Between Being and Doing

It is Saturday, the sixteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart!

Day 23,501

Hooboy, it’s been a busy day, already today! I was about two thirds of the way through my devotions, when C called me. She had gone out to look for some new chairs (I don’t even want to go into what caused that) and wanted me to come help her pick out a couple. So I left the house, and we bought two identical rocker/recliner chairs to replace some older wingback chairs that the cats had shredded. We got them home, and they are set up, and the old chairs are in the garage.

And I’m exhausted.

There wasn’t a lot that happened, yesterday. I had groceries delivered, and I cooked Chicken Taco Rice Skillet for dinner. I highly recommend this recipe. It is delicious, and my family loves it. I add more chicken to it, a total of two breasts (boneless/skinless), and I also use a cup and a half of the brown rice. The rest of the recipe is done as called for. Very tasty!

The Texas Rangers bullpen didn’t exactly blow the game, yesterday, but they were set to change the pace of the game. They started out behind 4-0, and had worked their way to within a run, when, in the top of the eighth inning, with two outs and a full count, Jose Leclerc surrendered a grand slam home run to Julio Rodriguez. Final score, 8-3, Mariners. The Rangers are now 41-47, but still in third place in the AL West, a good 3.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 16.5 out of first and 5.5 out of the Wild Card spot.

On the other hand, the Red Sox beat the Yankees!!! 5-4, in extra innings, when Xander Bogaerts scurried home on a wild pitch in the top of the eleventh inning. The bullpen held off the Evil Empire, and the Sox broke their losing streak. They are now 48-43, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place. There is a two-way tie for the third Wild Card spot, between Boston and Toronto, now. Tampa has the first spot, and Seattle moved into the second one.

The Washington Nationals have fallen into the worst MLB record, now at 30-62. The reason for Seattle being in the second Wild Card spot is that they currently have the longest win streak, at twelve games. Hopefully, the Rangers can bring that to a halt today. The poor Nationals also have the longest current losing streak, at eight games. They also have the worst run differential, at -150. The Rangers are still in the positive, but only +4. The Red Sox are currently at +42.

I want that coat!!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we stand before you and lift our eyes to you. We are poor, needy people, often wretched and tormented. Let your eyes rest upon us. Grant us the help we need. Bless us when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ, that we may be a people who learn to serve you on all the paths we follow, even if it proves bitterly hard. Give us true faith for every moment. May we have joy and confidence that you are with your children, that you remain with them forever, until the great time of redemption when we will rejoice with all past generations and with all who are living today. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 
(Micah 7:7–8 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, when I find myself in darkness, the Lord is my light
2. for the joy and confidence that comes with being God's children, especially when circumstances come that threaten those things
3. for the promise, in John 14, that Jesus is preparing a place for us, that we will always be with Him
4. that God knows my thoughts and my words, even before they occur
5. for the Holy Spirit, who intercedes when I don't know exactly how to pray

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
(1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 NLT)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is balance. There’s a quote from Maya Angelou, who was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”

Balance is a tricky word/concept. However, in general, it is a good thing. I believe (and I am not alone) that our society is so far out of balance that it is in severe danger.

The technical definition of balance is, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” But, of course, in this context, we are not speaking of weight distribution. We aren’t trying to walk a tightrope between two tall buildings, here.

On the other hand, we do want to “remain upright and steady.”

A second definition is, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” The example given is work and relaxation. This is closer to what we are looking at today. Ms. Angelou cites patience and passion. The writer of today’s reading speaks, as the definition, of a balance between work and rest/play.

Guess what! The world will not stop turning if you rest or play for a bit! And, as Christians, we are not expected to be “Jesus Jr.” With tongue slightly in cheek, I believe, she writes, “God didn’t create me to be a human doing, but a human being.”

Back a few years ago, C and I did this thing in our church that we called “Huddle.” For the most part, I didn’t like it, I’ll be honest. It employed a technique called “Life Shapes,” which I thought were mostly trivial and irrelevant. Scriptures were taken out of context in order to fit the shapes that were used.

But there was one shape that I came away liking. It was the “semi-circle.” This semi-circle was positioned with the round side down, and a pendulum was envisioned in the middle of the straight line at the top. As the pendulum swung, one side was designated as “work” and the other side designated as “rest.” They were also called “fruit” and “abide.”

The point of the semi-circle was to illustrate that, in order for us to be effective disciples, the pendulum had to be free to swing to both sides in equal measure. Balance. If all we do is work, if all we do is attempt to bear fruit, without ever resting or abiding, we will experience what is known, in the business world, as “burnout.”

It is my firm belief that a Christian should never experience burnout. But it happens, because we get out of balance, and think that we should be working all the time. That is not what Paul meant when he said “pray without ceasing.” Even Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate, needed time to rest (while we don’t see any records of recreation or “play” in the Bible, I firmly believe that there must have been some times of levity with His disciples).

I guess we think we’re stronger than Jesus?

I will note that the one issue I had with the semi-circle idea was that we should always be abiding. We don’t stop abiding to bear fruit. But there’s no such thing as a perfect analogy, is there?


In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.
(Romans 8:26 CEV)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(Psalms 139:1-4 ESV)

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
(Isaiah 65:24 ESV)

There is no language barrier with God. There are times when words fail us. I have frequently prayed that I don’t have the right words to express to God what I am feeling. But that’s okay, because He is able to see into my heart and know exactly what it is that I am trying to say. Even when I do think I know what to say, He knows what I mean, if I happen to get it wrong.

Nothing I say or do is a surprise to God. I believe it can be inferred, from Psalm 139, that the Lord also knows my every action before I do it. So nothing surprises Him. When I stary off the path and sin, He isn’t sitting there, exclaiming, “Oh, no!! Look what he did!!! What are we going to do now??”

That brings me great comfort. It also is comforting when we apply this principle to prayer, because, as Isaiah says, He has the ability to answer us, even while we are still speaking, or before we even call on Him. And I believe it’s not too far-fetched to think that He will answer a prayer that we don’t even know we need to pray.

So how does this fit in with the idea of “balance?” I think I can make it work. In our prayer lives, we need to balance speaking with listening. We also need to balance speaking with meditation or contemplation. There are times, in prayer, when it is better to simply sit and contemplate our Father in heaven, to whom we are praying. As we do this, we gain a better understanding of who He is and what He does. I have long understood (I didn’t always) that prayer is more than just asking God for things.


GOD, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. 
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. 
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. 
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. 
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.
(Psalms 23:1-6 MSG)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

“We badly distort what it means to be a human being if we think about life only in terms of solving problems or accomplishing tasks. In the areas in which we are most ourselves, life doesn’t work like that.”

I have struggled with this problem since retirement, and only a couple weeks ago did I realize that my life does not consist of “doing things” and “accomplishing tasks.” I don’t have any deadlines.

At the same time, though, I do not sit and do nothing. I work at relationships; I do tasks around the house, cooking meals, doing dishes and laundry. I play music whenever I am so inspired. Nothing is “one and done” in this life.

The same thing applies to our spiritual life. And this is something I addressed the other day. “We don’t solve the problem of life by getting right with God, merely circling the date of our conversion on the calendar, and giving testimony to our faith. There is an incredibly rich world of grace and mercy to explore.”

Once again, we need balance. We desperately need balance between “being” and “doing.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Father, I pray for more balance in my life. I do believe that my unbalance may be more on the “being” side than the “doing” side. So help me find things to do that will be good for me, in terms of balance in this journey of my life. Guide me as I continue to explore Your “incredibly rich world of grace and mercy,” and help me to exhibit that fruit of the Spirit to everyone who comes in contact with me.

This, of course, put a burden on me to do my part, even when it’s an unsolicited sales/scam call on my phone, or a person who comes to my door trying to sell me solar panels. While I don’t need to try to “evangelize” every one of them, it does fall on me to be kind to them. It also applies to people who have different philosophical/moral/political points of view than I.

I thank You for the truth that You know all there is to know about me, even down to everything that I’m about to say, think, or type. You also know everything that I am going to do, even before I do it. Sometimes, I wish You would fill me in, so if I’m about to do something stupid, I could maybe not. But, as I move forward in the journey, hopefully the stupid acts will be fewer.

I pray for my own life, that there would be a healthy balance between work and rest/play, but that I will always be abiding in You, and Your Word abiding in me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Low Hanging Fruit

Today is Friday, the fifteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,500!

I realized yesterday that this song mentions every day of the week. Of course, I knew that, but hadn’t really thought about it, as I think about songs for each day of the week. But it’s still my all-time favorite Friday song. As well as uncharacteristically “happy” for a Cure song.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may find the power of your Spirit so that we may live on a higher level, no longer controlled by our lower natures but strengthened to take up the battle of life. May we be children of the Spirit and may we walk in the Spirit. Guard us against carelessness and keep us joyful and courageous. Help us and counsel us on all our ways so that we may honor you and testify that you are our God, our true help. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 
(Isaiah 61:10 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power of the Spirit, manifested in us (when we are walking in Him)
2. for the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness; may I wear them faithfully
3. my cats (Cleopatra, Luna, Trixie, Rachmaninoff (Rocky), and Maggie)
4. for the fruit of the Spirit; may I be faithful to produce it and place it within the reach of others
5. that death is not the last word, as demonstrated by Jesus with Lazarus

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
(1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ESV)

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.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-21 ESV)

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
(1 Kings 16:29-33 ESV)


The word for today, in Pray A Word A Day, is fruit.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 NLT)

The book only included a phrase from verse 10, the bit that has the word “fruit” in it. I chose to include verses before and after that, to provide better context.

