“Groping Toward the Infinite”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,490

Our fourth of July was pretty non-eventful, other than fireworks going off in the neighborhood until well after 11:00 PM. I made our homemade pizza for dinner, last night, and it turned out quite good. We use Caulipower brand pizza crusts, and they are very good. We spread pizza sauce, then some seasoning, some mozzarella cheese, some cheddar cheese, then turkey pepperoni, and turkey sausage crumbles.

Today being Tuesday, it’s my four hour evening shift at the library, doing shelving. I have no idea if they were open yesterday or not. I never bothered to check. This is my “heavy” week, though, the week where I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Of course, Saturday is in the following week’s pay schedule. The city of Hurst’s pay week begins on Friday, and we always get paid on Thursday.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles, yesterday, 7-6, in extra innings. The losing run was scored on a HBP (that’s “hit by pitch” for those who don’t know) after the Texas manager inexplicably had them walk the bases loaded. Chris Woodward does not need to try to be Tony LaRussa. Only LaRussa can pull that off. Anyway, the Rangers are now 37-41 for the season, back to four games below .500. They are in third place in the AL West, a game behind Seattle, 14.5 out of first, and 5 out of the Wild Card. The play in Baltimore again, tonight, at 6:05 CDT.

The Boston Red Sox shut out the Rays, 4-0! Woohoo!!! They are now ten games above .500, at 45-35, in second place in the AL East, thirteen games out of first, and in the first Wild Card spot, ahead by two. They play again, tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 EDT.

The Athletics continue to be the worst MLB team, at 27-55. The bloody Astros continue on their winning streak, now having won seven consecutive games. Somebody needs to steal those trash cans!!! The Nationals and Giants continue to be tied for the longest losing streak, at five games each. The Nationals have been outscored by their opponents by 118 runs. The Rangers now have a +12 run differential, and the Red Sox are at +63.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the great calling you have given us. We thank you that in all the evils of today's world you give us the hope and faith that you are leading us to a goal that is good, and you make us free. You make your children free so that throughout humankind a new spirit may come, a new life and a new power to serve you in time and eternity. Praise to your name that we can always have hope; nothing can discourage us, but everything must work together for good in accordance with your great purpose. Grant that your compassion may come to all the world, to all peoples, whom you have looked upon with mercy in sending Jesus Christ as Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
(Romans 8:22-24a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope as we eagerly await the end result of our salvation
2. that nothing should discourage us, as we know that everything must work together for good in according with God's great purpose
3. for God's constant provision in our lives, both physically and spiritually
4. for many different people God has brought into my life, over the years
5. for the work of ministry, which is really us learning how to do things the way Jesus did them

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD. The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.
(1 Kings 6:1-2 ESV)

I remember the last time I read this, stopping and thinking. The Temple in Jerusalem is being built. The dimensions are given. I also remember thinking that the Temple was really big. Here are the dimensions, translated into American units by Eugene Peterson.

The Temple that King Solomon built to GOD was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high.
(1 Kings 6:2 MSG)

It was smaller than my house. And it took seven years to build.


The word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is sustenance.

Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
(1 Kings 19:7 NLT)

“Sustenance” has a couple of definitions. “Food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment.” “The maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.”

In the account of Elijah, in 1 Kings, this sustenance was provided supernaturally. There are other instances of this occurring in the Old Testament, as well.

When we pray the prayer that Jesus gave us as an example, we pray for daily bread, which we might also call “sustenance” or “provision.” When we don’t think to do that, I don’t know if we are exercising confidence or being presumptuous.

There is also a spiritual side to that, though, and I think that, in Jesus’s model prayer, that is taken into account, as well. I have believed, for a while, now (and I could certainly be wrong), that when Jesus told us to pray for “daily bread,” that He wasn’t just speaking of physical bread, especially since He describes Himself as the Bread of Life.

Jesus is my “daily bread,” and He is my Living Water. While I most certainly need food and drink to survive, I also need spiritual food and drink, and Jesus provides both of those for me, through the ministry and work of the Holy Trinity.


"In all matters of ministry, Jesus is our master. We apprentice ourselves to him so that we might become skilled and mature and wise, for ministry involves doing what Christ did, speaking what Christ commands, praying in the name of Christ - and getting good at it.
"Ministry is not some vague impulse to do good. It is not a generalized desire to help others. It is not a mystic hand-holding with all those who are groping toward the infinite. It is learning to do what Christ did and learning to do it in the way that he did it: acting and speaking and praying after the manner of our master."
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Another word for this is “discipleship.” When we become disciples of Christ, we are apprentices. Another meaning of the word translated “disciple” in the New Testament is “learner; student.” And Peterson says that is what we are supposed to be doing; learning to do it the way Jesus did.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus looks at the way we are “doing discipleship,” in the twenty-first century, and is pleased with it.


Father, I am grateful for the provision that You are constantly bringing to my life and the life of my family, both spiritually and physically. I cannot recall a time when we have ever been lacking food and drink for life. I also cannot recall a time when I was ever lacking for spiritual food, although I can definitely recall times when I was not taking advantage of what was available.

I am also grateful for the many people that I have been privileged to know, in my life. So many people have been influential in my walk in Your Kingdom. There are a few faces that are so visible in my mind, right now. My parents, of course. Juanita Sullivan. Julia Brancadora. John Jenkins. Jacob Seay. There are Sunday School teachers that I had as a child, whose names I can’t quite recall. Most of them have passed on. But for the ones who still live (all but one of the names listed are still with us), I pray for Your blessings to fall on them today. I pray for Your peace to surround them and Your presence to be felt in their lives. Let them know how much You love them. And for those who have gone on, I pray that they are at peace with You.

As for my “ministry,” Father, I am grateful that You still have work for me to do. That “job” has changed over the years, and I have begun to perceive it differently, as I grow older. Now, thanks to Eugene, I see it even more differently, believing that my primary purpose in this life, now, is to keep learning how to do the work that Jesus did, to walk and talk and act in the manner of my master. So I pray for the ability, the strength, the patience, the compassion, and the love that this takes. May I not be “groping toward the infinite,” but confidently walking toward it. I pray for the faith to keep on that path, even when it appears that nothing is going right, or that no one is noticing. Frankly, it matters not one whit if anyone notices! Because that’s not the reason for it.

Help me to love You and to love people in the way that Jesus did it. That’s what this blog is all about.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Just Another Word . . .

Today is Monday, July 4, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time. It is Independence Day in the U.S.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today!

Day 23,489 (the number of days since I was born)

Yesterday was pretty chill. We didn’t do much. C spent the day cataloging my father’s collection of 78 rpm records. And she is back at it, this morning. After entering two storage boxes of them (approximately 125 records), she estimated that, so far, we had as much as $12,000 worth of records, at the high limit. One of the records in the collection is Elvis Presley’s recording of “That’s Alright” on SUN Records, which recently sold for around $3000.

I killed two bosses in Elden Ring. If you know anything about that game, you know how ecstatic I was! That may be the most ridiculously difficult video game I have ever played.

Today promises to be even more “chill.” I might venture out to the grocery store, at some point, and a family member has some scripts ready at CVS (if the pharmacy is open today). We don’t do much to “celebrate,” these days, especially if it involves being outside, where the projected high temp today is 101. By the way, next Monday’s projected high . . . 110!

The Texas Rangers lost to the Mets, yesterday, 4-1. So they lost that series, 2-1. They are 37-40 for the season, tied with Seattle for second place in the AL West. 13.5 out of first place, and now five games out of the Wild Card spot. They play the Orioles in Baltimore, today at 12:05 CDT. Shoutout to kristianw84!

The Boston Red Sox managed a win, yesterday, beating the Cubs 4-2, but lost that series 2-1, I believe. The Sox are 44-35 for the season, in second place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first, and back in the first Wild Card spot. They play the Rays today, at Fenway Park, at 1:35 EDT.

The Athletics continue to have the worst MLB record, at 26-55. The Astros have the longest current win streak, at six games. Someone steal their trash cans. Please! The Nationals and Giants are tied with the longest losing streak, at four games. Today, the Nats have the worst run differential, having been outscored by 117 runs. The Pirates and A’s are tied with -116. The Rangers are now at +13, and the Red Sox are at +59.

We might switch things up for dinner tonight. We normally have chili for dinner on Mondays, but we might have our homemade pizza on cauliflower crust tonight, instead.

