Drink Deep

Today is Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Day 21,964.

Welcome to May.

12 days until Mother’s Day.

Judy Collins turns 79 today. She said, “Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” (BrainyQuote)

The word for today is tussie-mussie. I swear I’m not making this up. It’s a noun which means, “a small bunch of flowers or herbs,” or a “a cone-shaped holder for a bouquet.”

We did not go to the Y last night. We had planned to. I even stopped at Subway and got our sandwiches. But as we were changing out of our work clothes, we both agreed that we were just too tired to do it. I’m still recovering from Saturday night, I think. It was so amazing and marvelous, but it took a lot of energy. Then we had to get up and do a mini-version of that on Sunday morning. We are definitely going tonight, though.

The Red Sox struggled early, but took down the Royals, 10-6, last night, to increase their record to 21-7. They also increased their lead in the AL East, as the Yankees and Blue Jays both lost. They also remain the best team in MLB, still by one game. They continue their series with KC tonight.

The Rangers lost to Cleveland, 7-5, making their record 11-19 on the season. They will continue that series, this evening, as well.

The Cincinnati Reds held on to their worst in the MLB record, but only by a half game. The Royals are just barely above them.

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

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah. 
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. 
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 84

This is one of my favorites, and is part of the inspiration behind Matt Redman’s “Better Is One Day,” a worship song that I love.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Isaiah 55:1
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 7:37-39
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6

“They shall be satisfied,” Jesus said. As I have studied, I have discovered that that statement is less a promise and more a simple statement of fact. I believe that Jesus was just stating facts in his Beatitudes. This is the way it is. If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be filled. But you have to know what you are thirsty for.

If you’re thirsty, come to the waters. Come to Jesus who will give you the water of life. Jesus also stated that whoever drinks of this water will never thirst again. Again . . . not so much a promise as a statement of fact.

Drink from the well of living water. Drink deep. You will be satisfied.

Father, thank you for this well, and thank you for making me thirsty for it. If I keep drinking from that well, I will not thirst again. Help me to not try to quench my thirst with things that cannot fulfill. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Pleasures forevermore . . .
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.

Launching Out

“How strange that nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!” – Emily Dickinson
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is sniglet. I used to have a book of those, somewhere. It means, “any word coined for something that has no specific name.” For example: Beepilepsy – the gyrations made by everyone in the room when a beeper goes off. Bovilexia – “The uncontrollable urge to lean out the car window and yell ‘Moo!!’ every time you pass a cow.” And, finally, blotch – “To slap the bottom of a catsup bottle with increasing intensity, ultimately resulting in a BLOTCHSLIDE.”

Today is World Music Day. Do I even need to comment about that? Music is a vital part of pretty much every culture in the world. It brings people together, and can be inspiring. Of course, I’m biased. I’m a musician.

Band practice went well, last night. I got to use my new trombone stand, which worked perfectly. We have one more practice and then our July concert comes up on July 3. This will be at the Southlake Stars & Stripes event. Things will crank up at around 6:00 PM, when the Southlake Swing Band performs. The Southlake Community Band (concert band) will play at 8:15, up until time for the fireworks, which occur at 9:30. There will be plenty of other things to do at the festival, including a number of food trucks.

The Texas Rangers are rolling. They have now won seven consecutive games, and are 9-1 in their last ten. After last night, they have won ten consecutive series, and are 9.5 games ahead of the second place team. Today, they begin a two game series against the Cincinnati Reds tonight, after which they will have Thursday off, followed by a weekend series with the Red Sox. Word is, they are going to do a tribute to David Ortiz Saturday night, but I waited too long to try and get tickets. I couldn’t find two seats together anywhere (unless I wanted to pay $206 each). So I guess I’ll watch from home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 84:8-112

The place we call the sanctuary – where the people of God meet regularly to sing praises, renew covenants, and hear the word of God – is filled with great associations. “The concentration of memory and meaning that takes place there makes it more desirable than any other place.”

“Lord God, you are sun and shield: the light of your word gives meaning to what I experience, the strength of your presence provides protection against despair. I thank you for hours of worship when I can listen again to that word and reaffirm that presence, even in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Ministry of the Interior

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

“How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves?” Chambers asks. How do we get to be this “royal priesthood” to which Peter refers? “Are we prepared to leave ourselves resolutely alone and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer?”

This “ministry of the interior” to which Chambers refers is intercessory prayer, and he mentions it in yesterday’s reading. But before we can truly get into that, we have to stop the “continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be.” This produces what Chambers calls “a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God.”

And I have seen people like this, who walk about in misery, because they believe they aren’t good enough, yet. Always moaning about the condition of their souls. Well, yes. We are all sinners! I am a sinner! I confess this daily. But then, I get up and move on, setting my sights on Jesus and launching into “the priestly work of prayer.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have it down perfectly. There are some days when I hardly pray at all. There are also some days where I fall into this trap of “continual grubbing on the inside.”

