Today Forever

Today is Monday, the nineteenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

The Queen’s funeral is going on, as I type this, and S is in the living room watching it. I suppose it is fitting that it is happening on September 19, which is already a sad day for me, as it is the day that Rich Mullins was killed in an auto accident, twenty-five years ago. This all rather overshadows “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

We had a nice day, yesterday. The church gathering was good, and we had Applebee’s for lunch afterward. We watched an episode of Call the Midwife (C and Mama have been watching them, but I hadn’t seen any, yet) during lunch, then spent the rest of the day relaxing (after taking out the trash bins).

The high temperature yesterday wound up being three degrees below the predicted high of 95. Does that count as a cold front? That’s four degrees higher than the average for the day. Today’s high is projected at 95 again, as is tomorrow’s. Saturday’s high is 97, and then it begins to drop, going down below 90 for the last three days of the ten-day forecast. Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we plan to take the truck to Mineral Wells to move furniture. Hopefully, the truck doesn’t fall through, this time.

The record high temp for today is, once again, 98, back in 2005.

The Texas Rangers, after losing again to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, have been officially eliminated from any hopes of playoff contention for this season. They are 63-83 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are 32.5 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. And they dropped back to fourth place, a game behind the Angels. They are off today, and begin a series with the Angels, in Arlington, tomorrow.

The Boston Red Sox came back with a vengeance and beat the Royals 13-3, yesterday. This puts them at 71-75 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are still in last place in the AL East, 5.5 behind the Orioles. They are 17 games out of first place and are now officially eliminated from the division race. They are 9.5 out of the Wild Card race and their WCE# is 8. They, too, are off today, and begin a series in Cincinnati tomorrow.

The Astros and Dodgers are still the only two teams to have clinched playoff berths, and the Dodgers are the only team to have clinched their division.

The Dodgers kept their chances alive with another win, yesterday, to make their MLB-leading record 101-44. They must win sixteen of their remaining seventeen to break the win record. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nationals remain the worst, at 51-95, 1.5 behind the A’s.

The Mets have the longest current win streak, at four games. The Pirates and Phillies both have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a run differential of +329, and the Pirates are at -214. The Rangers are at -22, and the Red Sox gained back the nine runs they lost yesterday (plus one) and are now at -34.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the light you let shine on earth to gladden our hearts. Your light shows us how to live in your creation with open eyes and open hearts, accepting in a childlike way all the good gifts from your hand. How much good you send to many sorrowful hearts, and how much strengthening to those in weakness, poverty, and sickness! Grant that we may recognize what comes from you, that we are not cast down in spirit but mount up again and again on wings like eagles. May we learn to say at all times, "Through how much need has not our merciful God spread out his wings to protect us!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Exodus 19:4-6 ESV)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light from God that shines to gladden our hearts and strengthen us in our sorrows and weaknesses
  2. that the Lord abounds in steadfast love (mercy) to all who call upon Him
  3. that He is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (shouldn’t we be the same??)
  4. for every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights
  5. that my thoughts are drawn toward eternity

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
(John 19:16-22 ESV)

I have frequently wondered about the eternal destiny of Pilate. He was very close to believing, I think. He knew there was something more to Jesus than what was visible.


Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 
Gladden the soul of your servant, 
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. 
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, 
nor are there any works like yours. 
All the nations you have made 
shall come and worship before you, O Lord, 
and shall glorify your name. 
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
 unite my heart to fear your name.
 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your steadfast love toward me; 
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalms 86:3-13 ESV)
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 
Turn to me and be gracious to me; 
give your strength to your servant, 
and save the son of your maidservant.
(Psalms 86:15-16 ESV)

This has long been a favorite psalm of mine, and I can’t remember how long ago it was that I chose verse 11 as my “life verse.” That’s the verse in italics, above. It’s probably been a little over twenty years, because I seem to remember being in this house when I did that, and we have lived her for 23 years, now.

I’m still working, or should I say He is still working, on that united heart bit. And as for giving thanks with my whole heart, I’m still working on that one, too. What I want to focus on this morning, though is that steadfast love that is mentioned in this psalm. The word that is used in the Hebrew language is chesed. The KJV translates that word as “mercy.” The Strong’s entry on that word is as follows: “kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.”

Then verse 15 also tells us that God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger. As I read this psalm, this morning, my thoughts were drawn to questions about our own behavior in this world. If God shows mercy, steadfast love, and is merciful and gracious and slow to anger, are we not directed to be like Him?


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(1 John 5:11 ESV)

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:28-30 ESV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

“Eternal life.”

How often do we consider the words “eternal” and “eternity?” The first definition of eternity is somewhat oxymoronic. “Infinite or unending time,” it says. The fact that it includes the word “time” makes me chuckle. I prefer the second definition, which, to me makes it clearer: “a state to which time has no application; timelessness.”

The first thing I always type in this blog is the date. Many people are interested in what “holiday” is featured for the day. Some holidays are official, some not so much. For example, today is “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” Shiver me timbers. I also remember this as the day that Rich Mullins died. It will, from this day forward, be remembered as the day that Queen Elizabeth II was buried.

We remember birthdays. We mark years. I remember significant years in my life.

In eternity, none of those will matter. Eternity will be one infinite day. It will be “today” forever. There will be no more tomorrow, and there will be no more yesterday. Or, perhaps “yesterday” will be remembered as a vague time when we were walking on earth. I have no idea if we will remember this life.

Great. Now my brain hurts.

The burdens of time, these “light momentary afflictions” that we must endure, are temporary. When we worry about them, we do ourselves a grave disservice (no pun intended). We steal joy from ourselves by allowing ourselves to be ruled by them. Yes, we must pay attention, and we must, to a degree, abide by them. It would be to my best interest to be at work on time on days when I am scheduled.

I find some words of Paul in Galatians to be quite interesting.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years!
(Galatians 4:9-10 ESV)

But, then, it is also important to note that, when Paul was writing these letters to the churches, they were all quite sure that Jesus would be returning in a couple of years, at the most.

“Eternal life.” Today forever. My soul rejoices at the hope!


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)

Andrew Murray focuses on meditation, from this passage. He says, “Through meditation the heart holds and appropriates the Word of God.” The intellect takes in the words when we read, but they must get into the heart, and the way this happens is through meditation.

It is important to meditate on God’s Word because “whatever the heart truly believes, it embraces with love and joy and thus influences the life.”

Meditation was a lost art, for a long time, in modern Christianity. It is still shunned by many well-meaning Christians because of its Eastern implications. But meditation was encouraged, even demanded, as far back as Old Testament times.

But before we try to meditate, we must “present ourselves before God.” You see, the words on the pages of a Bible mean nothing without His presence, without the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are just words. “It has no power to bless apart from Him.” As it brings us into His presence, then we can begin to meditate on it and hide it away in our hearts. This is done in “quiet restfulness,” during which our minds need not expend energy, as we do in “study.”

And then, meditation leads to prayer, as it, by nature, “provides subjects for prayer.” I can attest to the truth of this, as I have many times been led into prayer by meditating on a specific passage of Scripture. In fact, every day, in this blog, I am led to prayer by the passages on which I meditate.

Today, I’m meditating/contemplating/pondering eternity.


Father, my soul rejoices, this morning, as I consider eternal life, and the implications within. Much of what we believe about eternity is speculation, as You have not provided an abundance of information about it. You have told us that there would be no pain, no sickness, and no tears, which is what causes me to question whether we will, in fact, remember our lives on earth. Such knowledge is too high for me, I cannot attain it.

All I know for sure is that I look forward to it with great anticipation. And I know that this eternal life comes from Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All praise to You for giving us this life, Father, and for drawing us into it as You have.

As we grow closer to the time when this will come to pass, I pray that You draw us away from earthly things that do not matter, special days, years, and even memories. Not that I want to forget loved ones or anything like that. I just don’t want to be focusing on things that relate to time, which will no longer be a factor in our lives. I love the concept that was brought into my mind today, the idea that, when we enter eternity, it will be an endless day, it will be “today” forever.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Toward More Humility

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of September, 2022, in the 25th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,565

Only four more days until Autumn begins!

We had a great time, last night, as we celebrated a friend’s birthday. There were people there whom we have not seen for quite some time, so, as S commented, it was like a reunion. The food was good, but the fellowship was “gooder.” Our friend loved my gift to her, which was all of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files books that I owned. Four of them were special editions, signed and numbered. I didn’t have quite all of them in physical form, as I had read two or three in ebook form. I believe she has only read the first one, so that should keep her busy for a bit.

