“Meshech and the Tents of Kedar”

Today is Thursday, November 30, 2017. Day 21,812.

25 days until Christmas!

Mark Twain, born on this date in 1835 (died 1910), said, “Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is nostrum, a noun, meaning, “a scheme, theory, device, etc., especially one to remedy social or political ills; panacea.” Also, “a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine,” and, “a medicine made by the person who recommends it.”

Today is Stay Home Because You’re Well Day. I have to say I love this one. Perhaps I’ll try it some day. But not today, because I’m all out of PTO for this year.

We used the new dishwasher last night, and it seems to have worked just fine. Interesting discovery: this washer has a “Sensor” setting, which allows the dishwasher to determine how long it should run based on the volume and dirtiness of the dishes. It takes, on average, two to three hours to run. I thought that seemed like a really long time, but when I consulted the guide book, I discovered that it does, in fact, have a “1-hour” setting, but that setting actually uses more water and energy than the longer cycle. Who knew?? So we will just be letting it do its own thing. It is also very quiet.

C made dinner for us last night, and already had it simmering when I got home from work. She’s doing better, for the most part, and has cut back to only a half pill of pain killer a couple times a day. I’m not sure when she will be going back to her actual work place, but she continues to work from home. The important things are the two appointments, Friday and Monday, at the different heart doctors.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob.
Psalm 81:1-4
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalm 86:11
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
Psalm 71:15
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Psalm 147:7
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Matthew 6:25-30
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
Psalm 65:9-13
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
The Gloria
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer

(From Practice Resurrection)

(Pages 133-136)

Eugene Peterson relates a personal experience from his days in Baltimore, where he moved to start a new church. As he sets the stage for this story, he takes note that, in spite of all of Paul’s talk of peace, there was a “conspicuous absence of peace in the world and in his life” as he wrote. Paul wrote (or dictated) Ephesians from a Roman prison cell. While he uses the “broken wall as a metaphor for church that welcomes all, church that is open to all, church that is hospitable to all, he is locked behind the walls of a Roman prison.” From the records that we have, we also know that the first century churches were quite full of contention. So what happened to that broken wall?

Peterson shift to a photo that he has on his desk, an aerial view of a community in the suburbs. Tract homes, each one fenced, each one with a swimming pool in the back yard. He had labeled the photo, “Meshech and the Tents of Kedar.”

Huh?

When he was organizing the church in Baltimore, he was new to the ‘burbs. In his home town, they didn’t have many fences. People were free to walk across each others’ yards, and there was one community pool, where all were welcome. What he realized in this new suburb was that “everyone was a stranger to his or her neighbors.” As he began planning this church, he believed that the hard part would be getting the people to come worship God, and that developing a “sense of community would be easy.”

He was wrong.

“It wasn’t long before I had people worshiping God on Sunday mornings.” It was awkward, at first, to be sure, but people were willingly there. “But getting them interested in each other was another thing entirely. They didn’t want to be neighbors. They wanted to be self-sufficient, independent.” At one point, a newly formed community association had a meeting. Peterson attended, not sure what he would encounter. He was completely taken by surprise. “It was the most contentious gathering of people I had ever attended.” What he eventually realized was that “These people don’t like each other.” They didn’t really know each other, but what they didn’t know, they didn’t like. Every time someone spoke, there was an immediate challenge or refutation. The talk was all rude. (This reminds me a lot of Facebook.)

Now, back to the title of the photo. Remember that? Meshech and the Tents of Kedar. Peterson was taken back to Psalm 120. Verse 5. “Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!” The writer of the Psalm is surrounded by people who don’t want peace, who “hate peace” (verse 6).

That’s how he felt the night of that association meeting. His purpose was to develop community and get people to worship God, but he found himself in a place where “community” was the last thing people wanted.

Father, while I don’t like leaving this on a negative note, I pray that you would continue to work this sense of community into us. I have struggled with this. I barely know my neighbors, and the people who live more than one house away, I don’t know at all. I have been guilty, we have been guilty of that sense of “self-sufficiency,” and our time at The Exchange has changed that. We are still growing in that aspect, and I want to continue to do so. Make us more aware of the interdependence that we, your people, have with one another. We need each other. Help us to know that, and help us to help each other more.
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.

