Remembrances

Today is Wednesday, the twentieth of April, 2022, in the first week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,414

It was seven years ago, today, that my father went Home. I still remember the phone call that I received right after I got home from work on that Monday evening. He had been “found unresponsive” at the nursing home/rehab facility to which he had been taken the previous Saturday. I immediately got hold of Mama, and called C, and we raced to Mineral Wells.

In my opinion, he was already gone. We gathered around and watched nothing happen for a few hours. Other friends and family arrived to wait with us. We didn’t wait very long. There wasn’t any point in keeping the machines going. His body wasn’t breathing on its own; it was 100% machine-enabled. Mama and I made the decision.

The rest of the week was a blur, as more family arrived at the house, and friends brought tons of food. Isn’t that interesting? When someone in your family passes away, everyone brings food. That’s an odd tradition, to me. I mean, it was good food, sure, and we enjoyed it. C and I got a new recipe for strawberry cake, thanks to Mama’s friend Shirley.

I also saw my favorite and beloved cousin, Joan, for the first time in years. And isn’t that a shame, that it took a family death to bring us together again?

My mother survived on her own for almost seven years after that. Oh, she’s still alive, and doing pretty well, but has now moved in with us, here in Fort Worth. But she made it alone in her house for quite some time. She had lots of help from some really good friends, some virtual angels.

Some people lose their minds when a parent dies. A pastor, that ministered at the church Mama and Daddy were going to, lost his dad, and his life practically fell apart. It changed him, and not for the better. For me, life definitely changed. For the last seven years, I have struggled to enjoy baseball, like I used to. That was something I had in common with my father (S, too). I’m pretty sure I have mentioned that, before. But I think there’s another effect. One that I haven’t mentioned, I don’t think. And maybe I have only recently come to realize this.

My love of music has not been the same. Oh, sure, I still love music, and still play and sing when I want to. But those times seem fewer and farther between. And sometimes, it seems, I simply don’t want to listen to any music.

Anyway . . . just some thoughts in my brain, today, as we remember back seven years ago. I’ll carry on, now, with the main reason I’m here.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Wednesday in Easter Week)

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
(Psalms 116:15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the life I had with my father, and the legacy he left behind
2. that we still have my mother with us, and for the joy that we continue to share together
3. that I still have memories and can remember good things
4. that God remembers that we are dust; we are flawed; we are far from perfect, but well on our way
5. for the power of words that contain truth

Ironically, today’s prayer word is “remember.” I don’t think I could have made that up.

Philosopher George Santayana is quoted as saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We remember a lot of things in our lives. Who among us has not suddenly, quite “out of the blue,” remembered something stupid we said in public? Or some mistake we made at work? Or some grievous sin we committed at one point in our lives?

We also remember good things. I remember beautiful scenes from wonderful vacation trips: the ocean, seen from the west coast, and the east coast, and the Gulf of Mexico; mountains in various parts of the country; redwood forests in California, as well as the forest on the way to the west coast of Oregon.

And we remember phone calls with bad news, like the one I mentioned above.

Memory is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, some of those things I would like to forget. Mostly the stupid things I have said and done in my life.

Apparently, according to my Bible app, “remember” is in the NIV 166 times. Sometimes, it’s in the form of a command or admonition from the Lord. Sometimes, it is in the form of a promise from the Lord. And sometimes, it is in the form of a prayer from one of God’s people to Him.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
(Exodus 20:8 NIV)

“Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
(Genesis 9:14-16 NIV)

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
(Exodus 33:13 NIV, Moses speaking)

Then there are verses like these.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:33-34 NIV)

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 NIV)

We see from Scripture that our God is able to intentionally forget things! Have you ever tried to do that?? Just try and forget something, sometime! It is impossible for a human being to intentionally forget something. It’s like trying to not think about a pink elephant. Don’t do it!

(From Pray a Word a Day)(Except for the bit about pink elephants)

Father, there are things I want to remember, and things I would like to forget. I suppose there are reasons why I cannot forget some of those things; good reasons, hopefully, lessons learned. I’m not always so sure about that, though, that the lessons were learned, because I keep making some of the same stupid mistakes.

But there are also things I never want to forget, like my father’s face and his voice and his love for me. I never want to forget other people that have come through my life, and the good things they have brought to my life. And most definitely, I never want to forget You and Your benefits to my life. Help me to always remember that I belong to You.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
(Philippians 3:12 ESV)

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
(Hebrews 12:1 ESV)

It is important to remember (that was not intentional) that we have not yet “arrived.” Just like Paul, I have not obtained what I am after, yet. As U2 stated so well, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Of course, I have found Jesus, or, rather, He found me, because He is the one looking for “lost sheep,” right? But I have not fully obtained the perfect salvation that awaits me at the entrance to Home.

I have not arrived; I am not perfect. In fact, I’m pretty far from perfect. But there is one other important thing to remember.

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

Father, I am so grateful that You remember that we are dust. While You “command” that we are “holy,” as You are holy, or “perfect” as You are perfect, You still remember that we are dust, and that we are not, in fact either holy or perfect. We have the holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us, though. His righteousness has been added to my account. So You do not see, nor do You remember, my sin! Oh, Hallelujah!

I still search, and I still seek. I seek, first, Your kingdom. At least when I remember, I do that. Help me to remember to keep seeking Your kingdom, so that all other things will fall into place, as they should. Help me to lay aside the weight that I am not intended to bear, and that could mean a lot of different things. We take on weight that we should not, and that’s not always about sin. I look forward, with great anticipation, to being Home, and seeing that “great cloud of witnesses” that has gone before me.

Words are important. Words are powerful, both spoken and written.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

The spoken Word of God created the universe and brought light into being. It’s quite a wonder, if we ponder it, that light was created before there were any stars. But that’s a topic for another day.

“The spoken and written word is active; it does things, makes things happen. it is so easy to lose connection with this reality and let ourselves be intimidated by force and might, by horsepower and nuclear power, by money and militancy, and by terrorism and brutality.”

A man named Vaclav Havel “sat in prison in Czechoslovakia for many years because the communist government was afraid of his words and what his words would do.” He cared nothing about politics, but was “a deeply committed Christian who wrote plays for the stage and letters to his wife.” They were afraid of him because “he wrote truth, wrote well, and used words that were full of energy.”

