The Least of These

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.

Psalm 4

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!

Psalm 139

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.

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Denial of Grace

Today is Monday, October 16, 2017. Day 21,767. Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Oscar Wilde, who was born on this date in 1854 (died 1900), said, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is jawbreaker, which means, “a word that is hard to pronounce.”

We are back to “reality” today, after having avoided it for several days. We had a wonderful time celebrating our thirty-second wedding anniversary. We were back in our favorite of the Paluxy River Bed Cabins, the Cedar House. Although it has stairs to get up to the second floor bedroom, it is still our favorite cabin. That is largely because the number of trees around it, between the cabin and the river, give a little more of a secluded feel. The single story Cliff House has a great view of the river, but is too exposed and doesn’t give as much of a solitude vibe.

The best morning was Sunday morning, sadly. Sadly because that was the day we had to leave. But it was the only morning where we couldn’t even hear traffic noise from the nearby Highwya 67. Nobody gets out much on early Sundays, and there were some times of absolute silence, except for birds.

On Friday, we visited Fossil Rim, the wildlife park. It has been years since we were there, and we had a wonderful time feeding and observing various kinds of animals. Sadly, the giraffes would not approach our car. They were too busy eating leaves off of trees. Perhaps they were tired of bending down to get their food. Or maybe they don’t like red. Who knows? We do have a few pictures, and maybe I’ll get them up here, eventually.

That reminds me, I still need to upload pictures of my cousin’s wedding from the previous weekend.

The Astros are leading the Yankees 2-0 in their series, as are the Dodgers leading the Cubs. The ALCS resumes today at 7:00 CDT, in New York.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
The Request for Presence
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
The Greeting
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-3
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 115:15
A Reading
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4
The Morning Psalm
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:1-4, 7-9
The Small Verse
Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed.
(Traditional)
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me, that I may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Concluding Prayer of the Church
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.† Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

It’s been a while, but I last talked about Peterson’s idea of “acquired passivity.” He takes a moment to address the idea of works. “Why is there such unending and often acrimonious argument and contention about faith and works?” Paul’s writings should definitely put an end to that debate, or, as Peterson calls it, “tedious gossip.”

“Faith in Christ is an act of abandoning the shores of self, where we think we know where we stand and where if we just try hard enough we can be in control.” Dallas Willard defines grace as God accomplishing in us what we cannot accomplish on our own.

But we are hesitant to get up that solid footing of the self. We have formed years of habits on this “ground.” It is difficult for us to give up the idea that we can just try harder and live “anxiously by my wits and muscle,” rather than “living effortlessly in the world of God’s active presence.” In fact, our entire North American culture consists of, “to all intents and purposes, a context of persistent denial of grace.”

Father, teach us to embrace grace. But let us not think that grace alone is all we need. Yes, of course, we believe in salvation by grace alone. But it doesn’t stop there. Our faith in you, by the grace you provided, leads us to works, which are the proof of our lives in you. When we live in the Kingdom way, walking in the steps, works, and words of Jesus, those works become evidence of our faith and your grace. Let us not live in such a way that we deny your grace.
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.

On Being Right

Today is Thursday, May 25, 2017. Day 21,623. Nine days until our Oregon vacation!

“Everything popular is wrong.” ~ Oscar Wilde
From Brainy Quote

Chinwag ~ an idle chat; to chat idly; gossip.

Today is Towel Day. For those who are not “in the know,” this is a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The first thing to remember is, of course, DON’T PANIC! The second thing is to always remember your towel.

C hasn’t been feeling well over the past couple of days. Both days, she set out for work and wound up coming back home. She thinks she’s feeling better this morning. She was having chills and a very low-grade fever (barely over normal, most of the time).

The Red Sox beat the Rangers again, last night, 9-4. Perhaps it would be better to say that Sam Dyson beat the Rangers. I’m not sure why they are still letting him pitch. If he hadn’t pitched, last night, the Rangers might have won that game. Of course, you never know. The Twins beat the Orioles, so the Sox are now only 3.5 games out of first. The Rangers are 7 out, behind the Astros, who remain the best team in baseball, for the time being.

