Hope In Difficult Circumstances

Today is Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Day 22,134

35 days until Thanksgiving!

“Of those who say nothing, few are silent.”
Thomas Neill
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is cryonaut, “a person whose dead body has been preserved by the technique of cryonics.” I don’t know if it’s still true or not, but at one time Ted Williams was a cryonaut.

I did not stay up for the entire game, last night, but the Red Sox wound up beating the Astros 8-6. The game was not over until after midnight and ended on a spectacular catch by Andrew Benintendi. I am at the same time both glad I didn’t stay up and wishful that I had. But I would be running on less than five hours of sleep if I had, so it’s probably for the best.

Unfortunately, Houston fans will all be pointing at a controversial call by umpire Joe West, who called fan interference on what would have been a Jose Altuve two-run home run. Even as a Boston fan, I have to say it was iffy. Mookie Betts was reaching for the ball and probably would have caught it, but his glove hit several outstretched hands that were going for the home run ball. Did they reach over the yellow line? It’s very, very close. But he called it, it was reviewed by MLB and they upheld his call.

But in my mind, that sort of makes up for the call the night before where the ball very likely bounced off the old manual scoreboard before falling into the Houston player’s glove.

Anyway, Boston leads the series 3-1 going into tonight’s game, which begins at 7:09. In other news, the Dodgers beat the Brewers 5-2 to take a 3-2 lead in that series. They are off tonight as the teams travel back to Milwaukee. I’m still hoping for a Red Sox/Brewers World Series.

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

“O ye people of the God, bless ye the Lord;
O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord;
O ye holy and humble men of heart, bless ye the Lord.
Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
praise him and magnify him for ever.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, IV The People of God)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24

This is actually from yesterday’s Daily Guideposts reading. Julia Attaway gives us a somber reminder of how we need to hope in the Lord, no matter what. She has a family filled with dysfunction. The main body of this reading concerns her daughter who has mental health issues. I won’t go into the detail, but this is one of those readings, unusual as they may be, in which all is not well at the end of it.

We get a lot of stories where God fixed everything and all was well and good at the end. Everyone lives “happily ever after.” Those are certainly warm and fuzzy and leave us feeling good at the end (or, perhaps, slightly nauseated). Not this reading. This reading reeks of reality. Everything is not always resolved at the end of the day. Julia’s issues with her family were not “fixed” at the end of this reading. What was for sure, though, was her conclusion: “I had to figure out how I would go about loving God, serving Him, and trusting Him in the midst of it.”

You see, Julia did not blame God; she did not forsake God because He didn’t “fix” all her problems. She went on trusting Him in the midst of all of them. We don’t always get that miracle that we think we need. Our autistic children aren’t always miraculously healed so they can lead a “normal” life (whatever the heck that is). But what we who are His true children know and understand is that God is God, we are not, and He will always do what is best. He will also do what He said He will do, and we have to face the truth that that does not always involve giving us whatever we want or think we need.

God knows what we truly need, and He will always be faithful to provide that. And that is where we must turn our faces away from the circumstances that would threaten our peace. We must turn our faces toward the God of peace, who will give us that peace in spite of the circumstances. The circumstances will likely remain, but my mindset will be different. I will be able to say, as Dallas Willard once said, “The world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”

Father, help us to take our eyes off of our difficult (or impossible, even) circumstances, today, and trust You. Help us to do this even when things don’t “get better.” If we but set our faces toward You, the difficulties will fade. They will still be there, but You are bigger, and You should take up more of our focus. Help me to trust You, serve You, and love 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.

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Listen To Him

Today is Wednesday, October 27, 2018.

Day 22,133

28 days until Fallout 76!!

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
Sir Francis Bacon, English author, courtier, and philosopher, 1561-1626
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is thunderstone, “any of various stones or fossils formerly thought to be fallen thunderbolts.” Seriously??

I wasn’t sure what to expect upon returning to work, so I wasn’t disappointed. I’m still pretty far behind, but managed to keep mostly calm most of the day. I’m trying to keep working things in FIFO (first in, first out) order, but if people contact me about their stuff, I’ll try to go ahead and get to it. The day wasn’t overly hectic, though. One funny thing . . . we have a daily “stand-up meeting” at 11:45. I completely forgot to go to it. Nobody said anything to me, though. Maybe I’ll “forget” again. Haha. Everyone who knows me knows how much I don’t like meetings. They’re a complete waste of time.

