Hopeless and Helpless

Good morning. It is Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is lotusland. This is “a place inducing contentment especially through offering an idyllic living situation,” or, “a state or an ideal marked by contentment often achieved through self-indulgence.”

Today is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. That sounds especially yummy, for some reason.

We had a nice visit at the hospital last night. We went straight there after our worship gathering. Well, not exactly straight, as we stopped by a store to get my mother some magazines and snacks. The fever (I can’t remember . . . did I write about the fever? Yes, I did) was significantly down, and he seemed a bit more aware. He was pretty much awake the whole time we were there. We watched a few innings of the Rangers game with them. He did struggle a little with time lines, when the nurse came in with some meds. But overall, I think it was a positive, encouraging visit. They had confirmed a UTI (urinary tract infection), which could definitely explain the earlier confusion. We’ll be going back up there sometime today.

Rachel and Justin are supposed to be coming down for lunch today, and we need to get groceries before they get here. Plus I need to put go juice in my car.

We continue to feel the love and support from the Body of Christ through all of this. The prayers and encouragement that we have felt from people is nothing short of amazing. We are so very grateful.

The Rangers and Red Sox both won their games yesterday. This put the Rangers back at .500 and tied for first place with Oakland (the Rangers have won every other game, so far). The Red Sox are currently along atop the AL East, with a 4-1 record. Their next game is in NY tonight, at 7:05 CT. I’m guessing it must be tonight’s ESPN game. I wonder how many times I will hear the word “Jeter?”

On this date in 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded their smash hit, “Rock Around the Clock.” It was originally a “B” side for “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town),” but became a bigger hit after being the first rock & roll song to be included in a movie soundtrack. The movie was 1955’s Blackboard Jungle, starring a very young Sydney Poitier.

Nine years earlier, to the day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died while in office.

Today’s birthdays include Beverly Cleary (author), Tiny Tim (musician, sort of), Herbie Hancock (musician), John Kay (Steppenwolf), Ed O’Neill (actor), David Letterman (talk show), Tom Clancy (author), David Cassidy (singer, The Partridge Family), Pat Travers (musician), Andy Garcia (actor), Vince Gill (musician), Shannen Doherty (actress), Nicholas Brendon (actor, Xander on Buffy), Jennifer Morrison (actress), and Claire Danes (actress).

John Kay is a singer/guitar player that is one of the founding members of the rock group Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf was one of my favorite rock bands when I was growing up. With songs like “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born To Be Wild,” they still get a moderate amount of airplay on classic rock stations today. John was born on this date in 1944, and turns 71 today. Here is a video of my father’s favorite song of theirs, “Snowblind Friend.”


In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 31:1-5

“Whoever relies not on the providence of God, so as to commit his life to its faithful guardianship, has not yet learned aright what it is to live.” (John Calvin, in Heart Aflame)

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:11

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Hope for the Hopeless.” The scripture references are Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 4:18-19; 8:43-48; and John 5:1-15.

“Hopeless, helpless people of all stripes populate the earth’s landscapes, though they may fall out of sight behind the gleaming skyscrapers of our metropolises or disappear in the teeming villages of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”

Do we get too used to the stories, to the point that we simply carry on with our lives, “blissfully absorbed in our interests, jobs, families, investments, homes, careers, vacations, and health clubs?” How do we respond to panhandlers on our occasional trips to the inner cities? What about when they knock on the doors of our churches? Yet, we seem to be inundated with “multitudes of welfare services and Christian missions” (which is not a bad thing, mind you).

When Jesus walked the earth, the circumstances were much the same. No one cared about the “hopeless outcasts, lepers, cripples, widows,” and especially those who were typecast as “sinners.” Jesus was probably comfortable, growing up as the “son” of an artisan, but had to have noticed the hopeless, helpless people around him.

At the beginning of his ministry years, he announced “that he was God’s fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy to bring Good News to the poor and the prisoners.” Those hopeless and helpless people thronged to wherever he was, to hear him preach, and maybe get a chance to simply touch the hem of his garment. “They hung on his words and his touch because he offered them hope and a chance to join God’s new kingdom and be liberated from sin and oppression.”

It is worthy to notice that one thing Jesus did NOT do was to attack the causes of their conditions! He never said, “Well, you wouldn’t be blind if you hadn’t sinned so much!” Or, “You wouldn’t be poor if you had managed your money better.” He did not say, “Let’s see if you are trying to help yourself before I help you.” He simply told them that they would find relief, rest, and salvation in him. “He offered people a distinctive yoke, not another yoke of oppression but the yoke of freedom in a faith relationship with him.” Jesus was able to “replace their despair with hope.”