Happy fourth of July to all of my U.S. friends. Well, the rest of you can have a happy fourth, too, you know.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven and on earth, we ask you to bless us, your children, for we want to be your children and nothing else. We want to have our joy and delight in knowing that we belong to you, the almighty God, who began and who will complete redemption on earth through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Bless your Word in us. Give us courage in suffering and distress, for we are allowed to serve you in all circumstances, even when we find it bitterly hard. Your name shall be honored in us, your kingdom shall come. As surely as the earth endures, everything shall happen in accordance with your will, on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:31-32 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the joy and delight I have in belonging to God
2. that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
3. for the way Jesus summed up the law and prophets with those two commands
4. for the freedom to surrender my rights, and to love and serve others
5. for a Monday with the whole family at home

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" 
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
 And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." 
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. 
(Mark 12:28-34 ESV)

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
(Mark 12:38-40 ESV)

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
(Mark 12:41-44 ESV)


The word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is statutes.

You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
(Psalms 119:68 ESV)

In today’s world, a “statute” is a “written law passed by a legislative body.” For today’s purposes, though, a more archaic definition is needed. “A law or decree made by a sovereign, or God.”

Interestingly, of the 27 times that word occurs in the ESV, 22 of them are in Psalm 119. And, of the 176 verses in Psalm 119, all but maybe two of them mention some form of the Word of God; statutes, decrees, law, word, testimonies, precepts, commandments, rules, and so on.

There are some, of course, that we are no longer expected to live by. For example, we no longer sacrifice animals to cover our sin. Jesus did away with that. We also believe that it is okay for us to eat bacon (I started to say “for breakfast,” but bacon is not just for breakfast).

There are some, of course, who would pick and choose and attempt to shackle us with some of the Old Testament rules. Interracial marriages, for example. I once had a conversation with a rather ignorant person who proclaimed, “The Bible says not to do that!” To which I responded, “The Bible says don’t eat pork, too.” She had nothing to say to that.

I had another conversation with a guy who declared that the pastor has to be a man because the Bible says he is to be the husband of one wife. “So he has to be married, too, right?” This person was not willing to follow his own logic.

Whether you support interracial marriages, eating pork, or female pastors is, in my opinion, largely irrelevant. Jesus summed up all of this and narrowed it down to two commands. (Oh, no. Here he goes again.)

It just happens to be quoted up there, from my daily reading plan for today. Mark 12:28-34. And Paul has this to say in Romans 13.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 
(Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

“The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

All of it.

So there are all the “statutes” you need. And Psalm 119 still holds relevance, even when we narrow down the entirety of the law to those two commands of Jesus. And I still find myself having to ask God to teach me, because I still find that I struggle to get it right.


Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 
(1 Peter 2:16-17 ESV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)

There’s going to be a lot of talk about “freedom” today. And a lot of people talking don’t really understand what it means.

Freedom does not mean being able to do whatever you want to do. Especially when someone thinks it applies more to what they want to do and less to what someone else wants to do.

Freedom does not mean pushing for laws to keep people from doing something you believe is wrong. If my “religion” says something is wrong, then I don’t need to be doing it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And if I try to create law that keeps you from doing it, that becomes religious oppression, not freedom.

Hypocrisy runs rampant, these days, and, I fear, all of us are guilty of it at some point. “I support medical freedom!” said a bunch of people who didn’t want to have to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But those same people are celebrating the overturning of Roe v Wade. Hypocrisy.

Abortion activists say that banning abortions will not make them less frequent, only more dangerous. They aren’t wrong. But that’s the same argument that gun rights activists use, too. And most (not all, of course) gun rights activists are on the side that opposes abortion. And most abortion rights activists oppose guns.

See the dilemma? See the hypocrisy on both sides? This is but one reason that I do not enter into these arguments. I have my opinions. I’ve discussed that, here, and I’m not sharing them here.

And trust me, I’ve been guilty of plenty of hypocrisy.

Freedom, according to Jesus, according to Paul, is so we can serve. That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Free to serve. I’m free to be a slave. But, hey. Kris said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” And if, in my truest notion of freedom, I give up all of my “rights” to God, I truly have “nothin’ left to lose.” Because there is nothing that any government or activist group can take away from me.

And, therefore, I am free to follow those two commands, to the fullest degree.


"The church is characterized as a community of people who must take God seriously.
"No, be careful as you listen. I'm not saying that the church is that group of people who take God seriously. Sometimes we don't. There are many of us who go for long times without taking God seriously What I am saying is that the church is that group of people who must take God seriously. We can't go very long without being interrupted, because God is going to interrupt us.
"God won't let us get by with our religious lives very long on our own terms. He keeps invading and keeps interrupting."
(On Living Well, Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I am so very grateful for the freedom that I have. But that freedom comes from You, it does not come from any army or government. And the freedom that I have cannot be taken away by any army or government, either, because, as Jesus said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed!” And free I am, because the Son has set me free!

Freedom does mean that I have nothing left to lose, because there is nothing in this world that I am grasping to hold onto. Sure, I have a lot of stuff, and there are things that enjoy using, in this world. But they are just that, just “stuff,” and have no eternal meaning, whatsoever. This is something that You have taught me over the past decade or so, as You have grown in me this true sense of freedom.

I pray that we, Your Church, could more readily understand these truths, and understand better what it means to be free to serve others and to love others. While it may be challenging, the commands are simple and easy to understand. We are to love You with all of our being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Then we are to love the brothers and sisters, the community of saints, the same way Jesus, Himself, loved us.

And the way Jesus loved us was to give His life. And yet, we cry because we had to wear a paper mask. God have mercy on our souls. Help us all to step back from our hypocrisy and look at truth. And then help us to love one another the way Jesus wants us to.

Thank You for interrupting us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I still prefer this version

Grace and peace, friends.

Extravagant Love

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,474

Today is Father’s Day, so I wish a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. I hope you are able to love on your kids today, and spend some time with them. Some of us will have to love some of our offspring from afar, and that’s okay, too. My father, of course, has been gone for seven years, now, and is still sorely missed. But he is more than fondly remembered for the love that he showed and care that he gave.

Today is also Juneteenth, but that holiday will be observed tomorrow. Since it was finally made a federal holiday last year, most banks will be closed, as well as the post office. I’m not sure about the library where I work, but I don’t ever work on Mondays, anyway.

The Rangers game was terrible, yesterday. Taylor Hearne did not have his best stuff, and they lost 14-7. It was actually quite a bit worse than the score indicates, too. But today’s another day. They are 31-34 for the season, still in second place, nine games out of first. They are also still four games out in the Wild Card race. They will play Detroit again today, in Detroit, at 12:40 CDT, with Dane Dunning taking the mound to try to win the series.

Almost as if the two teams are joined at the hip, the Red Sox also suffered an embarrassing loss, yesterday, losing to the Cardinals 11-2. They are now 35-31 for the season, still in fourth place, 1.5 behind Tampa and 14.5 behind the You-Know-Whos. They have another game with St. Louis today.

The Yankees have the highest everything right now. Best record, 49-16, highest run differential (+144), and longest win streak (nine games). Massive sighs. The Athletics have the worst record, at 22-45. The Nationals, though, have the worst run differential, at -115, as well as the longest losing streak, at eight games. The Rangers’ run differential sits at zero, today, and the Sox are at +45, after losing by nine runs, yesterday.

In the PWBA, the top 30 are currently in the fourth round of qualifying in the U.S. Women’s Open in South Glens Falls, NY. After three rounds, the top thirty were, in order, Cherie Tan (Singapore), Jordan Richard, Lindsay Boomershine (I like her name), Shayna Ng (another Singapore bowler), Shannon Sellens, Stefanie Johnson (from Texas), Erin McCarthy, Hui Fen New (Singapore), Shannon O’Keefe, Danielle McEwan, Rocio Restrepo, Birgit Noreiks (Germany), Liz Johnson, Daphne Tan (Singapore, Cherie’s sister), Dasha Kovalova (Ukraine), Verity Crawley (England), Missy Parkin, Bryanna Cote, Kerry Smith, Kayla Bandy, Clara Guerrero (Columbia), Chelsey Klingler, Sydney Brummett, Breanna Clemmer, Olivia Farwell, Hope Gramly (also from Texas), Jenny Wegner (Sweden), Diana Zavjalova (Latvia), Jen Higgins, and Josie Barnes.

This morning’s round will cut to the top 24, who will bowl in match play one round this evening, and two rounds tomorrow, to determine the top five, who will be on the live TV broadcast Tuesday night.

We aren’t going to church, today, as C has not been feeling well. She does not have Covid, though. Just some kind of cold or allergies, or something.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, O great and almighty God, we thank you that you have given us the Savior, in whom we can become united and have peace on earth. May he, the Savior, work powerfully among us. May your Spirit come into people’s hearts so that they learn to acknowledge you as their leader and their God and to rejoice in their lives, which are intended for eternal life. Bless us through your Word and through all the good you do for us. Constantly renew and strengthen us in faith and in patience through the grace you send us. Remember all the peoples who should become yours in the name of Jesus Christ. May they all confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the honor of God the Father. We praise you for the promise you have given us of a wonderful new day of help for all. We praise you that you have created all people to recognize their true calling and their way to salvation. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that unfailing love and unshakable covenant of peace from God, our Father
2. for the love that I had from my earthly father for all the years he was with us, and that he did his best to train me up in the love of the Lord
3. for the faithful love of my two wonderful daughters
4. for the extravagant love that our Father in heaven has lavished upon us
5. for the equality of all people in Jesus Christ (the reality is not necessarily realized, but it is still the reality . . . the ground is level at the foot of the cross)

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32 NIV)


The prayer word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is extravagant. You have to look pretty extensively to find that word in any version of the Bible. It occurs a single time in the NLT, in Revelation 18:3, in reference to the sins of the Great Babylon. It does not appear in NIV, ESV, or KJV.