Today, we have our church gathering at 10:15-ish, although I’m not sure how many of us will be there. I guess we shall see. As far as I know, there are no other plans for today.

Yesterday was pretty busy at the library. There was a steady stream of patrons, especially in the afternoon, and, at one point, I turned to my co-worker and opined that it sounded like a mall in there. It’s good for the library to have that much traffic, and it makes the day go by faster.

Yesterday’s high got up to 91, the first day over 90 in almost ten days. True to form, though, that was two degrees lower than the predicted high of 93. Today’s high is projected to be 95, and eight of the next ten days have expected highs of over 90.

The Texas Rangers failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities, last night, and lost to Tampa 5-1. This puts them at 63-82 for the season. With seventeen games left, they are in third place in the AL West, 31.5 out of first place, and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. Their WCE# is 1. They play Tampa again today, at the Juice Box, at 12:10 CDT.

The Bost Red Sox were embarrassed by the KC Royals, last night, losing 9-0. The Royals. A team that is thirty games below .500. Oh, well. The Sox are 70-75 for the season, and with seventeen games remaining, they are 17 games out of first place, which puts their division E# at 1. They are 10.5 out of the Wild Card race, with a WCE# of 8. But if they keep playing like it no longer matters (and it kind of does, still), that won’t last very long. They play the Royals again today, in Boston, at 1:35 EDT.

Houston has now joined the Dodgers in clinching a playoff berth. However, they still haven’t clinched their division, as Seattle still has a slim chance.

The Dodgers won game number 100, yesterday, keeping their chances of breaking the win record alive. Their MLB-leading record is 100-44. They must win seventeen of their last eighteen games to break the record. The Nationals won again, but so did the Athletics, so the Nats stay on the bottom, 1.5 behind the A’s. The Mets, Cardinals, and Guardians all have three-game win streaks going. The Reds, Phillies, Pirates, and Twins are all on three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a +328 run differential, and the Pirates are back on the bottom with -210. There are now eight teams eliminated from any chance of playoffs, the Cubs being the most recent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us your glorious future as the basis for our lives. We thank you that on this foundation we can forget our present troubles and believe that the power of good can move us today to oppose sin, death, and everything evil. Free our hearts from all burdens, and grant that we may have courage to wait patiently for the great help which is to come. Grant that what is happening in the world today may somehow help toward the solution of all the problems. We praise your name, our Father in the heavens. We praise you for the good you do for us each day and for the light you will shed one day on everything on earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
(Revelation 21:21-23 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope of our future inheritance, that great city that needs neither sun nor moon because the Glory of God gives it light
  2. for the hope of future grace
  3. that God keeps teaching me about humility (obviously, I haven’t gotten it right, yet)
  4. that I have no righteousness of my own, nothing that I can call my own; all belongs to God; all comes from Jesus
  5. for friends and family, and reunions

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
(John 19:10-12 NIV)

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; 
but let them not turn back to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, 
that glory may dwell in our land. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, 
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
(Psalms 85:8-11 ESV)

Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


It is interesting to me, how often I keep coming back around to these Scriptures about humility and seeking the good of others. Pride and arrogance are equated with evil and perverted speech. But humility is equated with the fear of the Lord.

How do we get to a place where we can, as Paul encourages us, “pray continually,” or, as the more popular phrase reads, “pray without ceasing?”

“If we seek to pray without ceasing simply because we want to appear very pious, we will never attain to it. It is by forgetting ourselves and yielding our lives to God that our heart’s capacity is enlarged to know God’s will.” (Andrew Murray)

People want to know God’s will for their lives. They don’t know because they aren’t looking for it. It’s right there. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s God’s will for our lives. Or at least part of it.

But we can’t get to that place of praying continually until we embrace the previous Scriptures that instruct us toward humility; until we can “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

This comes back to that idea of confusing the struggle, too. When our whole life becomes wrapped up in God, in looking to Christ for our life and righteousness, when we truly realize that we have nothing to call our own, then we are close to being able to grasp the concept of humility and seeking the good of others instead of our own “rights.” Then, maybe we can be successful at the idea of praying continually.

“To forget oneself and to live for God and His kingdom among men leads to prayer without ceasing.” (Murray)


Father, this keeps coming around, and I have to consider the implications for myself. I can’t just point fingers at others without applying the lessons to myself, as well. There is always more that I need to be learning in regard to this journey, and this relationship. You are always here, always near me, always pointing me toward greater humility.

But self gets in the way, so often. I fall to the temptations of pride and arrogance, and begin to think that I am better than someone else because of my beliefs and my practices. But I’m not. I’m no better than anyone. I am not better than the “vilest offender.” I have no righteousness other than the righteousness of Christ in me, and that is pure grace, a gift from You, that no one should haven anything about which to boast.

So keep bringing it up, Father, because I haven’t gotten it right, yet.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
(Proverbs 8:12-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Savior of the World

Today is Saturday, the twentieth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,536

The birthday was a great success. We wound up having to go to a different bowling alley to get our bowling done, as they were having a clinic at C’s workplace. But there is a bowling center just a few miles away from there, in Grand Prairie, and it is one that is still owned by the family that originally opened it, and has not yet been assimilated by the Borg Bowlero. And, to make it even better, it was $2 Friday, so our games were only $2 each. In our second game, C bowled a 199. She needed a spare to get 200, but left a 6-7-10 split and picked up two of them.

Lunch was really great, as well. Martha’s Mexican Cocina has seldom, if ever, disappointed, and they did not disappoint, yesterday. The service was very good and friendly, and the food was delicious. And they brought S a huge piece of cheesecake, drizzled with sauces (strawberry and chocolate?), with “Happy B-Day” written on the plate in one of the sauces.

And then we had our mani/pedis. So very relaxing, just a wonderful time. A fun time was had by all. After a quick stop at a nearby Sonic (of course), we headed home to have some cookie cake and collapse.

Today is my work Saturday (every other week), so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15. After I get home, C, S, and I plan on heading over to Goldfish Sushi for dinner.

We hit 93 for a high, yesterday, after having one day below 90. There was no rain, but we have five straight days in the forecast with rain predicted, beginning later today. The high today is projected to be 96, but the next five days are below 90 with one day (Monday) potentially being below 80!

Martin Perez had another rare loss, yesterday, as the Twins beat the Rangers 2-1. Perez gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning, but that was it for the Twins. Unfortunately, it was all they needed. The Rangers are now 53-66 for the season, in third place in the AL West, a game ahead of the Angels. They are 23 out of first, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They continue the series tonight, in Minnesota, at 6:10 PM CDT. Texas has 43 games remaining.

The Red Sox lost to the Orioles by the score of 15-10. Right. That’s what I said. That was the score in the seventh inning, when I checked in, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game. I’m not even sure what to say about that. The Sox are now 59-61, seemingly unable to crawl back up to .500. They remain in last place, especially since the team they are playing is currently a place above them. They are fourteen out of first, and five out of a Wild Card spot. Boston has 42 games remaining.

The Wild Card situation in the AL still has two teams in the East. Seattle, from the West, has the first spot, followed by Toronto and Tampa.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, at 82-36, six games ahead of the next best Mets. The stumbling Yankees are now fifth in MLB. The Nationals, in spite of a two-game winning streak, continue to be the worst, at 41-80. The Cardinals still have the best winning streak, now at five games. The Giants and Other Sox both have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers, as they continue to dominate, have a run differential of +250. The Nationals, on the other end, have one of -207. The Rangers are now at -4, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Speaking of the Other Sox, I am beyond dismayed that our dear Elvis Andrus, after having been release by Oakland, has signed with the Southside.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may be your children who receive the Spirit and all they need from you. You strengthen us not only physically but also inwardly, in our hearts, enabling us to face the uncertainties of earthly life and whatever still needs changing in human society. Keep us from giving in to weakness. May your power be always with us. May we have patience and hope, because you are working for the good and we may wait for it in expectation. Amen..
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

 1. that there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus
2. that we receive all that we need from God the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit
3. that God's power and kingdom are always available to us, providing patience and hope as we navigate through these troubling times
4. that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world
5. that if we ask anything according to God's will, He hears us

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:39-42 ESV)

Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:10-11 ESV)
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, 
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
bring an offering and come before him! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 
tremble before him, all the earth; 
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, 
and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" 
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! 
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, 
for he comes to judge the earth. 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:28-34 ESV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
(Psalms 1:1-3 NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)


Jesus Christ is revealed as the “Savior of the world.” He was acknowledged and recognized in this way numerous times in Scripture. What shall we do with this?

