Light For the Next Step

“The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen


Today is Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Hump day.

Day 22,231

20 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.”
P.G. Wodehouse, British humorist and novelist, 1881-1975
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ondful. It means, “Malicious; spiteful, envious.” Also, “malicious or envious people as a class.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

I have begun checking my glucose level several times a day, now, and the after-meal results are certainly eye-opening. Yesterday, two hours after breakfast was 199, and two hours after lunch was 200. Ouch! This morning’s fasting check was 167, though, which is significantly lower than yesterday’s, so progress is being made already.

We plan to go to the Y tonight. We took last night off to look at my resume and some possible job openings that are closer to home.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.
Psalm 50:14

Today I am grateful:
1. For C, who is always willing and eager to help me with things.
2. Again, for the opportunity and commitment to improve my health.
3. That God knows the difference between what I want and what I need.
4. For the “easy yoke” of Jesus.
5. For enough light for the next step.

Almighty Savior, who at noonday called your servant
Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles:
We pray you to illumine the world with
the radiance of your glory,
that all nations may come and worship you;
for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Enough Light For the Next Step,” by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15

We want to be able to see into the future. We would love to be able to see what’s coming tomorrow, or where we will be in five or ten years. Or maybe some of us don’t want to know, right? Typically, we have just enough light to see the next stop, what we need to do next, or, if we’re fortunate, what we need to do tomorrow. Says Nouwen, “The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark.” If we focus on that light that shows us the next step and trust in that light that God provides us, “we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go.” So, rejoice in the “little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all the shadows away.”

“All we’re guaranteed is today. Tomorrow is the Lord’s to give as well as reveal.”

I have a thing that I say. I didn’t make it up, but heard it from a sports guy on a local radio station that I listened to years ago. He would always say, “See you tomorrow, if the Lord says so, too.”

Father, I am grateful that You give me light enough for the next step. I suppose there are times when I would love to see what’s coming down the road. But most of the time, I am content to walk in the light that You have given. Help me to rejoice in that and not complain about what I cannot see. And I will trust in You and the light You give.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

My Significance Comes From God

Today is Thursday, January 10, 2019.

Day 22,218

34 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.”
P.G. Wodehouse, British humorist and novelist, 1881-1975

The word of the day is impresario. It means, “a person who organizes or manages public entertainments, especially operas, ballets, or concerts.”

I’m getting a little bit later start, this morning. C bought a new breakfast nook table Sunday, and it is being delivered today, so I decided to use my “floating holiday” today, to be at home when the delivery is made. We also paid them extra to have it assembled.

Not much else going on, so on to the devotional.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14

Today I am grateful:
1. For a random day off from work.
2. For people work delivering and assembling furniture.
3. For time to work on music for Sunday (and other times).
4. For coffee. Not that it makes me feel that much different. I just like coffee.
5. That I get my significance and value from God.

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love 
on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within 
the reach of your saving embrace:
So clothe us in your Spirit that we, 
reaching forth our hands in love, 
may bring those who do not know you 
to the knowledge of and love of you;
for the honor of your Name. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
Ephesians 3:14-15

This morning, I want to write a bit about gratitude point number five, “That I get my significance and value from God.”

This is a thing that I have known for a long time. Of course, as most of us are aware, “knowing” something and truly knowing something are completely different things. Have I confused you, yet? I have had the head knowledge for a long time that my true identity comes from God. It does not come from what I do for a living. It does not come from my talents (or lack thereof). It does not come from my hobbies, the things I like and don’t like. It comes from God.

Back when we were doing “huddle,” we were introduced to some shapes. I’ve not been a huge fan of “Life Shapes,” but there are a couple of them that I have grown to like. This one is what I call the “identity triangle.” The triangle has been used for a number of purposes, but today it will serve for my topic.

As you can see, the Father is at the top of the triangle. If you follow the arrow down and right, you get to “identity.” My identity comes from God. Following the next arrow over to the left, you get to “obedience.” The order is of utmost importance. If identity comes out of obedience, instead of the other way around, we wind up with strict legalism, or “works salvation.” But when identity comes first, from God, then moves on to obedience, it all flows from grace.

Yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. No, I did not get a visit from some Magi. In this context, “epiphany” means “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” Also, “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.”

Yesterday, there occurred a confluence of a couple of “streams” in my life. Two events crashed together in a thunder of crisis. And I emerged victorious. Sounds like I’m writing poetry, doesn’t it? I’m not really at liberty to discuss the two events, and the nature of them is not that significant. All that matters is the result.

