Ordinary Vessels

Today is Thursday, the twelfth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,163

Only seven more days until S’s birthday! We will be spending that weekend in Mineral Wells, visiting Grandma and FBC Mineral Wells for worship that Sunday.

Today is Vinyl Record Day. For my younger readers (if there are any), “records” are large disks, made of vinyl, out of which emanate the sounds of music, when rotated on a proper device called a turntable (or, more commonly, record player). I think I may actually play some records today.

The word for today is flump. As a verb, it means, “to plump down suddenly or heavily; flop.” We have a cat that does this, although more “suddenly,” than “heavily.” C says that Luna “flupes.” Or maybe that’s spelled “floop,” I’m not sure. I think I will start calling it “flump.”

Today’s quote is from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

And now for the birthdays:

1762 George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover (1820-30), born in St James's Palace, London (d. 1830)
1781 Robert Mills, American architect (Washington Monument)(d. 1855)
1856 "Diamond Jim" Brady, American financier (d. 1917)
1859 Katharine Lee Bates, American author (America the Beautiful), born in Falmouth, Massachusetts (d. 1929)
1867 Edith Hamilton, American writer (Mythology)
1876 Mary Roberts Rinehart, American mystery writer (The Circular Staircase), born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (d. 1958)
1881 Cecil B. DeMille, American filmmaker (The Ten Commandments), born in Ashfield, Massachusetts (d. 1959)
1887 Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize Laureate (wave mechanics), born in Vienna, Austria (d. 1961)
1889 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane) (d. 1981)
1907 Joe Besser, American actor and comedian (The Three Stooges, Let's Make Love, Africa Screams), born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 1988)
1910 Jane Wyatt, American actress (Father Knows Best, Star Trek), born in Mahwah, New Jersey (d. 2006)
1918 Sid Bernstein, music producer and concert promoter (Beatles; Rolling Stones), born in NYC, New York (d. 2013)
1925 Norris McWhirter, English author (founded Guinness Book of World Records), born in Winchmore Hill, England (d. 2004)
1925 Ross McWhirter, English author (founded Guinness Book of World Records), born in Winchmore Hill, England (d. 1975)
1926 John Derek, American actor, director and photographer (Knock on Any Door, All the King's Men, Rogues of Sherwood Forest), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 1998)
1927 Porter Wagoner, American country singer, discovered Dolly Parton ("Y'All Come"; "A Satisfied Mind"), born in West Plains, Missouri (d. 2007)
1929 Buck Owens [Alvis Edgar], American country singer-songwriter ("Act Naturally"), and TV personality (Hee Haw), born in Sherman, Texas (d. 2006)
1931 William Goldman, American screenwriter and author (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2018)
1932 Charlie O'Donnell, American game show announcer (Wheel of Fortune), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 2010)
1939 George Hamilton, American actor (Love at First Bite), born in Memphis, Tennessee
1941 Deborah Walley, actress (Mothers-in-Law, Beach Blanket, Gidget Goes Hawaiian), born in Bridgeport, Connecticut (d. 2001)
1941 Jennifer Warren, American actress (Slap Shot, Fatal Beauty, Mutant), born in NYC, New York
1949 Mark Knopfler, British singer-songwriter, guitarist (Dire Straits - "Walk Of Life"; "Sultans Of Swing"), and film score composer (Local Hero; Princess Bride), born in Glasgow, Scotland
1954 Pat Metheny, American jazz and fusion guitarist ("As Wichita Falls, So Falls Wichita"), born in Lee's Summit, Missouri
1956 Bruce Greenwood, actor (Spy, Another Chance, Malibu Bikini Shop)
1959 Lynette Woodard, (Olympic gold 1984, first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters), born in Wichita, Kansas
1963 Sir Mix A Lot [Anthony Ray], American rapper (Baby Got Back), born in Auburn, Washington
1965 Peter Krause, American actor (Six Feet Under)
1975 Casey Affleck, American actor (Manchester by the Sea, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), born in Falmouth, Massachusetts
1980 Matt Thiessen, Canadian-American musician (Relient K)
1992 Cara Delevingne, English fashion model, actress, and LGBT activist, born in London, England
Mark Knopfler, singer and lead guitar

