No One Living Is Righteous…

Today is March 13, 2013. Christi and I are officially on vacation for three days!! Woot!

Today is Ear Muff Day. Apparently, they were invented on this day in 1877. Well, it is 46 degrees right now, with a projected high of 68. I shan’t be needing any ear muffs today.

We had a wonderful time with our lifehouse last night, as it was our last meeting (at least as an official lifehouse). We had barbecue, two kinds of cake (Christi made a birthday cake for me, more on that in a minute), and talked about everything from food to music to TV to movies. As far as I could tell a smashing time was had by all. We are all moving on to other spiritual “adventures,” still with The Exchange, but in a different type of group. We will be starting up a new, more discipleship-intensive, group called “Huddle” in a short time. Lucky us, we still have the same leader! (Who, I hear has recently joined WordPress, and I will link you up as soon as I know where he is.)

After lifehouse, Stephanie and I decided to go work out! Yes, we went to the gym at 10pm last night. We both worked hard on the elliptical, Steph for 45 minutes (her longest workout yet) and 521 calories, and me for 50 minutes and 668 calories. I’m really glad for those last two calories. 😀

Today, there’s no telling what we will do. It is, after all, my birthday. The best part of it will be that I get to spend it with Christi and Stephanie, doing whatever we choose to do. We just might get a pedicure. Yes. I said, “Pedicure.” One thing that I did arrange for Monday night, for my own birthday present, was three tickets for the Red Sox/Rangers game on May 4, in a luxury suite at Rangers Ballpark!! It includes a chicken fajita buffet, as well!

The first thing I will do, though, as soon as I’m done with this (and open my birthday presents), is head over to my work place for my weekly weigh-in for the Biggest Loser contest. As of this morning, I’m 4.4 pounds down from last week’s weigh-in. Also, notice, I’m weighing in before all the celebrating! I may have to fast the first three days of next week…

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1958, I was born. But 53 years before that, in 1905, Mata Hari made her first stage appearance as an exotic dancer. Her assumed name was “a Malay term for the Sun, literally meaning ‘eye of the day.'” Her real name was Margaretha Zella, born and raised in the Netherlands, but later moved to Java with a “mean and dissolute husband whose beatings and philanderings eventually drove her to divorce.” She returned home, almost 30, but was unable to find another husband or a suitable job, so she moved to Paris. She invented this “mysterious new identity,” and claimed to be from India. She also claimed to be the daughter of a temple dancer, raised in the “service of the god Shiva.” As she aged, she “earned her keep more as a demi-mondaine than as a dancer.” That means a woman supported by a wealthy lover. She “found dozens of rich partners, including celebrities such as a Rothschild baron and Giacomo Puccini. At this time, on the eve of the First World War, she also began her career as a spy.” The details are murky at best, but there is speculation that, at one point, she was a double agent for both the French and the Germans. In late 1916, the French intercepted a coded message and became convinced that she was a double agent. They quickly brought her to trial and “convicted her in a travesty of justice that was held ‘in camera’ and during which the defence could not cross-examine witnesses.” She was quickly found guilty and sentenced to death. On October 15, 1917, a little more than 12 years after her opening stage dance, she would be led to the courtyard of the Parisian prison at Vincennes. She is alleged to have said to the attending nun, “Do not be afraid, sister. I know how to die.” “Refusing a blindfold, she faced the twelve riflemen confronting her and blew them a kiss before the fusillade ended her life.”

Today’s birthday is…ME! In departure from my normal routine, I shall name many others with whom I share this birthday. Not all of them, though. That would be too many, and I’ve never heard of at least half of them. So here we go. Sharing my birthday of March 13 are: Pope Innocent XII (1615), L. Ron Hubbard (really??) (1911), Al Jaffee, of Mad Magazine fame (1921), Neil Sedaka (1939), William H. Macy (1950), Fred Berry, “Rerun” in What’s Happening (1951), Dana Delaney (1956) Linda Robson, an English actress, is the only one listed in the same year (1958), Kathy Hilton, yes, those Hiltons (1959), Adam Clayton, bassist for U2 (1960), Will Clark, baseball player (1964), Annabeth Gish, actress (1971), Johan Santana, baseball pitcher (1979). That seems to be all that I recognize readily. Out of all of those, I think I’m most happy to share a birthday with Al Jaffee, William H. Macy, and Dana Delaney. I’m least happy about having to share my birthday with L. Ron Hubbard. He is, after all, responsible for the fake religion that has sucked in hundreds of Hollywood celebrities, Scientology.