It is also worthy of noticing that he was not afraid to touch those whom most people considered untouchable. He touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable. “If we are to walk the Jesus way, we must find ways to give the helpless both material and spiritual aid, comfort, and hope.” And we must do this without judging people, which we are so terribly good at doing. Judging, that is. I distinctly remember a time when I was a music minister, many years ago. Some of the men were discussing helping a family with a Thanksgiving meal. During the discussion, one of them said, and I speak truthfully, I am not making this up, “We need to make sure that they are trying to get a job and help themselves before we give them something.” Okay . . . I don’t remember his exact words, but that was the gist of it. I was so disappointed and horrified that a man who claimed to be following Christ would say such a thing. But that is how we are raised in this culture, isn’t it?

Jesus repeatedly turned his world upside-down with his actions and teachings. I don’t have much doubt that, if he had waited until today to come the first time, he would be treated much the same, if not worse.

We, as his followers, “must become generous in our giving and get used to taking risks in relationships with the hopeless. . . . Being Jesus to the helpless and hopeless will be costly in terms of pride, money, and energy, but it is the example he set for us.”

Father, as we walk in our world, living our lives, keep our eyes open, that we might notice those who are hopeless and helpless. We may find them anywhere, including our places of work. May we not be so absorbed in our own lives, trials, and pleasures that we do not notice those for whom we are to be salt and light. Help us to walk more like Jesus in our world. Help us to bring the Kingdom to the people around us.

I pray for this day. I continue to pray for healing and recovery for my father and strength for my mother. I pray that there might be more contact from their church family at home. I thank you for the people who have given of themselves to help them so much in the past, and who are offering help, going forward. Your people are truly a blessing to us, Father! Keep us safe as we do what needs to be done today, and give us some rest for the week ahead.

Your grace is sufficient.

We cannot afford to not notice the helpless around us. It is part of our mission as Christians to be Jesus to the people we encounter. We must look up and notice.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Compassion of Jesus

I’m not even sure what day this is, right now. I think it’s Friday, April 10, 2015. Today is the home opening game for the Texas Rangers.

Today’s Word of the Day is pathography. This is “A description of disease,” or “The study of the life of an individual or the history of a community with regard to the influence of a particular disease or disorder; (as a count noun) a study or biography of this kind.”

Today is National Safety Pin Day. I’m not even sure what to say about that.

The situation with my father appears to be improving slightly, as time goes by. There is still a long way to go toward healing, but, according to the doctor, who finally showed up around noon yesterday, each of the scans has appeared progressively better, in terms of the bleeding that was discovered. They want to run another scan this morning, and then talk about when to send him home. The only problem with that, is that we all believe that he is too weak to go home. My mother confessed great fear, yesterday, as she pondered that she would not really be able to handle him in this weak state, as he is currently not even able to stand up on his own. We are firmly convinced that some sort of rehab is in order. I’m sure that there will be some discussion on that today, as they talk to the doctor again.

We went up to see him again, last night, and, while I believed his color looked immensely better, he didn’t seem to be quite as aware as he was Wednesday night. He is also not eating very much at all. A lot of this may be attributed to the Cerebrex that they put him on (NOT Celebrex, it’s a different medication to prevent seizures). We just don’t know. He perked up long enough to ask me how the Rangers did yesterday. I think we have to simply realize that it is going to take him a while to recover from this fall, if in fact, full recovery is even possible. I think that’s another reality that we must face. However, as on of my good Facebook friends said, last night, “The God we believe in isn’t short on miracles.” Amen to that!

Speaking of the Rangers, I had the pleasure of telling my father that they won 10-1 yesterday! They had four home runs in the game, after going three games without any! The Red Sox beat the Phillies, as well, 6-2. So the Rangers come home for their home opener with a 2-2 record, while the Sox are 2-1. Today, the Rangers play the Astros, and the Red Sox play the Yankees in New York. Their home opener is not until Monday, the 13th.


As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
Psalm 30:6

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:18

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Savior of the Fallen.”

I’m not going to quote the references, as they are quite long. They are Luke 7:36-50 and John 4:1-26. I’ll give you a minute to read those.

The Luke 7 passage deals with the woman who came into the Pharisee’s house and began to anoint Jesus’s feet with the ointment from her alabaster jar, wetting them, as well, with her tears, and wiping them with her hair. Turns out this woman was what we might call a “loose woman.” She was, more than likely, a prostitute. Luke simply identifies her as “a woman of the city, a sinner.” When Simon, the pharisee objects to this, Jesus turns the tables on him. The second story is about the infamous woman at the well, who had had several husbands, and was now living with a man who was not her husband.