We finally watched the two episodes of The Voice, from this week, including the finale. So we now know who won this season. I somehow managed to get all the way through yesterday without finding out. I was slightly disappointed, but not unhappy when Chris Blue won the competition, edging out Lauren Duski, who, in my opinion, is one of the best female country vocalists I have ever heard. And I don’t even like country music that much. All four contestants sang an original song that was written just for them. Lauren wrote hers, herself, and it was really good. I didn’t care for Chris’s original. As for the performances on Monday night, I think Jesse Larson’s were the best for that particular night. He and Adam Levine nailed Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” But Jesse came in fourth place, followed by the youngest to ever reach the finale, Aliyah Moulden.

Today would have been the 60th anniversary of my parents’ wedding day.

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

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Psalm 69:16
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
. . . who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
Psalm 104:32

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

Joshua DuBois says, “We can do anything today–and we’d probably be right.” We can probably back up our words with “unassailable facts and solid figures.” We might even be justified in the way we feel and/or act toward those who may have wronged us, and our judgments upon others might be justified, as well, “given their misdeeds.”

However, is being right always worth it? “Once we’ve summited the mountain of our own correctness, what great prize will we receive?”

The words of Maya Angelou, above, closely echo those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. There are times when how we make people feel will be much more important than whether or not we are right.

Dallas Willard once said, “One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it.”

“Dear God, let me put first things first–not my own ‘rightness’ but my love for you and others.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer. It’s not always important to be “right,” or to exercise our “rights.” Truthfully, if we are following Jesus, we have surrendered those rights, including the “right” to be “right.” Let me always consider others more than myself, Father, in my walk with 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.

No Temptation Has Overtaken You That Is Not Common To Man

Today is Saturday, May 13, 2017. One week until our “family reunion.”

Quote of the Day

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Word of the Day

Microcosm ~ a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe. Also, a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity.

There are a number of choices for today’s “holiday,” some more strange than others. I’m going with one of the stranger ones. Today is Leprechaun Day. I love the idea of leprechauns. I also love Lucky Charms, represented by a leprechaun. “It is said that if you catch a leprechaun, he will have to give you his pot of gold, but leprechauns are resourceful when it comes to defending their gold, and they are not easily caught.”

It’s another busy weekend at the Bickleyhouse. Tonight, there is a Southlake Community Band concert that doesn’t begin until 8:00 PM. I have to be there by 7:30, and it should last until around 9:30. Since we only had a couple weeks to prepare for this one, we are basically re-playing our Disney concert from earlier in the year. The next gig is on July 3 for the July 4 festivities.

Tomorrow, of course, is Mother’s Day. Since we are all going to east Texas to visit my uncle and cousins next weekend, we will not be going to Mineral Wells tomorrow to see my mother. She promised that she is fine with that. And the trip to east Texas is part of our Mother’s Day gift to her. R & J will be coming over tomorrow, though to celebrate with C. We will probably order out and have food delivered, rather than fight crowds at a restaurant. We just don’t like doing that scene at all.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 115:18
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:5
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 above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Psalm 108:3-4
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 
  Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:1-5

(From The President’s Devotional)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

“But Satan now is wiser than of yore,
And tempts by making rich, not making poor.” ~ Alexander Pope, Moral Essays

“The wave is coming. Its crest high, thundering, overwhelming. We see it from far off and tremble at what it portends. The great wave of temptation.”

This wave comes at us, wanting us to believe that it is undefeatable, that no one has ever survived it. But it lies. Temptation always lies. God tells us that “no temptation has overtaken” us “that is not common to man.” Many people have come before us and survived this wave. “They’ve come out whole. And so will we.”