After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, “he stepped out of prison and was immediately made president of his country. In the speeches he made after that remarkable reversal, he spoke over and over again to the Word, to the nature of the Word, to the Word of God and the Word made flesh.”

Not all words are active, though. If we separate our own words from the life of God, without His Spirit, they are small, meager. “Words used without accuracy, without passion, and without love are lifeless. . . . Words that make and root the world, that bring truth into lives, and that ignite love in hearts are the words that are born in the presence of God.”

And the place where we get those words is in our closet, in prayer; in His presence.

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

Father, help me to remember the power of words. But also that that power is contingent upon your presence. Yes, words that do not contain Your life and wisdom can be powerful, but they are lifeless. They do great evil. We are inundated, in today’s culture, with inaccurate words, words that spread misinformation, even though they may be spoken with passion. Help us to have wisdom when we listen; give us ears to hear only truth, Father, and let that truth be from Your Word, the Truth that is Jesus Christ. Let all other words fall by the wayside.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Remembering

Grace and peace, friends.

A Better Country

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

May the peace of Christ reign in your spirit.

Day 23,314

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Enough, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

1. that God is sovereign; even when it doesn't look like it, even when everything seems to be "off the rails," God is sovereign and ruling
2. for the gospel proclamation that the Kingdom of God is here, now
3. for the promise of a "better country," a heavenly country
4. for my partner in life
5. for my church family, who also serve to help strengthen me, as we bear one another's burdens
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; 
repent and believe in the gospel."
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 
(Mark 1:14-20 ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is Sovereign.

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

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

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

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

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

Hezekiah at least had an idea of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s prayer word is “partnership.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Praise the Lord

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,270

We had a very nice day, yesterday, with C’s family. There was way too much food, of course, and plenty of leftovers. We’ll be eating ham for a while. I suspect the green bean and corn casseroles, as well as the desserts, will all be gone by the end of today, though.

I got some good news in email. All of my gifts for my Secret Santa person should be in hand by the end of Tuesday. Also, I believe my gift for the library’s Christmas lunch gift exchange should arrive Monday.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, and I have to be there in an hour and twenty minutes, so I’d best get busy with what is important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Isn’t It?, by Daryl Madden

Isn’t it exhausting?
Life just seems too hard
Keeping up appearance
Living the façade

Isn’t is confusing?
No matter how I try
Being who I’m not
Living of a lie

Isn’t it so stressful?
Worries everywhere
Of all that could go wrong
Living here in fear

Isn’t it so freeing?
When our lifes outpoured
Being who God made me
Living for the Lord

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at his blog site, linked above.

“Ask,
and it will be given to you;
seek,
and you will find;
knock,
and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes
2. for good food and fellowship with family
3. for promises of answered prayer
4. that You are a God of restoration
5. for the many ways we have to praise You

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-27 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 WEB)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider that Jesus came to liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Lord’s favor. As I continue reading His Word, these thoughts will be in focus.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
(Haggai 1:5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation, and take refreshment in His presence.

The obvious word in Psalm 150 is “praise.” It occurs (if I am counting correctly) thirteen times in the psalm. All of the main questions are answered.

Who is praised? The Lord. Yahweh. Creator of the universe.
Where? In His sacred place; in His mighty heavens.
Why, or for what? His mighty acts of power, His surpassing greatness.
How? With sounds of trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipes, and cymbals. With activities or movement of dancing. 
Who is praising? Everything that has breath!

I think it is fitting that the Psalms end with the simple injunction to “praise the LORD.”

The thing that stands out to me in the Haggai passage is a phrase that is repeated in verses 5 and 7. “Give careful thought to your ways.” I can’t speak for anyone else (we all try, at times, though, don’t we?), but I am guilty of not doing that enough. “Give careful thought to your ways,” says the Lord, through the prophet Haggai.

To the people of Israel, He takes note that they plant, but harvest little. They eat, but are not filled. They put on clothes, but aren’t warm. They earn wages, but their purses or pockets seem to have holes in them. In other words, they never have enough.

Now, I don’t know if this is saying that they literally don’t have enough, or if they are a lot like our modern Western culture, where we can’t seem to be satisfied with what we have. I suspect that it may be a subtle combination of the two, but I can’t verify that.

At any rate, they are given the answer in the rest of the passage. The second time they are told to consider their ways, the house of the Lord is brought up. It seems that everyone is occupied with their own “houses,” while the Lord’s “house” remains in ruins.

This is very thought-provoking for me. Because, while I know and acknowledge, readily, that this passage is explicitly directed to Israel, I can see correlation in today’s Church. We get caught up in our own “houses,” or own lives, even our own families, which are, of course, important. But not more important than our relationship, or “house,” with the Lord.

We don’t have a physical “temple,” to which we are to travel, today. The individual person is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” as His Spirit resides and dwells in each of us. We are the “Church.” It is not a physical “house.” I don’t think that means we are supposed to spend extraordinary energy and time keeping our bodies fit, either.

This is about “soul keeping.” We need to make sure that we are keeping the Lord’s “house,” our souls, in good shape.

And one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to practice what Psalm 150 teaches us.

Praise the Lord.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I will praise You for no other reason (though I have plenty) than that You are God. I will praise You for Your mighty acts of power, too. I will praise You for Your surpassing greatness, Your most excellent righteousness. And in praising You, I shove aside selfish platitudes and thoughts; I shut out selfish needs concerning my own “house.” I tend to Your “house,” which is my soul, because my soul needs tending and keeping. Thank You for the reminders from Your Word, reminders of how important this upkeep of our souls is. Help me to stay focused on what is important to You.

I pray for Your Church to flourish all over the world. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You and “gathers, unites, and blesses” Your people.

"Generous God,
my way with money is a sure sign of my heart's trust.
and when it's mostly spent on me,
I show that my heart does not belong to You.
Center me again on You,
the source of everything good;
remind me of how rich I am because of Jesus and free up a generous heart for others.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is a person who endures temptation,
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life,
which the Lord promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

For the Sake of Your Great Name

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of April, 2021, the third Sunday of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,047

32 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

I wound up working four hours, yesterday morning, so that wasn’t too bad. I got some good things accomplished, some tasks that I have been putting off for a while, as they were not priority tasks. My manager expressed great gratitude for my coming to work, which was nice. I also received a compliment on the cleanliness and orderliness of my work area. The supervisor told me that I was probably the only person he has not had to have a “5S” conversation with. That was a good feeling.