The kitchen sink/faucet installation is finally complete. Our guy showed up a little after 10:00 yesterday morning, switched the garbage disposal to the right side and fixed the hot water valve. That turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought. There was some Teflon tape clogging the old valve, which was keeping any hot water at all from coming through. However, some of that debris managed to make its way into the tube connected to the new faucet, so he had to get a compressor and blow it out. But it’s all good, now, and everything works right. We love our “new kitchen.”

I got my sleep study kit yesterday, finally. I successfully got it hooked up and did the first night last night. I will finish it up tonight and then take the kit to a UPS shipping location sometime tomorrow to send it back. I do hope that it shows that I don’t need a CPAP machine any more, but if I do, the doctor will get me a new one that provides the updated data transmissions, and so on. I will say that it is tough to sleep without one, since I have been doing it so long.

The only thing that I need to get done today is go pick up some scripts at CVS, for C and S. Otherwise, the day is wide open. As previously stated, I might actually play some records in here. It’s been a while since I did that.

I haven’t talked about baseball, lately, and it’s not just because our Rangers are groveling around in the cellar, this year. The Red Sox have also managed to slip out of first place, into second, behind the Rays. They have been struggling, lately, but last night, they managed to beat the Rays. 20-8.

I swear I’m not making that up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A Prayer of Silent Union with God, by Daryl Madden

Just sit down and keep
Your back straight but free
Quieting your mind
And quiet your body

Taking some deep breaths
Awareness to begin
On the silent, infinite
Of God’s Presence within

Let the Spirit lead you
The silent realm of seeing
Where God dwells as the source
And grounds your inner being

Center your attention
On the hushed point to find
Within where the human
Touches the divine

Where the branch intersects
With Jesus, the vine
Where you and God are one
Our dwelling to align

Let yourself sink in
To Gods’ immensity
Simply let your prayer
Be a silent, be

No need for thought or word
Let quiet love flow
As long as you feel
Inspired to do so

Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.
(Psalms 44:5-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence, with me always;
2. that You have moved my heart to trust only in You;
3. that You are faithful to do what You say You will do, even when I am unfaithful;
4. that You give us victory over our enemy, which is not flesh and blood;
5. that You use ordinary vessels to do Your work.

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWELVE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD judges in favor of the oppressed and gives them their rights.
(Psalms 103:6 GNB)

During this quiet moment, I consider Your presence in this place, in every place; You are with me wherever I am, and I find great comfort in this. I center my attention on You and Your Word.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
(Psalms 42:1-6a NIV)

BIBLE READING

Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
(Exodus 5:22-6:5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

The process of dwelling involves stopping to meditate. It involves reading the passages more than once, and asking/inviting the Holy Spirit to lead me to words, phrases, or thoughts that speak to me at this time in my life. The Word of God is living and active, and ever new in our lives. Anyone who is well-familiar with it knows that you can read the same passage over and over for years, and suddenly, it will become fresh and new, gushing forth with life. This is what I pray for each morning as I enter this time.

I can easily envision unbelievers, today, taunting us with the question, “Where is your God?” In some cases, it might not even be taunting, but a legitimate plea for help. Our world has been in the throes of pandemic for well over a year, now, and it is, recently, getting worse again. People are desperate for relief, for worldwide healing.

“Where is your God??” they may be asking. “Why hasn’t He stopped this??”

I know where my God is. He is right here, as He has always been. I cannot, however, answer the second question. Nevertheless, I can echo the psalmist, when he says, “Put your hope in God,” to his soul, “for I will yet praise him.”

