The Lord Reigns

Today is Friday, October 5, 2018.

Day 22,121

Tomorrow, we leave for Galveston! I am on vacation!!

40 days until Fallout 76!!

“I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods.” ~ Georg Trakl, 1887-1914, BrainyQuote

The word of the day is peripeteia, “a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work.”

So, here I sit, on vacation for the next eleven days! In a little while, S and I will head to Mineral Wells to pick up Mama. We plan to have lunch at Dairy Mart, and I need to head over to the Crazy Water store to stock up on my Crazy Water #4. Then we will head back to Fort Worth, hopefully before rush hour. At some point, I need to make a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some things for our house sitter. Then we will start packing up for our trip.

The weather has lightened up a little bit. We are now seeing projected sunshine mid to late next week. Temperatures will remain relatively steady all week. The highs seem to be between 80-83, and the lows only about four or five degrees lower than that. Since we will be right at the coast, there should be some nice ocean breezes blowing off to keep us nice and cool.

As for any other plans, we really haven’t made any yet. I think the weather will have some bearing on this, as we would like to take the ferry across to Bolivar. That’s just for the ferry ride, as there really isn’t much to see on Bolivar. A lot of people love Crystal Beach, but, in my opinion, it’s not any better than the beach where we will be staying for the week. I would love to do one of Galveston’s ghost tours, but I’m not sure the weather will permit. I don’t think we want to do one Friday night, because that’s our actual anniversary evening. Thirty-three. My heart just fluttered. I figure we will probably go out for a nice dinner that night. Of course, the ghost tours don’t start until 7:30 or 8:00 PM, depending on which one we do. They do have some earlier in the week, but those are the nights that have the heaviest rain predictions. Hmmm . . . a ghost tour in the rain could be fun.

There were two baseball games, yesterday. The Brewers beat the Rockies in dramatic fashion, 3-2 in ten innings. The Dodgers beat the Braves in not-so-dramatic fashion, 6-0. The Red Sox play the Yankees in Fenway tonight. That game begins at 6:32 Central Daylight Time. The Indians and Astros face off at 1:05 PM today. The Brewers and Rockies play game two at 3:15 PM, and the Braves and Dodgers go at it again at 8:37. 6:32 and 8:37. What oddly specific times.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Psalm for giving thanks.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Psalm 37:4-7

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

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. 
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. 
Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! 
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Psalm 93

As I continue with chapter four, “Unself-Government,” I have to put down some thoughts that I had after yesterday morning’s blog. I was struck with these thoughts as I considered the number of people that I know who seem to idolize democracy, both in the scope of the nation, as well as the Church. I have to wonder how anyone who is so caught up in the spirit of democracy could possibly truly believe or be happy in the sovereignty of God. This especially applies as I consider the struggle we had with First Baptist Church of Smithfield over the failed merger attempt. There was a contingency of people whose major concern was that they weren’t going to be able to vote on every decision of the church. They believed that they were going to lose control.

Let’s let that sink in for a minute. How much control do we actually have anyway? If we truly believe that God is sovereign, why are we so caught up in getting to vote on everything?? How could such a person be happy in the Kingdom of God? Do they believe that God’s governmental system is going to be similar to our democracy?? I’m sorry, but we aren’t going to be voting on policy in God’s Kingdom! We aren’t going to get to choose who is in charge!

Just some thoughts that I am still wrestling with as I continue reading this book.

I finished yesterday’s post with the statement that there are seven Psalms that proclaim the sovereignty and absolute rule of God, and that Psalm 93 is one of these. “God’s rule is pondered and prayed in these psalms with both precision and exuberance. Prayer realizes the pervasive ways in which God’s rule interferes with and finally replaces our petty fiefdoms in which we blusteringly try to run our own lives or indolently let others run them.” I love the way Peterson puts words together!!

The way Psalm 93 is put together is unique and interesting. Peterson divides the first “stanza” of the Psalm into four pairs of “parallel sense rhymes.”

