History

Today is Monday, July 8, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,397

Forty-two days until S’s birthday!

We had a . . . a . . . I’m having difficulty coming up with words to describe it. Our worship time, yesterday morning, was something different and special. We departed from our usual (if you can even say we have established “usual” for these “scattered” Sundays) plan. The youth had been to camp the previous week. Oddly enough, what went down was not them sharing about their camp experience. Not exactly, anyway. It was not a time of testimony of what a great time they had at camp, or how close they all got, or any of the usual stuff that gets shared after camp.

Instead, things got real. For at least an hour, things were shared that necessarily would stay in that room. People (myself included) got honest and open. We confessed sin. We confessed struggles. Some of us bonded over shared struggles. There were confessions and responses. There was encouragement, and no one, I repeat, no one tore anyone else down. It was nothing short of amazing, and I believe we all came out of it with a much deeper sense of what “church” is supposed to be. All because a small group of youth got brave enough to want to show the adults what they had discovered.

Afterward, we took the pastor, his mom and dad, and Terry and Summer out for lunch. We went to a place that C & I had never been before, called “Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries.” The burgers were delicious. The fries were good, but I’ve had better. But then we had shakes. Well, I had a malt. Because they make malts! Mine was chocolate with Butterfinger pieces in it. Most of all, we had a great time of fellowship as we “broke bread” together.

The Texas Rangers avoided a sweep by the Minnesota Twins, beating them 4-1, in eleven innings. Shawn Kelley got the win in relief. The Rangers are 48-42, in third place in the AL West, nine games out of first. They are three games out of the second wild card spot, currently held by Cleveland. The next game will not be until July 11, against the Houston Astros, as we are now up to the All Star break. For the record, I don’t watch the All Star game. I couldn’t possibly care less about it.

The Boston Red Sox completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, beating them 6-3. David Price got his seventh win of the season, and I hear it was his 150th career win. The Sox are 49-41, in third place in the AL East, nine games out of first place. They are two games out of the second wild card spot. Their next game is not until July 12, against the LA Dodgers.

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

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

Psalm 37:7-8

Today I am grateful:
1. For the sense of community that is growing in The Exchange Church
2. For the boldness of youth
3. That in the Lord’s strength, we have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about (Psalm 3)
4. That everyone in the body of Christ has a unique contribution
5. That seemingly insignificant events in my life can be much bigger than they appear

“O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desires]; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers and Thanksgivings, 2. For All Sorts and Conditions of Men)

(From Faith That Matters)

History–Humankind’s and Yours, by Frederick Buechner

To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Revelation 1:6

“Biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it very seriously. The biblical view is that history is not an absurdity to be endured or an illusion to be dispelled. Instead, it is for each of us a series of crucial, precious, and unrepeatable moments that are seeking to lead us somewhere.”

It truly doesn’t have as much to do with the information in the history books as we might think. It has more to do with what happens to human souls along the way. And what happens to human souls is “apt to take place when most people are looking the other way. The real turning point in our lives is less likely to be the day we win the election or get married than the morning we decide not to mail the letter or the afternoon we watch the woods fill up with snow. The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a child is born in a stable.”

What are the significant points in your life? In my life? I know that, in some deep way, yesterday was one of those for a small group of us. I wasn’t prepared for it. It almost happened while I was “looking the other way.” But it grabbed my attention.

Take note of the things that are happening in your life. The smallest event may be much more significant than you could ever imagine.

Father, help me to walk through this life with my eyes open to what you are doing around me, whether it be something as huge as Rome falling or something as seemingly insignificant as the birth of a child in a stable. Whatever it is, if I’m not looking, I won’t notice it. Help me to look. Help me to look with the perspective of your Word as my guide. Teach me your ways that I may walk in your truth.
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.

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Content In All Things

Today is Sunday, June 30, 2019. Last day of June. Blessings to you!

Day 22,389

Four days until July 4! (I think I heard a fireworks display in the distance, last night)

Our Night of Worship went well, last night. Heh. I realized late last night that I had forgotten to post the video of the new song I was leading. The song isn’t new, but it was new for me. So, here it is.

This is one of the most beautiful songs that I have heard in a while. You’ll notice that the singer/songwriter, Andrew Peterson, kind of lost it a few times during that performance. I think he was overwhelmed by the beauty of the setting, as well as the One whom he is praising.

