Fixers

The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.”

Good morning. Today is Monday, the seventeenth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,321

Six days until Hamilton!

We had a nice gathering, yesterday, for our house church. There were six of us in person, and two on Zoom. We only managed to get through one Psalm (52), but had some good discussion, and great fellowship. I really feel that we are closer to what the first century church did at their gatherings, anyway. We talk about our lives, read some Scripture, and pray together. Occasionally, we also break bread together. One thing I’m missing, though . . . we haven’t taken the supper in a while. I need to bring that up.

C is working from home, this week. She still doesn’t feel great, but feels better than yesterday. We feel like that terrible wind on Saturday blew in some junk or stirred it up in the air. Not even a hint of fever, for any of us, though. I’m sneezing and sniffling a bit, this morning, but have felt pretty much fine for a few days.

There is nothing much on today’s agenda. Tomorrow, I have an appointment to pick up my new CPAP machine, at 11:00 AM. Once I get that and get it set up, I may be looking at changing doctors. C’s doctor has moved from the clinic he was at, along with a couple other associates. I may be switching over to them. I haven’t decided, yet. It’s a lot easier for me to find time to visit a doctor’s office, these days, so they don’t have to be real close. Their new office is on South Main in Fort Worth, close to the “hospital district,” about twelve miles from my house. That’s not too bad, and is about fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the time of day.

All the wrong teams won, yesterday. The Buccaneers blew out the Eagles, the 49ers beat the ‘boys, and the Chiefs beat the Steelers. I’ll probably be rooting for the Bills from this point on. It feels like rooting for the end of the world, though, so I don’t know. The Cardinals and Rams play tonight, and I literally could not possibly care less who wins that game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 
And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins." 
(Mark 2:18-22 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are being criticized for not doing “religious things,” such as fasting. They are being compared to two different groups, neither of which had much in common. It is worth noting that Jesus, in His response, refers to Himself as “the bridegroom,” and seems to indicate that his “taking away” will be of a violent nature.

As I read this, I consider the idea of “religious things,” and how I feel about them. There is certainly nothing wrong with ritual. I’m somewhat a fan of it, actually. I am drawn toward church settings that employ ritual and liturgy, even though the current setting that I attend does not. I have not, however, ever been able to get a firm grip on the ritual of fasting. I have fasted before, but not on a regular basis.

But when ritualistic things are done “religiously,” without focus on the object (i.e., the “bridegroom”), they are meaningless. Ritual for the sake of ritual is worthless.

I will confess that I have never quite understood the examples of the cloth and the wineskins. I get the technical descriptions and understand the truth that, if you patch and old garment with a piece of new material, and then wash it, the new material will shrink, and destroy the work that was done. And I understand that fermenting wine swells, which would burst a wineskin that had already been stretched out.

What I’m not sure of is how this applies to people and their relationship to Jesus and the Father. I’m looking at some commentary at the moment, in particular by Alexander MacLaren, and it says that, “The attempt was made to keep Christianity within the limits of Judaism; it failed, but not before much harm had been done to Christianity. Over and over again the effort has been made in the Church, and it has always ended disastrously,-and it always will.” This makes sense, and I can see, as the New Testament progresses, that similar disagreements arose, especially concerning things like circumcision.

I would welcome any other thoughts or suggestions regarding this. And as we, as the opening song suggests, turn our eyes upon Jesus, may the things of the earth truly grow strangely dim.

(From Pray As You Go)


I find it interesting that, in Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson takes four chapters to go through the book of Job. Today, I’m in the third of the four, which deals with Job’s “friends” who come try to “fix” him, during his suffering.

And who among us has not experienced something similar to Job? The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.” I actually love that last sentence!

And, you might notice, these people are usually full of “advice” from God’s Word! They tend to play “fast and loose” with biblical quotations. The question is, though, “Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they’ve said their piece?”

Many of the things that Job’s “friends” said were “technically true.” But it is that “technical” part that spoils them. “They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy. The answers are slapped onto Job’s ravaged life like labels on a specimen bottle.” And here is how Job defended himself:

Then Job defended himself:
 "I've had all I can take of your talk. 
What a bunch of miserable comforters! 
Is there no end to your windbag speeches? 
What's your problem that you go on and on like this?
 If you were in my shoes, I could talk just like you. 
I could put together a terrific harangue and really let you have it. 
But I'd never do that. 
I'd console and comfort, make things better, not worse!
(Job 16:1-5 MSG)

“The book of Job does not reject answers as such. There is content to biblical religion. It is the secularization of answers that is rejected – answers severed from their Source, the living God, the Word that both batters us and heals us. We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.”


And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, 
holding everything in common. 
They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
(Acts 2:44-45 MSG)
"Let me give you a new command: 
Love one another. 
In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other."
(John 13:34-35 MSG)
And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives 
and splashes over on everyone around you, 
just as it does from us to you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 MSG)

Father, as I turn my eyes toward Jesus, this morning, I pray that my focus may stay sharp. By this point in my life, I am surely an “old wineskin,” but have I been fully stretched to my maximum capacity? I think not. I believe there is still room for me to be stretched, and You continue to do so, as each year goes by. I pray to You, constantly, that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. And just when I think I’ve got Your way figured out, You take me a little deeper and show me something that, while it may not be “new,” it is new to me. I pray that I will continue to be receptive to that wisdom and knowledge, as it comes.

I also pray that I would never fall prey to the temptation to be like Job’s friends. We all think we’ve got all the answers, and it is very easy to sit around and instruct someone who is suffering, to tell them why they’re suffering, and what they did wrong to get there. When, truthfully, we have no idea whatsoever. I pray that, when I encounter suffering in others, I would have the wisdom to know what to say and how to say it. I also pray that I might have the wisdom to not “say” at all, but to merely sit and listen, or simply be with the person, sitting in silent support. May we not be guilty of citing chapter and verse without having Your mind and heart on the matter.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Father, I pray for continued work in the area of racial reconciliation. We seem to have moved tremendously backward in recent years, and, sadly, driven largely by people claiming to be followers of Christ! May it never be, Lord! Help us, Your people, to be compassionate people who fight for the equality of all men, especially considering how we have been graciously given the salvation that began with Israel! Were it not for Your compassion and Your equal treatment of all people, we “Gentiles” would be permanently lost! Oh, how we seem to have forgotten this. God have mercy on us and help us!

Finally, in the spirit of yesterday’s readings, I invited Jesus to intervene and intercede in our world today. Jesus, please bring forth healing. We beg You to eradicate this plague from our world, and I pray that Your people would demonstrate more willingness to stop thinking selfishly and make sacrifices for the greater good.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Today I am grateful:

1. for the salvation that has been granted us and made available to people from every race, tribe, tongue, and nation
2. for people who know the mind and heart of God and can truly be helpful and compassionate to those who are suffering, without trying to "fix" them
3. for a mind and heart that desires to see equal rights and treatment for all people
4. that God continues to stretch me with new understanding of biblical concepts
5. for the mind and heart to be more devoted to God than to religious things

And now to him who can keep you on your feet, 
standing tall in his bright presence, 
fresh and celebrating— 
to our one God, 
our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master,
 be glory, 
majesty, 
strength, 
and rule before all time, and now,
 and to the end of all time. 
YES. 
(Jude 1:24-25 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Inviting the Lord

Today is Sunday, the sixteenth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,320

Seven days until Hamilton!

