Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Today is Saturday, August 12, 2017. Day 21,702. Only SEVEN more days until S’s and J’s birthday!!!

Quote of the Day

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” ~ George Carlin

Word of the Day

Sapiosexual ~ a person who finds intelligence to be a sexually attractive quality in others.

Today is Vinyl Record Day! I just got through moving a bunch of those, after our floors got finished. They’re heavy. But I still think they sound better than digital music.

As mentioned, the floor is finished, except for the trim pieces to go between tile and vinyl, and the closet thresholds. The guy is here, now, installing those. he should be completely finished by this afternoon. It looks great, and I plan to take some photos after it is all done. We moved most of the stuff back into the study last night, but there’s still a lot to organize, all over the house. I suppose it will get done sometime this weekend.

I actually got off work on time, yesterday evening! It was wonderful. I picked up dinner on the way home, and since C was already home, we got finished with that pretty early, then started moving records and stuff back into the study.

That being said, I want to acknowledge what a wonderful job my wife has done all this week. Besides doing her “normal” work, from home, she has moved books and records, cleaned things, and just done some stuff that, in my opinion, requires superpowers. So, to C, I say, I love you with all my heart, and am more grateful than I could ever express with words. Thank you for all you have done this week.

The Rangers beat the Astros last night, 6-4, to decrease their deficit to 15.5 games (still in fourth place in the AL West). They are only three games out of the second wild card spot, at this point. And, I was curious to see how the “Silver Boot” series is going this year. The Astros are currently leading it 7-4. I believe they still have eight games left, between them, two of which will happen this weekend.

The Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 5-4, after leading 4-0 for most of the game. But apparently, Reed, a relief pitcher, came in and blew the game in the eighth inning. The Red Sox still lead the AL East by 3.5 games, though. And this game is indicative of one of the things I both love and hate about baseball. There’s no time limit, no clock that can run out. It’s not over until out number 27 has been recorded. Which means that anything can happen, in any inning. I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen the Red Sox both win and lose in the eighth inning. And when they’re playing the Yankees, no lead is ever safe.

Tomorrow, R & J will be coming over after church, and we’ll take them out to eat somewhere, to celebrate J’s birthday, which happens next Saturday (same day as S’s).

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
Psalm 106:48
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:12-13
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
Psalm 125:1
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 
Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59:16-17

(From Practice Resurrection)

Eugene Peterson mentions a novelist named Walker Percy, who wrote a number of novels in his lifetime. Peterson specifically mentions six of them, The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, The Second Coming, and The Thanatos Syndrome. In these books, Percy coins a phrase for a condition of humanity known as “lost in the cosmos.” The idea behind this condition is that “We don’t know who we are or where we are. We don’t know know where we came from or where we are going.” This is becoming more and more true as time marches on.

Percy began his career as a physician, with a sincere desire to “heal sick and damaged bodies.” Early on, he completely changed course and became a writer “so he could tend to the healing of souls, using nouns and verbs to cure what ails us.” Also a Christian, “His diagnosis of the spiritual ‘lostness’ of his American brothers and sisters was intended to wake us up to our desperate condition and set up a few signposts for finding our way home.”

Paul the Apostle, writer of Ephesians, as gave a similar diagnosis to the human condition. And in that letter to the Ephesians, Paul gives witness to the ways in which God is working in the cosmos in which we are lost.

One of the “contributing factors” to our lostness, says Peterson, “is the rampant secularizing debasement of language into depersonalized facts, with a corresponding evisceration of imagination into cardboard cutouts of roles and functions.” The person “you” gets debased to an “it,” while imagination is “crowded to the sidelines by numbers.” You can feel Peterson’s passion bleeding through those statements.

Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-14.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Just for kicks, let’s look at Peterson’s The Message version of the same passage.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. 
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. 
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. 
It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

We’ve already noted that, in the original Greek text, this is all one sentence. N.T. Wright calls this passage, “one of the most splendidly Jewish passages of praise and prayer in the New Testament . . . a prayer of blessing to the one God for his mighty acts in creation and redemption.” Peterson says, “This single sentence–201 nouns and verbs, adverbs and adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions cascading off Paul’s pen!–comprises an extravagant pageantry: the central action of the cosmos, God at work in comprehensive salvation ways, on parade. We are no longer lost. We can find our way home.”

Father, keep showing me this freedom, and help me to believe it to the depths of my soul. As I continue reading this and other works, along with your words, especially the words and acts of Jesus in the Gospels, draw my soul deeper and closer to you. Show me the deep truths of your Spirit and help me to walk in the easy yoke of Jesus, in your Kingdom, as your will is done on earth as in heaven. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

What Does the Crisis Reveal?

