the world needs now is love, sweet love,” is not quite an accurate assessment of the problem, when we attempt to spread the Gospel of Christ while spewing hatred at sinners, we don’t do much good. Over and over, your word tells us that we are to take care of the needy. The widows and fatherless are especially dear to you, and your word does not differentiate between the saved and lost widows and fatherless, at that point. The poor and needy are poor and needy, regardless of their spiritual condition. Nevertheless, I pray that, while we generously provide for the needs of the people, we don’t forget to give them what they really need, and that is Jesus Christ. I pray each day that I might help someone find your peace. That peace comes through Jesus Christ and him alone. Obviously, I don’t believe that there are many roads to get to you. But I do believe in using compassion to help someone find that one true road. So I pray for more compassion for people. You have told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. You have told us to treat people as we would be treated. That must lead me to the conclusion that there are a lot of “Christians” out there who would prefer to have hatred and venom spewed at them. I don’t want to be that person, and I thank you that you have brought me down a path of compassion instead. I want to love like you love, Lord. I pray daily that the characteristics of love presented in 1 Corinthians 13 would be manifest in my life. I pray that you would make me
not envious,
not boastful,
not arrogant,
not rude,
not insistent on my own way,
not irritable,
not resentful,
not one that rejoices in wrongdoing,
one that rejoices in truth,
bear all things,
believe all things,
hope all things,
endure all things.
In short, I want to be like Jesus.

I pray for this day, Father. I pray for a good work day for Christi and for me. I pray for a day with no anxiety for us, as well as for Stephanie. I pray that Stephanie would feel better today, as she was a little “under the weather” yesterday. Draw us all closer to your heart today.

I thank you that our pastor’s wife is improving, and continue to pray for her healing and recovery from pneumonia. I also pray for my manager’s recover from shoulder surgery.

Repeating a previous statement. The world doesn’t just need love…it needs open-heart surgery.

Grace and peace, friends.

Sanctification, God’s Will For Us

Good afternoon. It is Saturday, October 20, 2012. This is the Saturday afternoon edition of Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God.

Today is “World Osteoporosis Day.” So get aware of osteoporosis and have some vitamin D and calcium.

On this date in 1803, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.
On this date in 1944, an explosion occurs in Cleveland, caused by liquid natural gas leaking. 30 blocks were leveled and 130 were killed. Wait. “Liquid natural gas?” I thought…but…never mind.
On this date in 1947, the “House Un-American Activities Committe” began investigating Communist infiltration into Hollywood. This resulted in a blacklist that kept many from working in that industry for years.
On this date in 1968, Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis.
Also on this date in 1968, Dick Fosbury “flopped” to an Olympic high jump record.
The “Saturday Night Massacre” occurred on this date in 1973. Richard Nixon fired U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus because they refused to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was later fired by Robert Bork. Did you get all that?
On this date in 1977, the plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Also killed were the road manager, pilot, and co-pilot.
Burt Lancaster died on this date in 1994.

Birthdays for today include Stanislaus I Leszczynski, King of Poland, 1677 (I never heard of him, I just couldn’t help putting that name in here), John Dewey, American philosopher, 1859, Charles Ives, American composer, 1874, Bela Lugosi, 1882, Grandpa Jones, 1913, Art Buchwald, 1925, Joyce Brothers, 1927, Mickey Mantle, 1931, Tom Petty, 1950, Viggo Mortensen, 1658, Juan Gonzalez, 1969, Snoop Dogg (or Lion or whatever he calls himself these days), 1971, John Krasinski, 1979.

This morning went pretty well. Christi is currently at Petsmart with Tessie (our corgi dog), getting her regular checkup. The rest of the day should be fairly uneventful. Tomorrow, Christi works the Mac at church, so we will be there early. Then we plan to go up to Denton for lunch with Rachel and Justin.

The NLCS will be extended at least one more game, back in San Francisco, as the Giants won game 5, 5-0, behind the pitching of Barry Zito. I sure hope this long rest won’t hurt the Tigers when the World Series begins.

Father, I pray for some revelation this afternoon, as I look into your word. Give me wisdom as I ponder some opportunities that have been presented to me.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 121. Another of the “Songs of Ascents,” this one begins with the well known words, “I lift up my eyes to the hills…”

1 A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Knowing that our God never sleeps provides us with great comfort. We look for help, and we know where this help comes from. It comes from “the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Is God’s Will My Will?” The scripture reference is 1 Thessalonians 4:3, which says, For this is the will of God, your sanctification. We don’t need to wonder if God’s will is for us to be sanctified. But is is my will. “Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement? Am I willing to let Jesus be made sanctification to me, to let the life of Jesus be manifested in my mortal flesh?”

This is what I have been praying for. The sanctification of Jesus in me, letting his life be “manifested in my mortal flesh” so that those characteristics we call The Beatitudes and the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 could be made manifest in me. The effect is not the cause. We sometimes make the mistake of placing obedience and service ahead of sanctification, thinking that if we can just obey enough or serve enough, that we will be sanctified. But it is the life of Christ in us that sanctifies us; it makes us one with Christ, and then, in him, one with God. All of this happens through the marvelous Atonement. “The effect in me is obedience and service and prayer, and is the outcome of speechless thanks and adoration for the marvelous sanctification wrought out in me because of the Atonement.”

Father, I pray for sanctification. I cannot work for it. I know that there is nothing that I can do to accomplish sanctification, other than allowing the life of Christ to be lived in me. I have to stop fighting against it. How do I fight against it? One way is by trying to do things on my own. I spent years trying to please you with my works, even though I knew they did not save me. I spent a big part of my life trying…maybe there’s the key, Father. Trying. When I stopped trying and began to let you live in me, to let the life of Christ be formed in me, things began to look better; things began to be easier. And then, you began to nudge me toward this pray-life. I pray that this will continue to be my direction. I do still want to use the musical gift that you gave me to glorify you, however. So I pray for opportunities to do that. But for right now, keep me focused on the prayer. Let me be faithful to pray when I tell people that I will. That has been something that has not been an issue, lately. I give you thanks for that. I’ll be honest, Lord. It feels good to pray for people. I feel like I have accomplished something worthwhile every day when I finish praying…well, I guess I never really “finish,” do I?

I pray for the remainder of this day, that Christi and I will have some time to relax and just enjoy being together. I continue to pray for her pain to be healed. I pray that the doctor may have some answer on Monday, some idea of what to do. I pray for tomorrow’s worship celebrations, as we serve you during those times. I pray for the worship band that will be leading us in worship tomorrow. Fill their hearts with your Spirit as they make preparation to worship you and lead us in doing the same. I pray for Joel as he prepares a message for us tomorrow. Fill his heart with your words, that they might flow out of him and into our hearts, giving us inspiration to be the Church, the body of Christ, the community that we should be as we live and interact together, serving you and serving each other you the name of Jesus Christ.

May we remember to get the order right. Sanctification brings about obedience and service.

Grace and peace, friends.