What we need to do, however, is to, “Launch out in reckless belief that the Redemption is complete, and then bother no more about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said . . .” Once again, describing what Willard says is the basis of discipleship, putting the words of Jesus into practice in our daily lives. I am reminded of the words of the great Yoda: “Do or not do. There is no try.” This is true in our Christian life. It is not about trying harder. It is about practicing and training in the disciplines. And we do this in reckless abandon, knowing that Jesus Christ shoulders our burden in the “easy yoke.”

Father, I pray that you help me stop worrying about whether I am “good enough.” Help me to know that the redemption is complete, and that my work is simply to put the words of Jesus into practice. Help me to step into (and stay in) the easy yoke with Jesus. It is his work, not mine.

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.

Pray Immediately

“The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is heliolatry. A fitting word for this day, as it means, “sun worship.”

Today is Ice Cream Soda Day. That would be a fitting treat for this day.

Today is the first day of Summer, the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Officially, Summer begins at 6:34 PM today.

The weekend didn’t quite turn out as planned, but it was okay. We had a great day, Saturday, but then, as I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t feel well all night Saturday night. As yesterday progressed, I felt better, though. I had a nice Father’s Day just relaxing and mostly playing games all day. Actually, I pretty much played Until Dawn all day. I finally made myself quit so C and I could watch a movie together, last night. The game is pretty awesome. It’s like being in a horror movie, but interactive. Every decision you make, during the game, in some way affects the outcome. There are also places where you have to have split-second reactions. All of this creates a rather high level of anxiety. I didn’t even open the other game, yet. But there’s another weekend coming.

The Rangers finished a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, beating them 5-4. That, combined with the Red Sox taking the series from the Mariners, puts them 8.5 games above the second place team. The only team that is further ahead of the second place team is also the only team that has a better record than the Rangers. That would be the Cubs.

Oh, and for anyone who cares, the Cleveland Cavaliers put an end to the Golden State Warriors’ golden season last night, winning the NBA championship in game 7.

‘Tis Monday again, so back to work we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:1-7

“The act of worship internalizes the way of discipleship into habits of praise and obedience so that life is not a depressing descent into senility, but an exhilarating ascent to strength.”

“I lift my eyes to you, O God, in worship and adoration. I focus on your promises and expect your grace. I gather all my needs and desires and bring them to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Have You Come to “When” Yet?

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.
Job 42:10

“The plaintive, self-centered, morbid kind of prayer, a dead-set that I want to be right, is never found in the New Testament.” Am I trying to be right with God? If so, I am rebelling against the atonement. I can’t make myself right with God. “I can only be right with God if I accept the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift.” I need to let go of any claims, of any thought of right to myself, and immerse myself “in the priestly work of intercession.” A lot of our prayers come from a place of disbelief in the atonement. I am already saved; Jesus has given me everything I need, and there is no reason to ask further for such things.

However, there is much need to pray for my friends, to “enter into the ministry of the interior.” Note that the Lord restored the wealth of Job “when he had prayed for his friends.” “The real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer.”

Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. To me, this means that prayer should be like breathing, something we do without even thinking. When circumstances trouble us, we should pray immediately; when things threaten or trouble our friends, we should pray immediately; when we come in contact with people, we should pray immediately.

Father, teach me to pray in this way. I have had days where it seemed as if I had gotten it. But then there are more days where it’s obvious I have not gotten it. I pray that my habits will begin to put me in a place of constant prayer and devotion, throughout the day, that I might walk in your presence at all times.

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.

The Language of Prayer

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Post-Monday.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is criticaster. This is a noun, meaning, “an incompetent critic.” “Criticaster entered English in the late 1600s from critic and the diminutive suffix –aster which means something that imperfectly resembles or mimics the true thing.”

Today is Junk Food Day. I thought that was every day.

So I got to go see Jurassic World again, yesterday, and loved it just as much as the first time. I invited our pastor, Jacob, to go along, this time. He had also seen it once, so we enjoyed looking for things we missed the first time. There is a list of “Easter eggs” that can be found in the movie, most of which are shout-outs to the original movie. We caught most of them, but have yet to see the person on the tram reading a book by Jeff Goldblum’s character, Ian Malcolm, called God Created Dinosaurs. I also did not notice that there is a Margaritaville in the theme park, and, at one point, toward the end of the movie, a man can be seen grabbing two margaritas before taking off running. That man, it turns out, is Jimmy Buffet, himself. Looks like I’m gonna have to watch this movie again! 😀

Not much else happened, yesterday. Christi actually left work on time, and got home earlier than usual, so we had time to watch several TV shows while we ate our dinner. We watched an episode of Humans, and AMC series, along with some of Murder in the First, a TNT drama that is really heating up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s reading from my Bible Reading Plan is Genesis 7-8 and Ephesians 4.