What happens when you throw two pitchers with jet-lag into a baseball game? A fifty-five minute first inning with twelve runs between two teams, that’s what. If you recall, I said earlier that I didn’t think these London games were a good idea. In the first inning, yesterday, the Yankees scored six runs in the top of the first. Then the Red Sox answered with six more in the bottom. Both starting pitchers were chased in the first inning. Final score: 17-13, New York. It’s a waste of a regular season game. Anyway . . . Steven Wright took the loss in the game. The Sox are 44-39, in third place in the AL East, ten games behind the Yankees. They play again in about thirty minutes. Does it even matter who is starting?

The Texas Rangers’ win streak was broken, yesterday, as they lost to Tampa Bay, 5-2. Adrian Sampson took the loss. The Rangers are 46-37, in second place in the AL West, 5.5 games behind the Astros. They remain two games ahead in the second wild card spot. The first wild card spot is currently held by Tampa Bay. The Rangers will play the Rays again today at 12:10 CDT, in Florida. Jesse Chavez will get the start.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church. Today, we are “scattered,” meeting in the same home where we had Night of Worship last night. I’m not sure when we will split into smaller house churches. That will be up to the pastor’s discretion, and he hasn’t given a time line on that, yet. The address is 4033 Jackie Lee Street, in North Richland Hills, Texas. The gathering begins at 10:15.

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

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:19-20

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ
2. For the worship time we had last night
3. For testimonies of answered prayer (have had several in the past couple of days)
4. That God is able to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)
5. That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and “all things” includes being content when I have plenty

“O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collects: Traditional, Proper 8)

(From Faith That Matters)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Up-and-In or Down-and-Out?, by Dallas Willard

I don’t have a chart in front of me that shows the most-quoted verses in the Bible. I figure John 3:16 would be number one. Psalm 23 would be right up there. But I’m guessing that Philippians 4:13 would be in the top ten.

The thing is, though, as Dallas so aptly puts it, “The usual Christian quotes Philippians 4:13 only when facing hard times.” That’s our way, isn’t it?

How many people pray when things are going fine? I have to confess . . . even my own prayer life consists largely of praying for other peoples’ troubles! Every now and then I get a praise from someone, and I will thank God when that happens. Like yesterday, when I got a report from someone on my daily Facebook prayer post, that God had worked in her life to accomplish what we had prayed for. But most of the time, we pray for things like illnesses, financial difficulties, personal problems, and circumstances.

“But that is not Paul’s meaning,” says Willard. And, truthfully, if you look two verses before, you see this: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” THEN, Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

So, “when he adds that Christ gives him strength for everything, he is saying also that Christ enables him to abound, be full, and prosper.”

Make no mistake . . . this is no “prosperity gospel” here, so don’t start heading off in that direction. What it is, though, is affirmation that when Christ gives us strength for all things, those “things” aren’t just “bad” things, or “hard” things. Christ gives me strength for the easy part of life, too. He gives me the ability to live in peace and prosperity, as much as he gives me the ability to live in hardship and stress.

“The gospel,” says Dallas, “is for the up-and-in as well as the down-and-out, equally so, and equally needed, from God’s point of view.”

So, today, are you up or down? “Where is God in your circumstance?”

Father, help me to be content in all circumstances, both “good” and “bad.” Also, help me to understand that my definitions of good and bad don’t always line up with yours. Especially since you cause all things to work together for good.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

Grace and peace, friends.

Spirituality Involves Relationship

Today is Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Day 22,270

Only eleven more days until our Glen Rose weekend!!!

Quote of the Day

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”
Elbert Hubbard, U.S. author, 1856-1915
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Melic ~ intended to be sung. (Dictionary.com)

It was a restful day, mostly, yesterday. I got all the things done that needed to be done, while C rested. S is feeling better, this morning, and is planning on going to church with me. I don’t think C is going, but I’m not 100% sure of that, at this moment in time.

I’m getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach St., in Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15.

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

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8

Today I am grateful:
1. For the majesty of God, displayed all over the earth.
2. That He is, truly, mindful of us. How amazing is that?
3. That He has put it in my heart to praise and worship Him.
4. For another opportunity to worship God with others.
5. That this life involves relationships.

Lord God,
whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ
  triumphed over the powers of death
  and prepared for us our place in the new Jerusalem:
Grant that we, 
who have this day given thanks for his resurrection,
may praise you in that City of which he is the light,
and where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “A Christian Vision of Spirituality,” by Dallas Willard.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Galatians 3:26

“In the Christian version of personalized spirit and spirituality, the spiritual life takes on the character of a personal relationship between individuals, with the attendant features of reciprocal attention, care, provision, assistance or service, emotional interaction, expectations, comfort, joy, and development or growth.”