Now on to the important news. The Red Sox handed a solid beating to the Astros last night in game three of the ALCS, thanks to a towering solo home run by Steve Pearce, and a late inning grand slam by Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Sox won 8-2, to take the lead in the series, 2-1. That game lasted four hours, though. I’m glad it started at 4:00-ish yesterday afternoon. Tonight’s game is supposed to start at 7:39. I may not be able to stay up for the whole game if it takes that long again.

The Dodgers beat the Brewers 2-1 in thirteen innings to tie that series 2-2. They have the four o’clock game today.

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

“O let the earth bless the Lord;
O ye mountains and hills, bless ye the Lord;
O all ye green things upon the earth, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye wells, bless ye the Lord;
O ye seas and floods, bless ye the Lord;
O ye whales and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord;
O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord;
O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, III The Earth and its Creatures)

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Matthew 17:4-5

This scene occurs immediately after the transfiguration of Jesus. The thing that I want to focus on is those three little words that the voice from the cloud says. “Listen to him.”

In that voice, God says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

These are words that we need to heed. We need to spend more time listening to Jesus. That doesn’t mean that we only need to read the “red letters.” But it sure wouldn’t hurt us to focus a little bit more on those. As time goes by, theology gets weaker; people aren’t reading the Bible as much; people don’t even know what Jesus said. How can we claim His name and not know His teachings? There are some radical, revolutionary teachings in the New Testament, especially in the words of Jesus. We definitely need to spend more time listening to Him.

Here are some great examples:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 
This is the great and first commandment. 
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 
On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

That seems like a good place to start.

Father, help me to listen to Jesus today. As I go through my day, dealing with all the problems that come up in my job, help me to listen first to Jesus, then to others. Help me to love You with all my being, then love people around me as myself, then, most importantly, to love Your children the way Jesus has loved me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

Authenticity In Social Media

Today is Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

Day 22,132

29 days until Fallout 76!

“Nothing inspires forgiveness quite like revenge.”
Scott Adams, comic artist (Dilbert)
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is linguaphile, “a language and word lover.”

Yesterday was a nice, relaxing, rainy day. I left the house a couple of times. Once to go have lunch with the family (we went to Martha’s Mexican Cuisine), and then a second time to pick up our grocery order between 4:00 and 4:30 PM. C spent part of the day out and about, getting nails done and taking S to get her hair cut. S wants to donate her shopped off hair (about eight inches worth) to an organization that provides wigs for children with cancer.

After C got home from her 4:30 eye-doctor appointment, she and I snacked on food we had left over from our vacation, watched some TV, and then went to bed around 9:00-ish. I didn’t sleep great. Seems like I woke up at least once an hour. Probably anticipation over having to go back to work today. I don’t wanna. But we must.

Also, it’s raining and cold outside. That doesn’t make for a fun trip to work.

The Brewers beat the Dodgers 4-0 last night, to take a 2-1 lead in that series. The Red Sox play the Astros in Houston this afternoon at 4:00-something. Honestly, I don’t understand why both games can’t be played at the same time. They aren’t being broadcast on the same TV channel. I’ll have to listen to most of the game on my drive home from work.

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

“O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord;
O ye waters that be above the firmament, bless ye the Lord;
O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord;
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord;
O ye showers and dew, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye winds of God, bless ye the Lord;
O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord;
O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye dews and frosts, bless ye the Lord;
O ye frost and cold, bless ye the Lord;
O ye ice and snow, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord;
O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord;
O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.”

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Song of Creation, II-The Cosmic Order)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

In today’s Daily Guideposts reading, Ashley Kappel writes about social media. There are, of course, both positive and negative characteristics of social media.

Positives include being able to keep up with friends who may not live close to you, sharing projects that you have worked on and completed, pictures of children, and so on. I have personally made social media a tool for prayer in my own life, asking people what their prayer needs are, each morning before I leave for work.