Each individual’s destiny is contingent on their response to that information.

I don’t frequently “evangelize” on this forum, but I do try to go wherever the Spirit takes me with the passages I read for that day. And today, I read the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The culmination of that account was her townspeople declaring this truth, “this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

A person’s family heritage is not enough to secure their destiny, although it can provide a highly favorable environment, and there are places where individuals are encouraged to believe, which would result in them being saved “and their households.”

Even more importantly, a person’s place in a nation will not be enough to secure their destiny. There is a drastically mistaken notion that has been popular for a number of years, that “America” is a “Christian nation.” I’ve said it before, and will likely say it again. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation.” Only an individual can be a Christian.

Our Father deals with us as individuals, and as the Body of Christ. He makes no difference in nationality. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, not any particular nation.

If Jesus has, in fact, saved me, then I will look more and more like Him, as I grow in Him. I will do the things that He did and said. I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I will love my neighbor as myself, and I will love the saints, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

And I will try to find ways to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the imprisoned, relieve the oppressed, and so on, because whatever I do to the “least of these,” I have, in fact, done to Jesus, Himself.

It is true . . . a glorious truth . . . there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But we must truly be “in Christ Jesus” for that to be true, and the evidence of that is that we are doing what He commanded.

So my admonition today is to believe in the Savior of the world. Follow in His footsteps, His teachings. Love God and love people. Let’s start a love revolution.


Father, I pray for the name of Jesus to be loved in this world. I pray that all will know Him as the Savior of the world. I pray that people will stop pretending to know Him when their actions say otherwise. I pray for love to reign, and for the Body of Christ (the true Body) to rise up and be recognized. I pray that any false teachers and false “churches” be shut down.

Your Word says that if we pray anything according to Your will, You will hear us. I believe, with all my heart, that praying for the salvation of the word is according to Your will, as Your Word also tells us that You desire all people to be saved. I pray that we, Your people, will rise up and proclaim the Good News that Your Kingdom is here, now, available to all who want to walk in it.

And then, Father, may we use the resources which You have provided, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the prisoners, relieve the oppressed, heal the sick, and so on. We are in desperate need of a revolution, Father. Jesus and His disciples were subversive, Lord. May we engage in that behavior today, but in all love and peacefully. Yes, in love and in peace, which is extremely important. Jesus did not overthrow a government; rather, He sacrificed Himself in order to accomplish His purpose.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace Like A River

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,530

We hit a high of 98 degrees, yesterday, for our fourth consecutive day under 100. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. I wonder if that was 1980? The ten-day forecast still includes six days of under-100 temperatures, but the next four are 100+. The great news is that at the end of the ten days, I’m seeing two days that will possible be below 90! The not-so-good news is that we likely aren’t going to get any more rain until around August 21.

I have an adventure tomorrow. I get to take S’s guinea pig, Princess, to an exotic animal doctor to have her eye looked at. It’s been a little cloudy of late, although it seems a little better this morning, and she has exhibited a bit of a head tilt, which may mean she has some inner ear trouble going on.

We have our church gathering, this morning, at 10:15, and it looks like most of us will actually be there. However, we will not be there next Sunday, as we will be traveling to FBC Mineral Wells as part of S’s birthday celebration. Oh, I didn’t put that up there, did I? S turns 29 in only FIVE MORE DAYS! We should probably get that cookie cake ordered, huh?

C and I have scheduled a Glen Rose trip in October for our anniversary. It will be the weekend before the actual anniversary, which is October 12. It’s been a while since we have been to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, so we are very excited about that.

The Texas Rangers snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Mariners, by winning 7-4, last night. That losing streak was exclusively against the Mariners, by the way. They are now 50-63 (finally won that fiftieth game), still in third place by a half game, 23 games out of first place, and 9.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They play Seattle again today, at 1:35 CDT, with Martin Perez taking the mound. The Rangers have 49 games left in 2022.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 3-2 (I think that’s the same score they won by, the night before), to make them 56-59 for the season. They remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They will play the Yankees again, this evening (it’s an ESPN game). The Red Sox have 47 games left in 2022.

The LA Dodgers can’t seem to lose, now. They continue to be the best team in MLB with a 79-33 record, twelve straight wins, and a run differential of +251. The Washington Nationals remain on the bottom, at 38-77, and a -204 run differential. The Athletics of Oakland, however, have the current losing streak at seven games. The Texas Rangers have a run differential of -4, and the REd S

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may heed your commandments, that our peace may be like a river and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. Be with us through your Spirit, we pray. Speak with us and tell us what we need to hear so that we can understand what draws us always nearer to you. Show the might of your hand to help us and all people. Even under judgment we shall not despair, we shall not lose courage because of troubles and distress. Come with your strength, that we may grow strong to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the possibility of peace "like a river," by heeding the commands of God (loving God and loving people)
2. for an understanding of what draws us nearer to God
3. for the strength to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior
4. for the songs that my God sings over me
5. for the encouragement to always be growing, moving forward in Christ, and the knowledge that, if I am walking with Him, He will lead

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:29-34 NIV)

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.
(Zephaniah 3:1-4 ESV)

“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
(Zephaniah 3:11-13 ESV)

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

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 ESV, emphasis added)

“A faith walk is measured by forward movement. And when we walk with Jesus, He takes the lead.” (Shawnelle Eliasen)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
(Luke 17:5 ESV)

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
(Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)


I could have easily stopped, today, after that bit from Plough about having peace like a river. I kept on reading my prescribed readings, though, from my various devotional materials.

Here’s the thing. Do you have peace in your life? And I’m strictly speaking to believers, here, because I know a bunch who don’t live like they have peace. And the reason for this? It’s right there in Isaiah!

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

The problem is that we seem to be getting bogged down in what those commands are. Let’s go over that again. I will never get tired of quoting Jesus Christ on this, because it is simply the essence of life.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

When we don’t have peace in our lives, it is very likely because we are not heeding those commands.

Another thing that happens when we heed those commands is that we grow. We move forward. I love the quote from Shawnelle Eliason, this morning. When I walk in faith, I will move forward. And Jesus will take the lead, if I am truly following Him.

There’s one final thought, here, from Andrew Murray. “We find the Christian life difficult because we seek for God’s blessing while we live according to our own will. We make our own plans and choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to watch and see that sin does not overtake us and that we do not wander too far from the path.”

If we are heeding His commands, we will be entirely at His disposal, we will be moving forward in our faith walk, and we will have peace like a river.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, help me, today, to enjoy this peace. Help me to focus only on obeying/heeding those two commands (three if we add that “new command” from Jesus) to love You, love my neighbor, and especially love the saints. If I can do those things, I will have peace, my walk will be moving forward, and, more importantly, my life will be Yours, to do with as You will.

I pray for all of Your children, today, that they might experience this peace in their lives by heeding Your commands and loving. It truly is all about love, Father.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Today is Thursday, the ninth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,464

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our Savior, you are our Lord and our Helper. Show yourself again and again in our hearts as the Savior who is strong to help us even in difficult times. Remember the many people who sigh to you. Guide them into the protection of the almighty God. Even if they suffer pain and distress and have to go through fear and anxiety, even if they die, Lord Jesus, you are comfort and help. In everything life brings us you will show yourself as the One who does the will of God and who carries it out for us on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord takes delight in us with gladness
2. that the Lord calms all our fears with love
3. that real transformation is possible, changing the way I think, renewing my mind, by dwelling in and meditating on the Word of God
4. that by doing the things in number 3, I can live a life of love, joy, and laughter
5. that regularly gathering with other saints enhances this even more
Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. . . . Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. . . . So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other.
(Romans 14:1, 4, 10-13a NLT)
O God, you know how foolish I am; 
my sins cannot be hidden from you. 
Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me, 
O Sovereign LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 
Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel.
(Psalms 69:5-6 NLT)

It seems to me that a large number of us needs to spend some time in Romans 14.

The prayer word of the day is “mind.” This is not the verb sense of the word, but, rather, that which is somewhat synonymous with “brain.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 NIV)

I prefer the way some other translations word this, though.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 NLT)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12:2 MSG)

In this day and age, it is not unusual for one’s mind to feel scattered. Society has pushed the myth of multi-tasking on us. Susanna asks, “How can I figure out God’s will when I can’t even navigate my day?”

