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!

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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!

Friendships Matter

Today is Sunday, December 30, 2018. The sixth day of Christmas.

Day 22,207

2019 begins the day after tomorrow!

“They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.”
Bil Keane, American cartoonist, 1922-2011
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is obdurate. It means, “stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing,” or “hardened in feelings.” Also, “resistant to persuasion or softening influences.” (Merriam-Webster)

R came by yesterday afternoon, and we ordered lunch from Cotton Patch via Door Dash. She also brought me a late Christmas gift, a Fallout “loot box,” which contained a set of mini nuke salt and pepper shakers, a replica of the “Fat Man” mini nuke launcher, a pin of the “Admantium skeleton Fallout boy, and a radscorpion bottle opener/refrigerator magnet. There was also a piece of Liberty Prime, but that won’t be of much use unless I buy some more loot boxes. But the other stuff is awesome, and made me very happy. Fallout 4 is still my all-time favorite video game, and probably will always be. And, no, it’s not just because Emerald City is Fenway Park!

We had some good conversation, watched some Youtube stuff that R likes, and then I went and got groceries. C laid down to watch TV and I played Red Dead Redemption 2 for the rest of the evening. Except for the part when I watched some of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix while eating some Christmas dinner leftovers.

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. I will be playing and singing in the worship team. C runs the computer that displays the songs and sermon notes.

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

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
Psalm 138:2

Today I am grateful:
1. For understanding and acceptance in family, driven by our love for each other.
2. For another opportunity to worship with our church friends and family.
3. For hope.
4. That we have more than adequate transportation to get to and from places we need to go.
5. That C has tomorrow off from work. I don’t, but I can be thankful that she does.

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation,
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

(The Book of Common Prayer)

Speak the truth to one another;
Zechariah 8:16

Carol Kuykendall wrote the next to last reading in this year’s Daily Guideposts book. It was about friendship. There was a good quote at the beginning of the reading. “A friend is one who knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” I’m not sure who originally said this. It is listed as being incorrectly attributed to C.S. Lewis, but he didn’t say it. I would still like to have that quote on my wall somewhere. It’s a good one.

The thing is, I only really have one person in my life who can do that. Anyone who knows me at all will know who that is. It is, of course, C, my wife. Sometimes I long for that kind of friendship, though, elsewhere in the world. The thing is, I once had a friend or two like that, back in my high school days. And it is possible that one of those friendships still exists, although we seldom see each other. He still probably knows me better than anyone besides C. The other one . . . well, occasionally I relive this day, and I have never gotten over it. In fact, the tears are welling up, even as I am typing it. It’s odd to me that something that happened over forty years ago could still draw out such emotion in me.

When I was a junior in high school, one of my very best friends committed suicide.

At this point in my life, I have to believe that that even affect friendship, for me, in some pretty negative ways. I never received any therapy. I don’t even remember our school offering counselors afterward. But, then, I don’t remember a whole lot of things from forty years ago. I remember that day, though, as clearly as it was yesterday. It hurt then. It hurts now. And it may be why I don’t have any “close” friends, other than my wife, to this day.

There are at least two other men that come to mind at this time, whom I love dearly. John and Rick. Both have been great friends to me, at different eras in my life.

What’s the point of all this? I’ll get to it. Friendships matter. And we need to make sure and let them know that. Carol (remember her?) continues in this reading, writing about a friend of hers, and how they managed to let each other know how much they mattered. That’s important.

If you find a friend, be sure and do as Zechariah 8:16 admonishes. “Speak the truth to one another.” Close friends always do that. I just remembered another good friend (even though he moved to NYC). Phillipp. I remember the times he would begin a conversation with, “Jeff, you know I love you . . . ” I always knew some kind of correction was coming after that phrase. Now I’m smiling.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Father, thank You for Rick, John, and Phillip. And most especially for C. Help me to let them know that they matter to me. And help me to find others that matter.
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!

Shaping Society and Forming the Soul

Prayer “is the essential work in shaping society and in forming the soul.”

Today is Sunday, September 2, 2018. Day 22,088.

Tomorrow is our Labor Day holiday!!

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, 1881-1975, The Quotations Page

The word for today is coeval, “of the same or equal age, antiquity, or duration.”

Yesterday was the kind of Saturday that I love. Nothing much happened. I worked on the music for this morning, C put together the song lyrics and sermon notes on the Mac for this morning’s worship gathering, I ordered some lunch, we watched some TV, and I played Fallout on the PS4. C went and picked up the groceries between 5:00 and 6:00, and got us our obligatory Sonic drinks. It was a nice, relaxing day. Oh, I almost forgot. At some point in the evening, C started tearing wallpaper out of the small bathroom. She plans to do some painting tomorrow. R & J are planning to come down today, and we plan to go to Razoo’s for lunch.

The Red Sox had a solid win over the Other Sox, last night. By “solid” I mean that they got ahead first and stayed ahead. They won 6-1. They are now 94-43, and remain 7.5 up in the AL West. 25 games left.

The Rangers also won, beating the Twins 7-4. Their record is 59-77, and they are 24 games out in the AL West, in fifth place. They are 21.5 out in the Wild Card and their division elimination number is 3.

The Kansas City Royals still own the longest current winning streak at four consecutive games.

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. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

(From Where Your Treasure Is), Eugene H. Peterson

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

Still reading in chapter 1, “The Unselfing of America.” In the next segment, Eugene H. Peterson insists that the unselfing is already taking place. “Bands of people meet together regularly to engage in the work. Disbanded, they continue what they began in common.” They assemble together, as we will this morning, in worship gatherings, and then disperse to “infiltrate homes, shops, factories, offices, athletic fields, town halls, courts, prisons, streets, playgrounds, and shopping malls, where they also pray. Much of the population, profoundly ignorant of the forces that hold their lives together, does not even know that these people exist.”

What the praying people know that the others either don’t know or choose to ignore is this: “centering life in the insatiable demands of the ego is the sure path to doom.” Says, Peterson, “Life confined to the self is a prison, a joy-killing, neurosis-producing, disease-fomenting prison.”

America does not need a “new movement.” “The people who meet in worship and offer themselves in acts of prayer are doing what needs to be done.” But it is important to know and understand that these acts of prayer don’t happen just when they are on their knees or in worship. They carry us far beyond those places, into our work places and daily lives. They also carry different people down different paths, and we have to learn to not be envious or critical of those whose paths are different from ours.

“These citizens have unmasked the devil’s deception that prayer is a devotional exercise in which pious people engage when they are cultivating some private felicity with the Almighty or to which profane people are reduced in desperate circumstances.”

Prayer “is the essential work in shaping society and in forming the soul.”

Father, as I continue down this path, struggling daily, give me strength in Your Spirit to shun the “insatiable demands of the ego,” and find myself praying in community with my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I lead the prayer ministry of our church, keep me focused, make me sensitive to the needs, both of our community and our society, and of our world. And in these prayers, help us to truly shape our society and form our souls.
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.