As threatened predicted, it was 27 degrees when I got up, this morning. It is already up to 30, by this writing time, and supposed to get up to 56, later this afternoon. All of that wind, yesterday, must have stirred up some serious stuff in the air, though. I’m feeling better this morning than I did last night, but C has some coughing going on. No fever, not even close, for either one of us. My eyes were itching like mad, yesterday evening, but they are better, this morning.

I’ll be going to the house church gathering, this morning, but C will stay home and probably get on Zoom. I don’t have a lot of time, though, so this may actually not get finished until this afternoon.

The football playoffs have begun. Yesterday, the Bengals beat the Raiders, and the Bills beat the Patriots. The first one, I had no opinion about, whatsoever. The second one, though, I’m glad the Bills won. I have at least one friend who is predicting that they win the Super Bowl. I’m thinking that can’t happen, though. The Bills, like the Vikings, don’t win Super Bowls. If they do, the end might be near.

Today, I’m cheering for the Cowboys (yes, the Cowboys) and the Steelers. As for the Eagles and Buccaneers, can I root for a tie? Or for both of them to lose? I can’t bring myself to cheer for either team. I also have no opinion concerning tomorrow night’s game between the Cardinals and Rams.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Trust in Him and do not fear.
The peace of God will protect your hearts. Alleluia.”

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 
And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." 
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 
And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it. 
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 
and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." 
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 
(John 2:1-11 ESV)

Notice the setting of this, the first recorded miracle that Jesus did. It is a wedding, a celebration. It is a social event, “the coming together of family and friends.” Who among us has not been involved in a setting such as this? It is, in fact, somewhat ordinary.

Notice the invitation. Amusingly, it may seem like more than in “invitation.” Mary seems to be almost demanding that Jesus intervene in the situation. The question is, how often do we feel this need in our world? How often do we actually invited our savior to intercede “into even the simple needs of the day?”

I find this to be an excellent question to ponder. Sure, we pray. We ask the Lord for big things, to heal people from pancreatic cancer or leukemia or Covid-19. I will say that I frequently give thanks to the Lord when I make it through a “stale” green light at an intersection. But how often do we ask for the help of our Lord for simple things, the basic needs of the day? Or, as in the case of this wedding, an even seemingly frivolous thing. They were running out of wine. The only consequence this could possibly have is that the party might be less than stellar!

Here’s another good question to ponder. “Do you take time to acknowledge the Lord’s generosity when you experience it?” As stated above, I do, sometimes give thanks for seemingly insignificant things. But I’m not terribly consistent about that. Yes, I have a gratitude list every day. But it often focuses on “big” things, “religious” things, like salvation, grace, mercy, and so on. The unfailing, steadfast love of the Lord. You know . . . things like that. Occasionally, you will see me be thankful for things like coffee and grapes.

How often do we acknowledge the basic generosity of the Lord in our lives? The Bible says that He is good to all and that He even makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)

There may be a temptation to say, “Well, that was Mary, His mother, who asked that. Of course He is going to do that for her!” My response to that is to say that I am His brother. I am an adopted brother of Jesus Christ, a sibling of the Son of God. And, He loved me enough to die for me. Why, then, would He not answer my invitation to intercede in my life and in my world?

It is always good to remember, though, that little line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

(From Pray As You Go)


Still, I know that God lives—
the One who gives me back my life— 
and eventually he'll take his stand on earth. 
And I'll see him—even though I get skinned alive!— 
see God myself, with my very own eyes. 
Oh, how I long for that day! 
(Job 19:25-27 MSG)

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 18:19 NIV)

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. 
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. 
But how can one keep warm alone? 
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 1:14 NIV)


Today I am grateful:

1. the calming effect of the purring cat who is sitting in front of me
2. my coffee
3. for modern technology that allows us to communicate and minister to one another over long distances, virtually instantly
4. for the love and care of the community of saints
5. that I have the ability to invite Jesus into any situation in my life

Father, I am so grateful for the things listed, above. I am especially grateful, this morning, for the thought that I can invited Jesus to intercede in the simplest areas of my life. If I see a need in this world, all I need do is ask Jesus to intervene. And, if it lines up with Your will, something will happen. That’s where my faith needs to line up. That’s where my confidence needs to rest.

The world is full of questions, right now, about where You are, if You exist, and why there is so much evil in the world. I don’t need to focus on those questions, because I don’t have the right answers, or at least not answers that would satisfy the people asking the questions. I need to focus on loving You, loving my neighbor as myself, and loving the saints as You have loved us. Thank You for all of Your gifts and blessings. Thank You for stretching us when we need stretching. I do believe; help my unbelief. All glory to You, through the son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

“You Go and Do Likewise”

Today is Tuesday, the eleventh of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,315

Twelve days until Hamilton.

I must confess that I am not confident that the Hamilton show will go on as scheduled. I have no communication, thus far, from Bass Performance Hall. However, I have seen that dates in Houston, the week before our run begins, have been postponed due to outbreaks in the touring company. I have to assume that it is the same group that would be performing in Fort Worth, beginning on the nineteenth. Whatever will be, will be, though, and I shan’t worry about it.

C is working from home, today, which is always nice. It is a normal Tuesday for me, and I will be heading in to the library at 4:15, to work until the library closes at 8:00. Then I am off until Friday.

We had to buy a new electric can opener, which was already delivered, this morning. That may not seem like such a big deal, but the can opener we are replacing came with the house. It’s a Black and Decker under-the-cabinet space-saver can opener that is almost twenty-three years old. A piece broke off a couple weeks ago, and it will no longer hold cans up, and keeps dropping them. Plus the handle won’t stay engaged, so it becomes harder and harder to open a can. We did not get another similar opener, as B&D seem to be the only company that makes those, and they are almost $400, which is ridiculous! We got a counter-top Cuisinart for less than $50, which, in my opinion, is still quite a bit to pay for a can opener. But it is stainless steel, and has a nice, wide, heavy base. It looks nice.

So, now, the microwave that is installed over the stove is the only original appliance left in the house. The stove and dishwasher have both been replaced, and the refrigerator has been replaced twice. The hot water heater was replaced last year, and the garage door opener was also replaced last year. The heating unit is still original equipment . . . I don’t really consider that an “appliance,” but maybe it is. But the A/C is not original, and the blower in the attic was replaced a number of years ago.

Nothing really on my schedule for today, so who knows what I’ll get done? I need to get someone to come look at our dripping shower faucet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 
'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 
The second is this: 
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 
There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mark 12:29-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our cats
2. for oceans and forests
3. for the parable of the Good Samaritan
4. that Jesus Christ emptied Himself for us
5. for the awe I feel in the presence of the holiness of God; may that holiness permeate my being, today

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 
He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 
And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 
And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." 
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 
He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." 
(Luke 10:25-37 ESV)

This passage was in my daily reading in the plan that I’m currently following in the YouVersion Bible app. Several things truck me, this morning, as I was listening to it.

The first thing is Jesus’s response to the lawyer’s answer to His question. The lawyer, of course, responded with words primarily from Deuteronomy 6:4-6, which is known as the “Shema.” The part about loving your neighbor as yourself is found in Leviticus.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 ESV)

First, Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered correctly. It’s what He said next that I really haven’t paid close attention to, before today.

” . . . do this, and you will live.” 

Wait.

WHAT??

What was the original question?

“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So, Jesus’s answer to the question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life,” is, essentially, “love God and love people.” As you can see, I’ve paraphrased that.