“Dear God, I know temptation is coming. Give me the mettle to withstand. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)


Father, I have succumbed to temptations many times, as have many other people. But you have always picked me back up on the other side and placed me back on your path, my journey to you. More temptations will come. They will not stop until I finally reach my destination. The thing is, I can’t even imagine what life without temptation will look like. As I continue to train, strengthen me against temptations of all kinds. Grow me to the point that following and obeying Jesus is second nature; to the point that I don’t even have to think about whether I’m going to do something that I ought not do.
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.

Risking An Open Heart

Today is Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Last day of January.

Quote of the Day

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

Word of the Day

Kibitzer – one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment.

.yaD drawkcaB si yadoT

As mentioned yesterday, I won’t be going to work this morning. Instead, S and I will be heading to Mineral Wells at around 8:30, to pick up my mother and go to Bill Bennett’s memorial service at FBC. It starts at 10:30.

Band practice went well, last night. We have a couple of new guys playing trombone, and it is fun getting to know them. This concert, coming up March 7, will be quite ambitious. It appears that we will have video clips being displayed while we are playing the various Disney tunes, as well as, potentially, some vocalists singing along with us. It promises to be great fun.

25/62

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah. Psalm 67:1

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Psalm 123:1-2

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. Psalm 7:17

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:13-14

(From The President’s Devotional)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

“There is a profound ground of unity that is more pertinent and authentic than all the unilateral dimension of our lives. This a man discovers when he is able to keep open the door of his heart. This is one’s ultimate responsibility, and it is not dependent upon whether the heart of another is kept open for him.”–Howard Thurman, A Strange Freedom

What a magnificent quote! Jesus bids us keep our hearts open to others. He did not say those specific words, but I truly believe that the sentiment exists in his teachings. We are to keep our hearts open, even if others do not open their hearts to us.

What frightens us is the risk involved. Yes, it is a risk to open my heart to others, because they might take advantage of me; they might abuse me; they might trample on my heart and leave it shattered. But that is of no concern to me, or at least it should not be. If we consider that Jesus holds our hearts and keeps them safe, no matter what men may do to them, then we have no risk. But we don’t trust him, do we?

“Open our hearts, God. To instruction, unheard. To possibility, unseen. To love, unfelt. To joy, unknown. If we have been closed off, we repent. And we ask you to open our hearts. Amen.”

Father, it is with great joy that I can say that I believe that you have been in the process of doing this in me for some time, now. I can also say, with all confidence, that it’s not complete, yet. I pray that you do not stop working in me. Help me to completely open my heart and keep it open toward all around me. Help me to trust in your ability in Christ to keep my heart safe and whole.

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)

Before I go, I want to share something. I have run across a song, a worship song, that has “rocked my world,” so to speak. This hasn’t happened in quite some time, but it happened Sunday afternoon, as I waited at a drive-thru for lunch for S and me. This song is by Hillsongs Worship, and is called “What A Beautiful Name.”

Grace and peace, friends.

The Themes of Praise

Today is Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Twenty-six more days until Christmas.

Quote of the Day

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

Word of the Day

Quinquennium – a period of five years.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is always set on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which is also the first Tuesday after the feast of materialism known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The purpose is to draw people’s attention away from getting to giving. A lot of organizations will receive double your charitable donation on Giving Tuesday.

We started practicing for our spring concert last night, at band practice. The director is planning a Disney/Star Wars theme for this one. He’s a huge Disney fan. In fact, that’s where he was last night, because he wasn’t at band practice. He got the band director from the middle school where we practice to lead our rehearsal last night. So that was interesting. She was very cheerful and “bubbly.” She also said, “Cool,” a lot. She was probably excited to get to conduct some older musicians, for a change.

We have our monthly Night of Worship this coming Saturday, so it will be a busy weekend, again, as we will meet up during the afternoon to practice. We are having a “special guest” with us, this time, so we might be starting even earlier.

