The Truth that Dazzles Gradually

Today is Monday, July 3, 2017. Day 21,662. One day until Independence Day!

“Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.” ~ Sinclair Lewis
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is sotto voce, an adverb, meaning, “in a low, soft voice so as not to be overheard.”

Today is Stay Out of the Sun Day. No problem here. I’m all over that one!

We had a wonderful day, yesterday. R came over for lunch (J wasn’t feeling well, so he did not come). We decided to try something different, so we drove up I-35 to a newer area, and tried a new Uncle Julio’s up there. It was okay. But just okay. Somewhat overpriced, in our opinion, and the food was only okay, not great. We won’t be going back there. But we had a great time, anyway.

After lunch, we decided to go bowling. So we stopped by the house and picked up our bowling balls and headed to Brunswick Zone in Watauga. We had an awesome time bowling! R surprised herself and bowled better than she expected. I didn’t do great, but I was “practicing,” messing around with delivery style and placement. C and I both get two free games a week, if we can find the time to bowl outside of league, and yesterday was the first day we had taken advantage of that.

We stopped at Sonic for drinks afterward, and then, after we got home, R headed on back to Denton. It was an awesome day!

Today, C and I are off work (as you can tell by the lateness of this post), and don’t really have any plans, other than heading to Southlake around 5:00 or so, for the band concert tonight. Tomorrow, we have no plans at all. And that’s the way, uhhuh uhhuh, I like it, uhhuh uhhuh!

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Psalm 113:1
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. 
I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, 
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 

Psalm 26:2-7
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! 
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Psalm 145:10-12
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 
(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:15-19

(From Practice Resurrection)

When the Church was created in the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit could very well have formed her out of “talented men and women who hungered for the ‘beauty of holiness.'” But he didn’t do that. And if we compare the stories, we know that this is not the way the Spirit brought Jesus into the world. “Why would the Spirit change strategies in bringing the salvation community, the church, the congregation, into our lives?”

As Eugene Peterson continued studying the writings of Luke, he saw more and more parallels between the story of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and the story of the church in the book of Acts. This enabled him to see the story “being lived and told in [his] congregation.” This came gradually, though, as he struggled to give up the image of the “beautiful Tirzah,” as well as the temptations of “adrenaline and ego satisfaction” in the “control of a religious business.” He quotes a line from poet Emily Dickinson: “the truth must dazzle gradually/Or every man be blind.”

Peterson realized that this was his place in the church, his work; to witness to this truth that dazzles gradually. He would proclaim the Holy Spirit’s formation of Church, of congregation out of this “mixed bag of humanity,” out of these broken people.

“Men at fifty who have failed a dozen times and know that they will never amount to anything.
Women who have been ignored and scorned and abused in a marriage in which they have been faithful.
People living with children and spouses deep in addictions.
Lepers and blind and deaf and dumb sinners.
Also fresh converts, excited to be in on this new life.
Spirited young people, energetic and eager to be guided into a life of love and compassion, mission and evangelism.
A few seasoned saints who know how to pray and listen and endure.
And a considerable number of people who pretty much just show up.
I wonder why they bother.
There they are.
The hot, the cold, and the lukewarm, Christians, half-Christians, almost Christians.
New-agers, angry ex-Catholics, sweet new converts.
I didn’t choose them.
I don’t get to choose them.”

And we don’t get to choose them. Just like our earthly, blood-born family. We can’t choose them, either. We don’t get to choose our family of faith, because everyone who calls the name of Jesus no matter how hot, cold, or lukewarm is part of this family. And our instructions, our orders from our commander, state that we are to love them as he loved us. Period.

We are all broken. And this is how we must live, how we must exist. I love the Church. I have always loved the Church, for as long as I can remember, and I will always love the Church. Because if you don’t love the Church, you don’t really love Jesus. And this is part of the truth that dazzles gradually.

Father, teach us this truth. I pray for the Church. For all of us broken people you have chosen to mush together in this unseemly group that will somehow succeed in glorifying you, in spite of ourselves. I praise you for your glory, and I pray for all of us together, that we might love each other as you have loved 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.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Miracle of Church

“The Holy Spirit descended into the womb of Mary in the Galilean village of Nazareth. Thirty of so years later the same Holy Spirit descended into the collective spiritual womb of men and women, which included Mary, who had been followers of Jesus. It happened as they were at worship on the Jewish feast of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem. The first conception gave us Jesus; the second conception gave us church.”

Today is Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Day 21,657. Six days until our July 4 holiday!

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” ~ E. B. White
BrainyQuote

Bonus quote!
“All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” ~ Harry S Truman, Letter to his sister, Nov. 14, 1947
The Quotations Page

Today’s word of the day is interdigitate. It is a verb, meaning, “to interlock, as or like the fingers of both hands.” I didn’t know there was a word for that!

Today is Happy Heart Hugs Day. I’m all about the hugs. I’m a hugger. If you’re a hugger, this is your day!

I feel much better this morning than I did yesterday. In fact, by bed time last night, I was feeling 100% better. Who knows what was wrong? I may have actually had a touch of something the night before. But I seem to be fine this morning.

