Tact

Today is Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Day 21,993.

“There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.” ~ Robertson Davies, 1913-1995 (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is mump, a verb which means, “to sulk; mope.”

I’m feeling somewhat better this morning, but still not quite 100%. As yesterday wore on, I felt a little worse, but I never took any medications during the day, either. I’m taking some with me, today, just in case. The cold, or whatever it is, moved into my sinuses yesterday. Normal progression of things, I suppose.

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, last night, 8-3, to improve their MLB best record to 38-17. They are one of two teams who have not yet lost twenty games. The Yankees are the other team, but the Sox remain two games up on them in the AL East. They have a day game with Toronto today.

The Rangers beat the Mariners, 9-5, after a four-run top of the ninth. Since they were tied before that, Alex Claudio got the win. Their record is now 23-34, and they are 12.5 games back in the AL west.

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

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 
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 103:15-22

A little dose of reality at the beginning of today’s passage. “As for man, his days are like grass.” Our days on this earth are rather short, comparatively. I’ve lived 21,993 days. Next Wednesday, I will be 22,000 days old!! But, seriously, that doesn’t sound like all that many, does it? Sixty years sounds longer than 22,000 days, at least to me. But in the scope of eternity, we are, indeed, like the grass, that flourishes for a moment, but then is gone. It is good for us to remember this, especially when we start thinking that we are “all that.”

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)
Tact

This reading, even though written over twenty years ago, has deep meaning for today’s world.

Chuck Swindoll calls tact “the saving virtue,” and says it “graces life like fragrance graces a rose.” The lovely smell makes us forget that there are thorns on that branch.

The major goal of tact is “avoiding unnecessary offense,” which, I have to confess, I’m not always very good at. I’ve gotten better, though. I promise.

We have all known teachers, salespeople, bosses, and co-workers who lack tact. It’s very unpleasant, and your main objective becomes to get away from them as quickly as possible.

But what is worse is, and perhaps a classic example of “tactless humanity,” is “the abrasive Christian (so-called) who feels it his or her calling to fight for the truth with little or no regard for the other fella’s feelings.” We all know people like this, right? “This individual plows through the feelings of people like a John Deere tractor, leaving them buried in the dirt and, worst of all, deeply offended.

“This person’s favorite modus operandi is either to overlook or openly demean others, leaving a backlash of broken hearts and bitter souls.” Some of our preachers are included in this bunch, unfortunately, preferring a “devastating pulpit that scourges rather than encourages.”

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Proverbs 15:25

The book of Proverbs is replete with sayings like that, illustrating the great value of tact over intentional offense.

“Let’s stop hurting and start healing. Let’s be gentle and sensitive when we are touching the tender feelings of others.” We can be tactful while still telling the truth. That is, in fact, quite possible.

Granted, in these days, people seem to be wearing their feelings on their sleeves and tend to be offended by the least little thing. This does not mean, however, that we should barrel over them with no thought for those feelings.

Let’s follow the wisdom of Solomon and try to have a little more tact in our dealings with people, especially on social media.

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:19-21

Father, grant me tact and wisdom as I deal with people in my life, today, and every day. Let me never be guilty of intentionally offending someone. I do not believe that to be the nature of Christ. Let me live my life the way Jesus would live it if he were me.
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.

As High As the Heavens

Today is Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Day 21,992.

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson, 1908-1973 (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is excogitate, a verb which means, “to think out; devise; invent.” Also, “to study intently and carefully in order to grasp or comprehend fully.”

It was a nice, relaxing day, yesterday, for the most part. We didn’t do much of anything. C painted a good bit of the day, while I blogged and played video games. At some point, C cooked baked potatoes while I went out and got Sonic drinks. That’s the only time any of us left the house. Then she cooked the steaks and we had lunch.

At some point in the afternoon, though, my stomach really started feeling sick. I either ate too much for lunch, or it was ongoing drainage from whatever kind of “cold” I came down with over the weekend. Maybe a combination of both. It was still a nice day, but my sleep last night was fitful, and I’m not feeling 100% this morning. I’m still going to work though. For one thing, if we don’t work today, we don’t get paid for yesterday’s holiday. Tricky policies, these U.S. companies have. But enough about my issues.

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 8-3, yesterday, as David Price picked up his fifth win. This puts the Sox at an MLB best 37-17 on the season. The Yankees lost to the Astros, which means the Sox are two games up in the AL East.

The Rangers lost to the Mariners 2-1, to put their record at 22-34. The Mariners are rather hot, right now, only one game behind the Astros in the AL West. They also have the fifth best record in the MLB.

Both teams continue their series tonight. The Rangers are in Seattle, so that game won’t finish before I go to sleep.