Today’s reading from Heart Aflame is Psalm 84:11-12.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

So we see that we are to use words in our prayers. But what kind of words? “All kinds.” All we have to do to see a great example of this is to look at the Psalms. Having long been my favorite book of the Bible, the Psalms are full of prayer language. “They include exclamations of wonder, virulent complaints, reasoned arguments, pronouncements and verdicts, appeals and requests, summonses and calls, and verdicts of self-condemnation. They represent not only radically different types of discourse but of attitudes and emotions as well.” If we were to stick only with what we see in culture or our own temperaments, “there are many kinds of language that we would never use.” There are outbursts of joy that melancholy would never discover on their own. There are insights into the depths of the heart that the extrovert would never find. There are even complaints and outright blunt questionings of God that introverts, as well as people who are more compliant, would never come up with on their own.

“We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology.” We must remember that we are not initiating prayer, but, rather, are “responding to prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture.” The God of the Bible is both “majestic and tender, holy and forgiving, loving and inscrutable.” This is why prayer cannot consist of only one type of expression. If we observe all of the prayers of the Bible, we see “intimate conversations with a friend,” appeals “to a great monarch,” and other prayers that look like wrestling matches.

“We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.” (Emphasis mine)

That one sentence may be the most important sentence in the chapter. “We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want.”

As we seek out these varied types of prayer in God’s Word, we will learn how to respond to God in our own prayers.

Father, I have experienced many of these prayers of the Bible, in my various readings. Help me to be more alert as I read, looking for language that is used in prayer, that I might, not so much copy them, but appropriate the language as I learn more about you, who you are, and what you desire from your people. I have found that, many times, it is simply appropriate and effective to pray words of Scripture verbatim back to you. I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with this, as long as I am not repeating rote words or, as they are called in the New Testament, “vain repetitions.” There have been times that I have been praying some of Paul’s prayers back to you, for other people, and I have felt the power of your Spirit in those prayers. Not because I was praying, but because I was praying Scripture! May we truly know and understand the power that is available in your Word, Lord. Let us remember the words of Hebrews 4:12, which says, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Your Word is alive!

I pray for this day, that we might have safe travel to and from work. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will go smoothly, and that her bowling this evening will be pleasant and not painful. I pray for my day, that there will not be a lot of leftover work from my day off, yesterday. I pray for Stephanie, that she will experience your grace and love today. May you rain down grace and mercy on Rachel and Justin, helping Rachel get her thesis finished, so that she may move on with what she desires to do with her life. Finally, may you hold my mother close to you today, and I pray that her Bible study time will be fruitful and pleasant, this morning.

May you reveal yourself to us in our Huddle gathering, this evening.

Your grace is sufficient.

For great examples of Biblical prayers, look at the Psalms for the wide range of language and emotion.

Grace and peace, friends.

Balancing Mystical and Rational

Good morning. It is Monday, July 20, 2015. I am off work today, because I’m working this coming Saturday.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is longanimity. This is a noun, meaning, “a disposition to bear injuries patiently : forbearance.” The example sentence used is, “The fans showed longanimity by coming back year after year to cheer on the perpetually losing team.” Applicable, I believe to the Red Sox nation for the 86 years between 1918 and 2004, as well as to Cubs fans for over 100 years. Darned goat.

Today is Moon Day, celebrating 46 years since we first made footprints on the Earth’s only natural satellite.

As stated above, I am enjoying a rare Monday off, but will pay for it this coming Saturday. A three-day-weekend in exchange for a one-day-weekend. Not the best trade in the world, for my money, but it is what it is, at least for now.

I got to go see Jurassic World, yesterday afternoon, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it has replaced Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as my current favorite movie. Also, due to these circumstances, V For Vendetta has dropped out of my top five movies, to the number six spot. My top five movies are, in this order, Jurassic World, Sweeney Todd, Jurassic Park (only the first one, please), The Princess Bride, and Amadeus. While it may seem that this has happened only because Jurassic World is my most recent movie, that is simply not true. I am going to see it again, today. It has been a long time since I have seen the same movie two days in a row (perhaps the first Jurassic Park?). I knew, when I heard the original theme music in the first minutes of the movie, that it was going to be legen . . . wait for it . . . DARY! And, I am not ashamed to confess, I was literally crying at the end. And I mean literally literally, not figuratively, as is the idiotic custom for people to use in our current culture. There are multiple shoutouts to the original movie, one being the appearance of the original Asian scientist in the genetics lab. Another was the stumbling upon the original visitor’s center from the first movie, and, yes (mild spoiler alert), the appearance of the original T-Rex!!!! I’m getting goosebumps just typing all of this, folks! I can’t wait to see it again, this afternoon! This will be a DVD I will definitely buy!

