The Ancient Paths

Good morning. Today is Monday, the fifteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,258

Two days until we fly to Indianapolis!

C and I had a nice time, yesterday afternoon. Right after our church gathering, we headed out to go to Macy’s to see if we could find the two shirts that never made it home Saturday. We did not find the actual shirts, but they were kind enough to allow us to get two more of the same kind, to replace them. While we were there, we also bought me a nice Levi’s jacket, black jean material with fleece lining, as well as a nice set of sheets for our bed. The jacket was about twenty dollars off, while the sheets were seventy-five percent off! Heck of a deal, there. We got $140 sheets for a little over thirty dollars. In addition, since C used her Macy’s card, she got another thirty dollars of “bonus money” that she can spend before December 14.

Today, November 15, is my father’s birthday. He would have been 84 years old, today. He passed away in April of 2015, from Inclusion Body Myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease, related to Muscular Dystrophy (I think). My enjoyment of baseball has not been the same, since.

It feels like I have a lot to do, today, but I really don’t. Monday is one of my two days that I am always off work, so there are things that I like to get done on Monday. Today, I will make a quick trip to a grocery store, mainly to pick up some ground turkey for our chili tonight. Of course, we need bananas and grapes, too, but I won’t buy too many of those, because we are “leaving on a jet plane” on Wednesday morning. So I just need enough to get us through a couple days.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,
the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
(Revelation 11:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. the hope of our eternal reward
2. for the ancient paths; help us to rediscover and walk in them
3. for the calmness in the soul of contentment, as a weaned child with its mother
4. for the memories of life with my father
5. that You work to transform my heart and mind to conform to Your ways
6. that Your blessings are eternal
7. that Jesus has overcome the world; help us to follow Him

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
(Psalms 71:19 NLT)

As I pause, during this chilly, quiet morning, I meditate on the promise of reward in eternity, however great or small that reward might be. All of the wonderful things that God has done add up to those final verses in the Bible, that wonderful picture of Home. I pray for endurance, going forward.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 131:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
(Jeremiah 6:10 NIV)

“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
(Jeremiah 6:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I mull over those, repeating them over in my spirit, and pray my thoughts and meditations, my desires and needs and feelings, to the Lord. I rest and enjoy His presence.

There seriously needs to be more of the attitude expressed in Psalm 131. This one, attributed to David, speaks of not being haughty or proud, not being concerned with matters too great or wonderful for me. Perhaps that is one of our biggest flaws as humans, especially in the West. We tend to be overly concerned with things that are too great and wonderful for us to comprehend. We tend to be overly haughty and arrogant.

We need to be more like that “weaned child with its mother.” We need more contentment. And we need, as the “new Israel,” the Church, to put our hope in the Lord (and only in Him), “both now and forevermore.”

We read verses like Jeremiah 6:10 and immediately thing we know who that’s talking about. It’s those other people, that’s who. Those guys over there. It’s not talking about me, or my friends!

We shouldn’t be so quick to assume.

Are we all greedy for gain? Greed has been, and continues to be, a huge problem in this culture. Prices for things have gone up, recently, and people seem too quick to blame the wrong people or groups. The bottom line is greed. And our culture’s systems promote greed.

But when the “prophets and priests” participate in this, it is that much more deplorable. We put Band-Aids on problems and say, “peace, peace,” when their truly is no peace. There is no shame.

The verse that jumps out the most, to me, today is verse 16. And this is where we, the Church, have failed, over the past decades.

GOD’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, The tried and true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’
(Jeremiah 6:16 MSG)

I like Peterson’s paraphrase, there. But I also like the NIV, that uses the phrase “the ancient paths.” That’s what one of the books I am currently reading is about. In The Divine Embrace, Robert E. Webber is examining the ancient paths of the spiritual life and comparing them to the way spirituality has “progressed” over the centuries. The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, called for the people to look back to the “ancient paths,” find them, and walk in them.

But the people of that day, just as the people of today, said, “Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.” We seem to think we have a better way.

But, again, we all seem to have this problem thinking that all of these warnings apply to the “other guys,” not us. Humility is needed. And trust me, I point back at myself, too.

Father, as I enjoy and rest in Your presence, this morning, I take heed of the words of Scripture. As I go forward in my life, I seek out these “ancient paths,” with the intention of walking in them, seeking Your face and the best form of spirituality that will benefit both me, and everyone else. As Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” That has truly been the prayer of my life for many years, now, and it still is. I am still seeking this truth and this way, all the while acknowledging that Jesus Christ, Your Son, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no way to get to You except by Him. Help me to find and walk in these ancient ways and paths, that I might truly know You and worship You and serve You.

Help us to see You in all things, wherever we are, wherever we look. Help us to listen to You, as well, however You choose to speak to us.

"Speak,
Lord,
because Your words are life.
Clear out my ears, 
deaf to Your Word because of the din of the world,
and forgive my foolish heart,
too quickly convinced of being the authority on what is right and best.
Let me yield my life to Your Word and walk in Your good way;
transform my mind and conform me to the likeness of the Word, 
Jesus.
Amen."

BLESSING

And now,
may it please you to bless the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you.
For you have spoken,
and when you grant a blessing to your servant,
O Sovereign LORD,
it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:29 NLT)


The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
(Psalms 33:5 NIV)

Arise, O LORD;
O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart,
“You will not call to account”?
(Psalms 10:12-13 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart;
I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

Arise, O Lord! Show Your mighty arm in our world, today. Let not the wicked continue to have their way among us. I’m not wise enough to be able to weed out “the wicked.” We all have our ideas as to who makes up “the wicked,” Father. Many short-sighted people believe that everyone in a particular political party is wicked. Give us wisdom beyond that, Lord. And help us to remember that it is Your job, along with Your holy angels, to remove the weeds from the harvest, but not until harvest time. We were told, according to Jesus, to not try to do that, lest we damage the harvest at the same time. It is my opinion, Father, that the harvest is being damaged by some foolish people. Help us, Lord! Rise up! Show Your power and strength and might! And give us Your wisdom!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I have said to you,
that in me you may have peace;
I have overcome.

Grace and peace, friends.

By His Wounds

Good morning to you! Today is Thursday, the eleventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,254

Tomorrow is C’s birthday! At this point, there are no special plans for the day, but I may come up with some kind of surprise before today is over. S and I have a small gift to give her tomorrow, but her big present is the trip to Indiana, next week, to see R & J. The second big present is hanging from the ceiling in the garage, the new opener. I have to work all day tomorrow, but maybe we will do something different for dinner tomorrow night, rather than our usual pizza. But if she wants to do the pizza, that’s what we will do. This is also my week to work Saturday, so perhaps we will do something Sunday for lunch.

Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. We are certainly grateful for all people who have served in the military in any capacity. This day is to honor those who are still with us, as opposed to Memorial Day, which is to honor those who are no longer with us. So if you are a military veteran, and you happen to read this, know that you are appreciated here.

I had a good day at the library, yesterday. It was mostly quiet, with a few flurries of activity. It looks like I will be working with the same group of people on Saturday, in the circulation department, which is fine. The three of us who worked yesterday make a pretty good team.

We all got a bonus, yesterday, from the City of Hurst. It was a surprise to me, in a couple of ways. I was expecting a bonus, because we were told about it at the “Hurst Way Conference,” back a couple weeks ago. One surprise was how early we got it. Everyone at the library (and the Community Services Department, which shares the building), said that they usually don’t get the bonus until after Thanksgiving. The other surprise was that there was a 1% of salary included with the bonus, which I did not think part times were supposed to get. Bonus bonus!! Hahaha! The longer I work at the Hurst Public Library, the more impressed I am with the culture of the city.

I’m currently reading two books (I don’t recommend that, necessarily, but it gives me flexibility, as one is a real book and the other is on Kindle, which I can read more easily in bed). The real book is The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber. I am learning some really valuable history about spirituality, from ancient times to the present. The other book is fiction, part of the Nursery Rhyme Murder collection. It is Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin.

I want to recommend a news podcast/newsletter to anyone who might be interested. It is Axios, and you can look at it or subscribe through this link. I listen to a daily morning podcast called “Axios Today,” and also get a few newsletters via email.

Pardon me a moment, while I engage in kitten cuddles.

The nature of what follows makes it seem ridiculous to share trivia in today’s blog.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He who has an ear,
Let him hear what the spirit
Says to the churches.
(Revelation)

the voice of mirth
and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom
and the voice of the bride,
the voices of those who sing,
as they bring thank offerings
to the house of the LORD:
“‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,
for the LORD is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first,
says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 33:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your steadfast love, which endures forever
2. for Siamese kittens (especially Cleopatra)
3. for the Light of Christ, which dispels the darkness within me
4. that by Your wounds, I am made whole
5. that You were pierced for my transgressions; crushed for my iniquities
6. that You are faithful and will surely bring to completion what You have started

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Come to me,
all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 GNB)

Come to me, all you
Tired and weary from burdens;
I will give you rest.

As I pause, during this quiet moment (and watch the aforementioned Siamese kitten bat at the cursor on my computer screen), I am grateful for the little things in life, the little comforts and pleasures that are far from necessary, but add such value to my life. I am grateful, Father, so grateful.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
(Psalms 127:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or thoughts that stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something that I wish to ask the Lord about? I pray my life to God, in meditation and contemplation. I spend time resting in God’s presence.

The song of ascents that is featured today is attributed to Solomon. Is it ironic that it includes the repetition of the word “vain,” especially if we think that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes? (I’m still on the fence about that, myself, but it can be argued, and I’m certainly not an expert.)

What is interesting is that this song seems to include two completely unrelated topics. In fact, the second half (last three verses) of the psalm look like something straight out of Proverbs.

