An Eternal Hallelujah

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”~~Thomas Edison

Today’s word of the day, from, is clinquant, adjective meaning, “glittering, especially with tinsel; decked with garish finery,” and noun meaning, “imitation gold leaf; tinsel; false glitter.”

Today is Make Up Your Mind Day. If you’re one of those people who is frequently indecisive, today is the day to make up your mind. Stop putting off those “important” decisions.

It’s New Years Eve. Last day of 2015. The last page of two devotional books. We have to go back to work today, me for half a day, because there is still nothing to do, and Christi for the whole day, and possibly working late, this evening, because there are very important things to do.

Will we make it to 2016 tonight? We might. I believe Rachel and Justin are coming over to “ring in the New Year” with us, so we may stay up until the New Year. We are both off tomorrow, the last holiday until Memorial Day at the end of May. Once again, I would really like to have a conversation with whoever decided that most of the year’s holidays should fall in the LAST HALF OF THE YEAR!!

I think I have decided on the devotional books that I will use for next year. More about that tomorrow. What I haven’t decided, yet (and I guess I’d better hurry up, huh?) is what my morning prayer time will look like. I have all this help from the book I just finished, and haven’t made up my mind yet. Well, I guess today is the day I’m supposed to do that, eh? (See above referenced “holiday.”)


(From Heart Aflame)

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150

I thought it fitting to close out 2015 with a devotion from the last of the Psalms.

Calvin notes the usage of the different instruments in verse 3, and reminds us that, even though this is “Scripture,” the Psalmist is not in any way expressing that these are the specific instruments that must be used. The point is that we cannot apply ourselves “too diligently to the praises of God,” using whatever instruments and means that we have available. Tambourine, dance, trumpet, lute, harp, loud clashing cymbals! Let all of these instruments be used to praise the Lord. Clap your hands, shout, beat on the back of the chair in front of you, jump up and down . . . use whatever you can to praise the Lord!

And we should do this more frequently than on just whatever day and time that we choose to join a congregation in worship and praise. This helps to lead us away from “those vain and corrupt pleasures” which would seduce us away from thoughts and meditations upon God. “The Psalmist, therefore, in exhorting believers to pour forth all their joy in the praises of God, enumerates, one upon another, all the musical instruments which were then in use, and reminds them that they ought all to be consecrated to the worship of God.”

In verse 6, Calvin finds a prediction that the praises of God may one day be heard in places other than Judea. “And in this prediction we have been joined in the same symphony with the Jews, that we may worship God with constant sacrifices of praise, until being gathered into the kingdom of heaven, we sing with elect angels an eternal hallelujah.”

Father, may I join with the angels and the people of ancient times in the praise and worship of you. May I use every instrument at my disposal in the praise and worship of you! And I pray that, in the coming year, all the praises that I can raise to you will be helpful in preventing the seduction of my affections away from that which pleases you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Search Me, O God!

“Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down.~~William Lyon Phelps (Eduro)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pseudepigrapha, “Books or writings that are falsely titled or attributed; spurious or pseudonymous writings.”

Today is Games Day, created in 1975 by a British game production company when another games convention got cancelled. So play your favorite game today.

Yesterday was pretty grand! I arrived at the First Presbyterian Church in Grapevine right at 10:00 (I was supposed to be there between 9:45 and 10:00, but the highway department people had other ideas and shut down part of Loop 820 in North Richland Hills). It was all very casual, though, as you might expect from a group of trombone players. There were probably a dozen of us, roughly three people per part, and five of us were from the Southlake Community Band! There were three high school students, as well, which, to me, makes it even more special. We practiced for about an hour and a half, then broke for lunch.

I met up with Rachel, Justin, Christi, and Stephanie, at Willhoite’s on Main Street for a buffet lunch. We had a very nice time at lunch, and the food was pretty good. Especially their Ranch Dressing. Delicious! After lunch, I walked back to the car and got my gear, which included a stand from the church, and walked back up to the Main Street Gazebo, where we set up and had our Yuleslide performance. It was great fun, and we sounded pretty good, especially for only having rehearsed once! Our set list was “Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Let It Snow,” “Lo, How A Rose,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Ding Dong! Merrily On High,” “Up On the Housetop,” “The First Noel,” “Jingle Bells,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” That’s a lot of music!

There was a nice little group of people that hung around and listened for the entire performance, and our kids seemed to really enjoy it. Stephanie told me several times how great we sounded. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Today, we have church at 10:15, and, since yesterday was taken up by Yuleslide, we’ll have to get our groceries this afternoon. Then we will get some rest, this evening, in preparation for a short work week leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas.

On this date in:

1606–The Virginia Company loaded three ships with settlers and set sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia
1803–The Louisiana Purchase was completed
1860–South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States
1987–The passenger ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with an oil tanker in the Tablas Strait in the Phillipines, killing somewhere between 1700 and 4000 people.
2007–Elizabeth II became the oldest ever monarch of the UK, outliving Queen Victoria, who lived 81 years, 7 months, and 29 days.