“It surprises us that the stories of Jesus include his encounters with fallen women.” Well, it doesn’t surprise me, any more, but I’ve been reading this Bible for many years, now. And I feel like I know Jesus well enough that it doesn’t surprise me at all. But the people in his day were surprised at these encounters, just as we would be today. If someone were to see me having a conversation with a known prostitute, there’s not telling what kind of gossip would fly.

You see, for Simon and Jesus’s disciples, “custom and religion demanded that they avoid such people. But Jesus turned their world upside down.” He challenged those attitudes and behaviors. He “brought life and hope and forgiveness to those who languished in their sins.”

Is that not what we are to be doing, as Jesus’s disciples? Are we not to be bringing “life and hope and forgiveness” to people?

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter was somewhat of a shocker in 1850. But, in our day, it is commonplace for a woman/girl to become pregnant outside of marriage, and men and women divorce and remarry on a regular basis. Even so, how does the Church treat these people? I dare say that the attitude of most local churches is still somewhat akin to 19th century Salem, Massachusetts.

Jesus stood up to the self-righteous and offered his hand to those who were fallen. He confounded his critics and demonstrated “what it means to love the unlovely.”

“If we profess to walk as he walked, we must radically change how we think about and treat the fallen of our time and culture; prostitutes, addicts, AIDS patients, prisoners, and the homeless and exploited here and around the world.”

I pray, Father, for more of a mindset of helping those who are “fallen” in this world. I pray this for myself, as well as your Church at large. May we set aside the values and criticisms of our culture and do the work of Christ in this world, seeking out opportunities to minister to the outcasts, the downtrodden, those who are not “pretty” or “rich.” May we truly walk as Jesus walked.

I pray for this day. I am tired, Lord, but nearly as tired as my mother must be. I pray for blessing and healing on my parents, and for my father. May you reach into his brain and heal the injury that is inside there. I pray for his recovery, and for my mother’s peace of mind. I pray for wisdom for the doctors, as well as for us all, as we work to decide what is the next step for him. I pray for full recovery, that he might be able to at least return to the life that he had before his fall. But, even so, I will emphatically pray the same prayer that my mother and father pray on a regular basis . . . your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us grace to accept that will, whatever it is, and no matter how uncomfortable it might make us.

I pray for safe passage to and from work today. I pray for Christi’s day, that it might go smoothly. I pray for the project that needs to go live today, that they can succeed in getting it right. I pray for Stephanie, that you give her peace today. She is worried about her Grandma and Grandpa. I pray for Rachel and Justin, that you would draw them to your heart and give them what they need most today. May you also give Rachel peace, as she, too, worries about her grandparents.

Today, more than ever, Father, your grace is sufficient. Wrap us in your Holy Spirit as we attempt to function normally today.

If we claim to walk as Jesus walked, may we show more compassion to the people to which he made a point of ministering while he walked the earth.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Bruised Reed; A Smoldering Wick

Good morning. It is Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Hump Day!

Today’s Word of the Day is pillaloo. Now, that’s a right British sounding word, if you ask me! What it means is, “Expressing distress, sorrow, or grief: ‘oh!’, ‘alas!’, ‘woe!’, etc.” Or, as a noun, it means, “An utterance of ‘pillaloo’; a cry of distress, a howl. Hence: an outcry, a noisy disturbance or altercation; uproar.” So I guess this could be considered a “pillaloo?”

Today is Zoo Lovers Day. Now, I do love the zoo, however, I feel that this is another one of those “holidays” that should be set aside for a Saturday or Sunday. If I wanted to go to the zoo today, I would have to take a day of PTO.

Today is my mother’s birthday! Happy birthday to Bonnie Bickley!! She was born on this date in 19-mumblemumble. I’m certainly not going to tell you how old she is! I will call her later. I’m not going to call them at 6:00 AM. 😀

Hey, the Texas Rangers won last night!! They defeated the Athletics 3-1, with Primps Fielder going 2-3, with 2 RBIs. Well done! Colby Lewis got the win, and Neftali Feliz got his first save of 2015. The Red Sox are back in action tonight, continuing their series with Philly at 6:05 CDT. The Rangers are still in Oakland for two more games, so tonight’s game will, once again, start at 9:05 PM CDT. Ugh.


The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:9-11

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Gentle Servant.”

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”

Matthew 12:14-23

The passage from Isaiah that Matthew chose to quote to describe Jesus was originally about Cyrus, the Persian ruler. Cyrus was God’s servant, and, “as ancient conquerors go, he was not cruel and vindictive.”

