Good morning. It is
Thursday pre-Friday, July 25, 2013.
Today is Chili Dog Day. What? Didn’t we just have “Hot Dog Day” on Tuesday?? And yesterday was “Drive-Thru Day.” I think it’s a junk-food conspiracy.
It always seems like I don’t have much to report on Thursdays. By Wednesday, the week seems to have settled in and become pretty typical. We made it to the gym last night, or at least Stephanie and I did. Christi took one more night off, still being sore from the work she did over the weekend on Stephanie’s room. But then, what did she do? She put together the new lamp that we got for above-mentioned room! Sigh.
Work has been going well for me. I’m enjoying what I do. Today some VIPs from our client are supposed to be visiting, so I’ll get to meet some of them for the first time as a CSR for their business.
(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1593, Henri de Navarre, otherwise known as Henri IV, became a Catholic in order to make sure his kingship of France. He had already technically been king since 1589, when Henri III “had died from stab wounds administered by a frenzied monk.” But he was a protestant living in a country that was predominantly Catholic. So he spent the first four years of his kingship trying to conquer his own country. The Catholic League fought against him, along with Philip II of Spain (a fanatical Catholic), and much of the rest of the population of France, particularly Paris. But, being a wise man, Henri IV decided to “put his people and his country above his sect, and he finally decided to turn Catholic to gain his kingdom.” On this day, he rode to the cathedral of St. Denis, “where France’s kings are buried, where he abjured his Calvinism to join the Church of Rome.” Of course, his motive was political rather than religious, and he made this famous statement before entering the cathedral: “Paris vaut bien une mess.” (Paris is well worth a Mass.) By this selfless act, Henri IV “finally brought to a close more than 30 years of religious wars that had come close to destroying France.”
Today’s birthday is D.B. Woodside, born on this date in 1969 (and the only one on my list who is still alive! The only reason I know this guy is due to his portrayal of Principal Robin Wood in season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Honorable mentions go to Walter Payton, 1954-1999, Estelle Getty, 1923-2008, Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966, Walter Brennan, 1894-1974, and Jerry Paris, 1925-1986. Wow. Most of today’s birthdays are dead people!
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:12
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. Psalm 86:16
O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:3-4
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Psalm 68:19
Father, I’ve come into your presence with singing this morning. So often, I wonder, just like the Psalmist, how it is that you even condescend to notice us. You are so far above us; so infinitely holy and righteous, while we are merely sinful creatures. Yet you care for us. We are truly but a breath, and our lives but a vapor. May we serve you properly during that “vapor,” and then praise you for all eternity in the next life. Blessed be your name! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth, as I look into your words this morning.
In Tabletalk Magazine today, I read Jeremiah 1:11-19. (I’m a bit behind on these readings, as the first copy of the magazine I received was missing about 30 pages!) It focuses on verses 11-12.
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
We tend to measure “ministerial success” in the number of converts won over the course of a person’s ministry. But if that were the case, Jeremiah would have been the most miserable failure ever. In contrast, Scripture tells us that the “primary indicator of ministerial success is faithfulness to God and His Word.” And God is sovereign over his word, as seen in our passage for today. And, in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, we see that God gives the growth, according to his own schedule. God gave Jeremiah the assurance that he would be watching over him and his ministry, and that the words of the Lord would accomplish exactly what they were sent out to accomplish. Faithfulness to the Lord and his message is more important than the number of converts.
Today, in A Year With God, I’m beginning a new section on the discipline of Fellowship. Fellowship is defined as, “Engaging with other disciples in the common activities of worship, study, prayer, celebration, and service, which sustain our life together and enlarge our capacity to experience more of God.” It is clear from the beginning pages of Scripture to the very end of the book that “the Christian life is to be a life lived together.” One of the catch phrases of the current era is “doing life together.” I think it appropriate that this discipline is taken on immediately following Solitude. While Jesus often prayed alone, in a desolate place, he never traveled through Judea alone, but was always with his trusted disciples and friends. Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ and compares it to the human body, where each of us has a different job to do in the Body. “Only together can the Church run smoothly for God’s glory.” The discipline of Fellowship can “bring us great joy, encouragement, and comfort.” On the other hand, it can also bring us great “frustration and disappointment, as we bump up against each other’s sins, shortcomings, and failures.” Have you ever noticed how much space Paul takes up trying the solve the “problems of community living?” One of the most important aspects of community is sharing Communion together. “Jesus commanded us to gather together and remember him when we ate the bread and drank of the cup.” This is but one way we can “focus our fellowship on Jesus.” Ephesians 4:16 says, . . . from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The first reading in this section is called “Recognizing Christ in Others.” The scripture reading comes from Philippians 1 and 2.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (1:27)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (2:1-3)
Paul takes great joy in the thought of the community of the Body being unified. Most of Paul’s letters are written to communities. He even points to the fact that we have a new citizenship within these communities (Philippians 3:20). “It is one thing to aim toward personal spiritual growth. It is another to strive as a community toward spiritual maturity.” We need to be “of the same mind, having the same love.” Paul gives us a very good key to this in verse 3 of Philippians 2 when he tells us, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This may be the most difficult command in the entire Bible. It goes against every grain of our existence. I’m supposed to do what?? Seriously?? I’ve done such-and-such longer and better than so-and-so!! How can he be more significant than me?? But, you see, it’s not about talent. It’s not about wealth. It’s not about appearance. It’s about our hearts, and it’s about community. We desperately need to move away from self-obsession and toward unity of spirit.
“One way to put community-mindedness into action is to recognize and appreciate the efforts of those around us.” So the next ten-day challenge is to, as I engage in my regular prayer time, or at the end of my day, ask myself who I saw Jesus in during the day. Then I’m to review how I treated people around me that day (ouch?). Was I “loving, patient, kind, and generous,” or did I act “with impatience or a lack of respect or love?” I might need some forgiveness on some points. Then I’m to finish up by asking God to continue to teach me how to “love [my] neighbors and to regard others as better than [myself].”
And I thought this “fellowship” piece was going to be fun!
Father, this is an area I need some work on. I pray for more ability to consider others to be more significant than me. This is a verse that I have stumbled over for years, possibly decades. I read it, and I agree with it, and purpose to do something about it. Then someone treats me rudely or makes me wait longer than I think I should have to wait. Help me, Lord, by the power of your Spirit, to put myself aside; to lay down my self-interests for the sake of my brothers and sisters, and even my neighbors, whether they be brothers and sisters or not. Teach me to be insignificant! What a terrifying prayer that is! I don’t want to be insignificant! There, I’ve said it! But my desire to be more spiritually mature and in line with your purpose for my life trumps my desire to be significant. So show me how to love my neighbor as myself, and to love your Church as you love her. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Teach me to obey your commands.
I pray for this day. May Christi and I have a good work day, and get everything accomplished that we need to do today. Show Stephanie your steadfast love today and work through the compassion that she has for others in her life. May we all live the Beatitudes, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Your grace is sufficient.
What kind of world would it be if we were all able to obey that one little command? “. . . in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Grace and peace, friends.