Nevertheless, I’m drawn to the word “vain” in the song. If God is not in it, whatever you do is vanity. You can work your fingers to the bone, and if God isn’t in it, all you’re gonna get is, well, boney fingers. You can stay up late and get up early, and if the Lord is not involved, all you’re going to get is tired. And the end of verse 2 even implies that all of that extra labor is useless anyway, because God grants sleep to those He loves.

I find an interesting translational difference, as well. While the NIV says “toiling for food to eat” in verse 2, the ESV says, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” KJV says, “to eat the bread of sorrows,” and the NLT says, “anxiously working for food to eat.” It seems to me (again, no expert in Hebrew) that the NIV leaves something to be desired, here, as it doesn’t include the concept of anxious or sorrow. There is something deeply sad about the other translations.

The point to me is that it is vain to work anxiously for food, bread, to eat. And the key word in that is “anxious.” It is not vain to work to provide for the family. Not at all. That is our ordained lot. Even Adam and Eve had to do some measure of “work” in the garden. It only became “anxious” and “sorrowful” after the Fall.

If we consider this psalm, together with Isaiah 53, I think we gain insight. I also have to wonder about the chapter division, at this point. It seems like the first six verses of 53 continue the thought presented at the end of 52. Let’s consider them together.

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-6 NIV)

Right off the bat, this clears up who the “he” is in Isaiah 53. Sure, we assume, if we read it without the end of chapter 52, that it is talking about Jesus. But if we do read it in context, with 52, it is much clearer. There is always a danger when we don’t read Scripture in context. And it is good to remember that the chapter and verse divisions are not “inspired,” per se. The chapter divisions were not added until the early thirteenth century. The verses were not even added until much later, 100-300 years, depending on Old or New Testament.

So, I’m considering a total of nine verses, here, rather than just the six originally called for by the devotional book. The point of Isaiah 53:1, I believe, is that the questions are outlandish. Who could believe this?? That the “powerful arm of God” could be revealed in such a way as this?? This person described displays anything but power! “disfigured beyond that of any human being;” “his form marred beyond human likeness.” The sight of Jesus being crucified was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

And it did not appear to be at all kingly or majestic. I’ve read detailed descriptions of what happened to Jesus between the time He was arrested in Gethsemane and the time He was removed from the Cross. I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s passion movie, so I can’t say for sure, but based on pictures from the film, he may have gotten it pretty close. It would make modern “slasher” films look tame.

Yes, He was disfigured beyond recognition, to the point that He did not even resemble a man. As it says in 53:1, who would believe this??

And even before the horrific punishment was meted out upon Him, He apparently wasn’t much to look at. The traditional artists’ rendering of Jesus seem to be quite inaccurate. For one thing, most of them paint Him as a white man. But they also make Him quite lovely and attractive. Almost angelic, right?

But Isaiah says that “He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”

“Who has believed our report??”

But verse 5 holds the key. Actually beginning in verse 4. “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering.”

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was on Him,
and by His wounds
we
are
healed."

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

It’s difficult to express where my mind is going, right now. This “report,” as it is called by Isaiah, is outlandish; it is preposterous. The Creator of the universe is revealing His powerful arm in this?? In a mangled man, pierced, crushed, punished for our transgressions??

Father, I cannot cease to be amazed at this. I cannot express the depth of wonder at what was done here. I bow my head in shame (guilt?) as I consider what my Savior did on our behalf, and, by comparison, what little regard I have had for it, throughout my life. Oh, sure, I have sung the hymns and prayed the prayers, and I have given thanks and all that. But there is much in my life that would contradict what I say I believe. Or at least, historically, there is. I’m looking back on things that You claim You don’t remember. Lucky for me, eh? I’m not being sarcastic, here. I’m not taking this lightly. Truly, Your Word tells us, in many places, that You will remember our sins no more. They have been cleansed by the work of this suffering servant. They are part of the iniquities and transgressions for which Christ was pierced and crushed. Father, this prayer might ramble a bit . . . I’m sorry.

I praise You for what I’m reading in these two chapters from Isaiah. I praise You for this unbelievable report! That You chose to reveal Your “powerful” arm in this way. I cannot bear the thought of what Jesus endured for us. Perhaps that is why it is not given in such brutal detail in the Gospels. We get just enough information. It is our own historians and theologians who have “blessed” us with the gruesome details of Jesus’s walk to the Cross. So, rather than focus on my past, because You say You don’t remember it, I will look forward to the future, where You already are, as well. I will focus on the part that says that I am made whole by the wounds experienced by my Savior. Some translations say “healed,” and that’s great, but some people want to make that all about physical healing. It is so much deeper than that. Physical healing is wonderful, but, unless You build the house, it is in vain. Physical healing means nothing if I am not made whole in Spirit. And You have made me whole.

I praise You Father! All glory to You through the Son and by the Spirit. Let this house be built by You, and let the labor not be in vain. You grant rest to those who love You and worship You. You grant peace to us who follow You; peace that passes all understanding; peace that flies in the face of what is going on in the world, today. Peace that tells me that this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be.

I pray, Father, for a constant yearning to know You more, and the diligence and discipline to seek You. May all Your saints know and experience, daily, the joy of Your salvation. And I pray for any family members or friends who have not experienced this joy.

"Suffering Savior,
throughout Your whole life you tasted loneliness and rejection,
grief and pain;
like us You knew the suffering of this world.
But You knew another suffering far beyond any link to my pain and tears.
You suffered the wrath of God against the sin of the world;
You took on my punishment so I might go free.
I worship You,
my crucified Lord.
Amen."
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

BLESSING

Show me how much you love me, LORD,
and save me according to your promise.
(Psalms 119:41 GNB)


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 ESV)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 ESV)

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV)

Father, may we, Your people embrace these truths, that You, in the form of that Suffering Servant, came not to be serve, but to serve, and to give Your life for us. May we express that same love outwardly, and seek not our own good, but that of our fellow human beings. I live this life in the hope and faith that You, who began this “good work” will bring it to completion; You are faithful; You will surely do it.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Dandelions in the Wind

Good morning to you! It is Wednesday, the tenth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God rain down on you today.

Day 23,253

Two more days until C’s birthday!

We tried out something completely new to us, yesterday, since we got the new garage door opener installed, last Saturday. We had an Amazon package delivered, yesterday, and I discovered, while setting up the app on my iPhone, that could enable Amazon to open my garage and deliver packages inside. That was successfully done, yesterday. However, we are still “on the fence” as to how comfortable we are with random Amazon delivery people having our garage door code.

The guy who looked at our pool equipment on Monday got back with us yesterday with an estimate of putting in a smart-phone operating system. Looks like it will cost right at $2000 for that. C is not in favor of that. In her own words, “I can walk to the panel on the side for $2000.”

Today is the one day of the week when both C and I work away from home. She’s in the office on Wednesdays and I work every other Wednesday at the library. I have started our Chicken Taco Soup in the crockpot, for dinner tonight. I decided, last week, I think, that I would switch our stir-fry night to Thursdays on weeks when I work Wednesdays, and do a soup on Wednesday.

I’m still reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber. I’ve made it to chapter 4, but likely won’t get a lot of reading done today. I’m debating taking this one to work to read during lunch, mostly because of the density of the subject matter, and I like to be able to take notes while I read it. I have plenty of other stuff I can read while at work, books that don’t make me think quite so much. Haha! I’ll probably take my Kindle or iPad with me and read one of the Nursery Rhyme Murders collection that I am also currently reading. It’s called Humpty Dumpty.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

House of Prayer, by Daryl Madden

In this sacred space
So blessed to be here
In dwelling within
Your house of prayer

The Spirit surrounding
Your peace is heard
As the silence proclaims
Your glorious Word

As incense arising
Your Presence abounds
As prayer has anointed
This holy ground

Love of the knowing
Of heavens view
Joy overflowing
In light pouring through

“The Spirit surrounding Your peace is heard As the silence proclaims Your glorious Word.” My spirit is almost overwhelmed by those words. Brother Madden, your poetry is greatly appreciated, here.

And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.”
(Isaiah 12:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence in this place (and everywhere else, wherever I am)
2. for Your marvelous deeds among the people, and the exaltation of Your Name
3. that You teach us how to rest
4. that You, the everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth, do not grow tired or weary
5. that we, when we hope, trust, and wait in You, will renew our strength and soar like eagles

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Are you tired?
Worn out?
Burned out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 MSG)

I pause for reflection during this quiet moment. The peace is almost overwhelming, especially as I make myself aware of His presence. I am moved into prayer and meditation already.

Father, make Yourself known among the peoples. Display Your mighty handiwork among the nations! Shout aloud Your glory and grace to us! Make us fall on our knees in humility and surrender, as we praise Your holy and precious Name!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, more slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, meditating on them, “chewing” on them. I pray my thoughts to God, praying my life to Him, letting Him know and shape the desires of my heart. If I delight myself in Him, He gives me the desires of my heart. I rest in and enjoy the presence of my Savior.

Oddly enough, it seems as though I could read Psalm 126 and then continue straight on into the passage from Isaiah, almost without pausing for a breath.

There is great joy in the psalm. “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” I can echo those words, today. While things are far from perfect, the Lord has been increasing my joy, of late. “Sure,” you may say. “That’s easy for you to say, because you have recently retired and are now working at your dream job in a library.”

I’ll give you that. But this presence of joy began long before any of that was even a glimmer of hope. And there were certainly some scary “hiccups” in the process. For the past few years, God has been drawing me into this country of joy. Joy, according to Dallas Willard (there he goes again, Dallas Willarding) is an overwhelming sense of well-being. It is regardless of circumstances.