But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! Psalm 70:5
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:5-6
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning; something that I may take with me throughout this day, looking to you for everything I need.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 32:9-20.

9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10 In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent women; for the grape harvest fails, the fruit harvest will not come.
11 Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and tie sackcloth around your waist.
12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine,
13 for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers, yes, for all the joyous houses in the exultant city.
14 For the palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks;
15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
19 And it will hail when the forest falls down, and the city will be utterly laid low.
20 Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.

There is a warning in this passage against becoming complacent, followed by the blessings that come from a land dwelling in righteousness. Those blessings are peace, quietness and trust forever.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Teach Me to Do Your Will.” The scripture reading is Psalm 143:1-2, 10.

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

Note the phrase, “no one living is righteous before you.” The psalmist does recognize God’s people as righteous, but their righteousness is completely “overwhelmed by the sense of God’s holiness. Spiritual maturity holds the two at once–genuine faithfulness, on the one hand, and a vision of God’s ummatched holiness, on the other.” Regardless of how righteous, faithful, or holy, we might think we are, “no one is completely righteous before God.” So, as this psalm leads us, we confess, we show sorrow, and then we ask for help from our Father to make good on our commitments. I am challenged to make those last couple of phrases in today’s passage, personal, praying them to God in my own life.
Lord God, reading your word only reminds me of how far I am from being righteous. I make the wrong choices; I put myself and my desires before the needs of others and before what you want for my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistakes, Lord. Please forgive me and continue teaching me to do your will. Amen.~~quoted from the book.

Father, I do, indeed, recognize that no one is completely righteous before you. I have sinned many times in my life, and will, no doubt, continue to fail. When I do, prompt me immediately by your Spirit, and then help me to live according to your Word, abiding by the precepts and learning to do your will. Teach me to do your will…let your Spirit lead me on level ground. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth! Unite my heart to fear your name!

I pray for this day of celebration. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it is just another day. It has taken the 364 before it to make me a year older. Today, I am only a day older than yesterday. But it is our custom to attach great importance to the anniversary of our birth. Perhaps my mother should get the gifts… Bless our time together on this day, Father. May your will be done in our lives, and may we glorify you in all that we do. I pray for the rest of our weekend, as well, that it will be restful and rejuvenating.

I also lift up a prayer for our friend, Josh Copeland, who is in Nicaragua on a mission trip. Keep Josh and the others that he is with safe through this, and may they have great success in their mission to bring Christ to other people.

None of us is truly righteous before God. Let us recognize this, and then entreat him to assist us in living according to his ways.

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is Monday, October 15, 2012, and we are back to the real world. What a wonderful weekend we had! Once again, if you are close by this place (even if you are not), I would encourage you to check out Paluxy River Bed Cabins, in Glen Rose, Texas. It’s a magical, peaceful retreat from the “real” world.

Today is “National White Cane Safety Day,” so proclaimed many years ago by President LBJ. Be on the lookout for the visually impaired today (as you should be every day).

On this date in 1793, Marie-Antoinette was tried and convicted and sentenced to death the next day.
The Edison Electric Light Company began operation on this date in 1878.
On this date in 1888, investigators receive a letter from Jack the Ripper. It has been called the “From Hell” letter.
Mata Hari was executed in 1917 for being a spy for the German Empire.
On this date in 1956, the computer language Fortran was first shared with the coding community.
Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky became the all time scoring leader in the NHL on this date in 1989.
On this date in 1930, Duke Ellington recorded “Mood Indigo,” his first big hit.