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

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 105:6-14

This is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. Yes, the Lord is slow to anger. If you read the story of Israel and their wanderings in the wilderness, you will take note of how far they really had to stray before the Lord became seriously angry. At one point, he finally wanted to wipe them out, but Moses “changed his mind.” (I’ve always been skeptical about that mind changing business.) But then, even when he does get angry, he does not “keep his anger forever.” Then finally, the most amazing truth comes in verse 10-12. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

How high are the heavens above the earth? As far as we know, they are infinite. That’s how high the steadfast love of the Lord is toward us. How far is the east from the west? Considering a straight line, they never meet. Again, infinite. That’s how far the Lord has removed my sins from me!

Ponder that truth for a few minutes, will you?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your sins have been removed from you as far as the east is from the west, and the Lord loves you with an everlasting love that is as high as the heavens are above the earth!

Father, I thank you and praise you for the beautiful truths in this passage of Psalms. Thank you that your steadfast love is as high as the heavens. Thank you for removing my sins from me as far as the east is from the west. Now, may I work on that fear that your compassion may be upon me.
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.

The Fear of the Lord

Today is Monday, May 28, 2018. Memorial Day in the U.S. Day 21,991.

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” ~ Doug Larson (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is sacrosanct, an adjective which means, “most sacred or holy : inviolable.” Also, “treated as if holy : immune from criticism or violation.”

As mentioned above, today is Memorial Day in the United States. This is the day that is set aside to honor any in the military who gave their lives in service for their country. We celebrate by staying home from work, having cookouts, and drinking beer. At our house, we will actually only do one of those things.

In all seriousness, there will be a number of events around the country, some of which even occurred on Saturday and/or Sunday, where our fallen heroes will be commemorated. As far as I know, I don’t have any in my family who lost their lives in service, although there are several who did serve. Those we remember on Veteran’s Day. Today is for the ones who gave their lives.

We had a wonderful time at the horse races, yesterday. We reserved a six seat inside box, just one table away from the glass, so we had an excellent view of the home stretch. We invited our pastor, his mother, and his brother to come along, and they were all there. It was great fun. Did we win? Ultimately, no, but we didn’t do too badly. C came out the best, winning $34 out of $42 spent, so she only lost $8. S and I didn’t fair quite so well, although we did win in a couple of races. I had at least two where the horse that I picked to win was ahead in the home stretch, but another came out of nowhere to win. But that’s what happens when you pick a horse to win. If I had picked to place or show, I would have won something in those races. But the most important thing was that we had fun. S was with us, and she had a blast, and behaved very well.

Chris Sale had a rare loss in yesterday’s Red Sox game against the Braves. They lost 7-1, in a game with very little Sox offense. So far Dustin Pedroia’s return to the lineup has been unremarkable. Their record is 36-17, still MLB best, and they are one game up on the Yankees, who beat the Angels 3-1. The Sox begin a series with the Blue Jays, this afternoon.

The Rangers also didn’t fare well, and lost to the Royals 5-3. If I remember correctly, they split the four game series with them. The Rangers’ record is now 22-33, and they are 12.5 games out in the AL West. They begin a series with Seattle, this afternoon.

Just in case no one is paying attention, the Milwaukee Brewers currently have the third best record in MLB, at 34-20, only 2.5 behind the Sox. The Orioles occupy the bottom spot all alone, only a half game behind the White Sox and a whole game behind the Royals. The Rangers are sixth from the bottom.

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

Of David.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

Psalm 103 is probably one of the more famous Psalms, with several popular worship songs/choruses springing from it. It is definitely a powerful Psalm, with some inspiring/motivating words. We are encouraged to remember what the Lord does for us, including his redemption, his “steadfast love and mercy,” his forgiveness, and his healing. The thing we may forget the most often is that he satisfies us with “good.” How often do I forget that I have all the “good” that I need in God? I search after so many things that I might perceive as being “good,” but the ultimate good is with Christ in God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 9:10

There’s a lot of profound truth wrapped up in that little sentence. We lack the fear of the Lord in our world, today, even in the churches, where it should be most prevalent. We lack “the knowledge of the Holy One,” to a serious degree, as well. I wonder, if you polled the members/attenders of a large metropolitan mega-church, how many of them could express any deep knowledge of God? I’m sure they could give you three alliterative steps to having a healthy marriage, or maybe even some tips on raising children. They might be able to tell you how to better use their finances. But could they tell you about the Holy One?

I’m not sure when this all started. But if you read the early Church Fathers, you will find a depth of knowledge of God, or at least the desire to have such deep knowledge. You would also find a great fear of the Lord, “fear,” perhaps being more appropriately defined as “awe.” A lot of people have tried to downplay the idea of “fearing” God, emphasizing his great love for us. While there is certainly nothing wrong about teaching people about God’s great love, I sincerely believe that the lack of the fear has led us down a precarious path. Even in my own life, it has led to not taking sin as serious as I should.

