A Prayer for Light, Peace, Joy, and Presence

Today is Thursday, the 16th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ fill your hearts and minds today and every day!

Day 73,744

It’s my normal day off today, and I don’t have anything planned. We have S’s Club Metro event tonight, which she says she is going to, so C and I will have an evening out, if that happens. We’ll have to decide where to have dinner, in that case.

It’s been a pretty good week, so far. Yesterday’s work day was unremarkable. It was not terribly busy at the library. There were brief periods of activity, the busiest being right after the afternoon program, which was “Creature Teacher,” a lady who carries around some “wild” animals. I wasn’t able to attend the program, but I did get a chance to go down to the program room and see this.

She was SO adorable! And she hopped right up to me and sniffed at my hand. But then someone else came in the room and startled her, so she hopped away. But then the “Teacher” picked her up and let us pet her. She was much softer than we expected. Felt a lot like one of my cats.

We had a flurry of activity at the circ counter right after that program, but the rest of the afternoon was not very busy. And we didn’t have any lingerers after the lights went out at 6:00 PM.

I can’t remember if I displayed my birthday presents here. I don’t have pictures of all of them, especially the nice shirts that C got me. But I got a picture of my favorite thing, which was this blanket/throw.

It is so very soft. The cat in the middle looks just like our Luna. The one in the upper left looks like Rocky, and the one just below that one looks a little like Cleo, as she is Siamese. She is much darker, though. There’s a tabby on the top, which looks like S’s Maggie. The only one not represented is Trixie.

I also got these from R.

That Beatles songbook has been on my wishlist for a very long time, and I have really been wanting to read Liturgy of the Ordinary. And I’ll get something good with that PS gift card.


Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near; 
they are far from your law. 
Yet you are near, O LORD, 
and all your commandments are true.
(Psalms 119:150-151 NRSV)

Had I been paying a little closer attention, yesterday, I would have noticed that these two verses go together. While my “enemies” are far from God’s law, He, Himself, is always near me. This is a truth that I still struggle with, knowing that God is always near me.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, may we receive your Spirit so that we win the victory over ourselves and over the world around us, not with our human crudeness, force, and clamor, but only through your Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Help each of us in our own particular situation. We all know there is much evil around us; there is much we must fight. But in Jesus’ name we want to plunge right in, right into the world, right into whatever suffering is meant for us in the midst of the evil that is not yet overcome. In Jesus’ name we go toward the great victory that will come when all who are granted your joy will praise you with all their hearts, O Father in heaven. Amen.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, win the victory of ourselves and the world around us
  • for Jesus Christ, who “poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors,” and who “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12
  • that God speaks “Light!” into our hearts and lives
  • that God’s purpose will stand and He will fulfill His intention (Isaiah 46:10)
  • that our God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)

Remember this and consider, 
recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
remember the former things of old; 
for I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is no one like me,
 declaring the end from the beginning 
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 
"My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,"
(Isaiah 46:8-10 NRSV)
O send out your light and your truth; 
let them lead me; 
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
(Psalms 43:3 NRSV)
Seek the LORD and his strength, 
seek his presence continually. 
Remember the wonderful works he has done, 
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
(1 Chronicles 16:11-12 NRSV)
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, 
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NRSV)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 NRSV)

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
(John 16:22 NRSV)

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
(Genesis 1:3 NRSV)

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared.
(Genesis 1:3 MSG)

Father, I am feeling great comfort in the Scriptures that tell me that You are near. Many people in this world are far away from Your Word, but You are always near to me, to us. You are near, especially, to those whose hearts are hurting and broken, who are “crushed in spirit.” You draw near to them and save them, healing their broken hearts. I have experienced this in a number of ways.

You are near, always. Your promise is that You will never leave or forsake us. You send out Your light and Your truth, that can guide me to Your “holy hill and your dwelling.” But You also speak “Light!” You spoke “Light!” at the beginning of everything, and there was light. I believe that You can speak “Light!” into our hearts and our lives, as well, and ask You to do this. This world is dark, Lord, and getting darker by the minute. I pray for Your light to shine. I know that it is supposed to shine through us, Father, so help us to do that.

We focus on the wrong things. We find pet causes that we care about and those become our entire existence. But You, Father, are the only “cause” worth giving a life for. Jesus died to save us and to forgive all of our sin. This is my “cause.” Worshiping You is my life, Father. Help this light to shine through me into the world around me, as I attempt to practice love, to put on compassion, to show Your great and steadfast love and mercy to a world that so desperately needs it.

Speak, Lord, speak “Light!” And then, speak “Peace!” in the midst of our storms. Your Word, Father, is the only thing that can create from nothing. And You are the only One who can make sense out of all of this chaos. We have pain, now, Father. Your disciples had pain when Jesus left them for a time. But He promises, and You promise, joy; joy that can never be taken away. So, while we have pain, now, we also have joy because of Your presence with us, in the Holy Spirit. This can never be taken from us. We can forget it, sometimes, but it is always there, just as You are always near.

I will celebrate Your nearness; I will celebrate Your light; I will celebrate Your peace; and I will celebrate Your joy. I embrace Your steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness, and pray that I can be more like Jesus today.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Sovereignty of God

Today is Thursday, the 2nd of March, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Day 23,730 (the number of days since I was born)

I am curious if anyone in the community knows what has happened to our photographer friend, Paul Militaru, in Romania. For about a week or so, now, whenever I try to visit his site, I have gotten this:

I am quite concerned about him. And I miss seeing his lovely photos.

I made it to choir practice, after work, last night. I’m glad I did. I enjoy singing with the group, but it makes for a long day. The rehearsals are important, right now, though, because we are planning a cantata for Good Friday, as well as an anthem for Easter morning. There is a Maundy Thursday service, but it doesn’t look like the choir is singing for that.

Yesterday’s work day was fine. Nothing unusual happened, and patrons were cleared out by closing time, so there weren’t any “lingerers” that kept us from closing up on time.

I don’t have much on my agenda for today. I’ll be cooking dinner tonight, since S had no Club Metro event on the first Thursday of each month. I will need to leave the house for a few minutes, at some point, to pick up a prescription, and, of course, to get Sonic drinks.


You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right.
(Psalms 119:137 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we ask you from our hearts to give us your peace. Grant that nothing may take your peace from us, and protect us from all that is evil. May we always be mindful that we should serve you in self-denial. May we be faithful on all our ways, looking to the great promise you have given each one of us. Keep us under your protection, as you have always done. We praise and thank you for all that comes to our hearts from you, making us full of trust and certain of your further help. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the support and encouragement that comes from the community of saints
  • that nothing on earth can take away the peace that God gives me
  • for every good and perfect gift that comes from God
  • for God’s sovereignty in this world
  • for the Kingdom of God, which is here, now, available for anyone to enter in; this is the Gospel, the Good News

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; 
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
(Psalms 40:11 NRSV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, 
my heart is steadfast. 
I will sing and make melody.
(Psalms 57:7 NRSV)
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

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.

"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 NRSV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(Ephesians 2:4-5 NRSV)

And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.
(1 Kings 8:10-11 NRSV)

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses. The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors. Let these words of mine, with which I pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Therefore devote yourselves completely to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
(1 Kings 8:56-61 NRSV)

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
(1 Kings 2:1-3 NRSV)

I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them.”
(Deuteronomy 1:29 NRSV)

Set me as a seal upon your heart, 
as a seal upon your arm; 
for love is strong as death, 
passion fierce as the grave. 
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love, 
neither can floods drown it. 
If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, 
it would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NRSV)

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15 NRSV)

I started reading 1 Kings a few days ago, in my journey through the Bible. I have also been reading, along with my Bible reading, a compilation of Eugene H. Peterson’s introductions to the books of the Bible from The Message. The book is called The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible. As he writes about 1 and 2 Kings (in the same chapter), he speaks greatly of God’s sovereignty. “Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines. But we have no choice: God is Sovereign. God rules.”

