Reading With the Heart

Today is Sunday, September 24, 2017. Day 21,745. 18 days until our 32nd anniversary!

F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was born on this date in 1896 (died 1940), said, “Nothing is as obnoxious as other people’s luck.”
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Tittle ~ “a dot or other small mark in writing or printing, used as a diacritic, punctuation, etc.”

Today is Punctuation Day. What most people need to do to celebrate this day is to learn how to use apostrophes! Please note that there is no apostrophe in “apostrophes.”

I wound up not going to the escape room event, last night, but C went. She had a good time, and they actually escaped, which is great, because the room they were doing has an eleven percent escape rate! She said the place they went in Euless wasn’t as good as the place we have been in west Fort Worth. Several of their props weren’t working right, and they had to keep calling the attendant to ask them about it.

I might be feeling a little better this morning. I probably could have gone, last night, but I didn’t want to take the chance that I might start feeling worse in the middle of things and taint everyone else’s experience. I definitely don’t feel worse, and feel better than I did yesterday morning.

The Red Sox won again, last night, which was their 90th win of the season. They remain five games ahead of the Yankees, who have also clinched at least a wild card spot for this year’s playoffs. The Rangers lost again, to the last place Athletics, and the Twins won. So the Rangers are 4.5 back from the second wild card spot, with an elimination number of four. This means that any combination of Twins wins and Rangers losses that adds up to four will eliminate them from a chance at 2017 playoffs. They have eight games remaining.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
Psalm 98:1
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 58:10
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Psalm 119:141
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Psalm 71:5
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Matthew 19:13-15
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.

Psalm 84:1-3
Grant that I, Lord, may not be anxious about earthly things, but love things heavenly; and even now, while I am placed among things that are passing away, hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

(From Living the Message)

“Reading today is largely a consumer activity–people devour books, magazines, pamphlets and newspapers for information that will fuel their ambition or careers or competence. The fast the better, the more the better. It is analytical, figuring things out; or it is frivolous, killing time. Spiritual reading is mostly a lover’s activity–a dalliance with words, reading as much between the lines as in the lines themselves. It is leisurely, as ready to re-read an old book as open a new one. It is playful, anticipating the pleasures of friendship. It is prayerful, convinced that all honest words can involve us somehow or other, if we read with our hearts as well as our heads, in an eternal conversation that got its start in the Word that ‘became flesh.’ Spiritual reading is at home with Homer as well as Hosea.”

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. 
I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

Psalm 119:15-16 (The Message)

Father, please help me to read with my heart as much or more than my head. Help me to ingest and digest everything I read from your Word.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Our Highest Allegiance

“If we are living lives in which God does not have our highest allegiance, then we will use prayer instrumentally, selfishly, simply to try to get the things that may be already ruining our lives.”~~Timothy Keller

Good morning. It is Thursday, September 24, 2015. Pre-Friday.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is owling. There are several definitions of this noun, one of them having absolutely nothing to do with owls. “1.a. The hooting of an owl. b. The action of imitating the hooting of an owl, esp. to discover the whereabouts of birds when hunting them. 2. The practice of smuggling wool or sheep out of England; the trade of an owler. In early use freq. attrib., as owling trade, etc. 3. The activity of observing owls in their natural environment, esp. at night.” Sheep smuggling?

Today is Punctuation Day. Use it, people! Use it correctly!

I had a pretty good day, yesterday. Work went pretty smoothly, although I did stay an extra hour. But last night, around 12:45, I awoke with a wave of nausea. I was able to fight it off, but didn’t sleep well for at least an hour after that. Finally, I went back to sleep, but I’m really groggy this morning.

Tonight is Christi’s Huddle night, and we will have our usual crockpot Mexican soup tonight.

The Rangers had a decisive win over the A’s, last night, 10-3. The Astros lost to the Angels, so the Rangers now lead the American League West by 3 games. The magic number is 8, at this point, but the Astros have the day off, so there is no chance of clinching the division in Houston, over the weekend. As long as the Rangers keep winning, though, it won’t matter what the other teams do.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

Psalm 105:6-10

“If we duly ponder our calling, we will undoubtedly find that God has not been induced from anything out of himself to prefer us to others, but that he was pleased to do so purely from his own free grace.” (p 268)

The next, and final, touchstone of prayer is “Surrender–Prayer Requires and Creates Surrender of the Whole Life in Love to God.”