Multiple times, the writer of Proverbs tells us, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” We would do well to take that to heart.

Father, let me not forget the fear. I desire to be your friend as well as your child. I desire to be one whom Jesus calls “friend.” As I continue to work out the disciplines of this life, help me remember the fear as well as the love.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
Psalm 25:14

Grace and peace, friends.

Mouth Shut; Spirit Alert

Today is Monday, August 1, 2016. 18 days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” – Sven Goran Eriksson

Word of the Day

Kerfuffle (chiefly British) disturbance, fuss

Today is Rounds Resounding Day. We all know what a “round” is, right? Singing a song, such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” in several groups, all starting at staggered times.

We had our PAT meeting yesterday. It began at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, but we had to leave there and go to a house, because it was just too noisy to have the conversations we needed to have for our meeting. It was good fun, though. How was the food, you ask? Some parts were good, some not as good. The tamales were delicious, as were the tacos and cheese enchiladas. The guacamole was decent. Most of the sopapillas were flat, not puffy. Overall, it wasn’t bad, pretty much just like I remember it from “back in the day.” However, the price was a bit steep for the quality. $10.99 each for Saturdays and Sundays. I could have had better food for less money and been just as full at Martha’s or the old Fogata’s. But we had a good time, and that matters more than anything else. We went to a member’s house, afterward, where we struggled to stay awake and alert while we discussed church matters.

Tonight, Southlake Community Band practice kicks off again. And we have another concert in only about five weeks. I’m not sure what the date is, but we have a short time to prepare for it. Consequently, we will be playing a number of tunes that we played in our last concert.

It’s going to be really hot in Texas this week. The high this week is projected at 104, and we may hit 105 next week. Yesterday, when I got in the car after PAT meeting, my car told me it was 114. It felt like it, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
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 103:19-22

Artur Weiser, in his book The Psalms, calls this psalm one of the “finest blossoms on the tree of biblical faith.” Eugene Peterson says of the psalm, “It is balanced, intense, and inclusive. The people’s tradition and the individual’s experience are integrated in praise. Adoration is at both center and periphery.” I would love to hear how this one sounded when sung by the people.

“‘Bless, O my soul! the living God; call home thy thoughts that rove abroad; let all the powers within me join in work and worship so divine. Bless, O my soul! the God of grace; His favors claim thy highest praise; why should the wonders He hath wrought be lost in silence and forgot?’ (Isaac Watts, ‘Bless, O My Soul! The Living God’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Something More about His Ways

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Matthew 11:1

If God tells us to go, and we don’t go because we are concerned about the people we would be leaving, we might be robbing them of the teaching of Christ, himself. When we do not obey, we get in the way. We must not allow our perceived “duty” to get in the way of what God is telling us to do. Do we really think we know better than God? Sadly, sometimes, it seems to be so. “When we are certain of the way God is going to work, He will never work in that way any more.”

We must also heed when he tells us to wait for further instruction. When we wait on God, he will work, but not if we wait in spiritual sulkiness. We must not be swayed by the fact that we can’t see what is next. “Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God?”

We must also learn to “keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert.”

Father, keeping my mouth shut has long been a problem for me. I pray that you will continue to work on this within me. Yes, it has gotten better over the past few years, but there is still much work to be done. Keep my mouth shut and my spirit alert, that I might know what you are teaching. May your Spirit help me to wait, if that is what is needed. And if you tell me to go and do something, may I be obedient. Obedience before “duty.”

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.

As Far As the East Is From the West

Today is Sunday, July 31, 2016. 19 days until S turns 23! Last day of July.

Quote of the Day

“The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.” – Billy Graham

Word of the Day

Polyphonic – consisting of many voices or sounds. Or, in music, “a) having two or more voices or parts, each with an independent melody, but all harmonizing; contrapuntal (opposed to homophonic). b) pertaining to music of this kind. c) capable of producing more than one tone at a time, as an organ or a harp.”

Today is Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. And to celebrate this day, I give you . . . the nyckelharpa!

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange, which meets at 10:15, at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N Beach St., Fort Worth, TX. If you are in the area, please join us!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
Psalm 103:6-18

When we experience forgiveness, it prompts praise within us. “In forgiveness our sins are personally confronted, not impersonally condemned.” While we experience the severity of our Father, we also experience his grace.

