It’s Not A Small World, After All

Today is Friday, August 11, 2017. Day 21,701. Only eight more days until S’s and J’s birthday!!

Quote of the Day

“A motion to adjourn is always in order.” ~ Robert Heinlein, Lazarus Long: Time Enough For Love
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Nimbus, a noun, meaning, “a cloud, aura, atmosphere, etc., surrounding a person or thing.”

Today is Play In the Sand Day. Oh, how I would love to do that!!

It’s finally Friday! It seems like this week has dragged on. Of course, it has been the same length as any other week, hasn’t it? I’m not sure if the floor people will finish today or tomorrow. They have about 3/4 of our bedroom and the study to finish. The most challenging part will probably be moving our bed. Everything is looking very nice, though. We are very happy with the choice we made for the new floor.

R & J are coming over Sunday, so we can celebrate J’s birthday this weekend. Next weekend, for S’s birthday, we will be traveling to Mineral Wells on Saturday, spending the night, and attending church with Grandma on Sunday. It’s what S wants to do, so that’s what we will do.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Psalm 68:34-35
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 139:23-24
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:3
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 
Psalm 119:15
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 
The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 
for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12:33-37

(From Practice Resurrection)

Moving into chapter 3, “God and His Glory: Ephesians 1:3-14.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love . . . [this] is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:3-4, 14

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” ~ Frederich Buechner, Godric

In the original Greek text, the “201 words beginning with ‘blessed’ (1:3) and ending with ‘glory’ (v. 14)” comprise a single sentence! One scholar even referred to it as “the most monstrous sentence conglomeration . . . I have ever met in the Greek language” (Markus Barth, Ephesians 1-3, The Anchor Bible). But Peterson says, “Paul is playful, extravagant, and totally engaging as he tells us what is going on in this God-created, Christ-saved, Spirit-blessed world into which we have been born and are now growing up.”

Somehow, in our little lives, we have managed to reduce the world into nice, comfy places in which we feel cozy. “Sin shrinks our imaginations.” But we truly cannot afford to allow this to happen if we are going to really grow up in Christ. Our world is massive, and “If we calculate the nature of the world by what we can manage or explain, we end up living in a very small world.” (Cue Disney music.)

Hah! I know what you’re going to be humming all day, now!

As Eugene Peterson describes Ephesians in language that only he can muster, he says, “Ephesians plunges us into ocean deeps, and we come up gasping for air.” I love this.

Father, take me into your depths as I continue to read this book. Expand my imagination, that truly has been shrunken by both sin and laziness. Open my eyes, my heart, and my soul to see the vast expanse of the world in which I live, that I might truly understand its nature, and more importantly, the nature of this thing we call “church.”
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.

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A Strong and Competent Savior

“We do not find our security by joining a strong and successful group, but by being servants to a strong and competent Savior.”~~Eugene H. Peterson

Today is Thursday, August 11, 2016. Eight more days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“I never know what I’m going to put on the canvas. The canvas paints itself. I’m just the middleman.” – Peter Max
Word of the Day

Filial – 1 : of, relating to, or befitting a son or daughter
2 : having or assuming the relation of a child or offspring

Today is Play in the Sand Day. I would love to be doing that instead of working.

We are actually supposed to get a break from this heat wave, this weekend. In fact, Sunday’s projected high is 82 degrees! This is going to feel amazing after several days of 100+ temps. We’re also supposed to get rain Saturday and Sunday, as well as most of next week.

Our prayer gathering went well, last night. There were only four of us, but that doesn’t disappoint me. We had some conversation about prayer and motivation, centering on a statement that our pastor made to me, yesterday morning, via text. That being that the reason we pray is that there are people around us who need things that we can’t do (or give). I do believe that this prayer ministry will, eventually, grow into something bigger. But we aren’t in a hurry.

The Red Sox blew a 4-1 lead against the Yankees, last night, to lose 9-4. The Rangers blew a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth, falling behind 4-3, but then came back (for the third game in a row), to win 5-4. They have now won five consecutive games.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
Psalm 105:12-15

Even though God’s people were, at one time, a “handful of wandering refugees,” they were always “safe in God’s protection. We do not find our security by joining a strong and successful group, but by being servants to a strong and competent Savior.” We may be “of little account” to the world, but, according to 1 Peter 2:4, we are in the sight of God chosen and precious.

“‘Through each perplexing path of life our wandering footsteps guide; give us each day our daily bread, and raiment fit provide. O spread Thy covering wings around till all our wanderings cease, and at our Father’s loved abode our souls arrive in peace’ (Philip Doddridge, ‘O God of Bethel, by Whose Hand’). Amen.”

