Surrender

“We are all hypocrites. We cannot see ourselves or judge ourselves the way we see and judge others.” ― José Emilio Pacheco, Battles in the Desert & Other Stories
(Goodreads)

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is nadir, which means, “the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer,” or, “the lowest point.”

Today is Meteor Watch Day. If the conditions are right, look at the stars tonight. You never know what you might see.

It looks like July is coming in with a vengeance. The projected high for Sunday is 101, followed by six more days of 100+ (that’s as far as the forecast goes), with 104 on Saturday, the ninth.

Ugh.

Both the Rangers and Red Sox lost last night. The Rangers blew a great lead on the Evil Ones, and lost in the bottom of the ninth, 9-7. They gave up six runs in the bottom of the ninth. Just one game, though. They are still well ahead of the second place team. The Sox got shut out by the Rays. The Rays!! The last place team in the East, they are 2-8 in their last ten, and both of those two are the Red Sox! Tonight, they play the Halos, who are even worse than the Rays. I’m very afraid.

Not really . . . it’s just baseball. That’s the way baseball go, you know.

We’re having a pot luck lunch at work today. The company is providing hot dogs and buns. I’m bringing a dump cake.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice.
You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle.
You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah.
How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.

Psalm 89:38-48

“Trust in God is tested by tremors of judgment. No covenant precludes such experience, and no faith is exempt from such testing. The marvel of the gospel is that faith emerges from such troubles with stronger song and firmer trust.”

Even when we fail the testing, like I did Monday night, when we acknowledge that failure, trust and faith are strengthened.

“Take the incidents in my life, dear God, that I interpret as your rejection and disapproval, and show me how they are consistent with your covenant love, used by your Spirit for my salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Perhaps another way of saying this is that events that we perceive to be “rejection and disapproval” are not that at all. They are testings designed to make us grow stronger.

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Do It Now

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.
Matthew 5:25

While this verse tends to be primarily about paying what is owed, there is a deeper principle at work. “Am I insisting on my rights, or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?” The fact that we work so hard to insist that we are right indicates that there is some point of disobedience in our lives. This all goes back to the question of whether we are willing to surrender our rights for the sake of the Gospel.

Father, I pray that you keep working in my life on this point. There seems to have been progress, but I still fall back into the natural human habits of trying to defend my own rights. I pray that I would seek you and your kingdom above all else. Direct me toward a life of simplicity.

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.

Prayer Is the Key

Good morning. It is Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Last day of June. The year is half over.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is disinformation. This is a noun, meaning, “false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.” “In 1939, a writer describing Nazi intelligence activities noted, “The mood of national suspicion prevalent during the last decade … is well illustrated by General Krivitsky’s account of the German ‘Disinformation Service,’ engaged in manufacturing fake military plans for the express purpose of having them stolen by foreign governments.” Although the Nazis were accused of using disinformation back in the 1930s, the noun and the practice are most often associated with the Soviet KGB. Many people think disinformation is a literal translation of the Russian dezinformatsiya, which means “misinformation,” a term the KGB allegedly used in the 1950s to name a department created to dispense propaganda.”

I promise you, there will never be any deliberate disinformation in this blog. 🙂

Today is Meteor Watch Day. “Legend has it that if you wished upon a shooting star the wish would come true. It is believed to have originated in Greece, when a Greek astronomer Ptolemy, around AD 127-151, wrote that the Gods occasionally, out of curiosity, peer down at the Earth from between the spheres. When this happened stars sometimes slip through the gap, becoming visible as shooting stars. It was though that because the Gods were already looking at us, they would be more receptive to any wishes we made!”

Last night’s band practice was brutal, but I still loved it. I met a few more people, including one trombone player who was not there last week. We played all of the music that we might play in Friday’s concert. I say, “might play,” because the director said that he wasn’t exactly sure how much time we would have. So there might be a piece or two that gets cut. There is a wide variety of music, including standard marches, patriotic music, and show tunes. And, of course, we will play the Stars and Stripes Forever.

Tonight is Huddle night, so there won’t be any practice time, this evening. My chops held out pretty good, though for the entire two-hour practice. There are few places that need some serious work, but I don’t know if I will have a lot of time before Friday. I don’t feel too bad, though, as I have only had two rehearsals, and am still, basically sight-reading most of this music.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!
Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Psalm 79:13

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

How, then, do we learn to pray?

While Tim Keller was being treated for thyroid cancer, he made some “practical changes” to his devotional life. These are also changes that I am looking at, but I wanted to give this book a second, more close, reading before doing so.

First, I took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one. That enabled me to begin praying through the Psalms regularly, getting through all of them several times a year. The second thing I did was always to put in a time of meditation as a transitional discipline between my Bible reading and my time of prayer. Third, I did all I could to pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning. Fourth, I began praying with greater expectation.

He has a chapter, later in the book, devoted to praying the Psalms, and also recommends several other books that speak of that practice, which will come up later, as well. It took a few years to see some real fruit, after these changes, but Keller says that he found “new sweetness in Christ and new bitterness too, because I could now see my heart more clearly in the new light of vital prayer.” The two kinds of prayer that are discussed in the introduction “grew together like twin trees.” The stimulate each other. “The result was a spiritual liveliness and strength that this Christian minister, for all my preaching, had not had before.”

In spite of all of this, he says, prayer is a difficult subject about which to write. The reason, he says, is that, “before it, we feel so small and helpless.” Even the great preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote that “he had never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in the area.”

As chapter one comes to a close, Keller says this:

Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change–the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.
We must learn to pray. We have to.