We can also learn much from the context of this quote from Isaiah. If there ever was a time when Jesus would have been justified in losing his temper, it most certainly would have been those times when the Pharisees were attacking him, and, in this case, seeking to kill him. But Jesus “simply withdrew from the conflict and kept on healing the sick, while admonishing them not to talk about what he had done.” His response is a perfect fit for the prophetic passage used to describe him. “He was God’s gentle Servant, refusing to retaliate and crush his enemies.”

It is important to note that, in our belief system, our theology, Jesus IS God! He is fully divine, yet fully man, a truth that is pretty much impossible to comprehend. Yet, when he left heaven to accomplish our salvation, “he humbly assumed the role and character of a servant.” When he was baptized, and again, at the transfiguration, the voice of the Father affirmed him as “my beloved Son.” He was fully empowered by the Holy Spirit for his life and ministry. “In the end, he offered himself on the cross by the Holy Spirit and he was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit.”

The Isaiah quote also speaks of the fact that Jesus did not “strive and shout in the streets like a demagogue.” The word for “cry aloud,” or “cry out,” could equally refer to “barking dogs, cawing crows, obstreperous drunks, and rowdy theater audiences.” (“Obstreperous” means “noisy and difficult to control.”) Jesus shunned such antics; he “refused to scream and shout and demand his own way.”

The last two metaphors used by the prophet were the “bruised reed,” and the “smoldering wick.” “The reed might barely stand and the wick may be giving its last flickers of light, but Jesus did not stomp on the reed or pinch the wick.” These are people who need the encouragement of Christ; his “joy, peace, satisfaction, and purpose in life.” How often to we quench the hope of someone like this?

Jesus never treated the weak with contempt. How often do we do that? Jesus helps to restore them. The gentleness of Christ replaces despair with hope.

Isaiah looks distantly into the future and sees a time when Jesus will bring “justice to victory.” He will bring “justice, peace, and hope to the nations.”

The way in which Jesus conducted himself is our path to take as his disciples. “The Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the world took the gentle road, not the ruthless road, to establish his kingdom. He wins our hearts because he is gentle. His followers must emulate him, gently touching the bruised reeds and flickering wicks of this world.”

Father, I am convicted by today’s reading. Help me to ponder this truth about Christ throughout this day, especially when difficult circumstances confront me. I failed in this respect last night in our Huddle group, but I pray that I have learned something valuable from it. Help me to emulate the nature of Christ today and every day.

I pray for this day. I pray that you would bless my mother on this, her birthday, and give her a sense of inner peace and tranquility today. She is your daughter, I know this well. Take care of her and bring blessing to her today and every day. I pray for our travel to work and home, today, that it will be safe and smooth. Thank you for your protection each day. I pray that Christi’s work day will be productive and free from anxiety. Help both of us to stay focused today. I pray for Stephanie, that she will have a blessed day, and that she will feel your grace and love today. Teach us all your ways, that we might walk in your truth. I pray, also, for Rachel and Justin, that you would bring blessing to them, provision, and protection, giving them whatever they need most for this day. Give us this day our daily bread.

May your will be done, on earth, as in heaven.

How do we respond when people attack us, or even simply disagree with us? How do we treat those who are weak and/or needy? Do we trample on the bruised reeds and blow out the smoldering wicks? May we all emulate the gentleness of Jesus.

Isaiah 42-3

Grace and peace, friends.

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, April 2, 2015. FOUR more days until Opening Day!! The Rangers had their last Spring Training game yesterday, and will be playing the Mets in two exhibition games in Arlington, this weekend. The Red Sox have three more games in Florida, against the Twins, after which they will travel to Philly for Opening Day. The Rangers begin their season in Oakland.

Today is Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” is a word that designates the washing of the feet of the disciples, by Jesus.

Today’s Word of the Day is paladar. This is a word specific to a Cuban situation, meaning, “In Cuba: a small, independent, family-run restaurant, situated in a private home.” There is a side note of explanation: “The restaurants have operated legally in Cuba since 1995, when the Cuban government passed a law allowing the sale of ‘light foods’ from households.”

Today is World Autism Day, a day set aside in 2007, by the United Nations, to raise awareness of Autism in our world. This disorder (a spectrum disorder, as it includes many other disorders), affects at least 1 in every 150 children, worldwide. It has been alleged that this number is now closer to 1 in 50. As of today, the cause is still unknown, although there are some evidences that it is largely genetic. We have an autistic daughter, Stephanie, who is why I will always make mention of this particular “holiday.”

