01 September 2007

Today's Quote 01September

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.

~Samuel Adams~

Today's Reading Septermber 1

Welcome to September. The year is now about 2/3 gone.
This morning we finish up the Psalms with 148, 149, 150. If that seems like rather a lot, it is. But the hymnbook in the church of your choice has more, probably. I find it interesting to ponder what was going on in the lives of the authors of these psalms, some were in the midst of great trouble , or had enjoyed some great blessing, and were pouring out their heart to the Lord. We all have had great troubles (and if you haven't, some are coming) and many of us have known the Lord's blessings as well. I wish I'd been granted the eloquence of the psalmists to make my gratitude a public record. It is hard to imagine a more fitting endpiece for the psalms than the last one.

Chapter 150
1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

This evening's New Testament passage comes from 1st Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 16 through 34. Paul is speaking here about the proper conduct when the church body comes together and reminds them (us) of what it is all about. I want to lift out of it a section that attracts my attention most today,
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Our coming together, our service of worship, is important. We should treat it as if it is important. I fear greatly that too often it becomes routine, it becomes something to treat casually, lightly, of less importance than the other matters of our lives, rather than the centerpoint of our lives. Nothing good comes of that.

31 August 2007

Ilegal aliens, 31August

The headline pretty well says it. A man in the country illegally is arrested for attempted sexual assault The girl that this SOB was trying to rape is only 13 years old.
I don't want to crack the jokes about 'raping the kids that Americans won't'. They're just not funny anymore. I want to know why he isn't hanging from the nearest tree. I don't like the idea of lynchings, particularly considering the area I live in. I don't like some of the implications of Committees of Vigilance. But I also know that these creep is here illegally, that those whose duty it is to prevent is presence and to remove him expeditiously if found, can't be bothered to do their duty, and spend their time trying to prevent any one else from doing it for them. I know that historically, Committees of Vigilance come to pass when the normal mechanisms of preserving order break down. Well, they have broken down.
I want the law obeyed and enforced. I want every single illegal alien out of this country, NOW. And I don't want ANY of them EVER permitted back in for any reason. Not ever. And I want those who have forsworn their oaths of office up on charges. Starting with Mr. Chertoff.

Today's Reading August 31

Happy Friday to all.
Today we are the next-to-last day in the Psalms. Back on July 10th, when we began to go through the Psalms, I wrote ''we'll be here a while''. That was certainly true. This morning we will look into Psalms 145, 146, and 147.

Chapter 146
1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
9 The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
10 The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

This evening, in the New Testament portion, we turn our attention to 1st Corinthians, Chapter 11, verses 1 through 15. I love the beginning here
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

30 August 2007

Today's Reading August 30

This morning's Old Testament reading -- Psalms 142, 143, and 144. As with the others, these Psalms are best read aloud, perhaps as a responsive reading. Psalm 144 has some things in it that those among us who are of the pacifist inclination are likely to be uncomfortable with. It starts out wiht:

1 Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
2 My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
3 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
4 Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
5 Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
6 Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.
and continues in that vein.
But this morning I am drawn to Psalm 142:
Chapter 142
1 I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.
3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
5 I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
6 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
I do cry out to the Lord with my voice; where else should I go for help from One who is always faithful?
== ==== ====
This evening's New Testament completes chapter 10 of 1st Corinthians, beginning with verse 14 and continuing through verse 33. More about the life of a Christian.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
Deut 32:17
21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
Psa 24:1
27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
Psa 24:1
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

29 August 2007

Today's Reading August 29

Still dark here, around 0530
This morning's reading includes Psalms 139, 140, 141. These are, all three, Psalms of David. The middle one is not one of those I know well. Psalm 141 has some things in it that mirror what I personally am going through now. But the first, Psalm 139 is to me a classic. I have been looking at that one since I was a kid and it holds enormous personal meaning.