The presence of God and His Word can “rewire how I see things, changing priorities, bringing peace in the midst of chaos, resetting my moods with His grace.” This is the “transforming” or “renewing” of the mind that Romans 12 speaks of.

If we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, it will certainly change the way we think.

All too often, though, and this is what causes the attitudes that Paul is speaking against in Romans 14, we allow the way we think to “transform” what God’s Word says.

Just sit on that for a minute.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
(Proverbs 31:25 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:26 NIV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NIV)

Most people are probably familiar with Proverbs 31, and that it speaks of a “wife of noble character,” beginning in verse 10.

But that’s not what we’re talking about, here, today. I want to focus on that bit about laughing at “the days to come.”

I’m pretty sure that no one would deny that we have been living “hell on earth” for the last two years or so, maybe closer to three. First there was a pandemic (honestly, there still is . . . as much as some folks want to believe it’s over, we are still having close to 100,000 new cases a day in the U.S.). Weather has been unpredictable (February in Texas, 2021, the entire state was frozen for three to five days). Russia invaded Ukraine. Prices are skyrocketing.

Here’s the thing. Because of my faith in Christ, because of my walk with Him and in God’s Kingdom, because of abiding in His Word and His Word in me, I can do what Proverbs 31:25 says. I can laugh at the days to come.

Not because I think it’s going to be funny. I don’t think that at all. I have opinions about the way things are going. They aren’t relevant to pretty much anything, though, so I keep them to myself, for the most part. I do believe, however, that Dallas Willard nailed it when he said that, in Christ, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” And this is the attitude portrayed in Proverbs 31:25.

The psalmist alluded to that in Psalm 73:26. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” The verse immediately preceding that has long been a favorite of mine. Verse 25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

Because of these things, I can “live a life filled with love, joy, and laughter.” I can, as “they” say,

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

What makes this state of mind even better is when we can enjoy it with other believers. “Honesty in worship is maintained by keeping in touch with other Christians in company before God. There are no instances that we know of when Christians have successfully severed themselves from a regular gathering in community.”

Worship is not an option, something you add on whenever you feel like it. “Community worship keeps our relationships with God from depending on our feelings (our feelings are notorious deceivers) and restrains us from indulging. It keeps us connected to the whole revelation in the whole company of all God’s people.”

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

Father, I praise You for joy. I praise You that I can look at the days ahead and laugh, not because things are funny, but because I have You, and because I desire You more than I desire anything on earth. I pray that You keep this mindset alive in me. Continue to transform and renew my mind, my way of thinking, as I continue to read, pray, and meditate on Your Word.

I also pray for continued gathering with other saints to keep this alive and enhance the mindset. As we gather, Father, help us to have joy in our lives, regardless of outward circumstances and appearances. May Your will be done on earth as in heaven; bring heaven to earth, Father. And please do it “soon.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Humble Confidence

Today is Monday, the sixth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,461

I’ll confess that I have been slightly confused about when Ordinary Time occurs, partially because of a devotional book I used last year. The primary Church calendar, however, shows Ordinary Time to occur between Epiphany Sunday (usually the first Sunday in January) until Ash Wednesday, and then from Pentecost Sunday (which was yesterday) up until Advent. Hence today beginning the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.
Lord our God, gather us together in one flock to praise you with one heart and one voice. Let this praise ring out on earth in the midst of all the evils that still confront us. We thank you for your protection, for all the help and deliverance you give us. We thank you for the hope you put into our hearts. We thank you for the hope that we may yet see great things done through the working of your Spirit, for us your children and for all peoples and nations. For your love will not rest until life on earth has come into your hands and all may rejoice. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! 
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. 
Your unfailing love will last forever. 
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
(Psalms 89:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the understanding that the purpose of my life is to love; to love my family, to love Jesus, to love the Church, and to love my neighbor as myself
2. that I don't have any "agenda" for my life, other than the above declaration;
3. that I am a child of God, but also that He has led me down a path of humility in that relationship, because, not only is He my Father, He is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe!
4. that I will be praising God for "ten thousand years and then forevermore" (Matt Redman)
5. that my joy is not dependent upon my happiness; I may not always smile, but there is always hope and celebration in my soul
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! 
Sing about the glory of his name! 
Tell the world how glorious he is. 
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! 
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
 Everything on earth will worship you; 
they will sing your praises, 
shouting your name in glorious songs.” 
Come and see what our God has done, 
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
(Psalms 66:1-5 NLT)
Come and listen, all you who fear God, 
and I will tell you what he did for me. 
For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. 
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, 
the Lord would not have listened. 
But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. 
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer 
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:16-20 NLT)

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “confident.” The quote used comes from Maya Angelou.

“Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”

Let me say, right off the bat, that I have no problem with the thought of confidence before God. I believe that Scripture teaches this.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

But there is a stark difference between confidence and arrogance. And we must not cross that line when we come before the Lord, in my opinion. I really don’t have a problem with Ms. Angelou’s quote, either, in the context of Hebrews 4:16.

I do, however, have a problem with where today’s reading takes the idea. The writer, Jeanette, applies this to a mindset of prayer, and relates a time when friends at a Bible study told her, “Hold up your head when you talk to God. You are His child. You have every right to come to Him and ask for what you need and want.” (I added the italics.)

This, in my opinion, crosses that line. Especially that bit about asking for what we want. I started to write that I don’t have a problem asking God for things that I want. But that’s not quite accurate. I’ll admit that I do struggle some with asking God for things that I want, but don’t necessarily need. I even struggle with praying for other peoples’ prayer requests when they ask me to pray for something that they want, but don’t necessarily need. It’s not my place to judge, for sure. And I will pray for what they ask me to pray for (unless it’s political . . . I won’t go there), but I will also let God know how I feel about that.

Haha. That last sentence is kind of ridiculous, you know? “I will also let God know how I feel about that.” As if He already doesn’t know that, right??

We say, sometimes, the most foolish things about God and our relationships with Him. He knows everything! He already knows how I feel about that prayer request.

So, do we have a “right” to ask God for anything we want?

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
(John 15:7 NLT)

Here’s the thing. I think there’s a catch there. It’s not a “blank check” as some folks want to believe. Yes, we may ask for anything we want. But I firmly believe that, if I am remaining (abiding) in Christ and His words are abiding in me, that will have a drastic effect on whatever I want! I won’t want the same things.

I can speak from experience on this. Not that I have perfectly nailed down this concept of abiding. Far from it. However, as I work toward that, and when I do abide in Christ and His words abide in me, I find that I cannot, in good conscience, ask for the same things that I would have asked for, earlier in my life.

I find myself praying that God would bless my “enemies” rather than curse them. I find myself praying more for things like unity in the Body of Christ, because that’s one of the more important things that I want when I am abiding in Him.

“Jeanette” naively compares us asking God for something to her own children asking her for stuff. She doesn’t want them to hang her head, but to ask confidently. I would like to see how faithful she is to that belief when her kids come to her in arrogance, asking for something that they want, that might harm them in some way.

Her prayer at the end says, “Dear Lord, help me remember that although You are God, You are also my Father.” I would turn that around. It’s true. He is both. But, lest we get too comfortable, we must also remember that our Father is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. A little humility is in order, I do believe.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Praise the LORD, who is my rock. 
He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. 
He is my loving ally and my fortress, 
my tower of safety, my rescuer. 
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. 
He makes the nations submit to me. 
O LORD, what are human beings that you should notice them, 
mere mortals that you should think about them?
 For they are like a breath of air; 
their days are like a passing shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NLT)

“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
(Job 42:3 NLT)

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. 
Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. 
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; 
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
(Psalms 39:4-5 NLT)

And look! What more reason for humility do we need than what we find in these Scriptures?? We are but a breath, in comparison with our eternal, infinite, majestic God! “My entire lifetime is just a moment to you!” How could I come before this God with any thought of arrogance, with any though of demanding something that I seem to think I have a right to???

This life is so very short. But eternity is long. And, as the following song says, we will have 10,000 years and then forevermore to sing His praises! Hallelujah.

To me, this is a very stirring moment, as I watch and listen to Matt unable to contain his emotions while singing this praise song.

The same mindset that would have us come before our Father in arrogance also brings us the idea that we should always be smiling. And I think the bottom line in all of this is that we must remember that there is nothing “fake” about being a Christian.

The idea of “fake it until you make it” has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. This life is real. There is nothing, in my opinion, more real than walking in Jesus Christ. He is Reality.

