Reckless Love

Good morning. Today is Thursday, June 6, 2013. Things are moving along pretty much normally around here, lately. The new kitten is fitting in quite nicely.

We had some thunder-boomers last night, between 2am and 4am. I didn’t hear anything but thunder and rain, though. It sounds like we got a decent amount of rain.

There’s not a whole lot more to talk about today. Oh, the Red Sox and Rangers are playing in Fenway Park. So far, they have split the series. The Red Sox won the first game 17-5, and the Rangers won last night 3-2. Tonight is the “rubber match” of the series.

Today is National Gardening Exercise Day. How, exactly, do you get your garden to exercise?

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Camillo di Cavour, along with Giuseppe Garibaldo, was considered one of the fathers of the unification of Italy. He was “the second son of a marquis,” very intelligent and resourceful, and Disraeli called him “utterly unscrupulous.” His life ambition was to create an Italian state, and was “the great architect of the Risorgimento” (the rising again) that led to Italy being united. When this was achieved in 1860, “he was Victor Emmanuel’s first Prime Minister.” He had, however, suffered from what we now call malaria since 1850, and died on this date in 1861, after being struck down by fever. His last words were, reportedly, “Italy is made–all is safe.”

Today’s birthday is Danny Strong, born on this date in 1974. Danny played the part of Jonathan Levinson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We got to meet him at a convention in Chicago. Here is a preview clip of an episode that featured his character, from season four, called “Superstar.”

Honorable mentions go to V.C. Andrews, 1923, Gary U.S. Bonds, 1939, Robert Englund, 1947, Tony Levin, 1948, Bjorn Borg, 1956, Steve Vai, 1960, Bill Bates, 1961, and Paul Giamatti, 1967.


O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. Psalm 51:15
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Psalm 89:8,14

Father, I pray that you will send out your light and truth and let them lead me today, most especially as I look into your words this morning, but also as I live through this day, as well.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “With Him I Speak Face to Face.” The scripture reading is Numbers 12:1-9.

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed.

(The translation used in the book says, in verse 8, “with him I speak face to face,” where, in the ESV, it says, “with him I speak mouth to mouth.”) This statement that God makes, that he speaks with Moses face-to-face, is the result of the jealousy of Aaron and Miriam, Moses’s brother and sister. God may speak to others in dreams and visions, but, with Moses, he spoke face to face, or “mouth to mouth.”

How many of us have ever been jealous because someone else we knew seemed to receive “special treatment” from God? Here we are struggling to get a grip on God’s plan for our lives, and, over there, so-and-so has it all together (they don’t, really, it just looks that way), they seem to have a clear vision of what they are to do. Let us look deeply into the example of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam when we contemplate these things. I can be seeking God’s guidance in my life and still rejoice with someone who has received a clear vision for theirs.

The final one of the 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is “The grace of reckless love.” We return to the scene of one of the first of the mercies, that of Mary Magdalene at the feet of Jesus. “The fragrance of Mary’s love pervades the room.” When Jesus turns to look at the woman, he speaks to Simon, the host: “You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.” Then he said these words about Mary, words which, as far as we know, were never spoken about anyone else: Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 44:47)

If Mary Magdalene had not engaged in this act of reckless love, she “would have been buried in history as an unknown hooker.” Is my relationship with Jesus marked by such reckless love? What is “authentic Christianity?” “It’s the thrill, the excitement, of falling in love with the risen, living Jesus Christ.” Jesus shows us the way to the Father; he pours out the Spirit on us. Not so we will be nicer people, with better morals! So that we will be NEW! “New creations, human torches ignited with the flaming Spirit of the living God.” The 19 Mercies closes with this prayer:

Oh, God, my Father, thank You for Your mercies–
innumerable, measureless, fathomless . . . Thank you!
Be present with me now on each step of this ragamuffin
journey. Grow me up in my inner being to receive and
share abroad more and more of Your love. Let me be Your
hands and face and words to all I meet. Set me free to
serve You–free from anxiety, fear, self-pity, self-hatred,
cynicism, or skepticism. Free me from every crippling sin
and any darkness of unbelief. Lord Jesus Christ, anoint
my life and my spiritual community with deep faith
and reckless abandonment to Your enduring goodness.
Give us truly listening hearts, that we may hear Your Word
and courageously act upon it, to the praise of Your name
and joy of Your heart. I ask this in the name of Your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Father, I cannot improve on or add to the above prayer, so I simply echo it. I pray for this kind of reckless love in my life. You have been drawing me toward this for a few years, now, and I pray that you keep drawing me! Show me this love; make me one who loves like this. Help me to show this love to others, that they may know the love that you have for all of us.

I pray for this day ahead. I pray that Christi will have a good work day and that the healing will continue. I pray for Stephanie today, that you might show her your unfailing love today. I pray for my work day, that it will be smooth, and that I might have the grace and strength to handle any stress in your love and mercy.

Your grace is sufficient.

I pray that you can all experience this reckless love.

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear Not, Little Flock

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, Hump Day, June 5, 2013.

There’s really not a whole lot going on this week, other than our usual work stuff. Christi started feeling ill after lunch yesterday, but feels better now. Perhaps she overdid a bit, as her and a friend went out for lunch. It was on the long walk back to her office that she began feeling sick. She’s better this morning, though, and felt better by the time we went to bed last night. I told her she probably should have started back with half-days.

My work week is going much better than last week. There are now thirteen more delivery days on this account. Watch this space for new developments.

Today is World Environment Day.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Herbert Horatio Kitchener was a great hero in his day. His face was found on posters encouraging people to join the British Army.
He was “avenger of Gordon, reconqueror of the Sudan, hero of Fashoda, protector of the Northwest frontier, Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, Earl Kitchener of Khartoum,” and now he had been appointed Secretary of State for War in the Asquith government, when Great Britain declared war in 1914, following Germany’s invasion of Belgium. There was a sense that Kitchener could not fail at anything; everything he touched was a success. Unfortunately, “he was a warrior of the 19th century facing warfare on an unprecedented industrial scale.” He couldn’t deal with the scale of war that was happening in WWI. The war dragged on, no end in sight, and his influence began slipping, “his colleagues began to challenge his decisions.” Rather than try to get him to resign, Asquith sent him to Russia “to assess the situation on the Eastern Front.” He was traveling on the armored cruiser Hampshire, on this date in 1916, when she struck a mine in the North Sea. She quickly sank, taking virtually everyone down with her. David Fromkin said this of Kitchener: “If he had died in 1914 he would have been remembered as the greatest British general since Wellington. Had he died in 1915 he would have been remembered as the prophet who foretold the nature and duration of the First World War and as the organiser of Britain’s mass army. But in 1916 he had become the ageing veteran of a bygone era who could not cope with the demands placed on him in changing times.”

Today’s birthday is Richard Scarry, born on this date in 1919. Scarry was an author who wrote and illustrated many children’s books, perhaps best known for Best Word Book Ever, I Am A Bunny, and Busy, Busy World. I definitely remember having some of his books when our daughters were children. Scarry passed away in 1994, just shy of his 75th birthday.

Honorable mentions go to Pancho Villa, 1923, Bill Moyers, 1934, and Freddie Stone, 1946.


Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. Psalm 66:8-9
Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! Psalm 70:5
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:5-6
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Father, you truly have been my hope since the day I came out of my mother’s womb. “My praise is continually of you.” Teach me your ways, Lord, be my help and my deliverer, as I search your words this morning, looking for a glimpse of your face.