When we are walking in the knowledge of God’s will, living in His spiritual wisdom and understanding, we are “good fruit” bearers. We are also filled with joy and gratitude, as verses 11-12 indicate. And, throughout this, we will grow as we learn to know God better.

I believe the “knowledge of God’s will” is tied in with those two commands I keep harping about. But what is “fruit?” Different people define it in different ways. To some people who only think about evangelism, fruit only means new believers. But the different translations of this passage give us more understanding. The NLT, cited above, calls it “every kind of good fruit.” The NIV, which I also like, here, says, “bearing fruit in every good work” (emphasis mine). The ESV renders it identically to the NIV.

I also believe “fruit” to be consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

And, as we walk in the Spirit, doing the good works (prepared in advance for us to walk in, Ephesians 2:10), we bear the fruit of the Spirit. And I really like the way today’s reading expresses the idea.

“God’s Word says followers of Christ are fruit bearers – the kind who make an effort to place His love and loyalty, His kindness and forgiveness, His peace and joy within reach of others. Flavorful fruit for all to savor.”

I think that nails it! We need to make our fruit His fruit, accessible to others! It seems to me that too many people are trying to keep it just out of reach. Maybe even hoarding God’s fruit. Well, we all know what happens when we hoard fruit, right?

That doesn’t look very appetizing at all, does it? Well, maybe if you are wanting some banana bread.


Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2 NIV)

Here’s another verse that tells us something that we can do to “fulfill the law.” We’ve seen the one, Romans 13:8, that tells us that loving one another fulfills the law. Of course, carrying one another’s burdens is most definitely one way to love one another, isn’t it? It is also a way to demonstrate good fruit.

And here’s the thing. One way we make this fruit accessible to others is by bearing the burdens of not just people within the church. Yes, we are supposed to love the saints with an even more intense love (the way that Jesus loves us). But we are also supposed to love our “neighbors” as ourselves, and I believe that Paul’s command to bear one another’s burdens overflows into that realm, as well.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
(Romans 15:1-7 ESV emphasis mine)

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 ESV)


Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:25-27 ESV)

These are the words of Jesus to Martha, shortly before He raised Lazarus from the dead. Why did Jesus do that? We do not know. I’m sure preachers have made up answers to that question. It makes for great sermons. But it is pure speculation.

The only thing we know is that Jesus did say, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” And then, when He prayed (out loud, specifically so others could hear Him), He said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”

So maybe He brought Lazarus out of the tomb so that others could see the glory of God. That’s a reasonable guess. Another reasonable guess is to demonstrate to us that death is not the final word. All of Lazarus’s family and friends believed that his life was over. He had been buried for several days (Martha was afraid he would stink). But Jesus demonstrated to them that Life is the final word.

We are all born and we all die, eventually. We’ve all (probably) seen it happen at least once. I watched my father die. Sort of. By the time I got there, he was only “living” because a machine was breathing for him. I fully believe that his spirit was long gone.

There are people in this world who believe that death is the final word. Frankly, I don’t understand the way they lived. If I believed that there was nothing after this life, I would live the most hedonistic life possible.

But Jesus surprises us “with life at the very moment we think death is the last word. Birth is no surprise, nor is death, but life – life when we think the story is over, life when we think family and friends and job are played out – is always a surprise.” (Eugene H. Peterson, On Living Well)

The “circle of life,” doesn’t end with death. We are born, then we die, and then, we live.

As Code of Ethics sang in “Satellite Babies,” “Death is not end for my satellite babies, if you place your trust in me.”


Father, I praise You and Jesus and the Holy Spirit that death is not the final word. Yes, I believe that, and I don’t care if anyone thinks me a fool for it. As Michael Card sang, I will gladly come be a fool for you. I pray that we might walk in this life, this life that, through Jesus is the final word. I have placed my trust in Him for many decades, now, and I look forward, with great anticipation, to when that trust will be finally rewarded. Sure, there are things that I don’t quite understand correctly, and I also look forward to having those things straightened out. None of us has it all quite figured out, no matter how much we think we do.

Help us, Father, to be low-hanging fruit, so that the world might be able to see Your grace and mercy, Your love and compassion, Your forgiveness and salvation, fully demonstrated. As I walk through this world, may love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control be the defining pieces of my personality. May I demonstrate in my life the full fruit of the Spirit.

I struggle most with patience, and sometimes kindness, although I believe I have gotten much better with that in recent years. I’m not sure which one of those parts of the fruit that judgmentalness counteracts, but that’s the one I typically need most help with. And it seems that that judgment tends to be pointed more toward those who claim to be part of the Church but are not, themselves, demonstrating that fruit. Give me more patience in that realm, Father.

Help me to keep my eyes open as to ways that I can help bear another’s burdens, and in this way do my part to fulfill the law of Christ in this world.

I thank You for music, for all the songs that have been written that bring me such joy in my life. I always hope that I might write more, so I pray that You would send some my way. Not that I might be “famous,” for I’m pretty sure that ship sailed a long time ago. But just so that I might sing a new song in praise of You and all that You have done in my life.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Transformation

Today is Wednesday, the thirteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

Day 23,498

We have already been to the dentist, and Mama’s crown was successfully placed. It only took about thirty minutes, and we were back home within an hour of the appointment time, in spite of a delay by a train on the trip to the office.

There really isn’t anything else on my “plate” for today. I think I have a load of laundry to fold, but that’s about it. And I have a meal planned for this evening, which I’ll start cooking around 5:00-ish. Maybe I’ll get some quality reading done, today.

The Texas Rangers blew it big time, last night. They were behind for a good part of the game, but then tied it up. They went into extra innings, went behind in the tenth, but tied it back up in the bottom of the tenth. Then came the top of the twelfth inning. Oakland scored eight runs! Santana (not Carlos) was responsible for six of those, and why he was allowed to keep pitching for that long, I have no idea. The Rangers came back with only one run in the bottom of the twelfth, and lost the game 14-7. To the worst team in baseball. This puts the Rangers five games below .500, at 40-45. They remain firmly in third place in the AL West, a comfortable 3.5 games ahead of the Angels, four behind Seattle, and 16.5 out of first place, occupied by the Cheaters. The Rangers and Athletics will finish their series tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox lost another game to the Rays, 3-2. It is said that Chris Sale, back from the IL after a lengthy recovery, “dominated.” Maybe so, but it’s still an “L” in the stats. The Sox are now 47-41, and also now in third place in the AL East, a half game behind Tampa. They are 14.5 out of first place, and now occupy the second of the three AL Wild Card spots. They play another game with the Rays tonight, at 7:10 EDT.

Oakland continues to have the worst MLB record, at 30-59. Baltimore is now the sole owner of the longest winning streak in MLB, with nine consecutive games. The Mariners are right behind them with eight. The Angels and Cubs both have five game losing streaks. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, at -142.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our mighty God, look upon us in our poverty, for you call us your children and give us of your Spirit. From your fullness we constantly need to receive strength for the struggle meant for us in life. Grant that light may come wherever darkness still reigns, especially where it is so black that we do not know which way to turn. Hear our prayer for all people, and let your justice and your truth alone be victorious. Let all people receive what you have promised them, and let them realize that no matter what happens, they remain your children. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 
(1 John 3:2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God calls us His children and gives us His Spirit
2. that nothing can take that away from us
3. that true transformation of the human character is possible by practicing Spiritual Disciplines
4. that, by the grace and mercy of God, my eyes "see" and my ears "hear," that I might be transformed
5. for God's "consuming fire," which both purges me from impurities in my life and gives me the ability to leave a mark in this world
6. for the hope of eternity with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)
"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 
(1 Corinthians 1:31)

The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?
(Joel 2:11 ESV)


The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is transform. I’m not going to reference the quote they use, because it’s a Joel Osteen quote, and I don’t like him. That’s all I’m going to say about him.

The reading is also not very good. It makes reference to something the writer calls “sudden deliverance through grace alone.” That is not what “transformation” is. Changes within us do not take place suddenly, just like changes in real life don’t take place suddenly, at least not most of them.

There are far better quotes that they could have used. One really good one is from Romans.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 ESV)

I mean, why quote Joel Osteen when you can quote Paul, right?

But Dallas Willard had a lot to say about transformation, as well. In fact, he wrote several books about it. One is called Renovation of the Heart. Another is The Divine Conspiracy. And in these books, along with The Spirit of the Disciplines, he shows the process of transformation to be, not instantaneous (or “sudden”), but a lifelong journey of practicing Spiritual Disciplines.

True transformation is possible. But, unlike our initial salvation, that takes work on our part, and it’s not easy work. I can attest to this.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)


But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
(Matthew 13:16 ESV)

The fact that my eyes “see” and my ears “hear” is two-fold. One, it is by God’s grace. He began that process by calling me to Jesus Christ and enabling me to choose to follow Him. But the rest of it has largely been up to me. And this, again, is where this business of “transformation” comes into play.

As I have grown older, God has placed this desire in my heart, perhaps because I have more and more “delighted in Him.” And one of my favorite Psalms says:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

Too many people interpret that to say that if I delight myself in the Lord, then I can get whatever I want. That’s a double-edged sword, because, if you are allegedly delighting yourself in the Lord in order to get a mansion or a Ferrari, then what is your delight truly in? It most certainly is not the Lord.

I have, for a while, now, interpreted that verse to mean that, if I delight myself in the Lord, He will transform the desires of my heart! He will give me new desires. I do realize that the word that is translated “desires” can also be translated “petitions” or “requests.” I get that. But once again, those petitions and requests, if I am truly delighting myself in the Lord, will not be for things that will only benefit me.

The desire that I have, that the Lord is giving me, is to do exactly what Romans 12:2 says, to be transformed by the renewal of my mind, which is happening, gradually, not suddenly, by the practice of Spiritual Disciplines.


Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:18 ESV)

This is a somewhat frightening verse, and I don’t want to focus on the part that seems to indicate the end of the world. I just want to focus on the fire.

You see, part of the process that I have been describing above, that of the gradual transformation of the human character, is purging. And while I am practicing Spiritual Disciplines, the Lord will also work to purge impurities from my life.

Eugene H. Peterson writes a little bit about this “consuming fire” in On Living Well. We know that fire has many uses. Peterson writes of his experience as a youth, watching ranchers do a controlled burn of a field that had been overrun by weeds and thistles. When it was done, there was nothing left but black ashes. This is an example of how God’s consuming fire works in our lives.

He also writes of watching ranchers brand their cattle. In this case, the branding iron was placed in the fire, which did not destroy it, but made it so hot that it quickly left its mark on whatever it touched.

While Peterson doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit in this, but that is what comes to my mind when I think of this use of fire. The Holy Spirit presented as flames of fire on Pentecost. When the fire of the Holy Spirit touches us, it creates a “heat” within us that will leave the mark of God on anything we touch.

There can, of course, be negative connotations here, and I don’t want to dwell on those. Needless to say, I believe that God’s fire in our lives should only be to make us a more positive force in the world. And this is where, like all analogies, this analogy of cattle-branding falls apart. The branding causes the cow much pain, I can only imagine. And when I leave God’s mark on someone or something, I most certainly do not want to cause them pain. I want it to be a mark of love, because God is love.

One other quick word about this fire. It is also preparation; preparation for us to spend eternity with the One we love.


Father, I thank You that transformation is truly possible, and that You have made a way for us to be transformed. I do thank You for the grace that brings us into Your Kingdom, for that journey seems to have a sudden beginning. But the rest of the process lasts a lifetime, as You prepare us for eternity with You.

I am so grateful for the Cross of Christ, that which began the journey for all of us, and erased the debt of sin from our lives. But there is so much more to this story, and I long to embrace it in its entirety. Let Your consuming fire burn away everything within me that is not of You. I pray that I might fully delight myself in You, that I might receive the desires of my heart, and that the desires of my heart will be transformed to match the desires of Your heart.

Father, prepare me for that eternity. May my heart, soul, and mind be transformed for the rest of my days, until the point where, when I step into eternity, I won’t notice any difference.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:2 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

His Indescribable Gift!

Today is Tuesday, the twelfth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,497

Today is my four-hour evening shift at the library, doing shelving. It’s always unpredictable, to some degree, because I never know how many carts will be waiting for me, nor do I know what kind of material I will be shelving tonight. Could be “youth books” (that’s what we call children’s books), could be adult books, could be DVDs and audio books, or it could be adult books that will go on the “new books” shelf. Occasionally (but rarely) there are no carts in the hallway, so I seek out work from one of the other librarians, who might need help with something.

And then, about the last hour, I walk back and forth between the shelves, looking for books that have been taken off the shelf and just laid back down any old where. All of these misplaced books are collected and scanned in our system as “mark used” (this tells the librarians that there was at least some interest in the material, even if it didn’t get checked out), and then, if time allows, re-shelved.

If you remember, a couple weeks ago, I had to take Mama to the dentist for a broken tooth. Well, that crown is in, and we will go tomorrow morning at 9:00 to get that placed on her tooth. They tried to schedule us this afternoon, and we said, “nope.” Then they tried Thursday afternoon, and we said, “nope,” because I work all day on Thursday. We said Wednesday or Friday. They said, “We don’t see patients on Friday.”

Must be nice. We used to talk about “bankers’ hours.” Now we talk about dentists’ hours, because they seem to be able to work whenever they want to. However, in their defense, it takes a special kind of person to actually want to stick their fingers into peoples’ disgusting mouths. Ugh. Either that, or they are sadists, who enjoy inflicting various pains on people.

The Texas Rangers had a field day with Oakland, last night, in Arlington. The final score was 10-8, but it was really much worse than that. The Athletics managed to score six runs in the top of the eighth inning. The highlight of the game, though, in my opinion, was when rookie Josh Smith hit his first major-league home run. Which happened to be an inside-the-park home run. Click on that link, and you can watch it. So the Rangers are now 40-44, in third place in the AL West, 15.5 out of first, but only 3.5 out of the Wild Card race, now. They will play Oakland again, tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox were embarrassed by the Rays, last night, losing 10-5. This makes the Sox 47-40 for the season, still in second place in the AL East, but only by a half game. they are 14.5 out of first, and currently in the first Wild Card spot. They will play Tampa again, tonight, in Tampa, at 7:10 EDT.

Oakland continues to be the worst MLB team, now at 29-59, and are the only team that has yet to win 30 games. As we watched last night’s game, I heard one of the TV announcers say that they were setting all kinds of records for how bad they are, this season. One of them said they reminded him of the ’72 Rangers. Hahaha. Yes, I remember that team. As for winning streaks, hold on to your hats. The Seattle Mariners and (are you sitting down?) the Baltimore Orioles both have eight-game win streaks going on! And the Mariners are coming to Arlington Thursday for a four-game weekend series. There are five teams with four-game losing streaks: Toronto Blue Jays (YAY!!!), LA Angels (YAY!!!), Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, at -142. The Rangers have improved to +14, and the Sox are currently at +46.

For those of you who are of the praying persuasion, please pray for some rain for parts of Texas (north central). We have not had rain for a long time, now, and temps are hitting triple digits on a daily basis, and there is no rain in the forecast for the next ten days.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Almighty God, keep watch over us and lead us fully into the life of Jesus Christ. Let your Son Jesus Christ become truly living within us so that we may be full of joy because we belong to the realm of heaven and may live every day with faith in him. We thank you for all you have let us experience. We thank you with all our hearts that in your great compassion you have showered so much good on us who are not yet perfect in faith. Keep our hearts in the light, we pray. Keep us patient and dedicated, for then more and more can be done among us poor children of earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 
(Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the unending joy that comes from having the Spirit of Christ within us
2. that, even though I am far from perfect, the Father continues to shower me with good
3. that, in Christ, we are bound together with all the saints, "with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2)
4. that, because of Christ, I am cleansed from all sin, in perpetuity
5. for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Living the Greatest Commandment, by Daryl Madden

The greatest commandment
All one of agreeing
To love our Lord our God
With all our heart and being

We can believe it
And know that it’s true
But how do we live it
It seems so hard to do

We can see this truth
If our souls are aware
That our God is love
And He is everywhere

A pray to the Spirit
With vision it brings
Let me see and love
Our God in all things

I somehow missed this poem from yesterday, and it’s a great one. It highlights one of those two greatest commandments of which Jesus spoke. As you are aware, this is what I have been “preaching” for a while, this one, and the second, which is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Please visit the link above to see more of Daryl’s poetry.


Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ESV emphasis mine)


The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is cleanse.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:19-23 NIV)

The book only cited verse 22. I chose to expand that, for a couple of reasons. First, verse 22 is part of a longer sentence, and second, that longer sentence explains the reason for verse 22.

We get dirty, in life. Some of us more so than others. I don’t roll around in the grass and dirt like I did as a child. Shoot, I don’t even like to get my hands dirty, now.

But do I feel the same about my spirit? I try to keep my spirit cleansed, and some days, I try harder than others to avoid things that would soil my spirit. But here’s the thing. According to Scripture, my heart is sprinkled to cleanse me from a guilty conscience. There are other passages that proclaim that my sin is gone, erased completely from the record, never to be remembered again.

At least not by God. Would that I could intentionally forget things! I still remember sins from elementary school!!

David was painfully aware of his sin, and desperately cried out to God to remove it from him.

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.
(Psalms 51:1-3 ESV)

Thanks to the blood of Jesus, I am perpetually cleansed. This does not give me license to do what I want. I am still responsible for my actions, and need to constantly be in a state of repentance and confession, just like a song Twyla Paris once sang, “I am here to confess the same old sin.”

And this fits so very well with yesterday’s word (mine), because it is because of the fact that I belong to Him that I am cleansed in perpetuity.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)


O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
(Psalms 130:7 ESV)

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 1:27-31 ESV)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:9-10 ESV)

With Him, there is steadfast love (also known, in some cases, as mercy), and with Him, there is “plentiful redemption.” I decided to look up that word “plentiful.” The KJV renders it “plenteous,” a similar word. The NIV says “full redemption.” NLT says “His redemption overflows.” And Eugene Peterson says it is “generous.”

It is my opinion that the NLT is closest (based on my very limited knowledge of Hebrew, most of which comes from using my e-Sword Bible app). The Hebrew word, there, is rabah, which literally means, “to increase.” There are a lot of other words to which it could be translated, but that is the first meaning. And if something increases, especially beyond the capacity of the container, it overflows.

So, because of God’s mercy, there is enough redemption for all of us. And this is done, with no help whatsoever from us, so that we have nothing about which to boast. This is a point Paul makes multiple times in his various letters. In Christ, we have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification (guess what that means – cleansing!), and redemption.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)


Eugene H. Peterson, in On Living Well, cites the need for “a sharp line between religious consumerism and a gracious gospel.” The line is constantly blurred by this world, as well as by our sin. In recent years, the line seems blurrier than ever, as “churches” delve more and more into the realm of “religious consumerism.”

“Resurrection,” says Peterson, “draws the line bold and distinct again, dividing a consumer religion from a gracious gospel.

“A consumer religion shops for God in the religious shopping malls and tries on the latest fashions. A gracious gospel discovers us in our ignorant waywardness and invites us into the membership of Christ. Many people are living on the wrong side of the Resurrection, trying to get something interesting or useful for their lives from God rather than letting him do something gracious and eternal for them.”