You see, yesterday, I came to the startling realization that I do not get my significance from any human relationships or activity. It does not arise from any kind of performance or approval. It doesn’t come from how others think of me. It doesn’t come from whether I am included in any events or activities.

It comes from God through my relationship with the Trinity. As in the triangle above, I get my identity from the Father, through Jesus Christ, and am maintained by the Holy Spirit.

Something I have known for a while suddenly clicked yesterday. And it was liberating.

So consider this today. Your identity is not in what you do or who you know or who likes you or doesn’t like you. It’s not even dictated by your “pet sins.” Your identity comes from God and God alone. Let’s see what God says about us.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:30-31
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Psalm 8:5-8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
Ephesians 1:5
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

I could go on and on and on. But hopefully, by now, you get it. We are children of God. Recently, I had a DNA test done to try to gain a little more insight into my heritage. I’m not sure it was worth the money we paid for it, but it was still interesting. We get our DNA from our parents. But my “spiritual DNA” comes from one source only. From God our Father. And it is NOT diluted through centuries of family relationships. It is pure in all of us.

I get my identity, my value, my significance from God and God alone. You get your identity, your value, your significance from God and God alone.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently, most especially our enemy.

Father, I don’t have enough words to thank You for the revelation I received yesterday. My prayer, now, is that You will help me remember this tomorrow, when I feel slighted by someone, or when I fail to be what I believe You have called me to be. Thank You for the freedom that comes from this truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Soli Deo Gloria!

Shaping Society and Forming the Soul

Prayer “is the essential work in shaping society and in forming the soul.”

Today is Sunday, September 2, 2018. Day 22,088.

Tomorrow is our Labor Day holiday!!

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, 1881-1975, The Quotations Page

The word for today is coeval, “of the same or equal age, antiquity, or duration.”

Yesterday was the kind of Saturday that I love. Nothing much happened. I worked on the music for this morning, C put together the song lyrics and sermon notes on the Mac for this morning’s worship gathering, I ordered some lunch, we watched some TV, and I played Fallout on the PS4. C went and picked up the groceries between 5:00 and 6:00, and got us our obligatory Sonic drinks. It was a nice, relaxing day. Oh, I almost forgot. At some point in the evening, C started tearing wallpaper out of the small bathroom. She plans to do some painting tomorrow. R & J are planning to come down today, and we plan to go to Razoo’s for lunch.

The Red Sox had a solid win over the Other Sox, last night. By “solid” I mean that they got ahead first and stayed ahead. They won 6-1. They are now 94-43, and remain 7.5 up in the AL West. 25 games left.

The Rangers also won, beating the Twins 7-4. Their record is 59-77, and they are 24 games out in the AL West, in fifth place. They are 21.5 out in the Wild Card and their division elimination number is 3.

The Kansas City Royals still own the longest current winning streak at four consecutive games.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From Where Your Treasure Is), Eugene H. Peterson

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 
You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2

Still reading in chapter 1, “The Unselfing of America.” In the next segment, Eugene H. Peterson insists that the unselfing is already taking place. “Bands of people meet together regularly to engage in the work. Disbanded, they continue what they began in common.” They assemble together, as we will this morning, in worship gatherings, and then disperse to “infiltrate homes, shops, factories, offices, athletic fields, town halls, courts, prisons, streets, playgrounds, and shopping malls, where they also pray. Much of the population, profoundly ignorant of the forces that hold their lives together, does not even know that these people exist.”

What the praying people know that the others either don’t know or choose to ignore is this: “centering life in the insatiable demands of the ego is the sure path to doom.” Says, Peterson, “Life confined to the self is a prison, a joy-killing, neurosis-producing, disease-fomenting prison.”

America does not need a “new movement.” “The people who meet in worship and offer themselves in acts of prayer are doing what needs to be done.” But it is important to know and understand that these acts of prayer don’t happen just when they are on their knees or in worship. They carry us far beyond those places, into our work places and daily lives. They also carry different people down different paths, and we have to learn to not be envious or critical of those whose paths are different from ours.

“These citizens have unmasked the devil’s deception that prayer is a devotional exercise in which pious people engage when they are cultivating some private felicity with the Almighty or to which profane people are reduced in desperate circumstances.”

Prayer “is the essential work in shaping society and in forming the soul.”

Father, as I continue down this path, struggling daily, give me strength in Your Spirit to shun the “insatiable demands of the ego,” and find myself praying in community with my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I lead the prayer ministry of our church, keep me focused, make me sensitive to the needs, both of our community and our society, and of our world. And in these prayers, help us to truly shape our society and form our souls.
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.