Birthdays today include the Roman poet, Virgil, 70 BC, Friedrich Nietzche, 1844, P.G. Wodehouse, 1881, Mario Puzo, 1920, Barry McGuire, 1935, Linda Lavin, 1937, Penny Marshall, 1942, Jim Palmer, 1945, Richard Carpenter, 1946, Chris de Burgh, 1948, Emeril Lagasse (BAM!), 1959, Sarah Ferguson, 1959.

As we head back to our work week this morning, we are very thankful that we were able to get away for that beautiful weekend. The one down side of the whole thing is that Christi’s leg/foot is hurting again, just as it was before the back injection. This is pretty disappointing. But she has another appointment for followup this week, so we will see what the doctor says. In the meantime, I continue to pray that God would heal this problem.

Father, I pry for a glimpse of your face this morning as I look into your word. Please give me something to make my day a worship celebration to you.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:145-152.

145 Qoph. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

The intensity of the psalmist’s prayers are seen in the first few verses. I, too, “rise before dawn and cry for help,” each day. I find that this gives me fuel for the day.

In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, called “The Key to the Missionary Message” (remember yesterday’s reading was “The Key to the Missionary”), the scripture verse is 1 John 2:2, which says, He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. “The key to the missionary message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus.” What is “propitiation?” It’s a big word. Basically, it is the act of appeasing. So if Jesus is our propitiation, it means that he has satisfied God for the account of our sins. “The missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.”

The message of the missionary is not the kindness of Jesus, or his goodness, not even the revealing of “the Fatherhood of God.” It is not a patriotic message (the “religious right” in the U.S. really needs to heed that truth), “it is irrespective of nations and of individuals, it is for the whole world.” When the Holy Spirit brings the revelation of Jesus to me, nothing that went before matters whatsoever. My personality does not matter; my preconceived ideas about anything don’t matter; “He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus.”

The missionary is not on task to share his own point of view, he is to “proclaim the Lamb of God.” His task is not to proclaim what Christ has done for him. His task is not to proclaim divine healing, or a “special type of sanctification,” or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “Paul did not say, ‘Woe is unto me, if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,’ but, ‘Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.'” What is the gospel? “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Father, I pray that I would continue to come to you with the cries of my heart, with the intensity that the psalmist has in Psalm 119. May I continue to rise before dawn to share my heart with you, that you might share your heart with me. I seek your face each day. I seek just the slightest glimpse of the One who is the Creator and Master of all, that I might know your heart for me, for my family, and for all that I know.

As I acknowledge that each of us who call ourselves by the name of Christ are, indeed “missionaries,” I pray that we do not, out of pride or self-interest, blur the message of Christ. May we be clear in the message, “Make the message plain…” Christ is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He is the propitiation for our sins. May we not be scared away by the “big word,” and try to dumb it down too much, oversimplify it. It’s an easy concept, really. Jesus Christ, by his sacrifice, has appeased your wrath toward us. That’s the message of the gospel, and we should proclaim that cheerfully and clearly in all that we do every day. May we be faithful missionaries.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray that Christi might be healed from this leg and foot pain. There was brief relief with the injection, but the pain is back. I pray for wisdom from the doctor this week. Show him what needs to be done. I pray that Christi will have a great work day today, that there will be some good news when she arrives today. I also pray that you would surround her with your Spirit, absorbing any stress that might come her way today. Do the same for me, as well, throughout this day. Give me peace and wisdom to handle anything that comes my way today with grace. I also pray for Stephanie today, that her heart would be drawn into your heart, giving her peace and knowledge of you during this day.

Oh, missionary, don’t confuse the message. The key is simply this: Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sin! Nothing more, nothing less. May that be the message of the Church of Jesus Christ in today’s world.

Grace and peace, friends.

Living the Beatitudes

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Today is “Culinarians Day.” I sometimes think I would like to be a chef. But then I watch an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. I do like to cook, though, when I have time. I also want to note that I only mentioned first cousins yesterday on my note about “Cousins Day.” There are a lot more that I didn’t mention, and some that I have only found (or found me) within the last couple of years. Thanks to Facebook for that! And thank you, Shirley, for reminding me!