Not much else happening today. I need to put up some laundry and do the dishes. Boring, household stuff. So, on to the fun and important stuff, in that order.

On this date in 1807, Nicephore Niepce received a patent from Napoleon Bonaparte for the Pyreolophore, the first internal combustion engine. In 1871 British Columbia became part of Canada. In 1881, Sitting Bull and the last of his fugitive people surrendered at Fort Buford, North Dakota. On this date in 1903, Ford Motor Company shipped its first car. In 1926, the Southern Methodist Church Convention votes to allow women ministers. And, as mentioned above, on this date in 1969, Apollo 11 made the first successful manned moon landing. Oh. One more. On this date in 1976, Hank Aaron hit home run number 755, which would be the last home run of his career.

Today’s birthdays include Alexander the Great (Greek King of Macedonia and conqueror of Persia), Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand mountaineer), Cormac McCarthy (American author), Natalie Wood (American actress), Diana Rigg (English actress), John Lodge (English musician, The Moody Blues), Kim Carnes (American singer/songwriter), Carlos Santana (Mexican-born American guitarist), Dan Shaughnessy (American sports writer), Chris Cornell (American singer, Soundgarden, Audioslave), Reed Diamond (American actor), Omar Epps (American actor), Judy Greer (American actress), Gisele Bundchen (Brazilian model), Stephen Strassburg (American baseball player), and Julianne Hough (American dancer).

John Lodge is the bass player, as well as singer and songwriter, for The Moody Blues, having been a member since 1966. Here is a clip of their song, “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band).”

Peregrine White, Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Bruce Lee, James Doohan, and Tammy Faye Bakker are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s reading from my Bible reading plan is Genesis 5-6, Psalm 12, and Ephesians 3.

The Psalm reading from Heart Aflame is 84:7-10.

They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

There have been many theologians in the past who would insist that the knowledge of God “is above concepts. It is a knowledge that registers itself in the soul passively without an idea.” (Timothy Keller quoting Thomas Merton) The more mystical push toward not thinking about God or speaking to him.

Paul, however, in the New Testament, transcends this idea. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15) We are praying to the Father, using words, through the Son, who is THE Word.” Martin Luther insisted that we cannot go to God outside of using his Word. “We must first hear the Word, and then afterwards the Holy Ghost works in our hearts; he works in the hearts of whom he will, and how he will, but never without the Word.”

It is good to strike a balance between two extremes. J.I. Packer says, “there is [indeed] a place for silence before God . . . after we have spoken to him, while joy at God’s love invades the soul.” Consider the fact that, when two people love each other, sometimes they simply sit in silence and gaze into each other’s eyes. However, they will also, still, search for words to express the way they feel about each other. Such it is with us and God. God has found his Words, and given them to us. We, upon reading, hearing, and pondering those words, respond back to him with similar words.
(pp 56-59)

Father, as I pray to you, may my prayers reflect your Word back to you. May my understanding of you grow as I reflect more deeply on passages of Scripture that I read. May I also, like the Psalmist, be content to merely be a doorkeeper in your house, as opposed to having the highest honor in the tents of the wicked. Help me to balance silence and words in prayers, seeking to know you more, but also seeking to glorify you in word, as well as in deed. May I, like Paul, seek to pray with my spirit, as well as with my mind.

I pray for this day, that Christi will have a good day, today, free of drama and stress. May her travel home be safe, this afternoon. I pray for safe passage to and from the mall, this afternoon, and a good time of fellowship with Jacob, as we watch a movie together. I pray for your grace and mercy to rain down on the rest of our family, Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, as they do what they need to do today.

I pray for more rain for the drought-stricken people of California. They got some rain last night, in areas from San Diego to Los Angeles. May they get similar relief as to what you gave us in Texas, back in May.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we find a good balance between the mystical and the rational as we continue to gain knowledge of our Father and how to pray to him.

Grace and peace, friends.

God’s Well-Timed Grace

Good morning. It is Sunday, July 19, 2015.

The Word of the Day, from Dictionary.com, is petrous. Petrous is an adjective, meaning, “noting or pertaining to the hard dense portion of the temporal bone, containing the internal auditory organs; petrosal,” That’s an anatomical reference. It also means, “like stone, especially in hardness; stony; rocky.”

Today is Daiquiri Day (that’s a tough word to remember how to spell). Apparently, this drink was invented in a town by the same name, near Santiago, Cuba. With temperatures hitting triple digits in Texas, it would be a good day for a refreshing Daiquiri.

Our evaluation appointment with Stephanie, yesterday, went very well, we believe. The psychologist with whom we met was very good. I let her know this, too, during the time we spoke to her without Stephanie in the room. She had a very bright, positive, countenance, and was very good at drawing Stephanie out. This was obvious, because, when we talked to her, it seems that Stephanie told her pretty much exactly the same things that we checked off on the form we were given. The psychologist told us that we had given her very good information. It will take about two weeks to get the report, which will let us know if Stephanie is eligible for additional service.