“Merciful Father, I used to try to hide my true self from you, assuming that if you knew all about me you would necessarily condemn me. Now I know that your knowledge is gracious and that deception is futile. Come to me with just the right mixture of severity and kindness. Judge me and save me, both at the same time, in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I am so grateful for this forgiveness, and the fact that you do not impersonally condemn us for our sins. I have long rejoiced over the words of this Psalm, especially that particular verse that tells us that you have removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west, which is an infinite distance! Hallelujah!

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.

Remember

Today is Saturday, July 30, 2016. I’ve been corrected . . . the trade deadline is Monday, since the 31st falls on Sunday, this year.

Quote of the Day

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – Carl Jung

Word of the Day

Littoral – of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore especially of the sea. So I guess it could be possible to be “literally littoral.”

Today is Paperback Book Day. Do I even need to say anything more? Here is one blogger/artist’s representation of Paperback Book Day . Please note that the books in the picture are miniatures. Amazing work!

Yesterday, while driving home, I was playing my iTunes music on shuffle, and this song came up.

As I listened to the lyrics, I realized that, outside of the fact that Rich had 4 brothers and sisters, and his dad was a farmer, this song relates to me and my family. These lyrics spoke most clearly to me:

“Never picture perfect
Just a plain man and his wife
Who somehow knew the value
Of hard work, good love, and real life”

“And they worked to give faith hands and feet
And somehow gave it wings”

We miss my dad terribly, still, but this is the legacy that my parents gave me. And for that, I am eternally grateful to both them, and our Father in heaven.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5

“Forgetfulness atrophies the muscles of praise and leaves them flabby and passive. Remembrance internalizes a history of grace and strengthens praise into blessing, so that we act in a renewing way on our environment.”

“What blessings I have experienced! What benefits I have been given! I will compile my own list of goodness through the hours of this day and give you praise, O God, for each item. Stir my memory and quicken my tongue, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Father, help me to remember. Don’t allow my muscles of praise to atrophy! Help me to internalize the history of grace that has gone before me. What a history it is! I thank you, my Father, for the “plain man and his wife” who raised me to love you, worship you, and serve you. I pray that I will never disappoint them.

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.

In Loving Awe

Good morning. It is Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Hump Day.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is haptic. This adjective means, “relating to or based on the sense of touch,” or, “characterized by a predilection for the sense of touch.” Or it could be the next hit by Pharrell.

Today is Guacamole Day. This is one of those “holidays” that I can fully support. I love guacamole. It is one of my favorite foods, right up there with popcorn. It would probably be great with popcorn.

Yesterday was one of those days that I really don’t want to talk about very much. Busy, right from the beginning, I wound up not getting off work until 6:40. Needless to say, I didn’t make Huddle, and I was supposed to lead last night. The other leaders probably think I just did it because I didn’t want to lead. Oh, well. We have a person on vacation, and it just so happens that I am the only other one who can do part of her job. So I had to stay and cover that part of her job, because she’s not coming back until Thursday. Hopefully, today will be better.

Not much else to talk about this morning, so I’ll get on to my devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 103:19-22.

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
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!

“In calling upon [the angels] to join in praising God, he teaches both himself and all the godly, that there is not a better nor a more desirable exercise than to praise God, since there is not a more excellent service in which even the angels are employed.” (p 260)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The next touchstone in “What Prayer Requires,” is “Fear–Prayer is the Heart Engaged in Loving Awe.”

Our hearts should be engaged when we are praying, and we should avoid simply reciting words. “One important sign of an engaged heart is awe before the greatness of God and before the privilege of prayer.”

Remember when Moses asked to see God, to draw near to him, in Exodus 33? God would not allow Moses to see his face, as it would have killed Moses. But what God did allow was for Moses to see his back as he passed by, sheltering Moses in the cleft of the rock with his hand. “Moses is protected from God by God.” This is the essence of the gospel. In John 1:14, though, we are told that, in Jesus, we have beheld the glory of God! How is this possible? “Because in Christ our sins are covered.” In fact, they are more than “covered,” they are washed away. By being in Christ, we are constantly hidden in God’s hand, just as Moses was, on the mountain.

“This doesn’t mean we can ever take lightly the privilege of approaching ‘the throne,’ however.” This is an amazing privilege that we have, and we should constantly remind ourselves of “what is happening every time we pray. We should take time and meditate on this truth until it thrills us.” When we come before God in “loving awe,” it means we approach “with neither a sentimental or casual familiarity nor a stilted, remote formality.” Austin Phelps, in The Still Hour suggests that we should say this to ourselves, before beginning prayer:

God is here, within these wall; before me, behind me, on my right hand, on my left hand. He who fills immensity has come down to me here. I am now about to bow at His feet, and speak to him. . . . I may pour forth my desires before Him, and not one syllable from my lips shall escape his ear. I may speak to Him as I would to the dearest friend I have on earth.