Today’s reading in A Year With God begins the second half of the section on the discipline of guidance. The reading is called “Finding the Way.” The scripture reading is Isaiah 30:19-21.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

It is, too often, hard to hear the voice of God guiding us in the right way. We think we know God’s direction for us, but we just aren’t sure. The task over the next ten days is to seek God’s guidance about a major decision. Now, how did they know I had a major decision coming up?? There are a variety of ways to do this. “You might want to pray about the same thing every day, asking God for confirmation or direction, or, alternately, spend a block of time one day thinking and praying. Another option is to ask several trusted friends to meet with you and talk over and pray about your question.”

Ignatius of Loyola stated, in Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, that “good influences provide courage and strength and produce peace and a greater feeling of love, while choices influenced by evil can be counted on to cause regret, sadness, and disquiet.” I will reflect on this statement as I pray about my decision.

Mercy number 18 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is “Worry is an insult to your Father.” I used to always say that worry is a sin, but I’ve backed off on that just a little, as it sometimes seems to be tied in with personality traits. But this isn’t a psychology blog. Moving along. Charles de Foucauld, who was the founder of an organization called Little Brothers of Jesus, wrote this: “The one thing we owe absolutely to God is never to be afraid of anything.” In Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Brennan took the title of this mercy from a bumper sticker he claims to have seen in Texas. “Worry is an insult to your Father.”

We do know this one thing; Jesus had to have been terrified concerning what was coming as he fell on his face in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36) However, his insistence of the final statement in that prayer gave him the strength and courage to carry on. The prayer that Brennan has mentioned previously, “Abba, I belong to you,” is a prayer that can help us center on our identity with God. When praying that prayer, Brennan said, “It was like stepping into a hot bath–just letting the Father’s love seep in, saturate, permeate every part of my being.” We need to let go of worry and fear and allow ourselves to trust in God completely. “It’s one thing to know your Father loves you and quite another thing to experience it.”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

Many of us have read those verses hundreds of times in our lifetime. But do we really believe them? Do I truly, in the depths of my heart, believe that God loves me more than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field? Then why do I worry? What do I have to fear? He knows what is best for me, and will take care of me, even though my flesh may die.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

“I wonder if fear is not our main obstacle to prayer.
When we enter into the presence of God and start to sense
the huge reservoir of fear inside us, we want to run away
into the many distractions, which our busy world offers
so abundantly. But we shouldn’t be afraid of our fears.
We can confront them, give words to them and
lead them into the presence of the One who says,
‘Be not afraid. It is I.'”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

Father, I fear. I confess it. I fear too much. I fear the future. I admit it. What if . . .? I spend too much time thinking, “What if . . .?” What if Christi loses her job in the aftermath of her company’s merger? What if I make the wrong decision in the next week or so? What if this or that doesn’t work out the way we thing it will? What if something happens to us? Who will take care of Stephanie?

I must stop!! Father, I cry out to you to cast out this fear with your perfect love! I have experienced your love! Yes, I have. It is more than just head knowledge. I know that you love me. I know that your love is unconditional, and that there is nothing I can do to separate myself from your love. Take this love and bathe me in it. Let it saturate me, let it permeate me, let it overflow around me. All I want to know is you and your love. “Abba, I belong to you.”

“Abba, I belong to you.”

I pray for this day. I thank you that Christi is feeling better today, and pray that she will not feel ill again today. Give her strength and grace to get through this day. I thank you for an encouraging phone call she got yesterday evening. (You know what I’m talking about, even though I can’t publicize it.) I pray for good results from it. I pray for Stephanie today, that your love would surround her in all she does. I pray for my work day, that it will go smoothly, and that you will help me make a decision that is coming up soon. “Abba, I belong to you.”

I pray for a friend who used to be a work associate, who is having a CAT scan today. May she be cancer free, Lord. I pray for your healing hand on her.

Your grace is sufficient.

“Fear not, little flock.”

Grace and peace, friends.

The Father’s Delight

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Yesterday was actually a pretty decent day. Christi’s first day back at work went pretty well, but she was pretty tired when she got home. We had dinner from Subway and went to bed early. Stephanie cleaned her room yesterday.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

She also cleaned out her closet.

I’ll give you about five minutes to let that sink in.

Today is Hug Your Cat Day. I’m all about that. Just be careful. If the cat does not want to be hugged, it can be extremely painful. Here is a very cute video of two cats hugging.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1940, the evacuation of the Allied forces at Dunkirk was abandoned. It was considered largely successful, as almost 340,000 troops were evacuated with the help of the Royal Navy and RAF. The escape became known as “the miracle of Dunkirk,” and was, by some, considered a victory in itself. However, as Winston Churchill made his speech later that day, he cautioned, “We must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” His speech also included these famous words as he “roared defiance:” “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Today’s birthday is Michelle Phillips, born on this date in 1944. Michelle was one of the “mamas” in The Mamas and the Papas. Here is a You Tube clip of one of my favorite songs of theirs, “I Call Your Name.”

Honorable mentions go to Dennis Weaver, 1924, Bruce Dern, 1936, Gordon Waller, 1945, Joe Hill, 1972.


Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD. Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant! For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Psalm 135:1, 3, 5
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! Psalm 108:2

Father, I pray that I might be satisfied with your steadfast love, that I may rejoice and be glad in you, all of my days. Teach me something today, as I look into your words.

Here’s a quote from today’s Tabletalk Magazine reading.

“To ask questions of God in faith means asking Him with the willingness to be content with His answer or even if He never appears to give us an answer at all. To ask questions of the Lord in a faithless manner is to demand an answer or to find certain answers unacceptable. As we wrestle with God in prayer, let us take care that we always come before Him in faith, trusting in His goodness and willing to be content with whatever He gives us.”


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Guided by the Spirit.” The scripture reading is John 16:12-13.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

After Christ ascended and the Spirit came to earth, Jesus was liberated from the limitations that he had placed upon himself to become this Jewish teacher and healer. “With this liberation the person of Christ became free to move with the word of the gospel of the kingdom throughout the inner life of the disciples and about the world at large.”

I have to say that I disagree with the above quote. According to scripture, Jesus is still in physical form at the right hand of the Father, where he will stay until he returns to the earth in judgment. The Holy Spirit is a separate entity, and is not Jesus. The subject of the trinity is a tricky thing, while all three persons of the Trinity are “God,” they are not all each other. I don’t want to dive any further into a discussion on the Trinity here, but I have to disagree with the above statement in this book. It is the Holy Spirit that is “free to move with the word of the gospel of the kingdom throughout the inner life of the disciples and about the world at large.” In fact, it is probably incorrect to even say that Jesus lives in my heart, when it is, in fact, the Holy Spirit.

But this misses the point of the reading, I think. The point is that we are now guided by the Holy Spirit, with his direct influence on our lives. Jesus does guide us through the Spirit “into understanding and truth.” A prayer is offered at the end of this reading.

“Father God, I have seen these last days how faithful you are in guiding your people. Help me to rush to you with my arms open wide, seeking your Spirit at all times in your word, in other people, in Christ moving in the circumstances of my life. I ask for patience for those times when the way is murky. Clear away all the static in my life, so that I can hear you more clearly. In your name I pray. Amen.”

And if we take this thought along with the above quote from Tabletalk, the aspect of seeking his guidance includes the faith to accept whatever guidance he gives (or doesn’t give).

The final section of 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called “Trust.” Mercy number 17 is “Trust in your Father’s delight.”