He then lists five words that distinguish what he calls the “Resurrection pivot: believe, sacrifice, abide, love, and sanctify.” There’s that idea of cleansing again!

“Resurrection is the pivot point. Up to the event of the Resurrection, we are consumers of religion, looking for what we can get out of God. After the Resurrection, we are surprised by amazing grace and given what we weren’t even looking for, what we didn’t even know we needed.”

Peterson calls consumer religion “a shopping spree in the boutiques of idolatry.” “It’s all about me,” says consumer religion. What can I get out of it? How many times have we heard someone give as a reason for not going to church, “I just don’t get anything out of it.”?

“Resurrection life marks the difference. It is both more wonderful and more difficult than consumer religion. It is more wonderful because it is God’s inventive creation, perfectly customized to our condition. it is more difficult because God is in charge and we would rather be in charge. It is, after all, our life – or so we feel.”

And that hearkens back to yesterday’s word, because our lives are not, in fact, our own, but belong to God.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)


Father, I praise You for Your cleansing, through Jesus Christ. I thank You that, in spite of myself, I am perpetually cleansed, the beneficiary of Your overflowing redemption. Yes, I still sin, and will likely continue to do so until I am free from this mortal coil. But, hopefully, I am also growing more and more like Jesus, with the hopes that, as Dallas Willard described, when the time for my transition to Home comes, maybe I won’t even know the difference. Those are, indeed, high hopes, based on my past performance.

Thank You for Your Resurrection and the difference it makes in our lives. I can say, with some assurance, that I am in the country where I am not seeking so much for myself, what I can get out of You, but am constantly surprised by Your amazing grace, receiving from You things that I wasn’t even looking for. I stand amazed in Your presence, and, rather than seek what I can get, wait for You to do something “gracious and eternal” within me.

Let Your redemption overflow in the lives of Your people, Father. May Your Resurrection be the pivot point for all the saints, for all who call upon the name of Jesus. May Your Holy Spirit lead us all to be unified within Your Church, following only Jesus Christ and no man. May those who push consumer religion be brought down. And help us to acknowledge that we are not in charge of this thing.

All glory to You through the Son and by the Spirit, and thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Flawed, But Flawless

Today is Monday, the eleventh of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,496

Wow, I’m really not moving very quickly at all, this morning. It’s almost 11:00 AM, and I am just now starting this. I’ve been up since just after 8:00, maybe closer to 8:30, and been just piddling. But there is really nothing important to do today, I guess.

Oh, and today is also 7-Eleven. And to honor their 95th birthday, you can get a free Slurpee today, if you have the “7Rewards” app. I don’t, but I don’t really want a free Slurpee, either. And, since 7-Eleven is one of the sponsors of the Texas Rangers, I understand that there are $7 and $11 seats for tonight’s Rangers game. But I’ve also been told it is sold out.

And, now, I’ve done the grocery shopping. I didn’t actually go anywhere, it’s being delivered this evening, between 5:00 and 6:00. I’ve also planned the menu for the whole week (at least for dinner). Since I only work Tuesday evening and all day Thursday, this week, I’ll cook dinner tonight, Wednesday, and Friday. Tonight will be chili (made with Rotel Chili Fixin’s); tomorrow, we’ll have Subway, which I will pick up at lunchtime; Wednesday, we will have Spaghetti Pie ; Thursday, it will be our Chicken Ranch Crockpot Soup (I don’t have a recipe for that); and Friday, we will have Chicken Taco Rice Skillet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant us true unity with your Son Jesus Christ, so that his power can be revealed in us and we may find new life in which we can truly serve you. Protect us from all error. Be among us with your Spirit to make us people who are genuine. Let your will be carried out more and more in this age. Let your will again intervene so that a new creation may come, a new heaven and a new earth, as we have been promised. May your name be great among us, may your kingdom come and everything in heaven and on earth be done according to your will. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 
(Hebrews 10:22, TEV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a good night's sleep/rest last night
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for the possibility of true unity in Christ (I still believe in this, for the Church)
4. that God has claimed me, and I belong to Him
5. that God historically used, and continues to use, tremendously flawed people to bring glory to Him and do His will on earth
6. that no matter how flawed I am/have been, the Cross has made me "flawless"

Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is mine. The word is actually, “mine,” not that it belongs to me.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.”
(Isaiah 43:1 NLT)

We’ve all (probably) had some experience with two-year-olds. You know how everything, to a two-year-old, is “mine!” Some folks never seem to outgrow that.

But today, that is not the meaning of “mine.” Today, it is the meaning of God claiming us. The above Scripture is one of those that is explicitly to Israel, yet I believe it applies to the Body of Christ, as well. That line, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you,” can be applied to me, and to everyone who calls the name of Jesus. “I have called you by name; you are mine,” says the Lord.

And I believe this, and believe it applies to every one of us. If our God can call the stars by name, then He should certainly have no problem calling each of His children by name, as well.

I have expressed this before, here, that I believe that there truly is nothing to fear in this world, and it is because of truths like we find in Isaiah 43:1. Some of the promises that God made to Israel can surely be transferred to the entire Body of Christ, and that includes Isaiah 41:10, which has been a favorite of mine for a number of years.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

This carries with it, however, a responsibility to act differently. If I am not my own, but belong to God (to the completeness of the Holy Trinity), then there are some consequences to that. I cannot act however I want (although we tend to do that anyway). Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

The context of this passage is that of sexual immorality. If I belong to the Lord, and not to myself, then I don’t have the right to do whatever I want with my own body. (This is NOT a response to the political happenings of the past couple of weeks, so don’t read it that way.) I don’t have that “right,” because I have surrendered that right to the Lord.

I really like this excerpt that I got in my email, yesterday morning, from Plough magazine, and their “Daily Dig.” (Warning: If you click that link, you will get today’s Daily Dig, for whatever day you happen to be reading this.)

"Do we believe that the Holy Spirit will be increasingly poured out over the church? Do we believe that Jesus comes into our midst, that he opens his heart to us so that we may live as he did and have an influence in society as he did? Do we dare to carry out the task as his church in his coming kingdom, to be a corrective within society through the grace of the indwelling Christ? Do we dare to live a life of love in the midst of the world, giving up all privilege and even the right to our possessions? Are we ready, completely defenseless, to follow Jesus?"
(Eberhard Arnold, in Plough's Daily Dig, emphasis mine)

Do we dare live as though we are completely His? Do we dare try to live a life that indicates that we have given up all privilege and “even the right to our possessions?” The answer to that question, in general, appears to be painfully obvious. On the other hand, that observation is based solely on the people who make the most noise. I do make the concession that there are a lot of good “Christians” out there, who are quietly going about the business of following Christ. We just don’t here from them, and will only see them if we are looking really hard for them.


Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

That’s one of those verses I memorized as a child. I can still remember saying it, along with the rest of my Sunday School class, with Miss Juanita Sullivan leading us. KJV, of course, because that was all we had back then.

It comes from what is, the older I get, one of the more fascinating chapters in the Bible. I would expect some folks groan when they get to the chapter in Psalms that has 176 verses, divided up into eight-verse chunks.

But that’s a topic for a different day. I want to follow along with Buck Storm, in today’s Daily Guideposts reading. He, too, has memories of Sunday School Bible verses and stories.

But there comes this time, as we grow older, that we realize that a lot of those Sunday School stories were just a little bit “sugar-coated,” if you will. The story of Sampson, for example, who, in reality was no “hero,” but, in fact, a class-act jerk of a guy! Here’s a quote from Buck about memories of Bible stories from his grandpa.

“The stories he told weren’t about cartoon giraffes or smiling, perfect people. No, this was darker stuff. Battles and blood. Angels and devils in a great wrestling match over mankind. Here were lion killers, prostitutes, heroes, and liars. If it had been a drive-in theater, my mom would have shoved my head down behind the back seat and told me to stay there. In my grandpa’s living room, I heard the Bible unfiltered. Men and women flawed to the core but loved wildly by their Creator and used for His glory.”

I am in tears, here, because that is what it’s about, folks. And while there is certainly cause to sugar coat these stories for the “wee folk,” there comes a time when we must all realize the truth.

God used imperfect people. The examples that we have in Scripture are of terribly flawed people “loved wildly by their Creator and used for His glory.”

I could write all afternoon, giving examples, but there are other things I kind of want to do today. I’ll just name some names. I already named Sampson. Jacob, David (yes, that David), Balaam, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, James, John. The only person in the Bible that I really can’t find anything negative about is Daniel. He seems to have been quite an exemplary character.

So, yes . . . God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my heart, because it shows me these truths. It shows me that no matter how badly I screw things up, or how far off of His path I wander, He can still bring me back and use me for His glory. And a huge part of the reason for that is because He has claimed me and called me His!

And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
(Leviticus 26:12 ESV)


Father, how glorious You are! I don’t have enough words, this afternoon, to express my praise and gratitude. Thank You for claiming me, I believe before I was even formed in the womb, and calling me Yours. Thank You for arranging things so that I would one day choose to follow You, for I believe that is true, as well. I can’t explain any of that. No. But I believe it.

I praise You for the truth that people throughout history whom You have used are terribly flawed and imperfect. Some of them weren’t very nice/good people at all. I keep coming back to Sampson on that one. But You worked through him, just as You worked through the deceiver Jacob, and the murderer David. You took a man who was actually killing Your followers and turned him around to make him the most powerful Gospel preacher, perhaps in history. And You took the wimp that was Peter and made him a legend.