“It is a myth that the Christian always wears a smile. There is a stream of joy that runs through the Christian life and keeps surfacing in praise and glad service. There is a powerful note of celebration in the church’s life and the Christian’s witness. But that is not the kind of smile that maintains itself by ignoring or denying everything that is troubling or difficult.”

I used to work with someone who displayed what I call “toxic positivity.” She could not bear any negative thought whatsoever, about anything.

We do, as followers of Christ, face difficulties in this world. “We must wrestle with unanswerable questions. If we take seriously the commands of God and give ourselves seriously to the task of loving our neighbors and our enemies, we are going to find ourselves in conflict with others, even find ourselves looking silly and naive – a laughingstock, in short.”

We will feel, at times, that God is unfair. I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt that. And, even worse, there is the danger of beginning to think, “If only I were a better Christian, I wouldn’t feel this way. If I just had more faith, these blasphemous thoughts would never cross my mind. If only I could be well balanced and peaceful and accepting of God’s will in my life, like the really good Christians!”

But here’s the thing. As Christians, we are not people who never have doubts or feelings of despair. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you (and probably lying to themselves, as well). As Christians, we are people who believe in spite of those things! We obey God’s commands when we don’t feel like it, and we hope, even when it looks like there is no hope.

I certainly struggle with these things. I look around me, right now, and see very little hope for this nation. It is more divided than I have ever seen it, in my 64 years, and it is, quite frankly, so foolish that I can hardly stand it. The political division in the country right now is asinine. It makes no sense. But guess what? My hope is not in this country. My hope is not in a political party (either one, or any of the alternatives). My hope is not in a president, past, present, or future.

My hope is in Jesus. And when I look around and see no hope, I still have hope because of Him. It is because of Him that I can sing “10,000 Reasons.” It is because of Him that I can go before the God of the universe with humble confidence, and ask for whatever I want, knowing, or at least hoping, that “whatever I want” is also what He wants.

And what does He want? If you’ve read this blog at all, you already know what I’m going to say. He wants us to love Him with all our being, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love the saints in the same way that Jesus loves us.

“The picture we have of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shows him agonizing over the decision of the Cross. He struggled with his own feelings. He wrestled with the will of God and finally chose the will of God. And out of this struggle came something we call good news.”

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

Father, there may be too much stuff here, today. There is certainly a lot to pray about. I pray, Father, that people would not be subjected to false teachings. I know that Your Word says they will come. And come, they have, in droves. I won’t name names, but there are certain people that I truly believe are teaching serious error in Your kingdom. I pray for truth to be known. I also pray that we, Your children, would have the confidence to come before You boldly, but also have the sense to come before You in humility. Yes, You are our Father, and You love us. But You are also Almighty God, and have all the power.

I come before You as one who has surrendered any “rights” to anything that I might want. Therefore, when I read Jesus’s words about asking for whatever I want, I take that in context of abiding in Your Word and Your Word abiding in me. I do not have a right to anything I want, because I have surrendered those rights.

I thank You for whatever life I have on this earth. I am grateful for the number of years that I have had, so far, and will graciously accept whatever number of years You grant me, going forward. I pray that, through the rest of those years, I will heed Your Word and do what You have commanded us to do. I pray that I will always shove my opinions into the “back seat,” and simply do my job, which is to love You and love people. And I pray that this example will speak more loudly than ten thousand words.

I thank You for the hope of “ten thousand years and then forevermore.” That hope is what keeps me going, some days. And I look forward with great anticipation to that day when that multitude from every tribe, nation, language, and people will stand before You, arms lifted high, shouting and worshiping Your holiness and Your Name! You are worthy, O Lord, to receive power and glory and honor and blessing! Worthy Is the Lamb! Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!

All glory to You, Lord, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Grace and peace, friends.

Joy Still Comes In the Morning

Today is Saturday, the fourth of June, 2022, in the seventh week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,459

This is the last day of the season of Easter, as tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, and the beginning of Ordinary Time.

This has already gotten quite long, and I don’t want to make it longer with trivial matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for guiding us, your children, here on earth. We thank you that whatever happens to us, we can again and again find joy because you give us what is good even when times are evil and when we go through sorrow. We thank you that your goodness and your faithfulness penetrate everything, and that at last, at long last, they penetrate our hearts. Then we can know and be glad that your Spirit guides us. We can know we are never alone but can receive strength to help us in the struggle and toil of our life. Through your help everything becomes fruitful – good and evil, life and death, health and suffering. Everything must serve you through the working of your Spirit. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! 
His mercies never cease. 
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; 
therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for God's great faithfulness and mercy, in that He gives us what is good, even during sorrowful and evil times
2. that I'm still alive and breathing; praise the LORD!
3. that a joyful or cheerful heart, the center of my being, is good medicine for my body and my soul
4. for the joy and praise that can be found in a church that is truly walking in Christ
5. for times that force me into humility, because we could all use more humility

Today’s prayer word is “expect.”

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
(Psalms 5:3 NLT)

This verse has long been a favorite of mine, and it is something by which I try to live each day. But frequently, I forget to do that bit about waiting expectantly. Too often, I “bring my requests” and walk away in total oblivion.

I need to remember these words of David, each day. I need to remember to wait expectantly to see what God will do. Maybe there won’t be anything immediate. But let me tell you this. I would rather wait and see nothing than miss something by rushing away.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
(Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

I know full well the truth of this.

So confession time: yesterday evening, I didn’t do so well in remembering everything that I blogged about yesterday morning. After taking my mother to the bank to deposit her oil royalty checks (would you believe there was another one waiting in the mail when we got home?), I decided to get the bank’s app on my phone. Mama doesn’t have a smart phone, so I figured, if we get it on my phone, then we can do mobile deposit for those checks. Then we don’t have to visit the bank so often.

I got the app downloaded, no problem. The first time I tried to log in, it said that either the username or password was incorrect. I used the combination that I had logged into my “bitwarden” (an excellent password keeper app for the phone, by the way), so I tried again. Same result.

I started spiraling. My wife will tell you, right away, that I don’t do well when technology doesn’t work right.

So I got on my laptop and opened the browser to the bank’s website, where I saw right away that I had the user name wrong, by a number. So that was my fault. I fixed the user name in the bitwarden app, and logged in on the bank app. Naturally, the first thing that happens is that it wants a verification code in order to register and recognize this new device. I was expecting that.

So I had it send the code to Mama’s phone. She got it, I entered it in the app, and it immediately said that either the code was invalid or expired, or that the account had been disabled. We tried again, different code, same result.

I was livid. Seriously, I was freaking out. But there was phone number to call, in the text message, so I called it. I spoke with a very friendly lady who had me send another code to Mama’s phone, but she said she would give it to me on the phone, rather than getting it from the text. For some reason, it worked just fine, that time. We got the app open, and also enabled mobile deposit, so it’s ready the next time we want to deposit a check.

There was something else that happened, I think, a few minutes later. But the bottom line is that I completely reacted wrongly about all of this. I totally forgot my whole thing, from yesterday morning, about “first world problems.”

So, you see, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, sometimes. This journey, as long as we remain in Jesus’s “easy yoke,” is not terribly difficult. But as soon as we step out of that yoke and forget who we are and whose we are, things get really tricky. And, like yesterday evening, we wind up looking somewhat foolish.

But enough about the broken spirit. What about the joyful heart? Or, as the NLT says, “cheerful heart.” I just realized something. There’s a gift shop in Glen Rose that C and I used to frequent, called Cheerful Heart Gifts. And if you click on that link, you will see that they quote Proverbs 17:22 right on the front page.

The KJV translates the word as “merry.” The Hebrew word is śâmêach, which can also mean “blithe” or “gleeful.” And the word translated “heart” is lêb which can also mean the “center” of something. So, when we allow ourselves to maintain joy or cheerfulness at the center of our being, it brings healing to our bodies. It’s “good medicine.”

Reader’s Digest (is that even still a thing?) used to have a monthly column called “Laughter: The Best Medicine.” As a child, I eagerly awaited that feature every month. Most of the time, in fact, I would devour all of the jokes in the magazine, and, for the most part, ignore all of the “serious” stuff.

I have always loved to laugh. And I do believe in the truth of that statement that laughter is good, if not the best, medicine. And who doesn’t feel better by just smiling?

Solomon was probably the author of this proverb. And, for most of his life, he knew the joy of the Lord. But, later in life, Scriptures says that his heart turned away from God.