And I can recognize, even when troublesome things may be happening, or on the horizon, that the Lord has done great things for us. Unlike Israel, in this particular song of ascents, I don’t need any fortunes restored. Nevertheless, I can rejoice in knowing that He has done great things for me/us. And, I can most certainly pray for those who are sowing with tears, that they might reap with songs of joy; that those who go out weeping, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

But why do we complain? That is a very valid question. I could easily reword the beginning questions in the passage from Isaiah. “Why do you complain, Church??” What on earth is wrong with you? My social media feed is replete with Christians complaining! Non-stop! I simply do not get it.

Wait. Does that sound like I’m complaining? I’m not, really. More like shaking my head in disbelief. You would think the end of the world was at hand because of who is in the White House. We have grown so very short-sighted.

Then the big question hammers down. It actually begins a few verses before we started reading today.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
(Isaiah 40:21 NIV)

It is almost as though Isaiah is dumbfounded, here.

I am impressed with the need to continue reading.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?”
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
(Isaiah 40:22-26 NIV)

Does anyone else get this picture in their head?

That, my brothers and sisters, is the rulers and princes of this world in comparison to the Lord God Almighty!

He is the everlasting God; the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary. His understanding cannot be fathomed by me, by you, by Stephen Hawking, by Elon Musk, by anyone.

And look. One of the most-quoted verses in the Bible. “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Jacob/Israel was not soaring. They were complaining. A lot like the modern Church. We have lost sight of the majesty and glory of our creator, and have glued our eyes to earthly weakling princes and presidents.

This is a call for the Church to regain perspective. Unfortunately, only about forty or so people will see this. But hey . . . you never know what effect the message of the Gospel will have. So I write it. I write it because it has been given to me, this morning. This is what God is saying to me, today, so I share it with the handful of folks who will see this humble blog entry.

Spread the word, though. God is God. Trump is not God. Biden is not God (and he’s not the devil, either, in spite of what some think). They are nothing but dandelions in the wind of the breath of our God.

Father, maybe we do need our “fortunes” restored. If I consider that the ability to soar like the eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not be faint, are aspects of “fortune,” then, yes, God, please restore our fortunes! Remind us that the rulers of this world are nothing more than chaff in the wind, as Your breath, blowing away the seeds on a dandelion puff. In truth, we are all like that, in Your presence. We are weak; but Your presence makes us strong. We are finite; but Your Spirit, as we dwell in Christ, makes us eternal. Our only hope is in You, Lord, so please help us to stop putting our hope in other things. I pray that Your Church would cease putting her hope in dandelions. I praise and magnify You, the Creator of the ends of the earth; You who does not grow tired or weary; You who never sleeps or slumbers; You who are constantly watching over us, Your people. Help us to rest in this truth, Father!

"Everlasting God,
through Christ's resurrection You guarantee life restored,
sharing Your glory,
victory,
and righteousness.
Inject my everyday living with that bright hope,
lifting my heart,
giving fresh legs for weary days,
and steadying a sometimes woozy and wobbly faith.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

Let your love,
GOD,
shape my life with salvation,
exactly as you promised;
(Psalms 119:41 MSG)


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 ESV)

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV)

Dandelions in the wind.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalms 27:4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

This Is the Way; Walk In It

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the ninth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,252

Three days until C’s birthday!

Not a lot has happened, to speak of, since I finished yesterday’s blog. We did have a pool guy come and look at our panels to see why the indoor panel wasn’t connecting properly with the outside panel. Turns out that connection isn’t really “wireless” like we thought it was. And the wire that connects the two is pretty much shot. About two feet of the wire is exposed, as it comes out of a plastic conduit to attach to the outdoor box, and that has had sunlight exposure for, oh, around twenty years, now. Ironically, after the guy left, I went to the back door to look at the inside panel, and it was, once again, connected. He must have wiggled the wire or something.

Anyway, we have a few options, and he is going to get us estimates on all of them. Well, not the first option . . . I think we have ruled out trying to “fish” a new wire all the way through all of that conduit and down through the wall at the back door. That would be very difficult, and might not work at all. The other options, though, involve attaching an antenna to the box outside, and either having a remote in the house or using phone apps to control the equipment. I think my first choice would be the phone app. There might actually be an option that enables both the remote and the phones. He’s going to check on that, too.

After some careful thought, I decided, yesterday evening, to go back and revise my answers on my WW app. I decided to tell it that I am not “living with” type 2 diabetes. And, in truth, I don’t believe that to be false. I’m not “living with it.” It is controlled, quite well. In fact, just two days ago, my glucose reading was below 80, which is actually below recommended levels before eating breakfast. Anyway, what this did was lower my daily allotment of points down to 25, but allow me to, once again, have fruit at zero points. I still get avocados at zero points, too! One thing that seems true, across the board, though, is that tuna is no longer zero for any of us. That’s sad, because we eat a lot of tuna. But it is still very low in points, a whole twelve-ounce can (nine ounces after draining) comes in at only three points. And my black-eyed peas are still zero points, so one of my favorite lunches is still very low in points. Yes. I mix black-eyed peas and tuna. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Today is my half day at work, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. I plan to head up to a grocery store, right after I finish this, to get more (you guessed it) bananas and grapes. Then I’m going to get Subway for lunch for us (C works from home today). That way S can have the second half of her ham sandwich for dinner tonight, and C can do whatever she wants, and I will throw something together after I get home. I won’t be staying up too late tonight, as I work again, full shift tomorrow, 9:15-6:15.

I am still currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber. It’s slow going, as it is rather dense. But it is interesting, and I believe it will be, in the long run, helpful.

Today is World Freedom Day, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. “If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about.”

The word for today is serein, “fine rain falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible.” I just realized that my “word of the day” link is a day behind, but I don’t really care. I don’t think I have ever experienced, or at least noticed serein.

Today’s quote is from Edith Wharton, an American author. “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

Birthdays for November 9:

Gail Borden, American manufacturer, inventor of condensed milk, 1801-1874
Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress (Samson & Delilah) and inventor (radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes), 1914-2000
Whitey Herzog, American baseball manager, 1931 (90)
Carl Sagan, American astronomer, 1934-1996
Bob Gibson, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1935-2020
Mary Travers, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), 1936-2009
Tom Fogerty, American musician, brother of John (Creedence Clearwater Revival), 1941-1990
Susan Tedeschi, American blues musician (Tedeschi Trucks Band), 1970 (51)
Tom Fogarty played rhythm guitar
Susan Tedeschi, singer. Married to Derek Trucks, the guitar player next to her. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Morning Moon, by Daryl Madden

A page of life
Will be here soon
A prayer within
The morning moon

A being of
Two sides to see
An offer here
Which will I be?

To let the dark
Now fade away
Rejoice within
The light this day

Still the silence
Of the soul
Align my will
To Your control

As birds prepare
Their symphony
Lord let my song
Be one with Thee

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.”
(Isaiah 12:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what turned Your wrath away from us
2. for the nice weather we have been having, lately
3. that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is not hidden from us; He is always there, telling us which way to walk
4. that You, in Your longing to be gracious to us, have arisen and shown compassion upon us
5. for Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on the propitiation of Christ, and its effect on God’s wrath for sin.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

LORD, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be on Israel.
(Psalms 125:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 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 30:18-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages again, noticing how the Lord might be speaking to me through them. I will dwell, briefly, in meditation, over any word or phrase that jumps out at me. I will contemplate the wonderful truth found therein, praying my thoughts to God, my life to Him. I will take refreshment in His presence.

The comparison of us who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion, “which cannot be shaken but endures forever,” is huge. Who among us has been “shaken?” And what does that mean?

The Hebrew word in that verse is translated “removed” in the KJV. I think “removed” carries a little bit better connotation than “shaken.” In terms of my faith, I have certainly been “shaken,” many times in my life.

But I have not EVER been “removed!”

I have not fallen away; been carried away. I have not lost my faith.

Make no mistake . . . this is not because of the strength of my faith or my trust. This is because of the strength of the Lord God Almighty. He has held me fast; He has kept me from ultimately falling away; when I stray from the path, He brings me back, He preserves me. The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Whom, then, shall I fear?

Because of His great power and His very great and precious promises, I am like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken.”

Hallelujah!

I will pray, along with this unnamed psalmist, that the Lord will “do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.” Of course, we know, from Jesus, that there is none good, but God. Nevertheless, we who walk in Him can be, by association, considered to be “good,” because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us.

Where do we find our strength? The Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, “in repentance and rest,” and, “quietness and trust.” But then, we see that His people “would have none of it.”

Do we find ourselves in the same place, today? To some degree, I believe we do. We still feel like we always have to be “doing.” And the Christian life, this walk with Christ is not something we do. It is something we be. Yes, there is action that needs to be taken. But it begins with being. Our salvation is not based on something we do. It is utterly, entirely based on what God did.

What has God done? Among other things, He has risen up and shown us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Why? Because He longs to be gracious to us!

I’m intrigued by verses 20 and 21. Verse 20 speaks of “teachers” not being hidden any more. What I am getting from this is not physical, human “teachers.” The Hebrew word in that verse has some interesting meanings. In most cases, the word is considered a verb, which means “to throw,” or “shoot.” I’m also seeing “point” as a possible meaning. And isn’t this what teachers do? They point to what we need to be learning. They are indicators.

I will confess that I might be reading way more into this than is there, but here’s what I am getting from these two verses.

