Training, Not Trying

Today is Thursday, May 18, 2017. Two days until our family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“It’s not the having, it’s the getting.” ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Word of the Day

Slacktivism ~ actions taken to bring about political or social change but requiring only minimal commitment, effort, or risk. Signing an online petition, for example.

Today is Notebook Day, which celebrates the benefits of journaling. I like journaling; some folks don’t. That’s okay. It’s not for everyone. Some people feel like they are supposed to be doing it, especially in the spiritual community, but that’s not a burden anyone should assume. If you like it, by all means do it. If you don’t, then don’t do it; don’t even try. Being miserable does not make you a better person.

In the shocking news category, I was greeted, this morning, by the news that Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has passed away at the age of 52. This is totally unexpected, according to news reports, and, as of now, no cause of death has been identified. I have a friend at work who was excited about an upcoming concert with Soundgarden, his favorite band.

More sadly, and more close to home, I report that C’s good friend and work associate, Theresa, passed away Tuesday night, after a painful battle with cancer. We are saddened, but, at the same time, glad that she no longer suffers. In addition, she was confident in her Savior’s ability to keep her, so we are confident in her ultimate destination, which is far better than even the best circumstances in our world. As Dallas Willard said, things are much better than you could ever imagine, in the kingdom of God.

For some happy news, the Rangers beat the Phillies quite soundly, last night, 9-3. At one point, it was 9-0. The starting pitcher got the win, which is always good. They now have an eight game winning streak, and one more game with the Phillies this afternoon. Hopefully, the rain will hold off until after the game. Unfortunately, the Astros won again, too, so the Rangers continue to be in second place, eight games out.

The Red Sox beat the Cardinals again, too, in thirteen innings, 5-4. They remain in third place, four games behind the Yankees. They gained a game on the second place Orioles, though. They begin a weekend series in Oakland, tonight.

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

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97:12
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalm 86:1-2
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
Psalm 28:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Luke 11:9-13

(From Living the Message)

“Spirituality requires context,” writes Eugene H. Peterson. “Always. Boundaries, borders, limits.”

There are people who believe that just by becoming less material, they automatically become more spiritual. This is, of course, not true. “No one becomes exalted by ascending in a gloriously colored hot-air balloon.” To become mature, spiritually, requires what Peterson calls “askesis.” What is askesis? “A training program custom-designed for each individual-in-community.” Training, not trying, as Dallas Willard would say.

The way we train is through the Spiritual Disciplines. And what makes it “custom-designed” is that no two people need the same program of disciplines in their lives. Some people may not need to practice the discipline of silence as much as I need to. And boy do I need to! We all need to determine which disciplines we need most in our lives in order to reach our potential, spiritually. Spiritual maturity cannot be “mechanically imposed from without.” I can’t become more spiritual simply by getting rid of all my stuff. While that might not hurt anything, it doesn’t, by itself, serve any purpose.

Askesis must be context sensitive.”

You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Psalm 23:2-3 (The Message)

Father, I am excited about where we are going in my life. I truly am. As I learn more about Spiritual Formation and the disciplines, I begin to see which ones I need to focus on. Immediately, I see the need for silence and solitude. Simplicity will probably be right on the horizon, as well. I’m sure occasional fasting would be beneficial to me, also. Teach me these things as I go. I would even pray that someone might come into my life who has a good handle on these things that could help lead me along. May your Spirit guide me in this “askesis.”
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.

Nothing Can

“Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.” ― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is furphy, which is “a false report; rumor.” So don’t go making up furphies about me!

Today is Notebook Day. This is a brand new holiday. You who read this are among the elite few who will know about it on its very first observance! Not surprisingly, it was begun by a company that sells notebooks, May Designs. But why not, right? Anyway, they are trying to encourage people to engage in journaling. Not keeping a diary, mind you. Journaling.

The Red Sox split a double-header with KC, yesterday, which means they lost the series. But at least they took the nightcap, 5-2. On the plus side, Jackie Bradley, Jr. extended his hitting streak to 24 games! He almost didn’t get one in the first game, but managed a single in his last at bat, in the top of the ninth inning. He is a looooooooong way from Joe DiMaggio’s record, though. 56 games. That’s almost unreachable.

The Rangers, in the meantime, got swept by Oakland. That’s unfortunate, and I can’t help but believe it had something to do with the brawl in Sunday’s game. As fun as it was to watch Rougie punch the punk in the face, things like that seem to have a negative impact on the team. Especially when the punishments start getting doled out by MLB officials who favor northeastern teams, aka Joe Torre, ex-manager of the Evil Empire. Am I saying I think the penalties were inequitable? You bet your sweet bippy, I am! I don’t think there are any Rangers fans who would deny that Rougie deserves suspension. But the Boo Jays hardly got anything, and the punk only got one game, even after a history of dirty slides.

That’s all the time I have for my editorial portion. Today is Thursday (pre-Friday). It’s supposed to rain most of the day. But it did that all the way to work, yesterday morning, and I wasn’t expecting that. The weather people seem to be struggling, these days, and it seems that they have become overly dramatic, coming up with new acronyms (PDS) and largely “crying wolf” about severe weather.

Oops. That was more editorial, wasn’t it? Ah, well. On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah.
to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Psalm 68:32-35

“‘This superb hymn is unsurpassed, if not unequalled, in grandeur, lyric fire, and sustained rush of triumphant praise. It celebrates a victory; but it is the victory of the God who enters as a conqueror into His sanctuary’ (Alexander Maclaren, The Psalms, 1:271).”

“‘Let all the world in every corner sing, “My God and King!” The heavens are not too high, His praise may thither fly; the earth is not too low, His praises there may grow. Let all the world in every corner sing, “My God and King!”‘ (George Herbert, ‘Let All the World in Every Corner Sing’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Out of the Wreck I Rise”

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Romans 8:35

God will not make us immune from trouble. Instead he proclaims, all through Scripture, that he will be with us in our trouble. And no matter what troubles we encounter, there is not a single one that can separate us from our relationship to God in Christ Jesus! When Paul says that we are “more than conquerors,” he not thinking of imaginary dragons. Nay, he is speaking of reality, “things that are desperately actual.” But it is not courage or talent or strength that makes us more than conquerors. It is “the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ.”

Shall tribulation . . .? “Let tribulation be what it may – exhausting, galling, it is not able to separate us from the love of God. Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.”

Or distress . . .? (Chambers uses the word “anguish.”) “Can God’s love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?”

Or famine . . .? Can we keep believing in the love of God even when we don’t have enough to eat?

“Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are against God’s character.”

Nothing can separate us, we shall rise, “Out of the wreck,” every time!

Hallelujah, my God! I praise you for the truth in this reading, and in Romans 8! So many times in my life, I have found this passage to be true! Keep it right in front of me, Father, as I walk in your kingdom today.

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.