Feelin’ Groovy

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of May, 2021, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,084

Six days until Memorial Day

Today is also the 64th anniversary of the wedding of my parents. My father, of course, has not been with us for six years, now. And while his passing is beginning to feel like a more distant memory, it doesn’t mean he is missed any less. I would ask those of you who pray to say a prayer for my mother on this day.

Yesterday was certainly a mixed bag. I feel, in some ways, that I failed in carrying on what was accomplished over our “retreat” weekend. How quickly the anxiety of work flooded back in. By mid-day, I felt quite down, but by the end of the day I was feeling better, more level. Some days (most days) it’s like an emotional/psychological roller-coaster. Hopefully, today, I can keep it more level.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

This, of course, is what I need to remember when anxiety begins to flood into my spirit.

I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
(Psalms 9:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for another day of living, to celebrate life and know Your presence, in spite of circumstances
2. for the wonderful life that my mother and father had together
3. for the wonderful life that C and I have together
4. for the color blue
5. for the admonition/encouragement to stop . . . slow down . . . meditate . . . to be still and know that You are God

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

ORDINARY TIME – DAY 2

INVITATION

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)

I pause for a moment to reflect on life, along with all the benefits that our Father has provided, in His grace. Life is good because God is good.

BIBLE SONG

What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD— in your midst, Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 116:12-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
(Acts 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, this morning, I invited the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, and to cause these words to dwell in my spirit, teaching me more about my life in Jesus Christ.

The question at the beginning of the Psalm passage is, in my opinion, rhetorical. There is nothing that I can “return to the LORD for all his goodness to me!” Nor does He, I believe, expect me to.

I do not believe that God gives us gifts so that we will appreciate Him more, or so that we will bless with Him with thanksgiving and praise. I believe God gives us gifts because He loves us! Because He IS love!

That being said, I still choose to thank Him and praise Him, and sometimes, it is because of those gifts. Other times, it is simply because He is. Sometimes, as in this past weekend retreat, I feel such a marvelous sense of His presence and love that joy floods my soul, and I cannot help but praise Him and thank Him.

Other times, I confess, it is harder work to do so, because I don’t feel it. Times such as yesterday, during the work day. We are human, and we are not perfect. This is why we have these experiences that are like roller-coasters. But He is patient with us, hallelujah! He knows we are “but dust.”

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:13-14 NIV)

I also think it is important to note what the psalmist does say in answer to his own question. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.” It seems that the best thing we can do, in response to His goodness, is to depend upon Him; to call on His holy Name.

We can also turn around and channel those gifts and blessings into others, as Peter and John did in the passage from Acts. Gold and silver are not always the best ways to help people.

Father, I praise You for Your goodness to me, and that You do all of these things because You love us. I believe that we, Your people, Your sheep, are precious to You, and that You are constantly looking for ways to bless us. May Your Holy Spirit dwell within us and cause us to lift up the cup of salvation today and call on Your Name! The best thing we can do today is to depend on You for everything, because You are our source of everything. You are my source; You are my destination. You are the Alpha and Omega and every letter in between! All praise and glory to You, Lord.

Giver of every good gift,
you never send your people off empty-handed but always outfit them with good things--
your guiding presence in the fiery cloud,
the manna that rained down from heaven on the wilderness trek.
Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit and all his gifts for the journeys you send us on.
Make us freely generous with all your gifts to bless the world,
the very reason for which you sent us.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 51)

BLESSING

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(Psalms 145:5 ESV)

In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
(Psalms 95:4-5 ESV)

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
(Isaiah 40:28 ESV)

Sometimes, the message is most adequatly expressed by the words of a song, and many times that song is not even intended to be “religious.” For example, a favorite of mine by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” better known, perhaps, as “Feelin’ Groovy.”

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

Father, thank You for these encouragements to be still and know; to stop and meditate; to simply slow down and know Your truth, which is Jesus Christ, Your Son. Fill me with Your Spirit today, that I might not know the anxiety of yesterday. The tasks of the day will be the same as they were yesterday, along with the incessant demands on my time and work. My reaction is the only thing that I can control, so fill me with Your loving Spirit and let me know Your love and grace and presence as I go through this day.

Lord, I pray that You give us all love and commitment for the communities in which You have placed us, both physical and spiritual. May You equip us to serve “in uniquely Christian ways in the public arena.” And I specifically pray, today, for all who work in education. Most of them are off for the summer, but not all. May You give those who are summer vacation good, healthy rest, and may You give strength to those who continue to work during the summer.

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!

Grace and peace, friends. Shalom Aleichem!

The Perfect Christian

Good morning! It is Monday, October 13, 2014. I’m back from our anniversary weekend, but still not back to work, because I have to work this coming Saturday.

Today is Yorkshire Pudding Day. I’m not really sure what Yorkshire Pudding is, but it sounds delicious.