We barely had time to get Stephanie home and get up to church on time, to begin preparations for the evening’s activities. But we made it. The prayer gathering, in my opinion, was extremely good. There were some deep prayers that happened, and I think that there was a strong sense of God’s presence in the room. Our worship gathering was good, as Jacob finished the second part of what I still believe to be the best sermon I have ever heard. He finished talking about Psalm 37:1-7. Last week, the two points were that we need to trust in the Lord and do good, and that we need to delight ourselves in the Lord, which means that we should treasure God above all things. This week’s two points were that we need to commit our way to the Lord, which essentially means wrapping up our entire lives in a bundle and handing it over to him, and don’t take it back. The problem is that tend to be okay with giving everything over, but we frequently take it back when things get iffy. The last point was that we need to be still before the Lord. The passage finished up with the same idea that it began with. “Fret not.”

Today, we have grocery shopping, and then Christi is going to lunch with some friends from Supermedia/Verizon at 1:00, during which time I plan to go see Jurassic World. It also starts at 1:00 at the theater that I currently like to go to.

After all that is done, if we have the energy, we might go bowling. We are also considering joining a bowling league for the fall. We are currently looking at a couple of leagues that are on Sunday evenings, beginning in September.

On this date in 1692, five women (Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, and Rebecca Nurse) were hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1879, Doc Holliday killed his first man, after the man shot up his saloon in New Mexico.

Today’s birthdays include Lizzie Borden (took an ax, and so on . . .), Charles Horace Mayo (American surgeon/founder of clinic), A.J. Cronin (Scottish writer), George McGovern (American politician), Vikki Carr (American singer), Brian May (English guitarist/Queen), Beverly Archer (American actress), Lisa Lampanelli (American comedienne), Anthony Edwards (American actor), Benedict Cumberbatch (British actor), Vinessa Shaw (American actress), and Jared Padalecki (American actor/Supernatural).

Brian May, guitar player and co-founding member of Queen, was born on this date in 1647, and turns 68 today. Here is their song “’39,” which, over time, has become my favorite Queen song. Brian May actually sings lead on this song.

Joe Flynn, Lefty Frizzell, and Bill Bright are among those who passed away on July 19.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
Psalm 84:6

” . . . those who have true heart religion, and who sincerely serve God, direct their steps to the sanctuary of God, not only when the way is easy and cheerful, under the shade and through delightful paths, but also when they must walk through rugged and barren deserts.” (John Calvin, Heart Aflame, p. 201)

(From Solid Joys)

In the midst of my continued reading about prayer, comes this gem from Solid Joys, called, “His Timing Is Perfect.”

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

Any kind of ministry that we do is in the future. It may be a decade away, a month away, or it may be mere moments away. The point is, we always have time to fret about our ability to perform ministry. “When this happens, we must turn to prayer.”

“Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry. Timing is everything.”

What if the needed grace came too early? Or, even worse, what if it came too late? Piper lets us in on a translation secret. He says that the more traditional translation (cited above) hides a precious promise. He gives us a more literal rendering of the Greek text. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help.” Rather than simply “grace to help in time of need,” it becomes much more urgent “grace for a well-timed help.”

“The point is that prayer is the way to find future grace for a well-timed help.” The grace that we need always comes from the “throne of grace,” just in time. Our King, who sits on that “throne of grace,” “sets the times by his own authority.”

As we recognize that God’s timing is perfect, we rarely find that it is the same as our timing. Moses wrote in the Psalms, For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. On a global level, we see in Acts 17:26 that God sets the time periods and boundaries of the nations: And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. But on a more personal level, in Psalm 31:15, David says, My times are in your hand.

So when we are concerned about the timing of God’s future grace, we must turn to the throne of grace, in prayer. “Nothing can hinder God’s plan to send grace when it will be best for us. Future grace is always well-timed.”

Father, may we truly understand the truth of this little verse, and know that your grace is always perfectly timed. Let us turn to your throne of grace when we are in need, sending up prayers that we might eagerly receive the future grace, that will always come just in time for the need that we will experience. When we relate this to ministry, whatever ours might be, this is nothing short of phenomenal! If we truly believe the truth of this verse, we would never fret about anything relating to ministry. I pray that Christians the world over would know this truth and understand how it relates to them, from the aspect of world missions all the way down to the smallest detail of their lives. Your grace is “well-timed help,” Lord! Hallelujah!

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s safety as she runs errands for us and her parents, as well as for when she drives to Grapevine later for her lunch. I pray that she will have a good time reconnecting with old friends and work associates, many of whom she has not seen in quite some time. I pray for the rest of our day, that we will have some good rest as we prepare for the week ahead.

