Worship Him

Today is Monday, the eighth of November, 2021.

May God’s peace reign in your heart today.

Day 23,251

Four days until C’s birthday!

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog.

We had a mostly nice day, yesterday. The worship time at FBC Mineral Wells was pretty awesome. We had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ (although slightly delayed, as they were shorthanded).

This brings up an important point. I know from experience, it is quite easy to get impatient when I have to wait longer than usual for a food or drink order. But please keep in mind . . . it is not the fault of the person/persons serving you and they are most definitely not deserving of our wrath. Many people have left the restaurant/serving industry because of how rudely they have been treated during the past eighteen months or so.

Most especially, if you call Jesus your Savior, you must be patient and kind with people.

After lunch, we had a nice time of conversation with my mother, during which many topics were discussed. Our trip home was safe, but had a few tense moments. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m off work today, and only have a few chores planned. I’ve already been to the grocery store, which is why I’m running a tad behind with the blog, this morning. We have a pool tech coming, sometime this afternoon, to check on why our indoor control panel won’t connect with the outside panel. That’s about it.

There have been some big changes made to WW (Weight Watchers), beginning today. My plan has changed quite a bit, based on some answers I gave to questions upon opening the app, this morning. The biggest thing for me is, based on my ongoing bout with type 2 diabetes, fruits are no longer zero points. That means I have to count grapes!! Egad! But, as a trade-off, I can now have avocados/guacamole for zero points! And, when I eat a cup of non-starchy veggies, I get to add a point back. So that’s cool. Just some adaptation to be made, but I plan to carry on and keep moving forward.

Today is World Orphans Day.

The word for today is angakok, “a shaman in Inuit society.” “Inuit” is what we used to call “Eskimo.”

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill, British statesman. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Birthdays for November 8:

Julian of Norwich, English saint, 1342-1416
Vlad the Impaler (really!), Wallachian prince, the inspiration for Dracula, 1431-1476 (It should be noted that most sources do not provide a day of the year for Vlad's birth. My guess is that it has been put on this date because it is also Bram Stoker's birthday.)
Edmund Halley, English mathematician and astronomer (Halley's Comet), 1656-1742
Bram Stoker, Irish author (Dracula ), 1847-1912
Hermann Rorschach, Swiss psychiatrist (inkblot test), 1884-1922
Margaret Mitchell, American author (Gone with the Wind), 1900-1949
Joe Flynn, American actor (McHale's Navy), 1924-1974
Patti Page, American singer (Tennessee Waltz), 1927-2013
Bert Berns, American songwriter (Twist and Shout, Piece of My Heart, Hang on Sloopy), 1929-1967
Darla Hood, American child actress (Little Rascals), 1931-1979
Ben Bova, American sci-fi author (Exiled from Earth), 1932-2020
Bonnie Bramlett, American blues-rock vocalist (Delaney and Bonnie), 1944 (77)
Bonnie Raitt, American blues singer/songwriter/guitar player (Something to Talk About), 1949 (72)
Jerry Remy, American baseball player and broadcaster (Boston Red Sox), 1952-2021
Gordon Ramsay, British chef (Hell's Kitchen), 1966 (55)
Bonnie Bramlett
Another Bonnie

I really wanted to post a video of Gordon Ramsay freaking out over raw food, but there were too many bad words.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

All your works
shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints
shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints, who are constantly giving You thanks and praising Your Name
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for our good visit with Mama yesterday
4. for the rest You give when we step into the easy yoke of Christ
5. that my help and salvation is from You, in the Name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NLT)

I pause, now, during this very quiet moment, peacefully sleeping kitten nearby, and consider the rest that Jesus gives to those who are weary. If our burdens are heavy, we need only step into His “easy yoke,” and allow Him to carry the bulk of the load. It doesn’t mean we don’t work . . . but it does mean our work is much easier.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, in order to force myself to pay more attention to the words. How has the Word of God moved me? I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and my mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my every thought to Him and quietly enjoying His presence.

Along with Israel, I can firmly say, “my help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth!” Through Him, in His power, by the power of His Holy Spirit, I have escaped the “fowler’s snare.” The binding traps of the enemy have been broken.

As the Church, the new Israel, I do believe that we can confidently believe that the Lord is on our side. That means the Church, capital C, world-wide, and does not at all apply to any single country. However, lest we get too big-headed about it, we should remember that, in the big picture, the Lord is on HIS side. We should, therefore, be careful to be found on His side, as well. Let us not champion ourselves and hope that the Lord joins in. Rather, let us champion Him and His purpose, joining in His “cause,” the only cause worthy of defending.