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What Is Church?

“Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines.”

Today is Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Day 21,650. First day of summer.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Goodreads

The word of the day is duende, a noun meaning, “the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm.” “Even as a child, she had an unmistakable duende that attracted the attention of passersby.”

Today is Make Music Day. So, in the spirit of Mama Cass, “make your own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along.”

Yesterday was a sad day, as we had a young member of our church pass away. It was not totally unexpected, yet we were hoping for some kind of miracle. A thirty-something year old lady passed from complications involving organ failure. She has left behind a husband and two children, a teenage son and younger daughter. If you are of the praying persuasion, please pray for this family as they grieve.

Tonight is our bowling league, but we are still unsure if C will be able to bowl. That will be determined during the day, sometime. I guess she’s waiting on some communication from her doctor as to the next step after the x-rays.

In other news, THE RED SOX ARE IN FIRST PLACE!!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.

Psalm 55:16-17
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 
Psalm 31:1
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
Jesus asked, How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

(From Practice Resurrection)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-2

So we arrive at Chapter 1, “The Church of Ephesus: Ephesians 1:1-2.”

Eugene Peterson begins by describing the Church as “the textured context in which we grow up in Christ to maturity.” It’s difficult, though, this thing called church. Many people, in fact, find it to be “the most difficult aspect of being a Christian.” I can’t disagree with that. My wife and I, long ago, learned to really dislike the process of finding a new church. Of course, in Paul’s day, when Ephesians was written, such a thing was unheard of. You simply went to the closest, local gathering of believers in your town.

Why do we have church? “The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death.” I like that answer. Church is the central theme in the Holy Spirit’s strategy for “providing human witness and physical presence to the Jesus-inaugurated kingdom of God in this world.” There will be a lot of quotes as I go through this book, because I just can’t seem to adequately paraphrase Peterson.

Sure, over time, there have been a lot of issues with the church. We have been left with impressions of “bloody fights, acrimonious arguments, and warring factions.” Yes, these have happened, but they do not define church. They might define humans, but they don’t define church, and that is important to understand.

“Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines.” I love that definition. And this “practice of resurrection” is “an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”

I think I’ll stop there for today.

Father, help me to embrace this life, to practice this resurrection. I haven’t done well at this. I pray for more discipline to have this mindset in me that life, in this world of death, is something to be embraced, to be practiced.
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.

Being Light

Today is Sunday, June 18, 2017. Day 21,647. Father’s Day.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain
Goodreads

Today’s word of the day is whizzo, an adjective meaning, absolutely first-rate; superb; excellent. It is British slang.

Today is International Panic Day. So today, go ahead. Do panic. Don’t “remain calm.” Or, you could just go fishing, because it’s also Go Fishing Day. It’s also International Picnic Day, which is a little strange, because “picnic” and “panic” are alarmingly similar.

Today is Father’s Day. I wish I had more time to write about this, but since it’s Sunday, I’m pressed for time. And Windows tried to kill my computer yesterday (see yesterday’s entry), and I was planning on writing a bit about that yesterday. Anyway, if my math is correct, and it frequently is not, this is my third Father’s Day without a father. While it is true that the initial pain has subsided somewhat, there is still a great emptiness there. Not just today. Today is just a day. The emptiness is every day. when you “lose” a loved one, if I may be so bold as to state this, the emptiness will always be there. There will always be things that you shared with that person, that you can no longer share with him or her. The radio is a constant reminder, because I will come across a song and think, “My dad would love this song.” I’ll see something about a movie and remember how much he loved that movie. We heard “All Night Long,” by Lionel Richie, while we were in Oregon, and I remembered that it was my dad’s very favorite music video. This memories will never fade. At least I certainly hope that they don’t!