Well, we had a nice weekend. Yesterday, we celebrated 29 years of marriage. As noted previously, we spent the weekend at Paluxy River Bed Cabins, in Glen Rose, TX. Right from the start, though, there seemed to be something slightly “off” about the weekend. It was unseasonably warm, for starters, hitting temperatures above 90 on both Thursday and Friday. I had something going on around a couple of teeth, that was causing me some mild, yet irritating pain (that’s better now), and there were other factors that made the weekend, while relaxing and special, not as “magical” as some that we have had in the past. We went to the Showbiz Cinema in Granbury on Friday afternoon, to see Gone Girl. The movie was really good, but the theater, not so much. It wasn’t comfortable, it was very crowded (there were people sitting right next to us on both sides), and the theater wasn’t cool! Movie theaters are supposed to be cool! Before the movie, though, we had lunch at a place called “Linda’s Southern Cooking” on the square in Glen Rose. Since they advertised the “best chicken fried steak in town,” we had to check it out. We haven’t had all of the chicken fried steaks in Granbury, but we both agreed that it was definitely better than Babe’s!

Friday night brought a heavy storm to the area, and the power went out for a little over an hour. Since we sleep with a fan running, and I also sleep with a C-Pap machine, it got eerily quiet out there. And dark. Oh, my, it is dark out there when there’s no power. At one point, I went downstairs to look outside, and I could barely see anything on the front porch. It rained so hard that water came in under the French doors upstairs. But once the power came back on, we were able to go back to sleep.

For something different, we drove to Cleburne on Saturday, after having breakfast at Debbie’s, which has a great breakfast buffet on weekends. We drove by Christi’s grandparents’ old house, which had been refurbished and looks quite nice, now. Then we went to a park where Christi’s Granddaddy used to take her when she was a young girl. The park was still there, but, of course, had changed a bit. We got to observe a dog race while we were there, which was cute and fun. It was quite chilly, though, as Friday night’s storms had also dropped the temperature significantly. It never made it above 60 degrees on Saturday! I felt a little sorry for the people running the little festival at the park in Cleburne, as it was the first really cool day of the fall. Christi and I had a nice time walking around, as she relived some old memories.

By Sunday morning, we were feeling very relaxed, and, even though the weekend had some minor flaws, it was still a very nice weekend. Of course, we had pie at The Pie Peddlers. Several times. We’ve become friends with the owners, now, as they recognize us from our many times to visit them. As we talked about things, we reminisced about how little there is on the square, these days. A lot of the shops that we used to enjoy visiting are gone, and more will be disappearing soon, it seems. But, as things go in cycles, perhaps some new ones will pop up to replace them. At least we know, we can always get pie!

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1836 that Theodore Fliedner opened his first deaconess training center, at Kaiserswerth. You probably don’t recognize his name, but I get you recognize the name of his most famous student, Florence Nightingale, who graduated from the school in 1851.

Today’s birthdays include Margaret Thatcher, Sacha Baron Cohen, Marie Osmond, Paul Simon, Sammy Hagar, Kelly Preson, Lenny Bruce, Shirley Caesar, Jane Grey, Rube Waddell, Nipsey Russell, Eddie Matthews, Robert Lamm, and Beverly Crusher.

Simon Garfunkel is a singer/songwriter who was, for many years (and still, in many peoples’ hearts), half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. He has enjoyed a long, successful, and diverse career of making music. He turns 73 years old today. Here is their song, “Save the Life of My Child,” from the Bookends album.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-3
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
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.
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 111:1-4, 7-9
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me,
that I may continually be given to good works;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus sees the crowds and has compassion on them. They are “like sheep without a shepherd.” Therefore, he tells his disciples to pray for more laborers to go into the harvest. Note that the Lord must do the sending.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Carnal Man.”

“The carnal man is blatantly in the flesh and lives and walks according to the flesh.” This person tends to live in a state of mediocrity, attempting to be “carefully distributed between flesh and spirit with a watchful eye on both.” He has received the Spirit, but stays in a more embryonic state because he does not subject himself “fully to the domination of the Spirit.” There are other passions and drives that rule his life. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul compares these people to “babies unable to take solid food.” Jean Mouroux calls the perfect Christian “he who does not normally yield to the demands of the flesh, and who is normally docile to the impulses of the Spirit.”

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness
must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Ephesians 5:3

Father, I have spent part of my adult life being a “carnal man.” I praise you that you delivered me out of that state of being. However, I have yet to attain this idea of the “perfect Christian,” as I still sometimes yield to the “demands of the flesh.” Perhaps I do not “normally” yield, but, nevertheless, I am not submissive enough to the urges of the Spirit, at least not in my opinion. Perhaps you feel differently, I don’t know. I pray that you would help me identify passions and drives within me that are not of the Spirit, but of the flesh. I pray that you would help me be more submissive to the Spirit in all facets of life. It’s easy to yield to the Spirit during a time of prayer or worship, even during a morning devotional. But one we get out into the world, experiencing traffic on the way to work, and the frustrations of daily work life, that submissive spirit fades and we begin to do battle in the flesh. I pray that I would not be so. Help me to be more Spirit-driven throughout all aspects of my life.

I pray for Christi, this morning, as she has not been feeling well since yesterday evening. I thank you for getting her safely to work, and pray that she will be able to get through the day okay. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would give her wisdom and understanding, and show your love to her. May we have some enjoyable times together today. As we all set our sights on being more healthy, I pray that you keep us focused on this, going forward.

Your grace is sufficient.

Is it possible to be a “perfect Christian?” I suppose it depends on the definition you use for “perfect.” If you look at Jean Mouroux’s definition above, it seems possible. May we people who do not normally yield to the flesh, but normally yield to the Spirit.

Grace and peace, friends.