I don’t have much to write about on a personal level, today, and I was late yesterday, so I need to get moving.

Tonight is Huddle night for Christi and the ladies. I plan to get in some trombone practice and watch The Walking Dead.


My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 25:15-22

(From Knowing Jesus)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Luke 9:58
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:13-21
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Luke 18:18-25
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Liberator from the Perils of Wealth.”

“Perils of wealth . . .” That seems kind of ironic, doesn’t it? But if you read the words of Jesus, in the verses above, it makes more sense. Jesus spoke a lot about money, and perhaps more in the book of Luke than anywhere else. Money is a topic that both the rich and the poor seem to be obsessed about. It can be an idol for both classes of people, and this is one reason that Jesus spoke about it.

Our culture “entices us with the attractiveness of wealth.” It promises us that money can bring “success, happiness, prominence, power, and freedom from worry about where our next meal comes from.” It can buy anything and anyone. Millionaires are not so rare in the U.S., these days, but in Jesus’s day, “poverty, not wealth, was the rule of the day.” Jesus walked in the midst of people who were, by our modern standards, poverty-stricken. There was the one man who asked Jesus that question about inheriting eternal life. But he was unwilling to part with his riches. Then there was the parable about the wealthy farmer who kept “building bigger and bigger barns, without a thought for his own mortality.”

Jesus probably had a comfortable life for about thirty years, after which he “became an itinerant evangelist, living off the land, not in sumptuous hotels.” He shunned wealth, claiming that the animals had better homes than he did. He even told his disciples not to pack extra clothes when he sent them on “mission trips.”

Most importantly, Jesus told us that we “waste our time if we worry about money and about the basics money provides. Why should we worry about money when God takes care of sparrows?”

Rather than striving for money, we should be “rich in faith and hope in the living God who knows all [our] needs.” Jesus demands that we stop grabbing for more money and be more generous, giving to the poor, who will always be with us.

Father, I thank you that these teachings have begun to have a foothold in my life over the past few years. I thank you that you have given us a heart to be more generous, but we could still do more. I pray for opportunities to be generous with our resources, and I pray that your Church would also be more generous with the resources that you have provided her. May we all be on the lookout for ways to help the poor and needy in our communities, and may we be less concerned about money in our lives. You have provided for us, and you will continue. You have always given us what we need. We have frequently sought after (and still do) more than we need. May we be more content with less as we go forward.

I pray for this day, that our travel will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi’s work day, that she will have less stress today, and know your presence in her work day. Keep Stephanie close to your heart today. I pray that we will take the Gospel with us wherever we go. May you grant my parents and Rachel and Justin exactly what they need for this day. Give us this day our daily bread. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all be less concerned about money and what it offers. May we trust in the hand of God, which takes care of even the smallest of sparrows.

Grace and peace, friends.

Love One Another

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, March 26, 2015. 11 days until Opening Day!!!!!!!

Today’s word of the day is more of a phrase than a word. It is good-enough Morgan It is a noun, meaning, “An issue or talking point used to influence voters temporarily, typically in the period preceding an election.” Well. Isn’t that interesting? Someone at the OED must be paying attention to the fact that people are starting to throw in for the 2016 Presidential race.

Today is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day! Just go ahead and celebrate whatever you feel like celebrating today! You want to celebrate 2:00? Go ahead! Right now, I believe I’ll celebrate coffee! *slurp* Ahhhh . . .

I don’t have a lot to write about today. Things are going pretty well around here. There hasn’t been much mama-drama for Christi, lately. There is some good news, though, that I just remembered. I got a message from my Dad, yesterday, that my mother went to her local doctor for her follow-up from the surgery. He said, “She is doing well and can resume all normal activities.” That is wonderful news!

Christi has Huddle this evening, and they will be meeting a house that is further away, as the normal host’s husband is the one who has recently undergone gall bladder surgery, and is still not recovering well. Not sure what’s going on there. So it looks like she will be going straight from work, which leaves Stephanie and me on our own, this evening. I’m guessing I already know what’s for dinner. 🙂


Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah.

Psalm 24:7-10

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Giver of a New Command.”

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:31-35
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

John 15:11-17

The fact that Jesus repeated the command to “love one another” so many times compels us to recognize that there is a critical need for us to obey this command. Jesus had loved these men for three years. It was now time for them to begin to love one another in the same way. They were still, at this point, more concerned about who was going to be the greatest. (See Luke 22:24.)

Jesus, though, “saw love as the critical element in the future relationships of the disciples and all believers to come.” Without love, this mission would have failed. “Without love, they could not achieve the unity that would speak to the world about Jesus.”

