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!

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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.

Search Me, O God!

Today is Sunday, August 12, 2018. Day 22,067.

SEVEN days until S turns 25!!!

“Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” ~ Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, BrainyQuote

The word for today is looky-loo, “A person who comes or stops to look at something out of curiosity, especially when such attention is unwelcome.” Also, “A person who views something for sale with no genuine intention of making a purchase.”

It was a nice day, yesterday, in which nothing much happened. It rained for a good part of the day, and is supposed to rain more today. The high temperature for today is supposed to be 84 degrees. I’m not fooled, though. Summer is not over. It’s just a welcome break.

The Red Sox won both games of a double-header against Baltimore, yesterday. I did not realize there was a double-header until I received a notification of the results of the second game. But I do seem to remember a rain-out earlier in the season. The scores were 5-0 and 6-4. They are now 84-35 on the season, 49 games over .500. They are 9.5 games up in the AL East. They have another game against Baltimore this afternoon.

The Rangers lost to the Yankees, 5-3, making their record 52-67. The Astros lost, so they remain 21.5 out in the AL West. They are eighteen out in the Wild Card.

The longest current win streak is in the NL, with the St. Louis Cardinals winning 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.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139

I could write for days on this Psalm. I won’t say that it is my favorite, as I won’t pick only one of the Psalms as a favorite. But it is one of my favorite passages in the entire volume of Scripture. I also know that this Psalm was one of my father’s favorites. The words contained in this passage could either be a great comfort or a horrible terror, depending on the spiritual state of the one reading. For me, the words, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me” are a great comfort. I am happy to be known by God, even though it means that He knows the deepest depths of my depravity. It is a great relief to have everything known. There is no need for hiding; for concealment. Everything is on the table. In fact, He knows the thoughts and words even before they hit my brain or my tongue! And, I, along with King David, can say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

To know that there is nowhere I can go where God is not is also a great comfort. It has only been a short while since I finally realized, in the depths of my heart, that God is always with me, no matter where I am! This is marvelous knowledge. I don’t have to go looking for Him. He is “at hand,” according to Philippians 4:5. My hand is at the end of my arm, and cannot get any farther away than that.

I hope that you can take great comfort in the words of King David, this morning, as you read this Psalm, just as I have. It makes for a good start to a day of worshiping with people we love.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 
1 Chronicles 16:10-11

Father, I praise You that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Sometimes I sit and look at my fingers while I move them, and am in awe of the wonder of our bodies. You are magnificent. Your thoughts are beyond measure. You are always with me! I cannot go anywhere You are not, and that is great comfort to me! You are our Protector and Provider. You are our Strength. And You are Love. Show me Your love today; show me Your holiness, and teach me to love others the way You have loved me. As we gather together, this morning, may You work in our lives; walk in our midst; show Your holy face to us, this morning. Shake us to our cores.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

You Are My Song

Today is Sunday, July 8, 2018. Day 22,032.

42 days until S turns 25!

129 days until Fallout 76!

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, The Quotations Page

The word for today, obtained from the Oxford English Dictionary (it doesn’t do any good to link to it, because you can’t get to the actual definitions without subscribing to the OED), is hippanthropy, “The delusional belief that one is a horse; an instance of this.” That word does not exist in Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. Interesting.

We had a wonderful time with our friends, last night. The hosts cooked up a veritable feast for us, with ribs, chicken, some kind of squash/zucchini thing, and baked potatoes. We brought some dessert, and the other couple brought bread. It was all delicious. We had some great conversation for a while, and then played a couple of games through their TV and our smartphones. Both games were from a company called “Jackbox.” Our favorite was called “Quiplash.” It was great fun. Then we talked some more, mostly about our church’s upcoming merger discussion and vote. I think everyone in the room was in favor of the merger.

But then, as we were driving home from their house, C and I realized that there is not a Sonic between the Smithfield church and our house. That changes everything.

Actually, there is one about a block past the church, so we’re good. Whew.

The Red Sox soundly beat the Royals, last night, 15-4 (as it should be, as the Royals are one of the worst five teams in baseball, at the moment), to improve their record to 61-29. They remain two games up in the AL East.

The Rangers lost to the Tigers again, 7-2. Cole Hamels didn’t even make out of the first inning. Got to be something wrong with him. Anyway, their record is now 39-51, and they are 20.5 games out in the AL West. It’s getting harder to be hopeful that they can dig themselves out of this hole.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. But we won’t be at The Exchange Church, today. I’m leading worship at FBC Smithfield, this morning. Our worship gathering will begin at 10:45 at 7912 Main St., in North Richland Hills. And yes, that is the church with which we are considering a merger.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Zayin.
Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. 
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. 
The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. 
When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD. 
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. 
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. 
I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law. 
This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts. 

Psalm 119:49-56

God’s word gives us hope. It is comfort in our times of affliction. And I love verse 54, “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.” As we remember that this world is not our true, permanent home, God’s word is our song.

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
Zechariah 7:8-10

Father, thank you for the hope that resides in your word; the hope and the comfort, in times of affliction and/or sorrow. In times of loneliness, we can find companionship with you through the words of Scripture and the presence of your Spirit in our midst. I thank you that your word can be my song. Let it be so today, as I lead people to worship you. May my heart be right with you and everyone else, this morning, and may my mind and spirit and soul be focused on praising you as I sing to you and to others, this morning. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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.