I confess concern for the world, for my country. But my soul is not downcast, because it knows that, as Psalm 44 says, above, that He is the One who gives us victory over our enemies. But here’s the thing . . . we never know exactly what “victory” looks like. And, in addition, we often get confused as to who our enemy is.

Sometimes I feel as though I am kicking a dead horse, but I’ll reinforce what I have already said. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. My enemy is spiritual; my enemy is not human beings who think differently than me about political issues. My enemy is not Democrat or Republican (or Tea Party or Communist). My enemy is Satan and his forces, because that is who God’s enemy is.

And, in the grand scheme of things, my enemy has no power and is already defeated. Nevertheless, when he can get us bickering among ourselves, and fighting fellow human beings, he gains a brief win.

But I do not trust in bow or sword; I do not trust in princes, presidents, chariots, and horses. I trust in the Lord God Almighty and Him alone.

That does not mean that I never question what He is doing. Moses did that. Check out his question to the Lord in Exodus 5. “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Moses asks questions like this, frequently. Moses, it seems, was a bit of a whiner.

Another thing I have frequently emphasized in this forum is the type of characters that God used in the Old and New Testaments. We do well to note that they are far from perfect. They are ordinary folk, who, if they wore pants, would put them on one leg at a time, just like I do. I don’t think they actually wore pants, though, but who knows?

And God did not chide Moses for his questioning. Instead, the Lord made a firm proclamation in Exodus 6. Several times, he starts with “I am the LORD.” That should be enough for us, right? But He goes on.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'”
(Exodus 6:1-8 NIV)

Note that Moses’s speech to Pharaoh both begins and ends with “I am the LORD.”

And those of us who know the story know that God did exactly what He said He was going to do. And that is our God. He does that. He does what He says He will do. He is faithful. We are not. We are fickle. We make foolish deals with God, as if He believes our promises, anyway. Then, once we get what we are after (if we do), we go right back to our old ways.

I can say this, because I have done it. I am a fickle, sinful, human being, selfishly trying to get what I want out of the Lord. Or at least I used to be. I’m still sinful. That part won’t stop until I reach Home.

But I have stopped the foolishness of trying to make promises and deals with God. Instead I just pray. I pray for my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my family. I plead with God on their behalf. But I don’t try to bargain.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Which is good, because we are always not.

Father, I am so thankful that You are faithful to do what You say You will do. Help me, however, to be correct in what I think You said You will do. There are many people, Lord, who make proclamations in Your Name, stating that You say things that You never said. I do not want to be one of those. I want to speak only truth about You. And Jesus is the Truth. So help me to follow Him, and Him alone, as I trust in You and You alone. May Your Spirit guide us into truth, Lord, that we may faithfully follow You and walk in Your Kingdom.

I am also grateful that You show us that You used ordinary vessels for Your various ministries, throughout Scripture. There were no “superhumans” in Your “army,” Lord. Even people like Elijah had flaws, that are visibly displayed to us in Your Word. This gives us hope that You can use people like us, and that we can do Your work on the earth, even with our own flaws, that sometimes seem so huge to us.

Lord, please give us growth in holiness as we follow You. May You uncover any idols that we have in our hearts, those things that threaten our devotion to You. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and make us willing and ready to extend the same grace to others that You have extended to us. May we not be hypocrites in this, Lord!

"God of Abraham,
Isaac,
and Jacob,
today I pray for people across the globe who groan under unjust rulers and crooked governments.
Whether it's brutal dictators,
corrupt city officials,
or neighborhood bullies,
bring freedom through your mighty hand.
Amen."

BLESSING

The LORD is my strong defender; he is the one who has saved me. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will sing about his greatness.
(Exodus 15:2 GNB)

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:14 NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
(1 John 3:18-20 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“The greatest spiritual battle begins—and never ends—with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.” ~ Henri Nowen

Grace and peace, friends.

Praise the Lord!

Today is Monday, August 20, 2018. Day 22,075.

Fourteen days until our Labor Day holiday!