Today is Friday! August 12, 2016. Only seven more days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“Give me a room whose every nook is dedicated to a book.” ― Robert Southey

Word of the Day

Blandishment – something, as an action or speech, that tends to flatter, coax, entice, etc.: Our blandishments left him unmoved. We succumbed to the blandishments of tropical living.

Today is Vinyl Record Day. Vinyl records are the coolest. I was once excited to hear music on CDs, but, over time, I realized that it still sounds better on vinyl. It’s the whole “digital vs analog” thing. Digital sounds perfect, true. But life isn’t perfect, and life isn’t lived in analog. Records sound “warmer,” more alive.

Tonight, I’ll be going straight from work to a friend’s house, to practice for tomorrow night’s Night of Worship. I already packed my keyboard and stands in the car, so I’m ready to go. As long as my keyboard doesn’t melt while I’m at work. Anyway, this should be fun.

The Rangers and Red Sox both lost yesterday. The Rangers tried to pull one of their come-from-behind wins again, yesterday, but the bull pen let them down, giving up five runs in the top of the 8th inning. They had been behind 7-5, and score four in the bottom of the seventh, but just couldn’t hold on this time. The Rockies were having none of that. Then the Red Sox, ahead 2-1, gave up three runs in the top of the eighth, to lose the game and the series to the Yankees. Pretty soon, I’m not going to be able to console myself by saying, “There’s still a lot of baseball left.” They have played 115 games, give or take a few, so there are only 47 left. Roughly a quarter of the season left.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.
The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free;
he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions,
to bind his princes at his pleasure and to teach his elders wisdom.
Psalm 105:16-22

“The story of Joseph is continuously useful to the person of faith.” How true this is. I don’t have time to relate the story for those who aren’t familiar with it, but I will say that Joseph, from a certain point in his life, had every right to believe that God had abandoned him, but he kept his faith, believing with all his heart that the Lord was in control of all things. It paid off, as he was eventually placed in charge of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. So no matter how bad things get (or seemingly bad, because “bad” is only in the perspective of those of us who can’t see everything that God sees), we can have faith that God has the situation firmly in hand. He is not surprised by our troubles, and has always “prepared a way for our salvation.” In fact, he has already been at the finish line. “In difficult times the Christian is surprised, not by disaster, but by providence.”

“Dear Father, thank you for looking after me by sending Jesus ahead of me through temptation and suffering, so that with confidence I can walk through ‘the valley of the shadow’ and know that nothing will separate me from the love you have for me. In Jesus’ name (Psalm 23:4). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Theology of Rest

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26

When we experience fear, we pray to God. In fact, it is all we can do. And he has a right to expect us to “have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones.” But, most of the time, our trust only goes so far before we revert to panic prayer mode, praying no more effectively than those who do not know God. When we do this, we show how little faith we truly have.

How must the disciples have felt when Jesus said those words to him, “O you of little faith?” “And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced downright joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.”

When the crisis comes, we reveal where our trust lies. “If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”

Where does “rest” fit into all of this (see the title)? All of this should “work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight, but a deep joy to Him.” At this point, I would say that the word “rest” and the word “abide” would be interchangeable here. If we are abiding in Jesus and his words, the crisis will prove that to be the case, and we will be steadfast, relying solely on the grace of God and his care for us.

Father, that is my word for this year, abide. And you are still teaching me to do it. I do believe that I am learning, but slowly. I still encounter moments, every week, it seems, wherein I fail to bring you joy, and show that I am relying, not on you and your grace, but on something else, sometimes I know not what. But the good thing is that, these days, I realize almost instantly that I have done so, and am able to repent immediately, and, in some cases, apologize where necessary. Steps in the right direction, Father, but don’t stop working; don’t stop chiseling and forming me. My heart’s desire is to be like Jesus, and I will keep forging ahead, by your Spirit. Give me the faith of Joseph!

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.

To See His Face

Good morning. It is Wednesday, August 12, 2015. Hump Day.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is mellifluous. This is an adjective, meaning, “1. sweetly or smoothly flowing; sweet-sounding: a mellifluous voice; mellifluous tones,” or “2. flowing with honey; sweetened with or as if with honey.”

Today is Vinyl Record Day! Oh, yeah!! I will go down as one who strongly believes that vinyl sounds better than digital, especially better than digital downloads. While I play most of my music through my phone, these days (linked via bluetooth through my car’s speakers), I believe that a vinyl record, played through a good home sound system, sounds far better than a cd or digital download. Long live vinyl records!

