How Much Did You Lose?

Today is Tuesday, January 2, 2018. Day 21,845.

86 days until Opening Day.

Roger Miller, born on this date in 1936 (died 1992), said, “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is accentuate, a verb, meaning, “accent, emphasize,” or, “intensify.” As in “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”

Back to work today. It feels as if I didn’t get a holiday at all. Oh, wait. I didn’t, did I, since I had to work Saturday and Sunday. Oh, well. Plus, I’m going to constantly be forgetting what day it is, all week.

It’s 22 degrees as we wake up, this morning, and will only get up to around 28. I realize that there may be some of my readers who would go out and play ball with short sleeves in temps like that. But to us North Texans, it’s COLD! 😀

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 
You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2

(From The Business of Heaven)
The First Job Each Morning

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
“We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ he meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder – in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” (Mere Christianity)

I recall Dallas Willard saying that he, upon waking up each morning, would not get out of bed before praying through either the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23. Lewis is right, though. At present, I’m doing nothing remotely similar to that. It’s a habit I need to develop.

(From The Finishing Touch)
A Diet That Works

Normally one of the first things that people do, at the beginning of a new year, is start a diet, “attacking the age-old battle of the bulge.” And a lot of those diets are fad diets. But a real diet that works isn’t “fad or fun; it’s tough!”

Should we not be more concerned, however, with “spiritual fitness?” Says Swindoll, “I know of now Scripture that teaches we’ll be weighed in before entering heaven.”

In speaking of a “spiritual game plan,” he mentions Psalm 119:1-16.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 
I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! 
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

There are three things that are emphasized in these verses. First is God’s blessing, bestowed upon those who keep his Word. Second is the authority of that Word (in fact, all 176 verses of Psalm 119 speak of God’s Word, in one form or another). Third is “the necessity of God’s presence.”

Verse 9 poses a question: “How can a young man keep his way pure?” Or, hopefully, an old man, as well. The answer is in the next seven verses. “If you’re looking for a diet that really works, you’ve found it!”

Seek the Lord on a regular basis (v. 10). Pursue Him daily. Keep him involved in the everyday stuff. Include Him in your decisions, plans, your fun times, your struggles. The key is consistency.
Treasure His truth in your heart (v. 11). Commit verses of Scripture to memory. A heart full of treasure leaves little room for trash.
Openly tell others of Him (v. 13). Something wonderful happens when we open our own lips and speak to others about how our God has changed our lives. Make this the year you make your faith known.
Rejoice and delight in God’s workings (vv. 14, 16). Smile more. Let your delight shine. Laughter has numerous therapeutic benefits.
Spend more of your free moments meditating on His principles (v. 15) Think about them. Weave them into your driving time, your workouts, while waiting for an appointment, before going to sleep.
Give God your full respect (vv. 15-16). Don’t hold back. Trust completely. Make this the year you dare to live by faith. When uncertain, hold His precepts in highest regard.”

So let’s forget about the fad diets and take a serious look at this “Psalm 119 diet.” I may not lose twenty pounds, but I will develop some serious “spiritual muscle.” After all, when we stand before God at the end of the race, the question won’t be, “How much did you lose?”

Father, thank you for Psalm 119. I pray that I take these words to heart today, as well as the words of C.S. Lewis, regarding how to start my morning, each day. May your Spirit remind me, tomorrow morning, to stop and pray before I get out of bed. And may my last thoughts before falling asleep tonight be of your Word.
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.

A Vessel of Compassion

“Jesus resonated with the depths of human sorrow. He became lost with the lost, hungry with the hungry, and thirsty with the thirsty.”

Good morning. It is Thursday, January 2, 2014. Today, we must trudge back to work. The good thing is, we only have two days to work this week.

I still don’t have a new calendar for my study.