Jesus didn’t say anything at all about trusting Him for forgiveness of sin, repentance, praying the “sinner’s prayer” (which isn’t anywhere in the Bible, anyway), or any of the stuff that a modern-day evangelical would tell someone if they asked that same question!

Don’t worry. I’m not going down a path of “works salvation,” here. But I do need to spend some time processing what Jesus told this guy. Unfortunately for the lawyer, he couldn’t leave well-enough alone, and had to ask that next question, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke indicates that the lawyer was trying to justify himself by asking that.

So then Jesus proceeds to tell the famous “Good Samaritan” parable. Now . . . we don’t really know much about the man who was attacked by robbers, just that he was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. I suppose it is safe to assume (is it ever safe to assume?) that he was Jewish, a Hebrew. We all know what happens next. A priest and a Levite, two examples of people who should be the most devoutly religious sort of folk, avoid the injured man, no doubt with some kind of religious reason, perhaps even following “The Law” in doing so.

Then the Samaritan shows up. Samaritans were half-breeds. They were absolutely hated by the Jews. So this guy comes along and gives aid to someone whom he knew would, if they simply met on the street, absolutely loathe him. That would be something like an illegal immigrant giving assistance to a KKK member.

Then Jesus asks the lawyer which one proved to be a “neighbor” to the robbed man. Of course, the lawyer says, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus’s response speaks loudly to all of us.

“You go, and do likewise.”

It’s important to maintain the proper perspective, here. The person who showed mercy did not show mercy to someone whom he hated (at least we are not told that). He showed mercy to someone whom he knew would hate him!

A few chapters earlier, Dr. Luke records Jesus saying this:

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, 
and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
(Luke 6:27-31 ESV)

Of course, we all know verse 31 as “The Golden Rule.” And it is this kind of radical behavior that sets true Christians apart from the rest of the world. It also sets “true Christians” apart from all the pretend “Christians.”

Essentially, what I see here is this. If I am one who is inheriting eternal life, I will obey these things. I will love God with all of my being, and I will love my neighbor as myself. I will love my enemy. I will render assistance to someone who is in need, even if I know that they hate me.

And I truly believe that I am told that I should not fight back. To me, that is what “turning the other cheek” means. And look . . . we are even allowed some naturally human selfishness through all of this. Jesus actually gives us an out at the end of this. Even if the motivation is that I want to be treated this way, myself, it’s okay! It is fine for me to treat others the way that I want to be treated. That is commendable.

I can only assume that there are a lot of people out there, pretending to be Christians, who really want to be treated with bigotry and hatred, since that’s how they are treating anyone who is not like them.


Father, I pray for more of this in my own spirit, today. I have seen something new in Your Word today. Of course, it is not “new.” It has always been there. But today, for whatever reason, You chose to have Your Spirit reveal this to me in a fresh way. And You have be drawing me, more and more, into this kind of attitude and behavior, for many years, now. Keep drawing me; closer and closer to You, and deeper and deeper into this kind of mindset. I want to be part of a Love Revolution. I want to be able to love You fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to love my neighbor as myself, including anyone who might despise me or abuse me. I want to love my brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that Christ has loved us. Make me able to do these things, please. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

And I pray, Father, for You to rescue Your Church. Or maybe the real Church is not in any danger. Maybe You are pruning. Help us to stay faithful and strong, as I can see times of persecution around the corner. But the “church” as an institution is faltering. Help us to be more faithful to follow Jesus and obey His teachings, rather than follow the prejudices of bigoted leaders.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

God is serious business, take him seriously; he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving.
(1 Chronicles 16:30 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Better Country

Good morning. Today is Monday, the tenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your spirit.

Day 23,314

Thirteen days until Hamilton! So far, it is still on.

So it’s back to a more “normal” week for me, this week. I only work two days at the library, this week, tomorrow evening, and all day Friday. Unless, of course, I get “summoned” to work an extra shift, like last week. At this point, I don’t really have any major plans. There are household chores to do, which I usually try to get done on Mondays. For example, I am currently vacuuming the floors while I type this, thanks to the new robot vacuum we got for Christmas. That saves me some time, but it also cuts out some steps that I usually get on Mondays. So there’s definitely a tradeoff, there.

I need to leave the house for a few minutes, later, as I have a couple of packages to pick up at a nearby Amazon Hub locker. I also want to get some more reading accomplished. So far, I’ve already finished three books, this year! In the interest of full disclosure, however, two of those were started last year.

We had a good time at our church gathering, yesterday. There were only four of us at the house, but there were three more on Zoom. We had some good discussion that started on Psalm 51, but kind of went all over the place. I think we plan on starting to look at either First and Second Samuel, or the life of David, soon, to go along with our readings in Psalms.

We had a good lunch from Applebee’s, after which C went up to CVS to pick up some scripts for S, and I called Mama. We had a nice conversation, in which I talked more about football than I have the whole last year. Haha. The Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs again, with one of the best seasons they have had in quite some time. But the interesting thing about yesterday is how many of the playoff spots were still up in the air for the last week of regular season play. I may or may not watch any playoff games. I’m not much of a football fan, and haven’t really rooted for the Cowboys since Jerry Jones hired Barry Switzer as the head coach.

And with that, I think I have written more about football than I did all last year.

We lost two more celebrities, yesterday, one of which was a big shocker. Bob Saget, most famous for Full House, was found dead in a Florida hotel room. He was only 65 years old. At this point, no cause of death has been announced. Not too long after we learned of that, it was announced that the actor who played Dobie Gillis, Dwayne Hickman, had also passed away. He was 87. This is starting to look like 2016, which I unaffectionately refer to as The Great Celebrity Massacre of 2016. As we know, the 2022 list actually started on 12/31/21 with Betty White.

I guess I should get into the devotional for the day, as it is after 9:30 already.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Enough, by Daryl Madden

In this lonely world
Life can be so tough
Sharing of Your love
Am I good enough?

Life can be exhausting
Each day the road is rough
In helping all the broken
Do I do enough?

Trying to be holy
Sometimes I have to bluff
In living out my faith
Do I believe enough?

I say I don’t ask these
But that is just fluff
But when I do
Say, enough is enough

Asking the wrong questions
Dealing with this stuff
For all I need to know
That Jesus is enough

I love this, because I believe that we do, indeed, spend too much time worrying about whether we are “enough,” or if we are doing “enough.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Do what GOD tells you. 
Walk in the paths he shows you: 
Follow the life-map absolutely, 
keep an eye out for the signposts, 
his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; 
then you'll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.
(1 Kings 2:3 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God is sovereign; even when it doesn't look like it, even when everything seems to be "off the rails," God is sovereign and ruling
2. for the gospel proclamation that the Kingdom of God is here, now
3. for the promise of a "better country," a heavenly country
4. for my partner in life
5. for my church family, who also serve to help strengthen me, as we bear one another's burdens

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; 
repent and believe in the gospel."
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 
(Mark 1:14-20 ESV)

It is believed by many (and I tend to be one of them) that the entire Gospel of Jesus is presented in that one sentence in verse 15. The time has come, the opportunity is here. The rule or reign of God is near, at hand. Jesus commands us to think differently and put our trust in this good news.

The kingdom is here, it is now. It has been here ever since Jesus set foot on the earth. It is not something that we are waiting for, when we die. We are walking in it now.