Yesterday was a challenging day. I had to deal with some challenging individuals, and my anxiety level, at one point, was off the charts. However, right before my afternoon break, the lead found a box of goodies in one of our packages (this happens occasionally), and gave me some “Chewy Lemonheads and Friends” candy. There’s almost nothing that can’t be made better with candy.

Our Huddle group went well, and we had some really good discussion. Of course, it didn’t stay quite on topic, but that’s not unusual. Apparently a new triangle was introduced, last week, the “Bible Study Triangle.” I can’t find a graphic for it, but if you can imagine a triangle, the top point is “Observation,” the lower right point is “Interpretation,” and the lower left point is “Application.” Nothing ground-breaking or earthshattering, here. Just another usage of the triangle shape. So we read Acts 1:8 and attempted to take it around the triangle. I think we might have made it all the way to application.

Tonight, neither one of us has an activity, so we will enjoy a, hopefully, quiet evening at home, with either chili or soup and sandwiches for dinner.Tomorrow, Christi has her Huddle, and I have an eye doctor visit at 5:30. He wants to do a field of vision test for glaucoma. I really don’t like those tests. They increase my anxiety level.

Today, my Bible reading will be Genesis 43-44 and Matthew 19. I did, successfully, remember to complete my reading yesterday. I read it during my morning break. That works out nicely, so I will attempt to do that again, today.

The Psalm reading from Heart Aflame is Psalm 91:5-7.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

“The Psalmist continues to insist upon the truth which we have just adverted to, that, if we confide with implicit reliance upon the protection of God, we will be secure from every temptation and assault of Satan.” (p 225)

(From Solid Joys)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2

Today’s reading is “My Soul Thirsts for God.”

This beautiful Psalm is made even more so when we realize that the Psalmist is not necessarily thirsting for relief from his circumstances, nor is he mainly seeking to escape from his enemies. While it is most certainly not wrong to pray for these things, we get a glimpse of something far better, here. The Psalmist thirsts for God, himself.

One of the great things that we get from the Psalms is this idea. “We come to love God, and we want to see God and be with God and be satisfied in admiring and exulting in God.”

Another way to translate the end of verse 2 is, “When will I come and see the face of God?” We eventually see an answer to that question. In John 14:9, Jesus says, Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. And in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul speaks of seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

“When we see the face of Christ, we see the face of God.” And when we hear the story of the Gospel, we experience the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

“May the Lord increase your hunger and your thirst to see the face of God. And may he grant your desire through the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Father, increase my desire to see your face, to know your glory through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of you. As I read Scripture, may your Spirit point me toward your face and show me the way to know you more. Let me not read solely for the sake of reading. Rather, let me read with the goal of knowing you more, even when I read passages that may not be very interesting. Open my eyes and heart to see things in passages that I have read hundreds of times. Your word is alive; it should never become old to me. Let it live in my spirit, Father. And may I see your face in the face of Christ.

I pray for this day. May our travel be safe today. I pray for Christi’s day, that there be no anxiety or stress. I also pray for her leg/calf muscle that started hurting yesterday. May you relieve her pain, Father. Show your great love to Stephanie, and bring confidence to Rachel, preparing for her thesis defense tomorrow afternoon. May my mother know your joy today.

Your grace is sufficient.

I simply echo John Piper’s closing words, today. “May the Lord increase your hunger and your thirst to see the face of God. And may he grant your desire through the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
psalm-42-1
Grace and peace, friends.

Be At Peace

Well, it’s Monday again. How did that happen so quickly? Good morning. It’s Monday, August 12, 2013.

Today is Vinyl Record Day. Yes sir, I’ve got plenty o’ those! I’ve never counted them all, but I would venture a guess that there are at least 1000 vinyl records in my house. And I”m still one of those people who believe that vinyl sounds better than digital. You see, life does not happen digitally. Life happens in analog. Every sound you hear around you every day is in analog. That’s why vinyl sounds richer, more alive, than digital. There are some who have figured that out and have returned to making vinyl records. Anyway, dust off some vinyl and celebrate the day! If you can find a record player, that is. 😀


As hinted at above, the weekend seems to have flown by. Christi wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, but was better yesterday. She says she feels better this morning, too. “Not 100%, but better.” We had a good day at church yesterday, I think. Jacob preached a good message on service, and one of the main points dealt with the same thing that I have been dealing with here, lately, and that is that true Christian service requires relationship or community. Oddly enough, we had already planned to take dinner to a sister from church who had some surgery about a week ago, so we did that yesterday afternoon.