88 days until the first Spring Training game.
125 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.  Psalm 67:1

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
  Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. 
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Psalm 123:1-3

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High. Psalm 7:17

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 
  The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:7-8

“The themes of praise are vast, and the subjects of praise are glorious, but its accents are always individual and personal: a prayer has been answered, a need has been fulfilled, a sin has been forgiven, a life has been made whole.”

“I thank you, dear God, for what you have done in my body and my spirit. I know that heaven and earth cannot exhaust your being nor even contain your wonders, but it is what you do in me that makes me want to praise what you do everywhere for everyone, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, teach me how to praise you better. Remind me of all of those prayers that have been answered, all of those needs that have been fulfilled, my sin that has been forgiven, and this life that has been made whole. Keep those things in the front of my mind every day, that I might be one who is full of praise for you!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

Mistaken Views of Christianity

Today is Saturday, October 29, 2016. Twelve days until our Glen Rose Weekend!

Quote of the Day

“Who, being loved, is poor?” – Oscar Wilde

Word of the Day

Osculate – kiss

Today is Cat Day. Black cats got their own day, a few days ago. The rest of the cats have to share this one day. May I introduce to you the epitome of “Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty,” Trixie.

Trixie
Trixie

Coco Crisp drove in the only run in last night’s World Series game, and the Indians beat the Cubs 1-0, spoiling the return of the World Series to Wrigley Field. The Indians now lead the series 2-1. For folks who don’t have a dog in this hunt, this is the kind of series they hope for. They would prefer it to go to seven games and maybe even have extra innings in Game Seven, like the 1991 World Series, in which the Twins beat the Braves in the 10th inning. 1-0. I remember that game. I stayed up to watch it, cheering the Twins on.

I don’t know what’s going on today. I’m thinking about going and doing early voting. If I can decide what I’m doing. We might go to the grocery store today, or we might wait until tomorrow evening. I know that Monday evening (Halloween), we will be going to our pastor’s mother’s house for some of her famous chili, which is a venison/beef mix, and may be the best chili I have ever tasted. It’s an annual tradition at her house. She makes several pots of the stuff, and the neighbors and friends come by for a bowl. Good times.

I just put two new book reviews up on my other blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 103:20-22
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:1-3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 26:3; 30:15
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11

(From Praying With the Psalms)

A Song of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
Psalm 122:1-5

As the people traveled on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the experienced joy in going to “the house of the Lord.” Just like the ancient Israelites, we should be joyful as we journey to our respective houses of worship. “Any road that leads to a congregation of God’s people is traveled with a glad heart.”

“I give you thanks, most gracious God, for the church in which I worship, the care with which it was built, the devotion with which it is maintained, the ministering uses to which it is put. For all this I thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

There are some “Christian” views that are not taught in the Bible. One of those is that Jesus died for our sins out of sympathy. “The New Testament view is that He bore our sin not by sympathy, but by identification.” He was made to be sin, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21. Our sins are removed because of the obedience of Jesus.

Another incorrect view is that we are acceptable to God because of our obedience. This is wrong. “We are acceptable with God not because we have obeyed, or because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and in no other way.”

Another view says that Jesus came to reveal “the Fatherhood of God,” and his lovingkindness. However, the New Testament says that Jesus came to “bear away the sin of the world.” Jesus never spoke to the world as one who reveals the Father, but as “a stumbling block.” His revelation of the Father is only to those “to whom He has been introduced as Saviour.”

The view that Jesus died for me, so I go “scot-free,” is also not taught in Scripture. He died “for all,” according to the Bible; he did not die “my death.” “By identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have imparted to me His very righteousness.”

“It is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed in me.”

Father, you have taught me these things, gradually, over the course of my life. I haven’t believed any of these errant views for quite some time. I do believe that Jesus revealed you to me, along with all other “disciples,” but the world does not see this. To the world, he is a stumbling block. I know that I am acceptable to you only because of the work of Christ! There is not one single thing that I have done to make myself acceptable in your sight. I pray daily for Christ to be formed in me, and I pray for the work of the disciplines in my life that would put me in a place where you can transform me into a true disciple.

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.