A Trappist monk, Basil Pennington, is quoted as saying, “A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off his toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds his little one close to him, he cares little whether the child is looking around, his attention flitting from one thing to another, or if he’s intent upon his father, or just settling down to sleep. The father doesn’t care, because essentially the child is choosing to be with his father, confident of the love, the care, the security that is his in those arms.” Wow! What an amazing quote! Our prayer should be just like that! We have immediate access to our Father’s “lap.” We can “settle down in our Father’s arms and His loving hands.” Or thoughts and imaginations may wander, we may even fall asleep. But we choose to remain with him, “giving ourselves to Him, receiving His love and care, letting Him enjoy us as He will.” And let us not only pray what we are comfortable with! Let us reveal “our whole trembling self to Him with all our anxieties, dark desires, fears, sensuality, laziness, and incompetence!” His perfect love casts out all fear!

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before
the world was made, He chose us in Christ to be holy and
spotless, to live through love in His presence, determining that
we should become His adopted sons through Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul

Father, help to experience more times like this, where I just sit in your lap and be with you, regardless of where my mind goes. May my prayer times be this intimate; may I truly bring to you every deep and dark secret that I possess, and lay them down at your feet, allowing your perfect love to cast out all my fear. I struggle still, with this steadfast love of yours. Even though I have stated that I accept it, and I do, it is still something that my flesh simply cannot believe, so there are multiple times every day when I doubt it, when I feel unworthy of it, when I simply can’t believe that anyone could love me the way you love me. I pray that I can grow deeper into this love and become a conduit of your love to those around me. Help me to help them find your love! May I be a peacemaker in my world.

I pray for this day ahead. May it be a smooth day for both Christi and me. I pray for her strength and stamina today as she goes to work. I pray that her job will remain stable in the days ahead, or, if not, that you are preparing something in advance for her to move to. I pray for Stephanie today, that she might find your love as she looks for Jesus in Colossians 1. Give her wisdom as she seeks your face. I pray that my work day will go well, again today. Thank you for the relief that I had yesterday in the work day.

Your grace is sufficient.

Look for the guidance of God through the Spirit, but be ready to accept whatever answers he gives or doesn’t give. Then immerse yourself in his steadfast, crazy, overwhelming love.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Least of These

Good morning. It is Monday again. June 3, 2013. We had a decent weekend, and got a good amount of rest. Also, the Red Sox took 2-3 from the Evil Empire, which made it even better! 😀

I’m hoping for a more normal week, this week, as we have a “reset” this morning, and no Monday holiday to get things all “wonky.” Christi is officially going back to work today. Pray for her strength. I think she might be pretty tired after half the day. But who knows? She’s tough, you know.

Today is Repeat Day.

Today is Repeat Day.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Franz Kafka died on this date in 1924, in a sanatorium, just outside Vienna, in Kierling. Kafka was an author who wrote this famous opening line: “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” Even though he is considered one of the 20th centuries greatest authors, most of his “enigmatic works were published posthumously.” Born in Prague, he received a doctorate in law from the University of Prague. At the age of 34, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He is said to have been a “charming and amusing companion.” Apparently, he had left instructions for his executor, Max Brod, to burn all of his works after he died. Fortunately, “for readers everywhere, Brod disregarded his orders and prepared many of them for publication.”

Today’s birthday is Marion Zimmer Bradley, born on this date in 1930. Ms. Bradley was an author of the fantasy genre, one of her most notable works being the series that began with The Mists of Avalon. Although born in Albany, NY, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas. The Avalon series retells the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the female characters.

Honorable mentions go to Jefferson Davis, 1808, Jimmy Rogers, 1924, Tony Curtis, 1925, Boots Randolph, 1927, Larry McMurtry, 1936, Ian Hunter, 1939, Suzi Quatro, 1950, and James Purefoy, 1964.


Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:36-37

Father, I pray that my eyes would be turned from looking at worthless things today. Let me see your steadfast love this morning as I look into your words.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Guided by God’s Strength.” The scripture reading is Exodus 15:13.

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.”

There are various ways that we can receive guidance from God–dreams, visions, circumstances, and conversations–but in this verse God guides Israel by his strength. What does that mean, to be guided by God’s strength? Does it carry a sense of protection, of provision, of overcoming adversity? When I consider these questions, in light of this verse, I get a visual of God’s hands being on either side of me, directing my path, keeping me from stepping off of the path I am supposed to be on. His “strength,” or his ability to keep me faithful, is what is guiding me. He is stronger than me, so he can direct my path and, thereby, guide me in the best way.

The book offers a prayer by John Knox:

“Let your mighty hand, O Lord our Lord,
and outstretched arm, be our defense;
your mercy and loving-kindness
in Jesus Christ, your dear Son, be our salvation;
your all-true-word be our instruction;
the grace of your life-giving Spirit
be our comfort and consolation;
to the end and in the end. Amen.”

Getting back to the 19 Mercies today, number 16 is “Christ in the person next to you.” In the winter of 1947, when a Dominican monk took a family in who was freezing to death on the streets of Paris, he went to the chapel, took the “blessed sacrament” and put it upstairs in a “cold, unheated attic,” and let the family come into the chapel to sleep. When his brothers expressed shock at this, he replied, “Jesus Christ is not cold in the Eucharist, but He is cold in the body of a little child.” Whether or not Jesus’s body and blood are truly present in the Eucharist is a matter of interpretation/opinion. However, Jesus plainly stated that whenever we help someone who is in need, we do so to him. Mother Teresa once wrote, “In the Eucharist I see Christ in the appearance of the bread. In the slums, I see Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor. The Eucharist and the poor are but one love for me.”

“Right now, the Lord is in the person next you, in front of you, behind you. When you go home tonight and open the door of your home, the Lord will be present in each person there. Sometimes He’s buried there. Sometimes He’s bound hand and foot there, but He’s there.” Our duty is to love Him there. We have been given the Holy Spirit that we might love. “. . . the meaning of our religion is love.”

Lord Jesus, Savior Servant . . . help me to dream again.
Rekindle in my heart that fire of the disciple who sees
his calling everywhere, hears Your invitation everywhere,
reaches out to Your children in great need . . . everywhere.
I really do want to live Your life in mine–to serve, to care,
to give, to sing Your song–for your glory and pleasure.

My Father, as I live this day, may I be guided by your strength. May I understand that the circumstances that come my way are not designed to defeat me (unless they are, being allowed by you, coming from my enemy), but to strengthen me. May I see, with your eyes, by the power of your Holy Spirit, the presence of Christ in everyone around me today; in that driver who is rude to me; in phone call that gets me aggravated; in work associates who don’t cooperate or try to bully me. May I see your presence in all of them, and discern that, even though I may not know precisely what it is, there is a need there that only you can meet. May this be a part of my fulfilling of that command that I “pray without ceasing.”

Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Teach me to love as you have loved.

I pray for this day today. May Christi experience further healing on her foot. I pray for her strength today as she goes back to work for the first day since her surgery. Keep her strong through this day, and surround her with your strength to guide her and protect her. I pray also for your strength to guide Stephanie through this day. May you also guide me through this work day by your strength, and may this week be much less stressful than last week.

Your grace is sufficient.

Let his strength guide you today, and look for the presence of Christ in everyone around you. And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Grace and peace friends.

As I Am, Not As I Should Be

Good morning, just barely. Today is Monday, May 27, 2013, Memorial Day. I have been up for a while, but chose to go ahead and get the week’s grocery shopping done early, then do my blogging before Rachel and Justine arrive around noon for lunch, games, and stuff. Unfortunately, I ran into a small issue during the grocery shopping. It seems that Kroger’s Pharmacy messed up my prescription refill. Somehow, they requested refill authorization from my doctor for the wrong prescription. Now, at first, I thought it might have been my fault. The two meds come in exactly the same sized bottle. I thought I might have grabbed the wrong one when calling in the refill. However, when I got home, the correct empty bottle was sitting out on the counter, right where I had left it the last time I called to check on the status of the refill, and was told that it was scheduled to be refilled, after keying in the correct prescription number. Now, they have to call the doctor’s office again, to get another authorization for the correct med. They were able to give me five pills to get me through to Saturday, but I had to go back up there to get them. I was more than a little aggravated that there was no acknowledgment of a mistake on their part, nor was there any hint of apology for my inconvenience. I tell you, customer service is a thing of the past, it seems.