However, Eugene Peterson likes the word, apparently, and it occurs multiple times in The Message. This particular verse is featured in today’s reading.

I’ll make a list of GOD’s gracious dealings, all the things GOD has done that need praising, All the generous bounties of GOD, his great goodness to the family of Israel— Compassion lavished, love extravagant.
(Isaiah 63:7 MSG)

And what a word to describe the love of God for us. Extravagant! There are, of course, many other words that have been used, over the years, to describe God’s love. Frederick M. Lehman may have said it best, in 1917, when he wrote the song, The Love of God. In the chorus (or refrain, if you prefer, he wrote:

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.

And then, the last verse, one of my favorite hymn verses of all time:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made;
were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,
and ev’ryone a scribe by trade;
to write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.

He doesn’t use the word “extravagant,” but it certainly fits.

Father, I praise You for Your extravagant love. Your love split seas and rivers in half, crumbled walls, even made the sun move backwards. Your love created things out of nothing, and miraculously fed your people with food from heaven. And then, when we thought it couldn’t get any more extravagant, Your love died for us, and then rose from the grave so that we could live in eternal glory in Your Kingdom. Extravagant, indeed. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.


So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
(Galatians 3:26 NIV)

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 NIV)

Father, today, I pray for racial equality in our land, and throughout the world. If we truly believe the words of Paul in Galatians, let us strive to make things better for all people, because we see all people as equals in Christ. The ground is level at the foot of the cross! And it is back to Your extravagant love that has provided this truth for us!


Eugene Peterson continues writing on the Sabbath. He makes a bold claim: “Keeping the Sabbath is easy: we pray and we play, two things we were pretty good at as children and can always pick up again with a little encouragement.”

He calls praying a “great act of freedom in relation to heaven.” Through prayer, we exercise our “bodies and minds in acts of adoration and commitment, practices of supplication and praise, and ventures of forgiving and giving.”

He calls playing a “great act of freedom in relation to earth.” Through playing, we “exercise our bodies and minds in games and walks, in amusement and reading, in visiting and picnicking, in puttering and writing.”

Easy, he says, yet we, in our society find it so hard. Part of the reason for that is that our culture doesn’t encourage us to keep a Sabbath. In fact, if anything, it is out to steal it from us. For many of us (and I have been fortunate in this respect, for most of my adult life), we are expected to work our jobs, seven days a week. Many people find themselves unable to attend worship services because of the demands of the job, as accomplishment and profit are king in America.

And the bottom line, says Peterson is that “after a few years of Sabbath breaking, we are passive consumers of expensive trash and anxious hurriers after trash pleasures.”

Ouch. Explicitly descriptive, but truthful.

“We lose our God and our dignity at about the same time.” And this is why Peterson encourages us to keep a Sabbath. “Guard the day. Protect the leisure for praying and playing.” And for those of you who think you are too mature to “play,” I give you this:

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson, except for the nose-thumbing)

Father, I praise You for the Sabbath. I thank You for the command that we have a day to rest, a day to pray, and a day to play. I realize Your command said nothing about playing, but I find myself in agreement with Peterson, whom I respect deeply, and trust just as deeply. I pray that You would remind all of us, frequently, that we need to take a day off to pray and play, a day off from the hustle and bustle that this culture demands from us. I also pray that, not just on the Sabbath, but all days, that You would help us to demolish the very concept of “hurry,” as it steals from us in many ways. You are not in a hurry. Why should we be?

Sometimes I find myself in a hurry to be Home. I also need not do that. Help me to live the life that You have planned for me, at the pace You have planned. I do pray that I will accomplish all that You have for me to do, and that I will reach and inspire all that You have for me to reach. May my presence in social media platforms be one that shows love and forgiveness to all, and inspires all to know the kind of gratitude that we should have toward You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I realize Mercy Me changed the meter, but I’m okay with that.

Grace and peace, friends.

Anxiety and Chesed

Today is Monday, the fourteenth of March, 2022, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,377

Today has also become known as “Pi Day,” as it is 3/14. Pi, of course, begins with 3.14. And because of the homonym, it has also become a good day to have a piece of pie. I will not be doing that, however, because I’m going to try to get back on track with my eating habits, today. We darn nearly finished that cookie cake yesterday. I think there are a couple bites left, and I think I will let other people finish it off.

I had a wonderful day/weekend for my birthday. I got a new PS4 controller (red), which I had requested because my original controller only holds a charge for a couple of hours, now. I also got a few new books from my Amazon wishlist. They were The Healing Light, by Agnes Sanford, God’s Message for Each Day, by Eugene H. Peterson, and A Closer Walk, by Catherine Marshall. I also got a new PS4 game, Dying Light 2: Stay Human.

The Peterson book is a 365 day devotional, so I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to start it now or wait. What I may do is wait until I’ve finished the current Peterson book in my devotional arsenal, and then begin it mid-year. The other two books landed on my wishlist because of inspiration from the Spiritual Classics book I am currently reading.

We decided on Cotton Patch for lunch, yesterday, which turned out to be a delicious choice. I had a chicken fried steak, which was wonderful. We watched part of Hamilton! on Disney+ while eating lunch, and then C moved some stuff from the garage to the curb for the bulk trash pickup this week. She claims we can once again get a car in the garage. This is also because we got rid of a king-sized bed and a futon on Saturday.

This is a normal Monday for me. No work at the library, a couple of “chores,” probably, and we will attempt to get some of Mama’s billing accounts set up for automatic payment. She will likely return home to Mineral Wells, later this week, maybe just for a day. I believe she is ready to call this “home,” now. A difficult transition and decision, as it would be for anyone, and we have tried to make it completely her decision, letting her know that she is welcome here whenever she decides it is time.

This is my “long” week at the library, with shifts tomorrow evening, and all day Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. There are no threats of freezing temperatures this week, and very little threat of any precipitation, except for maybe today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.
(Psalm 16:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a wonderful weekend, with the love of family and friends
2. for cookie cakes
3. for the "chesed,", the steadfast love and mercy of God
4. that we can control what we allow our minds to dwell upon (this includes anxiety)
5. that all who are on God's side are considered "saints"

Starting today with the prayer word, which is “chesed.” That is a Hebrew word, which I’m fairly familiar with, but always need to be reminded about. Hebrew words that begin with “ch” are not pronounced like “cheese.” It’s a somewhat awkward sound for English-speaking folks, sort of a hard “H” sound, not quite “K” and not quite “H.” The e is short, in both instances. “Jewish Awareness Ministries” puts it like this: “pronounce with the guttural “ch” and two short “e’s.”  The accent is on the first syllable.”

But what does it mean? The writer, Bob, puts it like this: “Chesed is a Hebrew word from the Bible that is so rich that no English word captures its full meaning.” I agree with this statement, even with my limited knowledge of Hebrew (and by “limited” I mean hardly any). You will see this word translated in several different ways, across various translations. One translation might say “lovingkindness.” Another might say “steadfast love,” while yet another will say “mercy.” All of them are correct.

I confess that I rarely, if ever, have used this word in prayer, but I certainly have used its English renderings quite a lot. I can see, though, that it would certainly be a good word to use in prayer, in a variety of different circumstances. Perhaps after today, I will try to remember that. While I don’t believe that using another language in prayer will make God pay closer attention, I can see the value of using a word that has such rich meaning.

Wondrously show your steadfast love,
    O Savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.
(Psalm 17:7 ESV)
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
(Psalm 17:7 NKJV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NASB)

Here’s something to think about. One little line in today’s Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, by Edward Grinnan.

“Too often my worries occupy the space where God’s love and grace can abide.”

That’s worth pondering for a bit. While we can never be separated from God’s love and grace, I believe it is accurate to say that they cannot abide and grow in the same space where we allow worry or anxiety to live.

It’s hard not to worry; I know this for a fact. Some of us are more inclined to it than others. To some people, anxiety is debilitating, and they actually need professional help. But for most of us, it is just a condition that we allow to thrive within our spirits, and we do have some control over that.

