Why Do We Go To Church?

Today is Friday, May 19, 2017. One more day until our family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~ Joseph Addison

Word of the Day

Purloin ~ to take dishonestly; steal; filch; pilfer.

Today is Pizza Party Day! Sadly, it appears that I will not likely celebrate today. Perhaps next year.

Friday has arrived. This evening, after work, I will be driving to Mineral Wells to pick up my mother for our weekend in east Texas. We’ll be leaving as early as we can manage, tomorrow morning. I don’t know if all the cousins will be there tomorrow or Sunday, or even both. Whatever happens will be great.

The Rangers continued their winning streak yesterday afternoon, beating the Phillies 8-4. They have now won nine consecutive games. This evening, they will face the Tigers in Detroit, with Martinez on the mound. The Tigers are 20-19, while the Rangers are 22-20, so they are very close. They remain in second place, 7.5 games out.

The Red Sox, sadly, lost to the Athletics in Oakland, 8-3. They will play again tonight, with Chris Sale on the mound for Boston. They remain in third place, four games out.

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

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
Psalm 65:3
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. 
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Psalm 25:6-8, 11

(From Living the Message)

Our pastor once asked us, “Why do we go to church?”

“The people in our congregations are, in fact, out shopping for idols. They enter our churches with the same mind-set in which they go to the shopping mall, to get something that will please them or satisfy an appetite or need,” says Eugene H. Peterson.

Theologian John Calvin considered the heart as “a relentlessly efficient factory for producing idols.” The pastor is usually thought of as the “quality-control engineer” of the factory.

While it is true that the folks who gather in our churches are looking for help through difficult times or meaning and significance to their lives, they want God on their own terms. They don’t want the “jealous God, and probably not even the “‘God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Mostly they want to be their own god and stay in control but have ancillary idol assistance for the hard parts, which the pastor can show them how to get.”

“John Calvin’s insight plus Henry Ford’s technology equals North American Religion.” Sadly, in our culture today, the pastors have the same success rate as Aaron did in Exodus 32.

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.”
Matthew 7:15-16 (The Message)

Father, teach us the truth in our churches. May we be people who are seeking you and your strength, seeking your presence continually, as Psalm 105:4 tells us to do. May we not be seeking idols, nothing more than a panacea for everything that ails us. May we be seeking you and you alone, for you alone are worthy of our worship and praise. I like to think that our own little gathering of “saints” is different, but I fear that many of the people who come suffer from the same issues described above. Help our pastor to change them in your strength. I pray for our church; I pray for all churches, that the truth may be taught as presented by Jesus. Let us follow his words and his actions, obeying what he told us to do, rather than simply hoping for a band-aid to soothe our latest foible.
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.

Nobody’s Fault But Mine

“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.” ― Douglas Preston, The Monster of Florence
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is inspissate. Yes, I know what it looks like, but it has nothing to do with bodily functions. It means, “to thicken, as by evaporation; make or become dense.” “Spells were directed at the portrait and hand drums were beaten, scents of noxious herbs alight arose to inspissate the air beneath the hanging image.” – Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers, 1980

Today is Pizza Party Day. That would be fun, indeed, as pizza is one of my top favorite foods.

We are getting free lunch, at work, today, but it won’t be pizza, this time. It looks like we are going to have Philly sandwiches from a local restaurant. There may be a possibility of Torchy’s Tacos. The thing is, our boss lets us decide what we want, and nobody really knows much about what is around there. I voted for Twisted Root, which has amazing burgers, but nobody else even knew about that, and I was the last one to vote. Every one else voted for the Philly sandwiches. I like those, too, so it will be okay. But it won’t be a pizza party.

There was no baseball last night. Okay, that statement is not entirely true. But the Red Sox and the Rangers both had the day off, so there was no baseball that mattered last night. To me, at least.

We are going to a Night of Worship, tomorrow night. It will be at a friend’s house. A number of people from The Exchange will be there, but it’s not an Exchange-sponsored thing. Or maybe it is, but I don’t think it originated that way. Our friend and his wife just decided they wanted to do this at their house. It could turn out to be a great thing. We are praying toward that result, at least.

We are also having a PAT (Pastoral Assist Team) meeting on Sunday, after church.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

Psalm 69:1-3

There are two things on which we need to be focused when we pray. “That our need is desperate, and that the remedy lies in God.” In this way, our need and God’s will are joined.

“Keep me always conscious, Father, of my need and your salvation, of the perils of sin and the mercies of deliverance, of my empty hands and your bountiful grace, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Realm of the Real

By your endurance you will gain your lives.
Luke 21:19

The KJV says, In your patience possess ye your souls. Jesus is speaking, in Luke 21, of the kind of life his disciples can expect. Too many Christians are satisfied to “stay at the threshold of the Christian life instead of going on to construct a soul in accordance with the new life God has put within.” We have to move on, to “form the mind of Christ.” This takes work on our part. Once again, we have made reference, previously, that there are things that God will do that we cannot do (grace), and there are things that we must do that God will not do for us. “We fail because we are ignorant of the way we are made, we put things down to the devil instead of our own undisciplined natures.” How true is this? “The devil made me do it,” declared a famous TV persona of days gone by. No. The devil did not make me do it. I allowed my own undisciplined nature to rule. It’s “nobody’s fault but mine.”

Some things, we cannot eliminate by prayer. Moods, for example. “Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking.” I love that statement. I can so identify with it. I am a moody person. I get in these moods, at times, that have even caused me to wonder if I am bi-polar. But, truthfully, we can control our moods. Well, most of us can. I do agree that there are people who legitimately struggle with these things. “it is a continual effort not to listen to the moods with arise from a physical condition; never submit to them for a second.” If we rouse ourselves, shake ourselves, we will find that we can do what we thought we couldn’t. “The curse with most of us is that we won’t.

Father, give me this “spiritual pluck” that Chambers speaks of. Help me to kick those moods out, when they threaten me. May your Spirit keep me strengthened against allowing my undisciplined nature to take over. In fact, I pray that, going forward, this undisciplined nature become disciplined. That is my goal, to really focus on the disciplines, the spiritual formation, until new, “holy” habits are formed that shove out the old “unholy” habits.

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.