God, in His longing to be gracious, has risen up and shown us compassion. He has given us “indicators,” signposts, perhaps, a “voice behind” (verse 21) us that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you don’t always walk in that way. I know I don’t. Why? Because I’m not paying attention to the “teachers,” the “pointers,” the indicators that are right in front of me. They are not hidden from me. The way in which I should walk is not a mystery! Truthfully, there is no mystery to it.

This doesn’t give me the exact detail of everything I need to do, obviously. There’s not going to be a sign at every corner, that says, “Buy this car. Go to this school. Buy those bananas.” We do have to make some decisions, and a lot of those decisions have no bearing, whatsoever, on how our lives are going to turn out.

But we have many, many directions and pointers. Many are in Scripture, and if we have looked at His Word, and read it, and digested it, then, when important decisions have to be made, we should be able to hear that voice telling us “This is the way; walk in it.”

Father, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit, among other “signs” that You have given, is right there with us, all the time, telling us “This is the way; walk in it.” I pray for the wisdom and discipline to listen and heed His whisperings along the way. I am eternally grateful for Your graciousness and compassion, shown to us in many, many ways, but most especially in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We cannot thank You enough. We can try, though. And I will try; I will utter thanksgiving on a daily basis, and will never run out of things for which to be thankful. Thank You for giving me a heart that is full of gratitude. Help me to walk in the way that the Holy Spirit tells me. Help me to walk in the ways that Your Word has already told me.

I pray for the call upon us to follow Christ into our communities, workplaces, and wherever else we go. May His light shine in and through us, all the time. This means we must, MUST, set aside our own preferences and “rights,” sacrificing for the good of others, loving others as we love ourselves, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ as You have loved us. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities, our cities, our states, our countries, our world, Your Church.

"Saving God,
startle me with the wonder of Your forgiveness,
the joining of justice and compassion in Jesus.
Because of Your mercy in the cross of Jesus,
You will not hold against me any of my sins.
Let me rest in the just verdict of Your salvation,
free forever from condemnation.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your steadfast love come to me,
O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
(Psalms 119:41 ESV)


Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
(John 6:27 ESV)

Then he said to me,
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
Not by might,
nor by power,
but by my Spirit,
says the LORD of hosts.”
(Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

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

Father, I pray for Your Church, that we might, indeed, arise and shine. Rescue us, Lord! Unite Your Church in Your truth, and Your truth alone. We are scattered, Lord, as sheep without a shepherd. We have committed idolatry by following after men instead of You. Save us, O God! Cast off the scales from our eyes; show us Your truth. Jesus is Truth; Jesus is Life; Jesus is Way. Take our eyes off of politics and politicians and conspiracies. Help us regain an attitude of humility and sacrifice for our fellow man.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Worship Him

Today is Monday, the eighth of November, 2021.

May God’s peace reign in your heart today.

Day 23,251

Four days until C’s birthday!

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog.

We had a mostly nice day, yesterday. The worship time at FBC Mineral Wells was pretty awesome. We had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ (although slightly delayed, as they were shorthanded).

This brings up an important point. I know from experience, it is quite easy to get impatient when I have to wait longer than usual for a food or drink order. But please keep in mind . . . it is not the fault of the person/persons serving you and they are most definitely not deserving of our wrath. Many people have left the restaurant/serving industry because of how rudely they have been treated during the past eighteen months or so.

Most especially, if you call Jesus your Savior, you must be patient and kind with people.

After lunch, we had a nice time of conversation with my mother, during which many topics were discussed. Our trip home was safe, but had a few tense moments. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m off work today, and only have a few chores planned. I’ve already been to the grocery store, which is why I’m running a tad behind with the blog, this morning. We have a pool tech coming, sometime this afternoon, to check on why our indoor control panel won’t connect with the outside panel. That’s about it.

There have been some big changes made to WW (Weight Watchers), beginning today. My plan has changed quite a bit, based on some answers I gave to questions upon opening the app, this morning. The biggest thing for me is, based on my ongoing bout with type 2 diabetes, fruits are no longer zero points. That means I have to count grapes!! Egad! But, as a trade-off, I can now have avocados/guacamole for zero points! And, when I eat a cup of non-starchy veggies, I get to add a point back. So that’s cool. Just some adaptation to be made, but I plan to carry on and keep moving forward.

Today is World Orphans Day.

The word for today is angakok, “a shaman in Inuit society.” “Inuit” is what we used to call “Eskimo.”

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill, British statesman. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Birthdays for November 8:

Julian of Norwich, English saint, 1342-1416
Vlad the Impaler (really!), Wallachian prince, the inspiration for Dracula, 1431-1476 (It should be noted that most sources do not provide a day of the year for Vlad's birth. My guess is that it has been put on this date because it is also Bram Stoker's birthday.)
Edmund Halley, English mathematician and astronomer (Halley's Comet), 1656-1742
Bram Stoker, Irish author (Dracula ), 1847-1912
Hermann Rorschach, Swiss psychiatrist (inkblot test), 1884-1922
Margaret Mitchell, American author (Gone with the Wind), 1900-1949
Joe Flynn, American actor (McHale's Navy), 1924-1974
Patti Page, American singer (Tennessee Waltz), 1927-2013
Bert Berns, American songwriter (Twist and Shout, Piece of My Heart, Hang on Sloopy), 1929-1967
Darla Hood, American child actress (Little Rascals), 1931-1979
Ben Bova, American sci-fi author (Exiled from Earth), 1932-2020
Bonnie Bramlett, American blues-rock vocalist (Delaney and Bonnie), 1944 (77)
Bonnie Raitt, American blues singer/songwriter/guitar player (Something to Talk About), 1949 (72)
Jerry Remy, American baseball player and broadcaster (Boston Red Sox), 1952-2021
Gordon Ramsay, British chef (Hell's Kitchen), 1966 (55)
Bonnie Bramlett
Another Bonnie

I really wanted to post a video of Gordon Ramsay freaking out over raw food, but there were too many bad words.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

All your works
shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints
shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints, who are constantly giving You thanks and praising Your Name
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for our good visit with Mama yesterday
4. for the rest You give when we step into the easy yoke of Christ
5. that my help and salvation is from You, in the Name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NLT)

I pause, now, during this very quiet moment, peacefully sleeping kitten nearby, and consider the rest that Jesus gives to those who are weary. If our burdens are heavy, we need only step into His “easy yoke,” and allow Him to carry the bulk of the load. It doesn’t mean we don’t work . . . but it does mean our work is much easier.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, in order to force myself to pay more attention to the words. How has the Word of God moved me? I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and my mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my every thought to Him and quietly enjoying His presence.

Along with Israel, I can firmly say, “my help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth!” Through Him, in His power, by the power of His Holy Spirit, I have escaped the “fowler’s snare.” The binding traps of the enemy have been broken.

As the Church, the new Israel, I do believe that we can confidently believe that the Lord is on our side. That means the Church, capital C, world-wide, and does not at all apply to any single country. However, lest we get too big-headed about it, we should remember that, in the big picture, the Lord is on HIS side. We should, therefore, be careful to be found on His side, as well. Let us not champion ourselves and hope that the Lord joins in. Rather, let us champion Him and His purpose, joining in His “cause,” the only cause worthy of defending.

Isaiah 6 is, indeed, a beautiful passage. When I was in music school at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was presented as the biblical model of a worship service. I do believe there is something to be said for that, however, I don’t feel that it needs to be adhered to, rigidly.

There are certainly characteristics of the chapter that should be found in any worship service, regardless if it is in a huge cathedral or an intimate living room in a house.

First, God is central. Worship is all about God. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this. Worship is not, and never has been, about us. When we make it about us, it is not “worship.” It is idolatry. Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, seated on His throne. We have no other description of what the Lord looked like, other than the fact that the train of His robe was really, really big.

Second, it is worth noting that the attending “living creatures” (these seem to be the same beings that Ezekiel saw), covered their faces and their feet with four of their six wings. I’m not sure what that means for us, to be honest, other than that we had best be careful how we conduct ourselves in worship. If the seraphim, these terrifyingly majestic beings, felt the need to cover their faces and feet, I believe we would do well to exercise a bit of humility in the holy presence of God.

Side note . . . maybe they aren’t the same creatures Ezekiel saw . . . they are only described as having four wings. He saw four of them. We do not know how many seraphim Isaiah saw, and it really doesn’t matter.

Third, the seraphim “sang” a hymn to the Lord. Maybe they weren’t singing. Whatever they were doing shook the very foundations of the temple, their voices were so powerful. This tells me that, when we praise the Lord, it needs to be

loud.

Now, this doesn’t mean the musical instruments need to be blasting through the speakers. What it does mean is that the sound of our voices should not be timid, but strong. How beautiful is it to hear the sounds of many voices, singing in unison, the praises of our God?

Side note . . . I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who preferred unison singing when congregations sang together. While harmony is pretty, unison is more powerful.

Fourth, back to humility. Note Isaiah’s response to this vision. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” While the narrative doesn’t specify this, I have a vision of Isaiah falling on his face while he cried out those things. He recognized his own impurity, his own uncleanness, his SIN! Isaiah! The called prophet of God! When we come into the powerful presence of God, there is no room for pride and arrogance! I am not calling for shame. That is a tool of our enemy, the devil. Not shame, but recognition of, acknowledgment of, our condition before Him. He is HOLY! We are most definitely NOT holy!

He is “Other.”

Fifth, there is cleansing. Now, I don’t know how literally to take this passage. I know people who are way smarter than me when it comes to theology. But could it be that Isaiah’s sins were atoned before Christ’s blood was shed? This puts Isaiah in a rather special place, does it not? But that’s what one of the seraphim told him, the one who touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal. I know . . . vision. Not reality. Nevertheless, before we can be sent out on mission, naturally, we must be cleansed. Our cleansing comes from the shed blood of Christ, but there must be confession, just as Isaiah did.