Today’s birthdays include:
1868–Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer
1881–Branch Rickey, baseball executive
1917–Audrey Totter, American actress
1944–Bobby Colomby, American musician, Blood, Sweat & Tears
1945–Peter Criss, American musician, KISS
1948–Alan Parsons, British music producer and artist
1949–Cecil Cooper, American baseball player
1952–Jenny Agutter, English actress
1970–Nicole De Boer, Canadian actress, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
1976–Aubrey Huff, American baseball player
1981–James Shields, American baseball player
1982–David Cook, American singer, American Idol winner

Branch Rickey was the baseball executive who made the ground-breaking decision to bring Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball in 1945. Born on this date in 1881, he died in 1965, at the age of 83. Here’s a short video of him talking about baseball.

Sacagawea, Annie Armstrong, John Steinbeck, Roy Disney, Bobby Darin, Richard Daley, Arthur Rubinstein, Carl Sagan, Hank Snow, Foster Brooks, and Brittany Murphy are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Heart Aflame)

One more bit of John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 139, concluding with verses 17-24.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

How often do we look at our hands and feet, and consider “the elegance of our shape?” How often do we consider our physical bodies and think of our life as coming from God? Calvin says, “Or if any recognise their life as coming from God, there is none at least who rises to the great truth that he who formed the ear, and the eye, and the understanding heart, himself hears, and sees and knows everything.”

David desires that others possess the same character as himself, being a “genuine worshipper of God.” He did not, and neither should we, think himself without sin, “for he groaned under the felt burden of his transgressions.” We depend fully upon the free grace of God and nothing else. Even so, David felt free to draw a distinction between himself and “the wicked,” and I think that this is a fair distinction. “While he denies that his heart was double or insincere, he does not profess exemption from all sin, but only that he was not devoted to wickedness.”

Father, it takes great courage to say, as David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” Of course, you don’t have to search me, because you already know my heart. You know its deepest, darkest places, and you know the places where you have free reign and control. I would that my entire heart would be fully devoted to you, free from darkness, deceit, and despair. Reign in my heart, my Father!

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

You Formed My Inward Parts

“The time is always right to do what is right.”~~Martin Luther King, Jr. (BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, fits me perfectly. It is philobiblian. The noun means, “a book-lover,” and the adjective form means, “fond of books; devoted to literature.”

Today is Look For An Evergreen Day. I guess this is a sort of last chance day for people who like to go out and get real trees for their Christmas tree.

Last night was one of those late ones. We were down two people, as some are trying to use up their PTO before the end of the year, and one of our people is on a real vacation . . . in Australia. CEVA doesn’t allow vacation rollover, so we have to use it up before the year ends. To make matters worse, one of our web tools that is a necessary component of our process was down almost all day. We were able to work around it, but it slowed us down, considerably. The result was that I didn’t leave work until 6:30 last night. And I was the first one to leave! I decided 10 hours was enough, and there wasn’t a lot left, at that point.

Christi made chili while I was on my way home, and we watched Thursday night’s recording of the PBA World Championship. It was great fun to see five bowlers I had never seen before vie for the title of World Champion. The winner was Gary Faulkner, Jr., who not only became the 34th bowler in history to have his first tournament win be a major tournament, he was also only the second African-American to ever win a major tournament. He was on fire! He was left-handed, which normally gives bowlers an advantage, but in this championship bout, four of the five bowlers were lefties, which made it more of a challenge. Faulkner, however, had a track to the pocket that wouldn’t quit, while all of the other bowlers struggled greatly with consistency. He bowled in three of the games, as he was third seed, and bowled 262, 247, and 216. The only reason the last game was that low was that, by the tenth frame, he had already won the championship, and he missed a single pin spare, because it really didn’t matter any more.

Today is Yuleslide, in Grapevine. I’ll be leaving in just under an hour to go to Grapevine. We will rehearse for a couple of hours, then break for lunch. The performance will be at the Main Street Gazebo, at 2:00 PM.

On this date in:

1907–239 coal miners died in an explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania
1924–The last Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was sold in London
1941–Adolf Hitler became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army

Today’s birthdays include:

1894–Ford C. Frick, American baseball commissioner
1899–Martin Luther King, Sr., American Baptist minister, father of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1906–Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union
1909–W. A. Criswell, American Baptist preacher
1918–Professor Longhair, American blues musician
1920–David Susskind, American TV talk show host
1920–Little Jimmy Dickens, American country singer
1925–Robert B. Sherman, American songwriter
1933–Cicely Tyson, American actress
1934–Al Kaline, American baseball player
1935–Joanne Weaver, American baseball player, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
1941–Maurice White, American singer/songwriter, Earth, Wind & Fire
1944–Zal Yanovsky, Canadian guitarist, The Lovin’ Spoonful
1944–Tim Reid, American actor, WKRP in Cincinnati
1944–Alvin Lee, English singer/guitarist, Ten Years After
1946–Robert Urich, American actor
1963–Jennifer Beals, American actress
1969–Kristy Swanson, American actress, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
1972–Alyssa Milano, American actress
1980–Jake Gyllenhaal, American actor