What is “5S,” you ask? Well, if you work anywhere, especially in a company that has nationwide or worldwide locations, you probably already know this. But it is a system of organization that insists that all workstations look as much the same as possible, and, as you might guess each of the five points begins with S. It’s like an alliterative sermon, only with five points instead of three. And no poem or quote at the beginning and end.

  • Sort – go through everything that is at your workstation and evaluate what needs to be there and what doesn’t. Anything that is not needed to complete the task at hand should be removed
  • Set in Order (this used to be “straighten,” but someone decided, at some point that this point should have three words while all the others have only one) – this is different from “sort,” in that, in this state, one is identifying the storage location for each item at the workstation. We want to make sure each tool that we use has an identifiable place. “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This also involves a lot of labels. Everything at my desk is labeled. Or, at least, the place where it belongs.
  • Shine (this used to be “sanitize”) – clean the place, and keep it clean. I have seen some posters that use the word “sweep” for this one, which is, in my opinion, too specific. I kind of like “shine” best. You want your workplace to shine.
  • Standardize – this is where you get into every workstation (that performs the same operation) looking identical. What I don’t like about this one is that it does not allow for any personal items at the workstation. This means people cannot have family pictures at their desk, even though they are the only ones using it. Each of our workstations has a photo above it. “Does the area look like this?”
  • Sustain – this point is obvious. Keep it up, going forward. Which, if you are doing, gets easier over time, because you don’t have to spend as much time on the other four points.

I have mixed feelings about 5S. I certainly recognize the value of a clean and organized workplace. However, the “standardize” feature creates a very impersonal feel and makes employees feel more like numbers or tools than people. It goes along with calling people “resources.” I don’t like that. We are not “resources.” We are human beings, and we are not all identical, as our workstations are supposed to be.

I also believe that hyper-focusing on 5S wastes time that could be used in productivity. If I am required to stop “working” at a certain time every day, in order to practice 5S, that is time when I could be completing at least one more task. May more more than one.

So there you have it. Whether you wanted it or not. If you are still reading, I applaud you (and thank you, because I’ll get to the “good stuff” soon.

The Texas Rangers lost another game to the Baltimore Orioles, last night, 6-1. Texas scored first, in the bottom of the fourth inning, but, once again, the bullpen was unable to hold that small lead. Joely Rodriguez (0-1) only gave up two of those six runs, but it was enough to get tagged for the loss. Here’s a thought. What if every pitcher in the bullpen got tagged with a loss every time that happened? The single run, I believe, was scored by Nate Lowe. I also notice that Willie Calhoun played as DH and went two for four. That makes me happy.

The Rangers remain in the cellar in the AL West, with a 6-9 record, three games behind the first place LA Angels. Next game will be today at 1:35 CDT, with Kyle Gibson (2-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox came from behind to beat the Other Sox 7-4. They scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Adam Ottavino (2-1) got the win. The Sox remain alone at the top of the AL East, with a 10-4 record, 3.5 games ahead of the second place Orioles. And Rays. And Blue Jays. Yes, there is a three-way tie for second place. And the Yankees take up the rear, five games out.

The Soxes will play again this afternoon, at 4:10 CDT, with Martin Perez (sigh) (0-0) taking the mound for Boston.

The LA Dodgers continue to dominate the MLB, with an eight-game winning streak (thanks to a spectacular catch by the Mookster last night), and a 13-2 record. Boston is 2.5 games behind them. Oddly, the Reds of Cincinnati are third over all. It’s still early. Hahaha! The Colorado Rockies finally won a game, but are still at the bottom, with the Arizona Diamondbacks barely ahead of them.

We have our worship gathering of The Church that Meets at Brandon and Kristin’s this morning at 10:15. We will be picking up with Psalm 23, this morning, to which I am looking forward. Even though it is probably the most popular and most read Psalm, there is so much in there to unpack. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

After church, we will, most likely order lunch from Applebee’s, and pick it up on the way home. We plan to have steaks this evening, cooked with the sous vide cooker.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Awaken, by Daryl Madden

A gift everyday
To find we’re alive
When we awake
And open our eyes

Up out of bed
The kitchen we find
With a cup of coffee
We awaken our mind

Time to clean up
With a shower begin
With soap and hot water
We awaken our skin

We’re ready to go
The world now to face
But we forgot
This thought to embrace

A time to pause
And give up control
With intentional purpose
To awaken the soul

To soak in the sunrise
Or dwell in the Word
A prayer of the stilling
The Spirit be heard

As I commented on Daryl’s WordPress page, I am never ready “the world now to face,” until I have accomplished the last two stanzas, which is why I’m sitting in front of this computer today and every day.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign.”
(Revelation 11:17 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the love of friends and family
  • for the beautiful weather expected today
  • for books and my love of reading
  • for the Resurrection and the Life
  • for Your great Name
  • for the peace that is given us by Jesus
  • for the fullness of joy in Your presence, and the “pleasures forevermore” at Your right hand

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

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to meditate on the resurrection and the life.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
of scorn and derision to those around us.

How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
(Psalms 79:1-5 NIV)

Help us, God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-57 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy being with God, this morning, I look again at these passages, seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit. Are there words or phrases that resonate with my spirit, this morning? What does God wish to say to me? What does the Spirit wish to speak into my life, this morning?

The psalms around Psalm 79 seem to have a consistent theme. I was reading Psalm 78 earlier . . . verse 41 seems to summarize . . . “Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.” (NIV) This is reminiscent of the book of Judges, where, again and again, it is stated, “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

The events being described in Psalm 79 are consequences of their rebellion. But Asaph is crying out to God, not so much because the people are suffering, but because the Name of the Lord is being defiled. “Your holy temple;” “your servants,” “your own people.”

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:9 NIV)

The psalmist’s main concern is the glory of the Name of God.

We don’t seem to care as much for the glory of His name, these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m right in the middle of the group, as well. How many of our prayers are for the sake of His name and the glory of His name?

People who know me on Facebook are well familiar with my daily “What can I pray for you today” post. I can’t remember one single request asking for anything for the sake of His name, or for the glory of His name. Most of them are for travel safety or something like that. Someone in the family is having surgery. Weight loss, health concerns. A lot of times they are quite vague.