Negatives tend to run along the lines of politics and complaining about things. I have managed to resist the temptation to be political on social media, as I feel that it feeds the deep division in our nation. I will confess to complaining a time or two, and, occasionally giving a bad review of something.

One negative that might be disguised as a positive is people who only show the best things in their lives on social media, making it look like their lives are perfect. Of course, we all know better, right?

Right??

I believe that, as God’s people, we have a responsibility to display authenticity on social media. That means letting people know that we have problems as well as successes. Not to complain about our problems, and there’s a fine line, there, but just to let people know that we do not, in fact, have it all together. I certainly don’t. And I try to make that evident.

Just as God loves us in our shining moments as well as our darkest moments, we need to show this to people. We need to display the love of God through good and bad, sickness and health, richer or poorer . . . hey, this is starting to sound like a wedding.

Well, isn’t that interesting?

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Father, help me to be salt and light today, but not in such a way that I present a false front. Help me to also display authenticity in my walk with You, so that people know that I am real and that Your love for me is also real, through everything that comes my way, no matter how I might carry myself through the day. Even when I fall down, You love me, and that is what people need to see about 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.

Always Do Right

Today is Monday, October 15, 2018.

Day 22,131

38 days until Thanksgiving.

30 days until Fallout 76!!

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”
Jules Renard, French dramatist, 1864-1910
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is tergiversation, “evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement,” “equivocation,” “desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith.”

We had a nice drive back home, yesterday. We wound up not getting to go to The Gumbo Diner for breakfast, as they were so crowded that we couldn’t even park. We decided to go ahead and hit the road and see if we could find someplace on the way back. We did find a cafe that looked promising, but when we arrived, there were people standing outside on the sidewalk. I went in to scope out the wait, and was told it would be thirty to forty-five minutes. We had already decided that we wouldn’t wait (we were anxious to keep moving and get home), but I noticed that they had at least eight to ten tables empty in the place. When I questioned this, I was told that they had to seat people “at the pace of our kitchen.” They apparently believe that people would rather stand outside on the hot sidewalk than sit at a table and wait. The name of the place is First Watch, located in League City, just outside of Houston. They got a number of good reviews for their food, but we are not the only ones who noticed this rather silly philosophy of waiting. Needless to say, we won’t try the place again. We wound up having Jack In the Box, and eating on the road. Not nearly as satisfying as a real breakfast, but it sufficed.

We made a couple more stops along the way, to visit the restrooms and buy gas at Buc-ee’s, and then to get some more peach ice cream at Cooper’s Farms in Fairfield. That is always a high point in our trips to Galveston. We drove straight on to Mineral Wells, where we dropped off Mama. After getting her unloaded and settled in, we headed back to Fort Worth. We stopped for some food at O.C. Burgers, then went to the house. All was well here, except for one cat that seemed to be a bit perturbed at us for going off for so long. The rest of the animals seemed quite happy to see us.

The Red Sox/Astros ALCS game had just started when we got home, so we got unpacked, got our food distributed, then sat down to watch the game. It was definitely a nail-biter, but the Sox prevailed 7-5 to tie the series. They will be off today, as they traveled to Houston for the next three games. Frankly, I’m hoping that the Sox can go ahead and win the next three and not have to come back to Boston for game six.

I’m very glad that we decided to go ahead and take today off. After all that driving/riding yesterday, we were pretty tired. It was nice to sleep in on a Monday morning, especially as it is raining and cool outside.

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

“O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him forever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;
praise him and magnify him for ever.”
(The Book of Common Prayer)

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
Proverbs 4:18
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Proverbs 21:3
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

There are some tough words in these verses. The first, in Proverbs 4, is an encouragement. The encouragement/admonishment is that, when we walk in the path of righteousness, we will shine like the dawn, brighter and brighter. This is not a shining of self-fulfillment, or arrogance. I’ve seen people like that. They walk in the glory of their own accomplishments. That’s not the shining that this is talking about. This “shining” is the reflection of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