Robert B. Sherman was a songwriter who wrote songs with his brother, Richard Morton Sherman. You may not be familiar with his name, but I bet you know some of his songs. This list includes “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Step In Time,” “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” and this one:

Emily Bronte, V.C. Andrews, Jimmy Rogers, Hope Lange, and Dock Ellis are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Heart Aflame)

More from John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 139, today, verses 11-16.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
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.

We mistakenly think that we can hide from God, under cover of darkness. “In words we all grant that God is omniscient; meanwhile what none would ever think of controverting we secretly make no account of whatsoever, in so far as we make no scruple of mocking God, and lack even that reverence of him which we extend to one of our fellow-creatures.” What on earth does that mean? I think it is more fully explained in the next sentence. “We are ashamed to let men know and witness our delinquincies [sic]; but we are as indifferent to what God may think of us, as if our sins were covered and veiled from his inspection.”

The more comforting words come in verses 13ff, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” For this reason, all the “windings and recesses of our hearts are known to him who, when we were inclosed [sic] in our mother’s womb, saw us as clearly and perfectly as if we had stood before him in the light of midday.”

It is no wonder that God, who miraculously created us, knitting us together in our mothers’ wombs, has such deep and exact knowledge of the internal workings of our hearts.

Father, I take great comfort in your perfect knowledge of me. I pray that you would remind me of this, from day to day, also reminding me that I cannot hide from you, nor should I try. I am fully open to you, as a book that you, yourself have written!

Come, Lord Jesus

Grace and peace, friends.

Where Shall I Flee?

“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.”~~Frank Herbert (BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is eye music, “Music that is more impressive in its written form than when heard in performance.”

Today is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. I really need to get one of those.

It has actually been somewhat cold in the mornings, over the last two days. 32 degrees outside, as I’m typing this. Stop laughing at me, I live in north central Texas. 32 is cold! I could actually wear one of those ugly Christmas sweaters today. But, alas, I do not have one.

I actually practiced the trombone last night! I played through some of the music for Yuleslide, which happens Saturday morning in Grapevine. There’s a lot of music, and if we play standing, which trombone choirs usually do, I’m going to be really tired, afterward. But it’s going to be so much fun!


(From Heart Aflame)

Today’s devotional comes from John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 139:1-10.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

When David says, “Even before a word is on my tongue . . . you know it altogether,” he implies a double meaning. First, that “God knows what we are about to say before the words are formed on our tongue.” Second, “that though we speak not a word, and try by silence to conceal our secret intentions, we cannot elude his notice.” The point being that, even when we refrain from speaking words that we know we ought not speak, our Father knows that they were in our heart. “The innermost recesses of our spirit stand present to his view.”

This knowledge elicits this exclamation from David: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” We cannot measure God’s knowledge by our own. Too often, we compare God to ourselves, and consider his knowledge to be no greater than ours. We are foolish to do so. David confesses that the knowledge God possesses is beyond his comprehension, “virtually declaring that words could not express this truth of the absoluteness with which all things stand patent to the eye of God.”

This leads, then to verse seven, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Put simply, David realizes that he cannot even move from one place to another “without God seeing him, and following him with his eyes as he moved.” This can be either comforting or frustrating, depending on your beliefs. Personally, I find it comforting that I cannot go anywhere and be unseen by my Father in heaven. I cannot go to a place where I am “beyond the reach of divine power.”

. . . even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Father, I celebrate your presence. The knowledge of your presence is comforting to me, and, when practiced consistently, truly effects my attitudes throughout the day. I pray for the knowledge of your presence today.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

He Does All That He Pleases

There will be no barrels over Niagara Falls for me, today, thank you.

Today’s word of the day, from, is fugleman, “a person who heads a group, company, political party, etc.; a leader or manager.” I wonder what my boss would say if I started calling him “fugleman.” 😀

Today is Make A Difference Day. What can we do in our communities to make a difference today?

It’s still raining, here, and has been since Thursday night. According to my main weather source, there is 100% chance of rain continuing today. But it looks like it will stop tomorrow, with tomorrow’s high being only 66. That’s pretty awesome.

I was off work before 5:00 PM, yesterday evening, which is wonderful. The whole week was average, freight-wise, and we finally got our new person to where he is able to do actual goods receipts. Next Saturday, besides being Halloween, is also my Saturday to work. I actually volunteered for that day, in order to get free on October 10, so we could go on our Mexico trip.

Speaking of Halloween, since we are having church on Sunday mornings again, Halloween evening will be freed up for chili at our pastor’s mom’s house! Yummm!!!