May your grace rain down on the rest of our family, as well. For Stephanie, as we wait for the results from yesterday’s interviews, for Rachel and Justin, as they go into another new week, and for my mother, as she continues to take care of business in her life. May we all know your well-timed grace each day.

Your grace is sufficient.

Having never seen this particular rendering of this verse before, I am grateful for John Piper’s word today. Even the reading, itself, is “well-timed.”

Hebrews416

Grace and peace, friends.

Power in God’s Word

Good morning. It is Friday, July 17, 2015. Made it to another Friday.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is superannuated. This is an adjective, meaning, “outmoded, old-fashioned,” “incapacitated or disqualified for active duty by advanced age,” or, “older than the typical member of a specified group.” There are some days I really feel superannuated.

Today is Peach Ice Cream Day. That sounds absolutely delicious!

Christi will be bowling right after work today, to make up for the week that she was in El Paso with the others for the Open Tournament. There’s a good chance that I will wind up working late, this afternoon, as well, since we have to finish everything before we leave on Fridays. We are seriously considering finding a league to join for the fall. It would be really cool if we could find a TGIF league on Friday nights, since that is where we began this 30 (so far) year adventure.

Baseball starts back up tonight, as well. Another reason I’m not a fan of the All-Star break. They make us wait three whole days for more baseball!! Unfortunately, the Red Sox are on the west coast, playing the Angels. Unfortunate because that game won’t start until 9:05 CDT. Even worse for the fans in Boston or elsewhere on the east coast, as it will be 10:05 for them. The Rangers will be playing the Astros in Houston.

Tomorrow, we take Stephanie to a place for some evaluation for a potential program that could be of great benefit to her future.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Psalm 84:3

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

How does God speak to us? First, let’s examine the power behind God’s words. In human life, “words not only convey information, they get things done.” But the words that God speaks (or has spoken) are infinitely more powerful. It can be argued that God’s words and actions are identical. Consider the creation in Genesis 1. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and there was light. We are not told that he spoke first, telling what he was about to do, and then did it. No, his words brought light into being. God renamed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. “That word makes the aged man and his wife biologically and spiritually capable of being the progenitors of a whole race.” Whatever we see God’s voice doing, God is doing. Perhaps Isaiah 55:10-11 puts it best: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Now, just try going into a dark room and saying, “Let there be light.” What happened? Nothing, right? In order to make it happen, you had to reach over and flip a switch (or clap, if you remember those things). “Our words need deeds to back them up and can fail to achieve their purposes. God’s words, however, cannot fail their purposes because, for God, speaking and acting are the same thing.” (Emphasis mine.)

So to speak of God’s Word, we can understand that we mean “God’s active presence in the world.” If we say that the word of God has gone out to accomplish something, it is the same as if we said God, himself, has gone out to do it.

How does this relate to prayer? There is a theory on prayer, one of the more mystical ones, that says that words get in the way of deep communion with God. But this is simply not true. “If God’s words are his personal, active presence, then to put your trust in God’s words is to put your trust in God.” Sure, there will be times when we do nothing but silently bask in the stillness of God’s presence. But most of the time, God’s words will be “met with a response of trust from us.”

How do we receive God’s words? Generally from Scripture. God put his words in the mouths of the prophets, who wrote them down. “The Bible, then, is God’s Word written, and it remains God’s Word when we read it today. . . . God acts through his words, the Word is ‘alive and active’ (Heb 4:12), and therefore the way to have God dynamically active in our lives is through the Bible.”

There is a great movement away from the Bible, these days. Unbelievers, more and more, hold no respect for it whatsoever. This makes it increasingly difficult, nigh impossible, to use Scripture as we share God’s Kingdom with people. Nevertheless, for us, God’s children, the Bible continues to be God’s Word, and is are greatest source of power. When we respond to the words of God in prayerful trust, we receive power from him, almost unimaginable power.

Father, I long for this power from your Word. I have read the Bible many times. Nevertheless, I feel, most of the time, like a pure novice in understanding it. Teach me, Lord, through your Spirit and your Word, and lead me in my response to you. I know that there is power available in my life, but yet I continue to fail to avail myself of it. Lead me, Lord, deeper into your Word in the days ahead, that I might trust you and respond to you in prayer.

I pray for this day, this Friday, that your grace and mercy would go before, beside, and behind us as we travel to work and back home. May Christi’s day be full of your grace, especially in potentially stressful moments. May Stephanie know your grace today, and may you draw her closer to you. I pray also for Justin and Rachel, that you would draw their hearts to yours. May you lead them into their future, Father, by your grace. Continue allowing your grace to rain down on my mother, in these days. Give us this day our daily bread. May your will be done in our lives, on earth as in heaven.

Your grace is sufficient.

There is just as much power in God’s Word today as there was at the time of creation, and at the moment of Christ’s resurrection. This power is ours, as well, if we would only stop allowing our flesh to have so much influence over us. There is power in God’s Word.