Don’t misunderstand . . . there is absolutely nothing wrong with such prayer requests. In fact, I believe that, as long as we are bringing our thoughts/prayers/needs to the throne, God does not judge our prayer requests. I’m not judging them, either. That would be wrong.

I’m simply pointing out that we seldom pray, or ask for prayer, for anything for the sake of His great Name, which is what Asaph does in Psalm 79. At the risk of sounding boastful, I will say that there are times when I will tag my prayer for someone else with a phrase such as “for the glory of Your Name.” I don’t do that lightly, when I do. It’s not “vain repetition.” I mean it.

I guess, though, that I chalk it all up to our self-centered culture. Even when we pray, We tend to be self-centered. And take a look at the most popular worship songs. They are full of “I” and “me,” rather than “us” or “we,” and a lot less than “You.”

I strongly believe that we have allowed our culture to influence us too much, in this area. I believe that we need to step back and reevaluate our mindset. Maybe we need to consider why we want God to heal us (or a family member); maybe we need to consider why we want that travel safety. If our reason is not “for the sake of Your name,” then what is it?

Father, I confess that I am also guilty of this. I need Your help. First, help me not to judge the prayer requests of others. They are offered (I trust) in sincerity, even when they are vague. Help us to be more vulnerable in our prayers. Help us to seek the glory of Your great Name, first and foremost. Even the most basic prayers can be glorious, if, in our hearts, the motivation is for the sake of Your great Name. Remind, me, please, when I pray, that this should be my motivation, even if it wasn’t the motivation for the person’s request. “Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.”

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.

Incarnate God,
this body you've given me -
good and beautiful as it is -
bleeds,
breaks down,
and eventually will betray me.
Thank you God,
for the deep hope that one day,
by the power of Christ,
I will walk on strong limbs,
listen to the sound of glory,
see true blue skies,
think clearly,
dance unfettered and free,
and kneel before you lost in wonder and worship.
Thank you that my future is not some ethereal existence 
but is truly human resurrected life.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 57)

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.
(Psalms 55:4 NIV)

Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.
Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:5-8 NLT)

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
(Luke 12:4-7 NLT)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.”
(John 14:27-28 NLT)

This Tuesday, the twentieth of April, will be the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing from this life to the next. How ironic (and fitting) that today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021 features Amy Eddings writing about the three year anniversary of her own father’s passing.

I realized, a couple days ago, that this time was, once again, upon us. I do think about death, probably quite a bit. But it’s not an obsession with death. It’s more curiosity; more like wonder. Sure, there is an element of fear, because none of us knows what it’s like. Only those who have experienced it know, and they aren’t telling us.

I don’t think I fear death. It’s more the cause of it that scares me. Like most people, I don’t like pain. I can’t even begin to imagine the terror that filled the hearts of the handful of people who died in that horrific chain-reaction car crash on the I-35 Express lane, back in February. Trapped in twisted metal in below-freezing conditions. That’s the kind of thing that causes the fear, not death, itself.

My father, I assume, died peacefully. He probably fell asleep. I wonder if he even noticed the transition. Dallas Willard once said that he thinks that some people will be walking so closely with Jesus that, when they pass, they won’t even notice. Willard’s last words, it is said, with his face pointed toward the wall of his room, were, “Thank you.”

Jesus gives us peace. Peace that we cannot find in the world. Peace that we cannot find in our self-centered culture. “So,” He says, “Don’t be troubled or afraid.” There it is again. “Fear not.” Over and over and over and over . . .

So, for the sake of His great Name, I will not fear. For the glory of the Name of the Lord, I will live in peace. For His honor, I will pray for whatever anyone asks of me (unless it’s political . . . sorry, I don’t pray politics, because there’s a pretty good chance that I don’t agree with your politics, and there’s an even greater chance that God doesn’t, either).

Father, thank You for the peace that Jesus gives us. Thank You for the resurrection and the life, and that, someday, we will join You, wherever “heaven” is. I long for Home, Lord. Day by day, I grow more weary of this place, this culture, and the extreme selfishness that comes with it. I cringe when I find myself drawn in to that same self-centeredness. Forgive me when I practice that mindset. Teach me to love the way You have loved, with every ounce of my being. Teach me to approach all people without judging. Teach me Your path, Lord, and I thank You for the fullness of joy that I feel in Your presence, and the “pleasures forevermore” at Your right hand.

Lord, give us deeper fellowship with our risen Savior. Give us, today, spiritual renewal and refreshment in whatever environment we find ourselves.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Highest Desire

“Many baseball fans look upon an umpire as a sort of necessary evil to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile.”~~Christy Mathewson
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is nullibiquitous, which means, “existing nowhere.” I guess it’s the opposite of ubiquitous.

Today is World Autism Day. April is also Autism Awareness Month. Since we have a daughter who is high-functioning autistic, this is meaningful to us.

We found out yesterday, at work, that our yearly raises are being delayed at least another quarter. It seems that, on a national level, the company is “underperforming.” We aren’t very happy about this, as we are very aware that our particular facility is making good money, and our customer is extremely happy with us. We were pretty much promised that, not only would merit increases happen in April, but that they would also actually be true merit raises, based on our reviews. After all . . . if raises are going to be across the board flat rate raises, why bother having reviews?

Today is Saturday, and Rachel and Justin will be coming over this evening, to celebrate Rachel’s birthday, which was this past Tuesday. We’ll be going out to eat somewhere.

On this date in 1513, Ponce de Leon, while searching for the legendary “Fountain of Youth,” discovered Florida. He immediately set up a retirement community. You can read the whole story at History.com.

Today’s birthdays include:

742–Charlemagne
1805–Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer
1875–Walter Chrysler, American auto pioneer
1891–Max Ernst, German painter
1908–Buddy Ebsen, American actor/dancer
1912–Herbert Mills, American singer, The Mills Brothers
1914–Sir Alec Guinness, English actor
1920–Jack Webb, American actor
1939–Marvin Gaye, American singer
1940–Penelope Keith, English actress
1941–Dr. Demento, American radio personality
1942–Leon Russell, American blues-rock pianist/singer
1945–Linda Hunt, American actress
1947–Emmylou Harris, American singer
1953–Debralee Scott, American actress
1964–Pete Incaviglia, American baseball player

Buddy Ebsen was an American actor who, at least by my generation, was probably best known for playing Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. Here is a rather strange clip from that show, that I found on You Tube.