Look at the early Christians. They loved each other, both emotionally and practically, as they shared feasts together and possessions, as well. They prayed together and worshiped together. “they injected into the callousness of Greece and Rome the tenderness and sacrifice that immediately stamped them as different people.”

The word love, itself, overwhelms us in Scripture. There are so many dimensions of it: “God’s love, Christ’s love, our love for God and his Son, our love for one another, and our love for our neighbors and our enemies.” This love that Christ commands us to is more than just friendship, it transcends friendship. What was the condition? “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” In order to achieve this, we must steep our minds and hearts in Scripture. “We must be fueled by a high-calorie diet of stores about Jesus.” We must preach the Gospel to ourselves on a daily basis.

While it is true that Jesus’s sacrifice for us ultimately satisfies, if we only love each other “reluctantly and with limits, the utter totality of Christ’s love rebukes us immediately.” If we love as he loves, there will be no limits on who or how we love.

This is not mere human affection; “he called for a radically new kind of love by which his followers respect, trust, sacrifice for, and empower one another.” It would become a test by which our faith is validated. We are called by the rest of the New Testament to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

Father, I confess a lack of love. I confess that I have not loved my brothers and sisters without limits. I claim to love them, yet I speak ill of them, at times. My Lord, this ought not be! I pray for love. I pray that you give me a spirit of love for my brothers and sisters; love without limits, love without conditions. May I come as close to agape as is humanly possible! Teach me to love; show me how. May your Church succeed in demonstrating this unique kind of love to all of her members.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe and smooth passage to work. I pray for our work day, that it will go smoothly, without stress. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would show your great love to her and give her hope and peace in her life. I give you thanks that my mother’s follow-up went well, and that she is free to resume normal activities. May you bless my parents richly today. Also, I pray that you would grant Rachel and Justin peace and whatever else they need for this day. Give us this day our daily bread.

Your grace is sufficient.

As we go out to our day, may we all remember to love one another just as Christ loved us.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Grain of Wheat

Good morning. It is Monday, March 23, 2015. 14 days until Opening Day! I might also add that I have purchased tickets for two games in May when the Red Sox are in town!

Today’s word of the day is marquisotte. You might be surprised to find that this is a verb, meaning “To shave or trim (the beard) with exaggerated fastidiousness; of a person: to have the beard so trimmed.”

Today is Puppy Day. How doesn’t love a puppy? If you feel so inclined, go ahead . . . adopt one today. You know you want to.

Yesterday turned out to be kind of strange. We didn’t really do much of anything until around 7:00 PM, when I got up to go get the groceries, and Christi went outside to mow the yard. We watched a bit of TV, including the latest SNL episode, and several of the new show, Secrets and Lies. We like S & L, but the main guy in it, Ben Crawford, is quite the idiot. Every time he turns around, he’s doing something that makes him look more and more guilty.

This morning, it’s back to work for the first full week, for me, since the first ice storm in February! Seriously, between days off due to ice and snow, and birthday vacation, and my mother’s eye surgery, it’s been almost a month since I’ve worked a full week. I have a feeling it’s going to be a loooooong week!


Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Psalm 24:3-6

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, the Grain of Wheat.”

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

John 12:20-29

This is an interesting passage, and I confess that I have not read it quite as closely as this reading calls me to. It begins with a group of Greeks asking to see Jesus. We don’t know why, but we can assume, I think, that they had converted to Judaism, because they were in Jerusalem to “worship at the feast.” They had come to observe Passover. The stories of all of Jesus’s miracles must have reached them. At any rate, they wanted to see Jesus.

From the rest of the passage, we can also assume that this never happened! Jesus’s response is both puzzling and troublesome. He begins his reply with an agricultural lesson that most of them probably already knew. The grain of the wheat must be put in the earth and die before it can bear fruit. But Jesus does something different, and perhaps unexpected, with this idea. He casts against the backdrop of what is about to happen to him. The hour of his glorification is at hand. His heart is troubled; the cross beckons. Jesus is the grain of wheat! He says that the key to eternal life is losing one’s life in this world. His focus is not on “his immediate acceptance by the Greeks and the accolades of the crowds but on Golgotha.”

He states that this is the purpose for which he has come to this hour. His death is necessary “for the production of a bountiful crop.” Jesus then called upon God to glorify God’s name. To validate what he had just said, a voice thundered from heaven, and said, I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

So Jesus’s response to the Greeks, who had requested to see Jesus, was, “Look at that dying kernel of wheat. Look at this man telling you to lose your life. Look at this man agonizing over his imminent crucifixion.”