I recently had a brief discussion on Facebook with a college classmate on the subject of free will. This person, who is a marginal believer, at best, is often full of questions about things. I always enjoy reading his questions. On the surface, at times, they might appear mocking, but I don’t believe that is the intent (it might be, sometimes, granted). I think he is thinking. So, even if the thoughts are heading in the wrong direction, I think it is good that he is thinking about them.

On this subject, he is doubting whether we really have free will if all of God’s prophecies have to come true. And here, I’m sure Peterson’s statement that “we have no choice” would further confound him.

Nevertheless, what Peterson says is ultimately true. While individuals have free will (and my pendulum has swung back and forth on the whole free will/predetermination topic . . . I now call myself a recovering five-point Calvinist), as humanity, we are governed by God’s sovereignty in all things.

Peterson asks how we can live this out. "How do we manage to live believingly and obediently in and under this revealed sovereignty in a world that is mostly either ignorant or defiant of it?
"Worship shaped by an obedient reading of Scripture is basic. We submit to having our imaginations and behaviors conditioned by the reality of God rather than by what is handed out in school curricula and media reporting."

In the stories of the Kings, we see failure after failure after failure. It wasn’t God’s idea for the people to have kings. But God, in His sovereignty, allowed them to do so. And it never worked very well at all.

“Human beings, no matter how well intentioned or gifted, don’t seem to be able to represent God’s rule anywhere close to satisfactorily. The books of Kings, in that light, are a relentless exposition of failure–a relentless five-hundred-year documentation proving that the Hebrew demand of God to ‘have a king’ was about the worst thing they could have asked for.”

But here’s the thing. What we also realize as we read through these two books is that “God continues to work his purposes and uses them in the work–doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them.” God uses them whether they want to be used or not, whether they even realize it or not.

Hezekiah had a little understanding of this when he said:

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. So now, O LORD our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." 
(2 Kings 19:15-16, 19 NRSV)

Now here is where the “free will” piece comes into play. “God’s rule is not imposed in the sense that he forces each man and woman into absolute conformity to justice and truth and righteousness. The rule is worked from within, much of the time invisible and unnoticed, but always patiently and resolutely there.” (I wish I had had this quote during the aforementioned discussion.)

When we understand God’s sovereignty in our world (and by “we” I mean Christ-followers, because they are the only ones who can truly understand it), “We quit spinning our wheels on utopian projects and dreams.” We can rest in the knowledge that, no matter how bad it looks out there, God is in control.

Now, in God’s sovereignty, He declares Jesus Christ King over His Kingdom. The verse from Revelation 11, up there is future. It is prophecy. The kingdom of this world has not yet become the kingdom of our Lord. But it will.

Jesus was the one who first announced the Kingdom of God in verses like Mark 1:14-15.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

He announced it, and, at the end, He will accept the title of King of that Kingdom. In this, He also lets us know that God's rule, God's sovereignty, is "comprehensive, established over body as well as soul, over society as well as individuals . . .
"He just as clearly repudiated the accustomed means by which that rule was exercised: he rejected the devil's offer of a position in the government, rebuked the brothers Boanerges for wanting to call down fire from heaven to incinerate their enemies, ordered Peter to put up his sword, and reassured Pilate that the governor's job was in no danger. Finally, to make sure no one missed the point, he arranged that his coronation take place on a cross."
(These quotes from Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

By the way, Reversed Thunder may be the best book on Revelation I’ve ever read.

This was long. I apologize for that. If you’re still reading, good on you! 🙂

My point is that, no matter what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears, God is Sovereign, and His Kingdom is alive and well. And His Kingdom, thanks to Jesus Christ, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection, is open to all.

Father, I thank You for these truths. I praise You for Your sovereignty in our world. I praise You that Your will will be done, on earth as in heaven. And I am so very thankful for Jesus Christ, who will one day be crowned King over this Kingdom. I cannot wait to be part of that worship service!

All hail King Jesus!! 
All hail Emmanuel!
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Bright Morning Star
And throughout eternity
I'll sing Your praises
And I'll reign with You
Throughout eternity!

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Wide Awake in Prayer

Today is Tuesday, the 28th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

The peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,728

It is the last day of February! Huzzah!! And it could get up to 80 degrees today. The weather to continues to act like our drunk uncle. Not that I ever had a drunk uncle. Wait . . . I might have. I did have a couple of wild uncles on my dad’s side of the family. Great-uncles, actually.

Anyway . . . we could possibly break a record for high temp today, as the previous high was 81 in 2014. The projected high for the day, though is 80. Then, in three days, it’s supposed to be back in the upper 50s. Then back to the 70s, and the last day on the ten-day forecast is 51. Up, down, all around, see my thumb . . .

Since it is Tuesday, I will be working a four-hour shift at the library tonight, from 4:15-8:15. Then I have three eight-hour shifts over the next four days, with Thursday off. S doesn’t have Club Metro this week, so Thursday should be fairly “chill.”

I should finish a book today. I’ve been reading McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, a book I ran across at the library a couple weeks ago. It’s a book of, in some ways, genre-defying stories. I have enjoyed it, as I am a big fan of short stories. As some reviewers have noted, though, it is difficult to rate a book of short stories by various authors. One is probably not going to think all the stories in the collection are “amazing.”

I didn’t get in any music practice, yesterday, but I did exercise for thirty minutes on the recumbent bike.


Make your face shine upon your servant, 
and teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:135 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have always been gracious to us, revealing your great goodness and power in ages past and in the present. In this revelation we live, O Lord our God. You are the almighty One, who works wonders on earth and who rules the heavens so that we can be blest and helped on our earthly paths. Let your goodness and your justice be revealed throughout all the world. Arise, O Lord our God. Let your light shine in us who believe in you. Let your light shine into the whole world. Let your name be glorified. You are indeed our Father, both in heaven and on earth. You give our lives security now and in eternity. Amen.

For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; 
your faithfulness extends to the clouds. 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. 
Let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:10-11 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the steadfast love (chesed) of the Lord, as high as the heavens; may He be exalted and worshiped in all the earth
  • for the grace of God that blesses us and helps us on our earthly paths
  • that no cloud of this mortal life can hide from me that steadfast, immortal love of the Father, manifested in Jesus Christ
  • for the admonition to forgive others as God, in Christ, has forgiven us
  • for prayer

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, 
and to those who are upright in their hearts.
(Psalms 125:4 NRSV)
As for mortals, their days are like grass;
 they flourish like a flower of the field; 
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, 
and its place knows it no more.
(Psalms 103:15-16 NRSV)
"Lord, have mercy;
Christ, have mercy;
Lord, have mercy."

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.

"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NRSV)

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:16-25 NRSV)

Stay wide-awake in prayer.
(1 Peter 4:7 MSG)

When we pray, we connect with the almighty. There are a lot of things that can affect our prayer, and they are not all good.

The emotions and subsequent actions of Ephesians 4:31 could definitely negatively affect our prayers. Have you every tried to pray in bitterness? In wrath or anger? I have. It doesn’t go well, usually. It is apparent that some of the psalmists also did that, based on psalms such as Psalm 137. It’s in the Bible, so there’s a good reason for it. But I do not believe that I would ever be able to pray that prayer back to God. I cannot see myself asking God to reward someone for dashing anyone’s babies against the rocks.