Anyway, the rest of the day promises to be good times.

As already mentioned, today is Memorial Day. I won’t bother with any other “silly” holidays today. If you know someone who has served in the armed forces today, give them some love and respect, along with some gratitude.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
The book doesn’t paint a pretty picture of “Jean Cauvin” (we know him as John Calvin), who died on this date in 1564. And, perhaps, rightfully so. In spite of being the author of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, and the founder of a theological system to which I hold dearly, he was pretty intolerant in his day. As he transformed Geneva into a “grim Protestant theocracy . . . the clergy were authorized to spy on men’s private lives to ensure straightforward rectitude, gambling was prohibited, restaurant diners were compelled by law to say grace before eating, and Christmas celebrations were barred. Calvin himself, with his ascetic face and long, straggling beard, ruled the community like an Old Testament prophet, strict, priggish and unforgiving.” He was also responsible for some “ferocious religious wars of half a century later.” Fortunately, we can espouse the better parts of his theology, which “lives with us still in a much more tolerant form,” without following his practices. His character inspired “H.L. Mencken’s famous description of Calvinism as ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.'”

Today’s birthday is difficult to choose, there are many good ones. However, I will choose one of the greatest of the horror actors to ever grace the screen, Mr. Vincent Price. Price was born on this date in 1911, and would have been 102 today. He passed away in 1993. Here is a clip of him reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

Honorable mentions go to Julia Ward Howe, 1819, Wild Bill Hickok, 1837, Christopher Lee, 1922, Harlan Ellison, 1934, Bruce Cockburn, 1945, Siouxsie Sioux, 1957, Neil Finn, 1958, Frank Thomas, 1968, Jeff Bagwell, 1968, Joseph Fiennes, 1970, Paul Bettany, 1971, and Derek Webb, 1974.


Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! Psalm 102:1-2

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. Psalm 31:5

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Father, I give you praise for my redemption. I commit my spirit to you this morning as I read and meditate on your words. My help, indeed, comes from you. Show me your truth, this morning.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “You Shall Go.” The scripture reading is Jeremiah 1:4-8.

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”

When Jeremiah is called, his first words are words of resistance to that call. He immediately sees his limitations for the job to which he has been called. Jeremiah probably wasn’t trying to be overly modest when he said, “I am only a youth.” He was probably just being truthful. You see, if we look at the trend, God tends to call people who are “too young, too timid, too old, or too immoral. The story is not about the singular virtues of the one being called. The story is about a risk-taking bold sort of God who reaches in and calls people for divine service, giving them what they need for that service.” (I have a slight issue with the term “risk-taking.” I don’t believe that God ever takes a risk. How can there be a risk when you control all things?) The truth of the matter is that God equips and stands alongside all whom he calls.

Have you often thought that you are “too _________” to be used by God? Well, it’s not true. I’m not too old, you’re not too young, you’r not too timid, and we are most certainly not too sinful. Look at Samson, for crying out loud! There are no limitations that we can use as excuses if God is calling us to a job. Because the one doing the calling is the one who also does the equipping. And he knows us better than we know ourselves. Just look at the first couple of verses of the text for today. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (v. 5) While this is directed specifically to Jeremiah, I don’t think it unreasonable that the same would be true of any calling that God might be placing on our lives. He knew us; he chose us; he consecrated us; he appointed us; and he is in the process of equipping us.

Mercy number 15 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is “Freedom from your own contempt.” I bet there are a lot of us who struggle with this one. “Self-hatred is an enormous obstacle to loving other people.” We know that Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we love our neighbors if we hate ourselves. As a general rule (and there are always exceptions to the rule), we “hide behind anger, sarcasm, or judgmentalism because we’re convinced that we don’t measure up ourselves.”

Can you find any place in the Gospels where Jesus spent any amount of time “reinforcing negative self-concepts?” Should we, therefore, get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, “Worm! Maggot! Despicable wretch!” “My capacity to love you lies in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.” There is an aspect of faith that fits perfectly in this quote from Paul Tillich: “Faith is the courage to accept acceptance, to accept that God loves me as I am and not as I should be, because I’m never going to be as I should be.”

We must forgive ourselves as we have been forgiven. In that model prayer that Jesus gave us, he said, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Is it too much a stretch to include that we need to forgive ourselves, as well? If we do not, then we reject God’s love for us and, in short, reject the Cross of Christ!

“Consider this: If Jesus sat at your dining room table tonight and laid out your whole life story–the miserable, recurring sins, the hidden agenda, the skeletons in your close, the dark desires unknown even to yourself–you would still experience joy, peace, and acceptance in His presence.” Now also consider that this is a ridiculous proposition, because, according to scripture, God doesn’t even remember all of those things, because he has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west. However, the point, here, is the value that Jesus sees in us as children of God. Jesus, in effect, says to us, “Your sins go over here. It’s you that I’ve come for, My friend.”

There is a fine line in all of this, that we dare not cross. We cannot afford to fall into the trap of believing that God chose us because he saw innate worthiness in us. That would make salvation have something to do with us. However, we are valuable and worthy because of God’s choosing, because of Christ’s sacrifice, and there is nothing that can take that away from us! That is what we need to accept and believe. We are loved, unconditionally, and we must remember that he loves us as we are, not as we should be, because we will never be as we should be!

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Psalm 51

“If the Lord Jesus Christ has washed you in
His own blood
and forgiven you all your sins,
how dare you refuse to forgive yourself?”
Francis McNutt

Father, teach me to forgive . . . me! Keep teaching me this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace that you have lavished on me and all of your other children! Help us to believe in it! Help us to accept it. Help us to know your unfailing, unceasing, crazy, overwhelming, steadfast love! I may never get past this one thing, and that’s okay. If I have to dwell on this love of yours for the rest of my days, then so be it. My heart’s desire, my singular prayer, is that I can comprehend this love, and then spread this love. Make me a vessel that overflows with your love so that everyone around me gets splashed by it! Most especially, help me to be free from my own contempt. When I fail you, and I will, probably several times today, alone, make me to focus not on that event, but on your love for me, for I am forgiven. No, this does not give me license, heaven forbid that I should think that. But nor do I have the right to condemn myself when There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I pray for this day today. Give Rachel and Justin traveling mercies as they come to visit us today, and may we have good fellowship as we break bread together. May our day be fun and relaxing, and full of love. I pray for Christi’s doctor appointment tomorrow, that she will be released from the cast to wear the boot for a couple of weeks.

I give you thanks for all the men and women who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Thank you for their willingness to sacrifice their time and, sometimes, their lives for the freedoms that we all hold so dear.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the sky of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky!”

Grace and peace, friends.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

Good morning. Today is Friday, May 24, 2013. Normally, I would be excited, but I have to work tomorrow, because our client is a retailer, and since they won’t be getting deliveries on Monday, they want deliveries on Saturday. 😛 On the positive side, I will be off Monday, and Tuesday should be more relaxed. After this weekend, we have 19 more days on this account.

We took a night off to just chill at the house last night. I was very tired, and Stephanie has worked out some new challenge ideas with the new club manager at 24 Hour Fitness, something a little more reasonable.