Tough choice for the holiday today. There are five to choose from, and while “Happy Mew Year Day for Cats Day” has to be the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard of (Totes McGoats Adorbs), I believe I will have to go with “Science Fiction Day.” I’ve been a Science Fiction fan for as long as I can remember, having been lovingly introduced to the genre by my father, when I was but a lad. I don’t remember the first SF book that I read, but there is a good chance that one of the first few was by the man whose birthday prompts the naming of this “holiday.” You see, today is the birthday of one of the Grand Masters of the genre, Isaac Asimov. So, how about, after wishing your cat Happy Mew Year’s Day, pick up an old Science Fiction paperback. You know. . . one of those with the really cool covers that they don’t make any more.

On this date in 1971, 66 soccer fans were killed in a stamped in Glasgow, Scotland. The home team had scored a late goal in the game, and as all the spectators were trying to leave at the same time, on the same stairway. This was at least the fifth disaster at this stadium, and the fourth involving the same stairway. It was the worst soccer disaster in Scottish history.

Today’s birthdays are Barry Goldwater, politician, 1909 (his birthday was incorrectly listed yesterday), Isaac Asimov, author, 1920, Dabney Coleman, actor, 1932, Roger Miller, singer, 1936, in Fort Worth, TX, Calvin Hill, football player, 1947, Tia Carrere, actress, 1967, Cuba Gooding, Jr., actor, 1968, Dax Shepard, actor, 1975, and Paz Vega, actress, 1976.

Roger Miller was a quirky country singer, well known for his cute, funny songs, as well as some serious ones. Among his sillier songs was this one, “Do Wacka Do.” Miller passed away in 1992 (the same year as Isaac Asimov).


(From The Divine Hours)

Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 86:1-2 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 85:9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

Today, in Reflections for Ragamuffins the reading is called “The Incarnation of Compassion.” Matthew 15:32 says this:

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

We know from the Biblical record that Jesus performed many, many physical healings during his time on Earth. This demonstrates just a hint of the anguish in his heart for the condition of “wounded humanity.” “Jesus resonated with the depths of human sorrow. He became lost with the lost, hungry with the hungry, and thirsty with the thirsty.”

This remains true today. Jesus is “the incarnation of the compassion of the Father.” A quote from Meister Eckhart, a fifteenth-century mystic, says, “You may call God love, you may call God goodness, but the best name for God is compassion.” We call Jesus Christ Emmanuel, God with us. In saying this, we believe that “the greatest lover in history knows what hurts us. Jesus reveals a God who is not indifferent to human agony, a god who fully embraces the human condition and plunges into the thick of our human struggle.”

Father, help me to know this compassion. As I learn from you, as you teach me your ways, may I know this compassion into the very depths of my being. And I do not ask this simply so that I may experience the wonderful feeling of knowing how much you love me. That is only part of the reason. I won’t lie, I love to feel your love. However, I also have a strong desire in my heart to demonstrate that same compassion to others, to be a channel of your everlasting, unconditional love. I find this to be an extreme challenge, as I catch myself being judgmental toward people for various reasons. I pray you take that piece away from me; chisel it away until I find no more judging within myself, but only compassion for the very ones for whom you also have compassion. May your Spirit prompt me whenever I begin to be judgmental. Prompt me, then change me. Mold me, chisel me until there’s nothing left that doesn’t look like you. Make me a vessel of compassion.

Keep us safe today, as we go back to work. May our work day be smooth, and may we face any challenges with your grace surrounding us. Make us aware of your presence throughout this day. Teach Stephanie your way today, and give her understanding.

May your will be done in our lives, just as you have decreed.

May we see the compassion of Jesus in our lives today, and then turn and show that same compassion to someone else.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Effects of Sin

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, January 2, 2013. Today is back to work day. The good news is I only have to work three days this week. The last week, in my opinion, truly defined the word “vacation.” I believe it was the best vacation we’ve ever had. For a synopsis of the week, please check out my other blog, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit.

Today is deemed “National Science Fiction Day,” in honor of the birthday of one of the most well-known authors of the genre, Isaac Asimov.