(pp 17-18)

Father, I long for this deeper sense of “self-knowledge,” this experience of deep change and the “reordering of [my] loves.” At this point, I am not as much interested in the “unimaginable things” that you will give me, although that thought is certainly exciting, as I am in simply drawing closer to you. I want to know you more; I want to love you as God. I acknowledge that this is the key to everything I need to do and be in life. Teach me to pray.

I pray for this day. I am still a bit weary, so I need strength for this day. Give us smooth and safe passage to work and back today. I pray for the work day, itself, that it will also go smoothly for both Christi and me. May you give us just the grace that we need for this day alone. Give us this day our daily bread. Show us you today. I pray also that you would show yourself to Stephanie, perhaps in new ways. Draw her to you today, in prayer and meditation. May you draw Rachel and Justin closer to you today, and give strength, grace, protection, and provision to my mother. I pray that our time together this weekend will be very sweet.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we draw closer to God today, seeking that reordering of our loves in order to know him more fully.

Grace and peace, friends.

Hindering Meditation

Good morning. Today is Sunday, June 30, 2013. The last day of June, and 2013 is officially half done.

We bought the new camera yesterday. We came really close to getting a really nice Sony camera, but then we realized that the zoom on it was only about 3X total. A powerful zoom has always been one of the things that we have enjoyed on our cameras, so we wound up going with what is basically the newest version of the camera we already had. We bought the Canon Powershot SX50 HS. The cool thing is that Best Buy will now do price matching with Amazon, and Amazon had the same camera at $80 less than Best Buy!

Not a whole lot more happened yesterday. It was a pretty typical Saturday around here.


Today is Meteor Watch Day. Last night’s sky was pretty clear. If tonight’s is clear, as well, perhaps a meteor might be observed. Who knows?


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Speaking of meteors, on this date in 1908, at around 740am, “an enormous pale blue fireball trailed by a 500-mile tail of bright, shimmering, multicolored bands hurtled across the Siberian sky and consumed itself in the greatest cosmic explosion in the history of civilization.” It is said that the flash of the explosion could be seen from 500 miles away. It flattened “half a million acres of forest, and more than twenty miles from the epicenter scorched and splintered trees lay pointing radially outward in a vast circle of destruction.” 60 miles away, people were knocked down, and “an hour later the seismic wave was picked up at the South Kensington Meteorological Office in London almost 4000 miles away.” To this day the true nature of this explosion is unknown, although most agree that it must have been some kind of “extraterrestrial body” that detonated when it hit the atmosphere. There are a few who insist that it was a “chunk of anti-matter” and even fewer how opine that it was “the explosion of the main drive reactor in a UFO manned by aliens bent on invading the Earth.” Well. I guess we got lucky that time, huh?


Today’s birthday is. . . um . . . okay, we’ll just go with the honorable mentions today.

Honorable mentions go to Lena Horne, 1917-2010, Tom McLaury, 1853-1881, Yngwie Malmsteen, 50, and Harry Blackstone, Jr., 1934-1965.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
Psalm 67:3-5
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life. Psalm 119:149
Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118:25-26

Father, I pray that you reveal something of yourself to me this morning, as I look into your word. Prepare my heart to worship you with my brothers and sisters this morning.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “When Life Hinders Meditation.” The scripture reading is Job 15:1-4.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: “Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? Should he argue in unprofitable talk, or in words with which he can do no good? But you are doing away with the fear of God and hindering meditation before God.

In this passage, Eliphaz is accusing Job of “hindering meditation before God.” His argument is that Job has no right to be questioning God. It would be better, according to Eliphaz, for Job to be silent before God; listening would be a better way to deal with his situation. But Job’s central issue here is that God is not talking to him, and is not explaining the reason for this “disproportionate suffering.” When God is silent like this, it is a theological problem that we must deal with. As we ponder Job’s situation, and consider our own times when it seems as though God has been silent, we acknowledge that there will be confusion, anger, hopelessness, grief, and frustration that rise to the surface during such times. And perhaps these feelings are not wrong. What we have to remember is that God can handle our feelings better than we can.

And, to look deeper into this passage, who is actually the one “hindering meditation?” I would say it is the one who is talking. How often have we had people in our lives that hinder our meditation before God? Sometimes someone will say or do something that will seriously hamper our meditations and prayers. How do we deal with these? All too frequently, I have allowed feelings to fester and grow to the point that I was completely useless for prayer and/or meditation. At that point, everything must stop, and I must go straight to God with confession and the desire to gain peace. When these times come in our lives, and when times come when it seems as though God is silent, it is more important than ever to stay the course, and keep seeking him.

“God, there are times when I feel that you will not talk to me, to explain
to me why I feel a certain way or why a certain thing has happened. Lord,
help me to keep asking, to keep opening my heart to you and asking you to
shape it. In your name I pray. Amen.”


Father, when my meditation is hindered, when my prayers are disturbed or interrupted, I ask that your Spirit enable me to continue. When I feel like you are not talking to me, like you are distant from me, may I seek you all the more, even harder than ever. Let nothing come into my life that would hinder meditation and prayer. My heart’s desire is to be able to obey the command of scripture that tells me to “pray without ceasing.” Let my life be a life of prayer before you, with growing intensity and fervor. Even when you appear to be silent before me, may I fall back on your word, for it always speaks to me. May the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be acceptable and pleasing to you, my God and my rock, my fortress and my hiding place.

I pray for this day. May our worship to you be acceptable this morning. Give us excellence and skill as we play and sing to you this morning, and may the people in attendance following along, offering up their hearts to you in majestic worship and praise. Lift up Jacob as he preaches this morning, that his words might be your words. Open our ears and our hearts to hear what you have to say to us today.

Your grace is sufficient.


When your meditations are hindered, when it seems as though God is silent, or when others simply are annoying you, seek his face even more; never give up.

Grace and peace, friends.