Father, help me to trust in you at all times. May I find my strength in you and in Jesus Christ, living my life by the faithfulness of Christ, not depending upon my own works. I must do these works, in training my body to serve you. But let me not find strength so much in the organizations of which I am part, but by being a servant to my “strong and competent Savior.”

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.

Thy Will Be Done

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, August 11, 2015. Post-Monday.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is psephology. Psephology is the study of elections.

Today is Play in the Sand Day. Oh, how I would love to be able to do that, today.

Last night’s band practice was a lot of fun. I got a acquainted with a few more people, and finally got the “new member’s packet,” which has a short informational form that I need to fill out. Someone tried, again, to get me to stay and play in the Swing Band, but, at least for now, that’s just too late for me. I enjoyed what the director was trying to do, last night. He really harped on us listening to each other, with the goal being to be able to hear all the other parts that are going on while we are playing. I also felt like I played pretty well, last night, for the most part.

Tonight is my Huddle night, which I will make every effort to attend, this time. I wasn’t up quite as late, last night, so I won’t be as exhausted as I was last week, hopefully.

A week from tomorrow is Stephanie’s birthday. She will be 22. Christi and I are both taking the day off for the event. At this point, we are not 100% sure what we will do that day. There are a couple of options in play, but not decided yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I’m going to start reading my Bible reading passages at other times during the day. Initially, the challenge will be to remember to do that. But they have added time to my morning routine that take away from other things that I believe are equally important. Today’s reading will be Genesis 42 and Matthew 18.

The Psalm reading from Heart Aflame is Psalm 91:1-4. Psalm 91 is one of my favorites.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

“Here we are taught that the only safe and impregnable fortress to which we can flee is the protection of God. . . . Since he condescends in such a gracious manner to our weakness, surely there is nothing to prevent us from coming to him with the greatest freedom.” (p 224)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The third principle that Augustine writes in his letter has to do with specific prayer requests. We have seen that the most important thing is that we determine who God is and who we are before him, accounting ourselves “desolate” before God. Then, upon accomplishing this, we simply need pray for a “happy life,” because, once we have come to grips with our circumstances before God, what will make us happy truly changes.

However, we are not at all prevented from praying for daily, specific needs. In this we can be guided by Jesus’s Model Prayer. In this prayer, we find the basics: adoration, petition, thanksgiving, and confession. We would do well to look at the “order and form of the petitions.” Augustine writes,

“He who says in prayer . . . ‘Give me as much wealth as you have given to this or that man’ or ‘Increase my honors; make me eminent in power and fame in the world,’ and who asks merely from a desire for these things, and not in order through them to benefit men aggreably to God’s will, I do not think he will find any part of the Lord’s Prayer in connection with which he could fin in these requests. Therefore let us be ashamed to ask these things.”

His final principle has to do with “prayer in the dark times.” Even when we faithfully follow his first three principles, there will be times of difficulty and suffering, during which we absolutely know not how or what to pray. Should we pray for circumstances to be removed, or is it better to merely pray for the strength to get through them? As a perfect model, Augustine “points to Jesus’ own prayer in Gethsemane, which was perfectly balanced between honest desire–‘let this cup pass from me’–and submission to God–‘nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.'” We are also familiar with Romans 8:26, which gives us this encouragement: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Augustine concludes that it is well for us to pour out our heart’s desires, while, at the same time, remembering God’s wisdom and goodness. In the last years of my father’s life, he was known to simply pray, “Thy will be done.”

Father, as you direct my prayers, or as I hope you do, I ask for the wisdom to know what and how to pray. Search my heart, as I pray, and remove any selfish desires from anything that I might entreat you for. Do not allow me to pray for selfish riches, but, rather, to pray for just enough for each day, my “daily bread,” as it were. Do not allow me to pray for fame and power (not that I desire those things, anyway, but who doesn’t want a little fame, right?), for I never want to falter in my need for you. Let me pray only for things that would honor you. If I am given a prayer request that I do not feel honors you, let me simply pray, “Your will be done, on earth, as in heaven.” When I find myself in troublesome circumstances, may I fall on my face and pray for your will to be done, while, at the same time, pouring out my heart’s desires to you. In all things, may I be open and available to your will for me and those around me.

I pray for this day, for safe travel to and from work. May your Spirit rest on Christi today, as she works. Let her not become stressed or anxious about anything, but, rather, lifting everything to you and presenting her spirit to you for calmness and peace. Let your peace reign in her life today. I pray for Stephanie, that she would experience your love today, and may you show her wisdom and understanding. Help Rachel as she prepares for her thesis defense this Thursday. Strengthen my mother in all things, Father, showing your great love and care to her.