“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894, The Quotations Page

The word for today is satiety, “the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity.” I believe S actually reached a state of satiety on her birthday, yesterday.

The birthday was legendary. Epic. Tremendous. Our lunch at Dairy Mart on Saturday was great. We had some great time visiting with Mama/Grandma. I didn’t sleep great in the hotel room, but that’s not unusual. Sunday was an awesome day. S had wanted Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast for Sunday, so we stopped there before we left Fort Worth. So we started our Sunday morning, back at Grandma’s house, having our donuts. The worship service was good, and we got to visit with a lot of old friends.

We had Pastafina for lunch, the choice that S finally decided on. It was also quite good. Then it was back to Grandma’s house to finally open presents. I will tell you that it was very significant that S was willing to wait that long to open her gifts. There were word search books galore, along with TV and movie DVDs. After all of S’s gift bags had been looted, I said I needed to go back to the car because I had left my Kindle out there. That much was true. But what S didn’t know was that we had a Dell laptop buried in our suitcase. She hasn’t had a new laptop in a number of years, because she inherited old ones from her mother and me. I wish we had been recording the moment, because her face, when I brought that laptop in, was priceless. We totally surprised her, and I do believe we saw tears in her eyes.

We stayed in Mineral Wells another hour or two, taking time to eat some of the strawberry cake that C made, then had a nice trip home. After stopping at Sonic for drinks, of course.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays, 2-0. Their record is now 88-37. They are 9.5 games up in the AL East. They begin a series with Cleveland tonight, in Fenway. It should be a good series, as the Indians are twelve games up in the AL Central. 37 games left.

The Rangers beat the Angels again, 4-2. I believe they won the series, 3-1. Their record is 56-70, and they are 20 games out in the AL West. 36 games left.

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

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 146

It is interesting to note that the last five Psalms, beginning with Psalm 146, all begin and end the same way. “Praise the LORD.” So this “book” of 150 songs ends in a climax of praise!

We are given some very timely advice in verses 3 and 4. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

I have watched with great sadness as people, many of whom claim the name of Jesus as their savior, put trust in politicians to “save” us. They are but men; they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me. They will die just like I will die. “There is no salvation” in these or any other men/women. Our trust should be in God. “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” Our God “keeps faith forever.” He will not lie. He cannot lie. He is faithful forever.

Praise the LORD!

Father, I praise You that you are faithful, even when we are not. I pray that I will always be drawn by Your Spirit, so that I will not put my hope and trust in men, but only in You. I will praise You as long as I live, more and more as I draw closer to You. May we, together, make this a day of worship and praise, as I simply live my life in Your Kingdom. May I not stray from Your path today.
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.

The Lord Is My Helper; What Can Man Do To Me?

Today is Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Day 22,014.

Fourteen days until July 4. Which falls on Wednesday, so we’ll get one day off in the middle of the week.

147 days until Fallout 76!

“That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894, BrainyQuote

The word for today is thigmotropism, “oriented growth of an organism in response to mechanical contact, as a plant tendril coiling around a string support.”

We got back to the Y, last night, so that was good. I rode the recumbent bike for a while. It’s good to start getting some movement again.

The Red Sox lost to the Twins, as the bullpen gave up four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Final score, 6-2. The Sox record is 49-25, and they are one game behind the Yankees in the AL East.

The Rangers won their fourth consecutive game, beating the Royals 4-1. Their record is now 31-44. They gained a game and are now eighteen games back in the AL West.

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

For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. 
He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him! 
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones! 
May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day! 
May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

Psalm 109:16-20

If you’re keeping up with this, you remember yesterday’s prayers of the Psalmist, for all these bad things to happen to this person. Today, we find out why. So we see that, at least, the Psalmist had good reason for his negative feelings about this person.

Always remember that God cares for the poor and needy, the widows and orphans, the refugees. God is a God of love and compassion, as well as justice, and we, as his people, should have the same characteristics as him.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 91:9-10

I memorized these two verses, years ago. They became a great comfort to me, as did the whole chapter of Psalms. Is there a promise that, if I dwell in the Lord, nothing bad will ever happen to me? I choose to think that is not the case.