Isaiah 6 is, indeed, a beautiful passage. When I was in music school at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was presented as the biblical model of a worship service. I do believe there is something to be said for that, however, I don’t feel that it needs to be adhered to, rigidly.

There are certainly characteristics of the chapter that should be found in any worship service, regardless if it is in a huge cathedral or an intimate living room in a house.

First, God is central. Worship is all about God. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this. Worship is not, and never has been, about us. When we make it about us, it is not “worship.” It is idolatry. Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, seated on His throne. We have no other description of what the Lord looked like, other than the fact that the train of His robe was really, really big.

Second, it is worth noting that the attending “living creatures” (these seem to be the same beings that Ezekiel saw), covered their faces and their feet with four of their six wings. I’m not sure what that means for us, to be honest, other than that we had best be careful how we conduct ourselves in worship. If the seraphim, these terrifyingly majestic beings, felt the need to cover their faces and feet, I believe we would do well to exercise a bit of humility in the holy presence of God.

Side note . . . maybe they aren’t the same creatures Ezekiel saw . . . they are only described as having four wings. He saw four of them. We do not know how many seraphim Isaiah saw, and it really doesn’t matter.

Third, the seraphim “sang” a hymn to the Lord. Maybe they weren’t singing. Whatever they were doing shook the very foundations of the temple, their voices were so powerful. This tells me that, when we praise the Lord, it needs to be

loud.

Now, this doesn’t mean the musical instruments need to be blasting through the speakers. What it does mean is that the sound of our voices should not be timid, but strong. How beautiful is it to hear the sounds of many voices, singing in unison, the praises of our God?

Side note . . . I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who preferred unison singing when congregations sang together. While harmony is pretty, unison is more powerful.

Fourth, back to humility. Note Isaiah’s response to this vision. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” While the narrative doesn’t specify this, I have a vision of Isaiah falling on his face while he cried out those things. He recognized his own impurity, his own uncleanness, his SIN! Isaiah! The called prophet of God! When we come into the powerful presence of God, there is no room for pride and arrogance! I am not calling for shame. That is a tool of our enemy, the devil. Not shame, but recognition of, acknowledgment of, our condition before Him. He is HOLY! We are most definitely NOT holy!

He is “Other.”

Fifth, there is cleansing. Now, I don’t know how literally to take this passage. I know people who are way smarter than me when it comes to theology. But could it be that Isaiah’s sins were atoned before Christ’s blood was shed? This puts Isaiah in a rather special place, does it not? But that’s what one of the seraphim told him, the one who touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal. I know . . . vision. Not reality. Nevertheless, before we can be sent out on mission, naturally, we must be cleansed. Our cleansing comes from the shed blood of Christ, but there must be confession, just as Isaiah did.

Finally, there is an invitation and an acceptance. The invitation comes from the Lord. It’s more of a challenge, actually. “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah responded. “Here am I! Send me!”

I do not see this as an argument for the traditional evangelical invitation at the end of every service. I personally am not in favor of those, and feel they are largely unbiblical and manipulative. But that’s just my opinion, arrived at after years of observation and Scripture-searching.

There’s a twist, here, though. If you keep reading beyond the selected passage for the day, you will see that Isaiah’s message was anything but the traditional, evangelistic message.

He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
(Isaiah 6:9-13 NIV)

Father, I am grateful that I can proclaim, along with David, that You have rescued me from the “fowler’s snare,” that I have escaped from the traps of our enemy. Why do I manage, though, to find myself back in them, after having escaped?? That is a question that I will have to wait to have answered. Until that day, I will strive to keep my feet out of those snares. They are broken (the traps, I mean). . . they cannot hold me. So if I find myself back in one of them, it is my own doing, even though I am free to walk away at any time. I thank You that I am part of Your Church, a small piece of “all the saints,” who praise Your Name and give You thanks, daily. I pray for the times of worship that we have, that they will be You-centered; that our attention will be on Your glory and majesty, and that we, like the seraphim, will practice humility as we cry out praises at the top of our lungs, praises to You, who are completely and utterly “Other,” and “Holy, holy, holy!” And then, just like Isaiah, when we acknowledge our sinfulness and our unworthiness to be in Your presence, cleanse us from our impurities, and send us to proclaim whatever message You give us to proclaim. Most importantly, may we listen to You for that message, for we will not all have the same message. All praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

"High and exalted God,
Your holiness crushes my pride and pretense,
and I cry, 
'Woe is me.'
Thank You for Jesus,
the cleansing fire from Your heavenly altar who takes away my guilt so I may hear Your call.
Amen."