It is impossible, in my opinion, to sincerely pray for someone with malice in our hearts. I also do not believe that a prayer prayed for someone whom we are slandering (and by the way, I learned, last Sunday, that the word translated “slander” in that verse is “blasphemia.” That’s right. Blasphemy.) can be effective.

Emotions get in the way of our prayers. Of course, they can help our prayers, too. If we are working in the framework of the positive traits in verse 31, surely our prayers are better. But emotions aren’t prayer. As much as possible, we should attempt to detach our feelings when we are praying.

I think it is interesting that, in the middle of all of the negative things in Galatians 5, is a list that gets overlooked. Probably because we tend to focus on the first few things in that list. Fornication, impurity, licentiousness . . . we like to focus on those, because most Christians don’t see themselves as having issues with those. They may or may not be right in that.

But then we get this list: idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy. Then it’s back to some that we like to point out in others . . . drunkenness and carousing.

It is also interesting that the word that is so often translated as “sorcery” or “witchcraft” in that verse is “pharmakeia.” That word literally means “medicine.” I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough to comment on that, but I have thoughts that don’t belong in today’s discourse.

The rest of that list are things that are, unfortunately, commonly found in the Body of Christ. Or are they? If we are truly part of the Body of Christ, will we engage in those emotions and activities? Probably so, sadly. I mean Paul had to constantly be writing to people in the churches he started, correcting their behavior in areas like this.

Here’s the thing, people. We are human! We will always be human. We will never be perfect on this side of glory. I can only hope that, when we transition from this lift to the next, we will miraculously be changed. I believe this to be the case. I don’t want to feel many of the things that my flesh causes me to feel. I don’t want to engage in idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, or envy. I don’t want to have malice toward anyone, much less a brother or sister in Christ. I don’t want to have bitterness, anger, or wrath, or blaspheme against my neighbor.

What I want is to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as Christ has forgiven me. I want to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

And I want to stay “wide-awake in prayer.”

“Lord, forgive us for our pride, when our faith becomes a show.” Expose our faults, Father. Show us where we are trying to cover up negative traits by both pointing out the faults of others while dressing ourselves up in fake righteousness. As we continue to move through this Lenten season, engaging in self-reflection based on Your Word and the life of Christ, may we see the truth about ourselves.

But this “truth” is two-fold (at least). Yes, we are flawed. Yes we stumble and fall into pits of malice, anger, wrath, and slander. We get jealous and envious of one another. We even find ourselves engaging in idolatry, though we are loathe to admit it. But we are also free and forgiven in Christ, bathed in righteousness, and all of our sins are erased, washed away, and cast as far as the east is from the west.

Have mercy, Father. Kyrie eleison! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner! May Your Spirit fill us, and in that filling, chase out all of those bad emotions and actions, leaving only room for the fruit of the Spirit, which begins with love.

All things being with love, Father, so give us love in all things. Love covers a multitude of sins, said one of Your original disciples. It not only covers those sins, it erases them. And may it blot out completely all of the wrath, malice, slander, envy and other bad things in our lives.

Father, help me to stay wide-awake in prayer.

Even so, come quickly, 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.

Great Are You, Lord

Today is Monday, the 27th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,727

Yesterday morning was wonderful! The entire worship service flowed in an almost miraculous way. The sermon for yesterday was “Forgive One Another.” They worked lyrics from the solo I sang both into the sermon, as well as into the congregational prayers. The song went very well. I believe it was better in the second service, as my nerves were settled a little bit by then. And it helped that I received many gracious compliments after the first service. I was almost overwhelmed by the positive feedback. But just as much credit goes to the music director. It was she, after all, who found the song that worked so well with both my voice and the flow of the service. And she is an excellent accompanist, as well.

As soon as the video appears on You Tube, I will post it.

Today should be a rather chill day. There are a few household chores that need to be done, but I got groceries delivered on Saturday, and I don’t think we are in desperate need of anything today. I might actually get some music practice in, today. I don’t have anything specific that I am working toward, at the moment, other than choir songs, but I can still practice.


Redeem me from human oppression, 
that I may keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:134 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers, we entreat you. Let your will be done among us; let your will be done for each one of us individually, and for our time. Let everything go according to your will, even if the way leads through tribulation, fear, and need. For in the end your goal will be reached. In the end you will fulfill your purpose, and your kingdom will come. Your kingdom will come to the honor of your name and for the redemption of all people still suffering on earth. Let your Word bring us blessing. May we go forward joyfully in the patience of Jesus Christ until times change, until a new day dawns and we are allowed to see your glory and your peace. Amen.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God’s purpose in His Kingdom will be fulfilled; He is in total control, regardless of how it appears
  • for strength to endure through tribulation, fear, and need
  • for the wonderful worship service we had, yesterday morning
  • for the large love (chesed) of God, and that we humans are also capable of loving in this way
  • that God is able to bring amazing beauty out of the wilderness of Lent

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18 NRSV)

This is an important thing to remember, when engaging in Lent. We ought not go around broadcasting what we are doing for Lent, whether it be a fast from something or adding something meaningful to our life. It should be, essentially, a secret between self and God. There are three people who know what I am doing for Lent, this season. My wife, my mother, and one of my pastors. No one else will know, at least until after Easter.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. 
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
(Psalms 70:4 NRSV)

Say it with me: “God is great!” “Great are You, Lord!”

You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. 
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
(Psalms 30:11-12 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! 
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
 in the company of the upright, 
in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, 
studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of honor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 

The works of his hands are faithful and just; 
all his precepts are trustworthy. 
They are established forever and ever, 
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; 
he has commanded his covenant forever. 
Holy and awesome is his name. 
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
His praise endures forever. 
(Psalms 111:1-4, 7-10 NRSV)
"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."

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.

"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on my distress, and the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
(2 Samuel 16:10-12 NRSV)

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?” But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
(2 Samuel 19:18-23 NRSV)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
(Isaiah 35:1 NRSV)

He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.
(Deuteronomy 32:10 NRSV)

A voice cries out: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, 
and all people shall see it together, 
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
(Isaiah 40:3-5 NRSV)

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
(Mark 1:12-13 NRSV)

How exquisite your love, O God!
(Psalms 36:7 MSG)

First, I want to point out the mercy that David showed Shimei in 2 Samuel. This has always been a beautiful story to me. Shimei comes out of nowhere, throwing rocks and showering curses on David. David’s advisors want to behead Shimei. “No,” says David, “perhaps God has sent him to curse me.”

David had some pretty severe faults. But he truly was, in the big picture, a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know of any other human being that is as good at showing mercy as David was. He had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, who was trying to kill him. Yet he refused to lift a hand against “God’s anointed.” Would that we could all have the same mindset when it comes to retaliation.

Yesterday, in Sunday School, Pastor Eibel talked about Israel’s retaliation against the man who raped their sister, Dinah. “Violence begets violence,” he said, multiple times. And he reminded us that, while we ought not tire of seeking justice, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.

Second, I want to talk about Lent. When we consider that the basis for Lent is Jesus’s time in the wilderness before He began His “public ministry,” we know that He fasted for 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, He was tempted by Satan. So, at its roots, the Lenten season is bleak, a wilderness, a kind of desert.

But oh, the things that the Lord can grow out of wilderness. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom!” says Isaiah. Our various activities throughout this season can, if we will allow them, produce beautiful results. We must be faithful and diligent, and allow God to work His will in us.

Third, let’s talk about love. (What, again??) The word for “love” in Psalm 36:7, is “chesed.” I have spoken of this Hebrew word, many times. It is also frequently translated “steadfast love,” and sometimes, even “mercy.”