It is also worth taking note of who Jesus went to first. He did not come on the scene and immediately seek out the “preachers,” the “religious” people. He went to the everyday workers, the fishermen. Truthfully, I have been a part of both scenarios. I spent a large part of my life being “religious.” The older I get, the less “religious” I am. I’m trying to be more ordinary. There is value in the ordinary, the daily work of the ordinary people. This is where the true work of the Kingdom takes place.

The question is asked, as I listen to today’s Pray As You Go presentation, “What would be your response to the Lord’s call, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people”?

I would love to think that I would have followed Him, just as Simon and Andrew did. We are told that they left their boats and equipment immediately and began following Jesus. But, truthfully, I cannot really answer that question. What is worth pondering, this morning, though, is, is there something that I need to abandon immediately in order to follow Him more fully?


Today, in Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, I get to the reading that encompasses First and Second Kings. The main thrust of this reading is the sovereignty of God. This is one of the major truths of everything we read in the Bible.

God is Sovereign.

He rules. “Not only in our personal affairs but in the cosmos. Not only in our times and places of worship but in office buildings, political affairs, factories, universities, hospitals–yes, even behind the scenes in saloons and rock concerts.”

Sure. It doesn’t always look like it. “Most of us are knocked around much of the time by forces and wills that give no hint of God.” But remember the title that is given to Jesus: King.

How do we manage to live in this, “in a world that is mostly either ignorant or defiant of it?” We allow our minds and imaginations and behaviors to be shaped “by the reality of God rather than by what is handed out in school curricula and media reporting.” And Peterson believes the books of Kings to be invaluable resources in this realm.

In the story, which begins, actually, in the Samuels, we know that the people having kings was not God’s idea, but theirs. “Since they insisted, he let them have their way.” However, in that allowance, He did not abdicate His sovereignty. In fact, He was not even delegating sovereignty to those kings. They were supposed to represent His sovereignty.

As we know, this did not ever work very well. But what we do see is that, “in the midst of the incredible mess these kings are making of God’s purposes, God continues to work his purposes and uses them in the work–doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them. They are part of his sovereign rule, whether they want to be or not, whether they know it or not.”

Hezekiah at least had an idea of this.

And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed! 
GOD, God of Israel, seated 
in majesty on the cherubim-throne. 
You are the one and only God, 
sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, 
Maker of heaven, 
maker of earth. 
Open your ears, GOD, and listen, 
open your eyes and look. 
Make all the kingdoms on earth know 
that you are GOD, the one and only God. 
(2 Kings 19:15-16, 19 MSG)

Speaking to the Assyrians through His prophets, God says this:

Did it never occur to you that I’m behind all this? Long, long ago I drew up the plans, and now I’ve gone into action, Using you as a doomsday weapon, reducing proud cities to piles of rubble, . . .
(2 Kings 19:25 MSG)

“The books of Kings provide a premier witness to the sovereignty of God carried out among some of the most unlikely and uncooperative people who have ever lived.”

I love that quote! Because it directly lines up with who we are, as well. We are pretty unlikely and mostly uncooperative people, I think.

These are the words that David spoke to Solomon, as David was about to did:

Do what GOD tells you. 
Walk in the paths he shows you: 
Follow the life-map absolutely, 
keep an eye out for the signposts, 
his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; 
then you'll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.
(1 Kings 2:3 MSG)

They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:16 NIV)

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 
'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
(Revelation 21:1-4 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “partnership.”

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

The devotional book only cited verse 9, but I can’t just quote that verse without the other three, as they complete the thought. Specifically that line at the end of verse 12, that, on the surface, appears to be confusing. Wait . . . I thought we were talking about two people, not three!

But if you consider that God is the third strand of that cord, it completes the truth. I am not very strong alone. With a partner, a collaborator, I am stronger, and if God is in the center of it, we are unbeatable.

Ultimately, my wife is my partner. I am stronger with her. We have overcome obstacles in our thirty-six years together; obstacles that would have been impossible without God in our midst.


Father, like the people referred to in Hebrews 11, I long for that “better country.” I make frequent references in this forum to “Home,” and that is what I long for. However, that longing is not so strong that it makes me of no use in this life. I am not “so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good.” But neither am I completely entrenched in the things of this world. I won’t deny that there are some things of the world that I enjoy. But if Your plan was to bring us all Home today or tomorrow? You would get no complaint from me!

I embrace Your sovereignty, and have for many years, now. The longer I live, the more understanding I have concerning this idea of sovereignty. We are not robots. You do not control every single thing that I do. At least I don’t think You do. I have a measure of “free will” within the confines of Your sovereignty. But You are working Your plan, as we can clearly see throughout the pages of Scripture, and You are using ordinary people like us to do it. The pages of the books of Kings show us this. What a mess! Just like the pages of the book of Judges! We talked about this in church, yesterday morning, about how messy we are, but we are still loved by You and You still use us in Your kingdom. We are very grateful for this, and honored and humbled to be a part of Your story.

I thank You for my wife, Lord, for the partnership that You put together over thirty years ago. She is more than I ever deserved and I am so grateful for the love that You made between us. Thank You for Your hand in our lives and our family. I pray that You continue to direct us all through this life, and embrace Your promise that we need not fear because You are right here with us, all the time.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

His Story

Good morning. Today is Sunday, the ninth of January, 2022, the first Sunday after Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,313

Fourteen days until Hamilton!

There’s nothing, really, out of the ordinary to share about yesterday. Eight hours at the library, C bought groceries after giving platelets at the blood center, I cooked burgers for dinner. I got a pretty good night’s sleep, and now it’s almost 9:00, and we’re having our church gathering in person, this morning, so I need to get moving with the devotional. Church is the only thing on the agenda for today, other than our traditional lunch from Applebee’s.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father in heaven,
who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant that wll who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made,
and boldly confess Him as Lord and Savior;
who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God,
in glory everlasting.
Amen."
(The Collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany, Book of Common Prayer)
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."
(Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the beauty of the night sky
2. for the Sun which gives light and warmth to our world
3. for the ocean with its waves and sounds
4. for music, with which I can praise God, be calmed, and be inspired
5. for the presence and protection of God in my life

Eugene H. Peterson, in Symphony of Salvation, calls the two volume narrative we know of as First and Second Samuel, “The Millennial Midpoint,” as the events occur around the 1000 B.C., approximately a thousand years after the calling of Abraham, and approximately a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. I love the following paragraph, which, to me, is a great example of Peterson’s talent with words. He speaks of the four main characters in the books of Samuel, Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David.

“These four lives become seminal for us at the moment we realize that our ego-bound experience is too small a context in which to understand and experience what it means to believe in God and follow his ways. For these are large lives–large because they live in the largeness of God. Not one of them can be accounted for in terms of cultural conditions or psychological dynamics; God is the country in which they live.”

What we get from these lives is what it means to be human. We learn that living a life, as a man or a woman, mostly has to do with God. “These four stories do not show us how we should live but how in fact we do live, authenticating the reality of our daily experience as the stuff that God uses to work out his purposes of salvation in us and in the world.”

And the really good news here? “We don’t have to fit into pre-fabricated moral or mental or religious boxes before we are admitted into the company of God–we are taken seriously just as we are and given a place in his story, for it is, after all, his story.”

These people understood this as evidenced by some of their prayers.

Hannah prayed:
For the very structures of earth are GOD's; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation. He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step, but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark. No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle! 
(1 Samuel 2:8-9 MSG)
David prayed:
GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I cleaned up my act, he gave me a fresh start. 
(2 Samuel 22:21 MSG)
Samuel said to Saul:
Do you think all GOD wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. 
(1 Samuel 15:22 MSG)

You see, what we have, here, is not a moral code with rules to live by. Peterson insists that that is not what the “biblical way” is. Rather, “the biblical way is to tell a story and invite us, ‘Live into this. This is what it looks like to be human; this is what is involved in entering and maturing as human beings.'”