BLESSING

LORD,
give me your unfailing love,
the salvation that you promised me.
(Psalms 119:41 NLT)

Father, take us through this day, make us humble, and make us kind to one another.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the Lord make your love
increase and overflow
for each other and for everyone else,
just as ours does for you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

You, LORD, Reign Forever

Today is Tuesday, the nineteenth of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,231

Nineteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Yesterday turned out to be quite a lovely day. S and I got to my mother’s house somewhere around 11:30 (don’t remember exactly). Our first stop was to get her new phone activated. The young lady at the AT&T store was very friendly and helpful, and the process didn’t take too long. The new phone is enough like the old one that it will be easier to get used to. From there, we hit up the Crazy Water store, where I picked up two cases for me and one for my mother. We both drink #4, which is the strongest variety. Pretty much straight out of the ground, I think. It is reminiscent of the well water that my grandparents used to have.

After a stop by the bank to cash some checks, we headed to Natty Flats BBQ to pick up some lunch, which we took back to the house to eat. Their chili, as usual, was delicious. I also had a chicken breast, which was tasty, but a bit on the dry side. Their signature BBQ beans were also delicious, as was the “baked tater salad.” After lunch, S and I headed back home, leaving around 2:30, so as to miss rush hour traffic.

This morning, I have to be at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:30 for the conference that I am to attend. I don’t think I’ll make it in time for breakfast, which is at 7:30.

The Red Sox had another grand slam home run, last night, their third in two games of the ALCS, yet another historic moment. They scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, and won the game 12-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. They will play again tonight, and the NLCS resumes tonight in Atlanta. The Braves have a 2-0 lead in that series.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace, mercy, and peace;
Power, love, and self-control;
Do not be ashamed.
(2 Timothy 1)

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalms 57:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ease with which we got Mama's new phone set up, yesterday
2. for the smooth, safe travel we had to Mineral Wells and back
3. for the love of family
4. that my citizenship is in heaven
5. that I will be transformed into Your likeness

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
(Psalms 66:20 ESV)

As I pause during the stillness of the morning, I reflect on Your steadfast love and faithfulness. I hold on to the truth that Your Spirit gives us, not fear, but power, love, and self-control.

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of David.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 108:1-5 NIV).

BIBLE READING

Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim
for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.

You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.
Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long?
Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old
unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.
(Lamentations 5:15-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I ponder and linger over these passages, looking for ways in which they move my spirit to prayer and meditation.

I am immediately made aware of the similarity between Psalm 108 and Psalm 57, quoted before my gratitude list. This can be seen other times, as one reads through the book of Psalms.

The heart of the psalmist is steadfast, because the love of the Lord is steadfast. God’s great love, higher than the heavens (this is also a recurring theme throughout Psalms), sustains us; it gives us the ability to praise Him and give Him thanks, to sing of His greatness among the peoples of the world. We sing and pray for Him to be exalted among the peoples of the earth. We desire to see His glory over the whole earth.

But, like the author of Lamentations, we also, at times, experience the loss of joy; our dancing turns to mourning. And, more often than not, this is caused by our own sin. In the case of Israel, it was the sin of a nation. In our case, today, it may be individual sins; they can, indeed, rob us of joy, that pervasive sense of well-being that we get when we are walking in the presence of God, in His kingdom. But it may also be sins of the Church, when she falls short of God’s ideal, chasing after the lies of men.

It is important to note that, in the middle of the lamentation, there is the proclamation, “You, LORD, reign forever.” Even in the midst of our sorrow, as we confess the lack of joy, that truth stands out, stands tall. If we can acknowledge the sovereignty of our God, even in the midst of lamentations, we are moving in the right direction. As the Church, we have the promise that our God will never utterly reject us, and will not be “angry with us beyond measure.” Jesus Christ has taken on the anger of God and punishment for our sins.

Father, You do reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to generation, even if Your people have forgotten and chased after the deceitful promises and lies of men. Forgive us, Father, and draw us back to Your path, teaching us Your ways, that we might walk in Your truth. Jesus is the Truth, the Life, and the Way. He is the only Truth, the only Source of life, and the only Way to You. I pray for You to be exalted in all the earth, and that Your glory would be seen throughout our world. Draw more people to You, Lord! Restore to us the joy of our salvation, that we might know and believe that things in Your kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine.

Father, please grant us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us, both spiritual and physical. Please equip us to serve in the best ways possible in these communities, as well as in our workplaces.

"God who suffers with us,
for faint hearts pierced with sorrow,
for all who have lived too much in darkness,
for those who know sickness and poverty,
lean years and drought,
I pray for Your help and comfort.
Bear them up with compassion,
and may Your hand deliver fresh mercy.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
(Romans 8:11 NIV)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
(Philippians 3:20-21 NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:1-9 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.