Amazing Grace

Today is Friday, the nineteenth of March, 2021, in the fourth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,017

Sixteen days until Resurrection Sunday

Today is Friday! Not only that, but I’m only working a half day today. It’s not all fun and games, though, as the first part of my afternoon will be spent getting my second round of COVID-19 vaccination. After that, I will be heading straight to the car dealership to get my oil changed, tires rotated, and, hopefully, figure out what caused the part under my car to get damaged (and, according to the oil change place, installed backwards).

If, as I have heard, the second round of vaccination makes me feel unwell, I have the whole weekend to recover from it.

There are no other plans for the weekend, other than the usual things that we do every weekend. I do hope I feel up to the WW Workshop, tomorrow, because C should obtain Lifetime membership tomorrow, and I want to be there when she does, to celebrate with her.


Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you, and desire nothing save 
only you. 
Let me hate myself and love you. 
Let me do everything for the sake of you. 
Let me humble myself and exalt you. 
Let me think of nothing except you. 
Let me die to myself and live in you. 
Let me accept whatever happens as from you. 
Let me banish self and follow you, and ever desire to follow you. 
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you that I may deserve 
to be defended by you. 
Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among 
those who are chosen by you. 
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in you. 
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you. 
Let me cling to nothing save only to you, and let me be poor 
because of you. 
Look upon me, that I may love you. 
Call me that I may see you, and forever enjoy you. 
(Prayer to Forsake Myself for Jesus, by St. Augustine of Hippo)

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
(Psalms 65:8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • to be getting my second Covid-19 shot
  • that I am alive and breathing
  • for Amazing Grace (both the reality and the hymn)
  • for opportunities to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You
  • that You are my Shepherd, and I shall lack for nothing

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



The Lord is . . . patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Take a moment to ponder and meditate, seeking the joy of the Lord that abounds in His presence.


Of David.

To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
(Psalms 28:1-6 NIV)


Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:34-38 NIV)


As I quietly re-read these passages, and enjoy His presence, this morning, I confess that I always feel guilt when I read this passage in Mark. It’s that bit about denying myself and taking up my cross.

The guilt is just my nature. I seem to be, by nature, a self-deprecating person. Not necessarily in an unhealthy way, mind you, but sometimes, maybe so. Did that make sense?

There are plenty of instances in my history where I did not, most definitely, deny myself and take up the cross. In fact, I blatantly did the opposite. Those are times of extreme sin in my life. Of course, there was repentance. God never allowed me to languish in those events, but always drew me back to Himself, sometimes by a gentle nudge of the Spirit, sometimes by a violent dragging or shoving.

You see, I belong to Him. He paid the price for my redemption, and He is not about to let me go. Nor do I want Him to.

Nevertheless, I still feel that there is always room for improvement in the arena of denying myself and taking up my cross to follow Him. Taking up my cross can look different, of course, for everyone. But one thing it must be is something over which we have control. Someone treating you badly is not “your cross to bear.” A dreadful disease, bad as it may be, is not “your cross to bear.” We have no control over those things (other than the control of getting out of an abusive relationship).

Taking up my cross goes hand in hand with denying myself. That means there might be something I really, really, really want to do, in the flesh, but my spirit, by the Holy Spirit’s influence, knows that it would not be right, even if it isn’t necessarily sinful. Refraining from doing whatever it is would be an act of denying myself and taking up my cross.

My life is not my own. It is not mine to save or lose. And I do not wish to “gain the whole world,” only to lose my soul in the process. My soul is the most important part of me, and I intend to keep it healthy, in spite of myself.

I will not be ashamed of Christ, so that He will not be ashamed of me.

Father, thank You for the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. Thank You for the strength to deny myself, when called upon, and help me to always take up my cross and follow Jesus. I would not make You ashamed of me, Lord, so let me not be ashamed of Christ in my life, but wear Him like a badge of honor.

God of new creations,
I search to find real life,
but my attempts are ashes because I've failed to understand the gospel mystery,
that I need to die to come alive.
Teach me to repent,
and provide me with the faith and courage to give myself away and so let your new life fill me.
In Jesus' name,
(Heidelberg Catechism 88)


The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
(Isaiah 57:14 ESV)

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
(John 11:9-10 ESV)

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
(1 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home."
(John Newton)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
(Isaiah 40:11 ESV)

As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
(Ezekiel 34:12-16 ESV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
(John 10:11-16 ESV)

Father, I am very grateful for those along the way who have helped me by clearing obstructions from my path, teaching me how to be watchful for dangerous paths, and essentially preparing me for success in Your kingdom. This goes all the way back to my parents and childhood Sunday School teachers, up until today, including pastors and people who have authored books that have been helpful and influential. Keep teaching me, Father, and help me to do the same for someone else. Thank You, Jesus, for being our Good Shepherd and laying down Your life for us. There are not enough words of gratitude . . .

Lord, please give me, this morning, more of a feeling of gratitude and wonder and awe at the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Help me to follow the way of the cross and give me more of a capacity to suffer alongside others who are suffering. Lord, I pray a special blessing on those, this morning, who struggle with marital and family issues.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.