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

It’s always good to read Matthew 6:25-34. I’ll only put the last two verses here.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:33-34 ESV)

The next selection on fasting, from Spiritual Classics, is written by one of “the most important convert[s] to Christianity after St. Paul,” Augustine of Hippo. He teaches us things about fasting from a writing called “The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount.” In this, he emphasizes the fact that we should not be engaging in spiritual practices or disciplines to show others how devoted or spiritual we are.

We must, when engaging in any discipline, such as fasting, be sure that “no spirit of self-display creeps in, no craving for human applause.”

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
(Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

In these disciplines, we are striving “to be directed towards inward joys,” not “outward rewards.”

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

“For a long time, all Christians called each other saints.” Thus opens a short reading from Eugene H. Peterson, this morning. All followers of Christ were “saints,” regardless of whether they were “good” Christians or not. “It was not a title given after a spectacular performance; it was a mark of whose side they were on.”

The word simply means “being set apart for God’s side.” We are not “cogwheels.” We are not “the keyboard of a piano on which circumstances play hit tunes or parade music. It means we are chosen out of the stream of circumstantiality for something important that God is doing.”

And what is God doing? The same thing he always does. (I can’t help but think of “Pinky and the Brain,” right now.)

God saving; He is rescuing, blessing, providing, judging, healing, and enlightening. “There is a spiritual war in progress in our world, an all-out moral battle. There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain. God is in a continuous and an energetic battle against all of it.

“God is for life and against death. God is for love and against hate. God is for hope and against despair. Go is for heaven an against hell. There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square foot of space is contested.”

And we, His “saints” are “enlisted on his side in the contest.”

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

Father, I embrace the words “saint” and “chesed” in today’s readings. I acknowledge Your “chesed” in all aspects of my life. Your steadfast love, Your mercy, Your lovingkindness, and all other meanings of that word are what sustains me every day. It is because of this that I am able to be considered a “saint.” I love that “saint” doesn’t have anything to do with my performance. It is human beings who have tried to change the meaning of the word, to make it indicate some kind of super-spiritual person. But, in truth, all who call the name of Jesus, who are called to be on Your side, are truly saints. The Church, the Body of Christ, is made up of saints, and this is true of us, whether we are very good at it or not. I do pray that we will all be better at it, growing constantly in the love of Christ.

It is also Your chesed that helps us when we get anxious. Your mercy and steadfast love are the best thing for us to focus on when we get anxious. Because of Your great lovingkindness, we truly have nothing to fear, looking toward that day when we will all be Home, where we will be totally and forever “safe.”

As I continue to ponder the discipline of fasting, I pray that I will never engage in any kind of spiritual discipline in order to receive the applause of men. Even this blog is not so much to get recognition or reward (if it were I would have given up long ago), but serves a couple of purposes. First, it is a record that I can go back and re-visit, if necessary, and second, it is for the potential inspiration of anyone else who happens across it. I pray that the words typed here would do just that; be an inspiration for anyone who stumbles onto it.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Honor of Serving Others

Today is Monday, the twenty-first of February, 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,356

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
(3 John 1:2 ESV)

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We got some rest, but we also got a few things accomplished. We got my hair and beard trimmed (C does that for me), had a good conversation with Mama, and we moved the Blink camera in the back yard. We had learned that it was too far back in the yard and wasn’t catching the gate, whenever someone would come into the back yard. We know this because we have a weekly pool maintenance visit, and it never showed up on the camera. So we moved the camera up a couple of fence posts, closer to the gate.

The downside of this is that we won’t be catching our furry friends that climb down the fence by the back corner. You know, squirrels, raccoons, Chupacabra, and so on.

We also had some really great discussion on our Zoom church gathering. We read 1 Samuel 4, and we had some great discussion on why the Israelites thought that bringing the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle would assure their victory. It didn’t. This sparked some good conversation on superstition, idolatry, and so on. It was quite good.

In baseball news, the MLB lockout continues, and Spring Training games have been cancelled. Sigh.

Today is a typical Monday. Nothing really on my agenda. I might venture out to an early voting site. I haven’t quite decided, yet. Oops. I just “decided,” or, rather, it was decided for me. The polls are not open today, because it is Presidents Day. So there you go. So, just the usual chores for me, today. Being Monday, I do not work at the library, today. In fact, this is my “light” week, only working Tuesday evening and all day Friday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Worthy of Love, by Daryl Madden

Our job’s to love others
Without stopping to see
Whether or not
They are worthy

That’s not our business
In fact, nobodies
What were asked to do is
To love everybody

And this love itself
Through God we will see

Will render both us
And our neighbors worthy

Let us thank our God
Who loves abundantly
Through his grace may we
Love generously

This beautiful and inspiring poem was, itself, inspired by the following words of Thomas Merton. "Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy." ~Thomas Merton

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

I could probably have an entire devotional just on the words of that poem.

Bravo, GOD, Bravo! 
Everyone join in the great shout: 
Encore! 
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might. 
Bring gifts and celebrate, 
Bow before the beauty of GOD, 
Then to your knees—everyone worship! 
Get out the message—GOD Rules! 
He put the world on a firm foundation; 
He treats everyone fair and square. 
(Psalms 96:7-10 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for music to help me meditate and contemplate
2. for music that helps me celebrate and praise
3. for the model prayer of Jesus, and how it can lead us before the throne of the Almighty
4. for the "exuberant and passionate thinking" that is the book of Romans
5. for the honor of serving others; Lord help me do a better job of that

In Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin, this week’s section focuses on some writing by Simone Weil, an early twentieth-century mystic. This portion is commentary on what they call “the prayer of prayers.”

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.

“Our Father which art in heaven
He is our Father. There is nothing real in us which does not come from him. We belong to him. He loves us, since he loves himself and we are his. . . . We do not have to search for him, we only have to change the direction in which we are looking. It is for him to search for us. We must be happy in the knowledge that he is infinitely beyond our reach. Thus we can be certain that the evil in us, even if it overwhelms our whole being, in no way sullies the divine purity, bliss, and perfection.”

I especially like that bit about there being nothing real in us that doesn’t come from God. This, of course, would be true of all humanity, regardless of their state of belief in the Almighty. You see, even nonbelievers have something “real” within them that came from our Father in heaven. I’m looking forward to examining the rest of what Simone has to say about Jesus’s Model Prayer.

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 MSG)

It is no wonder that Romans is one of the most-loved books in the New Testament, if not the entire Bible. Packed full of theology, it is described by Eugene H. Peterson as “a piece of exuberant and passionate thinking.” It is, he says, “the glorious life of the mind enlisted in the service of God.” And through it we see that “in the death and resurrection of Jesus, world history took a new direction, and at the same moment the life of every man, woman, and child on the planet was eternally affected.”

God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
(Romans 1:17 MSG)

Is there anyone around who can explain God? 
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? 
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? 
Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:34-36 MSG)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 ESV)

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:8-10 ESV)

As previously mentioned, today is Presidents Day in the U.S. What is Presidents Day? In one sense, this day combines the celebrations of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, arguably two of the presidents with the most positive influence in our nation. In another sense, though, it celebrates all U.S. presidents, past and present.

There is a lot of fear in our land, right now, perhaps more than ever before. Or maybe we just hear about it more . . . I’m not sure which is actually true. One of the ways that we can do “good,” as admonished by Galatians 6:9, is to pray for our elected officials, beginning at the top with the President. This is urged of us by Paul in 1 Timothy.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

Of course, we realize he does not mention “presidents.” But he does say “for all who are in high positions.” So on this Presidents Day, I urge you to make supplications, prayers, and intercessions for the sitting President, Joe Biden, along with the Vice President, Kamala Harris, and any other elected official you can think of. Pray for the governor of your state, the mayor of your city, the city manager, the senators, the representatives, even those positions that are appointed, not elected.

I don’t care if you like them. I don’t like the governor of Texas. But, according to Scripture, it is my duty to pray for him. Why? It’s in the verses quoted. “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

And in case you have any questions about what “truth” is, Jesus answered that question. He is The Truth.

The prayer word for today is “honor.” While it may seem coincidental that this word shows up on U.S. Presidents Day, I don’t think it means that kind of honor. The quote of reference is from Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who was a civil rights activist from Birmingham. He said, “The best thing we can do is be a servant of God. It does good to stand up and serve others.”

That’s the kind of honor of which we speak. We should consider it an honor to serve. Serving, though, means putting ourselves last; it means doing what Paul tells us to do in Philippians.

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.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Father, as I consider these things, today, I ask You to help me serve better. Help me to honor You and to experience the honor that comes from putting myself behind other people. Help me to not be selfish or conceited, but be humble and consider others more significant than myself. Help me to look out for their interests. This can be tricky, and it can and will be most challenging, especially when those others tend to be selfish and conceited, themselves.

But I must remember the words that began today’s devotional. It is my job to love others, not to judge if they are worthy of love. That is the path down which You have been leading me for at least a decade, now. I’m still traveling it, and I hope I’m getting better at it. Yesterday morning’s worship gathering conversation certainly opened my eyes to the fact that I have not, yet, arrived.