Finally, there is an invitation and an acceptance. The invitation comes from the Lord. It’s more of a challenge, actually. “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah responded. “Here am I! Send me!”

I do not see this as an argument for the traditional evangelical invitation at the end of every service. I personally am not in favor of those, and feel they are largely unbiblical and manipulative. But that’s just my opinion, arrived at after years of observation and Scripture-searching.

There’s a twist, here, though. If you keep reading beyond the selected passage for the day, you will see that Isaiah’s message was anything but the traditional, evangelistic message.

He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
(Isaiah 6:9-13 NIV)

Father, I am grateful that I can proclaim, along with David, that You have rescued me from the “fowler’s snare,” that I have escaped from the traps of our enemy. Why do I manage, though, to find myself back in them, after having escaped?? That is a question that I will have to wait to have answered. Until that day, I will strive to keep my feet out of those snares. They are broken (the traps, I mean). . . they cannot hold me. So if I find myself back in one of them, it is my own doing, even though I am free to walk away at any time. I thank You that I am part of Your Church, a small piece of “all the saints,” who praise Your Name and give You thanks, daily. I pray for the times of worship that we have, that they will be You-centered; that our attention will be on Your glory and majesty, and that we, like the seraphim, will practice humility as we cry out praises at the top of our lungs, praises to You, who are completely and utterly “Other,” and “Holy, holy, holy!” And then, just like Isaiah, when we acknowledge our sinfulness and our unworthiness to be in Your presence, cleanse us from our impurities, and send us to proclaim whatever message You give us to proclaim. Most importantly, may we listen to You for that message, for we will not all have the same message. All praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

"High and exalted God,
Your holiness crushes my pride and pretense,
and I cry, 
'Woe is me.'
Thank You for Jesus,
the cleansing fire from Your heavenly altar who takes away my guilt so I may hear Your call.
Amen."

BLESSING

LORD,
give me your unfailing love,
the salvation that you promised me.
(Psalms 119:41 NLT)


Father, take us through this day, make us humble, and make us kind to one another.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the Lord make your love
increase and overflow
for each other and for everyone else,
just as ours does for you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray For the Peace of Your Cities

Today is Saturday, the sixth of November, 2021.

Day 23,249

Daylight Saving Time ends tonight, in the U.S. Clocks “fall back” one hour.

Six days until C’s birthday.

The garage door opener finally arrived, yesterday, and will be installed, this morning. The installer is scheduled to arrive between 10:00 and 12:00 today. It will be nice to have a working opener again, and this one supposedly will be operable by phone.

I had a great day at the library, yesterday. It seemed busier, at times, than a normal Friday, so far. I had more opportunities to help people than before, which was good. I also had some good conversations with some of the other library folks. I love talking to my new friends. My next shift will be Tuesday evening, doing shelving.

Thanksgiving is later this month, in the U.S. As far as the library schedule goes, I will be off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving, but am scheduled to work that Saturday.

There are no solid plans for anything today. C says she is going to mow the yard, as she has been cleared by her back doctor to do so, since we have a self-propelled mower. He advised her to not be “throwing bags of mulch around.” Which we don’t do, anyway.

Today is Numbat Day. What’s a numbat, you ask? My spell-checker certainly doesn’t know. It’s an adorable Australian marsupial, that’s what.

The numbat, noombat, walpurti (Myrmecobius fasciatus)

The word for today is melancholic, “disposed to or affected with melancholy; gloomy.”

Today’s quote is from James Russell Lowell, an American poet. “All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.”

Birthdays for November 6:

Adolphe Sax, Belgium musician and inventor (saxophone), 1814-1894
John Philip Sousa, American "march king" (Liberty Bell March), 1854-1932
Walter Johnson, American Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, 1887-1946
Jonathan Harris, American actor (Dr. Smith on Lost in Space), 1914-2002
Ray Conniff, American bandleader, 1916-2002
Mike Nichols, German-American film director (Catch 22), 1931-2014
Sally Field, American actress (Gidget, Flying Nun), 1946 (75)
Glenn Frey, American rock singer (Eagles, Take It Easy), 1948-2016
Peter DeLuise, American actor (21 Jump Street), 1966 (55)
Emma Stone, American actress (La La Land), 1988 (33)
Saxophone, invented by Adolphe Sax
Glenn Frey

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
(Psalms 140:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a warm cup of coffee
2. for dwelling in Your presence
3. for the love of Christ
4. for the city in which I live; I pray for its peace and security and prosperity, for the sake of Your houses of worship within her
5. that when I get lost, You are still seeking me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

For this God is our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide even to death.
(Psalms 48:14 WEB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to become aware of Your presence and to be thankful for You and Your work in my life. I experience repentance for my shortcomings and failures, and feel the comfort of forgiveness.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the LORD—
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
(Psalms 122:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 NIV)

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for a word or idea that has stirred within me, lingering over it and giving full attention to it. As I meditate on the readings, I look for things I might want to ask God about. I pray my life to Him and rest in His presence.

The Psalm reading, one attributed to David, begins with a popular verse. I remember a Sunday School song, from my childhood: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'” Indeed, this speaks of a love of the worship of God. It need not be specific to a place, though. For David, it was, perhaps, specific, but it would not have been about the Temple, because it wasn’t built until Solomon was king.

I had a flash of inspiration (I think) while reading Psalm 122, this morning. Many people take it literally, and do pray for the peace of Jerusalem. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

But what if we applied that to the city where we live? “May there be peace with your walls and security within your citadels?” What if I prayed that daily for Fort Worth, Texas? “For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.'” I have no family and friends in Jerusalem. But I have family and friends in Fort Worth and surrounding cities and towns. “For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” The house where I go to worship the Lord is in North Richland Hills. The house where my mother goes to worship is in Mineral Wells (we will be attending there tomorrow, in fact). Therefore, I will pray for the prosperity of those cities, for the sake of the house of the Lord.

Apparently someone other than “the Teacher” wrote the last bit of Ecclesiastes 12, as he is spoken of in third person. We are told that he was, indeed, wise, and that his words were upright and true. And after all was said and done (and heard), the conclusion of the matter was simple. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”

“Duty.” We get a lot of talk about “duty,” especially around election day. But here is stated the “duty” of all people, all over the world.

“Fear God and keep His commandments.”

And what are His commandments? You know what I’m going to say.

  1. Love God with all your being
  2. Love people, your neighbor as yourself, and your brothers and sisters in Christ as Christ loved us

According to the Son of God, those two sum up the entirety of the Law and the Prophets.

Father, I pray for the peace and security of Fort Worth, Texas. I pray for the prosperity of the city in which we live, for the sake of family and friends and for the sake of Your “house,” which exists in many places in that city. I pray for the peace, security, and prosperity of Mineral Wells; for Longview; for Henderson; for Grand Prairie; for Indianapolis, IN; and for any other city or town where I have family and friends. May all cities, wherein dwell Your people, experience peace, security, and prosperity, for the sake of Your house. I pray, also, for a love revolution. I pray that Your Holy Spirit convict every single follower of Christ of the need for a massive shift toward love, both love for You and love for our fellow man, regardless of what he/she thinks or believes. This is Your command, and the bottom line, the conclusion of all wisdom, is that we should fear You and keep Your commands. All glory and honor to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

I pray that Your Church would have clear vision for mission; I pray that leaders would be servants, that we would be godly when it comes to the stewardship of the goods You have provided us, and that we would be effectively organized to love the people around us and share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ in whatever ways You have equipped us.

"Living God,
the teacher has fine guidance,
but I need more than advice to keep Your commands.
In my frustrated attempts at obedience,
fix my eyes on Jesus,
eagerly looking to Him to forgive and set things right.
My prayer is to change,
to become more and more like Jesus,
energized to go all-out,
not out of nervous anxiety but in loving reverence of You.
Amen."

That prayer from the devotional book brings up a good point. If there is ever any anxiety in your heart, soul, or spirit, about sharing the Gospel with someone, then someone has done something wrong. There is no place for anxiety-inducing manipulation in the Kingdom of God. Period.

BLESSING

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 WEB)


So do not fear,
for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:10 NIV)

For it is by grace
you have been saved,
through faith—
and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works,
so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

The comfort of these verses, and others like them, is indescribable. Yes, God is with me, so there is nothing to fear. Ever. Yes, I get “lost,” along the way, as I foolishly chase after something unworthy of my attention. But Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We normally only apply that verse to those who are “Lost,” with a capital L. You know . . . the ones we say are “going to hell.” But I get lost sometimes, too. So do you, and if you say otherwise, you’re either a liar or just naïve. And, to me, the fact that it is all grace, through faith, makes it even more beautiful and comforting. I can’t save myself, and I don’t have to try. And my boasting remains in God and God alone.


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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Trust in the LORD
with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways
submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Naked

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the fourth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,247

Eight days until C’s birthday!

Yesterday wasn’t a great day for me. I didn’t get enough sleep, but that was because I woke up sneezing like crazy. The whole day was one of those days when my nose wouldn’t dry up at all. I took several doses of over the counter meds (Sudafed and Dayquil), and there were brief periods where things dried up, but I emptied at least two boxes of Kleenex, during the day.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much accomplished. I took Nyquil before going to sleep, last night, and had a really good night’s rest. I’m definitely feeling better, this morning, so we’ll see what happens.

I have found myself experiencing mild anxiety over what I should be doing today. C and I agreed that this is silly. There is really nothing that needs to get done. I feel like I should practice some music or write a song or something. And if that happens, great. But I need to stop allowing myself to feel guilt or anxiety if it doesn’t happen. After all, retirement is not supposed to create anxiety, right?

