Lavished

Today is Saturday, August 26, 2017. Day 21,716. Nine days until the Labor Day holiday!

Quote of the Day

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~ Dalai Lama

Bonus quote

“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” ~ John Galsworthy

Just a word on these two quotes. For the first one, I believe a lot of Jesus’s teachings could be summarized by the Dalai Lama’s quote. For the second one, I agree 100%. The farther we are from the situation, the more expertly we seem to believe we can solve the problem, and the louder we express our opinions. Something to ponder on the Saturday in August.

Word of the Day

Funster ~ “a person who creates or seeks fun, as a comedian or reveler.”

Today is Women’s Equality Day, so deemed because it was this date in 1920 when women were first allowed to vote. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” said Virginia Slims. Sadly, we still have a long way to go.

On a lighter note, it’s also Cherry Popsicle Day. I may have to see if I can get me one of those!

I haven’t done birthdays in a long time, but on August 26, 1910, Mother Teresa was born, in Skopje, Macedonia. I think that’s a notable birthday to recognize.

I had to work a little over an hour late, yesterday. I know I’m blessed to have a job, but this having to work late almost every Friday is getting old. As is driving 60 miles round trip every day. But it is what it is, and finding a new job when you’re almost 60 years old is no piece of cake. Or pie. Or cherry popsicle. Plus, there’s the salary cut I would have to take.

The Rangers and Red Sox both lost last night. The Rangers lost 3-1 to the last place A’s, while the Red Sox were completely embarrassed by the O’s, 16-3. Fortunately, the Yankees lost, as well, so no ground was lost, there. They maintain a 4.5 lead in the AL East. The Rangers, though, dropped back to two games out of the second wild card spot, while Seattle has moved to within a half game of that spot. Just for kicks, the Rangers’ wild card elimination number is 33. With 34 games remaining. So this could go right up to the last day of the season.

Nothing much planned today, and tomorrow, we have a quartet leading our worship music, so I won’t have much to do there, either, other than helping with setup and tear-down.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:2-3
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!

Psalm 119:18-19
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147:11
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:43-45
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8

(From Practice Resurrection)

Continuing in the series of words that Eugene Peterson highlights in Ephesians 1:3-14. The fifth verb is lavished. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (Ephesians 1:7-8).

As noted in a previous entry, Paul uses the word “bestowed” only once in Ephesians, “but with striking appropriateness, transmuting the noun ‘grace’ into a surprising new verb form.” Paul and Luke are the “only early church writers who used it.” But his word “lavish,” occurs much more frequently. It is, says Peterson, everywhere. In fact, it appears to be one of Paul’s favorite words. “We might say he uses it lavishly.”

This word, in various form, appears seventy-eight times in the New Testament, and Paul uses forty-five of those. He can’t seem to get enough of the word. Does he overdo it? “I don’t think so,” says Peterson. “In matters of God’s grace, hyperboles are understatements.”

Before moving on, let’s pin down what “lavish” means. As adjective, it means, “sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious,” as in a lavish banquet. As verb, it means, “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.”

Peterson quotes a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins, called “God’s Grandeur.”

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men the now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade, bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Father, may I ponder, today, this word. Lavish. The grace which you have lavished upon us. May that not escape my thinking for the rest of this day, nay, for the rest of my life! Keep me thinking on this as I ponder the events in the world around me, and in the world not around me. You have lavished; you have spent extravagantly upon us, your children. May we be grateful for all of this, although our gratitude would not nearly be enough.
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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Growing Up in Christ

Today is Monday, June 19, 2017. Day 21,648.

“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day is sundog, a noun, meaning “a bright circular spot on a solar halo; parhelion.”

Today is Sauntering Day, a reminder to slow down the pace a bit and saunter through the day.

Yesterday was a nice day. I spent most of the day playing PS4 and Xbox games, two of which I received as Father’s Day gifts (Horizon: Zero Dawn and Witcher III, the Wild Hunt). I did do the grocery shopping, because C had messed up her knee a bit and was having trouble walking.

We had a great day with R & J, the day before, as well.