Probably because it all depends on your definition of bad. There is a strong sense, though, of God’s protection in these two verses. And I do believe that, because I have made the Lord my dwelling, that he has protected me from evil all these years. I believe that with all my heart. But what about people who did not have the same experience?

I am not wise enough to have all the answers, but I will hearken back to my statement at the beginning of the last paragraph. It all depends on your definition (and perspective) of what is bad. There are things that happen to humans that other humans decide are bad. But what if they were “good” in the eyes of the Lord? Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” The definition of “precious” is, “of high price or great value; very valuable or costly; highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality; dear; beloved.” All of those things sound pretty good to me.

My father made the Lord his dwelling and his refuge. Yet, he passed away because of a fall which resulted from a rare muscular disease that he had. Did “evil befall” him? We might be inclined to think so, but perhaps not. He was definitely uncomfortable in his last days, perhaps even in some pain. But I am 100% certain that he never took his eyes off of that prize. And I am certain that his death was precious in the Lord.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:6

And there it is, Father, in Hebrews 13:6. You are my helper; you are my strength; I will not fear; what can man to do me?
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.

What Church Is Not

Today is Monday, November 13, 2017. Day 21,795.

Only ten more days until Thanksgiving!

Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born on this date in 1850 (died 1894), said, “He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is wastrel, a noun, meaning, “a wasteful person; spendthrift.” In chiefly British usage, it may also mean, “a. refuse; waste. b. a waif; abandoned child. c. an idler or good-for-nothing.”

Today is World Kindness Day. Show some kindness today. And don’t make it random. Make it purposeful.

Yesterday was a good day. It was busy for me, until around 2:00 PM, but once I got groceries done, trash and recycling taken out, and lunch prepared for the family, it was smooth sailing from there on. I wish it could have been a better birthday for C, but “it is what it is,” as they say. “But what if it isn’t?” asked The Grinder. However, she did, at one point yesterday, proclaim that my cake was the best chocolate cake she had ever eaten. I was shocked, flattered, and pleased, all at the same time.

Our worship gathering seemed like it went well, yesterday. I was given another food dish (a cheeseburger casserole) by a good friend of ours, after the gathering was over. It was frozen, so I put it in the freezer because we still had enough of Saturday evening’s meal to make lunch yesterday. Perhaps we will have that casserole tonight after I get home from work.

C has her follow-up doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and she plans to begin working from home tomorrow.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
Isaiah 1:18
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
Psalm 12:6
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
Psalm 12:5
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Matthew 12:30-32
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful. 
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:2-9
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The Cry of the Church

(From Practice Resurrection)

Once Paul introduces the term “church” to his readers (Ephesians 1:22-23), he “sets out to stimulate a praying imagination in us that is adequate for taking in all that is involved in church.”

But in order to do this, he must renovate our understanding of church by reminding us “what church is not.” In Ephesians 2:11-12, there are several things that Paul tells Ephesians that they must remember. He calls on them to remember what their “pre-church life was like.” “This is important;” Peterson says,” if you are going to understand what it is to be a church, you must keep in mind what church is not, remember your pre-church life.” Peterson counts seven negatives that Paul reminds them about: “Gentiles (all the Ephesians were Gentiles, that is, not-Jews), uncircumcised, without Christ, aliens to the commonwealth, strangers to the covenants, having no hope, godless.”

Peterson paraphrases this: “Remember what that transition was like when you crossed the threshold into church, the transition from exclusion to inclusion? Remember the surprise of being an insider to God and his revelation after being an outsider? Remember this well, for church cannot be comprehended by negatives, by what it is not. And neither can you.”