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
(1 Kings 11:9 NLT)

The writer of today’s Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, Carol Knapp, says this:

“For me, the biggest joy-stealer is this very thing – turning away from God or allowing something to interfere with my closeness to Him. Communion with God . . . is the source of gladness in my life. It yields the ‘good medicine’ of a joyful heart.”

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

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
(John 16:22 NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)

“Indeed, “joy still comes in the morning.”

It is very cool when there is a convergence of ideas from unrelated sources. The readings in Eugene Peterson’s On Living Well are not dated. The one I came to today is called “On Joy at Church.”

I wonder what God is trying to tell me, today?

“More praising goes on in church, more joy is expressed in the context of the Christian congregation, than anywhere else on the face of the earth.”

Where else do we spend our time, during the week? Grocery stores, department stores? These days, those are pretty grim places . . . not much joy there, as shelves continue to be sparse (at least for some products) and prices continue to rise. “People pushing their food baskets, anxiously comparing prices, complaints etched into their faces as they pay the clerks.” (This book, while published in 2021, is comprised of meditations that were written long before that year, as the author passed away in 2018, long before the pandemic hit us.)

We also spend a great deal of time on roads. Also not a very “happy” place. “Worried, compulsive people are behind the wheels of most of those cars.” Heaven forbid you should not react immediately when that light changes!

Even athletic events, places where we used to be more celebratory (at least if our team won) have become places of “complaining, arguing, and criticizing.”

As a place that contains a context for joy and praise, the church should be unequaled. It’s not perfect, for sure, and there are probably some local churches that resemble the grocery store or highway or athletic event more than they do a worship service. I’ve attended a few, in my life, that, sadly, had more arguing, complaining, and criticizing than they did worship.

But, in general, I would agree with Peterson, when he says, “I don’t find any other place in the world where there is such a consistent friendliness, such a steady joy, such a relaxed rejoicing in God’s love. There is more generosity when it comes to money in church than anywhere I know. Where else in this community can you find people giving their money away each week, then standing up and singing, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’?”

When is the last time you walked up to someone at the grocery store and said, “Say, you’re new here. I’d like to get to know you better!”?

As previously mentioned, there is no perfect church. We acknowledge this. Some are far less perfect than others. Taking all of this into consideration, though, there is no place on earth where such joy can be found. And that is one reason that I keep “going to church.”

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

Father, I praise Your name, this morning, because You have, while giving me a good dose of reality, increased my joy, still. What a joy it is to worship You, to praise You, to sit and meditate on Your Word, to know You more. I thank You for the ability to do this, for the time that I have to do these things.

I confess my shortcomings as I failed, miserably, yesterday evening, and I am grateful for the knowledge of it, and grateful that I am able to acknowledge it, as well. I pray that You keep working on me, in this regard, that I might always know Your joy, and that I would not allow “first world problems” to steal or diminish that joy. Things like that always have a fairly easy solution. And even when they don’t, they tend to eventually work out fine.

Help me to remember the truth that You work out all things for our good, and are constantly at work to make things better in Your Kingdom. And, we would do well to remember that, in Your Kingdom, things are already far better than we could ever imagine.

I thank You for joy, for a cheerful or merry heart. I thank You for the idea that my heart is the center of my being, and that, when my center is joyful, everything is better, and the “bad” things don’t seem to matter as much. I thank You for laughter, that brings healing to our weary bones and tired bodies. Help us all to smile more, complain less, argue less. And I thank You that, no matter how “bad” things might seem, “Joy still comes in the morning.” Your mercies are new, every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Keep our hearts focused on You; let not our hearts turn away from You, as Solomon’s. Help us to always look toward You and love You with all our being.

And I thank You for the Church, where we can and should be able to experience the most joy possible. While there is certainly joy to be had in the observance of a beautiful sunrise, there is still more joy to be found in the celebration of You, together with all the saints. All praise to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit. May we be able to gather with Your saints, somewhere, on each Lord’s Day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Speak. Listen. Understand.

Today is Wednesday, the first of June, 2022, in the seventh week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,456. Hah! I don’t imagine I will live long enough for that to happen again!! And, believe it or not, I did not see that coming.

C comes home today!! C comes home today!!! And we will do the dance of joy!

She is currently en route to the Chicago airport, to turn in her rental car and catch her flight home, which is due in at DFW at 3:28 PM. S and I will be there to joyfully pick her up.

I had a busy but good evening at the library, last night. There was plenty of work to do (and still was when I left). I shelved a full cart of DVDs and audio books, a few magazines, and some CDs, as well. And I had time to sort a full cart for the new book display, and then re-shelve a number of books that had been looked at, but not checked out.

The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays again, behind another stellar outing from pitcher Martin Perez. All of the runs in the game were scored in the bottom of the fourth inning, on two Rangers home runs. Perez only gave up three hits in seven innings, and the Rangers won 3-0. John King and Joe Barlow were perfect in relief, and Barlow is nine for nine in save attempts.

The Rangers are finally at .500, 24-24 for the season. They remain in third place in the AL West, seven games out of first and only two out in the Wild Card race. They play Tampa again, tonight, at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

The Red Sox lost to the Reds. Seriously. I mean, what gives, here??? 2-1. The Sox are now 23-27 for the season, somehow still in fourth place in the AL East, 11.5 games out of first and four out in the Wild Card race. They play the Reds again, today, at 7:10 EDT.

The Yankees (34-15) took back the best MLB record spot. And, after beating the Red Sox, the Reds are no longer at the bottom of the pile. That now belongs to the KC Royals, 16-32. The Reds are actually third from the bottom, now. The Blue Jays continue to hold the longest win streak, at six games, now. And the LA Angels (more dance of joy) continue losing, now having reached a six-game losing streak. The Dodgers now have a run differential of +116, almost 40 better than the next team (Yankees), and the Pirates now have a run differential of -81. That seems slightly improved. They are only eight runs worse than the Royals, who seem determined to have last place in all categories. The Rangers are now at +13 (woohoo!!!), and the Red Sox have drifted to +16.

The only thing on our agenda today is getting C home. Nothing else matters today. I’ll probably get a load of laundry folded, but it’s not urgent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, in your Word we trust, in your Word of eternal life, given us in Jesus Christ our Savior. We build on this Word of life in these days when it seems that everything is losing strength and value, and yet there is so much longing in people’s hearts. You will not let our hope be disappointed. What you have spoken must be fulfilled. What is promised in Jesus Christ must come into being, not only for a few but for the whole world, for which he died and was raised from the dead. Be with us. Keep us so fully alive that our lives reflect all the goodness we are allowed to experience and we overcome all the evil which tries to attack us. We thank you for calling us to life and for renewing us again and again. May your name be praised among us forever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
(John 6:33 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that true bread of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ
2. that God will not allow our hope to be disappointed; what He has spoken will be fulfilled
3. that God never changes; Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever
4. for the awesome ways that God loves us
5. for words and language, may we do better at using them

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! 
From the ends of the earth, 
I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. 
Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 
for you are my safe refuge, 
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 
Let me live forever in your sanctuary, 
safe beneath the shelter of your wings! 
For you have heard my vows, O God. 
You have given me an inheritance 
reserved for those who fear your name.
(Psalms 61:1-5 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “forever.”

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NLT)

Things change. People change. Places change. Change can be good; change can be bad. I’ve never liked change simply for the sake of change. For example, when the grocery store rearranges everything for no apparent reason.

I’ve changed. Physically, I’ve changed quite a bit over the years. I get heavier, I get lighter, then I get heavier again. I don’t have as much hair as I used to have, and it isn’t the vibrant auburn-red that it once was. Philosophically and politically, I have changed quite a bit, over the past few decades. Hopefully, I am leaning more toward Jesus, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. And I’ve changed theologically, multiple times in my life, as I reflect on God’s Word, what it says, and what it means.

But God doesn’t change. Jesus never changes. The Holy Trinity is constant. We can depend on God, especially when other people, places, and things disappoint us.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
(1 John 3:1 NLT)

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
(John 1:9-13 NLT)

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
(1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

Do you ever stop to consider what a miracle words and language is? The very fact that we have “capacity to speak words and make ourselves understood and capacity to listen to words and understand” each other is astonishing. I’ve seen the movie “Quest for Fire.” Nothing but grunts and moans and gestures. Who knows if that was really what it was like, but I still think language is a miracle.

The problem is that just because we can speak words and sentences doesn’t mean we will do it well. Or that we will speak truth. “We can, and do, speak nonsense. We can, and do, tell lies.”