Even better news for our church services came this week. We have been allowed to move our time up to 10:15, instead of 9:15! This means setup will start at 8:00 instead of 7:00. Of course, we will get out later, too, but that’s okay. Last Sunday, we got out so early that the restaurant we wanted to have lunch at wasn’t open yet. We would have had to wait twenty minutes for them to open.

In baseball news, the Kansas City Royals earned their second consecutive World Series trip when they beat the Blue Jays 4-3 last night in a real nail-biter. We watched the top of the ninth, and it was very anxiety-inducing! But they won it and will advance to play the New York Mets in the World Series, which begins Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it will be broadcast on Fox, so if you watch you will have to endure Joe Buck and whoever else is calling the game with him. Just one inning last night was almost more than I could bear. Is there anyone on the planet that actually likes Joe Buck?? I certainly don’t know anyone.

On this date in 1861, the First Transcontinental Telegraph line was completed, signalling the end of the Pony Express. In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. In 1911, Orville Wright stayed in the air for 9 minutes and 45 seconds in a glider. In 1926, Harry Houdini’s last performance occurred at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit. This date in 1929 was “Black Thursday” as the stock market crashed. In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged support to South Vietnam.

Today’s birthdays include Annie Edson Taylor (American adventuress), Bob Kane (American cartoonist), Y.A. Tittle (American football player), J.P. Richardson, aka The Big Bopper (American singer), Bill Wyman (English musician, The Rolling Stones), F. Murray Abraham (American actor), Jerry Edmonton (Canadian drummer, Steppenwolf), Kevin Kline (American actor), John Kassir (American actor), Ron Gardenhire (German-born American baseball manager), and Jay Novacek (American football player).

Jerry Edmonton was the drummer for Steppenwolf. Born on this date in Oshawa, Canada, Jerry passed away in 1993. Here is a rare clip of a promo for the Steppenwolf 7 album. Jerry is the first person talking in the video.

Jane Seymour (the original one, not the actress), Tycho Brahe, Alessandro Scarlatti, Daniel Webster, George Cadbury, Louis Renault, Jackie Robinson, Gene Roddenberry, Raul Julia, and Rosa Parks are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Heart Aflame)

Today’s reading is from a short verse in Psalm 115, verse 3.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

To say that “our God is in the heavens” does not place a limit on his location. Rather, it places him in a position where the universe is under his control. It is a position of superiority, and “being superior to every obstruction, he does freely everything that may seem good to him.” We say that he dwells in the heavens, and that the world “is subject to his will, and nothing can prevent him from accomplishing his purpose.”

“That God can do whatsoever he pleases is a doctrine of great importance, provided it be truly and legitimately applied.” We must note that, first, God “has all power for the preservation of his Church, and providing for her welfare.” In addition, we note that all creatures, everywhere, are under his control, “and therefore nothing can prevent him from accomplishing all his purposes.”

This truth should give us, his children, great comfort and hope, even if we find ourselves seemingly cut off from all visible hope or subsistence. “God is not only superior to all impediments, but . . . he can render them subservient to the advancement of his own designs.” We believe that all events are by God’s appointment, “and that nothing happens by chance.”

“Adopting this principle, we ought not to be ashamed frankly to acknowledge that God, by his eternal counsel, manages all things in such a manner, that nothing can be done but by his will and appointment.”

The skeptical would ask, “Then why do bad things happen?” Truthfully, this is an answer I cannot provide. Many have tried, and I find their answers lacking. I simply look at the above verse from the Psalms and, with the faith that he has provided, say, “My God is in the heavens, he does whatever he pleases.” Who am I to question my creator? Who am I to talk back to God?

Father, give me more understanding of your place in this world. Help me more and more to know that all things are under your control, and that it is only by your grace and mercy that any of us are allowed to draw our next breath. I pray that the honor and glory of your great name would be known and acknowledged throughout our world, and that all would acknowledge that you are, indeed, in the heavens, and that you do whatever pleases you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

To Know That Which Surpasses Knowledge

Good morning. It is Friday, October 9, 2015. Three days until our 30th anniversary!

Today’s word of the day, from, is tumescent. This adjective means, “pompous and pretentious, especially in the use of language; bombastic,” “swelling; slightly tumid,” or, “exhibiting or affected with many ideas or emotions; teeming.”

Today is World Post Day, celebrating an industry that is, apparently, being kept alive solely by junk mail.

Only one more sleep until we fly to Cancun, and drive (or be driven, rather) to Playa del Carmen. We have a lot to do tonight, as we begin packing for our five day trip. We have our seats claimed on both flights, and have had some contact with the hotel/resort in Playa. We are very excited about this trip.