It helps to remember the culture into which these Ephesian Gentile Christians were entering. The first “Christians” were Jewish. And the Jews had gotten quite good at being “God’s chosen people.” So much so that “they had . . . developed an entrenched prejudice against non-Jews as a rejected people, which they were not.” If we look back at the original covenant with Abraham, God told him, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Then, later, in Isaiah, “and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD'” (Isaiah 2:3), and, “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)

So, it was difficult for the Jewish Christians to accept the Gentile Christians. But they did, eventually. And Paul was instrumental in this, being “tireless in insisting that church brooks no divisions, no condescension, no rejection of anyone for any reason.” He drives this point home in Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Father, thank you for “church,” and thank you for these teachings that church is to be all-inclusive of all peoples. Help us, as modern Christians, to remember these things, as we tend to fall into a kind of “chosen people” mentality, especially in America. There is still a strong feeling in our country of being a “Christian nation” (of which there is no such thing), and that you favor us for some reason. But you are not playing favorites. Everyone who calls on your name is looked at equally by you. Help us to treat people in the same way.
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.

Ample Leisure

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com is encephalon, which means, simply, the brain.

Today is Global Beatles Day. “It was in the year 1960, on a foggy island found Nor-Norwest of Spain that music history changed forever.” Goo goo g’joob.

C is over at her step-dad’s this morning, helping them get the move going. The movers were supposed to be there around 8:30-9:00, I believe. At this point she’s not sure if she is going to the new place with them. She spent several hours over there helping pack, yesterday afternoon. I’ll be doing the grocery shopping after I finish this, and probably fold some laundry and stuff. Exciting, huh?

Last night’s baseball game between the Rangers and Red Sox was much more exciting than I expected. For most of the game, it was pretty much what I did expect, as the Rangers jumped all over David Price for seven runs in four innings. That would be all for the Rangers. Hanley Ramirez popped a two run home run in the fourth to get the Sox on the board. Jackie Bradley, Jr. went yard in the sixth for two runs. They went into the ninth inning with the score 7-4, Rangers. Then the unbelievable happened. JBJ walked. Bryce Brentz struck out. Travis Shaw popped out. Two down. Sandy Leon, pinch hitting, hit a double, scoring JBJ. 7-5. Pitching change. Matt Bush came in, and promptly gave up a two run home run, Mookie Betts batting. 7-7. Dustin Pedroia walked. Xander Bogart singled, sending Pedie to third. And then . . . Bush threw a wild pitch, Pedroia scored the go ahead run. 8-7 Red Sox. Ortiz hit a fly ball to Mazara, ending their half of the ninth. Koji Uehara came in and struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth. Red Sox win, 8-7.

Tonight, they play again, with knuckler Steven Wright going against A.J. Griffin, just activated off of the DL.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah.
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush— “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.
The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah.
Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”

Psalm 87

When we discover our origins and identity in the acts of God instead of those of our parents, we experience new birth. “We are much more apt to find out who we are in a place of worship than by examining a birth certificate or citizenship paper.”

“I celebrate my origins in you, O God. You fashioned me in love and destined me to eternal life. In all my words and acts may I reflect that love and demonstrate that life, both enjoying and glorifying your name, according to your plan in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Receiving One’s Self in the Fires of Sorrow

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
John 12:27-28

What is our attitude toward sorrow and difficulty in life? It should not be to seek that they be prevented (of course, neither should we seek sorrow out, intentionally), but that God would preserve the self that he has created us to be through the fires of sorrow. Jesus was not saved “from the hour, but out of the hour.”

We often claim that there should be no sorrow. But sorrow is. It is certainly one of the biggest facts of life. And we should not say that God has made a mistake by allowing it. The thing about sorrow and suffering is that they either give me my self or destroy it. “The way to find your self is in the fires of sorrow.”

“You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you.”

Father, have I found my self in these “fires of sorrow?” I can’t say for sure. But I pray for it to be so. Not for myself or for my own benefit, but more so I could be that one to whom others can go in their own trouble and find that I have ample leisure for them. I pray to be a benefit to the souls of others.

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.