When we approach God in this time, we can remember that God has adopted us as his children, and that we are children approaching our loving Father. We can remember that, in Christ, “we have a great High Priest and Advocate at the right hand of God, so we can approach the throne in confidence.” And we can also remember that the Holy Spirit dwells within us, assisting us in our prayers. All of these things can help us prepare our hearts for the work of prayer.

Father, help me to always approach you in loving awe. Each day, as I begin my prayer times, may I stop and reflect on the gravity of what is happening. All too often, I am guilty of approaching in this “casual familiarity” of which Keller speaks. May your Spirit help me to reflect on this. Help me to find the balance between this familiarity and “stilted formality.” I give you praise for adopting me, for providing this High Priest and Advocate that enables me to come before you with confidence. And thank you for the Holy Spirit, which helps me, especially when I do not know how to pray.

I pray for our day, today. May our travel to work and back be safe. I pray for more calmness in this work day. Once again, I failed to display your kingdom, yesterday. This makes me feel so unworthy of your grace. Teach me, Father, teach me. May your Spirit instill within me a calmness and prevalent joy. I pray for Christi’s day, too, that it not be anxious or stressful. Teach Stephanie about your great love for her, and draw Rachel and Justin into your heart. May you bring peace and comfort to my mother.

I lift up our pastor’s cousin and her baby. They were planning to induce labor, not sure when this was supposed to happen. I just pray for health and safety for both mother and baby.

Come, Lord Jesus, and rescue us from this world.

Before approaching God in prayer, try meditating on the seriousness of what is happening, in order to invoke this “loving awe” of God.

Grace and peace, friends.

In Jesus’s Name

Good morning. It is Tuesday, September 15, 2015. I forgot to put a title on yesterday’s entry. It’s there, now.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is tommyrot. It’s an easy definition. Noun, meaning, “nonsense; utter foolishness.” I may, occasionally, drift into tommyrot in this blog, but, hopefully, not for long.

Today is Get Ready Day. Heck, I do that every day. I get ready. I guess this is supposed to be focusing on being ready for emergencies. Like hurricanes. Because we get a lot of those in DFW. Or pandemic diseases. Like that West Nile Virus that strikes a whopping less than 100 people each year.

Looks like I’ve drifted into tommyrot.

Band practice was fun, last night. We started rehearsing Christmas music for the two concerts we have with that theme. The first concert is on November 21, as we play for the Southlake Christmas Tree lighting event. The second will be on December 12, for the dedication of a new concert venue (outdoor again), somewhere in Southlake. I’m not even sure where it is. I think it’s cool that they are asking the band to play the first concert in the venue. Apparently, this is one community band that is a pretty big deal in the community. I’m honored to be part of it.

I have Huddle tonight, and I’m leading. Gah! We’ll see how that goes . . . And Christi has bowling. So we don’t really see each other for two consecutive nights. I’m home before 9:00 PM, though, so we’ll have a few minutes, there, to catch up the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 103:18.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

(I included verse 17, too, as I have this weird thing about starting in the middle of sentences.)

While it is true that God loves us all the time, regardless, and that there is nothing that we can do to make him love us less, I believe that it is also true that our own perception of his love for us is strongly based on our status of obedience. In other words, when I am faithfully obeying God’s commands, my perception of his love for me is stronger. It is also, I believe, true that only those who are obedient can truly be called his children. But that doesn’t mean that we are obedient all the time, for no one is. These are my words, not John Calvin’s.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The first three “touchstones” helped to define what prayer is. They were 1) Work–Prayer is a Duty and a Discipline; 2) Responding to the Word–Prayer is Conversing with God; and 3) Prayer is a Balanced Interaction of Praise, Confession, Thanks, and Petition.

Now we look at the next three, “What Prayer Requires.” The first in this section, or the fourth touchstone, is “Grace–Prayer Must Be ‘In Jesus’ Name,’ Based on the Gospel.”

“Our prayer must be in full, grateful awareness that our access to God as Father is a free gift won by the costly sacrifice of Jesus the True Son, and then enacted in us by the Holy Spirit, who helps us know inwardly that we are his children.” It is very important to realize that tacking on “in Jesus’s Name” at the end of every prayer is not some kind of magic formula that ensures us that God hears our prayer. In truth, to pray in the name of Jesus “is to come fully cognizant that we are being heard because of the costly grace in which we stand. This is the one principle of prayer that makes it possible to be heard by God even though no one can follow all the other guidelines and ‘rules’ as we should.” This is why, when praying in group settings where people are voicing individual prayers, I never finish my prayer with “in Jesus’s name.” I will say those words when closing a prayer time out, but still believe it is entirely unnecessary. When I pray, I am automatically praying “in Jesus’s name.”