Our Father in heaven, today, I lift up our President, Joe Biden, and our Vice President, Kamala Harris. I pray that You give them the wisdom they need to do the jobs that they have been elected to do. The last thing I would want to be, in this culture, is the President. It doesn’t matter who it is, half the country is going to hate them. And that breaks my heart, Father, that we are so terribly divided that neither side can even comprehend the thought of compromise. So I pray for our government officials/leaders, as well as the state of our nation. May You bring unity, somehow, that we might live the peaceable and quiet life that Paul speaks of in that passage of Scripture. But more importantly than the country, I pray for unity within Your Church, the Body of Christ, which seems to be just as divided as the country, and divided over political issues, which is even more tragic. Help us, O God! Save us, O Lord! Bring the peace of Christ into our midst and heal us!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Thanksgiving

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fifth of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today, and may you find, in your life, that you have enough.

Day 23,268

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. I wish all who read this a peaceful and safe day. May your heart be filled with gratitude.

Only thirty more days until Christmas. You knew that was coming.

We are doing the “Secret Santa” thing at the library, so I signed up for that. I’m quite fond of “Secret Santa.” Our library does it a little differently than I’m used to, but it’s fun. Instead of one gift, we are doing three gifts, spaced out a week apart. The first one is due next Wednesday, then one each on the following two Wednesdays. I’ve got all three of my gifts ordered, and at least one of them should be here on Monday, so I will have it in time for the first week. I don’t work next Wednesday, though, so I will take it up there Tuesday night. Then I will get mine from my Secret Santa when I go to work my extra shift on Thursday.

We are also having a Christmas lunch on Wednesday, December 8. I am scheduled to work that day, but would have made an extra trip for that, even if I wasn’t. During the lunch, which also features a dessert contest (I probably won’t cook something for that, but I’m not sure, yet), there will be a gift exchange, of the type that we used to call “Chinese Gift Giving,” which is probably no longer politically correct. Anyway, you pick a number and when your number is drawn, you select a wrapped gift and open it. The next person has the option of “stealing” your gift or picking a new one. It’s wacky fun. That reminds me . . . I need to get a gift ordered for that event, too. I wonder what I could get that would make a bunch of librarians steal from each other . . .

C is already preparing food for our Thanksgiving lunch. Currently, the sopapilla cheesecake is cooking. She also has green bean casserole and corn casserole to make. And ham to warm up, but it’s already cooked. Somewhere around noon, we will head to Mineral Wells to celebrate the day with Mama. She’s making devilled eggs and mashed potatoes, and maybe a dessert. Oh, and some crescent rolls, I believe.

We’ll be having basically the same thing tomorrow with C’s sister and family, and I believe they plan to bring some turkey, because two of them don’t care for ham.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

The choir and trumpets made one voice
of praise and thanks to GOD—
orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to GOD:
Yes!
God is good!
His loyal love goes on forever!
Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of GOD.
(2 Chronicles 5:13 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have enough (more than enough, in fact)
2. for Your presence in my life; if that was all I had, it would be enough
3. that You are good and Your "loyal love goes on forever"
4. for music and song, the choir and trumpets that make one voice of praise and thanks to You
5. for a pervasive sense of well-being
6. that I have been crucified with Christ, and that the life that I now live, I live by faith in Him
7. that all creation sings Your praises

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
(Psalms 95:2 NIV)

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

Just a quick reminder that Thanksgiving and all its celebrations is not about how perfect the table or the decorations look. It’s not even about how perfect the food is or looks. It’s a celebration of the heart. It shouldn’t matter if you’re eating ramen on a card table. It is what is in your heart that matters.

If there is sadness or grieving in your heart, that’s okay, too. This Thanksgiving (just like many before it) will be that way for some people. And you can be sad and grieving and still be thankful. There are many who are experiencing their first Thanksgiving without one of their parents, today. I know of one who is having his first Thanksgiving without his wife. A couple I know lost a son, unexpectedly and suddenly, this week. And I have a friend who had cancer surgery yesterday.

It’s not all puppies, unicorns, and rainbows today. I’m good, yes. I’m about as happy as can be. But I am aware that it’s not that way for many. So, if you are one who is sad and grieving today, that’s perfectly okay and normal. I pray that you can find something to be thankful for, especially as you share memories of your loved ones. More importantly, I hope you are not alone.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
(Leviticus 16:21 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer
I
who live,
but
Christ
who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me
and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Humble yourselves, therefore,
under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
casting all your anxieties on him,
because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)

If we say we have
no sin,
we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

If you can truthfully say the words of Galatians 2:20, you have plenty for which to be thankful today, regardless of your circumstances.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

“Stop fighting,”
he says,
“and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations,
supreme over the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 GNB)

I pause during this quiet time and close my eyes to ponder my circumstances. I am blessed beyond imagination. Life is good. You are good! Thank you, Father!

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
(Psalms 148:1-4 NIV)

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 148:13-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
(Jonah 3:1-5 NIV)

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
(Jonah 3:10 NIV)

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
(Jonah 4:1 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in awareness of God’s loving presence in this place, I read these passages again, looking for anything in God’s Word that catches the attention of my heart and soul. Is there a command for me? Is there comfort for me? I talk to Him about what I have read and what has moved me, and enjoy His presence.

Psalm 148 continues the trend of the final few psalms in simply giving praise to the Lord. Or, rather, commanding all of creation to give Him praise. In our selection, this morning, we only read the first four verses that address the heavenly hosts and sun, moon, and stars.

But the list goes on, and when verse 13 says, “Let them praise the name of the LORD,” here is who that is referring to.

Sea creatures and all ocean depths
Lightning
Hail
Snow
Clouds
Stormy winds
Mountains and hills
Fruit trees
Cedar trees
Wild animals
Cattle
Small creatures
Flying birds
Kings of the earth
All nations
Princes and all rulers
Young men and women
Old men
Children

If you’re reading this, you are in one of these groups. Probably one of the last three. You might be a king or prince or ruler. If so, I would be humbly honored. Either way, just do what it says, today, and every day.

Praise the LORD.

Also? Don’t be like Jonah.

Jonah was obedient. Sort of. He was kind of like one of the sons in a parable that Jesus told. You know, where a landowner told both of his sons to go work in the fields. One said he would go, then didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t go, then later relented and went.

Jonah is a weird case, though. He initially ran away from God’s directive. Not successfully, of course, because you just can’t do that. If God wants you somewhere, you will wind up there.

Period.

Even if it takes being swallowed by a specially prepared “great fish.” (Not a whale, mind you. It’s never called a whale.) We really don’t know what kind of fish . . . it was just big.

So Jonah repented and went to Nineveh. Make no mistake, though. His “obedience” was not ever willing. He went . . . he preached repentance to the people. But then the unexpected happened.

They repented. Jonah didn’t like that, because he didn’t like those Ninevites. He really didn’t want them to repent.

How often are we like that? (Get your steel-toed shoes ready.) Are there people that you would rather not see saved? Tell the truth. Is there someone, right now, anyone, that you can think of that you would just as soon see die and go to hell?

If you’re a Republican, I bet I can name at least one. If you’re a Democrat, I bet I can name at least one.

I might have a few that I’m struggling with. I even have a few brothers and sisters for whom I struggle with praying. Yes, I admit it.

I’m human. Not perfect. In spite of the fortune cookie slip taped to my desk that says “You shall soon achieve perfection.” Obviously, we have different definitions of “soon.”

The lesson we learn from Jonah is how to not be a prophet. God will get His desired results. He will get them with or without us. If we run away from His plan, He doesn’t suffer. It is we who suffer.

Don’t be a Jonah.

Father, I praise You for all Your glorious and wondrous creation. I join with the mountains and hills, the sea creatures and cedar trees, and all the saints who have come before me and who will come after me, in praising Your holy Name. I thank You for the music that You have placed in my heart and on my tongue and my fingertips, music which I can use to praise You. But God, I have flaws (don’t You know it?). I ask You to help me love unconditionally, especially all of those saints who call the name of Jesus. Help us all to walk more completely in His steps, and love the way He loves. Help us with our bigotry and our prejudices. Teach us Your ways, that we may all walk firmly in Your truth. And that Truth, that Way, that Life, is Jesus Christ.

Give us all spiritual renewal, Father, as well as deep repentance for the sins in which we still struggle. May You give us all readiness to give a reason for the hope that dwells within us.

"Gracious God,
the saving power of the gospel is amazing to everyone.
Some are surprised that Your grace could include and change even them;
others are shocked that their goodness and religious credentials don't earn them Your grace.
Continue to astonish the world with the saving grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Amen."