“In the reading, as we submit our lives to what we read, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but to see our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”

As we read, it must be prayerful, “a God-listening, God-answering reading.” And we find that it is no coincidence that the story is “framed by prayer: Hannah’s prayer at the beginning (1 Samuel 2), and David’s near the end (2 Samuel 22-23).”

Hannah prayed: 
I'm bursting with God-news! 
I'm walking on air. 
I'm laughing at my rivals. 
I'm dancing my salvation. 
(1 Samuel 2:1 MSG)

The prayer word for today is “learn.” “The mind that is not baffled is not employed.” ~ Wendell Berry

We should never stop learning. As I reflect today, I will try to make note of what I learn about God, and about life.

I won’t say that I have “learned” the things presented from Peterson’s reading, above, because, truthfully, I already “learned” those things. But had I forgotten them? Perhaps. So, I was reminded of them, today.

Never stop learning.


Father, I am grateful for the truths presented by Eugene Peterson, and I do believe those things to be true. More and more, I view Your Word as exactly what Peterson presents it as, stories to be read, prayerfully, that invited me to live in them, stories that teach me how my life looks, and that teach me that my life is impossible without You. Help me to immerse myself constantly in Your story, and to know that my life is part of that story. I am both honored and humbled that You have given me a place in Your story. It’s not a major part. Not even close. And that’s okay. I don’t want “fame.” You have given me enough. Now teach me to take that “enough” and make it more than enough by giving it back to You and allowing You to spread it around through me.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth. 
(Psalms 145:18 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Change My Heart, Oh God

Good morning. Today is Sunday, the second of January, 2022, the ninth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,306

Twenty-one days until Hamilton!

It is currently 18 degrees outside, here in DFW (depending on which app I look at), and feels like 1 degree. It’s supposed to be fairly windy, today, with a high of 39. Looks like it will be well below freezing again, tomorrow morning. But there is little to no precipitation forecast over the next ten days. I suppose winter is here. It came quite quickly, considering what a warm December we had.

Yesterday was an easy day, for the most part. We didn’t do much. I cooked eggs and bacon for a late lunch, and then, while I went to get Sonic drinks, C made banana bread, because we had a bunch of over-ripe bananas. It was really good. Still is, actually, as there is a whole loaf left.

We are not having our church gathering, this morning, and will resume next Sunday. I was thinking about visiting a nearby church, this morning, but I’m thinking I may not venture out in this cold. I don’t know, yet.

Otherwise, there are, as far as I know, no plans for this day. I suppose someone will venture out for lunch from Applebee’s and drinks from Sonic. I don’t know, though . . . it’s not supposed to be above freezing until around 2:00 PM. Hahaha!

In other news, as most already are aware, we lost Betty White on New Year’s Eve. There are a few speculative posts on Facebook, ranging from “And we shall all remember that on the final day of a bleak 2021, the great Betty White gave herself to drive the darkness back and give hope to all humanity for the coming new year,” to “Should we be concerned that Betty White was just like, ‘No thanks 2022.'”

Personally, I’m leaning more toward the latter.

And then, to begin the new year, Dan Reeves, former halfback and fan favorite of the Dallas Cowboys, back in the good years of Tom Landry, passed away.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praying With Feeling, by Daryl Madden

An intimate bond
When we reveal
To a close friend
Just how we feel

But what better friend
Could there ever be
Than our Lord Jesus
Of how He loves me

To sit side by side
Rather than kneeling
In Presence of love
To pray with feelings

Lord I feel nervous
I’m hurt or I’m mad
Lord I feel grateful
I’m happy or sad

And with time to listen
I believe we will start
That we will grow
To share the same heart

I love the sentiment portrayed in this poem. Truly, we can share as much and more with Jesus as we would with a human friend. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

What has been is what will be,
 and what has been done is what will be done, 
and there is nothing new under the sun. 
Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new"? 
It has been already in the ages before us.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the friendship of Jesus, in which I can share anything I am feeling
2. for the comfort I get from these verses in Ecclesiastes; I know that seems weird, but there is a consistency to life that seems to lurk under the surface of things
3. for the promise of God's presence in Exodus 33:14; He will see our journey through to the end
4. for the ways that God can change me and my willingness to be changed
5. for the salvation that God has provided, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves

I’m going to start listening to Pray As You Go again, this year. I have not listened to them in a while, but since I finished the book, Seeking God’s Face, I feel the need to have something in my daily routine that keeps me connected with the liturgy of the Church. Today’s session begins with this music, from the Monks of Glenstal Abbey.

“Sing to the Lord, alleluia.  Sing to the Lord, bless his name, tell of his salvation from day to day, alleluia.  Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”

There follows a reflection on how the new year is beginning for me. “How do you begin the New Year? With intentions, hopes, commitments to a ‘better’ you?” Yes, to all the above. I spoke of my “intentions” yesterday, only I referred to them as “aspirations.” More prayer, more reading, more music, less gaming. There is, as well, I suppose, a sort of commitment towards being a “better” me. I want to be the best me that I can be, and I must rely on Christ to get me there, by way of the Holy Spirit. I hope for more wisdom in the coming year, a year of “fullness of life, toward goodness and flourishing.” And remember, yesterday’s word from Pray a Word a Day, was “goodness,” springing from Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Father, as this new year begins, realizing the truth of the verses above, from Ecclesiastes, that there is truly “nothing new under the sun,” I desire to know You more in 2022. I desire to accomplish more in this life for You, even though I don’t really know what that looks like. Give me grace for goodness and fullness of life, the kind of life that Jesus came to give us, abundant life. Help me to live up to my intentions, both spiritual and otherwise. Help me to be the best me that I can be for You.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.


I’m still thinking on how to best incorporate Spiritual Classics, as it doesn’t have the kind of structure that I’m used to. Since there is, essentially, a reading per week, it is up to me to decide how to work that. The first week’s selection is on meditation, and the devotional work is from Thomas More (1478-1535), called “A Godly Meditation.” I’m not going to copy the entire thing, but just the parts that speak most to me.

"Give me thy grace, good Lord,
To set the world at nought,
To set my mind fast upon thee.
And not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths.

Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me displeasant.
Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for his help,
To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labour to love him.

To be joyful of tribulations,
To walk the narrow way that leadeth to life.
To bear the cross with Christ,
To have the last thing in remembrance,
To have ever afore mine eye my death that is ever at hand,
To make death no stranger to me,

To have continually in mind the passion that 
Christ suffered for me,
For his benefits uncessantly to give him thanks.

To think my most enemies my best friends,
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favour as they did him with their malice and hatred."

The following Scripture reading is then offered:

This is what the LORD says:
 “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, 
who rely on human strength 
and turn their hearts away from the LORD. 
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, 
with no hope for the future. 
They will live in the barren wilderness, 
in an uninhabited salty land. 

“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD 
and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. 
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, 
with roots that reach deep into the water. 
Such trees are not bothered by the heat 
or worried by long months of drought. 
Their leaves stay green, 
and they never stop producing fruit. 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, 
and desperately wicked. 
Who really knows how bad it is? 
But I, the LORD, search all hearts 
and examine secret motives. 
I give all people their due rewards,
 according to what their actions deserve.” 
(Jeremiah 17:5-10 NLT)

There are discussion and reflection questions that will be considered during the rest of this week.