Another question that arises is, “Are we to pray only to the Father and not to the Son or the Spirit?” Jesus does invite his disciples to pray to him. 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) However, in the model prayer that we have recently finished going through, Jesus taught the disciples to pray to our Father. Though we are surely not expected to repeat only those words, “the initial direction must be taken seriously.” There are few other times in the New Testament where Jesus is prayed to direction. “While it is not at all improper to address the Son or the Spirit, ordinarily prayer will be addressed to the Father with gratitude to the Son and dependence on the Spirit.”

J.I. Packer says it this way: “‘I pray to the Father through the mediation of the Son and the enabling of the Holy Spirit. I may speak also to the Son and the Spirit directly when this is appropriate: that is, when I am praying about something that Scripture specified as the direct concern of either.'”

Father, I thank you that I am able to pray in Jesus’s name. I thank you for the sacrifice that enables me to do so. I thank you for the calling that enables me to do so. And I thank you for the gift of the Spirit that keeps me empowered to do so. May I remember these things, every time I pray, and have confidence that you hear me because of the presence of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, and for no other reason.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work may be safe. I pray for the work day, that it will go smoothly, and that you would, by your Spirit, empower us to share your kingdom. I pray for Christi, as she bowls, this evening, that she might not hurt herself more. I also pray for relief from the other various pains that she experiences. May you show Stephanie your great love today, and give her wisdom and understanding for her life. I pray you show your love and light to Rachel and Justin, giving them grace to do whatever is needed for their lives today. Give grace and wisdom to my mother as she teaches her Bible study, this morning.

I also lift up a home town friend, Mark, who has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. May you bring healing to his body and comfort to his family.

Come, Lord Jesus.

If you are a true child of God, remember . . . every time you open your mouth to pray, you are praying in Jesus’s name.

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear Not, For I Am With You

Good morning. It is Monday, again. Monday, September 14.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is perissology. This noun means, “Use of more words than are necessary; redundancy or superfluity of expression, pleonasm; an instance of this.”

Today is Boss/Employee Exchange Day. This makes me laugh. If there is truly a company out there that is interested in making things better for their employees, I want to know about it. Of course, they probably don’t have any openings, right? Pardon my cynicism.

We got back home, yesterday, somewhere around 3:00 PM. We had a great trip back after a nice brunch at the buffet in Winstar. Everything about the whole weekend was just great. Then we had to come back home and do chores for a few hours. We got the groceries done for both us and Christi’s mom, got them put away, then settled down for a light dinner and watched a little TV before going to bed early. We had a great time, but we were pretty tired, too.

Got a good night’s sleep, and now it’s time to get back at it. What we have to look forward to, now, is in about 27 days, we will be flying to Cancun, where a transport will pick us up and take us further down the road to Playa del Carmen, as we celebrate our 30th anniversary! But we still have to work for a few more weeks before that.

Tonight is band practice again, so I’ll be up late. I also ran into the trombone section leader at Kroger, yesterday, and he said the concert went well on Saturday evening, so that was good to hear.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 103:17.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

“The faithful who are regenerated by the Spirit of God, and who worship him with true devotion, these are the persons whom he leaves nothing on which their hope may rest but the mere goodness of God.” (p 258)

(From Solid Joys)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Today’s reading is “God Shall Supply All Your Needs.”

First, Piper looks back thirteen verses, to Philippians 4:6, which says, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Then comes the “liberating promise of future grace” in verse 19. If we truly live by this wonderful promise of future grace, “it will be very hard for anxiety to survive.” Especially when you consider that God’s “riches in glory” are infinite! I believe, along with John Piper, that God “really means for us not to worry about our future.”

Piper also mentions another verse that helps him battle anxiety, especially when he is embarking on a new venture or meeting. Isaiah 41:10 says, fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Piper says, “When the motor of my mind is in neutral, the hum of the gears is the sound of Isaiah 41:10.”

Father, I pray that you continue to teach me these truths about worry and anxiety, for I still manage to find myself worrying about the future. Even concerning our upcoming vacation trip to Mexico, I find myself fretting over things that are 100% not in my control. Teach me to trust in future grace, Father, and in the promises that you have given us in your word. Your grace alone should be enough to keep me from anxiety. May your Spirit constantly remind me, throughout each day, that you are in control of all things, and that you will work all things out for good for all of us who love you.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. I thank you for the safe trip to Oklahoma and back, and for the great time we had with Rachel and Justin. I pray for them, as well, that your light would shine on them. We always have some good, stimulating conversation, and I am thankful that this is possible. May you grow yourself in Stephanie today, teaching her about your great love for her. Help us figure out her future. Finally, I pray for continued grace for my mother. Also, be with her as she teaches her Bible study class tomorrow.