The LORD reigns;
he is robed in majesty;
The LORD is robed;
he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established;
it shall never be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

“God’s sovereignty is a structural fort. it is a historical fact as much as a theological fact. It is a political fact as much as a spiritual fact. it is an earthly fact as well as a heavenly fact.”

Obviously, it is also a fact that we do live under other governments. This psalm was prayed by Hebrews for centuries as they lived under their own kings. Through five hundred years, they crowned forty-two kings. Some were great, some were bloody awful, others were neither great nor awful. But what we must remember is that “every king was crowned in subordination to God’s rule.”

As the people worshiped and prayed these psalms, they were returned to and reminded of the fact that “the rule of God was being exercised in the actual political and social community in which they were living. Praying kept them from ever supposing that having a king somehow took precedence over having a God.”

The truth of the matter is that “no government is safe from challenge or subversion by the community of faith.” That’s right. As we pray, we, God’s people, are engaging in what Eugene Peterson calls subversive behavior. And I am quite okay with that idea.

We cannot afford to try to separate ourselves (as I humbly confess that I have attempted, in recent years) from “the political conditions of the day and live simply and joyously ‘under God.'” As previously stated, the reality is that, while we do indeed live “under God,” we also live under “a king, a dictator, a prime minister, an emperor, a president, or a general with attendant councils, courts, senates, armies, and bureaucracies that see to law and order, conduct the census, and dispense justice.”

Some rulers claim that they have direct access to the mind of God, or that they are even God, themselves. Others will acknowledge the rule of God, but insist that they are in charge of what happens in their own nation. Some will totally deny the existence and sovereignty of God. Most often, though, they will simply be indifferent to God, believing that He is busy with heavenly stuff.

But the “underground conviction,” as Peterson calls it, persists. “‘The Lord reigns.’ He reigns right here, his throne is earth, the stuff we walk on daily.” You might remember that Dallas Willard talks a lot about the Kingdom of God being right here, right now, not something that we are waiting to experience after we die.

I will look more at this Psalm tomorrow. In the meantime, may we ponder the reign of God and the ramifications it has on our society and world, and how we might pray toward that, using the ideas of psalms such as Psalm 93.

Father, I praise You for Your sovereignty in my life, in this country, in this world. I pray for complete faith as I look around and don’t always see evidence of this sovereignty. It appears, too often, that men have their own way, and perhaps this is simply for a season. I believe that Your sovereignty will play out to the end, and that Your plan will be worked out to its completion. You will, at the end, have all the glory. I cannot wait to experience Your Kingdom in all its glory, but I must be satisfied, for now, to experience it as it is on this earth today. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fixing the Mind

Good morning. It is Friday, October 2, 2015.

Today’s word of the day is peripeteia. This noun means, “a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.” The last month for the Texas Rangers has certainly been a peripeteia!

Today is Name Your Car Day. While I don’t refer to it often, my Hyundai Sonata is named Amadeus.

So the Texas Rangers won last night, beating the Angels 5-3. This accomplished two things. It eliminated the Angels from contention for the division championship, and it clinched at least a Wild Card spot for the Rangers. Their magic number to win the division is now 1. Houston remains in the second Wild Card spot by 1 game. The Twins and the Angels are tied, 1 game behind the Astros. There are three games left, and anything could happen between those three teams.

The Red Sox finally lost to the Evil Empire, giving the EE a playoff spot and their 10,000th win. The thing is, the Sox were playing some secondary players in the game, which is fine, since the game really didn’t matter to them. They did pretty well, too, in my opinion. The score was 4-1, which is a respectable baseball score. As far as standings go, there is a three-way tie for fourth place in the AL East (or last place, if you want to look at it that way) between the Sox, the O’s, and the Rays. Again, with three games remaining, anything could happen. The Sox close out their season with the Indians. Baltimore finishes the season against NY, who wants to have home field advantage for the WC game. Tampa finishes against Toronto, who is fighting with KC for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage for all AL playoff series.