Eugene H. Peterson says that the word “chesed” is a “large word. We don’t have a single word in the English language that can do it justice, “so we revert to the use of adjectives to bring out the distinctive quality and broad reach of this love: steadfast love, loyal love.”

Many times, as in Psalm 36:7, chesed is used to refer to the love of God. but we are “also capable of loving this way, even though we never seem to get veery good at it. Chesed is love without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.”

(Quotes from Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

GREAT ARE YOU, LORD!! O, my Father, how magnificent is Your Name in all the earth, and throughout the heavens! I praise and worship You, this morning. We have so many reasons to praise You. The primary reason is simply because You are God! In additions, we praise You for Your forgiveness of our sin. Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that paid the price for our sin. Thank You for erasing our sin when we believe in Christ and follow Him.

Now, I pray, Father, that You help us to be obedient and forgive each other. Jesus said that we are to forgive each other, even if someone sins seven times against us in the same day! He also advised our brother, Peter, to forgive “seventy times seven” times, which we assume to be indicative of no limit. There is also no provision in there for the asking of forgiveness by the offending person. In short, we are to forgive them whether they seek it or not! Help us to do this, Lord. Make Your Holy Spirit strong within us!

Help us to show the kind of mercy that David showed, both to King Saul, who was actively trying to kill him, and to Shimei, who threw rocks at him and cursed him. Enlarge our hearts, Father, that we might be quick to overlook offense and consider that, perhaps, You have sent it our way for testing and strengthening.

Thank You that You can bring beautiful things out of the wilderness of Lent, Father. We know that Lent is not necessarily a “biblical” season. Nevertheless, we find great value in observing it, as we consider the 40 days that our Savior spent in the wilderness. For all who are observing Lent, this year, I pray that You give us wisdom and strength; that we might fulfill our commitment, and that we might also keep silent about it before others. It is between You and us.

Finally, Father, thank You for Your great chesed, Your “large love,” as Peterson called it. Your love is indeed large, Father. It is larger than anything. And it is most certainly larger than our sins. Help us to love in the same way You love. Help us to both love You and to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Your Enemy

Today is Tuesday, the 21st of February, 2023, the last day of the season of Epiphany. Lent begins tomorrow, with Ash Wednesday. Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and every day.

Day 23,721

Typical Tuesday, today. I’ll be heading to Subway for lunch and dinner for the family, and then I’ll go to work at the library at 4:15-8:15 this evening. Who knows what will happen in between? Maybe some reading, maybe some gaming. I’m currently reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix. I’ve been wanting to read some of his work, for a while, now, so I finally checked this one out. So far, it does not disappoint. I’m a little more than halfway through it.


Truly I direct my steps by all your precepts; 
I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:128 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, remember us even though we are only a few. Protect us from all evil, from all inner harm, which threatens us every day. Let your hand be over us so that at last a great power may stream out from your church into all the world, bringing the fulfillment of your promises. We thank you for all your goodness. Watch over us, we pray. Keep us in the right spirit and purpose, and help us resist all that is wrong and harmful. Grant that we serve you and not the world. Protect us this day and every day. Amen.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.
(Ephesians 5:25-27 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my wife, faithful partner for almost 38 years
  • for the goodness of God in all things
  • for the potential of the Church to bring the light of God into the world; strengthen us to do right, Father!
  • for the steadfast love of the Lord, and His wonderful works to humankind
  • for David’s example in 1 Samuel of not doing evil to Saul

Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
With my whole heart I seek you; 
do not let me stray from your commandments.
(Psalms 119:10 NRSV)
Some went down to the sea in ships, 
doing business on the mighty waters; 
they saw the deeds of the LORD, 
his wondrous works in the deep. 
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, 
which lifted up the waves of the sea. 
They mounted up to heaven, 
they went down to the depths; 
their courage melted away in their calamity; 
they reeled and staggered like drunkards, 
and were at their wits' end. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
and he brought them out from their distress; 
he made the storm be still, 
and the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad because they had quiet, 
and he brought them to their desired haven. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, 
for his wonderful works to humankind. 
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, 
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
(Psalms 107:23-32 NRSV)
A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd,
 I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
(Psalms 23:1-2 NRSV)

David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.
(1 Samuel 22:1-2 NRSV)

The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the LORD’s anointed.”
(1 Samuel 24:4-6 NRSV)

let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
(Hebrews 10:22 NRSV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NRSV)

See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
(1 Thessalonians 5:15 NRSV, emphasis added)

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3 NRSV)

"Father God, fill me with You until there is no more room for me." 
(Erika Bentsen, Walking in Grace 2023)

Show me how you work, GOD; 
School me in your ways.
(Psalms 25:4 MSG)

Evil will be used by God to bring about good. “All things . . .” (Romans 8:28) Not just “good things.” And, besides that, human interpretation of what is “good” and “evil” is, at best, suspect.

While we should not be naive about evil (having that “head in the sand” attitude about it), we should not be intimidated by it, either. The 2 Thessalonians verse tells us that God will guard us from the evil one. We also have Jesus’s model prayer including that bit about “deliver us from evil,” and there are some who say that it should say “evil one,” and not just “evil.”

We are not to repay evil for evil. It is my opinion that there is no circumstance that bears this out as prevalently as in driving. But it displays itself in some ugly ways in our interactions in society, as well.

We have this problem of forgetting that the “newspapers are footnotes to Scripture and not the other way around.” We spend to much time engaging with our own and other peoples’ opinions about things, especially in the political arena. “We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information.” The meaning of the world should be given us by God’s Word. Instead we allow the world to interpret God’s Word. (Quotes by Eugene H. Peterson, from Run with the Horses, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Look at the example of David up there. Saul was trying to kill David. All because of some song that some women sang. “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands,” is how the song went. I’ve always had a rather humorous vision of this in my head, as a few dozen women do some kind of Hebrew dance in the street (which involves a lot of bouncing and jingling), chanting this line repeatedly. It has a pretty good rhythm to it.

Saul was envious. Or maybe it was jealousy; I get those two confused a lot. At any rate, he was literally hunting David to kill him. David had hidden out in a cave with around 400 men. Saul stepped into the cave to take a leak (relieve himself). David’s men said, “Here’s your chance! Kill him!”

David crept up to him and cut off a corner of his robe. David would not lift a hand against Saul, even though Saul would have killed him on the spot! 1 Samuel 24:4-6 tells us. David even felt guilty for cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe!

Who are your enemies? Do you even really have any? I don’t. There are certainly people that I don’t like very much. But do I consider them enemies? My only real enemy is spiritual, at least at this point in my life. But this translates into how I treat someone I don’t like, as well.

There’s a library patron I don’t care for. I’m not alone in that. But if Jesus is having His way in my heart, I will treat this person with love, not hatred. I will do “good things” to him.

By the way, note that bit from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 where he says that we should “do good to one another and to all.” Oh, if only he had stopped before “and to all!”

There are Christ-followers (allegedly) who are “conservative Republicans” who seriously believe that all Democrats are their enemies. There are Christ-followers (allegedly) who are “liberal Democrats,” although the conservative Republicans believe this to be impossible, who seriously believe that all Republicans are their enemies.

There are white people who believe that all people of color are their enemies. There are people of color who believe that all white people are their enemies. There are even men who believe that all women are their enemies, and vise versa.

None of these beliefs are true. Not one. But guess what. Even if they were, if we are true Christ-followers, we are obligated to love those people whom we consider to be our enemy. It is not negotiable.