BLESSING

Happy are those who remain faithful under trials,
because when they succeed in passing such a test,
they will receive as their reward
the life which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 GNB)

Father, as we consider this day of Thanksgiving, I pray for tensions in our nation to be healed. I pray for unity within Your Church, as there has been a rift there, unnecessarily caused by politics. May we rise above that and focus our attention on You, on Christ, and on loving You and loving our neighbors and brothers and sisters.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forever Faithful

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the twenty-third of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog!

Day 23,266

Two days until Thanksgiving!

Yesterday was largely a day of rest and recuperation. At least for me. C was a “busy bee” for a good part of the day. Not being content with just sitting around, she put up most of the Christmas decorations in the house, as well as some of the outside decorations. The tree is up, but not decorated. We will probably put the ornaments on tomorrow night after I get home from work at the library.

We plan to put up the outside house lights after I finish blogging, this morning. So I will try to get finished this “morning.” Some are aware that there are some days where it is not posted until noon or later.

There will also be another trip to the grocery store today, to get some things that we either forgot or didn’t know we needed, yesterday. And I’m thinking we will probably have Subway for lunch.

Today is my half-day at the library, 4:15-8:15 PM.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

And now we thank you, our God,
and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your presence here, this morning
2. for Your glorious name, worthy of all our praise
3. for Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life
4. that You remain faithful forever
5. that You alone satisfy my every longing

“Let not your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also.
And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him,
“Lord, we do not know where you are going.
How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:1-7 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
"I am the Way, Truth, and Life.
If you had known me . . ."

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY THREE

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 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, also enjoying the affection of a favorite cat, I enjoy the presence of God. I am still, and know that He is God.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
(Psalms 146:2 NIV)

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 146:6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.”
(Amos 8:9-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly mull over those words and phrases, and pray my thoughts, meditations, and desires, and feelings back to the Lord, enjoying His presence.

One word in Psalm 146, that catches my attention, is the word “faithful.” Verse 6 declares that the Lord “remains faithful forever.”

Forever. Infinitely. Never-changing. Faithful.

And in that faithfulness, the Lord does some things.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
He gives food to the hungry
He sets prisoners free
He gives sight to the blind
He lifts up those who have bowed down
He loves the righteous
He watches over the foreigner
He sustains the fatherless and widows
He frustrates the ways of the wicked

In the middle of all of that are two words that I believe may be misunderstood by some.

Righteous and wicked.

It is my opinion (and I believe that opinion to be based on wisdom from the Word of God) that “righteous” defines people who do the same things as God does. In other words, if a person is “righteous,” he upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over the foreigners, and sustains the widows and orphans.

It is also my opinion that the word “wicked” defines people who do the opposite of what God does. They are the oppressors, they withhold food from the hungry, imprison people, blind people, force people to bow down, ignore the foreigners (or worse), and do not care for the widows and fatherless.

The “righteous” may also be involved in frustrating the ways of the “wicked,” but I think that is largely the job of the Lord.

And here’s the thing. Do I consider myself “righteous?” With as much honesty and transparency as I can muster, I would say it depends on what day it is. There are days when I try really hard to do all of those things as much as it is up to me. I may not be directly involved in all of them, but my prayers are toward those objectives, and if I have resources to share (which I do), I try to send them out in those directions.

But truthfully, there are, no doubt, days when I lean more toward the “wicked” side. And that is where the biggest truth of this passage comes into play.

God remains faithful forever.

Praise the Lord.

I’m not going to speak much about the Amos passage. It is, as far as I can tell, explicitly directed toward Israel. It speaks of a dire need and lack of any word from the Lord, which is something that was fulfilled in the period between the end of the Old Testament and the coming of Jesus Christ. Today, my focus is on the forever faithfulness of our Lord God Almighty.

Father, You are faithful forever. Your faithfulness never changes; it never wanes; it never fails. Our brand of faithfulness is fickle, at best. Some days it is nonexistent. I pray that my faithfulness will more closely resemble yours. But I’m real enough to acknowledge that it likely will not, at least most days. I pray for more of a heart that will work to uphold the cause of the oppressed, to give food to the hungry, to set prisoners free, to give sight to the blind, to lift up the bowed down, to watch over the foreigner, and to sustain the fatherless and the widow. If, in working toward all of those, the plans of the wicked are frustrated, all the better. But mostly, I want to be more like You, in Your righteousness and Your faithfulness.

I pray for the ability to follow Your calling to walk with Jesus in our neighborhoods and work places. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities.

"God Almighty,
I am hungry for You and famished for life.
When I'm tempted to gorge on spiritual junk food,
work up my appetite for Your nourishing word,
more than enough to fill me up.
Thank You for Your words,
but also for the Word,
Jesus,
who alone can satisfy my deepest hungers.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 ESV)

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!

Grace and peace, friends.

This Is the Way; Walk In It

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the ninth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,252

Three days until C’s birthday!

Not a lot has happened, to speak of, since I finished yesterday’s blog. We did have a pool guy come and look at our panels to see why the indoor panel wasn’t connecting properly with the outside panel. Turns out that connection isn’t really “wireless” like we thought it was. And the wire that connects the two is pretty much shot. About two feet of the wire is exposed, as it comes out of a plastic conduit to attach to the outdoor box, and that has had sunlight exposure for, oh, around twenty years, now. Ironically, after the guy left, I went to the back door to look at the inside panel, and it was, once again, connected. He must have wiggled the wire or something.

Anyway, we have a few options, and he is going to get us estimates on all of them. Well, not the first option . . . I think we have ruled out trying to “fish” a new wire all the way through all of that conduit and down through the wall at the back door. That would be very difficult, and might not work at all. The other options, though, involve attaching an antenna to the box outside, and either having a remote in the house or using phone apps to control the equipment. I think my first choice would be the phone app. There might actually be an option that enables both the remote and the phones. He’s going to check on that, too.

After some careful thought, I decided, yesterday evening, to go back and revise my answers on my WW app. I decided to tell it that I am not “living with” type 2 diabetes. And, in truth, I don’t believe that to be false. I’m not “living with it.” It is controlled, quite well. In fact, just two days ago, my glucose reading was below 80, which is actually below recommended levels before eating breakfast. Anyway, what this did was lower my daily allotment of points down to 25, but allow me to, once again, have fruit at zero points. I still get avocados at zero points, too! One thing that seems true, across the board, though, is that tuna is no longer zero for any of us. That’s sad, because we eat a lot of tuna. But it is still very low in points, a whole twelve-ounce can (nine ounces after draining) comes in at only three points. And my black-eyed peas are still zero points, so one of my favorite lunches is still very low in points. Yes. I mix black-eyed peas and tuna. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Today is my half day at work, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. I plan to head up to a grocery store, right after I finish this, to get more (you guessed it) bananas and grapes. Then I’m going to get Subway for lunch for us (C works from home today). That way S can have the second half of her ham sandwich for dinner tonight, and C can do whatever she wants, and I will throw something together after I get home. I won’t be staying up too late tonight, as I work again, full shift tomorrow, 9:15-6:15.

I am still currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber. It’s slow going, as it is rather dense. But it is interesting, and I believe it will be, in the long run, helpful.

Today is World Freedom Day, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. “If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about.”

The word for today is serein, “fine rain falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible.” I just realized that my “word of the day” link is a day behind, but I don’t really care. I don’t think I have ever experienced, or at least noticed serein.

Today’s quote is from Edith Wharton, an American author. “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

Birthdays for November 9:

Gail Borden, American manufacturer, inventor of condensed milk, 1801-1874
Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress (Samson & Delilah) and inventor (radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes), 1914-2000
Whitey Herzog, American baseball manager, 1931 (90)
Carl Sagan, American astronomer, 1934-1996
Bob Gibson, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1935-2020
Mary Travers, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), 1936-2009
Tom Fogerty, American musician, brother of John (Creedence Clearwater Revival), 1941-1990
Susan Tedeschi, American blues musician (Tedeschi Trucks Band), 1970 (51)
Tom Fogarty played rhythm guitar
Susan Tedeschi, singer. Married to Derek Trucks, the guitar player next to her. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Morning Moon, by Daryl Madden

A page of life
Will be here soon
A prayer within
The morning moon

A being of
Two sides to see
An offer here
Which will I be?

To let the dark
Now fade away
Rejoice within
The light this day

Still the silence
Of the soul
Align my will
To Your control

As birds prepare
Their symphony
Lord let my song
Be one with Thee

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.”
(Isaiah 12:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what turned Your wrath away from us
2. for the nice weather we have been having, lately
3. that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is not hidden from us; He is always there, telling us which way to walk
4. that You, in Your longing to be gracious to us, have arisen and shown compassion upon us
5. for Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on the propitiation of Christ, and its effect on God’s wrath for sin.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

LORD, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be on Israel.
(Psalms 125:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:18-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages again, noticing how the Lord might be speaking to me through them. I will dwell, briefly, in meditation, over any word or phrase that jumps out at me. I will contemplate the wonderful truth found therein, praying my thoughts to God, my life to Him. I will take refreshment in His presence.