On this date in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella captured the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, Granada. The ruler of Granada, Boabdil, was said to have said, “They are yours, O King, since Allah decrees it,” as he handed the keys to the city to King Ferdinand. Boabdil was said to have ridden out of the gates with his entourage, never to return. On a rocky ridge, he turned to take one last look at Granada. That ridge has become known as El Ultimo Suspiro del Moro (The Last Sigh of the Moor).

The birthday for today is Roger Miller, a singer/songwriter, born on this date in 1936. He passed away on October 25, 1992.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18
Father, I pray diligently that you would, indeed, open the eyes of my spirit this morning, that I might behold wondrous things from your word.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 15:1-16:2. The paragraph seems to span two chapters.
15:1 An oracle concerning Moab. Because Ar of Moab is laid waste in a night, Moab is undone; because Kir of Moab is laid waste in a night, Moab is undone.
2 He has gone up to the temple, and to Dibon, to the high places to weep; over Nebo and over Medeba Moab wails. On every head is baldness; every beard is shorn;
3 in the streets they wear sackcloth; on the housetops and in the squares everyone wails and melts in tears.
4 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out; their voice is heard as far as Jahaz; therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud; his soul trembles.
5 My heart cries out for Moab; her fugitives flee to Zoar, to Eglath-shelishiyah. For at the ascent of Luhith they go up weeping; on the road to Horonaim they raise a cry of destruction;
6 the waters of Nimrim are a desolation; the grass is withered, the vegetation fails, the greenery is no more.
7 Therefore the abundance they have gained and what they have laid up they carry away over the Brook of the Willows.
8 For a cry has gone around the land of Moab; her wailing reaches to Eglaim; her wailing reaches to Beer-elim.
9 For the waters of Dibon are full of blood; for I will bring upon Dibon even more, a lion for those of Moab who escape, for the remnant of the land.
16:1 Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela, by way of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 Like fleeing birds, like a scattered nest, so are the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.

This oracle was probably given around the time of Sargon’s defeat of Moab in 715 BC. This passage describes the distress of Moab. In his distress, he goes to useless places, to the “high places.” He calls on his “gods,” but to no avail. Heads are shaved and sackcloth worn.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Sin Enters the Picture.” The scripture reference is Genesis 3:8-13. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I don’t agree 100% with the initial statement in this reading, as it says, “We are created with the freedom to resist the will of God…” That’s a slippery slope to go down. However, I do believe that I understand the sentiment behind the statement. If we consider that sin could not possibly be the will of God, then we do seem to have some freedom of will in our lives, and this sin does, as the reading states, lead to “cover-up, embarrassment, fear, guilty, blame, and confrontation with the Creator.” Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and so forth. Actually, if you read it carefully, Adam blames more than Eve. He says, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” See that? Adam has the gall to blame God for it! One important thing, though…God never abandons the relationship with humans. He continues to converse with Adam and Eve, and even goes so far as to provide garments for them to cover their nakedness. They are cast out of paradise, but not out of his presence. “God is ever in pursuit of renewed relationship with us.”

I am challenged today to, as I reflect on when I see God, to also note times that I feel separated from him. What might be the cause of those feelings? I confess that I completely forgot to look for God’s presence during the rest of yesterday. Perhaps that is why the flight back from Cancun was rather annoying. (I mean, besides the fact that it was bringing me home from vacation.)

Father, I pray that your Spirit will help me to remember to look for you today. I also pray that I will not have any feelings of separation from you during this day. Keep my spirit close to yours as I go through this day. I thank you that, even when we go against your will and commit sins, that does not ultimately separate us from you. According to your great promises, there is nothing that can separate us from you. I praise you for that.

I pray for this day, as Christi and I return to work. I pray that our day will be smooth, and that there will be no difficult issues that would cause anxiety during this day. May we reflect on your grace and your goodness today, as we work. I pray for Stephanie today, that she will enjoy being home and having time with her favorite pets. Draw her closer to you this day.

As we continue to reflect on when and where we see God during this day, may we also notice when we don’t feel close to him.

Grace and peace, friends.