That’s a long sentence. The short version is that, in Christian spirituality, we are not alone. I cannot do the Christian life alone! It is simply impossible. Willard goes on to say that the entire book of Psalms illustrates this, showing the spiritual life being “understood as an interactive relationship between persons in a personal as well as ‘natural’ order.”

Get ready for another long sentence.

“This vision of life on a personal, spiritual basis in the kingdom of God is extended, for the Christian, in the person and teachings of Jesus (the Good Shepherd) in such a way as to include all of humanity, at their choice, without regard to any kind of personal, social, or cultural status, ethnic or otherwise, and to allow the individual participant to have the dignity and power to achieve a good life and become a good person.”

Again, to summarize, in the spiritual life, we are together, we are supposed to be together in Trinitarian relationship with one another, serving and loveing one another as Jesus demonstrated in His life, and we are to do this irrespective of any kind of distinction in other persons, race, sex, social status, economic status, or otherwise.

If you’re trying to worship/love God by yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

Father, I am grateful that You have drawn me into this kind of spiritual life. While there are certainly times when we need to be alone with You, in silence and solitude, the bulk of our lives are spent around other people, with whom we must interact. Help me to be more like Jesus during those times of interaction, both with other believers and with those who do not believe. Help me to serve Christian and non-Christian alike in my daily walk with You. And help me to acknowledge my need for help when I need it.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Prayer: History, Forgiveness, and Others

Today is Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Day 22,249

THREE DAYS until Spring Training!!!!

“We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.”
H.L. Mencken, U.S. editor, 1880-1956
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is finicky. It means, “extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards.” In other words, “cat.”

I got new glasses ordered, yesterday. My distance vision had changed a bit, but my vision for computers/music had not changed enough to replace those glasses. I will still need two pair. The doctor told me that we could combine distance/medium-range/reading all in one pair, but he didn’t seem to think I would like it. And since I already have a good pair for medium-range, I just left it that way. I added the “transition” to the new pair, this time. They change darker when outside.

The rest of the day was nice. I picked up lunch right after my eye doctor, and by the time we ate, it was time to go get the groceries.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. The main worship leader is sick, and, to my knowledge (although he has never told me decisively), will not be there. So Brandon and I will each be leading two songs. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:18

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters at The Exchange Church.
2. For my brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world.
3. That the dream I had last night was just that – a dream.
4. For the privilege of praying.
5. For the three lessons involving prayer.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth tremble before him.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 96:9)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is called, “Prayer Lessons from History’s Wisest Person.” Peterson is speaking of Solomon. I would take issue with that (I rarely do with Eugene Peterson), and say that Jesus was history’s wisest person. Nevertheless, the lesson is a good one.

Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name will be honored there,” and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
1 Kings 8:29-30

“In Solomon’s prayer, we can see three areas in which the visible is a conduit for the invisible, and they are areas that we are still involved with today.”

First, is history. Solomon remembers the great acts of God from the past. “A poor memory is a threat to our prayers.” If, when praying, we forget the actions of God in the past, we will likely pray with “small faith and for tiny ends.”

The second thing is forgivness. Solomon specifically prays that God will forgive. “Self-deception and selfishness are threats to our prayers as well.” Too often, our prayers are an attempt to get God on our side, to do what we want Him to do. Peterson says, “the visible church is a check against that. Forgiveness is the turning point in prayer, the transition from seeking our own way from God to yielding our lives to him so that he may perform his will in it.” Remember that line from Jesus’s model prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The third area involves others; foreigners, strangers. “Our prayers are strangled when they become too narrow.” How often do we only pray for ourselves, our familes, and our close acquaintances? We must be more sensitive “to the vast church of Christ and the world Christ is seeking to bring into fellowship with him. The visible church is proof against that, bringing people together under one roof whom you would ordinarily not associate with.”

Our pastor has really driven that home in past weeks. The church is made up of people with whom we would normally not associate. People with whom we otherwise have nothing in common. And we must get along because Christ died for all of us, regardless of race, sex, hobbies, and political persuasions.

Three areas in prayer: history, forgiveness, and others.

Father, may I be mindful of all of these things as I pray, today and every day. Let me never forget Your might acts in history, both my history and the history of Your people. May I always be humble and remember whence I came, the marvelous forgiveness with which You have blessed me. And may I expand the scope of my prayers to the world Church and beyond.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Danger of Morality

Today is Sunday, January 27, 2019.