We have at least three friends who are currently in Moore, Oklahoma, helping with the relief efforts. One of them has posted pictures on Facebook. It has an eerie resemblance to New Orleans after Katrina. Just piles of rubble everywhere.
Moore, OK damage
Please keep praying for these people, as well as those in Granbury, Texas, from the week before. We tend to forget about the one that happened earlier, focusing on the most recent tragedy. I know there is enough room for both in my prayers.

Today appears to be National Escargot Day. Really?? Snails??

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1626, a Dutch-speaking German man named Peter Minuit, a “director of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony,” made a trade with a local Native American tribe. He traded approximately “60 guilders’ worth of pots, pans, fish hooks, tools and cloth” for “a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River.” The island was named Manhattan Island, derived from the Algonquin name for “island of the hills.” Settlers were moved to the southern tip and the new town called New Amsterdam. American dollars did not exist at that time, so “the traditional tale that Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 is an anachronism.” In 1631, Minuit drowned in a hurrican on his way back to Holland, but New Amsterdam continued to flourish. However, in 1664, it was ceded to the British in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British renamed it New York.

Today’s birthday is Terry Scott Taylor, born on this date in 1950. Terry is the brains an front man behind my favorite group in the history of music, Daniel Amos. He also is part of a “Christian Supergroup” called The Lost Dogs, as well as another incarnation of Daniel Amos called The Swirling Eddies. He has been my very favorite songwriter since the early eighties, and I frequently refer to him as my “Christian music hero.” Here is a clip of my favorite Daniel Amos song, “I Love You #19.”

Honorable mentions go to Queen Victoria, 1819, H.B. Reese, 1879 (“Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”), Roger Peterson, 1937 (Who is Roger Peterson? The pilot who flew the plane on “the day the music died” in 1959), Bob Dylan, 1941, and Patti LaBelle, 1944.


Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Psalm 65:3
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Psalm 25:4-8, 11

Father, your goodness and mercy are amazing to me. I thank you that you have atoned for my transgressions, and that you have blotted them out. I seek your presence this morning as I look into your word for a while. Teach me your paths, lead me in your truth.

In Touch Magazine presents a very thought-provoking question today.

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The question is, “Which interests you more–who Jesus is or what He can do for you?” So today, I stop and think, am I more concerned with knowing God or just receiving his blessings? How much of my prayer time revolves around physical needs? Much of it, I confess, and I’m probably not very different from anyone else. I will say this, in my own defense, though; the majority of my prayer time centers around the needs of others, at least. Still, there is not a lot of time spent in just communing with God. That needs to change somehow. Of course, that’s what the majority of this time right now is for, too.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is definitely something that I can identify with. The reading is called “God Notices Us.” The scripture passage is Psalm 10:1-4, 14.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

The Psalmist is frustrated over a couple of things, here. One is that the Lord appears to be hiding himself while the wicked prosper and succeed in their schemes to further cheat those already poor. The other is that those same wicked people think that God does not see them. Most people who say, “There is no God,” aren’t true atheists, but, rather, simply believe that God, in whatever form he takes, is not paying attention to them. But the Psalmist realizes in verse 14 that, yes, God does see, and not only sees, but takes note of “mischief and vexation,” and commits himself to taking care of the helpless and fatherless.

I have fallen into the way of thinking, before, that my prayers and deeds are of no use to anyone; that my prayers for other people are doing no good. Especially when there are things that I have been praying for for months, and there seems to be no answer. Does God notice? Does he hear my prayers? The answer is, yes, he does. He notices. He hears. Why has he not granted my prayers? When God is ready to reveal that information to me, he will. There is where my faith must be exercised. There is where my belief in the goodness of God must take precedence.

Mercy number 14 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called (uhoh), “Washing Feet.” Brennan relates an incident when he was at a retreat center, reading the account in John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Suddenly, in the spirit, he was in that room, and he was Judas. Do we ever stop to think that Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer? As Brennan imagined knowing that his Savior was about to wash his feet when he had betrayed him, he though of all his sins, his failures, his weaknesses. What Jesus said to him, in his spirit, was astounding, and something that we must come to grips with. “Brennan, I expected more failure from you than you expected from yourself.”

You see, this goes back to what I realized a few weeks ago, and still struggle with accepting. God is not disappointed in me. He can’t be. We have this image of God that he always expects us to succeed, and then, when we fail, he is disappointed, sighing in frustration. People, this cannot possibly be a true representation of our Father! “But . . . all this “be perfect” stuff in the Bible . . .” Yes, that is there. But God, who knows all, and has written down every step that our feet will take before the every came to be, already knows what we are going to do. Therefore, that is exactly what he expects from us! He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves because he knows us perfectly and completely! So when Brennan continued to bring up his “irritating character defects, the boasting, the inflating the truth, the pretenses, the impatience, all the times [he] got drunk,” Jesus responded, “What you’re saying is true, Brennan. Yet your love for me never wavered and your heart remained pure. And besides, you’ve done one thing that makes Me forget all the rest. You’ve been kind to sinners.”

Now, just as all analogies fall apart at some point, we can’t go around thinking that anything we have done causes the Lord to forget our sins. But to focus on that one statement would be to miss the point of the whole event. The point was, again, that God is not disappointed in us. He sees the love of Christ in us. Brennan Manning says he sobbed so hard that the priest in the next room came over and knocked on the door to make sure he was okay. Then Jesus simply told him, “I just washed your feet. Do the same for others. Serve My people humbly and lovingly.”

Do I have to go around washing people’s feet. No. We don’t wash feet in our culture, because aren’t walking around with mostly bare feet, in dust, mud, and horse manure. But I do need to serve God’s people, humbly and lovingly.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

“Why have You kindled in me the flame of faith, this dark light
which lures us out of the bright security of our little huts into
Your night? And why have You made me Your priest, one whose
vocation it is to be with You on behalf of men, when my
finiteness makes me gasp for breath in your presence?”
Karl Rahner

Father, how I have long thought that you were always disappointed in me, and I confess that I continue to struggle with that. Even though I have accepted the truth that your love for me never changes, and that there is nothing I can do to increase or decrease your love for me, I still struggle with the human emotion that thinks that you surely must be disappointed in me when I sin. But I must accept that this cannot be. The idea that you expect more failure from me than I expect from myself is truly revolutionary to me, yet scripture bears this thought out. All those passages about you knowing our steps before we take them, you knowing the words before we speak them; you know it all, therefore you expect nothing less, nothing more. You have truly “washed our feet.” Therefore, I have no other choice than to humbly and lovingly serve others in return for the gracious gift that you have given me. Show me who I can serve today, and when the opportunity arises, remind me quickly that this is service to you, before my human side rises up and gets all resentful over having to do something for someone else. Give me the spirit to serve gladly, humbly, and lovingly.

I also pray today that I might be more desiring of simple, true communion with you than for the blessings that knowing you bring. There is nothing wrong with praying for needs, you tell us to do so. However, let the desire of my heart be to simply know you more.

I pray for this day, today. Continue to heal Christi, as she recuperates from her surgery. Stephanie has found her promises in Colossians 3. I pray that you help her make those personal for her own life. And give her understanding by the Holy Spirit as you draw her closer to you. And I pray that my work day will not be a struggle today. I pray ahead of time for a smooth Saturday delivery day, as well.

I continue to lift up prayers for all the people affected by tornadoes in the past week. May you give them restoration, comfort, and hope, and I thank you for the people who have responded selflessly to the need for relief help.

We don’t need to wash feet, but we do need to serve; selflessly, gladly, humbly, and lovingly. I’m reminded of an old hymn, by B.B. McKinney.

Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways.
Come before His presence with our songs of praise.
Unto Him our Maker, we would pledge anew
Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with gladness, thankful all the while
For His tender mercies, for His loving smile.
Blessed truth enduring, always just the same.
We will serve with gladness and praise His name.

Serve the Lord with gladness, this shall be our theme.
As we walk together, in His love supreme.
Listening, ever listening for the still small voice.
His sweet Will so precious, will be our choice.

Serve Him with gladness, Enter His courts with song.
To our Creator, true praises belong.
Great is His mercy, wonderful is His name.
We gladly serve Him, His great love proclaim.

Grace and peace, friends.

With Merry Abandon

Good morning. Today is pre-Friday, May 23, 2013. Not much happened yesterday, except that the city is doing utility construction at a major intersection between our house and the 24 Hour Fitness center we visit. Getting there was not a big problem. Getting home, though, took an hour. I am not exaggerating. Ridiculous. I don’t know how long this will be going on, either, but at least I know which way not to turn when we leave the gym tonight.

Christi’s foot continues to feel better each day, but her tailbone hurts where she slipped out of the chair she was rolling in at the doctor’s office. She had her first day of working from home since the surgery, and it seems to have gone fine.

Not looking forward to this weekend, but at least I have a Monday holiday to look forward to. (I have to work Saturday.) And Tuesday, even though I will have to be at work, will be an easier day.

Today is Lucky Penny Day. So be sure and pick up all those pennies you find. That’s about all they’re good for, any more. Of course, I don’t believe in “luck,” even though I occasionally still use the word.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1498, Girolamo Savonarola was burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria, after finally having been convicted of “heresy and promoting schism within the True Church.” It seems that Savonarola had spent his life on a mission to purify Florence from “corruption, pleasure-seeking and vanity.” His greatest enemy was the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, who excommunicated Savonarola, and finally placed all Florence under interdict, meaning that there could be no Mass, no Communion, no weddings, baptisms or funerals. This finally incensed the people enough that they chased Savonarola from his pulpit, where he was arrested by the civil government.

Today’s birthday is Robert Moog, born on this date in 1934. Moog was the inventor of the musical instrument that bears his name, the Moog synthesizer. The Moog probably enjoyed its biggest success in the seventies, being used by people such as Stevie Wonder, Jan Hammer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, even Gordon Lightfoot and the Beach Boys. Probably the most commercially successful song to use the Moog was a song by Hot Butter, in 1972, called “Popcorn.”

Moog died in 2005.

Honorable mentions go to Scatman Crothers, 1910, James Blish, 1921, and Rosemary Clooney, 1928.


Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:12

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Psalm 86:1-2

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. Psalm 28:6

Father, I pray this morning that you will open my eyes to see and focus on things above, setting my mind on the things that you would have me see. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “We Boast in Our Hope of Sharing the Glory of God.” The scripture reading is Romans 5:1-5, 11.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Right off the bat, I notice that the difference in translations is significant, here. The book quotes from the New Revised Standard Version, while I always quote from the English Standard Version. Where the ESV says, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” the NRSV says, “we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” Either way, Paul’s exuberance shows forth. The idea that we can, someday, share in the glory of God is most certainly worthy of rejoicing or boasting. Every time the NRSV says “boast,” the ESV says “rejoice.” The major thing is that, as stated in verse 11, we are either boasting or rejoicing in God, not in anything we have done. We live a life, justified by faith, “out of the abundance of God’s grace instead of our own meager sin resources,” and this life is “explosive with energetic thanksgiving!” I like that description, for it fits what our lives should look like, as Christians. Sadly, I don’t see too many people walking around in explosive, energetic thanksgiving.

We need to start looking for ways to boast in God, rejoice in God. Have we considered this along with the practice of praying for the success of others? Can I boast in God’s work in someone else’s life?

“For a man ever to do well and to think little of himself is token of a
meek soul. For a man not to wish to be comforted by any creature is a
token of great purity and inward trust. He that seeketh no outward witness
for himself, it appeareth only that he hath committed himself all
wholly to God.”
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Mercy number 13 from 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called “Healing through meal sharing.” The opening lines of the reading say this: “Christian servanthood is not an emotion or a state of mind. It is a decision to live the life of Jesus. It has nothing to do with what we feel, and everything to do with what we do.” I pray daily for this “life of Jesus” to be manifest and formed in my life. I decided quite some time ago that the life of Christ is exemplified in what we call The Beatitudes.

If we think back on the meal that Christ shared with Zacchaeus, the tax collector in Jericho, we have to consider the scandal that this action caused. In this time frame, “table fellowship with beggars, tax collectors, and prostitutes was a religious, social, and cultural taboo.” You can bet the Pharisees noticed that Jesus intended to be friends with Zacchaeus, which not only broke the law, but rejected “the very structure of Jewish society.”

After seeing the impact of this action from the perspective of the Pharisees and culture, what about its impact on Zacchaeus and others like him? “By accepting them as friends and equals, Jesus took away their shame, humiliation, and guilt.” (I’m not sure about the “equals” part; no one was “equal” to Jesus.) “By sharing bread with them, He proved to them that they matter to Him first as people.” What is our response to this action of Jesus’s? We must consider “the healing power of a meal shared.” We must consider welcoming “sinners” into our community. We must consider that, “with merry abandon, we must in every way possible scatter abroad the indiscriminate love of God.”

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:9-16

God loves what in us is not yet. What has still to come to birth.
What we love in a person is what already is:
virtue, beauty, courage, and hence our love is self-interested
and fragile. God, loving what is not yet and putting faith in us,
continually begets us, since love is what begets.
By giving us confidence, God helps us to be born,
since love is what helps us emerge from our darkness and
draws us to the light. And this is such a fine thing to do
that God invites us to do the same.

Carlo Carretto

Father, open my eyes. Show me in people “what is not yet,” that I might love them as they are, just as you love us as we are. May I cease loving “what already is” in people, that my love may not be self-interested. Father, we do all too well with that part in Romans 12 about abhorring what is evil. But we fail so miserably at the rest of those instructions. Let my love be genuine! Let me rejoice or boast in you and your grace and mercy; let me boast in what I see you doing in someone else’s life! Let me “constant in prayer,” while being generous with other resources you have given me. Let me rejoice with those who are rejoicing, as I rejoice with Bridget right now over the birth of her much loved and much desired daughter. Let me weep with those who are weeping, even as those in Granbury, Texas, and Moore, Oklahoma, are weeping today. Most especially, may I never be haughty, and may I never consider myself wise in my own eyes. Let me love both you and all around me “with merry abandon.”

I pray for this day, Father. I pray that Christi will continue to heal, and that her tailbone might also be relieved from pain today. May her day of working from home be smooth today. I pray for Stephanie, that you might draw her heart into yours today, giving her inspiration to look into your word for promises found. I pray that my work day will be smooth today, and help me repel stress and anxiety, seeking out your peace that surpasses understanding.

I lift up a prayer for Joel and Jacob today, as they have traveled up to Moore to help out in relief efforts. May you protect them and give them supernatural wisdom and strength as they minister to victims of the tornado.

Your grace is sufficient.

See what you can accomplish today “with merry abandon!”

Grace and peace, friends.

Captivated With Joy

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Christi’s visit to the doctor yesterday went very well. The doctor is very excited about her progress. This doctor is very excited about her work and is obviously in exactly the right field. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone who enjoys their work as much as Sara Suttle. Seriously, if you live within an hour or two of this podiatrist, and you have foot problems, it would be worth your trip to visit this doctor.

In other news, we finally signed the papers on our home refinancing!!