So, today, if you still have a father on this earth, and you have any kind of relationship with him (I understand that there are broken relationships), give him some love. If you are able, give him a big, strong, embrace (more than just a hug), and give God praise for him. And if you are a father, Happy Father’s Day to you! I hope you have a great day and are able to share it with your kids. We pretty much celebrated ours yesterday, and it was great.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:5
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Gloria in Excelsis
At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
Psalm 75:2
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 
And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Luke 4:16-22
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. 
You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.

Psalm 12:5-7
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love,
that through your grace each of us may proclaim your truth with boldness,
and minister your justice with compassion;
for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Living the Message)

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. 
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. 
Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)

We are supposed to be “light.” There are an awful lot of “Christians” spreading darkness on social media these days. Let’s put a stop to that, please. Let’s be light.

Father, help me to be light and not darkness. Help my life to be a life of light, mercy, and grace, showing your love to the world around me. Help me to walk in the your Kingdom and in the “easy yoke” of Jesus. Help me to walk in his words and in his steps.
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.

Lead Me In Your Truth

Today is Monday, April 10, 2017. Monday in Holy Week. Six days until Easter.

Quote of the Day

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” ~ Mark Twain

Word of the Day

Widdershins ~ in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction : counterclockwise.

Today is International Safety Pin Day. Don’t ask me, I don’t make these up. “Legend has it that, in 1849, Walter Hunt, the inventor of the safety pin, owed a friend $15 and decided to invent something new in order to earn the money to repay him. He invented the safety pin.”

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, yesterday, 7-5, by coming up with a 4-run eighth inning. Matt Barnes got the win, as they were behind 4-3 when Porcello left the game. The Sox are now 3-2 on the season, in third place in the AL East. They play another game against the Tigers today at 12:10 PM.

The Rangers had what I would consider their first “solid” win of the season, beating the A’s 8-1. Martin Perez got his first win of the season, and the Rangers also got their first series win for the season. They are 2-4 on the season, in fourth place in the AL West. They have the day off today, and will be traveling to the west coast for a series against the first place Angels.

We had a nice day, yesterday. The worship gathering went well, and the afternoon was nice. C went to the grocery store and let me stay home and play Mass Effect. That was totally her idea. We had Subway for lunch while we watched a few TV shows from the DVR, then C took a nap while I played some more. Dinner was leftovers, along with a couple episodes of Criminal Minds.

C isn’t feeling well this morning. Sounds like she’s catching a cold. She’s staying home from work today. I’ve got band practice tonight, as we prepare for our next concert, which will be on April 29 at the Southlake Town Square, for “Art In the Square.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Psalm 51:10-13
“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that I, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

Father, as we approach the day on which we celebrate your resurrection, may my thoughts be drawn to your journey to the cross. May I have a quietness of reflection, during this week, and help me maintain a depth of love for you, your Spirit, and your Son, as well as for the people that I encounter every day. Teach me your ways that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.
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.

Dime-Store Reproduction

“But then we are not dealing with the God of creation and the Christ of the cross, but with a dime-store reproduction of something made in our image, usually for commercial reasons.”

Today is Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Four more days until Spring Training games begin!

Quote of the Day

“We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read.” – Mark Twain

Word of the Day

Excoriate – to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally.

Today is Sticky Bun Day. I’m not sure what is the difference between sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. But the article says that sticky buns were originally brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers, and were originally called “schnecken.”

C is safely home, and we got the tire changed out on her car fairly quickly. I bought a full-size tire and wheel at a nearby Discount Tire store, and took it to the airport to meet her. After picking her up, we drove to the remote parking. Turns out, one of C’s work associates was also parked out there, and we gave her a ride. She then followed us to C’s car and actually assisted us as we changed the tire. Fortunately, the lug wrench in my car fit the lug nuts on C’s wheels, and my car also had a jack. The hardest part of the whole operation was working the jack. My car is a 2012 Lexus RX350, and after yesterday’s event, I am 100% certain that the jack had never been used. All of the lubrication on the threads was dried up, and it took all three of us taking turns to finally get it jacked up enough. Next time I take the car in for service, I may see if they can do anything about that.

C was so tired (and hurting quite a bit from all the walking she had to do over the weekend), that we decided to wait until this coming Saturday to get to busted tire replaced. I also did not go to band practice again, choosing to stay home with her. We have two more rehearsals until the Spring concert, which I should be able to make.

