Today is Thursday, January 4, 2018. Day 21,847.
84 days until Opening Day.
Oscar Wilde said, “But what is the difference between literature and journalism? …Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all.”
The Quotations Page
The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is hornswoggle, a verb, meaning, “bamboozle, hoax.”
Not much to talk about, around here. I’m starting back up with band practice in Southlake, this coming Monday evening, so that will be new. I’ve been off since the July 3 concert of last year. But I’m looking forward to getting back into it. I need to be playing.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah.
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
In today’s Daily Guideposts reading, Stephanie Thompson reminds us that the time we spend waiting, for whatever reason, can also be time waiting to hear from God. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)
(From The Business of Heaven)
An Upside Down World
“While we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order? How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heartbroken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis? No . . . It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” (Letters to Malcolm)
(From The Finishing Touch)
Upholding Human Dignity
Some years ago, an 84 year old Swedish woman sat on her balcony for two months before a neighbor discovered that she had died. The neighbor felt badly for not realizing it sooner, saying, “I hope this dreadful story makes us better at keeping in touch with our old neighbors.”
“Isolationism,” says Chuck Swindoll, “is a human tragedy.” This scenario could have easily played out in any country, city, or town. “For fear of poking our nose in someone else’s business or getting involved in something that could backfire on us, we have trained ourselves not to stop, look, or listen.”
Certainly, we must be cautious. Who hasn’t heard of someone who unwittingly stopped to help an apparent stranded motorist, only to be robbed, or worse? Yet, “somewhere between prudent caution and total isolation there is some sort of measured space worth the risk.”
Our world has grown fast-paced (even more so since 1994 when this book was published). Technology makes us more and more insignificant. We all struggle to be loved for who we are, yet tend to put up these fake personas on social media. We get voice mails when we call people. Some would rather send texts than talk to people in person. I, personally, do not enjoy having “conversations” via text message. For one thing, it takes too long to type a message of any length on the tiny phone “keyboard.” When we call “customer service,” we get someone in a far-away country, with little or no real understanding of the issues we are facing. We can even drive to a local ATM at any time of day or night, and get instant cash without any kind of human involvement.
“Machines write for us, answer phones for us, get money for us, shop for us, think for us, rent cars for us.” All of this has resulted in a tragic loss of human dignity. Dallas Willard defines “dignity” as that which cannot be exchanged for something of greater value. For example, we can exchange a few dollars for a hamburger. But there is nothing of greater value that should be exchangeable for a human life. That is one reason human trafficking is so horrible. But I digress.
Our excuses for the devices that rob us of this dignity is that they save time, allowing us to be more efficient. Plus they keep “us from getting hung up on knotty things like relationships and people-related concerns.”
Says Swindoll, “What’s so healthy about becoming completely untouchable? What’s so healthy about high-tech efficiency? What’s so healthy about computer-generated letters from one friend to another? What’s so healthy about spending the day talking to machines?”
A machine can’t give you a hug when you are grieving. They don’t really “listen” to you, because they are incapable of caring. Neither can they give you affirmation when you’re down or confront you when you’re wrong. “When you need reassurance and hope and strength to go on, you cannot replace the essential presence of another human being.”
Remember, Jesus came to save people, “human beings with names and personalities and fingerprints and faces. Upholding human dignity is worth the effort every time.”
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Father, remind me today of the need to uphold human dignity, with every person I meet. No matter how annoying I think a person might be, they are a creation of yours, made in your image, and deserve the consideration of someone who will deal with them as though they were Jesus. As Rich Mullins once noted, after treating someone rudely, “I just know that was Jesus.” Remind of this today. Everyone I meet is one of the least of these.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22
Grace and peace, friends.