Lord, as I work through this meditation in the coming week, open my heart to be completely truthful with both You and myself. May I especially work on that bit about enemies and friends. While I don’t truly have “enemies,” there are people that I need to display more love toward.


(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

“The human race is in trouble.” So begins the reading concerning the book of Exodus. “We’ve been in trouble for a long time.” Peterson goes on to talk about the people who have spent their lives working to get us out of trouble. “Parents and teachers, healers and counselors, rulers and politicians, writers and pastors.”

But at the core of this work, he says, “is God.” And the word that best describes what God is doing to “get us out of the mess we are in is salvation. Salvation is God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves.” There is hardly a better picture of this work than what we see in the book of Exodus.

"I am GOD. 
I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. 
I will rescue you from slavery. 
I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. 
I'll take you as my own people and I'll be God to you. 
You'll know that I am GOD, 
your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. 
I'll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. 
I AM GOD." 
(Exodus 6:6-8 MSG)

GOD said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”
(Exodus 33:14 MSG)


One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
 to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. 
(Psalms 27:4 NIV)
Not that I have already obtained all this, 
or have already arrived at my goal, 
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 
Brothers and sisters, 
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 
But one thing I do:
 Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Today’s word for prayer is “change.” This could work its way into my prayers in a variety of different ways. The most common, and probably most obvious, is a prayer for God to change my heart. Immediately my thoughts were drawn to an old Maranatha (I think) song, called “Change My Heart, Oh God.” I’ve heard it recorded by a lot of different people.

Change my heart, oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, oh God
May I be like You

You are the Potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

It’s a simple song, a simple prayer. I have also heard the second line changed to end with the word “new,” rather than “true.” Here is a fascinating clip, featuring a video of a potter creating a jar.

Another way that “change” can work its way into our lives (maybe not so much, these days, though) is in the idea of “loose change.” I don’t get very much of that any more, because I rarely pay for anything with cash. In fact, about the only reason I keep cash on hand, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop if I’m at a Sonic that doesn’t allow mobile tipping. Oddly enough, that seems to be left up to the individual Sonic store. Nevertheless, the author of today’s reading, known only as “Bob,” suggests a prayer for the “wise use of ‘loose change.'”

What about unexpected schedule changes? Don’t those annoy us or get on our nerves? There is an opportunity for prayer.

So, Father, change my heart, as the song prays. Make it both “ever true” and “ever new.” I pray that You would constantly be changing my heart so that I am more like You. And, as a piece of clay, mold me into whatever You desire me to be. You don’t need my permission, or even my acceptance. You are the Potter, and I am the clay. And the beauty of this is that, should I happen to make a “wrong turn,” somewhere along the way, You can remold me into something new. And help me to always be willing to change my thoughts and opinions, especially as new information is brought to my knowledge. Let me never get too attached to my own thoughts and opinions. Help me to set my mind and thoughts on You, through the meditations You bring me.

Father, thank You for Your great salvation, You doing for us what we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. I pray for the salvation of all the world, that all would see Your beauty and majesty and begin to follow and worship You. I continue to pray for the eradication of Covid in our world. I pray for unity within our nation, but more importantly, unity within Your people. May we, as Thomas More writes, may we set our minds upon You and not “hang upon the blasts of men’s mouths.” All glory to You through the Son and by the Spirit!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peace, friends.

Here to Give, Not Receive

Good morning! Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of December, 2021, the third Saturday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,291

Only seven days until Christmas!!

C is in the breakfast nook, wrapping more presents. I have a small pile in the study, that I will be wrapping Monday and/or Tuesday. There are a few things that have not been delivered, yet, most of which should arrive sometime today. But there is one item that may not make it before Christmas. No big deal, but it might affect the usefulness of one or more of the other things.

I have let time get away from me, this morning, so I need to get moving with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
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)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy that I feel in Your presence
2. that You have made know to me the path of life
3. for the beautiful people with whom I work at the Hurst Public Library
4. for the gifts, talents, and resources I have to give to this world, all of which came from You
5. that You care about what is in our hearts, not what is on the outside of our bodies

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.
(Luke 2:8 ESV)
"She will bear a son, 
and you shall call his name Jesus, 
for he will save his people from their sins." 
(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we have seen his glory, 
glory as of the only Son from the Father, 
full of grace and truth. 
(John 1:14 ESV)

He said to them, 
"You are from below; I am from above. 
You are of this world; I am not of this world."
(John 8:23 ESV)
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 
(John 17:16-18 ESV)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, 
God making his appeal through us. 
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 
(2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-ONE

INVITATION

I pause during this quiet moment, pondering the joy of the Lord, the mission I have on this earth, and the path that He has shown my feet.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him
 who brings good news, 
who publishes peace, 
who brings good news, 
who proclaims salvation, 
who says to Zion, 
“Your God reigns!” 
(Isaiah 52:7 WEB)

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

 Praise the LORD, my soul. 

I will praise the LORD all my life;
 I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
Do not put your trust in princes, 
in human beings, who cannot save. 
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
 on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD their God. 
(Psalms 146:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, somewhat slowly, I look for words and phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I linger over them, repeating them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord. I enjoy His presence, this morning.

Father, there are several things that catch my eye, through the various readings, this morning. I wonder, along with Rick Hamlin, from Daily Guideposts, what those first shepherds looked and smelled like. We attend our Christmas musicals in our finest garb, smelling all pretty and stuff. But I’m pretty sure those shepherds didn’t stop to take a shower and splash cologne on before they made their way to the stable where their salvation had been laid. I acknowledge, Father, that it is the heart with which You are concerned, rather than the outward appearance.

I ponder, also, the truth that I am in this world to give, not to receive. You have gifted me (along with all the rest of Your children) with resources and talents to be shared. I need to focus on what I can give to this world, not what I can get out of it. The same is true when I come to worship You. What can I give You? Too many times, we approach Your throne with the idea of what we can get from You. Help us to think, rather, on what we can give. But may we also remember that everything I have to give came from You, to begin with.

And as I continue to praise You, as long as I live, I will open my mouth with songs of joy. I will rejoice always, and pray without ceasing. I will be thankful in all circumstances, continuing to be an example of gratitude to those around me, not that I can be noticed, but, hopefully, to direct them to You. Help me not to quench the Spirit in any of my ways. Also help me to reject all kinds of evil, and to test the spirits.

I pray for unity within Your Church, Father.

"Jesus,
Prince of Peace:
I've lost my childlike wonder and stuffed the emptiness with Christmas busyness and sappy sentiment.
Remind me of the miracle of Christmas,
that You not only assumed a human nature but a real human soul;
You were fully human.
Fill me with renewed wonder that You came to save me wholly,
body and soul.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
for he has visited and redeemed his people;"
(Luke 1:68 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May God himself, the God of peace, 
sanctify you through and through. 
May your whole spirit, soul and body 
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Like A Thief

Today is Tuesday, December seventh, 2021, the second Tuesday of Advent.

The peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,280

Eighteen days until Christmas.

I got a lot of Christmas presents ordered, yesterday. Our presents for R & J, we will have delivered directly to their house. I guess they’re on an honor system to wait until Christmas to open them. Hahaha! I don’t have a list from C, yet, and I certainly don’t know what to put on my own Christmas list. I’ve reached that stage of life where I don’t need anything. I don’t even want much.