Samuel F. B. Morse, Esther Morris, Hermann Rorschach, Gil Hodges, Buddy Rich, and Edwin Starr are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:1-5

“God is to the soul what water is to the body: an absolute need, felt intensely.” The very fact that we long for him is evidence of “the reality of the God who is there to fulfill our being.”

“‘As pants the hart for cooling streams when heated in the chase, so longs my soul, O God, for Thee, and Thy refreshing grace.’ In Jesus’ name (Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, ‘As Pants the Hart’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Glory That Excels”

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 9:17

When Paul’s sight was restored to him, he also received “insight into the Person of Jesus Christ.” The rest of his life consisted of nothing other than preaching the Gospel of Christ. “No attraction was ever allowed to hold the mind and soul of Paul save the face of Jesus Christ.”

If we are to be spiritual people, we must have this “concentrated passion” in our lives. “Never allow anything to deflect you from insight into Jesus Christ.” We must fight against things that push to have a growing fascination for us. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But it’s not. I struggle daily with things that present themselves to me in such a way as to distract me from Christ. And all too often, they are successful.

Father, strengthen my will, my mind, my imagination, and my spirit, that I might fight harder against these things that draw my attention away from Christ. While it is okay to have “hobbies” and other interests, these things should not occupy the bulk of my attention or desires. May Jesus Christ be my highest desire.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

More Than A Savior

“If you wish to be loved, show more of your faults than your virtues.”~~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is rupestrine, which means “living or growing on or among rocks.” I would like to think that this also applies to people of whom we say, “Do you live under a rock??”

Today is Absinthe Day. There’s a great deal of mystery surrounding this allegedly hallucinogenic alcoholic beverage. It seems to have been banned for a while, but is legal again. However, I’m not sure it’s quite the same as the drink that famously inspired Earnest Hemingway and Oscar Wilde. I would love to try it sometime, but a bottle costs in the neighborhood of $85. And I don’t think you’re supposed to just drink it straight. I have had some in a “Margarita” at our old favorite Mexican restaurant that closed. It was quite good, and tastes slightly of licorice. In days gone by, people who drank absinthe were said to be “chasing the green fairy.”

Yesterday was a pleasant work day. We got off work on time, which is always nice on a Friday. I picked up dinner at OC Burger (none of us had “burgers”) and brought it home, where we relaxed and watched Tuesday’s episode of The Voice. There were a few good auditions, but no one really remarkable. Except for maybe this girl named Emily Keener who performed a very interesting take on Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

Today, Christi and I are going to the North Texas Irish Festival. This event occurs on the first weekend of March, each year. I look forward to hearing some great Celtic music and sampling some delicious food. I may even buy stuff. Who knows? But not much. We don’t have room for much more stuff around here.

On this date in 1963, the Hula Hoop was patented. You can read the story at History.com.

Today’s birthdays include:

1133–Henry II, King of England
1713–Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury
1836–Charles Goodnight, American cattle rancher
1853–Howard Pyle, American author and illustrator
1887–Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian composer
1908–Sir Rex Harrison, English actor
1914–Philip Farkas, American horn player/teacher
1920–Virginia Christine, American actress
1922–James Noble, American actor, Benson
1927–Jack Cassidy, American actor, Mary Tyler Moore
1931–Barry Tuckwell, Australian horn player
1936–Dean Stockwell, American actor, “Yog Sotthoth!”
1939–Samantha Eggar, English actress
1946–Murray Head, British actor and singer, Anthony’s brother
1948–Elaine Paige, English singer/actress, Cats
1948–Eddy Grant, Guyana-born singer, “Electric Avenue”
1954–Marsha Warfield, American actress, Night Court
1955–Penn Jellette, American comedian/magician
1958–Andy Gibb, English-born Australian singer
1959–David Fury, American TV writer/producer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1969–Paul Blackthorne, British actor, The Dresden Files
1974–Eva Mendes, American actress

Dean Stockwell is an actor that has played many roles, my favorite of which is probably that of Wilbur Whateley in the 1970 movie, The Dunwich Horror. He turns 80 years old today.

Crispus Attucks, David Dunbar Buick, Joseph Stalin, Sergei Prokofiev, Patsy Cline, Michael Jeffery, Jay Silverheels, Yip Harburg, John Belushi, and William Powell are among notable deaths on this date.

Patsy Cline died in a plane crash on this date in 1963.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 33:1-5

What is “praise?” Peterson defines it as “talking and singing happily about what God has done.” A very simple, but adequate, definition. It is appropriate language and music for human nature, and “it brings out the best in us even as it celebrates the best in God.”

“‘Let me, God, add my voice to all who praise you.
“Great praises are in the air!”
I recollect your word;
I observe your works;
everything is praiseworthy!
All praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!’
(Richard Eberhardt, ‘Great Praises’). Amen.”

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “Is he Really Lord?”

if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus Acts 20:24

In the KJV, it is translated “so that I might finish my course with joy.” This prompts Oswald Chambers to briefly discuss the meaning of joy. He calls it “the perfect fulfillment of that for which i was created and regenerated, not the successful doing of a thing.” Isn’t that exactly the opposite of how most of us would define “joy?” But the desire of Paul’s heart, that which would give him joy, was the finishing of the course and ministry given him by Jesus.

This is the thing we look for when we desire to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when our lives have been completed. In order to do this, however, we must find our “niche” in life. We find this, spiritually, when “we receive our ministry from the Lord.” But in order to receive this, we must spend time in his company; “we must know Him as more than a personal Savior.” (Emphasis mine) This is where many Christians lose out. We get saved. Maybe we read our Bible occasionally, and even might go to church regularly. But if we do not spend time on our own with Christ, we will miss out on some marvelously fulfilling ministry opportunity.

Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” and then answers with, “Feed my sheep.” When we receive a ministry from Christ, we learn that the need is not the call; “the need is the opportunity. The call is loyalty to the ministry you received when you were in real touch with Him.” And when this is received, it is okay to “ignore the demands for service along other lines.”

I also believe that this ministry can change, as the seasons of life change. I, personally, have experienced this, as my ministry changed from being a worship leader to being a prayer leader. I would also encourage those who don’t have this realization, yet. Stay in touch with Christ. He will reveal something to you, eventually.