I really like Erika Bentsen’s prayer in today’s reading in Walking in Grace 2023. I quoted it up there. It’s a wonderful prayer. We should all pray that, every day. Lord, “fill me with You until there is no more room for me.”

I’ve still got too much of me in there.

Lord, have mercy! Father, have mercy on us, for we are foolish children, walking about casting hatred at one another over ridiculous things like politics. We consider ourselves each others’ enemies, when, in reality, our only real “enemy” is the devil. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, says Paul, but we are sure wrestling an awful lot with each other. Help us to unite, in the blood and name of Jesus Christ, and fight our common enemy, reaching out with love to the world.

Help us to not interpret Your Word by the morning headlines and editorials. Rather, help us to interpret what we see in the world by Your Word, instead. Help us to be filled with You until there is no more room for us in there. When that happens, there will only be love coming out of us, and the world will then see what a true Christ-follower is supposed to look like.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

His Story

Today is Friday, the 17th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace and love of Christ dwell within you, and shine forth from you, today.

Day 23,717

Today is my day in the computer center. I have dinner in the crock pot, cooking. I want to be finished with this by 8:30, so no time for trivial, peripheral matters.


Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, 
and teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:124 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we thank you from our hearts, from the bottom of our hearts, that you consider us worthy to work with you so that redemption may come to the world in Jesus Christ. Already today many are rejoicing in their Redeemer. They are full of hope and comfort because the end is approaching – that evening when your glory shall be revealed, when the whole world and all nations shall glorify you, O great God and Father in heaven. Come into our time, we pray. Help us, Lord our God. Day and night we look to you in the hope of beholding the time of your glory, in the hope of receiving the peace that is beyond all understanding and of finding redemption, the great redemption from heaven, through you, the God over all flesh. Amen.

A Psalm. 

O sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things. 
His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. 
The LORD has made known his victory; 
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. 
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness 
to the house of Israel. 
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
(Psalms 98:1-3 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the forgiveness of sin, through Jesus Christ our Savior
  • for the “chesed” of God; steadfast love, mercy
  • for the wonderful works of God toward humankind
  • that He is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him
  • that He consoles us in our afflictions, that we might, in turn, console others (2 Corinthians 1)

For your name's sake, 
pardon my guilt, 
for it is great.
(Psalms 25:11 NRSV)
Help me, O LORD my God! 
Save me according to your steadfast love.
(Psalms 109:26 NRSV)
he sent out his word and healed them, 
and delivered them from destruction. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, 
for his wonderful works to humankind. 
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, 
and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.
(Psalms 107:20-22 NRSV)
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: "O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head." 
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, "How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time." Then Eli answered, "Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him." And she said, "Let your servant find favor in your sight." Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.
(1 Samuel 1:9-18 NRSV)
"It is the LORD; let him do what seems good to him."
(1 Samuel 3:18)
O LORD, you will hear the desire of the meek; 
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
(Psalms 10:17 NRSV)
"I hereby command you: 
Be strong and courageous; 
do not be frightened or dismayed, 
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
(Joshua 1:9 NRSV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NRSV)

All of us are guilty of something. Every single one of us. Last Sunday morning, during the sermon, Pastor Malinak queried the congregation. “Raise your hand if you have never sinned.” Of course, no one raised their hand. We are all guilty.

In Christ, God has forgiven our iniquities, our guilt. Our guilt is not only pardoned, it has been historically erased. Let us be grateful for the “chesed” of God; the steadfast love; the mercy of God.

Hannah experienced this mercy. But before she did, she prayed in anguish before Him. So much anguish, in fact, that the priest thought she was drunk. There’s a lesson there for us.

There is always something we do not know about another person’s struggle. When someone does something that we consider to be uncaring or mean-spirited or selfish, we have no right to judge them (I’m preaching to myself, here, as well), because we have no idea what is going on in their lives. And, more than likely, that action was not directed toward us, personally.

News flash: not everything is about me!

I read a good quote, this morning, in a book by Eugene H. Peterson. The book is a compilation of the introductions to the various books of the Bible, in The Message. This was written in his intro to 1 and 2 Samuel:

” . . . we don’t have to fit into prefabricated 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; none of us is the leading character in the story of our life.”

That last statement is an eye-opener. “None of us is the leading character in the story of our life.”

That truth will come as a shock to a lot of people, even many Christ-followers.

It’s not about me. It’s about Him. It is His story. And no, I’m not trying to make a play on words with “history.”

Father, how freeing it is to know that this story of life is not about me. I don’t have to worry about my part in it; that is up to You. Everything is up to You. As I walk through this world today, as I encounter patrons in the library, may Your Spirit remind me that they are all going through things that I am not aware of, or do not understand. Their frustration or whatever, even if directed, momentarily, at me, is not personal.

Help me, in all things, in all situations, at all times, show kindness and compassion. Clothe me, Father, with patience, compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness. In addition, continue making me a generous person. You have blessed me that I might bless others.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Cling to God

Today is Thursday, the 16th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,716

I didn’t make it to choir practice, last night. I had planned to go, but by 6:00 PM, when the library closed, I simply didn’t feel up to it. And it may be that I don’t try that on the alternating weeks when I work at the library. It might be different if the church was closer to home. But I will be there Sunday morning, to sing with the choir, and go over my upcoming solo with the director.

S is not feeling well, this morning, so she may not go to the Club Metro event tonight. I have gotten a grocery order delivered from Kroger, already, and got stuff to make dinner tonight, just in case. I had not planned on needing to do that. In other Club Metro news, they are having an extra outing this coming Saturday, in which they are going bowling. S is quite excited about that. I’m working this Saturday, so that works out just fine, as C and I didn’t have any plans. We do have tentative plans for Sunday, since the choir is singing at the early service and I should be home before 11:00 AM.

I guess that’s about it for today. Baseball season is getting underway, as Spring Training has officially begun. Pitchers and catchers reported Monday, I believe. The Texas Rangers made some drastic (hopefully) improvements to their pitching staff during the off season.


My eyes fail from watching for your salvation, 
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
(Psalms 119:123 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, open the door for us, we pray. Grant that we may come to you in spirit. Grant that in you we may find peace and courage for our whole lives. Lead us always by your Spirit. Help us to find your will on earth and grant us access to your heavenly powers, for alone we can do nothing. Strengthen our faith so that we can always serve you. Bless your Word in us. May our hearts be opened, for we are your children, O Lord our God, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
(1 Corinthians 2:12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we have the Spirit of God, that we may understand His gifts
  • for the peace and courage God gives us, that we may live our lives
  • that the Lord is good to those who wait for Him (Lamentations 3:25)
  • for the “real blessing” that comes from putting my hope in God (Psalm 146, The Message)
  • for the example of Ruth and Naomi, which shows me how I need to cling to God

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. 
Let your glory be over all the earth. 
(Psalms 57:5 NRSV)
Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
 O Lord GOD of hosts;
 do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me, 
O God of Israel. 
(Psalms 69:6 NRSV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42 NRSV)

But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
(Ruth 1:16-18 NRSV)

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
 to the soul that seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:25 NRSV)
Don't put your life in the hands of experts 
who know nothing of life, of salvation life. 
Mere humans don't have what it takes; 
when they die, their projects die with them. 
Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, 
put your hope in GOD and know real blessing!
(Psalms 146:3-5 MSG)

There are a variety of messages in today’s Scripture readings. The first thing I notice is Jesus’s teachings on turning the other cheek. Most “Christians” would say that they believe this, in principle. But when it comes to reality, to practice, they do not. They tend to have an excuse for when they don’t want to follow this teaching. It usually goes something like that: “Well, Jesus did not expect us to be a doormat, and allow people to simply walk all over us!”