The comparison of us who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion, “which cannot be shaken but endures forever,” is huge. Who among us has been “shaken?” And what does that mean?

The Hebrew word in that verse is translated “removed” in the KJV. I think “removed” carries a little bit better connotation than “shaken.” In terms of my faith, I have certainly been “shaken,” many times in my life.

But I have not EVER been “removed!”

I have not fallen away; been carried away. I have not lost my faith.

Make no mistake . . . this is not because of the strength of my faith or my trust. This is because of the strength of the Lord God Almighty. He has held me fast; He has kept me from ultimately falling away; when I stray from the path, He brings me back, He preserves me. The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Whom, then, shall I fear?

Because of His great power and His very great and precious promises, I am like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken.”

Hallelujah!

I will pray, along with this unnamed psalmist, that the Lord will “do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.” Of course, we know, from Jesus, that there is none good, but God. Nevertheless, we who walk in Him can be, by association, considered to be “good,” because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us.

Where do we find our strength? The Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, “in repentance and rest,” and, “quietness and trust.” But then, we see that His people “would have none of it.”

Do we find ourselves in the same place, today? To some degree, I believe we do. We still feel like we always have to be “doing.” And the Christian life, this walk with Christ is not something we do. It is something we be. Yes, there is action that needs to be taken. But it begins with being. Our salvation is not based on something we do. It is utterly, entirely based on what God did.

What has God done? Among other things, He has risen up and shown us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Why? Because He longs to be gracious to us!

I’m intrigued by verses 20 and 21. Verse 20 speaks of “teachers” not being hidden any more. What I am getting from this is not physical, human “teachers.” The Hebrew word in that verse has some interesting meanings. In most cases, the word is considered a verb, which means “to throw,” or “shoot.” I’m also seeing “point” as a possible meaning. And isn’t this what teachers do? They point to what we need to be learning. They are indicators.

I will confess that I might be reading way more into this than is there, but here’s what I am getting from these two verses.

God, in His longing to be gracious, has risen up and shown us compassion. He has given us “indicators,” signposts, perhaps, a “voice behind” (verse 21) us that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you don’t always walk in that way. I know I don’t. Why? Because I’m not paying attention to the “teachers,” the “pointers,” the indicators that are right in front of me. They are not hidden from me. The way in which I should walk is not a mystery! Truthfully, there is no mystery to it.

This doesn’t give me the exact detail of everything I need to do, obviously. There’s not going to be a sign at every corner, that says, “Buy this car. Go to this school. Buy those bananas.” We do have to make some decisions, and a lot of those decisions have no bearing, whatsoever, on how our lives are going to turn out.

But we have many, many directions and pointers. Many are in Scripture, and if we have looked at His Word, and read it, and digested it, then, when important decisions have to be made, we should be able to hear that voice telling us “This is the way; walk in it.”

Father, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit, among other “signs” that You have given, is right there with us, all the time, telling us “This is the way; walk in it.” I pray for the wisdom and discipline to listen and heed His whisperings along the way. I am eternally grateful for Your graciousness and compassion, shown to us in many, many ways, but most especially in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We cannot thank You enough. We can try, though. And I will try; I will utter thanksgiving on a daily basis, and will never run out of things for which to be thankful. Thank You for giving me a heart that is full of gratitude. Help me to walk in the way that the Holy Spirit tells me. Help me to walk in the ways that Your Word has already told me.

I pray for the call upon us to follow Christ into our communities, workplaces, and wherever else we go. May His light shine in and through us, all the time. This means we must, MUST, set aside our own preferences and “rights,” sacrificing for the good of others, loving others as we love ourselves, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ as You have loved us. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities, our cities, our states, our countries, our world, Your Church.

"Saving God,
startle me with the wonder of Your forgiveness,
the joining of justice and compassion in Jesus.
Because of Your mercy in the cross of Jesus,
You will not hold against me any of my sins.
Let me rest in the just verdict of Your salvation,
free forever from condemnation.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your steadfast love come to me,
O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
(Psalms 119:41 ESV)

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
(John 6:27 ESV)

Then he said to me,
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
Not by might,
nor by power,
but by my Spirit,
says the LORD of hosts.”
(Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Father, I pray for Your Church, that we might, indeed, arise and shine. Rescue us, Lord! Unite Your Church in Your truth, and Your truth alone. We are scattered, Lord, as sheep without a shepherd. We have committed idolatry by following after men instead of You. Save us, O God! Cast off the scales from our eyes; show us Your truth. Jesus is Truth; Jesus is Life; Jesus is Way. Take our eyes off of politics and politicians and conspiracies. Help us regain an attitude of humility and sacrifice for our fellow man.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray For the Peace of Your Cities

Today is Saturday, the sixth of November, 2021.

Day 23,249

Daylight Saving Time ends tonight, in the U.S. Clocks “fall back” one hour.

Six days until C’s birthday.

The garage door opener finally arrived, yesterday, and will be installed, this morning. The installer is scheduled to arrive between 10:00 and 12:00 today. It will be nice to have a working opener again, and this one supposedly will be operable by phone.

I had a great day at the library, yesterday. It seemed busier, at times, than a normal Friday, so far. I had more opportunities to help people than before, which was good. I also had some good conversations with some of the other library folks. I love talking to my new friends. My next shift will be Tuesday evening, doing shelving.

Thanksgiving is later this month, in the U.S. As far as the library schedule goes, I will be off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving, but am scheduled to work that Saturday.

There are no solid plans for anything today. C says she is going to mow the yard, as she has been cleared by her back doctor to do so, since we have a self-propelled mower. He advised her to not be “throwing bags of mulch around.” Which we don’t do, anyway.

Today is Numbat Day. What’s a numbat, you ask? My spell-checker certainly doesn’t know. It’s an adorable Australian marsupial, that’s what.

The numbat, noombat, walpurti (Myrmecobius fasciatus)

The word for today is melancholic, “disposed to or affected with melancholy; gloomy.”

Today’s quote is from James Russell Lowell, an American poet. “All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.”

Birthdays for November 6:

Adolphe Sax, Belgium musician and inventor (saxophone), 1814-1894
John Philip Sousa, American "march king" (Liberty Bell March), 1854-1932
Walter Johnson, American Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, 1887-1946
Jonathan Harris, American actor (Dr. Smith on Lost in Space), 1914-2002
Ray Conniff, American bandleader, 1916-2002
Mike Nichols, German-American film director (Catch 22), 1931-2014
Sally Field, American actress (Gidget, Flying Nun), 1946 (75)
Glenn Frey, American rock singer (Eagles, Take It Easy), 1948-2016
Peter DeLuise, American actor (21 Jump Street), 1966 (55)
Emma Stone, American actress (La La Land), 1988 (33)
Saxophone, invented by Adolphe Sax
Glenn Frey

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
(Psalms 140:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a warm cup of coffee
2. for dwelling in Your presence
3. for the love of Christ
4. for the city in which I live; I pray for its peace and security and prosperity, for the sake of Your houses of worship within her
5. that when I get lost, You are still seeking me

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

For this God is our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide even to death.
(Psalms 48:14 WEB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to become aware of Your presence and to be thankful for You and Your work in my life. I experience repentance for my shortcomings and failures, and feel the comfort of forgiveness.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the LORD—
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
(Psalms 122:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 NIV)

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for a word or idea that has stirred within me, lingering over it and giving full attention to it. As I meditate on the readings, I look for things I might want to ask God about. I pray my life to Him and rest in His presence.

The Psalm reading, one attributed to David, begins with a popular verse. I remember a Sunday School song, from my childhood: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'” Indeed, this speaks of a love of the worship of God. It need not be specific to a place, though. For David, it was, perhaps, specific, but it would not have been about the Temple, because it wasn’t built until Solomon was king.

I had a flash of inspiration (I think) while reading Psalm 122, this morning. Many people take it literally, and do pray for the peace of Jerusalem. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

But what if we applied that to the city where we live? “May there be peace with your walls and security within your citadels?” What if I prayed that daily for Fort Worth, Texas? “For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.'” I have no family and friends in Jerusalem. But I have family and friends in Fort Worth and surrounding cities and towns. “For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” The house where I go to worship the Lord is in North Richland Hills. The house where my mother goes to worship is in Mineral Wells (we will be attending there tomorrow, in fact). Therefore, I will pray for the prosperity of those cities, for the sake of the house of the Lord.

Apparently someone other than “the Teacher” wrote the last bit of Ecclesiastes 12, as he is spoken of in third person. We are told that he was, indeed, wise, and that his words were upright and true. And after all was said and done (and heard), the conclusion of the matter was simple. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.”