Come, Lord Jesus.

When you are tempted with worry and anxiety today, try to remember the great and precious promises that God has given . . . promises of future grace.

philippians-4-19

Grace and peace, friends.

Do Not Be Anxious

Good morning. It is Sunday, September 13, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is multiloquence This noun means, ” Excessive talkativeness or loquaciousness; prolixity.” Great, now I have to look up two more words. “Loquacious” is another word for “full of excessive talk.” “Prolixity” is a form of “prolix,” which means, “marked by or using an excess of words.” So today, you get three words for the price of one! I call that a bargain.

Today is Grandparent’s Day. I always thought this was just another day thought up by Hallmark, but apparently, it has some deeper meaning. Someone named Marian McQuade “instigated a campaign in the early 1970s aimed at highlighting the plight of lonely elderly people in care homes and encouraging grandchildren to take advantage of the wisdom and guidance their grandparents could provide.” So there you go. If you have any grandparents left, show them some love. Listen to their stories. Even better, record their stories! I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had recorded my grandparents talking.

We had a truly amazing time, yesterday! We went down for the lunch buffet at around 11:00 AM. The place we ate had pretty good food, with a very wide variety of types of cuisine. They had Asian, Mexican, Italian, American, and seafood, along with a very large salad bar and dessert bar. The dessert was actually quite good, too, which is rare for buffet places.

After lunch, we all split up to play some more, with plans to meet up at 5:00 PM for dinner. Christi and I played for what must have been close to four hours. I ran out of my “free” $50 bonus money early on, and started using money we had allocated for playing. The winnings ebbed and flowed, as the amounts dwindled. As it got later, we started on a journey to get to the other end of the casino. Winstar is set up in pretty much linear design, with a right angle turn in the middle. Each gaming area is named after a city in the world. Our hotel is on the London end, which is followed by Madrid, and then Rome, which is where the Global Event Center is located. More on that later. At the other end of the casino, is New York City. There is Venice and Cairo in there, somewhere, too. I can’t remember if there are any more cities represented.

We would stop and play a machine, here and there, but really had no good luck. We reached New York and turned around to head back. As we walked, we stumbled on a machine that I had really liked in a previous visit, a Wizard of Oz “Haunted Forest” themed machine. So I sat down to play. I used up what was on the last voucher I had printed, and put $40 more in the machine. On this machine, you could bet with $.40, $.80, $1.20, $2.00, or $4.00. On a whim, I placed a $1.20 bet, and got this “Flying Monkey” feature which randomly places some “wilds” on the playing board. I won a significant amount, getting my total up around $50 or so. Feeling bold, I placed a $4.00 bet, and won only $2.00. I turned around and put that $2.00 back up, and got the Flying Monkeys again. This time, they put a “wild” in all five columns! As the reels stopped turning, the machine started playing this lush orchestral version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the amount I had won started going up. It stopped at $199 and some change! I had just won $199 on a $2 bet. I cashed out. Total won on that machine, $241 and some change. As I got up, Christi was coming to find me to show me that she had finished up with over $60 winnings on the machine she was playing. We walked away with just over $300.
Winstar vouchers

We met back up with Rachel and Justin at 5:00 PM and went back down to have some dinner. We ate a a place in the London area, called “Chips and Ales.” We didn’t have any ale. But we had some pretty good fish and chips and other stuff. We still had close to two hours before Jim Gaffigan’s show as was to start, so we agreed to meet in front of the Global Event Center at 7:00. I had found out that they would begin seating at 6:30. Since there’s nothing else to do in a casino, we played some more. I pretty much lost $20 during that time, cashing out with forty cents. Christi had put in $40 and finished up with around $11 or so.

The show was really great. I probably would not entertain the idea of going to another one at that venue, however. The place is totally flat (no incline until you’re so far back you couldn’t see, anyway), and they use those portable plain chairs that hook together for seating. What this means is that the chairs are right next to each other. All of us are pretty big people, which makes this type of setting VERY uncomfortable. Added to the fact that this show was sold out, it made things even worse, because there would be someone sitting next to us. However, a few minutes before time for the show to begin, a nice gentleman came over and showed us how to unhook the chairs, so that we could at least spread them out a few inches between us. That brought us some welcome relief. We probably weren’t supposed to do that, but no one official seemed to notice.

I can’t remember the name of the “warm-up” comedian, but he was pretty good, telling jokes about old commercials that we grew up with, and how politically incorrect they were. Such as the “Frito Bandito,” the “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch” commercial, and the Armour Hot Dogs jingle with spoke of “fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks; tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox . . .” Anyone in their forties or fifties would have loved those jokes.