Two good principles for prayer today: let the Model Prayer guide us as we pray for daily needs, and remember our Savior’s prayer in Gethsemane during times of suffering and trial.

thy-will-be-done

Grace and peace, friends.

I Am God’s Vessel, To Be Used For His Purpose

“Jeremiah reminds us that a vocation is whatever God wants. It is accepting ourselves just as he made us, with our talents, disposition, and character or the lack of them.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Monday, August 11, 2014. Eight more days until Stephanie turns 21. I am off work today, which sounds like a good thing, until I remember it’s because I have to work this Saturday. 😛

I wanted to post a video of the jazz group Mondays Off in honor of my day off, but, alas, I can’t find any on You Tube. So here is Fats Domino singing “Blue Monday.”

Today is Play In the Sand Day. I wish I could go to a beach to do that today. I would much rather be in Galveston or Cancun . . .

Not much to talk about this morning. Christi got herself some new clothes yesterday afternoon, while I went up to Kroger to grab a couple of things that we forgot on Saturday. Steph and I had a “light” lunch, and after Christi got home, she cooked us some steak and baked potatoes. The steaks were delicious! We watched a strange Netflix DVD called “Rolling Stones: Rock and Roll Circus,” which featured very early Jethro Tull, the Stones, Taj Mahal, Dirty Mac (a collaboration of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell), Marianne Faithful, and The Who. It was set in a circus tent, and there were a couple of circus acts added in. It was filmed in 1968, and was extremely surreal, as you might imagine. After that we watched a whole DVD of season eight CSI episodes.

Today . . . well who knows what today will bring? Christi has an event this afternoon that I can’t really talk about, but I’m praying it goes really well. I’ve already put away some laundry, and will, no doubt, do the dishes in a little while. I’ll probably play on the X-Box a while, and maybe catch up on some TV that Christi doesn’t care for.

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1994 that an event occurred that had a drastic impact on me. Major League Baseball players elected to strike on this date, cutting short the 1994 season. There were no playoffs. There was no World Series. That season will forever be marked with an asterisk. I did not attend a professional baseball game for almost ten years after that, I was so furious at them. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it was a long time before I went back to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Today’s birthdays include Chris Hemsworth, Pablo Sandoval (aka “Kung Fu Panda”), Alex Haley, Will Friedle, Steve Wozniak, Anna Gunn, Mike Douglas, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera, Eric Carmen, John Conlee, Dik Browne, Denis Payton, James Kale, Marilyn Vos Savant, and Joe Jackson.

Eric Carmen is a singer/songwriter who had several hits in the seventies. He was (is?) part of the rock group Raspberries. Here is the only song I’ve ever heard by them.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
Luke 9:35

luke_9-35
(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Psalm 50:2
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:1-8

Today’s Gospel reading

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Matthew 2:1-12

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Jeremiah’s Call.”

“Jeremiah reminds us that a vocation is whatever God wants. It is accepting ourselves just as he made us, with our talents, disposition, and character or the lack of them.” God has given us the talents he has given us for a reason. As a “music minister,” I lost track of the number of times someone would come up to me and say, “I want to sing a solo,” when God had not given them one ounce of musical talent. Right now, I’m dealing with the fact that I have God-given musical talent and a passion for worship, yet I sit on the sidelines during worship time, because God has me doing something else, at this stage of my life. We all need to learn to be content with what God has us doing at the moment, and how God is using the talents that he has given us (or not using them, if he so chooses). “His demands may be so ordinary, so common, that they stir little response in our emotions.” But we can only find peace in his will. If we struggle to do something that is not his will, we will not have peace! Even if it is hidden from us, we must follow it.

If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.

Jeremiah 20:9

Father, I thank you that you have worked in my spirit to teach me these things. I will confess that I still feel a desire to be up on that stage leading worship, but that is not what you want me to do right now. My purpose now is leading in intercessory prayer. And I also confess that I am thrilled, every Saturday evening, when we walk out of that prayer time, to see how you are working through those prayers! It excites me, every week, as I prepare for the prayer time, to see what you are going to do next in the hearts of people who attend. I am not foolish enough to think that I have done anything, other than to follow your leading and write down what you are showing me, that I might lead others in praying.

But I pray for all believers who struggle with identity and purpose. May you show them clearly that their purpose and identity are wrapped up in YOU, not in any talent that they may have, job they may do, or feelings and emotions that they experience. “If just a cup of water, I place within your hands, then just a cup of water is all that I demand.” Yes, Lord. Take what you have given us and use it to serve your purposes.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s safe travel home this evening. I pray for her thing this afternoon. May your will be clear to us. I pray for Stephanie, today, that we might be able to spend some time together and have some good moments. Help us to teach her and show her your path for her life. I pray for Rachel as she goes to do a sleep study tonight. I pray that she might get some results that will give her better rest and sleep at night. I pray for protection for my parents. Keep them safe in their home, and keep giving my mother the strength and wisdom that you have provided her.