I don’t want to be a legend. I don’t want to be the most powerful Gospel preacher. But what I do desire is to be known as one who loves You and loves people. I need a lot of help with that, because I’m a pretty flawed individual, as well. I don’t like people very much, in general. But You can help me with that. You can help me love and follow You, and You can help me love people so that I am obeying Jesus’s two greatest commands.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Grace and peace, friends.

Living in the Past, Worrying About Tomorrow, Missing Today

Today is Saturday, the ninth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today!

Day 23,494

My strange work schedule continues to cause me to struggle to remember what day it is. I think I asked at least twice, yesterday, “Is this Friday??” There are three days on which I never work: Sunday, Monday, and Friday. On alternating weeks, I also don’t work Saturday and Wednesday. This is not one of those alternating weeks, so I will be at the library at 9:30 this morning, for my eight-hour shift in circulation. I know at least three of us will be there, one librarian assistant and two part-time aides (I’m one of those, the other one is a lady who has been working at the library for something like twenty years). The manager of the circ department might be there, as well. The only programs we have today are Baby Time (10:30-11:30) and Chess Club (4:00-5:00). The person who leads Chess Club is the girlfriend of the other part-time aide who started the same day as I, so he always comes in with her on the Saturdays that he’s not already working. He and I rarely work on the same Saturdays, so it’s always nice to see them when Chess Club rolls around.

The Rangers beat the Twins, last night, 6-5, with a six run fifth inning. They needed this win, as they had been on a bit of a losing streak. They are now 38-43 for the season, in third place in the AL West, three games behind Seattle, and 16 games out of first place. They are five games out of the Wild Card.

The Red Sox have lost two straight to the Evil Empire, last night, badly, 12-5. This included one run that was walked in in the top of the ninth. They are 45-39, now, in third place in the AL East, a half game behind Tampa, and 16 games out of first place. They currently hold the second Wild Card spot. All three Wild Card spots are still occupied by AL East teams. MLB continues to ignore my complaint. (That’s sarcasm, by the way. Or cynicism, at best.)

The Athletics continue to be the worst team in MLB, at 28-57. The Mariners, Orioles, and Tigers continue to be tied with the longest winning streak, all at six games. I believe I read that the O’s walked off against the Angels, last night, which is awesome. I always love it when the Angels lose. Oh, and the Reds won against the Rays on a walk-off balk. Yes, you read that right. I also always love it when the Rays lose. The Cleveland Guardians have the longest current losing streak, at five games. Unfortunately, the Red Sox are right behind (ahead?) them, with four. The Nationals have the worst run differential, having been outscored by 140 runs. The Rangers are at +11, and the Sox have dropped to +45.

I watched Fight Club for the first time, yesterday. I had heard about the movie for years, of course, but never watched it, because I ignorantly thought it was just about, well, fighting. Which, of course, is not true. There is fighting, and it’s quite brutal, bare fisted fighting, as Edward Norton’s character (alongside Brad Pitt) start this club as a cathartic, therapeutic exercise for men. But that is far from what this movie is truly about, and it is a real mind-bender, as it turns out. I put it right alongside Memento as one of those mind-bending films. Probably not quite as much so as Memento, but once you realize what is happening in Fight Club, it becomes one of the more bizarre movies I have ever seen. Filmed with a constant narrator script running through it, I thought Norton did a fantastic job. In my opinion, the key line in the entire movie is, “Is Tyler my bad dream? Or am I Tyler’s?” Rated R for language, violence, and some sexual content, it is definitely not for the faint-of-heart.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you are our Father, and we human beings know that our innermost hearts belong to you. Hold us firmly through your Spirit, we pray, so that we do not live on the level of our lower natures but remain true to the calling you have given us, the high calling to what is eternal. May all our experiences work in us for good, bringing us the joyful certainty that you rule us with your Spirit, that you further the good everywhere in the world and make more and more people sensitive to what is good, right, and perfect. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
(Ephesians 3:14-17a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power and strength received from His Spirit
2. that my life's purpose is to share the love of God in Christ
3. that I don't need to focus on the past or worry about tomorrow
4. for today
5. for the power, the privilege, and the responsibility of prayer

Answers of A Child, by Daryl Madden

My child who is God?
An easy answer of
God is our Creator
And He is only love

My child where is God?
God is where there’s love
He dwells everywhere
And in heaven above

And who does God love?
He loves you and me
He loves all creation
He loves everybody

What is our life’s purpose?
It’s His love to share
To use all our giftings
To spread everywhere

What do I have to do?
Turn to our Lord and pray
Be a friend of Jesus
And follow in His way

Why do bad things happen?
It’s a broken world you see
Someday we’ll know the answer
For now, trust His mercy

What happens when we die?
Our Lord we’ll truly see
We’ll live with God in love
For all eternity

I especially like the answer to “What is our life’s purpose?” “It’s His love to share . . .” Pretty much what I’m trying to do, here. Please check out more of Daryl’s inspiration poetry at his site, linked in the title of the poem.


And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
(Mark 15:16-20 ESV)


Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is adapt. There is no Scripture reference, but a quote from John Wooden, of whom I have never heard.

“If we fail to adapt, we fail to move forward.”

Ah. No wonder I’ve never heard of him. He was a basketball coach.

This is the second reading this week that seems more like a motivational speech than a devotional. I completely skipped the first one. However, I believe there is benefit to this word, because, as a sixty-four-year-old white American male, I see a lot of my “contemporaries” failing to do just that. Adapt. So many people of my generation (as well as the one immediately following it) are spending all their time and energy on social media complaining about one thing or another. It seems like they are perpetually angry about something.

And, honestly, when I was but a lad, I seem to remember a large number of “old” people doing just that, as well.

But, as Stephen King so aptly kept stating in his Dark Tower series, the world has “moved on,” and, in many cases, has left a lot of people behind. And that’s what happens when we don’t adapt.

I believe that there are Scriptures to be considered, here. One such is Isaiah 43:18-19.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV)

In this passage, Israel is strictly told to not keep thinking about the things of the past. God is in the business of doing new things.

Paul gives us several examples of this mindset. One is found in Philippians.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
(Philippians 3:13-15 ESV)

Paul is not stuck in the past. I also like how he tacked on “Let those of us who are mature think this way.” Hahaha!! There’s another passage from Paul that comes to mind, and, while it may not reflect this thought precisely, I believe it to be relevant.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
(1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV)

Paul could not have accomplished this had he been buried in things of the past.

And then, there’s this favorite that people love to quote, albeit it frequently out of context.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

There are many more I could share. Yes, we need to adapt. Obviously, there are somethings in which we cannot change. There are truths that remain constant. But we must change with the times if we expect anyone to pay any attention to the message of the Gospel. That message doesn’t change, no. The Kingdom of God is available, here and now, for anyone who desires to enter it. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love the community of saints as Jesus has loved us. The message never changes. But it’s not 1950 anymore.


Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
(Proverbs 27:1 NIV)

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
(Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

Speaking of being old . . .

You know, it’s interesting to me. Today’s verse up there, from Proverbs, warns us about boasting about tomorrow. Brother James does the same thing, in the New Testament.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
(James 4:13-17 NIV)

There is a clear message to me, when I couple these warnings with the words of Jesus, who tells us:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 NIV)

So we don’t worry about tomorrow, nor should we boast about anything we plan to do tomorrow. Tomorrow might not even get here. I am not guaranteed another breath. I could die in mida;eianaefk/ma

Hah. Just kidding. Sorry.

But it could happen. So here’s the real message for today. It can be summed up with the word “today.” Because that is all we have. We have this moment. And “this moment” just went by and is gone on to the next moment.

If I keep focusing on that moment that just passed by, I will never make it to the next moment. I’ll miss it. Solomon (or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes) encouraged us to enjoy life, to savor the moments. Yet we keep finding ourselves stuck in the past, wishing for the “good old days,” whenever that was! Because you know what? The people who were our age in those “good old days” were also whining and complaining, wishing for the “good old days!”

And all the while that we spend wishing for those good old days, we are missing life today!

So. Stop focusing on what is past. It is gone, and cannot be changed, nor can we return to it (time travel will probably never be invented . . . I suspect it is impossible)(if it does get invented, I’m going to go back and go to a Steppenwolf concert). Tomorrow isn’t here yet, so stop worrying about what hasn’t happened, yet, and may not happen at all! Focus on today! God has given us today, and today, this moment, is the only time we have to share the message of the Gospel (it’s just above the previous purple line).


Father, thank You for enabling me to adapt, over these years. I pray for many of my brothers and sisters who don’t seem to be able to. Help us to stop living in the past, that we might celebrate today, living in Your infinite mercy and grace, the wonder of Your marvelous Kingdom, Your glorious light!

I also pray that You help us stop worrying about tomorrow, as well as not boasting about what we think tomorrow will bring. The only boast about “tomorrow” that I know is okay is that, on one of these “tomorrows,” Jesus will return to correct everything, to make everything in the world right.

There is nothing wrong with remembering . . . otherwise, we wouldn’t have memories. There is also nothing wrong with making plans. We just have to be more sensible about realizing that the plans may not come to fruition, because You might have other plans. And there is a difference between remembering and dwelling. Help us to remember the good things and not dwell on the “bad” things. Well, I guess we need to not dwell on the good things, either. That’s what is causing many to fail to adapt or move forward.

All glory to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Take the Wheels Off

Today is Friday, the eighth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,493

We are all home, today, as I am off work and C is working from home. I’m working on an issue with the billing department of the company that provided my new CPAP machine, back in January. The company is Healthline, an “adapthealth” company, and the apparently have no clue what they are doing. As it happens, I am not having good luck with them at all. Either the agent hung up on me, or the call was dropped. I’m not sure, yet, what happened, but am waiting on another call back.