Because that’s exactly what Jesus did. Here’s what happened the night Jesus was arrested. He was beaten until His back was a mass of raw flesh. They pulled out His beard. They blindfolded Him and hit Him with their fists, and said, “Guess who hit you?” The made a crown of thorns, thorns that were likely several inches long, and beat it into His head with a club.

And Jesus let it happen. He took it in silence, never responding, never fighting back. Many of us are familiar with that song, “He could have called ten thousand angels.” Well, He could have. He had that power.

And He didn’t.

So how dare anyone say that He never intended us to let people walk all over us.

At the end of that passage was a tough command. “Give to everyone who begs from you.” That’s a tough one, isn’t it? I confess that I have not done a very good job of that one, myself. I do try to be generous, though.

The next thing I see is Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. This passage is somewhat famous, and is used a lot in weddings, as a couple declare their devotion to one another. And while I don’t have any issue with that, I see this more as an example of how we should cling to God.

The remaining passages give us encouragement in this direction, as well. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to those who seek Him. We seek, we wait, we cling, refusing to be separated from Him, and He promises us that nothing can do that; nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

And we get “real blessing” when we put our hope in God, rather than in humans. So I encourage all who read this to cling to God the way Ruth clung to Naomi. It is challenging, I can attest to that, because this world is loud and distracting. It has many attractive temptations. In some of them, there is no danger, no harm. But that is different for different people.

Cling to God like your life depends upon it. Because it does.

Father, first, I pray for the attitude to always be turning the other cheek or going the “extra mile.” May this be done in Your name, Lord, and for no other reason that Your glory in this life. I pray that I will never have a mindset of retaliation when I am wronged. And may I always be able to give to whoever begs from me, without any doubt that it is the right thing to do. Their motivation is not my concern. That is between them and You.

I also need to pray for Your help in my ongoing judgmental attitude. It crops up when I least expect it. It usually only occurs in my thoughts. At least I have gotten better about letting it come out of my mouth. But the thoughts need to stop, as well. So I pray for Your Spirit to put a stop to that, Lord.

I also ask that You would help me cling to You like Ruth clung to Naomi. My life depends on You, Father. As I have heard one of the congregants of LWLC say to one of our pastors, “I can’t live one second without Jesus.” How true this is. So let me cling to You, Lord, even if it makes me look like a fool.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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.

Grace and peace, friends.

Do We Insult God?

Today is Tuesday, the 14th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace and love of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,714

I haven’t mentioned it at all, yet, because C and I don’t really celebrate this one, and haven’t for years. But today is Valentine’s Day, the day when we celebrate the martyrdom of a priest by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus by giving roses and chocolates to our loved ones.

Yeah, I’m still confused by that one, as well. But we leave it to the “youngsters” to celebrate.

Today being Tuesday, I will be working at the library this evening, from 4:15-8:15. It has been raining most of the night, and is sprinkling (I believe the Brits may refer to this as “spitting”) a bit, now. The wind was quite strong, last night, and is predicted to be high, this afternoon, as well. The sun should come out around midday, and the high temperature is expected to hit right at 70 degrees. Tomorrow’s high is projected to be 75, but then, in another drunk frenzy, the weather will drop the temperature 30 degrees by mid-afternoon Thursday, and then another 20 degrees to hit a low of 26 on Friday morning. Fortunately, there is no precipitation forecast for those days.

We must be in the midst of the anniversary of “Snovid 21,” when we had an ice storm that broke the Texas power grid for a few days. I say this because the record lows for the past two days were in 2021, today’s record being 10 degrees.


I have done what is just and right;
 do not leave me to my oppressors.
(Psalms 119:121 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, keep us in the grace that is ours through Jesus Christ. Uphold others also in this grace. Reveal yourself everywhere to those who trust in you and who await your kingdom. May your blessing be on our household. We thank you for helping us, and with your help we want to be faithful to you. Then when hardships come, we can be certain of your presence. We know and trust you. We know and trust the Savior, and we know and trust the Holy Spirit, in whom we can have community and be strengthened to serve your glory. Amen.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the grace in which I stand
  • for God’s love, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
  • for the beauty of our God; that should be enough to convince people to love and follow Him
  • that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7); specifically, God’s love
  • that God has not and will not abandon His people

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
(Psalms 90:14 NRSV)
Praise the LORD from the earth, 
you sea monsters and all deeps,
 fire and hail, snow and frost, 
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
 Mountains and all hills, 
fruit trees and all cedars! 
Wild animals and all cattle, 
creeping things and flying birds! 
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
 princes and all rulers of the earth! 
Young men and women alike, 
old and young together! 
Let them praise the name of the LORD, 
for his name alone is exalted; 
his glory is above earth and heaven. 
He has raised up a horn for his people,
 praise for all his faithful,
 for the people of Israel who are close to him. 

Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 148:7-14 NRSV)

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, worshiping the Baals and the Astartes, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. Thus they abandoned the LORD, and did not worship him. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the Israelites that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was greatly distressed. 

So the Israelites cried to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you, because we have abandoned our God and have worshiped the Baals." And the LORD said to the Israelites, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress." And the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!" So they put away the foreign gods from among them and worshiped the LORD; and he could no longer bear to see Israel suffer.
(Judges 10:6-16 NRSV)

[Love] bears all things, 
believes all things, 
hopes all things, 
endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:7 NRSV)

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
(Ephesians 4:1-7 NRSV)

Oh, blessed be GOD! 
He didn't go off and leave us. 
He didn't abandon us defenseless,
 helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
(Psalms 124:6 MSG)

One of my favorite things, of late, has become trying to tie all of these Scripture passages together. In case you aren’t aware, they come from a variety of sources. For example . . . today, the first verse, Psalm 119:121 comes from my own daily reading through Psalm 119. The next passage, from Romans 5, comes from the daily prayer provided by Plough magazine, a resource that I discovered last year.

The two passages from Psalms that occur after my gratitude list are from The Divine Hours, daily readings compiled by Phyllis Tickle. The passage from Judges is from my daily readings as I read through the NRSV C.S. Lewis Bible. I am not following any particular plan on this, just reading it straight through, approximately five chapters a day.

Next come a couple of passages from Walking in Grace 2023 (formerly Daily Guideposts), and finally a verse from God’s Message for Each Day, by Eugene H. Peterson.

The reason I included that passage from Judges has to do with a C.S. Lewis passage that was included in reference to it. The key part of that passage of Scripture comes when God responds to the Israelites in verses 11-14.

And the LORD said to the Israelites, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”
(Judges 10:11-14 NRSV)

Now, remember my blog from yesterday, when I wrote that God is not ever obligated to answer us. Here, He answers, but not in a way that they would have preferred. Yet, their response was noble and honest.

And the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!”
(Judges 10:15 NRSV)

They did what was right, put away their false, foreign gods, and the Lord could no longer bear to see them suffer.

Here is what the editors of the C.S. Lewis Bible chose to include on that page. It is a selection from his book, The Problem of Pain.

“It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up ‘our own’ when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had. The same humility is shown by all those Divine appeals to our fears which trouble high-minded readers of Scripture. It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts. The creature’s illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature’s sake, be shattered; and by trouble or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of the eternal flames, God shatters it ‘unmindful of His glory’s diminution.'”

“It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts.”

Brothers and sisters, that sentence wrecks me. I believe that, for far too long, our opening card in evangelism has been “Accept Jesus as your savior or you’ll go to Hell.” Because of this, Jesus has become, to many people, nothing more than a “get out of Hell free card.”