Back to work, this morning, with band practice tonight, so it’s a long day, but there’s a couple hour break in the middle. We appear to be having thunderstorms this morning.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
O Lord, we come this morning
Knee-bowed and body-bent
Before thy throne of grace.
O Lord–this morning–
Bow our hearts beneath our knees,
And our knees in the lonesome valley.
We come this morning–
Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
O Lord–open up a new window of heaven,
And lean out far over the battlements of glory,
And listen this morning.

James Weldon Johnson
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 14:1
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 
The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 
But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson opines that we have allowed emotional needs to call the shots for too long, as well as allowing “ecclesiastical market analysts” to determine the agenda of the church. His purpose in this book (finishing the introduction this morning) is to “engage in an extended and serious conversation with my brother and sister Christians around the phrase ‘growing up in Christ.'” To aid us in this conversation, he enlists the help of Paul the Apostle, and his letter to the church in Ephesus. “The words he wrote in a letter to a congregation of Christians in Ephesus two thousand years ago is as up-to-date as anything we are likely to hear these days, and strategically crucial for what faces us.”

The conditions in which we live in this life are established by the resurrection of Christ, and even “which took place without any help or comment from us.” This fact keeps us from trying to “take charge of our own development and growth. Frequent meditation on Jesus’ resurrection–the huge mystery of it, the unprecedented energies flowing from it–prevents us from reducing the language of our conversation to what we can define or control.” Peterson got the title of this book, the phrase “practice resurrection” from a poem by Wendell Berry. “When we practice resurrection, we continuously enter into what is more than we are. When we practice resurrection, we keep company with Jesus, alive and present, who knows where we are going better than we do, which is always ‘from glory unto glory.'”

Father, help me practice resurrection today. And tomorrow. And every day. But help me begin today. Give me the mindset of meditation on the resurrection of Christ as I walk through this day, hopefully in the steps and words of Christ and in his easy yoke. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Help me to be “growing up in Christ.”
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.

Pray the Psalms!

Today is Thursday, March 23, 2017. Eleven days until Opening Day!

Quote of the Day

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” ~ Mother Teresa

Word of the Day

Throttlebottom ~ a harmless incompetent in public office. Please note the word “harmless.”

Today is Chip and Dip Day. I love chips and dip! So many good kinds of dips, too. Salsa, queso, guacamole . . . wait . . . I see a pattern emerging, here.

C had a good time visiting with her friend, last night, and I had a good time playing Mass Effect: Andromeda. S and I had Lee’s Grilled Cheese for dinner, which, as always, was delicious. I discovered, last night, however, that I definitely do NOT need to order the “large” order of fries. Holy cow. I don’t think I even ate half of them!

We don’t have anything planned for this evening, but tomorrow night we will have a gathering with the worship team members. No plans for this weekend, either. In six days, R has a birthday. We might be getting together on April 2 for that. We aren’t sure yet. April 1 is our next Night of Worship, though, which is a week from Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Psalm 25:21
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:25-27
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 
For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

Psalm 37:1-7
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(From Living the Message)

For many years, now, Psalms has been my favorite book of the Bible. And recently, over the last couple of years, I have become more and more convinced that we should be praying the Psalms on a regular basis. We should be praying them, both in and out of our worship gatherings. Eugene H. Peterson’s reading today focuses on that necessity.

He begins by quoting St. Pius X, who said, “The Psalms teach mankind, especially those vowed to a life of worship, how God is to be praised.” There is a great need, especially for pastors, a need so great that there is too much at stake for pastors “to pick and choose a curriculum of prayer as they are more or less inclined.” (Reminds me of a book that I read recently, God’s Prayer Program.) He compares it to allowing a physician to create medications from herbs and weeds in his own back yard.

“Prayer must not be fabricated out of emotional fragments or professional duties. Uninstructed and untrained, our prayers are something learned by tourists out of a foreign language book: we give thanks at meals, repent of the grosser sins, bless the Rotary picnic, and ask for occasional guidance. Did we think prayer was merely a specialized and incidental language to get by on during those moments when we happened to pass through religious country?”

Prayer is something that should involve our entire lives. And there is a desperate need for us to be fluent in the language. “Praying the Psalms, we find fragments of soul and body, our own and all those with whom we have to do, spoken into adoration and love and faith.” It is not just for pastors, but pastors most definitely should be immersed in them.