In the meantime, I will proceed with my morning devotional, as it is already a few minutes after 10:00.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven and on earth, we are thankful that you have a people to whom you say, "You are mine." Grant that we too may belong to this people. Strengthen us in the faith that we belong to you, so that we can come to know your rule and your justice. Protect us on all the paths we follow during our time on earth. The times are evil, but come what may, every single one of us has in his heart the certainty, "We are yours." You have long watched over us and kept us safe. Again and again we affirm, "We are yours, Lord our God, through Jesus Christ our Savior." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:17-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I belong to the Lord, I am His (call me a "sheep," I don't care)
2. for the promise that the Lord will deliver us from all our troubles, and that He is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit
3. for the way Jesus restored Peter after he denied Him three times, thereby giving all of us hope for forgiveness
4. for occasional opportunities to observe solitude and silence
5. for air-conditioning (it's going to be 100+ degrees for the next ten days, here)

And he said, “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 ESV)

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Mark 14:38 ESV)

And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
(Mark 14:66-72 ESV)

I’m sure many sermons have been preached on Peter’s denials of Jesus. I once read a book, I think it was by Grady Nutt, where it was even opined that, perhaps, Peter was trying to get closer to Jesus, and was attempting to avoid being caught.

Regardless, we have no right to judge Peter. We do not know, nor can we pretend to, what was in Peter’s head and heart when he declared, thrice, that he did not know Jesus and was not one of His disciples.

And, in the end, we get hope from this story, because I dare say there is not a one of us who has not, at some point in our lives, “denied” Jesus in some way. And Jesus, in His infinite grace and mercy, even restored Peter, later, forgiving him, and Peter went on to be a giant of faith, even being rumored to be the first pope of the Catholic Church. There is no evidence that I know of to support this claim, but the fact that it exists shows the extent of Peter’s restoration by Jesus.


Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is a Hebrew word, yadah. The word has a number of different forms, and can be translated as “to shoot,” “to cast,” “throw,” or also “to give thanks,” or “praise,” or even “confess.”

The writer of the reading today states that the word means praise, which is not wrong. However, the verse that is used at the heading is this:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 KJV)

While the Hebrew word “yadah” appears a number of times in Psalms, that is not one of them. The word for “praise” in Psalm 69:30 is “halal.” There are a few different words for “praise” in Hebrew.

Psalm 7:17 has the word we are looking for today. Oddly enough, the non-KJV translations seem to want to translate “yadah” as “thanks.” In addition, the word for “praise” in the second phrase of the KJV is “zamar.”

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
(Psalms 7:17 KJV)

I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NLT)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Psalm 9:1 is another instance where KJV translates “yadah” as “praise,” and other English translations render it “thanks.” However, in this case, the NLT also uses “praise.”

So what does “yadah” really mean? See the first paragraph in the section. It can mean any of those things. So all of the translations are correct. We can’t truly know what the psalmist originally intended, but we can be sure, I think, that “thanks” or “praise” are both appropriate. And I’m sure God doesn’t really mind which way we use it.


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. This verse has actually appeared in two of my sources, today.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
(Psalms 30:5 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

Who among us has not been brokenhearted? Who among us has not been crushed in spirit? I could name multiple times in my life when both experiences were true. I have lost loved ones; I have lost friends; I have had dreams shattered, and I have caused some of my own heartbreak.

But I am here, on this platform, to declare that Jesus has never failed me. And I am confident that He never will. He is close to the brokenhearted. He holds up those who have fallen. Just look at Peter! Peter, one of His closest friends, who outright denied that he knew Him, not just once, but three times in the space of one evening! Peter fell hard! (Once again, I do not judge him . . . see the paragraph above.) And Jesus lifted him back up and gave him a most important task to fulfill.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
(John 21:15-19 NIV)


There is an old custom that is described by Eugene H. Peterson, in On Living Well. I am having trouble finding a source for it, because whenever I do a search for anything regarding wreaths and wheels, all I get are etsy shops and creative ideas on how to make wreaths from wagon and bicycle wheels.

The fact that this still is a thing lends some credibility to the legend, though.

Here’s the thing (haven’t said that in a few days). According to Peterson, it is a centuries old tradition practiced by Christians in the north as winter made working on the farm impossible. They would take the wheels off of their wagons and carts, put greens and lights all around them, and bring them inside and hang them up.

What this symbolized (and it wasn’t Christmas) was that times were now different, and it was time “to stop and turn inward.” Obviously, if your cart or wagon was missing some wheels, it wasn’t going anywhere.

Peterson then imagines what it would be like if we did that today. What if we took a wheel off of the family car and decorated it for our Advent wreath? “Indeed, things would stop! Our daily routine would come to a halt. . . . Having to stay put, we wouldn’t be able to dilute our expectant hope of Christ born in us with a distracting run to town.”

Obviously (at least for most of us), this is not feasible. But the thought behind it certainly is. And I really thought that the pandemic would bring some of this about, and maybe it did. The idea is stopping for a bit. Stopping to think, to contemplate, to meditate. This happens to be one of (or actually more like a couple) the Spiritual Disciplines. The idea of solitude and of silence lend themselves heavily to this.

It is good for us to be alone for a little while, to remove distractions, and to be quiet. To “be still and know” for a little while.

“What would it mean for us to deepen our expectancy in this way? What might we gain from knowing the seasons, from learning the wisdom of losing a wheel once in a while?”


Father, help me to be more aware of Your presence in my life, by practicing more solitude and silence. Certainly, I am normally alone in this room when I am practicing my morning devotions, but there can be more times where I can get away from the normal, and maybe just sit and listen, being quiet and still, to know that You are God, and that You are there, and that You are in control. Help me, indeed, to take the wheels off, occasionally.

Ah, Lord, I am so very grateful for the truth that You are close to the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit. I have experienced this, but I know that my broken heartedness pales in comparison to what many have experienced. And I am grateful that You are there for them, in their broken hearts, as well. Help me to pray better to that end, Lord, to pray comfort to those who have lost, and whose spirits may be crushed. “Thoughts” don’t mean much, but prayers do.

I am also very grateful for Your example of Peter’s restoration and forgiveness. This is great hope for us, especially those of us who know that, either in action or in word, we have, at some point in our lives, denied Jesus.

And I am grateful for the many ways we can praise You and thank You, for there are many different words and meanings that help us in this. May we embrace the example that Scripture gives us and be thankful and praise-ful daily.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Consider

Today is Wednesday, the sixth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth wee of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today!

Day 23,491

Last night was a pleasant and fine evening at the library. I had plenty to do, and enjoyed several conversations with some of my favorite people. There was one humorous moment when, as I was shelving a cart of DVDs, a patron who was looking for, apparently, nothing in particular, started browsing my cart (I was away from it, putting away a handful of DVDs). Of course, I don’t mind if they do that, because, hopefully, they will decide to take some and that is less for me to put back on the shelf.

Unfortunately, in this case, he was also rearranging them as he browsed. I actually chuckled about it, and, rather than approach him, I walked away and told a couple of my workmates what he was doing, and they got a good laugh out of it, too. One of them told me that, back when they had many more carts to shelve, they would just bring all of the DVD carts out and set them up by the circulation desk, and let people browse them there, hoping that they would check them out. Makes sense.

The “damage” was minimal, in my case, and I was able to re-sort the ones that had been mixed up in just a few minutes. That may have been the most full DVD cart I have ever put away, though. The cart has three shelves on each side, and one whole side was full, plus on shelf on the other side. The second shelf on the other side was about 3/4 full of audio books, which are near the DVDs in proximity.

Today, I’m working 9:15-6:15 in the circ department.

The Rangers lost again, last night, to the Orioles, 10-9, in a bit of a slugfest. And it was, once again, in extra innings, so the stupid “zombie runner” was in play. I really detest that practice. I can almost understand putting something like that in during the ridiculous pandemic season of 2020. But they should not have kept it. It reeks of Little League. I think what Manfred and his cronies don’t seem to get is that the true baseball fan doesn’t want a quicker game! I’ll never forget that World Series game in 2018. It was game three, and Boston was up 2 games to zero, against the Dodgers. Game three went eighteen innings!! Eighteen! That’s two complete games. I stayed up to watch the whole freaking thing (I think it was Friday night, so I didn’t have to work the next day). Of course I was disgusted when the Dodgers won it in the bottom of the eighteenth inning, but that is baseball, folks! The sad thing is that Nathan Eovaldi, who became a Boston hero after that game, took the loss. The reason he became a hero was because he came in and pitched most of the second half of the game. It was the longest World Series game in history, both by innings and time. What one Boston fan reminded us, though, was that it took the Dodgers eighteen innings and nine pitchers to finally beat the Red Sox in a WS game. And it was the only game Boston lost in that World Series.

Speaking of Boston, they also lost, yesterday, 8-4, to the Rays. So it wasn’t a good baseball day for me. The Rangers play Baltimore again, tonight, and the Sox play the Rays again tonight. Texas is now two games behind Seattle, in third place in the AL West, 15.5 out of first place and 5.5 out of the Wild Card. Boston is still in second place, one game ahead of Tampa, 13 out of first and still in the first Wild Card spot.