It will fund on next Tuesday, and our home mortgage and pool loan will finally be combined into one loan payment. Plus we are saving somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 a month on payments. That’s the best part.

Still no sign of Cali. Sigh.

Today is Buy A Musical Instrument Day.

Christi, can I buy a new guitar???

I kid. I don’t need any musical instruments. I bet she never though she would hear me say that!

I swear I will get back on schedule with history and birthdays, soon.


Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared. Psalm 76:11
Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. Psalm 119:169-170
With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. Psalm 54:6
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Father, I sincerely pray that you would give me understanding according to your word, this morning. Your words truly are sweet in my mouth, sweeter than honey.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Boasting in Jesus Christ.” The scripture reading is Philippians 3:3-8a.

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Again, we are faced with the truth that our life as Christians is not about “confidence in the flesh.” It is about boasting only in Christ Jesus. Just look at Paul’s resume; very impressive, eh? “But when Paul stood face-to-face with the risen Christ, his resume did nothing for him.” The only thing that matters now is knowing Jesus. “Spiritual formation is learning to recognize and abandon those things that must be counted as losses in light of our encounter with Christ.” The resulting attitude is what helps us effectively pray for others to be successful (to get back to what this segment of readings is about). I am challenged to ponder the difference between boasting in the flesh and boasting in Christ. While the answer should be obvious, it still helps to think about this and examine my life in light of the two different concepts. I have in mind a specific individual for whom I should be praying to be successful. I need to act on this thought. He shall remain nameless as far as this blog is concerned. Nevertheless, the Spirit has just placed him on my heart and I will immediately begin praying for him to be successful.

Today, in the 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, we come to the next section, entitled “Serve.” Mercy number 12 is called “The freedom of serving.” When we think of Christ returning in glory, what image comes to mind? The white horse? The valiant conqueror? What image does Luke present in one of Jesus’s talks? Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. (Luke 12:37) This is an “unprecedented and scandalous reversal of the world’s values.” This triumphant Messiah returns to serve! And in doing so shows us “the way to joyful freedom in serving:

* in sovereign liberty to prefer to be the servant, rather than the lord of the household;

* to merrily taunt the gods of power, prestige, honor, and recognition;

* to refuse to take oneself seriously, and for that matter, to refuse to take seriously anyone else who takes themselves seriously;

* to be captivated with joy and wonder at the vision and lifestyle of Jesus, servant of God . . .

This is genuine discipleship; compassion and selflessness. But note, it is not “watery-eyed sentimentality!” “Compassion is a spirituality of meat, not milk; of love, not masochism; of justice, not philanthropy. It requires maturity, a big heart, a willingness to risk, and imagination.” The kingdom lifestyle consists of activities that are little-noticed, and, at best, scorned.

This quote is huge. “Personally, my friend, I would rather be numbered among the ragged few who learn joyful service from Jesus than among the legalizers, moralizers, and hairsplitters who build monuments of religious correctness . . . then cannot see over them to a child of God in need.”


For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5

“People are hungry for God.
People are hunger for love. Are you aware of that?
Do you know that? Do you see that?
Do you have eyes to see?
Quite often we look but we don’t see.
We are all passing through this world.
We need to open our eyes and see.”
~~Mother Teresa

Father, open my eyes. Help me to see the need around me. But also help me be aware of the needs that I am able to help with and the ones about which I can do nothing. Help me to know the difference. But help me most of all to see the hunger for love in this world, and then let me be a channel of the crazy, overwhelming, steadfast love of God to the people that I come in contact with every single day! It is so incredible to me how these unrelated readings mesh together every day! As I pray for the success of others, taking no confidence in the flesh, and boasting only in Christ Jesus, it helps me see the overwhelming need for the love of God in today’s world. That is the major need in our society. More money can’t fix that; more food can’t fix that; more tolerance can’t fix that. Only God’s people being God’s people in this world can fix that. And until we stop being “legalizers, moralizers, and hairsplitters who build monuments of religious correctness,” this just simply is not going to happen. Father God, have mercy on our souls!

I pray for this day. Continue giving Christi restful recovery, and healing her foot. Thank you for the progress so far. May she have a good day today, as she begins to work from home. I pray that you help Stephanie as she deals with our kitty being missing. Show her your steadfast love, that crazy, overwhelming love. Help her lose herself in your words. And I pray for a good day at my work. Give me the grace to let anxiety and stress roll right off of me. Help me to care most about the things that matter most.

I pray that the person you made me think of a few minutes ago will be successful in everything he does. Show your love to him, also.

Thank you for Bridget’s new baby.

I pray for hope, peace, comfort, and restoration for everyone affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.

I pray you find yourself captivated by joy today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Abba . . . I Belong To You

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, May 21, 2013. First things first. Everyone needs to be praying for the people of Oklahoma. I’m sure everyone who can access this blog already knows about the devastation that hit there yesterday afternoon. What I keep hearing described as a “mile-wide tornado” blasted through Moore, OK, and surrounding areas yesterday, staying on the ground, reportedly, for forty minutes, completely leveling entire communities and a couple of schools. At the current time, the death toll from this tornado is at least 51, including somewhere close to a dozen or so elementary school children. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard of a tornado this bad. I’ll be spending some serious time in prayer for these folks today.

I just saw a report that now has the death toll at 91.

Yesterday was a pretty challenging day, but I got through it, just like we always seem to do. One thing that is weighing on us right now (and believe me, it does seem trivial in the aftermath of yesterday’s Oklahoma devastation) is that one of our kitties is missing. Cali, our year-old calico, hasn’t been seen since Sunday morning. We’ve put signs on the local community mailboxes, but this kind of thing has happened before. We’ve had a couple other cats just disappear, and we always hope that they adopted another family somewhere. Always a risk when you have cats that go in and out of the house.

Christi continues to improve, and, yesterday morning when I left for work, she said she was doing “Awesome!” She may not have even had to take a pain pill yesterday at all! She has her followup appointment at 1pm today. Supposedly, we are signing on our refinancing this afternoon. This has been a fiasco of an experience, but I will share more on that after we sign and after it’s funded and the old one is paid off.

Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. If you go out to eat today, tip them well. Unless they, you know, spill food all over you or something. Even then . . . you know, everyone has a bad day sometimes.

I apologize again, I don’t have time for history or birthdays, as I have been helping Christi get ready for the day’s events.


I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Psalm 118:28

Father, as I pray and meditate this morning, may you show me something of yourself that will lead me further down the path of grace.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Let Those Who Boast Boast in This.” The scripture reading is Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Righteousness does not come from “outward ritual or legal obedience.” This is what grace is all about. Until we truly learn that we cannot work our way into God’s favor, we don’t truly understand grace. Likewise, as long as we are boasting about any accomplishments that we have made “for God,” then we also don’t truly understand his grace and what it has done for us. Our renewal, our covenant, is made in the heart, and is not related to “formal observance of the law.” “God requires justice, mercy, and love, not merely outward sacrifice or formal obedience.” Justice, mercy, and love are things that come from the heart. Wait. No. True justice, love, and mercy, come from God. He puts them into our hearts. So, let us not boast in wisdom, strength, or riches. I would even be careful boasting that I understand and know Yahweh. I’m still not sure I understand. Actually, I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand. But I know one thing: God is present with me; all the time. I will boast in his steadfast love for me!

Here is a prayer, quoted from Martin Luther.

“Dear God and Father, we thank you for your infinite goodness and love to us. You do continually keep us in your word, in faith, and in prayer. By this we know how to walk before you in humility and in fear. By this we are not proud of our own wisdom, righteousness, skill, and strength, but glory alone in your power. . . . To you be praise and thanks in eternity. Amen.”