Chapter 139
1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tonight's reading is from 1stCorinthians chapter 10, verses 1 through 13
More admonitions, more teaching of good doctrine, I particularly like verse 13, it's one of those verses you can make a sermon or lesson from.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
Exod 32:6
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

28 August 2007

Today's Reading August 28

I hope you had an opportunity to see the eclipse last night. We were not in a mood to do so, but our younger daughter was and sent us a text message about 0510 telling us about it.
This week is a rough one. We came home from church Sunday to find the air conditioning is out. Not a good thing in Alabama summers, but we've had a bit of a cooldown from the weeks of 100+ temps so perhaps we'll have a short reprieve. And Sunday night we had three cats, all of who contrived to squeeze through a door and get out - not for the first time either. Yesterday morning, I found one of them across the street, cold and stiff, with evidence, perhaps, that she had been poisoned. And no sign of the other two. Dear wife was distraught - in the last year or so we've lost everything we had, both of our mothers have died, both our daughters have moved out, far away, I'm out of work, the air conditioner is out and we have no money, and now the kitty she raised from a kitten is gone. A very very tough evening, with all the things that have happened all piling up on top of us until we just felt beaten down to the dust.
Until, about 7:30 last night we heard a noise, and admitted one of the cats, the 3rd one, the Siamese. Dear wife about wore him out hugging and patting him, and crying for the other one. So from now on we take special care that he doesn't get out. The other matters, perhaps God will help us with. When, I don't know, but I do know that He sometimes shows His presence in the little things too.
And I will go walking about today, looking for where the Maine Coon cat may have fallen. That's not exactly an enjoyable proposition.
This morning we will look at a few more of the Psalms, 136, 137, and 138. I love all three of these. Our Jewish friends might be a bit more familiar than we Gentiles with Psalm 137, though I love it too.

Chapter 137
1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
By the way, that is not hyperbole in the 9th verse - such utter brutality was not rare in those days. For that matter, the National Socialists did likewise in Europe not that long ago, and the Islamo-heathens do very similar things today.
But I like Psalm 136 for a responsive reading: every verse ends the same - ''for his mercy endureth for ever'' which is a good thing to remember. Thus it goes
Chapter 136
1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.
It is a good thing to rehearse and to remember the many great things that He has done. And to give praise: He's worth it.
This evening we turn our attention to 1st Corinthians chapter 9
Paul is speaking here of his own ministry, of his own practices, of his fervent and focused efforts to bring the Gospel to as many as possible, no matter the cost. It shames me. We know the efforts that an athlete makes in order to achieve something that, in eternal terms at least, is of little value. Should we not put at least that much priority into the eternal?
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

27 August 2007

Today's Reading August 27

And so we begin another week
This posting has a pause in it, one you can't see. We have 3 cats. Correction, we had 3 cats. They went out last night. This morning, I had to go outside and pick up the lifeless body of one of them for disposal. It was my daughter's favorite, and had been moping since she moved out. So she is gone. The one that my other daughter favored was fed this morning but was very upset and ate little. The third, the one my beloved wife dotes on, has not shown up for breakfast, very unlike him. I rather suspect poison as a cause of death. Oh, and yesterday, our air conditioning went out. Not good in Lower Alabama in summer.
So we're having a tough day. I hope we can be forgiven this.
Our Old Testament portion this morning is Psalms 132, 133, 134, and 135. We are, by the way, getting close to concluding the Psalms, about a week yet.
Out of all of this, there is one verse in particular to point out

1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Many of us have known the opposite situation all too well.

Our evening New Testament reading for this evening comes from 1st Corinthians chapter 8.
Paul is continuing to present both doctrine and practice to the church. It remains very applicable to us.

26 August 2007

Today's Reading August 26

Happy Sunday!
This morning we continue in the Psalms with Psalms 128, 129, 130, and 131. These are all very short, and like all the Psalms are really best read aloud. I am this morning particularly drawn to Psalm 130, it matches my mood.

Chapter 130
1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This evening we continue in 1st Corinthians, chapter 7, verses 25 through 40, completing the chapter.
Paul is continuing on his words to the church in Corinth on the subject of marriage. Then as now, there were questions about how best to serve the Lord and how to live in this world as believers, and to do both together. It's a question that we still face. The Catholics have whole groups set apart, priests and monks and friars and nuns, who covenant to live totally for the Lord. Those of us in the Anabaptist traditions haven't done so, formally, although there are and always have been those who remained single and celibate for any number of reasons, which did free them to go anywhere as the Lord led them to do - I had an uncle like that. Paul is one of them himself, but not all the Apostles were - Peter was married, for example. So Paul spends some time here going over the issue and talking about how we should treat the matter. God honors marriage, He created it! But it is true that there are sometimes issues where our duties to the Lord may be hindered to our duties to our spouse and children, and all the other issues of life. Probably shouldn't happen, but it does.
25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.