We have no idea what the Greeks thought of this. They are not mentioned again. But we have our own instructions from this passage. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, said Jesus. “We must be like that grain of wheat and lose our lives for Jesus’s sake.” In this, we learn “the profound lesson of Christian discipleship. Only death to self leads to life everlasting. Only death to self links us inextricably with Jesus and his mission.”

Our world, our culture, beckons us to preserve and protect our lives, “to pamper and indulge ourselves, to clamor for the best things in life.” The lesson from the grain of wheat, and all other seeds, reveals the key “to real success and prosperity, here, now, and forever.”

Father, I pray that you help me to lose my life. I go through periods of time that it seems like I am doing okay at that, and then I begin to try to take some of it back. I pray for your Spirit’s help to lay my life down at the foot of the cross and keep from picking it up again. Help me to follow Jesus and be a true disciple, and help me to show others how to do the same.

I pray for this day, that you would give Christi and me safe travel to work and back home again. I pray for a good work day for both of us. I pray that my work load will not be overly heavy after missing three days last week. I pray that Christi’s new hire will be catching on to her responsibilities quickly, and be a great help to Christi in their work environment. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your great love to her, and that she would focus on your Word some, today.

Thank you that my mother’s recovery is going well, and that her eyesight is getting better each day. I pray for that to continue, and that you would keep them safe in their home. May you also give Rachel and Justin whatever they need most for this day. May your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Your grace is sufficient.

Take the lesson from the grain of wheat. Even Jesus did not seek the accolades of the crowd, but kept his face set toward his purpose, the cross. May we, his disciples, truly follow him and lose our lives for his sake.

Grace and peace, friends.

“My Yoke Is Easy, and My Burden Is Light”

Good morning. It is Sunday, March 1, 2015. March!!! February is over!!

36 more days until Opening Day.

Today’s word of the day is pennill. It is a noun, usually used in plural, meaning, “An improvised Welsh verse sung to a harp accompaniment; a stanza of such verse.”

Today is Fruit Compote Day. What is fruit compote, you ask? Well, the word “compote” simply means “mixture.” It is typically cooked, so it’s warm. Here is an example of a compote recipe (actually sounds pretty good). Simple Berry Compote.

We did manage to have our prayer and worship gatherings last night, and, much to my surprise, we had about as many people as we normally have, if not more. There were even some visitors! After our gathering, we went out for dinner with some friends. We went to On the Border, a place we haven’t been to in years. It was pretty good (Christi didn’t like her choice very much, but mine was quite tasty), and we had a wonderful time. In fact, they almost had to run us out because they were closing. In our defense, they closed early, because it was still below freezing, and there was still a threat of more precipitation.

This morning, it is 33 degrees (not warming up quite as fast as projected) with a predicted high of 47. I’m not thinking it’s going to make that 47 degree mark.

Since it was so bad yesterday, Christi is getting ready to go do the grocery shopping this morning. The roads are mostly clear by now, so driving shouldn’t be an issue. The store may be packed, though, and I guess it’s possible that they may be out of a lot of stuff.

I’m not sure what things look like, at work, so we may be asked to go in early tomorrow.

It was on this date in 1995 that Yahoo! was incorporated. Happy birthday, Yahoo!

Today’s birthdays (besides Yahoo!), include Sandro Botticelli (painter), Frederic Chopin (composer), Glenn Miller (trombone player/bandleader), David Niven (actor), Harry Caray (sportscaster), William Gaines (publisher MAD Magazine), Pete Rozelle (NFL Commissioner), Harry Belafonte (musician), Robert Conrad (actor), Roger Daltrey (singer), Alan Thicke (actor), Ron Howard (actor/director), Catherine Bach (actress), Timothy Daly (actor), Dan Michaels (The Choir), Javier Bardem (actor), Jensen Ackles (actor), and Ke$ha (singer).

Harry Caray was a sports broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. He was well known for his unusual voice style, and is frequently mimicked today. Here is a clip from You Tube as he broadcasts the end of the final game of a season. “Someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series.” Sadly, he did not live to see that happen.


the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:8

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Our Source of Peace and Rest.”

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

These verses are very well known and popular. “Come to me,” says Jesus. Very clear. Very simple, right? “However, we have to admit that responding to his invitation often appears to be difficult for us.” For some reason, we seem to be “prone to accept other invitations first.”

There are many emotional, spiritual, and physical prices that we pay, just for being human. Work is hard, the load is heavy; there are multiple family and professional demands; community and church responsibilities mount up; marriage and financial issues cause stress and anxiety.