That is a mouthful, and, if interpreted wrongly, could lead one to great stress and anxiety over prayer. Psalm 66:18 says, If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. I have, personally, listened to preachers who would have us believe that this means if we have “unconfessed sin” in our lives, God won’t hear our prayers. Conversely, that philosophy would lead us to believe that we can merit God’s answers through “greater moral purity.” But everything we have learned about prayer, thus far, would contradict that idea. So, what does it mean? We see more instruction about prayer in the book of James, chapter 4, verse 3. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

We understand that, while faith is necessary to receive our salvation in Christ, our faith does not “accomplish or merit our salvation.” It is necessary that we have a “commitment to put God first and love him supremely . . . before God can grant our prayers without harming us. If we are living lives in which God does not have our highest allegiance, then we will use prayer instrumentally, selfishly, simply to try to get the things that may be already ruining our lives.” (Emphasis mine)

What James means, in James 1:6-8, when he speaks of the double-minded man, is not that we have to be psychologically perfect, with absolutely no doubt, to get our prayers answered. What it does mean, is that we must have our minds made up that God is our God, and that we “are going to ditch all competing concerns the moment you can discern them.” It means that we embrace Psalm 73:25, Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. J.I. Packer adds, “Nothing, that is, that I would not consent to lose if adhering to God required it.”

Who can pray, then? “Every born-again believer without a single exception,” says Packer. Keller adds, “Real believers, though they are profoundly aware of how imperfectly they love God, nonetheless want to love him supremely.” Even though we are capable of “great lapses into sin and battles with doubt,” there had been a fundamental change in our nature. It is this change, wrought by God alone, in Jesus Christ, that is necessary for us to pray prayers that are not “shallow and selfish.”

Let us think back to Augustine’s letter to Anicia, and his statement that “you should not begin to pray for all you want until you realize that in God you have all you need.” As this section comes to a close, it ends with this statement: “Prayer–though it is often draining, even an agony–is in the long term the greatest source of power that is possible.”

Tomorrow, I will give a summary of all of the “touchstones” of prayer.

Father, help me have this kind of surrender in my life. Help me to successfully know that you are all I need, that my prayers might be unselfish and not shallow. Teach me to love you supremely. At least you have placed the desire in my heart. Help my faith to be such that I see competing desires and am able to push them away, in favor of your grace and your great and precious promises.

I pray for this day, that our trip to work and home will be safe. May our work day be free from anxiety, and help us to display your Kingdom while we work. I pray for Christi’s Huddle group tonight, that they will reach a little closer to you and what it means to be your disciples. May your grace and mercy rain down on the rest of our family today.

Come, Lord Jesus.

May God have our highest allegiance, in order that our prayers might be the most powerful.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Good Humor Man

Good morning. It is Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Hump Day.

Today! Is? Punctuation Day. Let’s use those apostrophes correctly today!

It started late in the day, yesterday, around the time I was clocking out from work. The drainage from my sinuses began. I wasn’t feeling great all evening, much to Christi’s chagrin, as she is still suffering from her cold, or whatever this is. I’m guessing it’s the “crud,” as we affectionately called it when I was in college. Actually, we called it the “Commerce Crud.” I will be eating up generic “Dayquil” pills today, to try and feel better.

Work is getting frustrating again, this time because it seems to be that the people who do the most work get “rewarded” by getting more work thrown on them, and the people who do the least work are allowed to continue to be lazy. But I guess that’s the way it always works, isn’t it?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

Psalm 96:9
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

Psalm 25:20-21
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Psalm 85:8-13

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Matthew 7:21-23

Once again, Jesus speaks some harsh words to his disciples. These words are a warning to people that it’s not enough to have intimate feelings or even “good works.” To truly know the Father, one must do the Father’s will. In other places, Jesus says that to do the Father’s will is to believe in the one whom the Father sent. He also warns that outward confessions are, in this case, meaningless. While it is true that he does say that, unless we acknowledge him before men, he will not acknowledge us before the Father, not everyone who speaks his name is truly a disciple. If we call him “Lord,” yet do not do the will of the Father, we mock him.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Good Humor.”