It’s bowling d+9*-kl (Um . . . Rocky the cat just jumped on the keyboard). What I was trying to type before I was so felinely interrupted was, it’s bowling night! I’m always excited about bowling night. Sometimes, after it’s over, I’m not so excited. But I’ve been doing pretty good in this league, for someone who hasn’t bowled consistently in close to 30 years. My average should be around 163, or so, tonight.

The Red Sox are back in first place! The Rangers are in second place, but 12.5 behind the Astros, who have won an incredible 52 games already. The only other team that has won over 50 games is the Dodgers.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Psalm 31:23
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.
Psalm 28:1
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Psalm 77:13
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 25:20
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 
Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:17-19

(From Practice Resurrection)

As Eugene Peterson set out on his search for “church,” he didn’t begin with Ephesians, but it is where he wound up. He began with the book of Acts, “in which the term ‘church’ occurs twenty-four times.” Ephesus is mentioned for the first time in Acts.

One thing that Peterson noticed was the parallel between the birth of Jesus and the birth of the church. I confess that I had never noticed this, but Peterson brings it to light in a marvelous way that only he can do. But there is a great parallel between Luke 1-2 and Acts 1-2. Of course, they were written by the same author, weren’t they?

But God brought our Savior into the world in somewhat “unkingly” circumstances. He could have come to the world and solved all of the hunger troubles. He could have come with a loud, spectacular entrance and filled all the amphitheaters and “hippodromes.” He could have performed circus-like miracle shows. He could have overthrown the Roman government. But he didn’t do any of those things.

Jesus came, by a miracle, “in the form of a helpless infant born in poverty in a dangerous place with neither understanding nor support from the political, religious, or cultural surroundings.”

Our “salvation community” came into the world in much the same way. It was, in fact, miraculous, but under much the same circumstances as the birth of Jesus. While the story in Acts seems somewhat outrageous, that is only if you were in the same room. From the outside, things carried on just as usual, with governments, religious leaders, and culture being largely oblivious to what was happening.

Both of these things happened by what Charles Williams called the Descent of the Dove. “The Holy Spirit descended into the womb of Mary in the Galilean village of Nazareth. Thirty of so years later the same Holy Spirit descended into the collective spiritual womb of men and women, which included Mary, who had been followers of Jesus. It happened as they were at worship on the Jewish feast of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem. The first conception gave us Jesus; the second conception gave us church.”

Father, thank you for the “miracle of church.” I thank you that you chose to send your Holy Spirit, not once, but twice. Once to save us, and the second time, to unite us in Trinitarian Community. I pray for the advancement of that community as the Church. I pray for unity within a body of believers that is, in some cases, intensely divided. Make us one in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, as we seek to walk in your kingdom.
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.

It’s Not About the Parking Lot

Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Day 21,656. Yesterday, I was wrong. Today is seven days until our July 4 holiday.

“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.” ~ Doug Larson
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is parallax, a noun meaning, “the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer.”

Today is Sunglasses Day. It might be a good day for that, here. Warm and partly sunny. But the projected high seems unusually “un-hot” for the day.

I’m not sure what is causing this, but I was really thirsty all night. This started between dinner and band practice, last night, and continued all night long. I remember waking up several times during the night with dry mouth and extreme thirst. I kept a glass of water nearby, so I could drink it, and I’m having water instead of coffee this morning. That right there should tell you something’s up! I didn’t do anything different, yesterday, though, so I don’t know what’s going on. I’ll try to stay more hydrated throughout the day today.

The band practice went well, and we got out early again, which is always nice. We just ran through all the pieces for next Monday night’s concert. We’ll be playing at the Southlake Stars & Stripes event, starting around 8:00 PM, and finishing between 9:00 and 9:30, at which point the fireworks will begin. C and I both have Monday off.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; 
they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. 
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Psalm 107:23-32
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
Psalm 119:18
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

Matthew 7:21-23
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! 
The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: 
that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever;

Psalm 92:5-7

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson was seventy-five years old when he wrote this book, and says that he has been “a participating member of the Christian church in North America” for all of his life, including fifty of those years as a pastor. During those fifty years, he observed both the church and the vocation of pastor being “relentlessly diminished and corrupted by being redefined in terms of running an ecclesiastical business.” He was barely ordained before he was being told that the expectation, or his main task, was that he would run a church in much the same way that his Christian brothers and sisters ran “service stations, grocery stores, corporations, banks hospitals, and financial services.” In one book, by a so-called “expert,” he read that the size of the parking lot had more to do with the success of the church than what text he preached from on Sunday morning. After a number of years of “trying to take all of this seriously,” he decided that he “was being lied to.”

Peterson calls this “the Americanization of congregation. It means turning each congregation into a market for religious consumers, an ecclesiastical business run along the lines of advertising techniques and organizational flow charts, and then energized by impressive motivational rhetoric.”

The next time, we will begin to look at his search for “church,” as he begins to seriously search God’s word for what church is really supposed to look like.

Father, forgive us for taking your church down such a dark path, but I give you praise for men like Eugene Peterson, who tired of the things that he was being told, and began to look at what you say about church in the Scriptures. I pray for a restoration of your people who are seriously intent on doing church the way you intended it to be. Not so much about form, as it is about purpose and relationship. Relationship. That’s it. Help us to enter into and maintain relationship with both you and our brothers and sisters.
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.