What if we appealed, rather, to the exquisite, infinite beauty of God? Or, as we have seen, in recent years, to His great love for us? Look back up at Psalm 90:14. What if we were satisfied, each morning, by His steadfast love, instead of, as Lewis said, preferring “everything else to Him?”

There’s another quote of Lewis, a rather famous one that John Piper quoted in Desiring God (I think). According to Goodreads, this one comes from The Weight of Glory.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Yet, when those mud pies no longer satisfy, when those things that we thought would be better than God don’t quite pan out, there we go back to Him, crying out to Him. He would have every right to respond to us just as He did to those Israelites in Judges, who “again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Then, after God relented and delivered them through Jephthah (a tragic story in its own right), look at Judges 13:1.

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
(Judges 13:1 NRSV)

Again. And again and again and again.

But there is the beauty of 1 Corinthians 13:7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I used to think that this chapter was nothing more than a list of ways that we ought to behave. I still believe it is that, but I also believe that it is a description of God’s love toward us. If God is “love” and “love” is and does all of the things described in 1 Corinthians 13, then this chapter also describes God.

He doesn’t abandon us, as is also referenced in Psalm 124:6. He has every right to. He could. He maybe should. But He doesn’t. And He even accepts our pathetic cries to Him after we have tried everything else, and then decided that the best reason to come to Him is to avoid Hell.

Father, forgive us. Father, have mercy! You do, I know, and we most definitely do not deserve it. You are beautiful, my God! “You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight!” (Terry Scott Taylor) And You are more than just a means for us to avoid Hell. Please forgive us for our feeble efforts. I know You do, because You are Love. Your steadfast love will never fail or fade, even though ours is as fickle as the wind. We are tossed about by whatever wave of popularity comes along. We stumble and fall on a daily basis.

Yet, You remember that we are but dust. And that is such a glorious verse in Psalm 103, Father. What great comfort it is that You remember this. Yet we are called to be perfect, even as You are perfect. I should think that we might also be called to be beautiful, even as You are beautiful! Help us to be that, Lord. Help us to reflect Your beauty, not some human-devised vision of Your anger that, because of Jesus Christ, may not even be true, any more, if we are to understand what “propitiation” truly means.

And forgive me, Father, for being “far too easily pleased.”

May the Holy Spirit help us to come up with a better way to draw people into Your kingdom than trying to scare them out of Hell. Help us to love people. I think a Love Revolution would be a far more effective tactic.

Even so, come quickly, 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.

“What Is That To You? Follow Me!”

Today is Monday, the 13th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Day 23,713

Worship was good, yesterday. The choir did well, I think. The director seemed to think so, as well. As soon as the video becomes available on You Tube, I will share it. The full service is up, but they haven’t split the choir anthem off, yet.

The rest of the day was very chill. C was tired from working most of Saturday and well into the night (I think she finally came to bed at about 1:30 Sunday morning). She got our taxes done, yesterday, which is nice. Especially nice, because we are getting a hefty refund, this year. I got my reading in, during the afternoon. I have a goal of reading at least one hour per day, which has been helped by my usage of the Bookly app, which an online friend recommended last year. It is different from Goodreads, as it allows you to track your reading in real time, and add quotes and thoughts while you are reading. I have read a total of 140 hours, with 8754 pages since I began using the app. Average reading speed is 62.5 pages/hour. I have also read for 125 consecutive days. I’m thinking it’s longer than that, but that’s just since I began using the app.

I typically read for an hour each evening before going to bed, but sometimes, like yesterday, I will do my reading in mid-afternoon. I have read fifteen books, so far, this year. My goal is to read sixty books this year, and I am eight books ahead of schedule, according to Goodreads. I might finish one today, as I have about eighty pages left in my current book.

Today is my normal day to do housework. There will be laundry to fold (it got washed Saturday), and a few other things, as well. But before any of that, I must get the important thing done.


My flesh trembles for fear of you, 
and I am afraid of your judgments.
(Psalms 119:120 NRSV)

Is this not how we should all feel about God Almighty? Yes, He is love, and yes, He loves us with an everlasting love. But this idea that we shouldn’t fear Him, as well, is, I believe mistaken. I mean . . . didn’t we fear our parents, especially when we knew we had been disobedient?

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we thank you for helping us again and again. Praised be your name for all you do for us and for all your help in many dangers and hardships! We trust you completely and have faith in you through Jesus Christ, the Savior. He reveals your grace everywhere, in every hardship, giving us the courage and freedom to look toward your kingdom. Help us remain courageous when we have to face suffering, for we want to be your disciples in Jesus Christ, the Crucified One. He has made suffering holy, that our suffering too may bear fruit for you in time and in eternity. Amen.

Accept whatever befalls you,
 and in times of humiliation be patient. 
For gold is tested in the fire,
 and those found acceptable, 
in the furnace of humiliation.
(Sirach 2:4-5 NRSVA)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the mild weather over the next few days (maybe a little rain, too)
  • for the grace of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, which gives us the courage and freedom to look toward, and walk in, the Kingdom
  • that Christ has set us free to live a free life (Galatians 5:1)
  • for the truth that God owes me nothing
  • for trials to keep us humble

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. 
At an acceptable time, O God, 
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. 
With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire; 
let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. 
Do not let the flood sweep over me, 
or the deep swallow me up, 
or the Pit close its mouth over me. 
Answer me, O LORD, 
for your steadfast love is good;
 according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
(Psalms 69:13-16 NRSV)
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior." Gideon answered him, "But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian." Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you." He responded, "But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them." Then he said to him, "If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Do not depart from here until I come to you, and bring out my present, and set it before you." And he said, "I will stay until you return." 

So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that it was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon said, "Help me, Lord GOD! For I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it, The LORD is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
(Judges 6:11-24 NRSV)

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
(Matthew 6:26 NRSV)

Christ has set us free to live a free life.
(Galatians 5:1 MSG)

God does not owe us answers.

God does not owe us anything, period.

There are certain sects that consider themselves “Christian” that act as if they think God owes them all kinds of things; prosperity, health, you name it.

Consider the story of Gideon. Gideon encounters the angel of the LORD. Note that it says “THE” angel, not “an” angel. There are some who believe that when it is so designated, that this was a physical manifestation of the pre-incarnate Son of God. Anyway, when the angel blessed Gideon, Gideon responded by asking questions.

“But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Now, note the Lord’s response in verse 14. Also note that He is no longer called “the angel of the Lord.” He is now called “the LORD.”

Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.”
(Judges 6:14 NRSV)

The first thing that I notice here is that God does not even acknowledge Gideon’s question!! He just commissions Gideon to do the job.

There is a similar encounter between Peter and Jesus. Jesus had just restored Peter, who had, as we know, denied Him three times, just as prophesied. Jesus had also prophesied what kind of death Peter would experience (according to John). Then this happened:

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”
(John 21:20-22 NRSV)

Jesus did, unlike the Lord, in Gideon’s case, acknowledge Peter’s question. But His answer was, essentially, “That is of no concern to you. Follow me.”

We would do well to heed these encounters. While we are not discouraged from asking God questions (unless you’re Job, maybe), God, in no way, shape, or form, has any obligation whatsoever to answer them. And we have no right to be upset, angry, or even mildly aggravated if He does not.

My obligation is to follow Christ. What happens to anyone else in their journey of is no concern to me. I may certainly rejoice with them when something “good” happens, and I may certainly mourn with them when something “bad” happens, but that is the extent of my concern. If I get “bad” news, I have no right to point at someone else and say, “But what about him??”

Truthfully, I don’t even have the right to ask God, “Why have You allowed _________ to happen??” He might well say, “What is that to you? Follow me!”