St. Ambrose described the Psalms as “a sort of gymnasium for the use of all souls, a sort of stadium of virtue, where different sorts of exercise are set out before him, from which he can choose the best suited to train him to win his crown.”

. . . you thrill to GOD’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
Psalm 1:2 (The Message)

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

And these words, I pray for everyone who might read this today:

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.

Raise Your Banner High

Today is Monday, December 19, 2016. Six more days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa

Word of the Day

Cordate – heart-shaped

Today is Look For An Evergreen Day. If you’re going to get a live tree for Christmas, you’d better get moving!

Well, it’s fifteen degrees again, this morning. It’s supposed to get up to 35 today. Then back down to fifteen, and then up to 51? Gah! I’m tempted to text my shift lead and tell him I’m not coming in because I don’t have enough clothes. Just kidding of course. Christmas is supposed to be 67 and raining. How lovely.

We had a good day, yesterday. We decided to go straight to the grocery store right after church, so we wouldn’t have to get out again. That means we were shopping without a list. That’s always dangerous, but I think we actually got everything that we needed.

C’s bosses are taking the leadership team out for an event and dinner, Wednesday evening. That should be fun for her.

68 days until the first Spring Training game.
105 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Monday in the fourth week of Advent

Psa 31:23-24  Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psa 31:2-3  Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

Psa 31:19  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 145:1-3  A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

“Praise raises a banner, blazoned with God’s name and attributes, high into the air. Thrust against the sky, the celebrative flag catches the attention of the wandering and aimless and leads them in a parade of joy.”

“God, I want to fill the air with the notices of your goodness and attract drifting minds to a new allegiance to your Lordship, even through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.”

Father, teach me, still, to lift your banner high, to praise your name and your attributes, both privately and publicly, so that all can see your glory. Help me to lift that “celebrative flag” high, that the “wandering and aimless” might see and find peace, joy, and comfort in you.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbly Loyal To God

Today is Monday, November 14, 2016. Ten days until Thanksgiving.

Quote of the Day

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

Word of the Day

Anathema – a person or thing detested or loathed, example, “That subject is anathema to him.”

Today is Spicy Guacamole Day. Perhaps I’ll figure out a way to get some Guacamole today.

It was a pretty amazing weekend. We got in some good rest and relaxation while at the cabin in Glen Rose, but we unexpectedly wound up buying a new pre-owned car on Friday. It all started right after breakfast, when we decided to go to Granbury to see what kind of crossover vehicles might be available. We drove a pre-owned Lexus RX400h a few years back, and then traded to a Hyundai Sonata. After driving the van in Galveston, we missed the larger vehicle, so started thinking about another crossover. So, in the dealerships in Granbury, we drove a Toyota Highlander. It felt good inside, and handled well, but the front end looks like a pickup. The RAV 4 was too small-feeling. Then we drove a Jeep Cherokee, which was very noisy, and a Hyundai Santa Fe, which had other issues, and just didn’t feel right. At one dealership, we started looking at the Buick Enclave, but decided to check out their used vehicles. In their pre-owned lot, they had a 2011 Lexus RX350. It was older than we were looking for, and had almost 80K miles, which was way more than we wanted. But we test drove it, anyway. There wasn’t much point in driving anything else after that. C started looking on her phone for pre-owned RX350s, and found a couple at Park Place Lexus in Grapevine (or so she thought). We decided, what the heck, let’s go ahead and drive to Grapevine. By this time, it was around 2:00 PM, and we could get there shortly after 3:00PM.

When we arrived in Grapevine, after a brief encounter with a salesperson, we discovered that the two vehicles that she had found, that looked promising, were actually at Park Place Lexus in Plano! We started to look at what they had there in Grapevine, but then decided, what the heck, let’s go ahead and drive to Plano. We finally arrived at Park Place in Plano, where we looked at a 2014 RX350 with around 35K miles. It was claret colored, which is a little too dark, as it turns out, almost appearing brown in certain light. It also didn’t have all the features that were listed in the ad for it. We then looked at one that was in Matador Red, a 2012, with the same mileage, and fully loaded. It’s now sitting in our driveway.
lexus-rx350

We got back to Glen Rose at about 9:00PM, ran through the Chicken Express drive-thru for some dinner and headed back to the cabins. Saturday was spent chilling on the front deck, and wandering around town a bit, and, of course, having pie. It was a fun weekend, with quite an adventure on Friday.