Yesterday was another pretty heavy day at work, but I left at 4:30, because Thursday is Christi’s Huddle night. As I meditated on yesterday morning’s devotion, it occurred to me that I was, once again, guilty of allowing people and circumstances to steal my joy. As a result of that, I had a pretty good day, yesterday, maintaining a joy in the Lord that I am not always able to maintain. The verses from yesterday spoke to me frequently, throughout the day. I hope to continue that trend today, especially in the face of impending overtime, this evening.

Tomorrow will be our last Saturday worship service, as Sunday mornings will begin next weekend, when we are in Mexico.


(From Heart Aflame)

but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.

Psalm 106:35-36

” . . . we are more inclined to follow the example of the bad than of the good. . . . nothing is more dangerous than associating with the ungodly; because, being more prone to follow the vice than virtue, it cannot but be, that the more conversant we are with corruption, the more widely it will spread.” (p 276)

Calvin goes on to say that the utmost care and caution are necessary, for he knows that we must associate with such people in our lives. How would we be salt in the earth, otherwise? This is why we must take care to be deeply entrenched in the Word and prayer.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In this section, Timothy Keller begins looking at three stages of meditation described by John Owen, British theologian, in his book, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. To begin with, Owen makes a distinction between meditation, Bible study, and prayer.

It is distinguished from the study of the word, wherein our principal aim is to learn the truth, or to declare it unto others; and so also from prayer, whereof God himself is the immediate object. But . . . meditation . . . is the affecting of our own hearts and minds with love, delight, and [humility].

Owen’s first stage is what he calls fixing the thoughts, “selecting and getting a clear view of a truth from the Bible.”

By solemn or stated meditation, I intend [first] the thoughts of some subject spiritual and divine, with the fixing, forcing, and ordering of our thoughts about it. . . . [It is] the actual exercise of the mind, in its thoughts, meditations, and desires, about things spiritual and heavenly. . . . They mind them by fixing their thoughts and meditations upon them.

Keller goes on to describe and illustrate several methods of getting “such a clear view of a text.” The first is to read a biblical text deliberately, asking ourselves four questions:

  • What does this teach me about God and his character?
  • About human nature, character, and behavior?
  • About Christ and his salvation?
  • About the church, or life in the people of God?

As an example, Keller leads us to John 2:13-22, where Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

What can we learn about God from this text? “We might see that God cannot be taken lightly, that he is holy. In his presence, his ‘house,’ it matters how we live.

What can we learn about ourselves from this passage? “It might strike us how important it is to concentrate on him during worship, and not daydream about other affairs.”

What about Christ and salvation? “Jesus is not only predicting his resurrection here, but he is also claiming that he is the ultimate temple, the bridge over the chasm between God and humankind.”

And what about the Church, God’s people? “We see how important it is to learn the Scripture, even though it may take time and patience to understand and rejoice in its teaching.”

We will continue later with other methods and examples of meditation, based on Scripture passages.

Father, as I continue to learn about meditation and prayer, I pray for the discipline to take passages of Scripture and ponder them in these various ways. I tend to rush through reading, and even thinking about passages, largely because I have read them so many times. Help me to slow down, to stop and ponder, even passages that I have had memorized since I was very young. Take these truths and implant them in my heart!

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will be a good day, without stress. Show your joy to her and help her be a beacon of light in the darkness. I pray that same for my work day. Help me to maintain the joy that I know in you; make it truth in my life. May I display your kingdom in all kinds of circumstances. I pray that we might not have to work terribly late, this evening.

I also pray for the rest of our family. For Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, may you show grace and love to them today, drawing them to your light and peace.

May you bring comfort to the community in Oregon, shattered by the senseless violence of yesterday. In light of this and other troubling circumstances in the world, I say . . .

Come, Lord Jesus!

The first stage of meditation, and possibly the most difficult in our culture, is fixing the mind. May we be able to successfully fix our minds on Christ and his truths.

Grace and peace, friends.