Oakland continues to have the worst record, at 28-55, but they have won a couple of games. The Astros must still have their trash cans, because they have now won EIGHT straight games. The Giants and Nats are still duking it out to see who can lose the most, both having lost six straight games. The Blue Jays (Woohoo!) are trying to catch them, though, with a five-game losing streak. The Nationals have now been outscored by 129 runs. The Rangers have gone down to +11, and the Sox are back at +59, after yesterday’s loss to the Rays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to the wonder of being able to call you Father, the wonder of being united with you. You are the source of all life and strength. In you is redemption, and we need to be redeemed before we can live rightly. Take from us the pressures forced on us by the flood of events. Make us completely free as people led by your hand, people who may be joyful because everything will be overcome through the power you grant us in Jesus Christ. Protect us from fear and from all evil. Show more and more clearly your good and wonderful goal for all people on earth, so that in expectation they may find happiness even in all the stress of today. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
(Romans 8:14-15a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our Father in heaven, the source of all life and strength
2. for the sparrows and lilies; I need to consider them
3. for The Choir and their music
4. for the work of the Holy Spirit, especially when I don't know He's working
5. for how much we, the community of saints, need one another

Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is consider. I rather like this word.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
(1 Samuel 12:24 ESV)

To “consider” something means to take some time, look at it, think about it, maybe even contemplate. “Consider the lilies,” Jesus said in Matthew 6. It’s interesting to me (not necessarily relevant, but still interesting) that Matthew actually uses two different Greek words. In verse 26, the KJV says “Behold,” and the ESV says “Look at,” in reference to the birds. The Greek word is emblepo, which literally means to “look on,” or “observe.” In verse 28, the Greek word, translated “consider” in most translations, is katamanthano, which means “learn thoroughly” or “consider.” Two different terms that mean pretty close to the same thing.

One of the reasons that I take the time every morning to do this is so that I can do exactly that: consider, look upon, learn thoroughly, behold. It takes time and attention. This life is way too busy. I had a conversation with a coworker, last night, about that. I had expressed hope that maybe, just maybe, the pandemic might have slowed us down a little, as a society. And it seemed that maybe it had.

But now, I don’t think so. We are still as busy as ever. The sad thing is that we make time for the things that are important to us, which is why the phrase “I don’t have time,” is usually a lie, or at best delusional. We have time for whatever we truly want to do. We make time.

What we need to take more time for is considering. There’s a song that I like by one of my favorite bands that most people have never heard of. The band is The Choir, and the song, as it turns out, is simply called “Consider.” And yes, the album is called “Chase the Kangaroo.”

Consider your laughter
Consider My tears
Consider My love
Consider your fear

Consider one small child
Consider your cross
Consider the hope that withers like a flower
Consider My loss
Consider the fire
Consider the night
Consider the truth
Consider the light, my love
Consider your heart

Consider your heart
Consider your heart

Consider My love, my love
Consider the darkness
Consider My love, my love
Consider the flame
Consider My love, my love
Consider the Ghost of the living Savior
Remember My love
Remember My name

Consider your heart
Remember my name

Consider your heart
Remember my name

Consider your heart

As we go about our day today, may we take time to stop and consider; consider His love; consider His cross; consider our hearts; remember His Name.


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:8 NIV)

I think it is safe to say that most of the time, we are not aware of the Spirit’s leading and guiding in our lives. And I think that might just be intentional.

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.
(Deuteronomy 4:12 NIV)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

My ears will not always hear a voice telling me to turn right or left, or saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” In fact, as I can recall, I have never heard an audible voice.

But I can say that I have felt the Spirit “nudging” me in a particular direction. One time, I specifically remember, I didn’t follow. I still, to this day regret that. Regrets, though, are like . . . well, I don’t know what they are like. I shouldn’t have started that sentence. They can be good or bad. If we spend too much time regretting things, we won’t move forward. I have most definitely moved forward from that time, which was well over three decades ago. But I still think about it, from time to time, and wonder what would look differently today, had I followed the Spirit that time.

One of the things that we need to do, in light of this, though is (wait for it!) . . .

CONSIDER!

I love when it works out this way!

Yes. We the “voice” of the Holy Spirit is something that we must consider. While I do still believe it to be true that He leads us, at times, without us even knowing it, there are definitely still times when we need to be stopping and considering; we need to stop and contemplate or meditate or look upon or observe whatever might be in front of us. Those sparrows and lilies are there for a reason, friends!


As I continue to consider (see?) the issues that the Church is experiencing with modern worship practices, Eugene H. Peterson brings up this word “interdependences.”

While we are truly “interdependent” upon many things economically and physically, many of us don’t consider how interdependent we are, spiritually, as well. And this is, once again, reflected in modern worship music that is almost totally “me-centric.” We begin to feel that we don’t need anyone else. Oh, sure, we need Jesus (or do we, really??), but we can be a “Christian” by ourselves, right? We don’t need all those other people around us to worship, right?

Wrong.

“The church is the most complete expression of all these interdependences. It is an expression of them in terms of God’s grace – a grace that surrounds us and moves through us as people created to enjoy (and depend on) the praise of his glory.”

If you think, for one minute, that you don’t need anyone else in your spiritual life, you need to re-read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The first one. Specifically chapter 12.

Saints, we all need one another. We are, indeed, interdependent.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Father, as I go through this day, help me, remind me, to stop and consider. Help me to consider Your love for us; help me to consider my heart; to consider Your Cross and my/our Savior. Help me to just stop and be mindful of all the things that You have done for, through, and in us, Your Body of Christ.

Thank You for the Holy Spirit and His interaction in our lives. Help us to be more aware of His work, as we walk through our days, to, once again, consider what He is doing in and for us.

And I am grateful for the community of saints and how much we need each other to get by in this world. May we never forget that, and may we reverse the trend of thinking we can do this life alone.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“Groping Toward the Infinite”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,490

Our fourth of July was pretty non-eventful, other than fireworks going off in the neighborhood until well after 11:00 PM. I made our homemade pizza for dinner, last night, and it turned out quite good. We use Caulipower brand pizza crusts, and they are very good. We spread pizza sauce, then some seasoning, some mozzarella cheese, some cheddar cheese, then turkey pepperoni, and turkey sausage crumbles.

Today being Tuesday, it’s my four hour evening shift at the library, doing shelving. I have no idea if they were open yesterday or not. I never bothered to check. This is my “heavy” week, though, the week where I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Of course, Saturday is in the following week’s pay schedule. The city of Hurst’s pay week begins on Friday, and we always get paid on Thursday.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles, yesterday, 7-6, in extra innings. The losing run was scored on a HBP (that’s “hit by pitch” for those who don’t know) after the Texas manager inexplicably had them walk the bases loaded. Chris Woodward does not need to try to be Tony LaRussa. Only LaRussa can pull that off. Anyway, the Rangers are now 37-41 for the season, back to four games below .500. They are in third place in the AL West, a game behind Seattle, 14.5 out of first, and 5 out of the Wild Card. The play in Baltimore again, tonight, at 6:05 CDT.

The Boston Red Sox shut out the Rays, 4-0! Woohoo!!! They are now ten games above .500, at 45-35, in second place in the AL East, thirteen games out of first, and in the first Wild Card spot, ahead by two. They play again, tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 EDT.

The Athletics continue to be the worst MLB team, at 27-55. The bloody Astros continue on their winning streak, now having won seven consecutive games. Somebody needs to steal those trash cans!!! The Nationals and Giants continue to be tied for the longest losing streak, at five games each. The Nationals have been outscored by their opponents by 118 runs. The Rangers now have a +12 run differential, and the Red Sox are at +63.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the great calling you have given us. We thank you that in all the evils of today's world you give us the hope and faith that you are leading us to a goal that is good, and you make us free. You make your children free so that throughout humankind a new spirit may come, a new life and a new power to serve you in time and eternity. Praise to your name that we can always have hope; nothing can discourage us, but everything must work together for good in accordance with your great purpose. Grant that your compassion may come to all the world, to all peoples, whom you have looked upon with mercy in sending Jesus Christ as Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
(Romans 8:22-24a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope as we eagerly await the end result of our salvation
2. that nothing should discourage us, as we know that everything must work together for good in according with God's great purpose
3. for God's constant provision in our lives, both physically and spiritually
4. for many different people God has brought into my life, over the years
5. for the work of ministry, which is really us learning how to do things the way Jesus did them

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD. The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.
(1 Kings 6:1-2 ESV)

I remember the last time I read this, stopping and thinking. The Temple in Jerusalem is being built. The dimensions are given. I also remember thinking that the Temple was really big. Here are the dimensions, translated into American units by Eugene Peterson.

The Temple that King Solomon built to GOD was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high.
(1 Kings 6:2 MSG)

It was smaller than my house. And it took seven years to build.


The word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is sustenance.

Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
(1 Kings 19:7 NLT)

“Sustenance” has a couple of definitions. “Food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment.” “The maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.”

In the account of Elijah, in 1 Kings, this sustenance was provided supernaturally. There are other instances of this occurring in the Old Testament, as well.

When we pray the prayer that Jesus gave us as an example, we pray for daily bread, which we might also call “sustenance” or “provision.” When we don’t think to do that, I don’t know if we are exercising confidence or being presumptuous.

There is also a spiritual side to that, though, and I think that, in Jesus’s model prayer, that is taken into account, as well. I have believed, for a while, now (and I could certainly be wrong), that when Jesus told us to pray for “daily bread,” that He wasn’t just speaking of physical bread, especially since He describes Himself as the Bread of Life.

Jesus is my “daily bread,” and He is my Living Water. While I most certainly need food and drink to survive, I also need spiritual food and drink, and Jesus provides both of those for me, through the ministry and work of the Holy Trinity.


"In all matters of ministry, Jesus is our master. We apprentice ourselves to him so that we might become skilled and mature and wise, for ministry involves doing what Christ did, speaking what Christ commands, praying in the name of Christ - and getting good at it.
"Ministry is not some vague impulse to do good. It is not a generalized desire to help others. It is not a mystic hand-holding with all those who are groping toward the infinite. It is learning to do what Christ did and learning to do it in the way that he did it: acting and speaking and praying after the manner of our master."
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Another word for this is “discipleship.” When we become disciples of Christ, we are apprentices. Another meaning of the word translated “disciple” in the New Testament is “learner; student.” And Peterson says that is what we are supposed to be doing; learning to do it the way Jesus did.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus looks at the way we are “doing discipleship,” in the twenty-first century, and is pleased with it.