In the sadness department, as 2016 continues to steal from us, over the weekend, we lost Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, and Leon Russell.

It’s back to work, this morning, with a busy weekend ahead. There may or may not be a church group gathering on Thursday evening, we are going to see Alan Parsons Project Friday night in Dallas, we have more pool repair going on Saturday morning, the Southlake Christmas tree lighting is Saturday evening (the band plays for that), and then our church’s Thanksgiving meal is Sunday evening. I’m already tired just thinking about all that. Fortunately, the following week is a three-day work week for us.

Oh, and C decided she wanted to get a new cat on the way home, yesterday. More details on that, later. We don’t have a picture, yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:23-24
Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.
Psalm 31:2-3
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19

(From Praying With the Psalms)

The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.”
For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.
There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”

As we worship God, we begin by offering petitions and making promises to him. But then we discover that anything that we can offer or “do” for God pales in comparison before his word and the promises that he has made to us. As it turns out, it is he who has great things to do for us, “not we for him.”

“All your promises, God, reverberate through my soul–your blessing, your satisfactions, your salvation, your joy, your glory. I praise you for what you bring to me in Jesus Christ and worship in triumph. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” Genesis 24:27

Is it possible to be so in tune with God that we do not need to continuously ask him for direction? Oswald Chambers insists that it is. Consider the natural life of a child with his parents. At a certain point, he no longer has to ask the parents for direction in minor things. Certainly, there will be exceptional circumstances, “but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail.”

We also need to be careful that we are not devoted to principles or causes rather than being devoted to God. During this past election season, I saw a lot of “Christians” who were more devoted to principles and causes than the were to God, being made evident by their posts in social media. This is tragic. “The one consistency of the saint is not to a principle, but to the Divine life.” Chambers says that it is much easier to be a “fanatic than a faithful soul.” Let us be humbly loyal to our God.

Father, teach me to be loyal to you and not to any principle or cause that men come up with. While there are certainly admirable teachings in your Word that I need to follow, it is you who are my guide and you who are my teacher. Let the words of Jesus Christ be my guide in this life, and help me to be so familiar with them that I need not ask you for direction.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Living in Gratitude

Today is Thursday, September 22, 2016. It’s the first day of Fall (or Autumn, if you prefer), the Autumnal Equinox. 22 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

Word of the Day

Flavescent – turning yellow; yellowish. Interesting word. “I came along, I wrote a song for you, And all the things you do, And it was called ‘Flavescent.'” Nope. Doesn’t work.

It was a tough choice today, what with it being “Hobbit Day,” and “Ice Cream Cone Day.” But none of those can trump White Chocolate Day. Because, you know, chocolate. I’ve explained that before. If the day has “books,” “chocolate,” or “music” in it, that’s going to be the one.

Not much going on, again, around here. We have C’s company picnic this Saturday, out at Grapevine Lake. That should be fun (as well as exhausting). Then we have a Night of Worship on Saturday, the first of October. I have decided that I will not be attending my class reunion the following weekend, simply because we have so much going on every weekend around it, and we are leaving for our Galveston trip on October 14. I feel like I need a weekend in there to make sure we have everything in order for the vacation.

As noted previously, today is the official first day of Autumn, being the Autumnal Equinox, one of two days during the year that the length of day and night is exactly equal. It will be 96 degrees here, today. Welcome to Fall in Texas. Next week is looking better, though. There are a couple of days actually projected with highs in the seventies.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles again, last night, 5-1. They have won three straight with Baltimore and have one more today. The Sox have won seven straight, now, and their magic number is now 6. The Boo Jays also lost to the Mariners, yesterday afternoon, in extra innings. That helped immensely!