Grace and peace, friends.

God Speaks First

Good morning. It is Thursday, July 16, 2015. Pre-Friday.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is weasel word. A weasel word is, “a word used in order to evade or retreat from a direct or forthright statement or position.”

Today is Corn Fritters Day. It was the only choice they gave me. But maybe it’s not so much about the fritters as it is simply about comfort food.

Well, we watered our front lawn for nine hours last night. Not intentionally, mind you. We just forgot. I woke up at 4:15, and suddenly thought, “Did we turn the water off?” Actually, I more than thought it. I kind of blurted it out. Christi said, “No.” So I jumped up and ran outside to turn it off. At least it was our legal night to water. You see, Fort Worth will not relax the watering restrictions, even though the drought is over and the Trinity River is still above flood level. Nevertheless, we certainly had no intention of watering for that long.

Tonight is Christi’s Huddle night. I plan to get some trombone practice in, especially since the band is not practicing again until August 3. Nothing much else to talk about on a personal level, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Psalm 84:1-2

“Those are sadly deficient in understanding who carelessly neglect God’s instituted worship, as if they were able to mount up to heaven by their own unaided efforts.” (John Calvin, Heart Aflame, p. 198)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In previous chapters, Keller has discussed that prayer is “both an instinct and a spiritual gift.” If we consider prayer as an instinct, it is, more or less, a response to a fragmented knowledge of God, almost like throwing a note in a bottle out to whoever might be listening. “God, if you’re up there, I really need . . . ” But when we consider prayer as a spiritual gift, it becomes, as previously noted, “the continuation of a conversation God has started.” When that conversation proceeds, it becomes a true “meeting with God.” In chapter four, “Conversing with God,” Keller writes about how God “first speaks to us, and then how we can learn to answer him.”

God is not impersonal, as Eastern religions believe. If he were, love would be an illusion, since love is something “that can happen only between two or more persons.” And, if God were simply “one,” then “love could not have appeared until after God began to create other beings.” This would make God more power than love, making power more important than love.

Christians, however, believe that God is three in one, that which we call the Trinity. These three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “have known and loved one another from before the dawn of time.” This puts words and language in an entirely new light. We can see Jesus speaking about the Trinity, and how they communicate with one another, in John 14-17. “The Father speaks to the Son, the Son speaks to the Father, and the Father and the Son speak to the Spirit.”

There is a brief discussion on philosophies that believe that, since God is pure spirit, he cannot possibly speak, since speaking is a purely physical act. I won’t get into the depths of that discussion here, but simply note that, since we believe God to be a community of persons, “and because language is intrinsic to personal relationship, there is every reason to expect that God communicates through words.”

“Therefore, “Christian prayer is not plunging into the abyss of unknowing and a state of wordless hyperconsciousness.” Our prayer is a fellowship with this God, whom we believe to be personal, and who “befriends us through speech. The biblical pattern entails meditating on the words of Scripture until we respond to God with our entire being, saying, ‘Give me an undivided heart, that . . . I may praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart.’ (Ps. 86:11-12)

Psalm 86:11-12 includes the verse that I chose many years ago as my “life verse.”

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

Father, as I continue to learn how you speak to us, I pray for depths of understanding. I pray, along with Paul, as he prayed for the Ephesian church, that I might have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. How do we know something that surpasses knowledge? Only through the power of your Spirit, which dwells within us. Teach me, O Lord! Teach me through your Word. I pray that your Spirit would drive me further into your Word, into meditation and prayer, that I might know and understand you better, and in knowing, may pray more completely.

I pray for this day, that your grace would travel with us to work and back. I pray for Christi’s day to be full of your grace, allowing her to be a representative of your Kingdom. I pray also for the Huddle group meeting tonight, that your name would be lifted high in their discussions. I pray for Stephanie, that your grace would fill her day, teaching her more about you. May you provide daily bread for Rachel and Justin, and may your grace go ahead of Rachel as she works on finishing her time at UNT. May your Spirit be strong in Mama today, in whatever she finds herself doing. Protect, provide and bless our family, Father.

I pray for Nansii, who is having a biopsy today, that no surgery would be necessary.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we listen as God speaks to us, and then join his conversation.

Grace and peace, friends.