Father, I thank you that you have use for me in your Kingdom. I pray for the discipline and inspiration from the Holy Spirit to accomplish that ministry, to be faithful to it. Lead me in the way that you have for me. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Help me to abide in Christ, daily.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

That At the Name of Jesus

“Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you.”~~Walter Winchell
(BrainyQuote)
This, by the way, is how I would define marriage. I believe it is the kind of marriage that Christi and I have had for going on thirty-one years, now.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is abstemious, “sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet.” Unfortunately, I have not been able to accomplish this trait.

Today is Love Your Pet Day. At our house, we do that every day. But maybe today, we’ll get them a special treat. Yes, I said “them.” Don’t ask.

I got off work at 3:30 yesterday!! I know, right? We had all the receiving finished, my work queue was empty, so the manager said we could go home early. On a Friday!! It was glorious. Christi had left early for a mammogram appointment (everything was fine, she was told), so I called in an order at O.C. Burger, and she picked it up on her way home. We were eating dinner and watching TV shows before 6:00PM. Unheard of!

Today is the day we make the big switch from ATT/DirecTV to Charter. The installer is supposed to be here between 1 and 2 this afternoon. One thing I need to do before he (why do I assume it’s “he?”) arrives is to go through the shows that we record and make a list so that we don’t forget any with the new system. I just hope everything works the way it’s supposed to.

I think Rachel and Justin are supposed to come over this evening to eat and hang out. That’s always fun. Other than that, we don’t have a lot planned today.

There are 44 days, 2 hours, and 58 minutes until Opening Day of baseball season.

On this date in 2003, a fire broke out in a Rhode Island nightclub, killing 100 people and injuring almost 200 more. The fire was started by an unapproved pyrotechnic display put on by the band Great White. You can read the store at History.com.

Today’s birthdays include

1902–Ansel Adams, American photographer
1906–Gale Gordon, American TV and radio actor, Mr. Mooney on The Lucy Show
1924–Gloria Vanderbilt, American clothing designer
1925–Robert Altman, American film director, Mash
1926–Richard Matheson, American author, I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come
1927–Sidney Poitier, American actor, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, A Patch of Blue
1929–Amanda Blake, American actress, Gunsmoke
1934–Bobby Unser, American racing driver
1936–Larry Hovis, American singer/actor, Sgt. Carter on Hogan’s Heroes
1941–Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer
1946–J. Geils, American guitarist, J. Geils Band
1946–Sandy Duncan, American singer and actress
1948–Jennifer O’Neill, Brazilian-born actress, Summer of ’42
1950–Walter Becker, American guitarist, Steely Dan
1951–Randy California, American guitarist, Spirit
1951–Edward Albert, American actor, Butterflies Are Free
1954–Patty Hearst, American socialite
1960–Joel Hodgson, American comedian, Mystery Science Theater 3000
1963–Charles Barkley, American basketball player
1966–Cindy Crawford, American model
1967–Lili Taylor, American actress, The Conjuring, The Haunting, Mystic Pizza
1967–Kath Soucie, American voice actress, Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory
1967–Kurt Cobain, American musician, Nirvana
1978–Lauren Ambrose, American actress, Six Feet Under
1983–Justin Verlander, American baseball player

Randy California was a guitarist, singer, and original member of the rock group Spirit. He was born on this date in 1951, and passed away in 1997. Here is their song, “I Got A Line On You.”

William Wallace Lincoln, P.G.T. Beauregard, Frederick Douglass, Max Schreck, Percy Grainger, Chester Nimitz, Walter Winchell, Kathryn Kuhlman, Dick York, Ferruccio Lamborghini, Burt Lancaster, Gene Siskel, Ty Longley (oh, the irony), Hunter S. Thompson, Sandra Dee, and Curt Gowdy are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:5-11

David the psalmist uses metaphors of thunder, lightning, earthquake, and storm, some of the most powerful forces in nature, to describe God’s word: “in such a way the world of nature becomes a parable of the world of grace.”

“God, your commanding voice in Jesus stilled storms on Galilee and quieted hurricane fears in disciples’ hearts. Now train me in trust so that I may put aside my timidity and embrace your might word with robust faith. Amen.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2016)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

In today’s reading, Jeff Japinga writes of an encounter that changed his way of thinking about service. He has a friend who is a pastor of a small church in Brooklyn. The membership is around fifty people, but on evenings when they serve up a hot meal to homeless people, over two hundred might show up.

Jeff was on hand one day when a local food-surplus organization delivered three tons of fresh green beans to the church. Three tons. Can you even imagine how many green beans that is?? Jeff is 6’5″ and says that the stacks towered over him. As volunteers came and went, cooking for the night’s dinner and bagging fresh green beans, Jeff found himself next to an actor “who, in a few hours, would be performing his role in a Broadway play.” Jeff inquired as to how it felt taking bows at the end of a play with all of the applause. “‘Actually, I get more satisfaction from working here,’ he said, ‘because it’s not about people saying thank you to me for something I’ve done. It’s about me saying thank You to God through what I’m doing. that’s what gives me the deepest satisfaction.'”

Jeff has adjusted his thinking because of this encounter. It is not about doing good deeds and being recognized for them. “It’s about intentionally asking how I might use part of my skill that day to say thank You to God.”

It takes great humility to serve in this way, but I have come to believe that it is the best way. I always cringe when we applaud people for their works of service. This is not why we should be serving, not for men’s applause. Consider what Paul says about Jesus Christ in the famous hymn from Philippians 2.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Father, continue to teach me this humility. Let the offering of my “good works” to you be enough. I don’t need the recognition or applause of men. Let my heart be such that everything I do, I do for you in humility and grace. And never, ever let me fall into thinking that I am repaying you for the infinite grace that you have lavished on me.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Am I Listening?

“A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.”~~Rupert Brooke
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is groggery. A groggery is “a slightly disreputable barroom.” Best stay away from those, right?

Today is Radio Day, a day formed in 2011, to celebrate the importance of radio communication, which, in some parts of the world, still remains the primary means of information and communication.

I didn’t get up until 9:30, this morning, hence the late-ish blog entry.