Words delight us because “they bring us into understanding relations with the world and into intimate relations with people.” But words also dismay us, “even destroy us, as they misrepresent or falsify or manipulate.”

It is sad, tragic, to me, that sometimes “pastors” fall prey to the temptation to do the latter.

The church entrusts certain people to be preachers and teachers and sort of puts them “in charge of the words.” Not, of course, to the extent that the Catholic Church was in charge of them before Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation.

“Your task,” says the church to these people, “is to make sure we hear and listen to these words. If we forget or devalue these words, we are going to miss the point of everything. We are going to miss God. There is a lot going on. There are things to do and places to go and people to meet. There are babies to change and payrolls to meet, meals to prepare and cars to repair, wounds to heal and problems to solve. In the crises and the challenges, the noise and the frenzy of all this, we need someone who will faithfully and accurately say the Word, proclaim the Word, teach the Word – and stay with us as we listen and pray and believe it.”

May God have mercy on the “pastor” who strays from this path and begins teaching his own opinions as gospel.

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

Father, I am grateful that You are constant, that You never change or waver in Your ways. I praise You that You are always here, always challenging me to be better, and always drawing me back to the path when I stray from it. I praise You that You hear my cries and lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

I am also so very grateful for Your great love, love which is unimaginable, yet easy to know. Your great love for us is that which allows us, nay, calls us to be Your children, and then has procured for us a place in Your kingdom and an inheritance that can never diminish or be corrupted. What a great love!

And I thank You for words and language. Sometimes, I will speak a word and then speak it over and over, listening to it and thinking about what it means. Sometimes there are visual images that go along with those words, but sometimes there are not. When I say the word, love, though, I am filled with both visual and non-visual feelings. Some people say that “love’s not a feeling,” but I vehemently disagree. It is “more than a feeling,” yes. But it is definitely something that is felt. It becomes reality when actions accompany that feeling. Until we act upon it, it is nothing more than platitude.

And, Father, You acted on that love in the most supreme and magnificent way. You sacrificed Your Son to enable us to become Your children.

Help us to get our words better, Lord. The world is messed up, right now, especially parts of Your church in America, where “pastors” are preaching opinions, trying to manipulate people, and, in some cases, downright lying. I pray for Your intervention, that Your Church might be seen as whole and unified. I know in my heart that Your Church is alive and well, but it seems that we are having to look a little harder to see it in the midst of the mess. And maybe, just maybe, that’s Your Holy Spirit, doing some pruning. There seems to be a lot of pruning going on, right now.

But I cannot thank You enough . . . there aren’t enough words, as it turns out . . . for Your great love. And I pray for strength to continue walking that love and displaying that love to a hurting and suffering world.

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

How often do we miss the fainter note
Or fail to see the more exquisite hue,
Blind to the tiny streamlet at our feet,
Eyes fixed upon some other, further view.
What chimes of harmonies escape our ears,
How many rainbows must elude our sight,
We see a field but do not see the grass,
Each blade a miracle of shade and light.
How then to keep the greater end in eye
And watch the sunlight on the distant peak,
And yet not tread on any leaf of love,
Nor miss a word the eager children speak?
Ah, what demand upon the narrow heart,
To seek the whole, yet not ignore the part.
(Sonnet I, Philip Britts, 1947, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Little Is Much When God Is In It

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,442

I had a pretty average evening at the library, last night. I had plenty of work, and shelved a pretty full cart of youth books, along with a partial cart of DVDs. That kept me busy for a little over three hours, and then I did my walk through the library, picking up stray books and marking them “used” in our system. We do that simply to indicate that someone at least showed some interest in the item, even if they didn’t wind up checking it out.

The Texas Rangers surprised the Angels in an eighth inning similar to what the Boston Red Sox are kind of famous for. The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the first. But the Angels answered with three in the top of the third. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, right after I got home. It was tied until the top of the seventh when the Angels scored on a Mike Trout solo homer. But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rangers erupted for seven runs! They held on and wound up winning 10-5. Danny Santana got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 16-19 for the season, all alone in third place in the AL West. They are one game ahead of Seattle, two games ahead of Oakland, and seven games behind the first place Astros. The Rangers and Angels will play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, facing the fearsome Shohei Ohtani. Dane Dunning will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Red Sox lost to the aforementioned Astros, 13-4. Egad. They are 14-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of the Orioles. They have another game against the ‘stros, tonight at 6:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees still have the best MLB record, 27-9, and still have not lost that tenth game. The Cincinatti Reds still have the worst record, 10-26, but finally won their tenth game. They are only one game below the Washington Nationals, though. The longest win streak is now a tie between the LA Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, both with a four-game win streak. The Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the longest losing streak, both at five games. The Dodgers are back on top of the run differential chart, with +81. The Pittsburgh Pirates overtook the Reds for the worst differential, now with -72. The Rangers’ run differential, after last night, is down to -5.

I’m off work today, as this is my “light week.” I’m about to head to the store to grab a few things. The lawn guy is coming around noon, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Chicken for dinner tonight. I’ll be at work tomorrow, 11-8, so we will likely have some crock pot soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Father of us all, grant that we may know something of you in our hearts. Each one of us is different, with his own particular needs, but we are all your children and should all become children of your Spirit. Then even in the difficulties of life, in the many struggles, temptations, and sorrows, we can keep up our courage and remain in the Spirit, who is victorious in every aspect of life. Protect and strengthen us on all our ways. We praise you for all you have done and for all the help you have given us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:15b-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ
3. that all I really need to be willing to do is small acts of daily kindness
4. that all of our small acts of daily kindness can add up in the community of saints
5. for the priesthood of all believers
6. for the availability of God's Word in my language (something many of us take for granted)
Sing praises to God, sing praises; 
sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King over all the earth. 
Praise him with a psalm. 
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:6-8 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “morsel.”

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
(Proverbs 17:1 ESV)

I can attest to the truth of this Proverb. Not that I have ever been reduced to only being able to eat a “dry morsel.” But I have certainly feasted in a house full of strife, and the meal leaves much to be desired.

But, truthfully, that is not really the thrust of this word, today. The idea in today’s reading coincides with a song I have heard that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”

We all have this desire to do “big things” for God, right? I used to want to be a rock star, then I wanted to be a “Christian rock star.” I wanted to do great things for God. There is also a possibility that I really just wanted to be noticed and famous.

At this point in my life, having never been famous or a rock star, I simply want to be willing to do small things for God. “Little acts . . . in the Lord’s faith hands become precious morsels that go down sweet.” Simple acts of kindness are sometimes all that is needed in this world, today. Other people can handle the big stuff. I just want to be one who shows love and kindness in my own little corner of this world.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray that You would allow me to be a “precious morsel” in Your kingdom, showing small acts of kindness to people with whom I come in contact. Let me be willing to provide the simplest of acts, maybe nothing more than a friendly smile, a cup of water, or a generous tip to a server. You have given me this desire, so I pray for opportunities to live it out.

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

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.
(Romans 16:1-4 NLT)

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT)

What happens when you have a bunch of morsels all together? You get a meal! Even Paul, that “giant” of faith, didn’t do things by himself. His work could hardly be called a “morsel,” but he collaborated with others, and he always was sure to give them credit in his greetings.

What was the first thing in creation about which God said it was “not good?”

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 NLT)

As much as I enjoy being alone, we are not expected to be alone in our work for God. We need each other. We need community. There are some things that I can do alone, sure. Some of those “morsels” I mentioned above can be done by myself. But I could never have donated 1700 pairs of socks to a homeless ministry by myself.

Just something to ponder, this morning.

Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ; the ones I know personally, and gather with regularly, as well as all the ones that I have never met and will never meet until the day we all stand in glory together. Together, we can do great things. May we spread Your love, mercy, and grace around the world!

One of the beautiful things about this community of saints is this thing that we call “the priesthood of all believers.” I have heard that phrase for most of my life, having grown up Southern Baptist. One of the things that this means, and probably the most important in Baptist life, is that we don’t need a priest (as in Catholic) to read and interpret Scripture for us. This was one of the big tenets of the Reformation, because, before Martin Luther came on the scene, the average parishioner did not have their own copy of the Bible. And it wasn’t available in their language, anyway, as all the copies were in Latin. So only the priest could read it.

One thing this does not mean, however, is that everyone’s interpretation is valid. That would be pure chaos. We still need people who are educated in biblical history and context. But, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit. And it is my contention that no one can truly understand the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. And no one who is not in Christ has the Holy Spirit.