And this righteousness is what brings about the actions in the other verses. When we walk in the righteousness of Christ, we “give justice to the weak and the fatherless.” We “maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute.” And we recognize the fact that doing righteousness and justice is “more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

We need to ponder that truth more, I think. I do, for sure. There are a lot of people who want you to know how much they sacrifice for God to serve Him. But Jesus indicates to us that if we do those things to be honored by men, then we already have our reward. Our church is doing something different, this coming weekend. We are taking part in a program in a nearby town, called “Fix-it Blitz.” And, our pastor has decided that we will not have our usual worship gathering on Sunday morning, but will, instead, meet at the house that our team is working on. He plans on having the Supper (communion) at this house with whoever is there. I’m sure there will be some criticism, but what I believe is that he wants the community to see the love of Christ in action. It is not so that The Exchange Church can walk in the light of its own accomplishment, but so that it can shine like the dawn with the righteousness of Jesus.

There is a phrase that I’ve heard in the past. “Always do right.” A simple three-word phrase, right? Not so much. “Right” is not so easy all the time. Most of us always want to do “good,” right? But “good” and “right” are not always the same thing. “Right” is sometimes much more difficult than “good.” Just like being kind is not the same thing as being nice.

I believe that these Scriptures bear out the truth of “always do right.” We, the people of God, need to be about giving justice to the weak and the fatherless, maintaining the right of the the afflicted and destitute, being more concerned about doing justice and righteousness than sacrifice, and thinking on thigs that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Father, help me to be more like the verses quoted above. Help me to be more concerned with righteousness and justice than I am about my own appearance or reputation. Help me to think on the things mentioned in Philippians 4:8. And most of all, help me to always do right.
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.

Quick To Hear, Slow To Speak

Today is Sunday, October 14, 2018.

Day 22,130.

“If you believe everything you read, better not read.”
Alleged to be a Japanese Proverb, The Quotations Page

The word of the day is crapulous, ” marked by intemperance especially in eating or drinking.”

Sadly, we must depart Galveston today. It has been a wonderful week, and this house in which we stayed since Wednesday has been marvelous. We found a new (to us) great Mexican restaurant yesterday, called Salsa’s. The service was fabulous, the food was great, and they have this awesome “green sauce” that was not hotter, but, rather, made with a guacamole and sour cream base. It was so good that we bought some to bring home. And we found a new favorite place in The Gumbo Diner.

After our lunch at Salsa’s yesterday, we drove to The Strand and bought some more candy at La King’s Confectionery. It was so crowded down there that that’s all we did. We didn’t even park. My mother and I went in to the store while C drove around the block a few times.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the ocean back at the house.

Until the Red Sox game came on. And most of that wasn’t very enjoyable. They lost 7-2. It was close until the top of the ninth, when Workman gave up two home runs. David Price is pitching tonight. Hopefully, it will be better, but his playoff record isn’t so great. We definitely don’t want them going to Houston down 0-2. But it will be what it will be.

C is already packing up while I’m typing this. We’ll head back toward home, and then go ahead take Mama back to Mineral Wells. Fortunately, C and I both have tomorrow off to recuperate. Haha.

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

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

Matthew 14:26-29

Peter gets a lot of criticism for taking his eyes off of Jesus and sinking after verse 29. But we would all do well to stop and notice that Peter was the only disciple who got out of the boat! The rest of them didn’t even have the faith to do that.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Listening is becoming a lost art. Odds are, even when we are in a conversation, when the other person is talking, we are thinking about what we are going to say next, rather than listening to what the other person is saying. I know I have been guilty of this. And many times, we simply cannot wait until the other is finished before we butt in with our oh-so-important words. Truth is, most of us don’t have a lot that is worth saying. But when someone else is talking, we should always treat their words as treasures; even if we don’t agree with them.

That is something that is severely hurting our nation right now. There are too many people who don’t believe that others’ words are not worth listening to. But I believe that Jesus would have us listen more and talk less. Especially among one another. It’s definitely something I need to work on.

It even translates into our praying. For most of us, praying is nothing more than rattling off a list of requests (or, in some cases, demands) to God and then going away. How many of us take the time to listen to what God might say in return? I don’t necessarily mean that He will reply audibly. He might, though. He has been known to do that. And who knows what we might find if we but take the time to listen?