“Duty.” We get a lot of talk about “duty,” especially around election day. But here is stated the “duty” of all people, all over the world.

“Fear God and keep His commandments.”

And what are His commandments? You know what I’m going to say.

  1. Love God with all your being
  2. Love people, your neighbor as yourself, and your brothers and sisters in Christ as Christ loved us

According to the Son of God, those two sum up the entirety of the Law and the Prophets.

Father, I pray for the peace and security of Fort Worth, Texas. I pray for the prosperity of the city in which we live, for the sake of family and friends and for the sake of Your “house,” which exists in many places in that city. I pray for the peace, security, and prosperity of Mineral Wells; for Longview; for Henderson; for Grand Prairie; for Indianapolis, IN; and for any other city or town where I have family and friends. May all cities, wherein dwell Your people, experience peace, security, and prosperity, for the sake of Your house. I pray, also, for a love revolution. I pray that Your Holy Spirit convict every single follower of Christ of the need for a massive shift toward love, both love for You and love for our fellow man, regardless of what he/she thinks or believes. This is Your command, and the bottom line, the conclusion of all wisdom, is that we should fear You and keep Your commands. All glory and honor to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

I pray that Your Church would have clear vision for mission; I pray that leaders would be servants, that we would be godly when it comes to the stewardship of the goods You have provided us, and that we would be effectively organized to love the people around us and share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ in whatever ways You have equipped us.

"Living God,
the teacher has fine guidance,
but I need more than advice to keep Your commands.
In my frustrated attempts at obedience,
fix my eyes on Jesus,
eagerly looking to Him to forgive and set things right.
My prayer is to change,
to become more and more like Jesus,
energized to go all-out,
not out of nervous anxiety but in loving reverence of You.
Amen."

That prayer from the devotional book brings up a good point. If there is ever any anxiety in your heart, soul, or spirit, about sharing the Gospel with someone, then someone has done something wrong. There is no place for anxiety-inducing manipulation in the Kingdom of God. Period.

BLESSING

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 WEB)

So do not fear,
for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:10 NIV)

For it is by grace
you have been saved,
through faith—
and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works,
so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

The comfort of these verses, and others like them, is indescribable. Yes, God is with me, so there is nothing to fear. Ever. Yes, I get “lost,” along the way, as I foolishly chase after something unworthy of my attention. But Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We normally only apply that verse to those who are “Lost,” with a capital L. You know . . . the ones we say are “going to hell.” But I get lost sometimes, too. So do you, and if you say otherwise, you’re either a liar or just naïve. And, to me, the fact that it is all grace, through faith, makes it even more beautiful and comforting. I can’t save myself, and I don’t have to try. And my boasting remains in God and God alone.

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!

Trust in the LORD
with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways
submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Time for Everything

Good morning! Today is Wednesday, the third of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,246

Nine days until C’s birthday!

And we have a birthday gift on the way. Besides the fact that we are taking a trip to Indianapolis the following week (after her birthday), we are getting a new garage door opener soon. I’m pretty sure the one that is currently installed, and not working, is the original one, installed in 1999.

Of course, the next order of business, garage-wise, is getting room to put a car in there. I told C that wasn’t happening for her birthday.

Last night was a fine evening at the library. I got a full cart of books sorted and shelved, and then there weren’t any more in the hall to sort, so I spent the last hour walking the shelves looking for stray books. If we find books that were pulled off the shelves but not checked out (we do prefer that the patrons not attempt to re-shelve them), they are marked “used” in the system and placed in the shelving area for the next day. This tells the librarians that there was at least some interest in the materials . . . someone at least touched them.

Every so often, some “weeding” is done, in which a librarian marks material for removal/discard (the official term is “deaccession”), based on when the last time it was checked out. Marking items “used,” at least shows that there was some interest in them.

While I was there, I discovered, thanks to the help of one of the assistant librarians, that our library holds one copy of the 1963 film, The Haunting, so I checked it out. This black and white film is based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which I recently finished.

I just remembered that I forgot to post my current read, yesterday. I am currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, subtitled, “Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life.” I decided to dig deep into my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads. This was added to my list back in May of 2008. Seriously. That’s how far back my TBR list goes. I still had my copy of the book, too. So I’m reading it, now. I haven’t gotten very far into it, yet, but hope to make some serious progress over the next couple days.

I plan another trip to the grocery store, this morning, probably right after I finish the blog. I do believe it has finally quit raining for a while. I changed my mind. I’ve ordered Albertson’s for delivery, instead. Not leaving the house unless I have to.

Oh, and lest I forget, the Braves won the World Series, dominating last night’s game six with a score of 7-0.

Today is Cliché Day. I want all of you to get out there and give 110% today! Seize the day! And whatever you do, be sure and run upstairs when the chainsaw-wielding maniac is chasing you.

The word for today is maringouin, “a mosquito, especially a large swamp mosquito.” Why?? Why, dictionary.com, do you wish to put that image in my brain??

Today’s quote is from James Thurber, American author. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”

Birthdays on November 3:

Stephen F. Austin, founder and colonizer of Texas, 1793-1836
Bob Feller, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1918-2010
Charles Bronson, American actor (Death Wish, White Buffalo), 1921-2003 (I met him once, in Colorado)
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie (aka Lulu), Scottish singer (To Sir With Love), 1948 (73)
Dwight Evans, American baseball player (Boston Red Sox), 1951 (70)
Roseanne Barr, American actress and comedienne, 1952 (69)
Jim Cummings, American voice actor (Winnie the Pooh), 1952 (69)
Kate Capshaw, American actress (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), born in Fort Worth, TX, 1953 (68)
Dennis Miller, American comedian (Saturday Night Live), 1953 (68)
Stuart Goddard (aka Adam Ant), English rocker (Goody Two Shoes), 1954 (67)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Be sober-minded;
Cast all your anxieties
On Him who loves you.
(1 Peter 5)

Open to me
the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for my job at the library
4. that there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven
5. that You have given me a love for Your Word

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:14 MSG)

As I pause in the quietness of the morning, interrupted only by the amusing cat next to me, who is pawing at the front of the computer, non-stop, I consider the love and grace of God Almighty, who condescends to even think about us. What are we that He is mindful of us? Yet He is, even to the point that He desires for the children to be brought to Him.

BIBLE SONG

Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
(Psalms 119:129-136 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud (in ancient times, Scripture was heard more than seen), I ponder how the Word of God has moved me, this morning. What has connected with my heart? What has my mind observed? I pray these things back to the Lord as I turn my thoughts toward Him and enjoy His presence.

The celebration of the love of God’s Word continues in Psalm 119. I love the thought in verse 131. “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.” Our desire for the Word of God in our lives should supersede any other desire. Reading and meditating on God’s Word should be like breathing to us, just as prayer should be. The love of one flows directly out of the love of the other, perhaps even feeding off of each other.

I love, also, the idea in verse 132, the the Lord always has mercy on those who love His name. Just as, I believe, all who love His name should be sorrowful when His Word is not heeded or obeyed (verse 136).

There is much love and appreciation for the passage from Ecclesiastes. Most people my age are familiar with the song, written by Pete Seeger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Here’s a beautiful version by him and Judy Collins.

I do love the wisdom of these words. There is, indeed, a time for each of these. The wisdom comes in knowing when those times are. When are the times to weep and mourn; when are the times to laugh and dance? There is way too much tearing down, right now, in our world. We need to do more building up. I love to embrace; I’m a hugger. But the last year has been a time to refrain from embracing. Probably the most difficult is knowing when is the time to speak and time to be silent.

For many years, I’ve loved the last line of the song, “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” But there will not be everlasting peace until we are Home. But we could certainly be striving a little more for it.

Father, there is, indeed, a time for everything. I pray for wisdom to know when those times are. Help me to be, though, one who works more for peace then fighting. I pray that I might be willing to be silent when silence is needed, but also give me the right words when speaking is called for. Help me to be one who builds up more than tearing down. Thank You for the love You have placed in my heart, love for Your Word, love for You. I pray that the thirst for Your Word will always continue, driving me deeper and deeper into it. I pray with great sorrow, that Your Word and commands would be revered more, in this world, today.

I lift up a prayer, this morning, specifically for my aunt, uncle, and cousins. You know the circumstances, Father. Healing is needed and desired, physically and beyond. I pray for Your intervention.

"God for all time,
assure me that no matter the moment,
I belong to You.
Whatever the season -
whether in cold stillness,
budding brightness,
full bloom,
or loss and decay -
I trust all my times are in Your hands.
In my faithful Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 5:10 MSG)

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:8-10 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

May Your light shine in and through me, Father, as “borrowed light.”

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!

Break forth, like the dawn!
Light! Shine out in the darkness!
Gloom! Be as noonday!
(Isaiah 58)

Grace and peace, friends.