Today, I come to mercy number 11 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning. It is called, “The prayer of simple regard.” It is a brief reading concerning “contemplative prayer.” Brennan asserts that you do no t have to live in solitude, be a Trappist monk, or go to the desert to learn and practice contemplative prayer. We can do it by repeatedly praying something as simple as “Abba . . . I belong to you.” Now, I have some friends that would scoff at this, and dismiss it as being “new age.” But truthfully, there is nothing new about it. What such people don’t understand is that the “desert fathers” and other such ancient devotional masters would practice such prayers on a regular basis. How does this work? You simply pray while breathing. Breathe in, say, “Abba.” Breathe out, say, “I belong to you.” That’s it. Seven syllables. Now, the trick is to make this not be “vain repetition,” and trust me, I struggle with this. While I have not practiced this particular prayer, yet, I have made it a habit to regularly pray what some call “The Jesus Prayer,” which consists of “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” These prayers can be prayed at any time, “watching television, lying in bed, driving to work, eating dinner,” why, pastors could even pray it while they preach!

Abba . . . I belong to you.

Abba . . . I belong to you.

Abba . . . I belong to you.

“This simple utterance of adoration and submission infuses our being with a profound awareness of who we are–a son or daughter of the Father in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And by affirming that over and over through our day, we also receive a sense of why we’re here, and where we are going.”

Lord Jesus, be for me the way to Abba, Father.
Be for me all my truth and all my life. Lead me into
the crucified life, which is real life, and eternal. Lead me
away from every lesser thing. By Your love, renew my inner
being so that I can receive Your love, and know it truly,
and be Your love to others. Amen

Abba, Father, I do belong to you. Let that be my prayer throughout this day, today. May that be the only boast that I have, that I belong to you, and that you love me with an everlasting, unchanging, steadfast, crazy, overwhelming love! I have no wisdom that I can call my own. I possess no strength that is mine. I certainly don’t have any material riches to speak of, and everything I own, I received from you. I will boast in that, that I am nothing and you are everything. Abba . . . I belong to you.

I pray, this day, Lord, for our friend Bridget, who is about to have her baby. After a few unsuccessful attempts, this precious one has made it. I pray for a healthy delivery for both mother and baby, and may the love shared between these two be epic!

I pray that Christi would continue recovering well, and that her doctor visit this afternoon would even show that she is ahead of schedule. I pray for safety for her and Rachel as they travel to the doctor’s office. I also pray that our loan signing go smoothly this afternoon, especially after all the glitches we have gone through to get here. I pray for a smooth day at work today. There is potential for more challenge, more stress. Help me to allow stress to roll off of me like butter on a hot roll. I also pray that Stephanie will have a good day today, and that you will surround her with your steadfast love as she looks for your promises in Colossians 3.

Finally, I pray for the people in Oklahoma who have been affected by tornadoes over the last two days. This is tragic, and perhaps the worst that I have ever seen. I pray for comfort for everyone who has lost family and/or property. I pray for restoration and hope for them. I pray for peace and protection in the aftermath. I also pray for supernatural strength and tenacity for people who will be helping in rescue and recovery efforts. Let your presence be known, Lord, most especially in the form of believers who sacrifice to bring your love to the victims.

Boast in nothing other than the love of God. All else is rubbish.

Grace and peace, friends.

One Flickering Hope

Good morning. Today is Monday (how did that happen so fast?), May 20, 2013. I’m rather sleepy this morning, as I had trouble falling asleep last night. I’ll explain later. Christi continues to be recovering well, I think. she was happy yesterday afternoon, because she had gone longer without taking pain meds. She is very cautious about those things.

It was a pretty good day yesterday. We had a good worship celebration, and Steph and I went to the gym, where we got also got Christi’s account frozen for two months, so they won’t bill us while she can’t go exercise. There was a semi-long meltdown, but we won’t talk about that today.

There are now 25 more working days until the account I’m working on goes away. That’s about 25 days too long.

Today is Be A Millionaire Day. Too bad that’s not federally mandated.

I apologize, but I don’t have time for history and birthdays today, as I need to leave early to stop by the credit union office to obtain funds for the closing on our refinancing.


Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-2
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Psalm 16:1-2
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2

Grant me peace, this morning, Father, as I look into your Word. Prepare me for this day.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Let No One Boast.” The scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 3:16-21a.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men.

“The first and most prominent theme of 1 Corinthians is that God alone is the source of the Spirit-filled life.” All of the benefits of this with-God life are attributed to God. God calls us, God gives us grace, God strengthens us, and God sustains us. “Let no one boast,” Paul says in verse 21. That’s not the only place he says that, either. In 1:29, he says, . . . so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. We can never take credit for anything in our lives! Especially the spiritual “anything.” Everything that we have gotten in this with-God life has come from God. Therefore, we have no grounds for boasting. If we think we are wise, we must “become a fool” so we can be truly wise. “It is ironic that even those insights we receive while actively seeking God we are prone to crediting to ourselves.” I am challenged to consider any time I have claimed credit for something that God did or brought to me. That will take some serious thinking. One thing I do know, and that is, the older I get, the less I know. We say things like that facetiously, but it’s true. There are things that I have believed to be true all my life, and as I get older and study the Bible more, I find that these things may not be truth. The bottom line is, we don’t know half of the things that we claim we know about God. Be believe that he is good, and we know that he loves us with a love that is, as Francis Chan says, “Crazy.” And right now, at this point in my life, all I need to know is God’s crazy, overwhelming love. If that makes me a fool, then so be it. In the words of a dear friend of mine, “And in the end, I am left with one flickering hope.” What does that mean? It means that our hope in God is all that we have. Everything else is rubbish.

In 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, we have come to number 10. “We cry, ‘Abba!'” Brennan speaks of visiting a bar mitzvah with a rabbi. As the four-year-old son of the rabbi wandered away, he lost sight of his father. As he panicked, he found him, ran back to him and “flung himself into his father’s lap, shouting, ‘Ab . . .Ab . . .Abba!'” In spite of evidence that, originally, this word did not carry the meaning of our word, “Daddy,” there is still an intimacy involved that the people of the New Testament were not used to. They were used to the Old Testament God, not one they could call, “Father.” “What Jesus Christ reveals is that the God in whose presence Moses had to remove his shoes, the God from whose fingertips this universe fell, the God beside whose grandeur the Grand Canyon is only a glimpse, the God besides whose power the nuclear bomb is as nothing–this infinite, holy God, Jesus announces, we may dare to address with intimacy.” This is unbelievably beautiful.

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 3:26-4:7

“We make ourselves what we are by the way we address God.”~~Thomas Merton

Father, and yes, I do mean “Father!” I revel in the fact that I can address you with this kind of intimacy; that Jesus Christ has made it so that I can run to you and say, “Abba!” This love that you have for me (and all the saints) is still sinking into my spirit, into my brain, after all these years. You have only been telling me about it for 55 years! You would think I would have caught on sooner. I implore you to keep teaching me this love. Keep showing me your crazy, overwhelming love! You are the source of everything that I am. I praise you and thank you this morning. You are my “one flickering hope.”

I pray for this day. May I get everything done that needs to be done today, and may I feel no anxiety or stress during this day. Continue Christi’s healing and recovery from her surgery. I pray for her return visit tomorrow, that the progress will be ahead of schedule. I pray for Stephanie today. She needs an extra dose of your love today, Lord. Draw her heart into yours.

“If I had no voice, if I had no tongue,
I would dance for you like the morning sun.
And when that day comes and I see your face,
I will shout your endless, glorious praise!”~~Colton Dixon

Grace and peace, friends.