On this date in 1978, the first baby was born that had been conceived by IVF, or “in vitro fertilization.” Otherwise known as a “test tube baby.” The success of this procedure gave many women hope who had previously been unable to conceive. On this date in 1917, Mata Hari was sentenced to die for spying for Germany during WWI. On this date in 1965, Bob Dylan appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. With an electric guitar. They booed him. It was the first time he had done a rock and roll set at this festival. “Like A Rolling Stone” had only been released five days prior to this appearance. On this date in 1992, the 25th Olympiad opened in Barcelona. And on this date in 2000, the Concorde jet crashed. It was the first Concorde crash in the 31 year history of the world’s fastest commercial jet. Although the Concordes returned to service in 2001, they were permanently retired in 2003.

Not much to report on the home level; it’s pretty much been business as usual. We would appreciate prayers for Christi’s feet, though. She’s been having an unusual amount of pain in them, lately, possibly arthritis flaring up, but we aren’t sure. She’s very uncomfortable though.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 55. David begins this psalm with a plea for God to hear him.
Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hid not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

As he continues, David speaks of fear and trembling that this situation is causing him, to the point that he wished he could fly away like a dove (v. 6). Eventually, it becomes clear that this trouble has been caused, not by a true “enemy,” but by one who had been a close friend! As far as I know, we never find out who this is directed toward, but it is, nevertheless, tragic. He continues to call out to the Lord, and in verse 22, writes these great words:
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

That is some advice I believe we can all latch onto.

My Utmost For His Highest

Blessed are… Matthew 5:3-10

What is our reaction when we first read these statements of Jesus in Matthew 5? They “seem merely mild and beautiful precepts for all unworldly and useless people, but of very little practical use in the stern workaday world in which we live.” How many times have you heard it said that the Beatitudes aren’t intended to be lived literally? Is that true? Or do we find that they truly contain the “dynamite of the Holy Ghost?” If we allow the Holy Spirit to bring these teachings to our mind during certain circumstances, we suddenly “have to decide whether we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words.” Then Chambers makes a stunning statement. “We do not need to be born again to apply the Sermon on the Mount literally.”

Wait. What?

He says that the literal interpretation is “child’s play.” I’m not sure I go along with that, but I think I see what he means. You see, these teachings are all “out of proportion to our natural way of looking at things…” They cause us great discomfort as we look at them. Not to mention the problem we have when we mistakenly confuse “meekness” with “weakness.” The bottom line is this: these are not a set of rules to live by. That’s a surface-level interpretation of the Beatitudes. And I believe that is what Chambers means when he calls it “child’s play.” No, rather, these statements are a picture of what kind of life we will live when the Spirit is having his way with us.

Father, I pray for your Holy Spirit to have his way with me. My mind is drawn to an old hymn that I used to sing. Actually a couple of them. The first one was called “Let Him Have His Way With Thee.” It was mostly the “refrain” that was working into my brain:
His pow’r can make you what you ought to be;
His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;
His love can fill your soul, and you will see
‘Twas best to let Him have His way with thee.

As I was thinking of this one, another came to mind, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me, after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Then the last verse,
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

These hymns express my prayer this morning. In order for me to live out the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, the Spirit must have full sway over my life. You must “have thine own way” in me, and fill me with your Spirit until others can only see Christ living in me. May I wait, “yielded and still” while you “mold me and make me after Thy will!”

I pray for this day, Father. May Christi have a good work day today, and I pray again that you would heal the pain in her feet. I pray that her stress would be minimal today. I pray also that I will have a smooth work day today. Let our deliveries go smoothly, with no issues. May I get my work done efficiently today, and keep me focused on the task at hand. I pray that I can be a witness for you at my work place and everywhere I go. I pray for Stephanie today, that you might show yourself to her today and inspire her to live her life in a way that would be pleasing to you.

Keep me focused and give me clarity today, during my private prayer time.

Read the Beatitudes. Meditate on those teachings of Jesus, then let the Spirit have his way with you. I wonder what the Church would look like if we could all do that…

Grace and peace, friends.