I will not promise any blog entries after this morning, though. We plan to leave the house at 7:45, tomorrow morning, so we will be getting up around 6:00-ish. Whether I do a blog entry tomorrow, depends on how much time we have after finishing packing and getting ready. I don’t know what the wi-fi scenario will be at our hotel, so I don’t know if there will be daily updates from there. I will have my laptop with me, though. I play to take lots of pictures, which will be shared, even if they have to wait until we get back home, next Wednesday.

To make this even better, I have arranged to get off work at 3:30, this afternoon.


(From Heart Aflame)

Be not silent, O God of my praise!
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.
They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.
So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few; may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones!
May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day!
May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

Psalm 109:1-20

I must confess that I have always struggled with this Psalm and others like it. I’m not sure if it’s in there to show us David’s humanity, or to tell us, “Hey, it’s okay to pray for horrible things to happen to your enemies.” Since this kind of prayer doesn’t seem to line up with what Jesus said, in regard to our enemies, I have to lean toward the illustration that David was human, and had emotions that sometimes got the best of him.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we continue looking at this idea of experience, the words “inner being” get tossed around a bit. What does that mean? Paul prays for the Ephesians, in chapter 3, verse 16, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Keller says, “It is the same thing as the heart, the center of both our personal consciousness and our most fundamental faith commitments.” It is where “the truths we know about Jesus with our mind can fail to register.”

We need to Holy Spirit to create within us a “spiritual sensitivity to gospel truth.” This is what Paul is praying for in Ephesians, as he continues in verses 17ff, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Where the ESV says “comprehend,” the NIV uses the word “grasp.” It is more than just believing. It is getting “a secure hold on something.”

Keller uses an analogy of photography. Once upon a time, cameras used this thing called “film.” It was chemically treated to make it sensitive to light. When the camera shutter opened, it let in light, bouncing off of the object being photographed. The film then “grasped” the image of the object, and, when processed properly, a photograph was produced. If the film wasn’t properly treated, the image would not be captured.

In the same way, our “inner being” needs a sort of “chemical treatment” by the Holy Spirit, in order to prepare us to “grasp” the truths that God gives us. Otherwise, they will make no real difference in our lives.

Jonathan Edwards expresses this idea in his sermon, “A Divine and Supernatural Light.” In this sermon, he uses the analogy of honey. There are, he says, two different ways to know that honey is sweet. One is that we can hear about it, and know it, rationally. We have heard from people, or we have read facts, and, therefore, with our minds, we know that honey is sweet.

But then, one day, we taste it. Now we know, experientially, that honey is sweet. Before, we could say, “I knew but I didn’t know.” In the same way, Edwards, concludes, “there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and graciousness on the heart.”

This all sounds rather complicated, but really isn’t. When we seek the face of God, we are seeking experience that will embed itself onto our hearts (“inner being”), which have been properly prepared by the Holy Spirit. When this happens, our lives are changed.

Father, I pray, along with Paul, that I, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, will grasp, or comprehend, these truths that you give us, especially this knowledge of the “breadth and length and height and depth” of the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” May your Holy Spirit work in our inner beings to prepare us to take hold of these truths and change our lives.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. May our work day be honoring to you, and may we display your Kingdom to those around us. I pray for our preparations tonight, that we can get everything done that needs to be done. May our trip be safe, relaxing, and fun, Lord, and may we be refreshed, both individually, as well as a married couple, as we spend these next five days celebrating what you have put together in us. Take care of our close family while we are away.

Come, Lord Jesus!

How is it possible to know something that “surpasses knowledge?” Only by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Grace and peace, friends.

Rich, But Living Poor

Good morning. It is Thursday, October 8, 2015. Pre-Friday!

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is discerptor. This is, “A person who pulls something apart; a person who divides or separates something.” I suppose this could be good or bad.

Today is World Octopus Day. Go hug an octopus today.

Last night, as we were driving home from work, Christi and I had a good discussion (on the phone), about things that we need to do/figure out before we go on our trip, Saturday. One of our friends has graciously offered (practically insisted) to drop us off and pick us up at the airport, which will save us about $60 in parking fees. The funny thing is that I was supposed to stop at O.C. Burger and pick up dinner, but suddenly, I was in our driveway, still talking to Christi! So I called the burger place and Christi picked it up.

The Cubs shut out the Pirates in last night’s NL Wild Card game. Both Wild Card games were shutouts. Interesting. I was right in the middle of rooting for the Cubs when one of my Red Sox Facebook friends reminded me that Joe Maddon is their coach, now. That certainly soured things for me, but I did not switch horses. Theo Epstein is their GM, and Jon Lester is one of their pitchers, so I will pull for them in spite of Joe Maddon.

Today, the ALDS games get under way, with the Rangers playing Toronto at 2:37 CDT, and the Astros playing the Royals at 6:37 CDT. I guess the Royals are getting the prime time spot because they had the best record. I’m glad to see the Royals back in it, but I kind of have to root for the ‘stros, you know? Texas and all that. Plus, it would be great fun to see a Rangers/Astros ALCS!

Only two more sleeps before we leave for Playa del Carmen!