Stamped With His Presence

Good morning. It is Thursday, August 23, 2012. Before I get into my usual routine, I need to put out a prayer request first thing. For the past couple of weeks, Christi has been dealing with some pain in her feet. After going to a podiatrist, she was assigned physical therapy, at which it was discovered that her issue is likely not her feet, but something either in hip or lower back. In fact, the physical therapist said she had bursitis in her right hip. Well, yesterday, while doing some stretching activities at PT, that hip pretty much collapsed on her. She didn’t completely fall, but was unable to put weight on it. She says that she heard a sort of ripping or tearing sound, not a pop or crack that might indicate something of the severity of a broken hip. The therapist helped her to a table where they moved Christi’s leg around, up and down, sided to side and determined that (as far as they could tell) nothing was broken. They offered to get her an ambulance to the ER, but Christi elected to come home. She got home, we got her in the house, and to her usual chair. We debated Care Now, but decided (with their help) that they really wouldn’t be able to help, being able to only do X-rays, which would not show any muscle or ligament/tendon tears. We debated ER, but finally decided to let it rest for the night.

This morning, she got up at the usual time (we found a cane in the trunk of her car) and said it feels a little better. What’s really strange is that, if she keeps the knee bent, she can actually put weight on it. She quickly determined, though, that she will not try to go to work (I wasn’t going to let her…if I had to tie her down), and is going to try to get to the doctor later today. I’m sure she needs a specialist (orthopedic?), but will have to get a referral from our primary care doctor.

Please pray that this is nothing more serious than a torn or strained ligament or tendon, and for quick healing/recovery.


Today is “National Sponge Cake Day.” I love sponge cake (I tend to call it Angel Food cake, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily the same thing). It’s not terribly bad for you either, as cakes go.

On this date in 1902, Fannie Farmer opened Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, in Boston. She apparently was the first to advocate standardized measurements in recipes. Up to that point, I guess it was a “pinch” of this and a “dash” of that…
On this date in 1979, Aleksandr Godunov became the first dancer to defect to the US from the Bolshoi Ballet.
On this date in 1926, Rudolph Valentino died at the age of 31, sending his fans “into a hysterical state of mass mourning.”
On this date in 1927, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed for crimes that they almost certainly had nothing to do with.

On this date in 1814, Dolly Madison saved a portrait of George Washington from British troops. After that, she made cupcakes.
And it was on this date in 1989 that Pet Rose was banned from baseball forever, including any eligibility to be in the Hall of Fame, because of gambling on his own team. I believe the emotional intensity of this decision is what killed commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, a man who truly loved the game of baseball. I will go on record as saying that I don’t believe he should have been banned from the Hall of Fame. It is unlikely that anyone will ever surpass the hitting accomplishments of Pete Rose.

Hmmm…today is a pretty dismal day, historically…


Father, I pray for a glimpse of your face this morning, as I read your word.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 84. This psalm was written by the “sons of Korah.”
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trust in you!
(1-12)

What a great way to start the day! And if you’re like me, this song is probably already going through your head (and heart).


My Utmost For His Highest
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Have you noticed how difficult it is to concentrate on praying, once you get in that room with the door closed? “…we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wander thoughts. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer.” I find this to be true wherever I’m trying to pray.

Perhaps when Jesus said “shut the door,” he was speaking spiritually just as much as physically. “A secret silence means to shut the door deliberately on emotions and remember God. … When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else.” We must get into the habit of “dealing with God about everything.” There is nothing in our lives that is too insignificant to take to our Lord. This is hard to get past, difficult to fathom. We don’t (or at least I don’t) want to bother God with trivial, unimportant matters. But I must, from my first waking moment (also a difficult habit to break into), open the door of my life to God, get in secret to pray to him, and allow everything that follows in this day to be stamped with his presence.


Ah, Lord! Truly, a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere! I am grateful to get to begin my day in this way, celebrating your presence in my life, bringing my day to you. I pray that you would remind me each day, before my feet hit the floor, that you are here with me, that I am yours, and that, as this day begins to happen, there is nothing that will come my way that can separate me from you. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!!” Amen! How I long for your courts, O Lord, my God!

Teach me to pray, Lord. Teach me to pray without distraction, without wandering mind. Teach me to bring everything to you. Help me to open the doors of my life to you, opening every compartment of my body, soul, and mind to your presence. Look in every room of my life, Lord, and clean them out. But don’t just clean them out, fill them with you.

I pray for this day, Lord. Especially I lift up prayers for Christi. I’ll come right out and say that I don’t understand what’s happening. Help me with this. I pray for her pain to be relieved, and something worse happens. But I trust you, Lord. I will not allow this new thing to sway me from my course of intercessory prayer. I don’t know if this a test or an attack. Doesn’t matter. I will treat it as if it could be either, and continue doing what I know you want me to do. But I pray that Christi’s hip would be healed and that her pain would recede. Give her wisdom as she consults the doctor today, and help her know what the next step needs to be. I pray for her safety today, that no more damage would be done.

I pray for my day, as well. I pray that everything that occurs in my life today would be stamped with your presence. Allow me to see your hand in everything that happens today.


How lovely is the dwelling place of the Lord Almighty! I would rather be a doorkeeper for the house of God than to live in the richest palace of wickedness. Remember the next to last line of that psalm. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Grace and peace, friends.