Father, I am grateful for the provision that You are constantly bringing to my life and the life of my family, both spiritually and physically. I cannot recall a time when we have ever been lacking food and drink for life. I also cannot recall a time when I was ever lacking for spiritual food, although I can definitely recall times when I was not taking advantage of what was available.

I am also grateful for the many people that I have been privileged to know, in my life. So many people have been influential in my walk in Your Kingdom. There are a few faces that are so visible in my mind, right now. My parents, of course. Juanita Sullivan. Julia Brancadora. John Jenkins. Jacob Seay. There are Sunday School teachers that I had as a child, whose names I can’t quite recall. Most of them have passed on. But for the ones who still live (all but one of the names listed are still with us), I pray for Your blessings to fall on them today. I pray for Your peace to surround them and Your presence to be felt in their lives. Let them know how much You love them. And for those who have gone on, I pray that they are at peace with You.

As for my “ministry,” Father, I am grateful that You still have work for me to do. That “job” has changed over the years, and I have begun to perceive it differently, as I grow older. Now, thanks to Eugene, I see it even more differently, believing that my primary purpose in this life, now, is to keep learning how to do the work that Jesus did, to walk and talk and act in the manner of my master. So I pray for the ability, the strength, the patience, the compassion, and the love that this takes. May I not be “groping toward the infinite,” but confidently walking toward it. I pray for the faith to keep on that path, even when it appears that nothing is going right, or that no one is noticing. Frankly, it matters not one whit if anyone notices! Because that’s not the reason for it.

Help me to love You and to love people in the way that Jesus did it. That’s what this blog is all about.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Another Word . . .

Today is Monday, July 4, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time. It is Independence Day in the U.S.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today!

Day 23,489 (the number of days since I was born)

Yesterday was pretty chill. We didn’t do much. C spent the day cataloging my father’s collection of 78 rpm records. And she is back at it, this morning. After entering two storage boxes of them (approximately 125 records), she estimated that, so far, we had as much as $12,000 worth of records, at the high limit. One of the records in the collection is Elvis Presley’s recording of “That’s Alright” on SUN Records, which recently sold for around $3000.

I killed two bosses in Elden Ring. If you know anything about that game, you know how ecstatic I was! That may be the most ridiculously difficult video game I have ever played.

Today promises to be even more “chill.” I might venture out to the grocery store, at some point, and a family member has some scripts ready at CVS (if the pharmacy is open today). We don’t do much to “celebrate,” these days, especially if it involves being outside, where the projected high temp today is 101. By the way, next Monday’s projected high . . . 110!

The Texas Rangers lost to the Mets, yesterday, 4-1. So they lost that series, 2-1. They are 37-40 for the season, tied with Seattle for second place in the AL West. 13.5 out of first place, and now five games out of the Wild Card spot. They play the Orioles in Baltimore, today at 12:05 CDT. Shoutout to kristianw84!

The Boston Red Sox managed a win, yesterday, beating the Cubs 4-2, but lost that series 2-1, I believe. The Sox are 44-35 for the season, in second place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first, and back in the first Wild Card spot. They play the Rays today, at Fenway Park, at 1:35 EDT.

The Athletics continue to have the worst MLB record, at 26-55. The Astros have the longest current win streak, at six games. Someone steal their trash cans. Please! The Nationals and Giants are tied with the longest losing streak, at four games. Today, the Nats have the worst run differential, having been outscored by 117 runs. The Pirates and A’s are tied with -116. The Rangers are now at +13, and the Red Sox are at +59.

We might switch things up for dinner tonight. We normally have chili for dinner on Mondays, but we might have our homemade pizza on cauliflower crust tonight, instead.

Happy fourth of July to all of my U.S. friends. Well, the rest of you can have a happy fourth, too, you know.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven and on earth, we ask you to bless us, your children, for we want to be your children and nothing else. We want to have our joy and delight in knowing that we belong to you, the almighty God, who began and who will complete redemption on earth through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Bless your Word in us. Give us courage in suffering and distress, for we are allowed to serve you in all circumstances, even when we find it bitterly hard. Your name shall be honored in us, your kingdom shall come. As surely as the earth endures, everything shall happen in accordance with your will, on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:31-32 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy and delight I have in belonging to God
2. that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
3. for the way Jesus summed up the law and prophets with those two commands
4. for the freedom to surrender my rights, and to love and serve others
5. for a Monday with the whole family at home

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" 
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
 And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." 
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. 
(Mark 12:28-34 ESV)

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
(Mark 12:38-40 ESV)

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
(Mark 12:41-44 ESV)


The word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is statutes.

You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:68 ESV)

In today’s world, a “statute” is a “written law passed by a legislative body.” For today’s purposes, though, a more archaic definition is needed. “A law or decree made by a sovereign, or God.”

Interestingly, of the 27 times that word occurs in the ESV, 22 of them are in Psalm 119. And, of the 176 verses in Psalm 119, all but maybe two of them mention some form of the Word of God; statutes, decrees, law, word, testimonies, precepts, commandments, rules, and so on.

There are some, of course, that we are no longer expected to live by. For example, we no longer sacrifice animals to cover our sin. Jesus did away with that. We also believe that it is okay for us to eat bacon (I started to say “for breakfast,” but bacon is not just for breakfast).

There are some, of course, who would pick and choose and attempt to shackle us with some of the Old Testament rules. Interracial marriages, for example. I once had a conversation with a rather ignorant person who proclaimed, “The Bible says not to do that!” To which I responded, “The Bible says don’t eat pork, too.” She had nothing to say to that.

I had another conversation with a guy who declared that the pastor has to be a man because the Bible says he is to be the husband of one wife. “So he has to be married, too, right?” This person was not willing to follow his own logic.

Whether you support interracial marriages, eating pork, or female pastors is, in my opinion, largely irrelevant. Jesus summed up all of this and narrowed it down to two commands. (Oh, no. Here he goes again.)

It just happens to be quoted up there, from my daily reading plan for today. Mark 12:28-34. And Paul has this to say in Romans 13.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 
(Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

“The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

All of it.

So there are all the “statutes” you need. And Psalm 119 still holds relevance, even when we narrow down the entirety of the law to those two commands of Jesus. And I still find myself having to ask God to teach me, because I still find that I struggle to get it right.


Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 
(1 Peter 2:16-17 ESV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)

There’s going to be a lot of talk about “freedom” today. And a lot of people talking don’t really understand what it means.

Freedom does not mean being able to do whatever you want to do. Especially when someone thinks it applies more to what they want to do and less to what someone else wants to do.

Freedom does not mean pushing for laws to keep people from doing something you believe is wrong. If my “religion” says something is wrong, then I don’t need to be doing it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And if I try to create law that keeps you from doing it, that becomes religious oppression, not freedom.

Hypocrisy runs rampant, these days, and, I fear, all of us are guilty of it at some point. “I support medical freedom!” said a bunch of people who didn’t want to have to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But those same people are celebrating the overturning of Roe v Wade. Hypocrisy.

Abortion activists say that banning abortions will not make them less frequent, only more dangerous. They aren’t wrong. But that’s the same argument that gun rights activists use, too. And most (not all, of course) gun rights activists are on the side that opposes abortion. And most abortion rights activists oppose guns.

See the dilemma? See the hypocrisy on both sides? This is but one reason that I do not enter into these arguments. I have my opinions. I’ve discussed that, here, and I’m not sharing them here.

And trust me, I’ve been guilty of plenty of hypocrisy.

Freedom, according to Jesus, according to Paul, is so we can serve. That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Free to serve. I’m free to be a slave. But, hey. Kris said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” And if, in my truest notion of freedom, I give up all of my “rights” to God, I truly have “nothin’ left to lose.” Because there is nothing that any government or activist group can take away from me.

And, therefore, I am free to follow those two commands, to the fullest degree.


"The church is characterized as a community of people who must take God seriously.
"No, be careful as you listen. I'm not saying that the church is that group of people who take God seriously. Sometimes we don't. There are many of us who go for long times without taking God seriously What I am saying is that the church is that group of people who must take God seriously. We can't go very long without being interrupted, because God is going to interrupt us.
"God won't let us get by with our religious lives very long on our own terms. He keeps invading and keeps interrupting."
(On Living Well, Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I am so very grateful for the freedom that I have. But that freedom comes from You, it does not come from any army or government. And the freedom that I have cannot be taken away by any army or government, either, because, as Jesus said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed!” And free I am, because the Son has set me free!

Freedom does mean that I have nothing left to lose, because there is nothing in this world that I am grasping to hold onto. Sure, I have a lot of stuff, and there are things that enjoy using, in this world. But they are just that, just “stuff,” and have no eternal meaning, whatsoever. This is something that You have taught me over the past decade or so, as You have grown in me this true sense of freedom.

I pray that we, Your Church, could more readily understand these truths, and understand better what it means to be free to serve others and to love others. While it may be challenging, the commands are simple and easy to understand. We are to love You with all of our being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Then we are to love the brothers and sisters, the community of saints, the same way Jesus, Himself, loved us.

And the way Jesus loved us was to give His life. And yet, we cry because we had to wear a paper mask. God have mercy on our souls. Help us all to step back from our hypocrisy and look at truth. And then help us to love one another the way Jesus wants us to.

Thank You for interrupting us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I still prefer this version

Grace and peace, friends.