(From Heart Aflame)

My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
God has promised in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

Psalm 108

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Chapter Eleven is called “As Encounter: Seeking His Face.”

“Prayer is a conversation that leads to encounter with God.” As we considered John Owen’s three stages of meditation, the third stage (that of enjoying or crying out) “anticipates a character-forming experience of God’s presence and reality.”

John Calvin insists that many people do not fully experience the gifts that Christ has for them. This is enjoyment that can only come through “communion with Christ” and “the secret energy of the Holy Spirit, by which we come to enjoy all his benefits.” We cannot afford to settle “for an informed mind without an engaged heart.”

So what kind of experience should we be seeking?

Timothy Keller begins in Ephesians 3.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (14, 16-19)

Paul has three basic prayers, here:

  • “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”
  • That the Ephesians would “know the love of Christ”
  • That they would be “filled with all the fullness of God”

But weren’t these people already Christians? Didn’t they already have all of these things? Why is Paul asking for these things if they already have them?

The only possible answer is that, while Christians do have these things, at some level, they have not yet experienced them fully. “What Paul is talking about is the difference between having something be true of you in principle and fully appropriating it, using it, and living in it–in your ‘inner being’ (Eph. 3:16) or ‘in your heart’ (v. 17).”

He goes on to say that, “It is possible for Christians to live their lives with a high degree of phoniness, hollowness, and inauthenticity. The reason is because they have failed to move that truth into their hearts and therefore it has not actually changed who they are and how they live.” Some might argue that this person is not, in fact, a Christian at all, but that is a totally different subject.

Keller goes on to relate stories of Blaise Pascal and Dwight L. Moody, who both had life-changing singular encounters with God. They were both Christians before these encounters, but at some point, “the objective reality of who [they were] in Christ and the inward subjective experience came together.”

Paul, in Ephesians 3, is “praying that by the Spirit’s power we may have our hearts and affections engaged and shaped by the truths of the faith we hold in the mind.” This can happen gradually, suddenly, from a “mild and gentle warming to an explosive epiphany.” The main point in all of this is that, until we have this experience, we are, in a sense rich, but living poor. Paul prays that we might avoid this.

Father, I, too, pray to avoid this. I confess, that at least for part of my life, I have not fully realized the great riches that I have in Christ. I pray that your Spirit would remind me, fill me, and give me these kinds of encounters that are life-altering as they take the truths that I have ingrained into my head and embed them in my heart. May I truly know this love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

I pray for this day, that our time on the roads will be safe. May we have a good work day, and display your Kingdom in every circumstance and opportunity. I pray for your great love to be known by Stephanie, as she lives her life. May you show her that she has value in your Kingdom. I pray for Rachel and Justin today, that your light would shine on them. And may you give my mother strength and peace today.

Come, Lord Jesus.

May we truly be able to know the great love of Christ and appropriate it into our lives, that we might live in the riches that we truly possess.

Grace and peace, friends.

Meditate on Jesus

Good morning. It is Wednesday, October 7, 2015. Two days to vacation!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is reprise. This is a noun, meaning, “a recurrence, renewal, or resumption of an action,” “a musical repetition,” and, “a repeated performance : repetition.” And I feel the need to point out that is is pronounced, “\rih-PREEZ\.” A lot of people pronounce it incorrectly. Some people also say, “reprisal,” which is a completely different word, altogether. A reprisal is, “something that is done to hurt or punish someone who has hurt you or done something bad to you.” So when your musical theme comes around again, it is “reprise,” which rhymes with “please,” not “prize.”

Today is Bathtub Day. I don’t know. I don’t make these up.

I finally made it to Huddle on my night to lead! And I think it went pretty well. They wanted me to pick up where we left off, next week, but I reminded them that I will not be there. There were jokes about meeting me in Mexico for Huddle next Tuesday.

We are making preparations for the trip. Tonight being a night that we are both at home, we will put together our list of everything we need to make sure happens before we leave on Saturday. Our friend, worship leader, and Huddle leader, Rob, has insisted on taking us to the airport, Saturday morning, so we are taking him up on that offer. Either he or one of the other guys will pick us up on Wednesday afternoon.

I’ve got the camera battery charged, so I can take lots of pictures, especially on our Chichen Itza trip, Monday. I’m sure I will post some on Facebook, and either here or on my other blog.


(From Heart Aflame)

The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 107:42-43

“We are now informed that men begin to be wise when they turn their whole attention to the contemplation of the works of God, and that all others besides are fools. . . . And, therefore, that it may be engraven upon our hearts, we must make these works the theme of our attentive and constant meditation.” (p 281)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we conclude chapter 10, we are reminded that Psalm 1 tells us that the godly person meditates on the law of the LORD. We can take this to mean the entirety of Scripture, but, in truth, how is it possible to meditate on God’s law and be delighted by it? Even if we read Jesus’s thoughts on the ten commandments, in his Sermon on the Mount, we are struck by the impossibility of following God’s law. I mean, never mind killing someone, if we even find ourselves being resentful of our neighbors, we have sinned! “How can anyone truly think intensely about the law of the Lord and not fall into despair?”