Day 22,235

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”
Sidney J. Harris, American journalist, 1917-1986
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is oillionaire. It means, “a millionaire whose wealth is derived from the petroleum industry.” (Dictionary.com)

While I practiced more music and played games and picked up groceries, lunch, and Sonic, C painted the shower enclosure in our master bath. It had gold trim holding the glass together, and she painted it dark brown, to match all the other new hardware in the bathroom. It looks very nice, I think.

I had a long phone conversation with one of our other worship leaders, last night. It all started with him needing me to print one of the chord charts for today’s songs. That’s why he called. Ninety some-odd minutes later, we finished. It was a great conversation. I learned a lot about him and some of his hopes for the future. I believe we will be closer as a result.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM. I play keys and sing in the worship band, and C runs the Mac for the worship slides.

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

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 100:4

Today I am grateful:
1. For C, who loves doing things like painting the bathroom.
2. For another opportunity to lead and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. For the Exchange Church and Jacob Seay. I really believe this little gathering of believers to be unique.
4. For my friend with whom I was on the phone for so long last night.
5. The grace and mercy lavished upon us by our Father.

It is not ourselves that we proclaim;
we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord,
and ourselves as your servants,
for Jesus' sake.
For the same God who said, 
"Out of darkness let light shine,"
has caused his light to shine within us,
to give the light of revelation -
the revelation of the glory of God 
in the face of Jesus Christ.

(The Book of Common Prayer, 2 Corinthians 4:5-6)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Moralism Means Nothing,” by Brennan Manning.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Philippians 3:7-8

“The habit of moralizing spoils religion. Personal responsibility to an inviolable moral code replaces personal response to God’s loving call. Moralism and its stepchild, legalism, reduce the love story of God for his people to the observance of burdensome duties and oppressive laws.”

Thus begins what is potentially a rather dangerous reading. But it is understanding the heart behind these words that makes it work and make sense. You see, there is nothing wrong with good morals. There are things that are good, and there are things that are evil. But when we make the “moral code” the thing we want to live by and press upon others, we do grace a disservice.

Manning references a eulogy at a funeral. “John was a wonderful Christian. He never missed church, was married only once, and never told a dirty joke.” Okay, then. What is the criterion for holiness? Observance of a moral code. Sounds a lot like the Pharisees of Jesus’s day.

“Salvation cannot be earned or merited but only humbly and gratefully received as a loving gift from the Father’s hand.”

Father, I echo the prayer at the end of this reading. “Lord, help me rely on nothing more for my spirituality than knowing Christ and being found in him.” Let that be so. I don’t rely on morals (although I do try to be a “good person”) or rituals or the Law. I try to rely on the grace and mercy that flow out of Your hand through the Holy Spirit.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Grace Is Miracle; Miracles Are Grace

It is Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Day 22,228

23 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists.”
Jean Rostand, French biologist, 1894-1977

The word of the day is altiloquent. It means, “high-flown or pretentious.”

We had a nice day yesterday. I got some music work done, some fairly productive practice. Groceries got picked up, lunch was had, games were played, TV was watched. C went out and did some roaming around for her own projects.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.
1 Chronicles 16:7

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. For a restful weekend.
3. That prayer is an opportunity to connect with and listen to God. It’s not just about me talking.
4. The miracle of grace.
5. The grace of miracles.

From the rising of the sun
to its setting my Name shall be
great among the nations,
and in every place incense
shall be offered to my Name,
and a pure offering;
for my Name shall be great among the nations,
says the Lord of Hosts.
Thanks be to God.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Malachi 1:11)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is, “If You Know God, Miracles Aren’t Mysterious.”

And then no more manna; the manna stopped. As soon as they started eating food grown in the land, there was no more manna for the People of Israel. That year they ate from the crops of Canaan.
Joshua 5:12 (The Message)

How do you define a miracle? The popular usage of the word would indicate that it is something beyond our understanding. But Eugene Peterson says that’s “not the Christian way.” If we hold to the definition that something we can’t explain is a miracle, then most of the tricks that a “magician” does are miracles. In fact, I once heard Penn & Teller, self-proclaimed atheists, say that they were doing “miracles” at their show. And by that definition, they were right.

“Miracle,” says Peterson, “through the biblical tradition, is not what we don’t understand but is what is done for us that we can’t do ourselves. Miracle is functional. It’s what God does for us or does for us through other people that we can’t do ourselves.”

I might be able to understand it, and if I did, it would still be a miracle. It is not something beyond my understanding; rather, it is something beyond my ability. “So in that way I can, when I walk out in the morning and see the sun coming up over the horizon, say, ‘That’s a miracle.’ And I would be biblically correct. Every morning is a miracle.”