Your grace is sufficient.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Bloom where you’re planted.” May we use whatever God has given us for his glory, forsaking that which we so strongly desire to do, if that is not his purpose for us. God give us wisdom!

Grace and peace, friends.

Communion of Unity

Good morning. It is Sunday morning, August 11, 2013. The Rangers are back in first place. The Red Sox are three games up on the second place team in the AL East. Life is good.

Today is Play in the Sand Day. Well, then. Guess I’d better let them know I won’t be at church this morning, as we will need to head to Galveston. Probably won’t be back for work Monday, either. Wait. Cancun has better sand. Better go there.

I can dream, right?


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1239, Louix IX of France brought Christ’s Crown of Thorns to France, having purchased it from Venetian traders. He also “determined to build for it a shrine worthy of housing such a holy treasure.” Work on this chapel began immediately, and was completed in 33 months. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure whatever happened to the alleged Crown of Thorns. The building still exists, though, and is quite beautiful. It is called the Saint-Chapelle.

Sainte-Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle


Today’s birthday is Eric Carmen. Carmen, born on this date in 1949, was the lead singer of The Raspberries, after which he had a pretty successful solo career with songs such as “All By Myself.” He was actually a pretty good piano player. I do not, however, endorse his hair style.

Honorable mentions go to Pablo Sandoval, aka “Kung Fu Panda,” 27, Steve Wozniak, 63, Mike Douglas, 1925-2006, and Hugh Martin, 1914-2011.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. Psalm 67:1
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:17
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

“Grant to me, Lord, I pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are
right, that I, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live
according to your will; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

Father, I echo this prayer from my book this morning. Give me that spirit which always strives to do that which is right, and enable me to live according to your will. I can only do this through your Holy Spirit. And truly, I cannot exist without you. Be gracious to us this morning as we worship you. Prepare my heart, now, for worship, as I look into your word for sustenance.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Sharing in the Lord’s Supper.” The scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Paul is teaching this tradition in the midst of a passage about gross inequities in the sharing of communion in the Corinthian church. He insists, here, that “the Corinthian churches eat the Lord’s Supper in a manner that eliminates all false social divisions.” Observe the actions involved in the communion: “taking, giving thanks, breaking, and giving.” These are actions that we all receive from the Lord daily, “as gifts of grace. The Church receives the gift of the meal, has its brokenness restored, and is then enabled to pass the thanksgiving, breaking, and giving on in mission. All creative power for restoration and mission lies with God in Jesus.” (Emphasis mine)As we share in this communion, we give an outward, visible testimony that we are all “on equal footing before the Lord.” Many times I have heard it said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I am challenged to consider, the next time our fellowship receives communion, to examine how it makes me think about our community. Does it make me feel more connected with my brothers and sisters in Christ? I have to confess that I have not considered this before. I certainly will now. “As you eat the bread and drink from the cup, offer a prayer for unity, that all those in your church and the Church around the world may be one.”


These are good words, Father. I am stirred by them. I pray that you will cause me to remember, the next time I receive communion, to consider my connection with my brothers and sisters. Even help me ponder this before the next communion! May I consider this connection this morning, as we lift up our voices as one, in praise to you! We are all connected by the blood of Christ, and when we share this visible symbol of that blood along with the body of Christ, during communion, that connection should be even stronger. Help us all to consider that, in relationship to you and each other, through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ . . .

We

are

all

EQUAL!

Let us live in such a way that we all consider others to be more significant than ourselves, striving to meet each others’ needs and bear each others burdens. May our fellowship grow ever stronger as we live in this way.

I pray for this morning’s worship celebration. Fill our hearts with your Spirit as you draw us closer together, and closer to you. Draw us into your heart as we sing to you, pray to you, and hear your word spoken to us. I thank you for bringing our pastor, Jacob, safely back from Zimbabwe. Lord, we look forward to hearing stories of his trip. May we celebrate with him the victories won, the souls ministered to, the children brought closer to you, through the ministry of our pastor. May our hearts be stirred to do whatever we can, whatever you have called us to do, as we carry out our mission at The Exchange.

Lead us, O God. Teach us your ways, that we may walk in your truth.


As we share in the communion of saints, may we do so in unity . . . in equality . . . on equal footing before our infinitely holy and righteous Father.

Grace and peace, friends.