I believe that this even relates to the verse from Galatians 5. It’s part of my freedom in Christ. I am free to live a free life, and in this free life, I am free from the cares of what happens to someone else. I am free from feeling like I have to compare myself to anyone else.

I am free to follow Jesus, to love God, and to love others as myself.

Father, I praise You for this freedom. I also praise You for Your, um, “position?” I’m not sure how else to phrase this. You are God; we are not. You are the highest authority, God Most High, King of all Creation, Ruler of the universe, all that we can see and all that we cannot see. You created creatures in the depths of the ocean that human eyes will never see. I have heard that there are species in the rain forests that will live out their existence before any human will ever lay eyes on them. You hold all the wisdom of all the ages in the palm of Your hand.

I am dust.

Therefore, I have no right to question You. And You have no obligation to answer me when I do. I will not presume to ask why evil is allowed to exist. I will not presume to ask why one person gets riches and fame, and another person (who may be better at what they do than the first person) does not. I will not presume to ask why “bad” things keep happening to a certain family. It is of no concern to me why. What is of concern to me is how I react when those things do happen to people. What will I do to help, or to alleviate the suffering? That is of much more importance than answers why.

Father, I pray for all of Your children, that we would not question You, but, rather, heed the Word of Christ, who said, “What is that to you? Follow me!” May we be true and faithful followers of Christ in this world.

Thank You for the freedom that we have to do this, to live a free life of following Jesus.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
(John 8:31-32 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends.

You Can’t Miss It

Today is Sunday, the 12th of February, 2023, the sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,712

Not much to report from yesterday. The highlight of the day was the grocery delivery from Kroger. That’s about it. C worked most of the day, as they were attempting to fix a major problem with one of their apps. But it appears that, sometime around 6:00 PM, they finally got it fixed. But then, she was up late helping with a rollout last night. Seems to me they owe her a day off or two.

It’s a leisurely morning for me, as I don’t have to be at church until 10:40 today. The choir is singing in the 11:00 service. Looking forward, on February 26, I will be singing a solo in both services.

The weather continues to be a roller coaster ride, here in DFW, which is contributing to everyone’s health problems. The next four days (today included) are predicted to be in the mid-sixties all the way up to 75 on Wednesday, and then drastically dropping to a high of 48 on Thursday, with a low Thursday night of 28.

The Super Bowl is this evening, and I could not possibly care less about it. I won’t be watching. It would be a good time for a trip to the grocery store, if one needed to do that.


All the wicked of the earth you count as dross;
 therefore I love your decrees.
(Psalms 119:119 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you with all our hearts for showing your power in us and for overcoming so much that is hostile and that threatens to harm our life. We thank you for the countless wonders you do for our sake. We rejoice and thank you most of all for allowing us to know that you are writing our names in heaven. Where our names are, there we are too. Where our Lord Jesus Christ is, there we want to be too, and our words and our actions should come from him. Keep us faithful in this, and let us serve you with gladness on every path we tread. Amen.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
(Luke 10:20 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that my name is written in heaven, and there is nothing that can erase it
  • for the power of God in our lives that helps us to overcome all things that threaten to harm us
  • for the feeling of God’s presence and peace, this morning
  • that we really can’t miss the salvation of God, if we truly seek it
  • that God doesn’t need “good people” to do “good work” (Eugene H. Peterson)

I want to share something from one of the other blogs I follow and try to read each day. It is called Quiet Moments With God, and this particular entry is “Let God’s Love Enfold You.” I have linked to the blog site.

“Let God’s love enfold you in the radiance of His Glory. Sit still in the Light of His Presence, and receive His Peace. These quiet moments with Him transcend time, accomplishing far more that you can imagine. Bring Him the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly He will bless you and your loved ones.

“Through the intimacy of your relationship with Him, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Him, He form you into the one He desire you to be. Your part is to yield to His creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up. Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace. Hold His hand in a childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.”

As I read this, this morning, I could feel His presence surrounding me, enfolding me “in the radiance of His Glory.” There is no better advice than to “sit still in the Light of His Presence, and receive His Peace.” So I wanted to share that here, this morning. May you feel His peace and presence as I did while I was reading this.

In your steadfast love hear my voice; 
O LORD, in your justice preserve my life.
(Psalms 119:149 NRSV)
A Song of Ascents. 

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
 It is like the precious oil on the head, 
running down upon the beard, 
on the beard of Aaron, 
running down over the collar of his robes. 
It is like the dew of Hermon, 
which falls on the mountains of Zion. 
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
 life forevermore.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NRSV)

“Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:14-15 NRSV)

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."
(C.S. Lewis--The Great Divorce, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible, in reference to the above passage in Joshua 24)

As I begin to read Judges, this morning, I read Eugene Peterson’s intro to the Biblical book. In this, he gives us this great message: “God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work. He can and does work with us in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us. God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people. If God found a way to significantly include these leaders (‘judges’) in what we know is on its way to becoming a glorious conclusion, he can certainly use us along with our sometimes impossible friends and neighbors.” (Eugene H. Peterson–The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible)

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; 
others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. 
A generous person will be enriched, 
and one who gives water will get water.
(Proverbs 11:24-25 NRSV)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21 NRSV)

You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NRSV)

Blessed GOD! 
His love is the wonder of the world. 
(Psalms 31:21 MSG)

The news is all good, this morning. It is encouraging. “Wait,” you may ask, “how is news about Hell encouraging?” It is because of the fact that, as Lewis tells us, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”

“That’s not in the Bible,” you may object.

Oh, but it is, my brothers and sisters. Maybe not in those exact words. But as Lewis continues, he echoes words of Jesus that are in the Bible.

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
(Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV)

“Those who seek find,” said Lewis. Everyone who winds up in Hell (and I confess that, in spite of many who seem to think otherwise, I do believe that there will be a place of eternal punishment for people who reject Jesus), will be there because it is what they chose. They chose not to seek, knock, or ask. They will have had every opportunity and still chose not to seek, knock, or ask.

But the good news is that no one who truly desires this joy will miss out on it. There will be no one who comes to the end of his life after truly seeking God who will be told, “Oops, you didn’t do it just right. You didn’t ask the right question; you didn’t say the right prayer,” or so on.

God is not playing hide and seek. He is not trying to trick anyone. That’s the enemy’s tactic. Not God’s. God is right here, right now, and His kingdom is right here, right now, and available for anyone who wants to walk in it.

That is the Gospel. That is the Good News.

The other good news, this morning, is found in that quote from Peterson, regarding who God can use to do His work. How thrilling it is to know that God doesn’t have to have “good people in order to do good work.” While, in human terms, there might be some “good people,” I have long tended to agree with R.C. Sproul’s answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “There are no good people.”

Jesus, Himself, when called “good” by someone, replied that only God is good.

So be encouraged, my friends. If you truly seek the kingdom of God, you will find it. He will make sure of that. And, if you have a desire to be used by Him, you don’t have to wait until you are “good enough.” You are already “good enough.”

Father, I praise You for these words of encouragement, this morning, words from Your Word, as well as words from some of your faithful servants. Thank you for the writings of C.S. Lewis and Eugene H. Peterson. While they are not as significant as Scripture, they go hand in hand with Your Word, and teach us good things that can be found therein.

Help us to be encouraged and to live this life with joy and peace, knowing that, as long as we are truly seeking, we will find. Also help us to be encouraged that You can use us, even though we are, and always will be, dust.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, 
the strength of all who put their trust in you:
Mercifully accept my prayers;
and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you,
give me the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments 
I may please you in both will and deed;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours--The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Grace and peace, friends.