“Effectiveness in the ministry is enhanced by good humor.” Teresa of Avila had a prayer: “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, spare us, O Lord.” What is “good humor?” “It is rooted securely in the faith conviction that I am loved by God as I am, not as I should be.” It is not always walking around with a “superficial smile” on your face, or an “everything is peachy” attitude, because, at least most of the time, everything is most definitely NOT “peachy.” Having good humor “invites others to love and admire the gospel style of life.” One frequently heard complaint about Christianity is the sour appearance of many “saints” who always walk around as though they are never allowed to have a good time, because if it is fun, we have to give it up. This is simply not true. There is nothing wrong with having a good time, and there are appropriate times when we must show this to the world. In addition, if we are securely rooted in that conviction that God loves us as we are, then we are also able to accept others as they are, not as they should be, which is a huge step in effective evangelism. “A zealous but ill-humored evangelist can cause others to say, ‘If that’s what religion does to you, sit on it!'”

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

Father, I confess that there are times when my “good humor” is out the door. I pray that your Holy Spirit will shield me from such times. All too often, I get into a bad mood, during which nothing is funny, at all. I don’t like these moods any more than the people around me. At the same time, let me not every be too concerned with what others think about me. Help me find the balance. Most of all, help me maintain a good humor about life, in general. Everything is certainly not “peachy,” but I can be content with things. Help me to develop a “holy contentment” in life, in such a way as to always demonstrate good humor. Yes, the life of a Christ-follower is eternal, but life on this earth is too short to live it in ill-humor.

I pray for this day. I pray for healing for Christi and me, that these colds or whatever they are would move on through quickly, that we might both feel better. Help us to function as best we can, the way we feel. I pray that you would help me not be in a “pity party” today, at work, even though I don’t feel up to par. I pray for safe travel to and from work. I pray for Stephanie, that you would keep her close to your heart and show you great love to her.

Thank you for helping Rob make his decision yesterday. Now, give him confidence and motivation to do what must come next.

We don’t always have to be smiling or laughing. But neither should we always be “frowny and meany.” Let us allow the nature of Christ to show outwardly in our lives.

LaughingChrist

Grace and peace, friends.

Honoring Marriage

Good morning. It is post-Monday, September 24, 2013.

Today is “Punctuation Day.” Let’s see how many people fail.


Not much going on around here, lately. Life goes on, just like normal. We work, we come home, we eat, we watch TV. Last night we got two things accomplished after work. TWO! I extended my XM radio subscription (30-day free trial ends on October 13) for $30 for six months. Not a bad price. I just have to remember to call them and tell them I’m cancelling before the six months is up and they automatically renew at the “current price.” I have really enjoyed XM. There are actually too many stations. I’ve got presets for 18 in my car, and had a difficult time filling them all.

The other thing we got accomplished was the annual report of how Stephanie’s disability check is spent, since Christi is the representative payee. They actually let us do it online! So that wasn’t too difficult. After that, we ate dinner and watched TV. Christi had a bad headache last night, so we didn’t go to the gym. Maybe tonight. Instead, we watched Warm Bodies, a sort of zombie romantic comedy. It was cute, and very interesting. Not quite what I expected.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1435, Isabeau of Bavaria, one of the worst queens ever known by France, died at the age of 64. She was born Elizabeth, and was the daughter of the Duke of Bavaria. She married Charles VI of France and “her name was gallicized to Isabeau.” She married Charles at the age of fourteen, and after several years, “it became clear that the King was going mad.” He suffered many fits of insanity over the course of the next 30 years, during which Isabeau bore him six children. But she also entertained many lovers (see reading below about “honoring the marriage bed!”), including the King’s brother and cousin. There is a legend that says that she even had her soldiers “bring handsome men in off the streets,” where she would “make love to them, then have them tied up in sacks and thrown into the Seine.” What a charming creature!! Unfortunately, she also wielded power. She signed the Treaty of Troyes which gave King Henry V of England the throne of France while her own son, Charles, was sent into exile. She died, as stated above, “at the age of 64, held in contempt equally by the English she had helped and the French she had betrayed.”


Today’s birthdays are Jim Henson, 1936-1990, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896-1940, Kevin Sorbo, 55, Phil Hartman, 1948-1998, Joe Greene, 67, Linda McCartney, 1941-1998, Rafael Palmeiro, 49, Frank C. Mars, 1882-1934, and Gerry Marsden, 71.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Psalm 31:23
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Psalm 118:28

As I give thanks to you and exalt your name this morning, Lord, I pray for some revelation that will keep me in the center of your holiness. May my life reflect your glory and glorify your name.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Let Marriage Be Held in Honor.” The scripture reading is Hebrews 13: 1, 4.

