Good morning. Today is Tuesday, May 21, 2013. First things first. Everyone needs to be praying for the people of Oklahoma. I’m sure everyone who can access this blog already knows about the devastation that hit there yesterday afternoon. What I keep hearing described as a “mile-wide tornado” blasted through Moore, OK, and surrounding areas yesterday, staying on the ground, reportedly, for forty minutes, completely leveling entire communities and a couple of schools. At the current time, the death toll from this tornado is at least 51, including somewhere close to a dozen or so elementary school children. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard of a tornado this bad. I’ll be spending some serious time in prayer for these folks today.
I just saw a report that now has the death toll at 91.
Yesterday was a pretty challenging day, but I got through it, just like we always seem to do. One thing that is weighing on us right now (and believe me, it does seem trivial in the aftermath of yesterday’s Oklahoma devastation) is that one of our kitties is missing. Cali, our year-old calico, hasn’t been seen since Sunday morning. We’ve put signs on the local community mailboxes, but this kind of thing has happened before. We’ve had a couple other cats just disappear, and we always hope that they adopted another family somewhere. Always a risk when you have cats that go in and out of the house.
Christi continues to improve, and, yesterday morning when I left for work, she said she was doing “Awesome!” She may not have even had to take a pain pill yesterday at all! She has her followup appointment at 1pm today. Supposedly, we are signing on our refinancing this afternoon. This has been a fiasco of an experience, but I will share more on that after we sign and after it’s funded and the old one is paid off.
Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. If you go out to eat today, tip them well. Unless they, you know, spill food all over you or something. Even then . . . you know, everyone has a bad day sometimes.
I apologize again, I don’t have time for history or birthdays, as I have been helping Christi get ready for the day’s events.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Psalm 118:28
Father, as I pray and meditate this morning, may you show me something of yourself that will lead me further down the path of grace.
Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Let Those Who Boast Boast in This.” The scripture reading is Jeremiah 9:23-24.
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Righteousness does not come from “outward ritual or legal obedience.” This is what grace is all about. Until we truly learn that we cannot work our way into God’s favor, we don’t truly understand grace. Likewise, as long as we are boasting about any accomplishments that we have made “for God,” then we also don’t truly understand his grace and what it has done for us. Our renewal, our covenant, is made in the heart, and is not related to “formal observance of the law.” “God requires justice, mercy, and love, not merely outward sacrifice or formal obedience.” Justice, mercy, and love are things that come from the heart. Wait. No. True justice, love, and mercy, come from God. He puts them into our hearts. So, let us not boast in wisdom, strength, or riches. I would even be careful boasting that I understand and know Yahweh. I’m still not sure I understand. Actually, I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand. But I know one thing: God is present with me; all the time. I will boast in his steadfast love for me!
Here is a prayer, quoted from Martin Luther.
“Dear God and Father, we thank you for your infinite goodness and love to us. You do continually keep us in your word, in faith, and in prayer. By this we know how to walk before you in humility and in fear. By this we are not proud of our own wisdom, righteousness, skill, and strength, but glory alone in your power. . . . To you be praise and thanks in eternity. Amen.”
Today, I come to mercy number 11 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning. It is called, “The prayer of simple regard.” It is a brief reading concerning “contemplative prayer.” Brennan asserts that you do no t have to live in solitude, be a Trappist monk, or go to the desert to learn and practice contemplative prayer. We can do it by repeatedly praying something as simple as “Abba . . . I belong to you.” Now, I have some friends that would scoff at this, and dismiss it as being “new age.” But truthfully, there is nothing new about it. What such people don’t understand is that the “desert fathers” and other such ancient devotional masters would practice such prayers on a regular basis. How does this work? You simply pray while breathing. Breathe in, say, “Abba.” Breathe out, say, “I belong to you.” That’s it. Seven syllables. Now, the trick is to make this not be “vain repetition,” and trust me, I struggle with this. While I have not practiced this particular prayer, yet, I have made it a habit to regularly pray what some call “The Jesus Prayer,” which consists of “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” These prayers can be prayed at any time, “watching television, lying in bed, driving to work, eating dinner,” why, pastors could even pray it while they preach!
Abba . . . I belong to you.
Abba . . . I belong to you.
Abba . . . I belong to you.
“This simple utterance of adoration and submission infuses our being with a profound awareness of who we are–a son or daughter of the Father in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And by affirming that over and over through our day, we also receive a sense of why we’re here, and where we are going.”
Lord Jesus, be for me the way to Abba, Father.
Be for me all my truth and all my life. Lead me into
the crucified life, which is real life, and eternal. Lead me
away from every lesser thing. By Your love, renew my inner
being so that I can receive Your love, and know it truly,
and be Your love to others. Amen
Abba, Father, I do belong to you. Let that be my prayer throughout this day, today. May that be the only boast that I have, that I belong to you, and that you love me with an everlasting, unchanging, steadfast, crazy, overwhelming love! I have no wisdom that I can call my own. I possess no strength that is mine. I certainly don’t have any material riches to speak of, and everything I own, I received from you. I will boast in that, that I am nothing and you are everything. Abba . . . I belong to you.
I pray, this day, Lord, for our friend Bridget, who is about to have her baby. After a few unsuccessful attempts, this precious one has made it. I pray for a healthy delivery for both mother and baby, and may the love shared between these two be epic!
I pray that Christi would continue recovering well, and that her doctor visit this afternoon would even show that she is ahead of schedule. I pray for safety for her and Rachel as they travel to the doctor’s office. I also pray that our loan signing go smoothly this afternoon, especially after all the glitches we have gone through to get here. I pray for a smooth day at work today. There is potential for more challenge, more stress. Help me to allow stress to roll off of me like butter on a hot roll. I also pray that Stephanie will have a good day today, and that you will surround her with your steadfast love as she looks for your promises in Colossians 3.
Finally, I pray for the people in Oklahoma who have been affected by tornadoes over the last two days. This is tragic, and perhaps the worst that I have ever seen. I pray for comfort for everyone who has lost family and/or property. I pray for restoration and hope for them. I pray for peace and protection in the aftermath. I also pray for supernatural strength and tenacity for people who will be helping in rescue and recovery efforts. Let your presence be known, Lord, most especially in the form of believers who sacrifice to bring your love to the victims.
Boast in nothing other than the love of God. All else is rubbish.
Grace and peace, friends.