I don’t work today, and, barring special events, will not ever work on Thursdays. Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are days when I will always be off. Tuesday evenings and Fridays are the days that I will always work. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the “every-other-week” days.

I’m currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber.

I watched the movie, The Haunting, yesterday. I was pretty impressed with the way they followed the book. You don’t see that much, these days. It was made in 1963, so special effects really didn’t exist. The sounds were not very realistic (there’s a lot of banging on walls and such in the book), but for when it was made, it was a pretty good movie. They changed the names, slightly, and the whole reason for the doctor’s wife showing up at the house was changed. Plus the teacher/headmaster, Arthur, wasn’t in the movie at all. In my opinion, the best acting was done by the person who played Theodora (Claire Bloom). Although, I will say that Julie Harris did a pretty good job of crazy, playing Eleanor.

Today is Men Make Dinner Day. Well, I’m already doing that, because I started a soup in our crock pot this morning. Hah!

The word for today is bellwether, “a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.”

Today’s quote is from Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist. “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Birthdays on November 4:

Augustus Montague Toplady, English hymn writer (Rock of Ages), 1740-1778
Will Rogers, American humorist and actor, 1879-1935
Walter Cronkite, American journalist and news anchor, 1916-2009
Art Carney, American actor (The Honeymooners), 1918-2003
Freddy Heineken, Dutch beer brewer, 1923-2002
Loretta Swit, American actress (MASH), 1937 (84)
Laura Bush, U.S. First Lady, 1946 (75)
Markie Post, American actress (Night Court), 1950-2021
Matthew McConaughey, American actor (Interstellar, Dazed and Confused), born in Uvalde, TX, 1969 (52)
Augustus Toplady wrote this hymn
Walter Cronkite
Loretta Swit
Markie Post

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

His divine power;
Precious and great promises;
All I need for life.
(2 Peter 1)

You are my God,
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God;
I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for Your divine power, Your great and precious promises, all I need for life and godliness
4. that You have led us away from the love of money and wealth
5. for creating a generous, open-handed spirit within me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“This God is our God forever and ever;
he will lead us for all time to come.”
(Psalms 48:14 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I am considering God’s divine power, which has given me everything I need for life and godliness. He is truly my Shepherd, and I truly lack for nothing!

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, LORD,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.
(Psalms 120:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, a read these passages again, attempting to notice how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at me, allowing my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation. I take refreshment in His presence.

There is some real depth in both of these passages today. Just as the unnamed psalmist, I think we should all be wary of “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” There is a problem in our culture, today, though. It is reflected by a single statement I saw a rather ignorant person post on Facebook, the other day.

“All liberals are liars,” he said.

What a ridiculous statement. What an ignorant statement. Unfortunately, it reflects the mindset of approximately half of the country today.

Any statement about any group of people that begins with the word “all” is not even worthy of consideration. Blanket generalities are ignorant and lazy. As tempting as it is to say “all politicians are liars,” that would be no different.

On the other hand, I dare say that 100% of all humanity has told a lie at some point, so it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that “all humans are liars.”

“Save me, LORD, from lying lips and deceitful tongues.” That’s a worthy prayer. But diligence and wisdom are required, that we might know whose tongues are deceitful and whose lips are lying. Great discernment is needed, and this is something we can gain from the Holy Spirit and meditating on God’s Word.

The psalmist closes out this “song of ascent” with a chilling statement. “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” He prefaces this by calling out “woe” because he dwells in “Meshek,” among the tents of “Kedar.”

What on earth does that mean? It is likely a euphemism for rude and barbaric people. Suddenly, I have images from January 6, 2021, in my head.

I, too, find that I seem to dwell in the midst of people who hate peace. My desire, in life, these days, is love and peace. Anyone who has read this effort, regularly, knows that I keep coming back to that idea of loving one another. And I know a lot of people who speak words like that out of one side of their mouth, but out of the other side, they spew nonstop hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than they do about pretty much any issue.

“All liberals are liars.”

That’s the kind of nonsense that comes out of people like that.

I am for peace; they may not be for “war,” but the are certainly not for peace. I guess they would be for peace if everyone agreed with them.

And from that, we move into a passage about the love of money and material wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10 is spot on. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” We know that Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Throughout the years, people have misinterpreted/misread that to say that money, itself, is evil. Again, that’s taking the lazy way out.

I love what Dallas Willard says about money. In one of his books, he recommends making as much of it as you can. So you can give it away.

But if we love it (the Hebrew word in that verse indicates having affection for something), we can’t get enough of it; we are never satisfied with our income. And I love the question the Teacher asks in verse 11, regarding “goods.” “What benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”

This is a question that deserves some serious pondering. It’s also one of the reasons that, a number of years ago, I essentially stopped “collecting.” What good are all these things? As someone else has mentioned, it will just be a bunch of stuff that someone has to clean out of the house after I die.

Believe it or not, this is not leading me down a path toward depression, this morning. More or less, I am simply “thinking out loud,” doing what the “dwelling” portion recommends. These are lines of Scripture that have “jumped out at me,” and I am pondering them, meditating on them, expressing my thoughts with my fingers on the keyboard.

There is, inherently, nothing wrong with “collecting.” If it makes you happy, knock yourself out. More power to you. It is just something that I have ceased to see any value in. I don’t need to “feast my eyes” on all of my stuff any more.

I also don’t want to be the person mentioned in verse 13 . . . “wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners.” Again . . . there is nothing wrong with saving money, maybe for that “rainy day,” or maybe for some kind of special event or something. Or, in the case of a few of us, for the eventual helping of someone who is in dire need of something. We actually do save money for that purpose.

But, there is a warning, as well, here. The Teacher speaks of wealth lost through some misfortune. This would, I believe, cautious us against saving money in any form that is too risky.

The bottom line is in verse 15. I was naked when I came out of mother’s womb, and I will, effectively, be naked when I leave this plane. “You can’t take it with you,” is essentially what the wisdom of the teacher is telling us. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is meaningless. Hoarding is useless. It is “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, thank You for these reminders. Naked, I came into this world, naked I will leave. Nothing that I have worked for and toiled for, in this life, will exit this world with me. While there is nothing wrong with leaving some kind of “inheritance” for my children, all things need to be tempered with moderation and good sense. I do confess that I have never claimed to have an overabundance of that. So I can always use Your help when it comes to common sense things. In all seriousness, though, I am grateful that Your Spirit has led me down a path of generosity and open-handedness. Help us to have our eyes and hearts open, though, so that we might see any need that we can help meet. As the year draws to a close, I would like to not have anything left in that “tithe” fund, at the end of the year. I’m not treating that as a “hoard” or “emergency fund.” That money, in my heart, belongs to You, so help us to use it wisely.

I do truly pray that You would deliver us all from lying lips and deceitful tongues. It’s too easy to say that all of a certain class or type of people are liars. Please lead us away from that kind of lazy and ignorant thinking. Give us discernment to know when someone is not speaking truth. Most of all, help us to not put our trust in humans instead of You and Your Word. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth, and show us the path on which to walk. Help us to love one another more than we love our politics or our money.

I pray for spiritual renewal in Your Church, and in our land. May You grant Your people deep repentance and point us in the good direction. May You strengthen any relationships that I might have with “non-Christians,” that I might have some kind of positive influence on them, showing them Your true nature, and Your love.

"Covenant God,
money is a blinding,
demanding master,
never satisfied,
and a thief of joy.
Remind me that what doesn't possess me I'm free to give away.
Uncurl my grip on money and its clutches on me,
springing open a generosity that shares with those in need.
In my true Master's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
(Matthew 5:10 GNB)


God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
(John 6:35 ESV)

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

I am the door.
If anyone enters by me,
he will be saved and will go in and out
and find pasture.
(John 10:9 ESV)

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come,
the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 ESV)

You are enough.


Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious,
merciful,
and righteous.
(Psalms 112:4 ESV)

The night is far gone;
the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 ESV)


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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Time for Everything

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the third of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,246

Nine days until C’s birthday!

And we have a birthday gift on the way. Besides the fact that we are taking a trip to Indianapolis the following week (after her birthday), we are getting a new garage door opener soon. I’m pretty sure the one that is currently installed, and not working, is the original one, installed in 1999.

Of course, the next order of business, garage-wise, is getting room to put a car in there. I told C that wasn’t happening for her birthday.

Last night was a fine evening at the library. I got a full cart of books sorted and shelved, and then there weren’t any more in the hall to sort, so I spent the last hour walking the shelves looking for stray books. If we find books that were pulled off the shelves but not checked out (we do prefer that the patrons not attempt to re-shelve them), they are marked “used” in the system and placed in the shelving area for the next day. This tells the librarians that there was at least some interest in the materials . . . someone at least touched them.

Every so often, some “weeding” is done, in which a librarian marks material for removal/discard (the official term is “deaccession”), based on when the last time it was checked out. Marking items “used,” at least shows that there was some interest in them.

While I was there, I discovered, thanks to the help of one of the assistant librarians, that our library holds one copy of the 1963 film, The Haunting, so I checked it out. This black and white film is based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which I recently finished.

I just remembered that I forgot to post my current read, yesterday. I am currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, subtitled, “Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life.” I decided to dig deep into my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads. This was added to my list back in May of 2008. Seriously. That’s how far back my TBR list goes. I still had my copy of the book, too. So I’m reading it, now. I haven’t gotten very far into it, yet, but hope to make some serious progress over the next couple days.

I plan another trip to the grocery store, this morning, probably right after I finish the blog. I do believe it has finally quit raining for a while. I changed my mind. I’ve ordered Albertson’s for delivery, instead. Not leaving the house unless I have to.