I worked about an hour late, yesterday, as did Christi, so we wound up having a late dinner. We called out for Asian food at our usual place, and had it delivered. We watched a few TV shows, then Christi went to bed, and I stayed up, as is my custom, to play Fallout 4. After a couple of hours, I noticed I was having a hard time staying awake, so I went on to bed, as well. It’s been a touch week. We’re all hoping for some better weeks ahead. And, of course, we are praying and hoping for some good news next week.

We got our taxes filed today, finally. We’re getting a small amount back, this year. I don’t know what else will be going on today. Christi is still coughing quite bit, from whatever ailment she has had this week, so I don’t know if we’ll get to the grocery store today, or not. The manager of our Kroger store, who is also our pastor’s dad, is in the hospital with double pneumonia! He’s doing better, I hear, but will remain in the hospital, at least through today.

I’m rambling a bit, so I should probably get on to other things.

On this date in 1633, Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to face heresy charges. You see, he believed that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Scandalous! You can read the story at History.com.

Today’s birthdays include:

1599–Pope Alexander VII
1885–Bess Truman, First Lady
1891–Grant Wood, American painter
1919–Tennessee Ernie Ford, American musician
1923–Chuck Yeager, American pilot
1933–Kim Novak, American actress
1934–George Segal, American actor
1938–Oliver Reed, English actor
1942–Peter Tork, American musician, The Monkees
1942–Carol Lynley, American actress
1944–Jerry Springer, American TV host
1944–Stockard Channing, American actress
1950–Peter Gabriel, English musician
1951–David Naughton, American actor/singer, “I’m A Pepper”
1961–Henry Rollins, American musician
1976–Feist, Canadian singer/songwriter

Peter Tork is an American musician and actor, most famously known as the bass player for The Monkees. He is 74 years old today. Here is my favorite song by The Monkees.

Catherine Howard, Cotton Mather, Richard Wagner, David Janssen, Waylon Jennings, Dick Weber, and Nelson Briles are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Psalm 25:6-10

“God likes our sins even less than our neighbors do. But he treats them far differently.” Isn’t that the truth? We humans tend to judge, reject, and condemn people for being flawed (as we all are), but God “instructs” us, he “leads” us, and he “teaches us. “Our sins are an occasion not for harsh rejection, but for loving reconciliation.”

“I confess my sins to you, O Lord, confident that you will not reject this sinner, but find new ways to share your forgiveness and steadfast love, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “The Devotion of Hearing.”

And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
1 Samuel 3:10

Just because I have listened to one thing God says to me is not a guarantee that I will listen to all that he says. I tend to be obtuse toward many things that God tries to speak to me, and this is one way that I demonstrate disrespect toward him. Most of us would shudder to think that we had disobeyed the voice of Jesus at any point. But the thing that hinders me from hearing is that I am frequently too focused on other things. “It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear him.” May we have more of the attitude of little Samuel, who, upon hearing the voice of God (after Eli set him straight about who it was that was calling him), eagerly proclaimed, “Speak, for your servant hears!”

May we hear God’s voice today!

Father, I confess that I don’t always listen to you. Even when I am supposed to be concentrating on these devotions, my mind and heart are drawn away by other things, from finances to entertainment. May I be more focused on you, that my life may be more consistent and stable. I have confidence that you hear me; may I cause you to have confidence that I hear you, as well.

I pray, still, for our friend and brother, Greg, that you might clear out his lungs and heal him.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Hearing the Call

“Happy is the man whom the Muses love: sweet speech flows from his mouth.”~~Hesiod
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is lacustrine, “of or relating to a lake.”

Today is Nothing Day. Seriously. I’m not making that up. Just a day to do nothing.

And that’s probably exactly what will happen around here, today, at least for me. I had a pretty rough night, last night. I’ll admit that I did stay up past 1:00 playing Fallout 4. But at some point during that time, my stomach started giving me fits. I went to bed, and tried to go to sleep, but kept feeling quite nauseated. Finally, around 2:45 or so, I got up and made a cup of peppermint tea to try to settle my stomach. I fought the nausea until after 4:00, at which point I went back to bed, and was finally able to fall asleep. I woke up at around 9:30. I know, right?? But, try as I might, I could not fall back asleep. I was actually feeling some hunger, so I think I’m going to live. I’ve had a couple cups of coffee, and things are feeling okay in there.

We do have our grocery shopping to do, today, but, other than that, that’s about it. Obviously, I’m a bit late getting started on this. But Christi and I were going over financial stuff, revisiting the budget.

It was on this date in 1970 that Curt Flood filed the lawsuit against Major League Baseball that would ultimately result in what we know, today, as free agency. Read the story at History.com.

Today’s birthdays include:

1821–John C. Breckinridge, 14th Vice President of the U.S.
1901–Frank Zamboni, American inventor
1902–Eric Liddell, Scottish runner, inspiration for Chariots of Fire
1908–Ethel Merman, American actress/singer
1910–Dizzy Dean, American baseball player, slud into third
1917–Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain
1920–Elliott Reid, American actor
1932–Dian Fossey, American zoologist
1933–Susan Sontag, American writer
1935–A.J. Foyt, American race car driver
1944–Jim Stafford, American singer/songwriter, doesn’t like spiders and snakes
1946–Ronnie Milsap, American singer/songwriter, has daydreams about night things in the middle of the afternoon
1948–John Carpenter, American film director, escaped from New York
1950–Debbie Allen, American dancer/choreographer, sometime judge on So You Think You Can Dance
1959–Sade, Nigerian-born singer, she’s a smooth operator
1970–Garth Ennis, Irish comic book author, Preacher
1974–Kate Moss, English model
1980–Albert Pujols, Dominican baseball player
1985–Joe Flacco, American football player

Dizzy Dean was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the thirties. He and his brother “Daffy,” combined for a total of 49 wins in 1934, a year in which the Cardinals won the World Series. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.

Can you tell I miss baseball?