The Rangers couldn’t come back to beat the Angels, this time, and lost 5-4. The A’s failed to beat the Astros, and, as previously noted, the Mariners beat the Boo Jays, so the Rangers’ magic number remains at 2. The hit Oakland for another series tomorrow, their final road trip of the season. I hope they play better than they did last weekend, but I’m not terribly confident.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1-4

Every event in Israel’s experience was a demonstration of the steadfast love of the Lord. When people realize this, their gatherings become expressions of gratitude. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

“‘The King of love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever. . . . And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never: Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise within Thy house forever’ (Henry W. Baker, ‘The King of Love My Shepherd Is’). Amen.”

Father, I pray for more gratitude. As I walk through each day, remind me of your expressions of steadfast love, in my personal life, in the life of my family, and in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. And then, after I am reminded, incite gratitude within my spirit, that I might live each day being fully satisfied in you and your grace, and expressing gratitude for your love.

Come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Am I Able?

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa
(BrainyQuote)

“Ultimately love is everything.” – M. Scott Peck
(BrainyQuote)

It is a known fact that Mother Teresa would not “employ” anyone who could not smile from the heart.

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is sockdolager. The emphasis is on the second syllable, “sok-dol-uh-jer.” It means, “something unusually large, heavy, etc.” It can also mean, “a decisive reply, argument, etc.,” or, “a heavy, finishing blow.”

Today is Sugar Cookie Day. I’m okay with that. I like sugar cookies. I just like cookies, period. I’m not fond of peanut butter cookies, though. I give those to S. I like sugar cookies with icing on them. Like the ones they have at the Great American Cookie Company. I think we need to go to the mall today.

C is going out of town this week. For six days!! Gah! I don’t know what I’m going to do. Well, okay. I do. I’m going to eat too much and play a lot of PS4 games. If I’m wise, though, I will use some of the time to practice trombone, keyboard, and guitar. At this point, I cannot say if I will be wise or not. She’s going to a youth bowling tournament in Indianapolis. It’s the Youth Open Championships, and they are actually going on for three different weeks. C will be there for the first week. She is leaving Tuesday, after work, and then not coming home until Monday night, July 18. I can tell you that I will not sleep well, those nights. I never do when she is gone.

Not much else going on. The Rangers and Red Sox both won, last night, and both by the score of 6-5. That’s strange. Texas remains 6.5 games up in the West, and the Red Sox are still a game behind the Boo Jays, in third place. Also, the Rangers are still the second best team in MLB, but now, they are second to the Giants, not the Cubs. The Cubbies have drifted down to third in MLB. The All Star Game break begins after tomorrow’s games. Maybe I’ll actually watch the game, but I doubt it. I’ve never been a huge fan of the All Star Game. And I have never liked that it determines home-field advantage for the World Series. I have said it before, and I will say it many more times . . . the wild card should NEVER have home-field advantage!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
Psalm 91:11-13

“Angels are the messengers of God, who carry out his will among men.” We don’t know a lot about them, but there is plenty of speculation about them. Peterson calls them “the reality of God active in the details of human existence.” They are, usually without our knowledge, active in our daily lives.

“I submit myself to your care, merciful Father. I will find in the provisions of this day the evidence of your love for me and the experience of your care for me. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Great Probing

But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:19

What would you say if someone told you that? “What do you mean, I am not able to serve the Lord??” The problem is usually that we are relying on something other than God. It’s not that we don’t rely on God, it is more that we don’t rely on him exclusively. We rely on some natural virtue that we might have, or a set of circumstances that we are in.

When I recognize this inability to serve the Lord, I might say, “I cannot live a holy life.” While this is true, I can certainly let Jesus Christ make me holy. this is what the spiritual disciplines are all about; practicing habits which will put me in the place where Christ can come in and make me holy. I cannot make myself holy; I cannot change myself. However, I can deliberately put myself in a position for God to change me and make me holy. “Are you sufficiently right with God to expect Him to manifest His wonderful life in you?”

The people responded to Joshua in verse 21. “No, but we will serve the LORD.” This is a deliberate commitment. If I have something else that I am trusting in, I will never make that commitment. I have to be at the place where he is all I have to trust.

“Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?” This is the important question.

Father, I pray you make me ready to let you do this. Keep working me until I am at a place where I will let you be all that you claim you can be in my life. Teach me until I am able to fully believe everything that your word says about you. And then keep teaching me some more. I never want to stop learning your ways. I never want to stop knowing you more.

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.