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Father, I pray that You would keep teaching me to listen. Part of this involves finding that place to be in solitude and silence, because it’s hard to listen to You in all the noise of the world. Thank You for what You have shown me so far. Thank You for making known to me the path of life. Now help me find that fullness of joy in Your presence and those pleasures forevermore at Your right hand.
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.

A Desolate Place

Today is Saturday, October 13, 2018.

Day 22,129.

Last full day in Galveston.

“In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, U.S. Novelist, 1896-1940, The Quotations Page

The word of the day is chantage, “The extortion of money or other benefit by threats or pressure, esp. by threatening to reveal a damaging or incriminating secret; blackmail; an instance of this.”

Yesterday was a day of mostly relaxing around the house and enjoying the ocean. C and I spent most of the day out on the deck, reading. The temperature was nice, and the breeze blowing off of the ocean made it nearly perfect. C cooked breakfast at some point, I don’t even remember what time.

At 5:15 PM, we headed into the Seawall area for our anniversary dinner at Fish Tales. It was delicious, of course. I will say this, though. The “Coastal Cuisine” at The Gumbo Diner was better than what I had at Fish Tales last night, and about half the price. It was still a nice dinner, though, and C shared her clam chowder with me, and it was also delicious. We came back to the house, and relaxed and read before going to sleep. My mother and I watched a little bit of the NLCS game. When we quit watching, the Brewers were up 6-1. The final score was 6-5, so the Dodgers made it close, but could not prevail. The Brewers are up 1-0 in the series. Their game 2 is today, while the Red Sox and Astros begin their series tonight. I imagine I will be watching that.

Today, we plan on going to The Strand at around 11:00 AM, to catch the salt water taffy being made fresh at La Kings Confectionery. We’ll do a little more shopping in the area, then have lunch at a Mexican restaurant, probably the one called Salsa’s. This is at S’s request, as she is hungry for some Mexican food. We plan on ordering pizza from Mario’s tonight.

Sadly, we must depart our house by 11:00 AM tomorrow. But we do plan to hit up The Gumbo Diner one last time on the way out.

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

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Psalm 61:1-3

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Mark 6:31

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 
And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:

Luke 6:12-13

David needed a refuge. He was a “man after God’s own heart,” but he needed a refuge, a “strong tower against the enemy.”

Jesus, the Son of God, the incarnation of God Himself, even needed time away from the crowds. Especially when a huge event was about to take place, such as the choosing of the twelve who would be His closest disciples.

Jesus also encouraged His own disciples to “come away by yourselves to a desolate place” for rest.

One of the Spiritual Disciplines is solitude. It is one that I struggle to practice, because I live in an area where it is quite difficult to be alone, even for a few minutes. I can be “alone” in my study in the house, but even there I am still distracted, because I have this thing called a computer on the desk.

The point of solitude, as described by Jesus in Mark 6, is to be by yourself and, if possible, in “a desolate place.” One of the definitions of “desolate” is “solitary, lonely.” So it doesn’t have to be a barren wasteland. Just someplace to be alone and quiet, with no technology or people to distract. Obviously, it would be best to leave the cell phone in the car.

We all need some time to be away. This week in Galveston has been great for that. C and I have both been able to spend some good time alone, just sitting and watching the ocean, appreciating God’s beauty in creation. I have great appreciation for all of God’s creation. I love mountains (the real ones . . . we don’t really have any of those in Texas), but, for some reason, I am drawn more powerfully by the ocean. Perhaps this is because it appears to be infinite. We know it is not, but it looks like it is, as it stretches out across the horizon, with nothing else visible for miles.

It is inviting, yet frightening, just like God. It is beautiful and terrible, just like God. It is deep and wide, just like the love and grace and mercy of God. I guess that’s it. The ocean is the best example in nature, for me, of the characteristics of God.

However, to get back to the point of this, the discipline of solitude is important for us. It was necessary for Jesus; how much more necessary for us!