Marshall Field, Carole Lombard, Arturo Toscanini, Ross Bagdasarian (aka David Seville), Ted Cassidy (Lurch), Herbert W. Armstrong, Glenn Corbett, Ennis Cosby, and Andrew Wyeth are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13

If we can trust what we read in the Psalms, we find that it is okay to question God. But we also find that we might not always expect an answer. David doesn’t get an answer to “how long.” But he still arrives at the place of trust in the steadfast love and salvation of God. “God doesn’t open his plan book to the curious eyes of impatient sinners.” What we do get, however, is our God, “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)

“O God, what good would it do me if I did know the answers to the querulous questions with which I badger you? You know what I really need–not more information, but more love; not your timetable, but your presence. Thank you for giving me yourself in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “The Voice of the Nature of God.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Isaiah 6:8

We tend to speak quite a bit about the “call of God.” But what we tend to forget is that which is most important, “the nature of the One Who calls.” We always hear of those select individuals who hear “the call of the sea, the call of the mountains, the call of the great ice barriers.” We must consider that the call expresses the nature of the one calling, “and we can only record the call if the same nature is in us.” it might be good to let that sink in for a minute.

“The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not of our nature.” Each of us has parts of God’s call that works within us, parts that we and no one else can recognize. “It is the threading of God’s voice to us in some particular matter, and it is no use consulting anyone else about it.” This is something profound between the individual and God, alone.

But when God calls me, it is not the “echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered.” If I am considering these things, primarily, and thinking only about what I think I’m best fitted for, I will not hear God’s call. However, if I enter into an intimate relationship with God, such as Isaiah had, then I will hear. “The majority of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, we cannot hear a thing God says.” All you have to do is listen to conversations at church to grasp this truth. Even in our most attuned state, we still tend to think more about ourselves than what God truly wants for us. “To be brought into the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.”

Father, open my eyes, my ears, and my heart to your call. While it’s true that I can say that I’ve heard your call throughout my life, there has always been a tendency to step back into what I think is best, what I think I can do. Stretch me, Father, to do your will. Bring me into that zone of your call, with all my senses awake to you. Teach me to set myself aside so that I may consider you and your purpose for me.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Going Out Without Knowing

“Continually revise your attitude towards God and see if it is a going out of everything, trusting in God entirely.”~~Oswald Chambers

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.”~~John Dewey
(BrainQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is redintegrate. In spite of appearance, this word has nothing to do with the color red. It’s a verb, meaning, “to make whole again; restore to a perfect state; renew; reestablish.” Apparently, this is the opposite of “disintegrate.”

Today is Science Fiction Day. January 2 was chosen for the date of Science Fiction Day because it is also the birthday of Isaac Asimov, who was one of the premier Science Fiction authors.

We didn’t eat black-eyed peas, yesterday. I just thought I would get that out there right off the bat. I actually don’t remember the last time I had black-eyed peas, on New Year’s Day or otherwise. No one else in my household like peas, so I rarely eat them. I don’t mind black-eyed peas, but I prefer crowder peas. They have always been my favorite. Do not ask my why they are called “crowder” peas. I have no idea. I do, however, have fond memories of shelling peas in the carport at my Grandmother and Grandaddy’s house.

We didn’t do much of anything yesterday. In fact, the only time anyone left the house was when Christi went out to her car to get the ID number on her XM radio, because her free trial wasn’t working in her new car. While she was out, she decided to go get us drinks at Sonic. We had Rotel dip and chips for lunch, watched an episode of Criminal Minds, then Christi went to the extra bedroom to paint while I played Fallout 4.

Oh, right. Then we all left the house to go eat dinner at IHOP. I forgot about that. After that, we watched several more episodes of Criminal Minds, then I played the game some more.

Christi just left to go use the Groupon for a hot stone massage that I got her for Christmas. We’ll probably go get groceries for her step-dad and mom after that. I don’t think there is anything else planned for today.

On this date in 1962, the folk group The Weavers were banned from an appearance on The Jack Parr Show after refusing to sign a political loyalty oath. The Weavers, founded by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, were responsible for a resurgence of American folk music, and could allegedly be responsible for the careers of people like Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul and Mary. You can read more about it in this article.

Today’s birthdays include:

1909–Barry Goldwater, American politician
1920–Isaac Asimov, American author
1936–Roger Miller, American singer
1963–David Cone, American baseball player
1968–Cuba Gooding, Jr., American actor
1975–Dax Shepard, American actor
1975–Doug Robb, American singer, Hoobastank
1976–Paz Vega, Spanish actress
1983–Kate Bosworth, American actress

Doug Robb is the lead singer for the rock group Hoobastank. He turns 41 today. Here is their 2003 hit, “The Reason.”

Tex Ritter, Alan Hale, Jr., Randy California, and Anne Francis are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2

Yesterday’s Psalm 1 could be considered a “laser concentration on the individual,” while today’s Psalm 2 could be a “wide-angle lens on humanity.” While God deals with each of us on a personal level, he also has ways that deal with “nations, rulers, kings, and governments.”

“‘O God of earth and alter, bow down and hear our cry; our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die; the walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide; take not Thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.’ Amen” (“O God of Earth and Alter,” by G.K. Chesterton)

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “Will You Go Out without Knowing?”

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

Anyone who has gone out in this way knows that “there is no logical statement when anyone asks what you are doing.” That is a difficulty, sometimes, in Christian work . . . you really don’t always know what you are going to be doing.

When I was in seminary, many young people came from other states to get a theology, music, or education degree. So many of them declared, even when they were just beginning, that they were certain that God would send them right back where they came from, upon receiving their degree. I wonder how many of them actually realized those aspirations. I know that God doesn’t always work in the way that we think he will.

“Continually revise your attitude towards God and see if it is a going out of everything, trusting in God entirely.” Maintaining this attitude keeps us in a state of “perpetual wonder,” as we don’t know what God will do next. But we also must realize how difficult this is, especially if one’s lift is entrenched in religious tradition and habit. We get too comfortable with what we think we know about God, which makes it terribly difficult to “revise your attitude towards God.” (See above statement about young seminary students.)

We might even consider each day’s beginning to be a new “going out,” as we never know what the day will bring. Do we ask God what he is going to do? More than likely, he will not tell us. More than likely, rather than revealing what he is going to do, he will reveal who he is. And wouldn’t that be better, anyway? Wouldn’t we rather know who God is, than what he’s going to do? If we “go out” with this attitude, we will not be surprised at anything that God does.

“You have to learn to go out of convictions, out of creeds, out of experiences, until so far as your faith is concerned, there is nothing between yourself and God.”

Father, teach me to “go out” in this way. You have, over the years, taught me to not depend on traditions and past experiences, but I still need that extra push to go out in complete faith, not knowing what you will do next. May this be a year that I step out in faith to serve you.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 23-24

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.