Today is my evening work day, my four hour shift from 4:15-8:15. Then, tomorrow, we have our staff Christmas Luncheon, I think from 12:00-2:00. That gives everyone ample opportunity to attend and still have stations covered. I’m not sure when the gift exchange piece of that will be happening, though.

I don’t have much else going on, so on to the devotional.

Except that I was just reminded that today is the anniversary of C’s and my first date. December 7, 1984. We went to a midnight Laser Magic show at the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It was most definitely magic.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Parousia, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Stillness,
the presence
of peace

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government
 and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it with justice 
and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. 
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of peace
2. for the child, born to us, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace
3. for Your great patience, as a thousand years are like a day to You, and vice versa
4. for the hope and promise of a new heaven and new earth, "where righteousness dwells"
5. for Your Church, the bride of Christ, broken down as She is; revive us, O Lord!

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

ADVENT – DAY TEN

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear?  
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

I pause in the quiet to consider the peace of His presence, to celebrate the Prince of Peace, both in His first arrival and the hope of His return.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of "The Lilies of the Covenant." Of Asaph. A psalm. 

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, 
you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, 
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. 
Awaken your might;
 come and save us. 
(Psalms 80:1-2 NIV)
You transplanted a vine from Egypt; 
you drove out the nations and planted it. 
You cleared the ground for it, 
and it took root and filled the land. 
The mountains were covered with its shade, 
the mighty cedars with its branches. 
Its branches reached as far as the Sea, 
its shoots as far as the River. 

Why have you broken down its walls 
so that all who pass by pick its grapes? 
Boars from the forest ravage it, 
and insects from the fields feed on it. 
Return to us, God Almighty! 
Look down from heaven and see! 
Watch over this vine, 
the root your right hand has planted, 
the son you have raised up for yourself.
(Psalms 80:8-15 NIV)

BIBLE READING

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:8-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages over again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. I pray my life to God, through these meditations, and rest in His presence.

Father, I struggle with interpreting some of these Psalms. Today’s looks, on the surface to be mainly about Israel, but I can see elements of Christ within it. Yet Jesus does not have walls that are broken down, and has not been ravaged by boars and insects. At the same time, though, I can see similarities between Israel and Your Church in today’s world.

We, the Church, are a sort of “transplant,” made possible by the infusion of the righteousness of Christ. And it does seem as though the walls of the Church are being ravaged by “boars” and “insects.” I pray for restoration, that we might put the entirety of our faith and trust in Jesus, our Redeemer.

We wait, Lord. We wait for the revelation and return of our glorified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have waited for thousands of years. And we continue to wait. Some are waiting more patiently than others. I’m more patient some days than I am other days. Sometimes, the news gets to me, and I wish You would hurry up. But then I read this passage from 2 Peter again, which tells me that these last couple thousand years were, in effect, equivalent to a couple days to You. The point is not a correlation of days to years, though. The point is that You exist outside of time, and that You are in no hurry, partially because the plan is already in place, and You are working it, according to how You want to.

It’s times like these that I am reminded of this verse:

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
(Psalms 115:3 NIV)

And, Peter tells us, You aren’t being slow, You’re being patient. And we should be most thankful for that, because it gives us time to get our act together, right? You don’t want anyone to perish, but desire all to come to repentance. So You are patient, waiting for the “fulness of the Gentiles” to happen. Yet, at the same time, I realize that “waiting” is not a concept that You are involved in, because, once again, You exist outside time. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. I can’t grasp this, it makes my head hurt.

Help me to be ready and watchful, knowing that Your return could happen as a thief in the night. It will be obvious when it happens; obvious, and, apparently, loud. Help me to live a holy and godly life, as though by doing so, I could “speed its coming.” And, as Peter said, I will be “looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

May You equip us to serve in unique ways in the communities and public in which You have placed us. Give us the capacity and desire to serve the common good, as much as it is possible for us to do so.

"Cleansing Lord,
when You come again as a judge of the living and the dead,
You will be like a furnace of judgment that will consume everything evil and ungodly.
But You will be a refining fire too,
with a glowing,
purified creation coming from the flames.
Make this world beautiful for You and fitted for Your kingdom;
purify my heart so that I may envision that coming day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD;
 be strong, 
and let your heart take courage;
 wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 27:14 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes and Ears

Today is Sunday, the fifth of December, 2021, the second Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,278

Twenty days until Christmas!

C and I had a most wonderful day, yesterday, at Six Flags Over Texas. We left before dark, though, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the Holiday in the Park theme. We’re going to have to get over there one evening to walk around after the sun makes its exit.

I have to give props to Six Flags, though. They have streamlined the process of season pass activation to an art. They had staff people at the front of the entries with tablets and stacks of season pass cards, and everything (assuming you paid online and had your barcode, which we did) was handled right there. Took maybe one minute per person. Literally. At the most two minutes. It was truly amazing.

We rode the Runaway Mine Train first. And even though I have gained a few pounds back since I retired (recently, there is a good reason for that, but at first, it was, and still is, a bit baffling), I could fit comfortably in each ride that we rode. I haven’t been on most of those rides in years. I stepped out of my comfort zone and rode the Riddler’s Revenge.

It was fun. I was fine. Until about the last twenty seconds or so, then I was done . . . ready to quit. It was all good, though. The wheel turns slowly as the pendulum swings, but it changes direction twice during the ride.

The next thing was the Superman Tower of Power.

I didn’t take that video, but my experience was similar. The worst part is not knowing when you’re going to be shot up into the air, or drop down in free fall. It was great fun.

We stopped at a nearby restaurant for some delicious cheesesteak sandwiches and waffle fries. Yes. I said “delicious.” The quality of at least some of the food at Six Flags has gotten better over the years.

We wanted to make our way over to the Titan, but stopped along the way to ride the Shock Wave. Neither of us had ridden that in quite a long time. As we waited in a pretty short line, we smiled as we realized that some of these people were actually riding for the first time.

Let me tell you, those lap bars are there for a reason. On many of those “short hops,” I was a few inches off of my seat. Great fun. After the second loop, it takes at least until the next curve for my brain to realize I’m right-side up again.

From there we headed over to the Titan, stopping along the way to get a couple small bags of cinnamon roasted pecans. We were sorely disappointed, though, when we encountered this.

At that point, we decided we were good to go home. It’s been a long time since we have done that, and we were tired. In all, we got close to eleven thousand steps on our trip to Six Flags, and we plan to make it a regular thing over the course of the next year. We also bought a couple of drink cups that get us free refills all season. They were about $25 each, but it will only take four or five refills to pay for that, and the rest will be truly free.

I’m not sure what’s “on the table” for today (there is, literally, a plant on the table). I think we might finally get the Christmas ornaments on the tree. There will, no doubt, be lunch from Applebee’s. And our church will be meeting via Zoom again. There might be a trip to the grocery store, too. Other than that, it will be a day of rest. C is up, and actually feels pretty good after a good night’s sleep. She was afraid that she would be really sore.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

May the LORD give strength to his people! 
May the LORD bless his people with peace! 
(Psalms 29:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You do great, unsearchable, and marvelous things without number
2. that You bless Your people with peace
3. that You call us to not make judgments based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but based on righteousness
4. that You call us to seek Your kingdom first, and to be peacemakers
5. for the call to shout for joy and play songs to You on instruments of praise

And behold, the star 
that they had seen when it rose 
went before them until it came to rest 
over the place where the child was.
(Matthew 2:9 ESV)
But seek first 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you. 
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! 
Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice; 
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
(Psalms 33:1-5 ESV)
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 
giving thanks always and for everything 
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
(Ephesians 5:19-20 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY EIGHT

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment to ponder the thought of peace; the peace that Christ is able to bring to a soul. But the soul must be receptive to the peace.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD my God,
 I put my trust. 