Back to work today, to see what kind of mess awaits me from taking a day off.

41 days until Opening Day!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! Psalm 119:10

“O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

(From Living the Message)

Today’s reading will be quoted in its entirety, as I find it difficult to paraphrase Peterson.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. Psalm 128:4 (ESV)

“‘Fears the LORD.’ Reverence might be a better word. Awe. The Bible isn’t interested in whether we believe in God or not. It assumes that everyone more or less does. What it is interested in is the response we have toward him: will we let God be as he is, majestic and holy, vast and wondrous, or will we always be trying to whittle him down to the size of our small minds, insist on confining him within the boundaries we are comfortable with, refuse to think of him other than in images that are convenient to our life-style? But then we are not dealing with the God of creation and the Christ of the cross, but with a dime-store reproduction of something made in our image, usually for commercial reasons. To guard against all such blasphemous chumminess with the Almighty, the Bible talks of the fear of the LORD–not to scare us but to bring us to awesome attention before the overwhelming grandeur of God, to shut up our whining and chattering and stop our running and fidgeting so that we can really see him as he is and listen to him as he speaks his merciful, life-changing words of forgiveness.”

There is no way I could have re-worded any of that and done it justice. May we ponder these words today as we consider our God.

Stand in awe of God’s Yes. Oh, how he blesses the one who fears GOD! Psalm 128:4 (The Message)

Father, as I go about my day today, constantly remind me to be in awe of you and your majesty. May I not be guilty of “whining and chattering,” or of being too “chummy” with you. May I know you as you truly are and be struck, overwhelmed, by your glory and grandeur. I praise you, God, for who you are and what you have done.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Turning Natural Into Spiritual

“The conflict is along the line of turning our natural life into a spiritual life, and this is never done easily, nor does God intend it to be done easily.”

Today is Thursday, September 8, 2016. (I had to think a minute.) 36 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” – Mark Twain

Word of the Day

Phalanx – a number of individuals, especially persons united for a common purpose. Also, (in ancient Greece) a group of heavily armed infantry formed in ranks and files close and deep, with shields joined and long spears overlapping.

Today is Literacy Day. Now, if you ask me (which you didn’t), they have these last three in the wrong order. We had Read A Book Day, followed by Buy A Book Day, and now Literacy Day. Literacy Day should, at best, have been between buying a book and reading a book, don’t you think? On the other hand, I guess you need to have a book in order to learn how to read it. So, maybe Literacy Day should have been before buying and reading. On the other hand, as already noted, nobody asked me.

Mama’s cataract surgery went, as far as we know, very well, yesterday. The doctor was pleased. We were home by 11:30, and had some lunch. After lunch, my mother went and rested for a while, while I cranked up the PS4. Later, she came out of her room, I turned off the game, and we sat and talked until C got home from work. For dinner, we had our crockpot chicken soup over rice, and watched Major Crimes, followed by So You Think You Can Dance. It was a good day. As previously noted, C will be taking Mama to her follow-up this morning at 10:10 AM.

The Red Sox beat the Padres 7-2, and are now in first place by themselves, as the Yankees beat the Boo Jays. The Sox have the day off, and will play those Boo Jays in Toronto tonight. The Rangers, on the other hand, got beat pretty decisively, again, by the Mariners, 8-3. The Astros also lost, though, so their magic number is down to 15. They have 22 games left. The Sox have 23 left.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.
Psalm 109:30-31

We don’t have a god of fables, some “heroic figure” from some mythology. We also don’t have a “philosophical god,” who is nothing more than a “divine idea” that helps us answer life’s difficult questions. “God is he whom we need at our right hand to save us from condemnation.”

“‘God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking; God be at mine end, and at my departing’ (Sarum Primer). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Today begins a two part reading called Do It Yourself. Right off the bat, let’s make it perfectly clear that this is not talking about salvation. “Deliverance from sin is not deliverance from human nature.” There are various things in our nature, such as prejudice, that must be destroyed by neglect. There are things that only God can deal with, but these characteristics of our nature are what must be changed by what others call the spiritual disciplines. (I have to say that I am continuously amazed as I work through My Utmost this time, in collaboration with the books I am reading on the disciplines. Chambers was teaching largely the same thing all along, but using different words.)