Hold On Loosely

Today is Sunday, June 24, 2018. Day 22,018.

Ten days until July 4!

143 days until Fallout 76!

“Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.” ~ Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, The Quotations Page

The word for today is effigy, “an image or representation especially of a person; especially : a crude figure representing a hated person.”

The Night of Worship was great, last night. There was a good number of people there, and, between midway and ending, some people that the hosts had invited, from across the street, showed up! They hung around for a while afterward, as well, and chatted with us, so we were able to get to know them a little bit. They seemed to like us.

I’ve got everything I need to start recording some music at home, now, so I have no excuse not to do it. I got Cubase recording software for Father’s Day, which I have installed on my laptop. The guy whose house we were at last night gave me two really nice condenser mics for vocals. And I got the interface to plug mics and instruments into the computer delivered yesterday. As soon as I get something recorded (I have to watch some instructional videos about Cubase and learn how to use it, so my first few attempts will, no doubt, be practice runs) I will put it up here and on Facebook.

The Red Sox lost to Seattle, last night, 7-2. Their record is 51-27. The Yankees lost another one to Tampa, so the Sox remain one game out in the AL East. The Sox and Mariners will conclude their series this afternoon.

The Rangers won their seventh consecutive game, beating the Twins 9-6. Another day of half-price Papa John’s pizza. Their record is now 34-44 (only ten games below .500, now). The Astros won their 51st game, so the Rangers remain 17 out in the AL West.

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. The worship gathering begins at 10:15.

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

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! 
His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 
Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. 
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. 
For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 
The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!

Psalm 112

Some folks see Psalms such as this one as promises. I don’t view them so much as promises, but more as simple consequences. If you fear the Lord, and greatly delight in his commandments, these things will happen. If you deal generously with people and hold on to your material goods with an open hand instead of a closed fist, these things will happen. I love that line in verse 7: “He is not afraid of bad news.” It doesn’t say he won’t get any bad news. It says that he’s not afraid of it.

Father, thank you for putting these words into the heart of the Psalmist, that he might write them down for the generations to read and meditate upon. Thank you for the truth that if we fear you, things will generally go well for us and we will be blessed. Help us not to misunderstand them to say that we will never have trouble or “bad news.” Rather, we will not be afraid of trouble or bad news, because our trust and hope is in you; so much so that we are not afraid to be generous with the poor and needy. Help us to “hold on loosely” to all things, remembering that there is nothing that we have that did not come from you.
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.

Turtle

Today is Sunday, April 22, 2018. Day 21,955. Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Six days until our next Night of Worship.

Terry Francona turns 59 today. He said, “As a manager, the more consistent you are, the better off you are. It’s easy to be up when things go well. When things don’t go well, the players will follow your lead. So you have to be consistent and upbeat, which takes some work sometimes.” BrainyQuote

The word for today is traduce, a verb which means, “to expose to shame or blame by means of falsehood and misrepresentation.”

We had a nice day, yesterday, of not doing a whole lot. C went to the library and picked up some lunch while she was out. Then I went and picked up our Kroger Click List at around 3:30 PM. C painted some during the afternoon, while I played video games and learned something new about my new keyboard, getting it set up for this morning’s worship gathering.

The Red Sox lost their third game of the season, last night. And, I suppose, if you’re going to lose, you might as well do it in premier fashion! They only lost 3-0, but not only did they get shut out, they also got no-hit! And I watched every painful moment of it! Sean Manaea allowed only two base runners the entire game, one walk, and one on an error. The error was a possible questionable call by the scorekeepers, but you gotta figure the home town scorekeepers are going to protect the no-hitter if they can. There was also a close call at first base when Andrew Benintendi skirted around a tag to make to first base. He was initially called safe, but Oakland manager questioned the call, and the umpires gathered to discuss it. There was no instant replay review, but they decided that Benintendi had, in fact, left the base path to avoid the tag. The replays showed that they were right. But I wonder, had it not been a no-hitter, if that would have even come up.

At any rate, the Sox remain the best team in baseball by three games, with a record of 17-3. They finish the series with Oakland, this afternoon at 3:05PM CDT.

The Rangers gave up five runs in the seventh inning to lose their third consecutive game. They lost to the Mariners, 9-7.

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

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

“O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who
calleth us each by name, and follow where he leads;
who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
The Book of Common Prayer

Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! 
  Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! 
Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! 
Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! 
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise

Psalm 79:8-13

I wonder, frequently, why God allows “the nations” to say, “Where is their God?” But I have the same faith as the writer of this Psalm. I, as one of the sheep of his pasture, will give thanks to him forever.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:29-31
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Colossians 3:12-13

In all of these verses there is a common thread: that of showing kindness and hospitality to others. Kindness, compassion, forgiveness, fellowship, love, humility, meekness, and patience are to be shown toward all people, but most especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not, as Edward Grinnan puts it, in Daily Guideposts, “simply tunnel through life,” doing little or nothing for those who are hurting and needy. By God’s grace, we need to pay attention to situations around us, and be ready to serve in any way we can.

Father, you are only just beginning to get me out of my shell of isolation in my life. I have spent far too much of my life with the kind of tunnel vision that Edward describes in his prayer. But that is changing. And I pray that it continues to change, even though I am oh, so comfortable in that shell, like a turtle. Give me compassion and kindness and love toward other people, such that they have never seen before. Help me to even surprise people with love.
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.