Jim Gaffigan did not disappoint. He was hilarious, as always, constantly making fun of himself, without being vulgar or off color at all. He joked about hiking, kids, Disney World, and, to my pleasant surprise, finished the show with his entire “Hot Pocket” routine. It was all great fun. Except for when the possibly drunk person came in to the row right behind us, with only about 15 minutes left in the show and constantly giggled “He’s so funny” while loudly repeating every joke that Jim told, to the person sitting next to him. Ah, well. There’s always something, right? I didn’t let that ruin my good time. The show was fantastic, and we laughed more than we had ever laughed in an hour, before.

After the show, we hit the restrooms, and Justin and Rachel went off in search of snacks and, maybe, coffee. Christi still had that $11 voucher burning a hole in her pocket, so she found a machine just like the one she had won $60 on, earlier. There were two together, so I sat down next to her and put in my forty cent voucher. And another $20. A few minutes later, another $20. Then I got a couple of “Bonus” rounds almost back to back. I cashed out with $60, while Christi went on to cash out with $40. Walking out with $100, we had broken even for the night, which, in casino-speak, is the same thing as winning!

Winning

As I type this, this morning, we are roughly $100 up for our trip. And that’s including the $40 I dropped in about 5 minutes, playing Blackjack! Yeah. I don’t think I’ll ever try that again.

We have to check out by 11:00, this morning, after which we will pack up the car, park it somewhere else (it’s in valet parking), and go back to the buffet restaurant for our complimentary brunches. We will likely head back to Denton after that, and then on to home. We still have to get in our grocery shopping after we get home, which is not a great way to finish off an otherwise spectacular weekend!

On September 13, in 122, the construction of Hadrian’s Wall began. In 335, Emperor Constantine consecrated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In 1501, Michelangelo began work on his statue of David. In 1609, Henry Hudson finally reached the river that would later be named after him. In 1788, the Philadelphia Convention set the date for the first presidential election, and New York City was established as the temporary capital of the U.S. In 1898, Hannibal Goodwin patented celluloid photographic film. In 1899, Henry Bliss was the first person in the U.S. to be killed in an auto accident. In 1971, the National Guard, along with state police, stormed Attica to end a prison revolt. In 2001, civilian aircraft flights were resumed in the U.S., following the 9/11 attacks. And, in 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in the Gulf Coast, causing heavy damage to Galveston, Houston, and surrounding areas.

Today’s birthdays include Milton S. Hershey (American confectioner), Arnold Schoenberg (Austrian-born composer), Claudette Colbert (American actress), Bill Monroe (American musician credited with the invention of bluegrass), Roald Dahl (British writer), Mel Torme (American singer), Barbara Bain (American actress), David Clayton-Thomas (Canadian singer, Blood, Sweat & Tears), Peter Cetera (American musician, Chicago), Jacqueline Bisset (British actress), Nell Carter (American actress), Jean Smart (American actress), Anne Geddes (Australian photographer), Dave Mustaine (American musician), Tyler Perry (American filmmaker), Fiona Apple (American singer), Ben Savage (American actor), and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japanese pitcher, previously Boston Red Sox).

Peter Cetera is a bass player/singer, born on this date in 1944, making him 71 years old today. Egad. His best years were with Chicago as their bass player and one of their singers. He had a relatively dismal solo career, and I have no idea what he is doing today. Here is an early clip of Chicago performing “Dialogue,” with Terry Kath playing guitar and singing, long before he accidentally killed himself.

Leopold Stokowski, Tupac Shakur, George Wallace, Dorothy McQuire, and Ann Richards are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 103:14-16.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

(From Solid Joys)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:31-34

Today’s reading is, “Reasons Not To Worry.”

There are several great promises in this passage of Scripture. The first is in verse 31-32, telling us that there is no need to be anxious about daily needs, because God knows what we need. We simply need to trust his timing, as he is not ignorant about our needs.

In verse 33, we are told that, if we give our lives to seeking God’s cause, which is his Kingdom, all of these things will be added to us. In other words, if we seek the Lord and his interests above our own, he will provide for us. In my opinion, the cause of the Gospel is the only worthy “cause” on earth to support.

Finally, in verse 34, we are again told to not be anxious, specifically about tomorrow. God will take care of us. As my mother used to tell me, “Don’t borrow trouble.”

Father, I pray for my faith to be stronger, that I might follow these promises and commands, not worrying, trusting that you will provide for me. Help me to selflessly seek your Kingdom and support your cause with my entire being.

I pray for safety as we travel home today. Thank you for giving us a great weekend of fun and relaxation.

Come, Lord Jesus.

My brothers and sisters, try with all your being to shed your anxieties and trust in God’s timing and provision.

Grace and peace, friends.