Let brotherly love continue. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Hebrews 13 has a sort of checklist of spiritual activities, and love seems to be the central theme, running throughout. The word in verse 1 is, of course, philadelphia, “brotherly love.” The writer moves from that, however, to admonishing against sexual immorality and adultery, and keeping “the marriage bed. . . undefiled.” He calls upon us to honor marriage. Marriage seems to be more under attack now than ever before. And I’m not talking about the issue of gay marriage. I’m not going to address that here. I’m simply talking about the number of people in our world who simply don’t care anything about it any more. A lot of people simply don’t bother, these days, and then, when they do, they take a very casual attitude about it, as though it is just something they will try, and if it doesn’t work out, oh, well.

But how do we express ourselves outside of marriage? How do we have a measure of intimacy and meaningful conversation outside of the marriage relationship? This is a dangerous, yet necessary part of life. My wife has a very good male friend at work. I certainly don’t mind that. He is married with way too many kids, and has a great wife. But he is jokingly called her “work husband,” sometimes. We don’t mind that. It’s a good relationship, and she needs that. (I haven’t managed to find a “work wife,” yet, but that’s mostly because most of the people at my work are guys. The one female is about 18 and speaks about three words of English.) But I digress. The point is, we are human. We need “brotherly love” relationships, as well as our marriage. The marriage is not designed to fulfill every single need that a couple has. That is too much of a burden for either party to take on. But we must always remember that there are lines that cannot be crossed.


Pray Without Ceasing: A Thirty-One-Day Course, by Andrew Murray

DAY TWENTY-FIVE
What to Pray: For More Conversions

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:4, 7

“Christ’s power to save, and save completely, depends on
His unceasing intercession. After the apostles withdrew themselves to
concentrated prayer, the number of the disciples multiplied rapidly.
“As we in our day give ourselves to intercession, we will also
see more conversions. Let this be our focus. Christ is exalted to
grant repentance and salvation. The church exists for the divine
purpose of growth in faith and in numbers. Let us not be
ashamed to confess our sin and weakness, and then to cry to God
for more souls to be saved both in our midst and in countries
where His Word is not preached and people cling to false gods
and die without hope.”

How to Pray: In Deepest Humility

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:27-28

“You feel unworthy to pray. You question whether you are
praying effectively. Even when you feel this way, come before Him
and tell Him how you feel. This is true humility. You are not
seeking for yourself, but for others. You are trusting His grace and
mercy, not your merits or influence. It is the beginning of a great
faith, and an answer is forthcoming. The woman reminded the
Lord that the dogs are allowed the crumbs that fall from the table.
Let that be your plea as you persevere for someone who is outside
the circle of faith or outside the hearing of the Gospel. Do not let
your unworthiness hinder you from trusting God’s faithfulness
and mercy toward someone less fortunate than you.”


Father, I pray for the Spirit to be alive and working in our world, and that we, the faithful believers, would be more active in intercession, praying for more souls to be saved. May the Gospel flourish in the world, as your faithful servants, chosen by you for this task, lovingly preach the it to those who have not yet heard. May we not ever be guilty of trying to squeeze a conversion out of anyone, but simply allow your Spirit to do the work in them. It is not to our credit when souls are saved; it is to your glory and your glory alone. Yes, we may be concerned about their eternal destiny, but it is up to you, not us.

I also pray for the honor and sanctity of marriage in our world. May those who choose to enter into marriage take it seriously. May we be filled with your Spirit and approach all other relationships with the marriage in mind, keeping ourselves free from even “accidental” sin.

I pray for this day, Lord, that you would give us a good work day, keeping us focused on the tasks at hand, working effectively and efficiently for our employers, but working as though we work for you. Give us success in our companies, and may our companies prosper, that we may prosper. As always, I pray that you would surround Stephanie with your steadfast love.

I thank you that my friend, Debbie, got a new job, beginning yesterday.

Your grace is sufficient.


May we pray for the success of the Gospel in our world, while allowing the Spirit to do the work of conversion.

Grace and peace, friends.