The answer is that we focus on Him who is the central figure of all of Scripture, “the one the gospel of John calls ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14)–Jesus Christ, the ultimate expression and communication of God.”

Jesus delighted in God’s Word; he delighted in doing God’s will. He regularly withdrew to lonely places to pray and meditate. When he prayed, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” He was able to combat Satan with Scripture, and even quoted Psalms as he willingly gave up his life: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

But Jesus is more than just a good example to us. “If that were all he was to us, his life would crush us with guilt, since no one could meditate on the Scripture as he does.” Jesus is “the one to whom all the Scripture points.”

“The written Word and its law can be a delight because the incarnate Word came and died for us, securing pardon for our sins and shortcomings before God’s law. You can’t delight in the law of the Lord without understanding Jesus’ whole mission.” We meditate on Jesus because Jesus “is the meditation of God.” He is the truth made alive, made real. Because of him, we will be able to stand on Judgment Day.

“Meditate on Jesus, who is the ultimate meditation of God. Look at him loving you. Look at him dying for you. Look at him rejoicing in you. Look at him singing over you.”

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

Father, help me to meditate on Jesus, more often, more consistently. May I delight in your word, both the written word and the Incarnate Word. May I see Jesus as the ultimate meditation as I live my life each day.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and home will be safe. Lift us up to you, during this work day. May our countenance remain hopeful and joyful as we work through the circumstances that will come on this day. May your grace and mercy be real to everyone in our family, in whatever they find themselves doing today.

Come, Lord Jesus

Meditate on Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.

Sigh and Cry Out

Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Post-Monday.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is hapax legomenon. Settle down, that doesn’t say, “Legoman.” This is a literary term, meaning, “a word or word form which is recorded only once in a text, in the work of a particular author, or in a body of literature.”

Today is Mad Hatter Day. I remember this from last year. This all revolves around the tag on the Mad Hatter’s Hat, which says, “In this style 10/6.” Of course, we realize that that what this meant was that someone wanted a hat in that style and it cost 10 shillings and sixpence. But someone in 1986 decided it would be silly and fun to dress like the Mad Hatter on 10/6. And there you have it.

"In this style 10/6"
“In this style 10/6”

There’s not really much going on, here, right now, other than preparations for our trip to Playa del Carmen, coming up Saturday. We did settle on an International calling plan with our phone service, which will give us 80 minutes of calling time while we are there. We also downloaded the “WhatsApp,” with which we can send texts back and forth with Stephanie, whenever we are on wifi. I’m hearing, though, that our resort might not have free wi-fi in the lobby, as the Iberostar in Cancun had. Either way, we’ll make it work.

I wasn’t feeling great, yesterday morning, but it got better as the day went on, and I feel better this morning. Just sleepy, as I never get enough sleep on band practice nights.

Tonight is Huddle night, and I’m supposed to lead, once again. It hasn’t happened yet, but I should make it tonight.


(From Heart Aflame)

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great 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 evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.
When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

Psalm 107:20-41

“Corporeal maladies are not removed except by the word or command of God, much less are men’s souls restored to the enjoyment of spiritual life, except this word be apprehended by faith.” (p 280)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

We’ve gone through two phases of meditation; fixing or engaging the mind, and inclining the heart. What comes next? Well, according to John Owen, it all depends on where you are.

“It may be that the heart senses the presence of God and the realities of his salvation in a moving way.” Here’s how Owen describes this:

In this gust and relish lies the sweetness and satisfaction of spiritual life. Speculative notions about spiritual things, when they are alone, are dry, sapless, and barren. In this gust we taste by experience that God is gracious, and that the love of Christ is better than wine, or whatever else hath the most grateful relish unto a sensual appetite. This is the proper foundation of that “joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.”

Perhaps this is what David is feeling when he writes Psalm 27:4, One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple, or Psalm 63, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.

Sometimes, though, this feeling does not happen. Sometimes, “no matter what we do, we simply cannot concentrate, or we find our thoughts do not become big and affecting, but rather we feel bored, hard, and distracted.” In these times, we simply need to “turn to God and make brief, intense appeals for help.” In Owen’s own words, “When, after this preparation, you find yourselves yet perplexed and entangled, not able comfortably to persist in spiritual thoughts unto your refreshment . . . cry and sigh to God for help and relief.” Even if all we get out of our meditation is a “renewed gracious sense of [our] own weakness and insufficiency,” it certainly was no waste of time.

When these kinds of things happen, it is good to remember back to Psalm 1, in which the one who meditates is compared to a tree. “Trees don’t grow overnight.” This is a process, as we, like this tree, spread our roots toward the water of life that is God’s word.