Oh, and lest I forget, the Braves won the World Series, dominating last night’s game six with a score of 7-0.

Today is Cliché Day. I want all of you to get out there and give 110% today! Seize the day! And whatever you do, be sure and run upstairs when the chainsaw-wielding maniac is chasing you.

The word for today is maringouin, “a mosquito, especially a large swamp mosquito.” Why?? Why, dictionary.com, do you wish to put that image in my brain??

Today’s quote is from James Thurber, American author. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”

Birthdays on November 3:

Stephen F. Austin, founder and colonizer of Texas, 1793-1836
Bob Feller, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1918-2010
Charles Bronson, American actor (Death Wish, White Buffalo), 1921-2003 (I met him once, in Colorado)
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie (aka Lulu), Scottish singer (To Sir With Love), 1948 (73)
Dwight Evans, American baseball player (Boston Red Sox), 1951 (70)
Roseanne Barr, American actress and comedienne, 1952 (69)
Jim Cummings, American voice actor (Winnie the Pooh), 1952 (69)
Kate Capshaw, American actress (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), born in Fort Worth, TX, 1953 (68)
Dennis Miller, American comedian (Saturday Night Live), 1953 (68)
Stuart Goddard (aka Adam Ant), English rocker (Goody Two Shoes), 1954 (67)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Be sober-minded;
Cast all your anxieties
On Him who loves you.
(1 Peter 5)

Open to me
the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for my job at the library
4. that there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven
5. that You have given me a love for Your Word

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:14 MSG)

As I pause in the quietness of the morning, interrupted only by the amusing cat next to me, who is pawing at the front of the computer, non-stop, I consider the love and grace of God Almighty, who condescends to even think about us. What are we that He is mindful of us? Yet He is, even to the point that He desires for the children to be brought to Him.

BIBLE SONG

Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
(Psalms 119:129-136 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud (in ancient times, Scripture was heard more than seen), I ponder how the Word of God has moved me, this morning. What has connected with my heart? What has my mind observed? I pray these things back to the Lord as I turn my thoughts toward Him and enjoy His presence.

The celebration of the love of God’s Word continues in Psalm 119. I love the thought in verse 131. “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.” Our desire for the Word of God in our lives should supersede any other desire. Reading and meditating on God’s Word should be like breathing to us, just as prayer should be. The love of one flows directly out of the love of the other, perhaps even feeding off of each other.

I love, also, the idea in verse 132, the the Lord always has mercy on those who love His name. Just as, I believe, all who love His name should be sorrowful when His Word is not heeded or obeyed (verse 136).

There is much love and appreciation for the passage from Ecclesiastes. Most people my age are familiar with the song, written by Pete Seeger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Here’s a beautiful version by him and Judy Collins.

I do love the wisdom of these words. There is, indeed, a time for each of these. The wisdom comes in knowing when those times are. When are the times to weep and mourn; when are the times to laugh and dance? There is way too much tearing down, right now, in our world. We need to do more building up. I love to embrace; I’m a hugger. But the last year has been a time to refrain from embracing. Probably the most difficult is knowing when is the time to speak and time to be silent.

For many years, I’ve loved the last line of the song, “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” But there will not be everlasting peace until we are Home. But we could certainly be striving a little more for it.

Father, there is, indeed, a time for everything. I pray for wisdom to know when those times are. Help me to be, though, one who works more for peace then fighting. I pray that I might be willing to be silent when silence is needed, but also give me the right words when speaking is called for. Help me to be one who builds up more than tearing down. Thank You for the love You have placed in my heart, love for Your Word, love for You. I pray that the thirst for Your Word will always continue, driving me deeper and deeper into it. I pray with great sorrow, that Your Word and commands would be revered more, in this world, today.

I lift up a prayer, this morning, specifically for my aunt, uncle, and cousins. You know the circumstances, Father. Healing is needed and desired, physically and beyond. I pray for Your intervention.

"God for all time,
assure me that no matter the moment,
I belong to You.
Whatever the season -
whether in cold stillness,
budding brightness,
full bloom,
or loss and decay -
I trust all my times are in Your hands.
In my faithful Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 5:10 MSG)


Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:8-10 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

May Your light shine in and through me, Father, as “borrowed light.”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Break forth, like the dawn!
Light! Shine out in the darkness!
Gloom! Be as noonday!
(Isaiah 58)

Grace and peace, friends.

Oh, How I Love Your Word

Today is Tuesday, the second of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,245

Ten days until C’s birthday!

It seemed like a busy day, yesterday. Part of that was because I didn’t finish yesterday’s blog until after noon. Then I went to the grocery store, but right after I got home, C texted me to tell me that S had a prescription ready at CVS. So I went back out to pick that up. Then, I had lunch, at a little after 2:00 PM. I had already started washing the bed linens, earlier, and they were dry not too long after that, so I had a little time to relax before I needed to put the sheets back on the bed. Then I swept the floor, and by the time I finished that, it was time to start cooking dinner, because C was on her way home.

Today, there’s not a lot to do. I work this evening, 4:15-8:15, so I’m planning to cook “lunch” at around 2:00 or so, planning to have it ready to eat by 3:00. Then I’ll have a light snack after I get home from work. I don’t have to work tomorrow or Thursday, so I may stay up later tonight.

Nothing else is planned. Oh, and C is working from home today, her normal day to do that.

The World Series continues tonight at 7:00, in Houston. The Braves lead the series 3-2.

I realize that I haven’t (and don’t usually) said anything about football. I’m not much of a football fan, and it’s still baseball season. But the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1, so far, this season! Granted, they are in one of the worst divisions in the NFL, and they are the only team in their division with a winning record, but they have played some pretty good teams, along the way. While I don’t actively root for the ‘boys, I have some good friends who do, so I wish for their happiness. Dallas plays Denver (4-4) this Sunday afternoon.

Today is Deviled Egg Day. I do love those, but I likely will not have any today.

The word for today is busk, “to entertain by dancing, singing, reciting, juggling, etc., on the street or in a public place.” I was familiar with the word, but did not know that it included activities other than singing or playing an instrument. Makes sense, though.

Today’s quote is from e.e. cummings, American poet. “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Birthdays on November 2:

Daniel Boone, American frontiersman, 1734-1820. 
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (Let them eat cake), 1755-1793
James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. President, 1795-1849
Warren G. Harding, 29th U.S. President, 1865-1923
Burt Lancaster, American actor, 1913-1994
Ray Walston, American actor (My Favorite Martian), 1914-2001
Jay Black, American pop singer (Jay and the Americans), 1938-2021
Stefanie Powers, American actress, (Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Hart to Hart), 1942 (79)
Keith Emerson, English musician (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), 1944-2016
J.D. Souther, American singer/songwriter (Heartache Tonight, New Kid in Town), 1945 (76)
Carter Beauford, American drummer (Dave Matthews Band), 1957 (64)
k.d. lang, Canadian country singer, 1961 (60)
David Schwimmer, American actor (Friends), 1966 (55)
Jay Black is the singer
Keith Emerson on keys

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All have received gifts;
Use them to serve each other,
As stewards of grace.
(1 Peter 4:10)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 118:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the gifts that You give
2. for opportunities to use those gifts
3. that we can count on Your guidance, forever
4. for Your Word and all of its benefits to my life
5. for the strength found in relationship

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY THREE

INVITATION

that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
(Psalms 48:14 ESV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on Your great and wonderful gifts, and Your constant guidance, always available to us, forever.

BIBLE SONG

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:97-104 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 NIV)

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I become more aware of God’s loving presence, I read these passages again, looking for anything in His Word that has caught my heart’s attention. Is there a command to be obeyed? Is there comfort to be savored? As I meditate on these things, I pray them to God and rest in His presence.

The first thing that catches my attention is the first verse of the Psalms passage. “Oh, how I love Your law!” I like the way Peterson paraphrases this, so that we aren’t using the word “law” literally.

Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long.
(Psalms 119:97 MSG)

There are several different words used to describe God’s Word, throughout Psalm 119; law, commands, statutes, precepts, word. All of those could be defined, as Peterson does, “all You’ve revealed.”

I have been a Bible reader since before I was able to read. That may sound contradictory, but remember, people were reading Scripture to me before I was able to read. I have loved “God’s Word” as long as I can remember. Even through the darkest parts of my life, some of which were of my own making, it was always the Bible that drew me back to the path. Sure, His Holy Spirit is involved, no doubt. But even He drew me back via the precious Word of God.

Do not mistake me . . . I do not “worship” the Bible. I worship the God who revealed Himself through the Bible. But I do love the Bible, just as the psalmist who penned Psalm 119 did.

The Word of God, rightly applied, gives us more wisdom than anyone around us; our enemies, our teachers, our elders, even. It helps us stay away from evil paths. Or, when our feet have strayed onto an evil path, it gently maneuvers us back. It teaches us to hate those evil paths.

One of my favorite passages regarding God’s Word is found in Psalm 19.

The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.
GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
(Psalms 19:7-10 MSG)

The Teacher, in the meantime, continues to find everything to be meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, I know that not everything in life is meaningless. Many of the tasks, however, in which we constantly find ourselves engaged, are truly a chasing after the wind. This is true; it is known. Many of those things, though, are, more or less, harmless, in the big picture. What is not meaningless is relationship with You, which we are able to enhance and grow through a healthy attitude toward Your Word. I praise You for Your Word, in which You have revealed Yourself further to us. I say “further,” because You have, in fact, revealed Yourself quite extensively through nature and Creation, to those of us who are looking at it wisely. But the revelation of Yourself through Scripture, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, is invaluable and priceless, worth more than pure gold, sweeter than pure honey (or strawberries). I love Your Word, Father, I do. Thank You for placing that love of it in my heart at such an early age. Thank You for placing people in my path, people who cared for me and loved me and read Your Word to me and taught Your Word to me. I cannot thank You enough for those blessings.