The other piece of the priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, in this community of saints, to be priests to one another, ‘with each of us mediating grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and with each of us capable of connecting with another in a way that brings God’s love home with personal force.” Eugene Peterson even goes so far as to word it “the leadership of all believers.”

“Leadership is that capacity everyone has for taking the first step, making it possible for others to follow–the capacity to connect with another so that others can get in on what we are in on. What we are ‘in on’ is Christ.”

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

My desire and hope in this is that I am taking those “first steps” by promoting the love of God through any forum I can access. If I can get just one or two people to follow in that, then maybe they can also be leaders in their own community, as well, and maybe we can have this “love revolution” that I’m praying for.

Father, I thank You for this idea of the priesthood of all believers. I thank You that, first of all, I have the access to read and understand Scripture in my own language. I also thank You that, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to be priests and leaders to one another, showing Your love, mercy, and grace to not only all other believers, but the rest of the world, as well. I pray that there would be more of a spirit of unity in Your Church, and that we would focus on the things that really matter, like walking in Your kingdom, and displaying the love of Christ in our world.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Abide

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Today is Monday, the sixteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,440

C is home today, as she hasn’t been feeling well for a couple days. In fact, she is currently at Care Now, getting checked out. We believe it is nothing more than the usual sinu-bronchitis that rolls through every year. No fever, so far, just sinus pressure and chest congestion.

I’m taking Mama to a podiatrist, this morning, to deal with an ingrown toenail that flared up late last week. Otherwise, things are pretty good around here.

As noted below, I visited Living Word Lutheran Church, yesterday morning, and had a wonderful time of worship and communion with them.

The Texas Rangers won the last game of the series with the Red Sox, 7-1, behind the solid pitching of Martin Perez, who is now 2-2 for the season. He gave up one run in the top of the fifth, and the Rangers answered with a Cole Calhoun solo homer in the bottom. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the score was still tied 1-1. The Rangers had two men on base when I said to my mother, “They need to get a run, here, so Perez can get a win.” El Bombe must have heard me, because he promptly hit a three-run homer, to put them ahead 4-1. Cole Calhoun, not to be outdone, followed up with another solo shot, to make it 5-1. Later in the game Garcia (the aforementioned “El Bombe”) hit another homer, this one for two runs. So all seven Rangers runs were the result of four home runs by two batters. Quite a day for Calhoun and Garcia. And Perez, who I believe I heard the announcers say has a 0.86 ERA over his last few starts. That’s pretty amazing.

The Rangers are now 14-19 for the season, back in fourth place, one game ahead of the Athletics. Their next game is today, as LA Angels roll into town for a series. Gametime is 7:05 CDT.

That loss put the Sox at 13-21 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. Their next game is tonight, against the Astros, who have been winning a lot, lately. Gametime is 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Yankees (25-9) continue to dominate MLB, still having lost only nine games. The Cincinnati Reds (9-26) still haven’t won ten games, and to add insult to injury, pitched a combined no-hitter against the Pirates, yesterday . . . and lost 1-0. The struggling Detroit Tigers have the longest current win streak, at three games, and Baltimore has the longest current losing streak, also three games. The Dodgers still have the largest positive run differential, at +70, but are only one run ahead of the Yankees, who have +69. The Reds have a run differential of -65.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we thank you that you have revealed life in Jesus Christ. Grant that we may enter this life through the grace you have given us to recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord, to believe in him, and to hope for all the good still to come as the fruit of his suffering and resurrection. May the glory of the Living One be revealed to the dead throughout the whole world so that even the dead and the unbelieving may be awakened and see his life. Keep us true to what you have given us. Strengthen our faith and endurance in all our trials. Let your name soon be honored among all people so that hatred may cease and the coming of your great day may be foretold in changed hearts and changed thoughts. Protect us this night. Bless us and help us again and again as you have promised. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
(John 17:3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that through Jesus, we know the way to eternal life
2. that there is hope for all good things still to come as the fruit of Jesus's suffering and resurrection
3. that I am able to abide with Jesus, and He with me, and that, no matter what circumstances may befall me, I have the confidence that God is with me
4. for the call to humility, and the command to slander no one and avoid quarreling (Titus 3:2); Father please help me in this
5. that words like "abide" and "humility" are realities in which we are to walk, not just vague concepts to ponder

Today’s prayer word is “abide.” I love this word, and perhaps I can explain why.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
(John 15:1-8 ESV)

The reading only featured part of verse 4, but I felt the need to post eight verses, for context.

What does it mean to “abide?” The Greek word in this verse is menō, which means “to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” In fact, the NLT uses the word “remain,” rather than “abide,” which is also true of the NIV. However, I really like the way Peterson puts it in The Message.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
(John 15:4 MSG)

So, to abide with Jesus, and to have Him abide with me, means that I dwell with Him, in Him, set up house in Him.

In 1847, Henry Lyte wrote a hymn, known as “Abide With Me.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Such comforting words for all possible circumstances, up to, and including, our eventual passing from this life. “Help of the helpless;” “O Thou who changest not;” “I triumph still if Thou abide with me;” and “In life, in death.”

Here is a beautiful arrangement of that hymn, one of my favorites, by Salt of the Sound.

Oh, my Father, You are, indeed, the “help of the helpless,” for that is truly what we are, in most cases. We think ourselves so strong, sometimes, and so “on top of things,” when in reality, we are largely clueless. But You, God! You have all things in Your hands and all things under Your control, no matter how chaotic things appear on the surface. Things seem to be “progressing” exactly how You said they would, and why would we be surprised about that? The sad thing is, there are different groups of people who will think different things when they read what I just typed. No matter. You know what is in my head and my heart, and You know that I am trying my best to promote love in this world.

So, I pray, along with my musical friends and Henry Lyte, “abide me!” I do need Your presence, “every passing hour!” Sometimes I am aware of Your presence, sometimes I am not. Life is much more sweet when I am aware of it, but I know that You are there, all the time. I believe that You are abiding with me, and I pray that You help me to also be always abiding in You, as well.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
(James 4:10 NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
(Psalms 95:6 NLT)

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NLT)

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”
(Romans 14:11 NLT)

I visited a Lutheran church, yesterday morning. Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine, TX. My good friend and former pastor has been attending there since the Christmas season, last year. He was also there, yesterday, so I sat with him. There were two significant things that happened. The first was when one pastor led the prayer of confession at the beginning. Here are the words that she read, at one point: “By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At that moment, not only did I get serious chill bumps, but I also wept a little bit.

But the other thing is more in line with the Scriptures I have shared above. When this (and I’m sure others as well) church observes Communion, which has, in recent years, become the central piece of the worship experience for me, the people go up to the altar and kneel to receive it. The pastors come around on the inside of the circle and hand out the bread and the wine. It is a tremendous experience for me. The first time I visited there, I was weeping as the pastor handed me the wafer.

It takes humility to kneel. We don’t like that, in general, especially in Western culture. But Jesus commands it. God desires it. All throughout Scripture we are commanded to humble ourselves, worship, and bow down.

Father, I pray for more humility in my life. Once again, I realize what a dangerous prayer this is, but only dangerous to my pride. I recognize the facts; I am nothing without You. I believe in the words of John the Baptizer when he said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” This should be the “mantra” for every single Christian on the face of the earth. It should be the chant of the saints everywhere. “He must increase; I must decrease.” As we abide more and more in You, in Christ, we know this truth, we are humbled.

Father, I also pray that we understand that words like “abide” and “humility” are not just words, but realities in which we are to live. The same is true for words like “love,” and “sin,” and even words like “Jesus,” and “Holy Spirit,” and “grace.” Too often, Lord, these become nothing more than words or hazy, vague concepts in which we claim to believe. But when we see these as realities in life, things become much more concrete. Jesus is real; He walks beside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, every day. As St. Patrick prayed, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise . . .” This is reality, Lord! it is reality that I need to dwell, to abide, to remain in You and You in me. This is something that I desperately need to know, deeply within my soul.

So, today, Lord, help me to abide in You; help me to have humility, as I abide; humility that, when I see someone post something on social media that I don’t agree with, to simply pray and move on. Humility that gives me the capacity to not speak evil of anyone, no matter what they say the believe. And, above all else, the humility to truly love my neighbor as myself and love the community of saints in the way that Jesus loved us. Reality, Father.

(Above prayer inspired by words from On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.