Interesting fact: Dallas Willard’s definition of “grace” is, “God’s action in our lives to accomplish what we cannot accomplish on our own.”

So . . . grace is a miracle. Miracles are grace.

Father, I thank You for being excellent at doing what I cannot do for myself. I am in awe of You when You do for me what I cannot do for myself. Your grace; Your miracles; great is Your holy Name!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Soli Deo Gloria!

Be Generous With Your Life

Today is Sunday, January 6, 2019. Epiphany

Day 22,214

38 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin, U.S. engineer and Science Fiction author
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is palladium. It means, “anything believed to provide protection or safety; safeguard.” (Dictionary.com)

I watched a football game last night! The whole thing! The Cowboys beat the Seahawks in a close game, 24-22. I don’t think it was quite as close as the score indicated, though. And the result may have been quite different if Seattle’s place kicker had not pulled a muscle on a too-long field goal attempt. The punter was drop-kicking in his place, and muffed the onside kick with just over a minute left in the game. That could have made a huge difference, but the Cowboys were able to run out the clock after that.

I may watch football again, today! The Ravens are playing the Chargers, on the noon game. I’ll be rooting for the Ravens in that game. I was not necessarily rooting in the game, last night, but I was also not rooting against the Cowboys, as I have done in the past.

I had a great talk session with our pastor, yesterday morning, and then, in the afternoon, he came over and we watched Ready Player One together. The movie was definitely entertaining. However, it was more different from the book than it was the same. It was most disappointing.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:25

Today I am grateful:
1. For another opportunity to worship God with our Exchange family.
2. For another opportunity to lead others in worship.
3. For the potential for another beautiful day, weather-wise.
4. For the stirring of the Holy Spirit within me, leading on to better places.
5. For the love of God and the love of people.

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of
the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord:
Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you,
that the week to come may be spent in your favor;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays)

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (The Message)

During my conversation with our pastor, yesterday morning, two things kept cropping up. We were, at the center of it all, discussing the book Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung.

One thing that arose in our conversation was the topic of pusillanimity. I’ve mentioned this before. It is a shrinking back, probably out of fear, from things that God has for us to do. For me, it has been going up to a certain point in my life, but then failing to take that definitive step into the next phase. This has happened time and time again.

The other thing, though is what I want to focus on this morning. It comes from the above verse, Matthew 5:16. In our talks, Jacob said that, instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, he has chosen to only read the Gospels through, multiple times. He started with The Message, and plans to read several other translations throughout the year. This particular verse has caught his attention, and most specifically, the phrase, “Be generous with your lives.”

What does that mean? Both of us, my pastor and I, seem to struggle with a similar issue in our lives, and I would be willing to be that many other Christians are in the same proverbial boat. We are selfish with our lives. We declare ourselves too busy for other people. C and I rarely get home from work before 6:00 PM on weeknights. By the time we either cook, pick up, or order dinner and eat it, it’s quite close to our bedtime. We generally hit the pillows by 9:00 PM, as we get up at 5:15 in the mornings.

The thing is, though, we have to eat dinner, and you have to eat dinner. What’s to keep us from occasionally sharing that meal, even on a weeknight? I know we’re tire. So are you. But let me tell you something (and believe me, I’m stomping on my own toes, here). A year or so ago, we had a semi-regular Thursday night meeting for dinner with at lest two other families in our fellowship. We would all bring our own food to one family’s house, sit down and eat together, and just share conversation about whatever happened to come up. There was no agenda; no list to follow, no plans to make. We just “broke bread” together and had a good time. I have to confess that it was refreshing and rejuvenating. And I miss those days.

This is “being generous with our lives,” at least one way. Sharing our lives with others. There is something invigorating about breaking bread with others. It has lost a great deal of significance in our culture, but in Jesus’s day, it was very significant. Sharing a meal with someone was something much more intimate than it is, today.

How do we reclaim this? I’m not sure I have the answer to it. But we have to, my pastor and I agreed yesterday, figure out a way to do it. We need to “unself” a bit (to use a word that Eugene Peterson coined in another book). I need to let go of this feeling that when I have free time, I have to spend it doing only what I want to do. I need to be generous with my life.

Father, I need Your help in this, desperately, and I’m not the only one. Help us to be generous with our lives. Help us to unself. Help us to follow in the steps of Jesus and be more aware of the needs of others around us.
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.

Soli Deo Gloria!