I pray that You would continue to give Your people a love for and commitment to the communities in which we have landed. I pray that You continue to equip us to serve in unique and effective ways.

"Everlasting God,
I shop for pleasure,
looking to consume happiness;
I hustle for meaning,
striving to make a difference.
But the more I consume the less I enjoy,
and the harder I work the more life slips out of my reach.
Help me understand the simple truth that none of my work or worry,
nor any of life's pleasures,
does any good without Your blessing.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 ESV)


Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
(1 Peter 4:9 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV)

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 ESV)

I want to take a moment to boast (I don’t normally do this kind of thing) about the relationship that my wife and I have. That whole passage from Ecclesiastes 4 is worthy of visiting.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV)

I feel like we have been lifting each other up, constantly, for over thirty-six years, now. And, since my retirement, this has even been enhanced more. When we discussed the possibility of me taking early retirement, I heartily agreed to become, more or less, a “house-husband,” taking care of menial household chores, on my days off, while C continues to work full time. For the record, it is still roughly four years until she is eligible for early retirement. But I have gladly taken on tasks such as laundry, sweeping floors, keeping dishes clean (which I helped with a lot already), trash removal, and things like that. I have tried to keep the house somewhat neat, and it has been quite rewarding for me. I don’t hate it at all. Because I am doing it out of love for my wife.

There are different ways to describe a marriage. The Ecclesiastes passage may not even be describing marriage, per se, but simply a good partnership. But that’s what marriage is, right? Most definitely a “good partnership.” Some say that one plus one, in a marriage, doesn’t make two, but makes one. I don’t disagree with that, but I would also entertain the thought that one plus one equals infinity, because I believe that we two together are infinitely stronger than one of us alone. And when Jesus is in the middle of us, it is infinity times infinity. “A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” (The Message).

Father, I praise You for this relationship, and look forward to what You are going to continue to do in our midst, in the years that we have left.


“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
(Ezekiel 36:22-23 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Enjoy!

Today is Monday, the first of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your hearts today.

Day 23,244

Six days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Welcome to November! I’m sad that October is over, but fall carries on. And the tree in our front yard is still green.

We had a wonderful time, last night, at our friend’s house. Her chili, as always, was delicious, but the fellowship was deliciouser. It was truly refreshing to get to see some faces that we have not seen in many a moon. There were a few hugs, as well. We got to meet her new grandchild, finally, too. Most everyone sat out on the driveway, in a big circle, for most of the time. It was joyous!

As the new day moves along, and the new month begins, I have a few things to get done today. Some may get pushed into tomorrow, and maybe some even to Wednesday or Thursday. I’m washing the bedclothes, this morning, and will get the floors swept later today (that task will be a regular Monday thing, now that my schedule has settled down, some). The yard needs mowing, but I need to get an attachment for the lawn mower before I do that. C likes to mow the yard, but she has not had enough recovery time to do that, yet.

There are other things that I need to do, some straightening and putting away, perhaps cleaning out some things and “de-cluttering” a little. But this is my week where I only work two days and only four hours on one of those (tomorrow). So there is literally no hurry on any of these things.

As soon as I get done with this, I will be heading to a grocery store to get a few things. I think I’ve previously mentioned that I am planning to “normalize” trips to the store on Mondays and Thursdays, and avoid the big grocery runs on Saturdays and Sundays.

We plan to go to FBC Mineral Wells, this coming Sunday morning for their first worship service back in their remodeled sanctuary. S is really looking forward to this.

Oh. The Astros won last night, so the World Series will continue in Houston tomorrow night. The Braves lead the series 3-2.

I think I’m also planning to have lunch with C on Thursday. We briefly discussed that yesterday. I haven’t gotten to do that in a long time. Sadly, the place we used to go get a Japanese lunch closed a few years ago. We’ll have to figure something else out.

Today is Scented Candle Day. Perhaps I will light one, later.

The word for today is columbarium, “a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.” That’s probably because today is also All Saints Day.

Today’s quote is from Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, and Austrian novelist. “We don’t believe in rheumatism and true love until after the first attack.”

Birthdays on November 1:

Stephen Crane, American author (Red Badge of Courage), 1871-1900
John W. Peterson, American songwriter (Night of Miracles, Love Transcending, Hallelujah! What A Savior!), 1921-2006
Gordon R. Dickson, Canadian-American science fiction author, 1923-2001
Gary Player, South African pro golfer, 1935 (86)
Marcia Wallace, American actress (Carol on the Bob Newhart Show), 1942-2013
Richard "Kinky" Friedman, American singer/songwriter, novelist, and politician, 1944 (77)
Jim Steinman, American songwriter and producer (Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart"), 1947-2021
Dan Peek, American pop vocalist and guitarist, (America), 1950-2011
Lyle Lovett, American singer/songwriter (Joshua Judges Ruth, Pontiac), 1957 (64)
Fernando Valenzuela, Mexican HoF MLB pitcher (Dodgers), 1960 (61)
Rick Allen, British one-armed drummer (Def Leppard), 1963 (58)
Matt Chapman, American cartoonist and voice actor (Homestar Runner), 1976 (45)
Coco Crisp, American baseball player (2007 Boston Red Sox), 1979 (42)
John W Peterson
Rick Allen is the drummer
Matt Chapman, one of the “Brothers Chaps,” turns 45 today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Living and active,
sharper than a two-edged sword,
is the Word of God.
(Hebrews 4)

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright,
in the congregation.
(Psalms 111:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that You have led me to make my gratitude public, "in the company of the upright"
3. that Your hands made me, formed me, and gave me understanding
4. for the encouragement found in Scripture to enjoy life (reading Ecclesiastes right now)
5. that You have provided me with a life that is enjoyable
6. for music, color, beauty, and all the senses

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY TWO

INVITATION

For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.
(Psalms 48:14 NLT)

As I pause to prepare myself for these meditations, I consider what our God is like, giving thanks to Him for His nature and His attributes. He is loving and kind, patient and forgiving; He shows compassion on His people, remembering that we are dust.

BIBLE SONG

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.
(Psalms 119:73-80 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
(Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I search for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them and give them full attention, praying these thoughts to God, and resting in His presence.

The acknowledgment that we are made and formed by God’s hands, and then given the gift of understanding, that we may learn His commands, is a great beginning. I truly believe that we cannot even begin to learn His commands unless He first grants us this gift of understanding. The knowledge that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made,” found in Psalm 139, at least for me, results in great humility. I suppose it could cause some to go the wrong direction and become arrogant about it. But I see every day, every breath of life, as a gift from the God who made me, formed me, and gave me understanding.

The Teacher took on a pretty daunting task when he decided to “explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.” I mean, who has that kind of time on their hands, right? But, if these were, in fact written by Solomon, then I guess, as King, he had the time. He continues, though, in his assessment that it is all meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.” And, truthfully, most of the activities of humanity are, indeed, the equivalent of chasing after the wind.

But look! At one point, he even decided that applying one’s self to the “understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly,” even those are “a chasing after the wind.” And then he nails closed the coffin with these words, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Again, I don’t think we can overstate the problems with reading only chunks of Ecclesiastes like this. If we stopped here, we would think that this Teacher decided to never do anything at all, because everything is chasing after the wind.

But you know what? Sometimes, chasing after the wind is a jolly good time! And any serious reader of the Bible knows that (I haven’t looked ahead to see if we will read this particular part of the book) the old Dairy Queen mantra was borrowed from the writings in Ecclesiastes, as the Teacher eventually comes to the conclusion that the best thing we can do is “Eat, drink, and be merry.”

One of the big lessons that we can learn from the writings of the Teacher is that there is a danger of getting too serious about things. And I agree. While I am serious about reading Scripture and gaining intimacy with my Father in heaven, I also recognize the need to simply have a good time and enjoy life. There’s nothing wrong with seeking wisdom and knowledge (as long as we don’t make it habit to seek those things on Facebook or Twitter). But the writer of Ecclesiastes makes a strong point when he says that much sorrow comes along with much wisdom, and knowledge produces grief.

Therefore, I will balance my pursuit of wisdom and knowledge with frivolous, time-wasting pursuits of fun and entertainment. As well as times of productive work. That is necessary, too.

Father, I praise You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; that Your hands have made me, formed me, continue to form me, and given me both the understanding and the desire to learn Your commands and more about You. I pray that these desires will only increase as I get older and, hopefully, wiser. However, I do pray, based on the reading in Ecclesiastes, that I do not take too seriously the desire to acquire wisdom and knowledge. Both are important, but let me enjoy life along the way, as well. You know . . . may I never forget, while in these pursuits, to “stop and smell the roses.” “And let me live whole and holy, soul and body, so I can always walk with my head held high” (Psalm 119:80 The Message).

And while I’m at it, I praise You for music, color, beauty, and all the senses with which I am able to take in the wonder and complexity of creation.

"Great God,
without You any search to find meaning is futile,
any quest to name the reason for living a dead end.
Turn me today to Jesus,
who is the Word that speaks purpose into life under the sun,
the wisdom at the center that gives significance to my days.
In His name I pray,
amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
(Matthew 5:10 NLT)


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
(Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 NIV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
(Psalms 91:1-4 ESV)

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
(Song of Solomon 2:3-4 ESV)

In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.
And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy,
everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,
when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day,
and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night;
for over all the glory there will be a canopy.
There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat,
and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
(Isaiah 4:2-6 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.