“According to Owen, meditation means analyzing the truth with the mind; bringing it into the feelings, attitudes, and commitments of the heart; and then responding to the degree to which the Holy Spirit gives illumination and spiritual reality.”

Father, may I experience these sweet times of refreshing in you when I meditate, and when I do not, help me remember to cry out to you for help, rather than giving up in frustration.

I pray for this day, that our passage to work and back will be safe. May our work day be productive, without anxiety or stress. Keep us close to you as we work, and keep us ready to display your Kingdom at any moment, in any circumstance. May your grace and mercy rain down on our family today, in whatever we find ourselves doing.

Come, Lord Jesus.

If, after your meditations, you don’t feel the joy of the Lord, or you feel distracted, remember to simply “cry and sigh to God for help and relief.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Meditation Aims At the Heart

Good morning. It is Monday, October 5, 2015. Only four more days to Playa del Carmen.

Today’s word of the day, from, is amphigory. This is a noun, meaning, “a meaningless or nonsensical piece of writing, especially one intended as a parody.” Let’s hope this blog never turns into an amphigory.

Today is World Teachers Day. I can’t tell you how much teachers mean to me. I have known some great ones, in my life. Sure, there have been some not-so-great ones, but the value of the ones who obviously love teaching is indescribable. Some of the ones who had the most impact on me, Mrs. Oliver (I never knew her first name), fourth grade, Curtis Scharnberg, High School chemistry teacher, Larry Harrington, High School math teacher, Pat Harrington, High School typing teacher, Norman Deisher, Junior High and High School band director, James Keene, college band director. I’m sure there are others, but these are some who influenced my life greatly. There are a few who have been grea in the lives of our children, Susie Hale and Julie Brancadora, to name two. But to all of you who are in the business of teaching because you love to impart knowledge to your students, I say a hearty
Thank you

We had a great day, yesterday. We had a nice lunch with Rachel and Justin, along with some great conversation. Then we spent the afternoon watching episodes of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on You Tube. I really like that show, but we don’t have HBO, so I don’t get to watch it in real time. For a comedian, John Oliver makes some very good points, while making us laugh about it, at the same time.

Right at the end of our time together, we had the pleasure of watching the last three outs of the last baseball game of the regular season, in which the Rangers finally clinched the American League West pennant. They did it by a healthy score of 9-2, but after Saturday’s debacle, I was nervous until the last out was made. The Rangers will play the Blue Jays, beginning on Thursday. The AL Wild Card game will be tomorrow, between Houston and New York, in New York. The NL game will be Wednesday, between Pittsburgh and Chicago, in Pittsburgh. While not really caring that much, I will be pulling for the Cubbies in that game. Of course, I will be rooting for Houston in the AL Wild Card. First because they are from Texas. Second, because they are playing New York.


(From Heart Aflame)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

Psalm 107:1-19

“It has been customary in all ages for heathens, who look upon religion as a fable, when compelled by stern necessity, to call upon God for help. . . . The Spirit of God, therefore, here narrates what frequently takes place, namely, that persons destitute of piety and faith, and who have no desire to have anything to do with God, if placed in perilous circumstances, are constrained by natural instinct, and without any proper conception of what they are doing to call on the name of God.” (p 279)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As we continue looking at engaging the heart in meditation, Timothy Keller looks at another way of seeing how truth can change us. Yesterday, Martin Luther had us looking deeply at the text for ways that it might relate to us. Today, Keller speaks of looking more deeply at ourselves as we consider the biblical text. I might ask myself what wrong thinking might result if this particular truth is neglected, or what kind of out-of-control feelings might result when the truth is not fully embraced. “What kind of sins or wrongdoing might result from a failure to grasp and appreciate this truth?”

It is also important to look at the timing. What is God trying to teach me today? “What is going on now in your life to which this would be relevant?”

Needless to say, these probing questions, while bringing inspiration, are frequently quite unpleasant. It is not fun examining a life based on these concepts, because the truth at hand might convict, humble, or trouble us. On the other hand, they might calm, comfort, excite, or even fill with unspeakable joy. “Meditation aims here–at the heart.”

“All that we know theologically must be ‘accessed’ by our heart with all the joy, peace, self-control, love, durability, patience, and graciousness that it should produce in a human being.”

Take my heart, Father, and make it yours. By the use of study and meditation, may I fix my mind and thoughts on you and your truths, and then bring them down into my heart, where they may take root and have permanent impact on my daily living.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. May our work day go smoothly, and may we find ourselves experiencing your joy, regardless of what circumstances befall us. May your grace rain down on the rest of our family. I give you thanks and praise for the good time that we had with Rachel and Justin yesterday. I pray for our trip coming up next weekend, that all will be safe and smooth as we celebrate the thirty years you have given us together.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Meditation aims at the heart. It is not to “empty the mind,” rather to validate what has gone into the mind by burying it in the heart.

Grace and peace, friends.