Father, I believe I have prayed this before, but I’m praying it again, and probably will again. Help me find that place where I can practice solitude and silence before You. Help me find that “desolate place” where I can simply sit and consider You for a time, perhaps meditating on some Scripture that I have memorized. I thank You for this place where we have been for the past week, where we have been able to sit and watch the ocean and consider You. But, like “all good things,” this must end, and we head back to the “normal” life tomorrow. It is there where I need the place of solitude. Somewhere around there is a place I can go to be alone with You. Lead me there.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Am Just Jeff; God Is God

Today is Friday, October 12, 2018.

Day 22,128.

Before I post any quotes or words, I want to begin by saying “Happy Aniversary” to my wife, C. As of today, we have been married an amazing thirty-three years! That seems incredible, but it seems like only yesterday that we met at the altar of that little Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, to join our lives together. And it is the power of God that has held our lives together through good times and bad times, ups and downs, sickness and health, richer and poorer. I love this woman more than words can express.

Now for the quotes and words.

“People will buy anything that is ‘one to a customer.'”
Sinclair Lewis, 1885-1951, BrainyQuote

The word of the day is sennachie, “Chiefly Scot., Irish. a professional storyteller of family genealogy, history, and legend.”

After hanging around the house for a bit, yesterday morning, we headed back to The Gumbo Diner for another late breakfast. I had another one of their seafood omelets, this time with an order of toasted garlic bread. It was all still delicious. I think it may be our new favorite place in Galveston. After that, we went to Murdoch’s gift shop, which actually is built out over the gulf water. C and I each got a strawberry daiquiri, but couldn’t get S one because we left her ID card back at the house. Oh, well. She is 25 years old, but doesn’t really look that old. And, it turns out they were a bit on the strong side, anyway. After sitting in rocking chairs, looking out over the water, we did a little shopping, then left to stop at Sonic on the way back in, for drinks. Since S couldn’t get a daiquiri, we got her a Sonic Blast. It was probably better than the daiquiri, anyway.

We relaxed around the house for a few hours, after which C and I headed back to The Strand for our ghost tour. Dash Beardsley, himself, actually led this tour. It was fun, but we still think that the first one we did here, the Restless Spirits tour (also by Dash’s company, but led by someone else), was the best one so far. Dash was not nearly as mysterious as I expected him to be. He was fun, though, and definitely dressed the part.

During the tour, we learned a little more about the history of Galveston, including some Civil War history, as well as more about the 1900 hurricane, and a forty-two block fire that occurred in, I believe, 1885.

There wasn’t much open, as we drove back home, so we had grilled sandwiches after we got back to the house.

Today, we plan to have breakfast at the house, one more round of eggs, sausage, and biscuits. Then we have a 6:00 PM reservation at Fish Tales tonight, to celebrate our anniversary with dinner. The rest of the day, we plan to relax around the house, reading and enjoying the ocean view and sounds.

The NLCS begins tonight, with the Brewers hosting the Dodgers at 7:09 PM Central Time. I probably won’t be watching, but I hope the Brewers win the series.

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

“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
Psalm 29:11

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Here it is again. God talking about rest and peace, being still.

It is appropriate, after all, because that is the main reason we are here in Galveston. Perhaps I needed these reminders, because it dawns on me that I have not spent enough time just sitting in silence and/or solitude. So today and tomorrow, I plan to enjoy a little more of that. I need to spend more time, being still and knowing that God is God.

To borrow from today’s Daily Guideposts reading, I am just Jeff, but God is God.

So whatever I do today, I need to remember that and reflect on the fact that God is God, along with all that this truth means for my life. One of the things that it means is that there is, ultimately, nothing to worry about, ever.

Father, thank You for the reminder that You are God and I am not. I am who I am by Your grace, true, but I am not in control, I am not in charge, nor do I really want to be. I am happy to relinquish any myths that I might be in control of anything. I pray that I might experience Your peace and rest, today, perhaps in a way that I have never experienced them before.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Dear Father always near us, may your name be treasured and loved, may your rule be completed in us – may your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven. Give us today the things we need today, and forgive us our sins and impositions on you as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us. Please don’t put us through trials, but deliver us from everything bad. Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours – forever – which is just the way we want it! (Dallas Willard)

Grace and peace, friends.