Good and upright is the LORD; 
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 
He guides the humble in what is right 
and teaches them his way. 
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful 
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 
For the sake of your name, LORD, 
forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 
(Psalms 25:1, 8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, 
or decide by what he hears with his ears; 
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, 
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; 
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 
Righteousness will be his belt 
and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 
(Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages a second time, noticing how He might be speaking to my soul. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and take refreshment in His presence.

Father, along with David, I can say that I do put my trust in You. It is not perfect trust, for I am not perfect. Yet it is trust. I believe I can truthfully say this because of how You have moved my heart and soul, in the past few decades.

You are, indeed, “good and upright.” As Jesus stated, You are the only being who can be described as “good.” Only You are good. For the rest of us, Isaiah nailed it when he said that all our “righteousness” might as well be filthy rags. We are sinners, and You instruct us in Your ways. You guide us (when we humble ourselves) in what is right and You teach us Your ways. And Your ways are loving and faithful toward us, if we keep Your commands.

At this point, I remind myself that Your commands are that we love You and love one another.

As Isaiah describes Jesus in chapter 11, verses 3 and 4 call out to me, as though I had never seen them before. We are told in verse 3 that the “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” will “not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears.” Rather, “with righteousness He will judge . . .”

This is like a flash of illumination in this era of social media. Father, we are, in general, spending way too much of our time deciding and judging based on what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, rather than making judgments based on righteousness. We should be seeking Your kingdom, along with its righteousness, first and foremost. We should be seeking justice for the poor, and we should be concerned with making peace in our land, not division.

May Your people experience Advent hope, peace, and joy. May we have the courage needed to share the good news of the Gospel.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Redeemer God,
in righteousness You will judge all people.
Keep me from making eternal pronouncements on others' lives,
and help me trust that the coming day of judgment will reveal the glory of Your wide mercy and firm justice.
Keep me vigilant to work against evil and injustice,
and yet hopeful for all people,
trusting that Your justice never fails and Your mercy is fresh each day.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

A City Yet to Come

Today is Friday, the third of December, 2021. First Friday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,276

Twenty-two days until Christmas

Yesterday, of course, was a bittersweet day. I was fine, emotionally, until it came time to sing the two songs at the service. I made it through “The Old Rugged Cross,” pretty well, only stumbling at the line, “then He’ll call me, someday, to my home far away.” But the second song I decided to sing was “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. It’s a great song for a setting like that. I was blindsided by emotions when I got to the chorus.

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

I recovered, though, and made it through the song, with only one more “glitch” in the bridge. As I walked back to where C and S were sitting, in the family section of the room, I dared not look up to make eye contact with any of my cousins. And, of course, the emotions were driven by memories of my own father, as well.

We had a good trip home, but it seemed to take a lot longer than the trip out there. Of course, we hit Dallas at rush hour, and we stopped along the way to refuel and take a restroom break.

C is at the office today, rather than working from home, and I’ll be heading in to work my Friday shift at the library, in the computer/media center. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in there. I hope I remember how everything works.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll have a few more days to recuperate from this week.

I’m currently reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. It’s his first novel, from 1992. I had seen quite a few of his books during my shelving nights at the library. We have a large number of his, in both regular and large print. It wasn’t until I realized that he was the author responsible for Harry Bosch that I became interested in reading them. I am really enjoying this one, so I will, no doubt, continue in the series. I haven’t given up on The Divine Embrace. It’s still in the wings, and I will continue reading it, when I take the time to sit and take notes as I read it.

Be right back . . . I need a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Becoming Who We Are, by Daryl Madden

The journey of our life
Of inner and afar
That all paths lead unto
Becoming who you are

Acknowledging the truth
A pride-filled sinner be
Blessed be the finding
Of the One who saves me

That we find emptiness
When this world, we purse
That only gifts beyond
Are treasures of value

In telling of our story
With humility
In sharing of our gifts
Our true purpose, be

We are made complete
Even though we’re flawed
Because we’re a beloved
Child of our God

“We are made complete, even though we’re flawed, because we’re a beloved Child of our God.” This reminds me of a Mercy Me song that I really like.

"No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless"

Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry in the link provided above.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
 that God sent his only Son into the world,
 so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, 
not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, because of Your grace, and the cross of Christ, I am made complete, in spite of my flaws
2. for Your great love, that never fails and never ceases
3. for a safe trip home, last night
4. for loving memories of family
5. for "the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14)

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, 
and the young men and the old shall be merry. 
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, 
and give them gladness for sorrow. 
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)
But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, 
nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, 
even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
For here we have no lasting city, 
but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

What beautiful words are in these Scriptures, and how appropriate for them to come up today. God will turn our mourning into joy, and we will rejoice in Him with dancing and singing. Truly, no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard (not among the living, at least) the things that God has prepared for us who love Him. And this place in which we live? It is, truly, “no lasting city.” I, along with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “seek the city that is to come.”


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 
(John 15:14-16 ESV)
. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday 
and today 
and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SIX

INVITATION

With all my heart, 
I am waiting, 
LORD, for you! 
I trust your promises. 
(Psalms 130:5 CEV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to meditate on these truths that have already been presented. I am waiting on You, Lord! I am waiting on and looking forward to that city that is yet to come.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

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

BIBLE READING

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something within about which I wish to ask God? I pray my life to Him, resting in His presence.

Father, my family has experienced sorrow, this past week, yet we have also known Your joy. The truth of these promises, that those who go out weeping will return with songs of joy, has been realized, in real time, in our lives. There will still be sorrow, yes, but as was so aptly pointed out in yesterday’s funeral message, we have hope because of Jesus and His work in our lives. It is because of Him, whom we both celebrate, during this season, and for whom we await as we look forward to His return, that we have this joy.

I also find hope in these words as I ponder the potential of restoration for everything that is broken or flawed, in this creation. The poem and song, earlier on in this blog, have reminded me of the truth that everything that is flawed or broken will be fixed, made whole, and restored. And it is when these things become reality that our true joy will be made manifest. The joy we experience today, as great as it is, is still incomplete. It is incomplete because we are still dwelling in “jars of clay,” bodies of sin, this “mortal coil.” We long to shed this mortal coil and be done with it. We long to be done with this body of sin, with these temptations and sorrows. Oh, come, Lord Jesus and restore everything to its true reality!

Awaken us from our slumber! Make us aware that the time of our “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Oh, praise, that the “night is nearly over.” Help us to put aside all deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” May we fully clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His righteousness!

I pray, Father, for relief and justice for all who are living in poverty and injustice. Give us, O Lord, both the willingness and the capacity to suffer with others, and give relief to the refugees, Lord!

"Sovereign God,
on the coming judgment day the book on my life will be opened and a verdict will be given.
Knowing that every idle work,
every well-guarded secret and shadowed hypocrisy will be uncovered makes me want to run for cover.
Remind me that just as You gave Adam and Eve garments to cover their shame,
You dress me up in Christ-clothes that I might stand before You.
Amen."

BLESSING

The one who has spoken these things says,
 "I am coming soon!" 
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
 I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!