Our warfare is not against sin. That needs to be understood. We mistakenly think that we are fighting against sin. Jesus dealt with sin in the Atonement. “The conflict is along the line of turning our natural life into a spiritual life, and this is never done easily, nor does God intend it to be done easily.” We do this by the choices we make, by training our bodies to align with our redeemed spirits, as Dallas Willard said.

God makes us holy “in the sense of innocence,” and we must work that into our character “by a series of moral choices,” i.e., the spiritual disciplines.

Father, the further I go into this process, the more excited I get. But I also get more frustrated when I fail. Help me to not focus on the failures, but, rather, focus on Jesus Christ and his “easy yoke,” that I might walk fully in your kingdom and train my body by practicing these “moral choices,” as Chambers calls them.Teach me the ways of Jesus, that I may walk in them. Help me to believe Jesus, not just believe in him.

Come, Lord Jesus!

God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking; God be at mine end, and at my departing.

Grace and peace, friends.

Stamped With the Presence of God

Today is Tuesday, August 23, 2016. 52 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain

Word of the Day

Venial – able to be forgiven or pardoned; not seriously wrong, as a sin (opposed to mortal).

Today is Cuban Sandwich Day. (The country, not Mark.) It sounds delicious, but I’ve never had one. I did have a really good sandwich at McAlister’s Deli, last night, though, called the “Memphian.” Black Forest ham, turkey, roast beef, Provolone, lettuce, tomato, lite mayo, and Dijon mustard on a hot baguette. Delicious!

The big news, this morning, is that R finally got her LPC license! (That stands for Licensed Professional Counselor.) It’s an “intern” license, but all that now stands between her and her career is a period of internship. We are just all tremendously excited that her license finally came through. It is has been a tough process (and quite frustrating) for her, but she persevered and made it!

The Red Sox beat the Rays 6-2 last night, which launched them into a tie for first place with the Boo Jays, since Toronto didn’t play last night. September is going to be really exciting in the AL East!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them,
but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.
Psalm 106:34-39

As this psalm continues (I struggle to think of this as a “song” being sung by a group of people, but that is what the Psalms allegedly were), we continue to be warned by the failures of Israel. What should have been victories and triumphs became “defections and compromises; instead of sharing faith in a holy God, Israel adopted the savage rites of child sacrifice.” Instead of a land flowing “with milk and honey,” it became a land of disobedience flowing “with the blood of innocent children.”

“‘Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore; let the search for Thy salvation be our glory evermore. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving Thee whom we adore’ (Harry Emerson Fosdick, ‘God of Grace and God of Glory’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Prayer Choice and Prayer Conflict

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

This is one of the best of all of the readings in this book. We must understand that prayer “is an effort of the will.” Once we get into our “secret place,” the most difficult thing to do is pray. As soon as we shut the door, the wandering thoughts begin. Those of you who are regular pray-ers, tell me if I’m wrong. I know it has definitely been my experience. There are mornings that the hardest thing in the world to do is pray, because as soon as I start, all of the emotions and thoughts start flooding in. I even start remembering emotional moments from decades in the past! “We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer.”

To be in a “secret silence” means that we have to shut the door on these emotions “remember God.” When we abide in this “secret place,” our confidence in God grows tremendously. “We become more sure of Him than of anything else.” We should begin our day by letting God in, and then “get into the habit of dealing with God about everything.” When these things happen, every event of our lives will be “stamped with the presence of God.”

Father, as I pray this morning, help me to be focused. Help me to shut the door in my “secret place” and close out all negative emotions (even positive ones that would distract me from prayer) and thoughts that would hinder me. Help me to remember you. I also pray that I might be successful in dealing with you about everything in my day. Be the center of my day, Father, and help me to walk in your Kingdom, sharing the easy yoke with Jesus.

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.