We also watched a movie from Redbox yesterday afternoon. We watched Silver Linings Playbook, with Bradly Cooper (what movie doesn’t have Bradly Cooper?) and Jennifer Lawrence. Although a highly disturbing movie, as it deals with people who have issues similar to Stephanie’s (there was one “meltdown” scene that was very painful to watch), it was also a very beautiful movie. Jennifer Lawrence did an amazing job of acting in that movie, and definitely deserved the Oscar she won for it. I won’t give out an across the board recommendation, as the movie is strewn with “F-words.” If you aren’t easily offended by language, the movie is worth seeing. It is emotionally gut-wrenching.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1822, at the age of 53, Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh took his own life by slitting his own throat at Cray Farm, in Kent. He had become increasingly paranoid, as he was more and more disliked by the liberals of England. Diplomatically, he had been successful, being responsible for the appointment of Sir Arthur Wellesley (who would become the Duke of Wellington), to the command of “the British expeditionary force sent to Spain to fight the Peninsula War against Napoleon.” He served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and after PM Spenser Percival was assassinated, “he became leader of the house of Commons,” where he “performed with brilliance.” Alas, though, peace brought him more troubles than war. He began to be condemned by liberals when eleven protesters were killed by English soldiers at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. As his paranoia increased, he said he was being blackmailed for various alleged offenses. On this date, he even accused his wife of 28 years of conspiring against him. But at that point, he began to realize his instability, and called for his doctor, “named Bankhead.” As Bankhead arrived, Castlereagh was in his dressing room, back to the door. When asked why he stood thus, Castlereagh responded, “Bankhead, let me fall upon your arm; it is all over,” after which he collapsed into Bankhead’s arms, blood spurting from his throat. He was dead in moments. Lord Byron penned this epitaph:

“Posterity will ne’er survey
a nobler grave than this.
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveler, and piss.”


Today’s birthday is Christy Mathewson. Matthewson, born in 1880, was a MLB pitcher who is ranked among the top ten major league pitchers of all time. He played for seventeen years, most of them with the New York Giants. He was one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner. Sadly, he died of tuberculosis in 1925, only 45 years old.

Honorable mentions go to Erwin Schrodinger, 1887-1961, George Hamilton, 74, Cecil B. DeMille, 1881-1959, Casey Affleck, 38, Buck Owens, 1929-2006, Mark Knopfler, 64, Jane Wyatt, 1910-2006, Porter Wagoner, 1927-2007, Peter Krause, 48, Pat Methany, 59, and Matt Thiessen, 33.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96:9
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Psalm 80:1
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Psalm 50:2
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Father, as I “taste and see” that you are good this morning, I pray that you would show me marvelous things from your word. Thank you for another day.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Be At Peace Among Yourselves.” The scripture reading is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

This rapid-fire list of advice (commands?) “describes the effective functioning of community life.” There are ordinary life tasks mixed in with deep spiritual matters. “In the community of disciplined grace, respecting co-workers and helping the weak are just as essential as praying without ceasing and not quenching the Spirit.” I love that. I’m not sure we often look at things in quite this way. We always want to compartmentalize things too much. That statement resonates deeply within my spirit. The “with-God life” involves matters that are both physical and spiritual, and it involves them equally. Our pastor, who also happens to be the leader of our “huddle” group, often speaks of this balance between “up, out, and in.” He draws a triangle to illustrate the concept. I should clarify that it is an equilateral triangle, where every side is the same length. Our goal is to balance our relationship with God, our relationship with other believers, and our relationship with the world. I believe this brief passage from Paul defines that almost perfectly.


Father, as I go about my daily life today, I pray that you would help me to find more balance between the various aspects of this life. I spend time every morning on the “up” portion of this life, as well as brief times at work, during my morning breaks. How much time do I spend on the “Out” portion? For that matter, how much do I spend on the “in” portion? Point me in the right directions, Father, as I attempt to balance this life and become what you desire me to be.

I pray for this day, Lord, as Christi and I begin another work week. May your grace and mercy overflow into our lives, spilling out into the lives around us. Teach us how to show others your peace. May you show Stephanie your steadfast love today. May you give your blessings to Rachel and Justin, as well as my parents. Your grace is sufficient for all things. May your will be done in our lives, above all else.


“In the community of disciplined grace, respecting co-workers and helping the weak are just as essential as praying without ceasing and not quenching the Spirit.” Perhaps, spend some time reflecting on that statement today.

Grace and peace, friends.