Even if we could get rid of all of that “baggage,” we would still have a “heavy load of sin” to carry. Sure, we try to do what is right, true, and good. We try to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable . . .” (Philippians 4:8) But we still stumble; we still sin; and this adds more guilt to our load.

So we seek relief. But where do we go. Some sources that we might seek out are nothing more than scams, designed to take our money. There is a seemingly endless supply of “self-help” material out there, even in the “Christian” marketplace. Some things we might turn to are addictive. We turn to books, TV shows, seminars, retreats, the list goes on and on.

“Jesus says, ‘Come to me.'” Only Jesus knows and comprehends what we go through. “He grasps completely what we endure and is not impatient with us because we may have made some wrong choices.” Even when our pain is self-inflicted, Jesus will still offer relief. In verse 29, he says, “I am gently and lowly [humble] in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” “He lacks nothing that we need for healing.”

For those of us who are believers, we “come to Jesus” initially when we make our confession of faith. We need to keep on going to him, “daily and many times a day.” The very fact that he bids us “come” means that he welcomes us “and listens to us at all hours of the day and night.”

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” This requires humility on our part. Plus, we have to be willing to be taught. “Going to Jesus demolishes our pride and self-sufficiency.” Perhaps this is why we are prone to go to so many other places before we finally give in and go to Jesus. We want to be able to handle these things on our own. When we do finally come to Jesus, we find that he does not burden us with religious rituals and tasks. In fact, when he says, “take my yoke upon you,” he is sharing the burden. He is not putting his yoke solely on us. He is inviting us to let him take the brunt of our burdens!

“When we go to Jesus and give him our burdens, our actual load does not disappear, but he takes away the destructive pressure and pain the load can have. Then we do much more than survive, we thrive in the power of his mercy, love, and grace.”

All of this enables us to obey Jesus’s commands in John 15. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (verse 4) In order for us to “abide,” we must first come to Jesus in humility, and share his yoke.

Father, help us to stop trying to take on our burdens alone. It’s bad enough that we don’t share our burdens with each other, much less bring them to you. Jesus has given us this clear and simple invitation, “Come to me.” Help us to do this, Father. Help us to come to Jesus with everything. I pray for humility in my life. I know this is a dangerous prayer, but I mean it. Without humility, I will try to take care of my own burdens. I need to do two things with my burdens. 1) Come to Jesus with them; 2) Share them with other believers. This is what our community of believers is for. We are there to share one another’s burdens. Teach us all to do this, Father!

I pray for the remainder of this day. Give Christi grace as she serves her mother. I pray that her mother will come to her senses and realize how she continuously uses up anyone who tries to help her. Help her to understand. I pray for peace in the family, Lord, between everyone concerned. I even pray that you would work in the heart of Christi’s sister, that she might be willing to help some. I pray for time to rest, later today, as we get ready for another week of work. Help us to abide in you, that we might bear fruit during the normal course of our lives. I pray for Stephanie, that you would work in her life, as well.

May we truly understand that, by coming to Jesus, we will severely lessen our load and the stress that it brings us.

come to me

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus and Judas

Good morning. It is Friday, February 27, 2015. 38 days until Opening Day. One more day in February.

Today’s word of the day is nescient. Another word that can be an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, it means, 1. ” Ignorant. Freq. with of,” 2. “Agnostic; (asserting that mankind is) incapable of understanding the ultimate constitution of reality.” As a noun, it means, “An agnostic. Obs. rare.”

Today is Polar Bear Day. And a right fine day for that it is, too.

Polar Bear Day is a great segue (not “Segway”) into this section. It seems that February is going out with a bang, so to speak. the current temperature is either 31 or 27, depending on which source you look at. It’s supposed to snow, either starting at 8:00 AM or right now, again, depending on the source, and continue snowing until around 4:00 to 5:00 PM, after which it is supposed to become freezing drizzle. All night long (cue Lionel Ritchie).

I’m going to work after I finish this. Will I get home tonight? Only God knows the answer to that one.

Prayers would be appreciated for Christi’s family. Her step-dad fell out of his chair several times over the past few days. One of their friends wound up taking him to the ER yesterday. He frequently needs to have fluid pumped from his stomach, and is on regular dialysis, as well. At one point, they were saying things “didn’t look good” for him. The friend kept calling Christi, telling her that someone needed to go stay with her mom, and, at one point, insinuated that she wasn’t doing anything to help. That kind mad Christi just a little bit angry, so she called the guy back and let into him. He has no clue how much Christi has done for them. And Christi’s niece always has an excuse for why she can’t go over there to help, except for on the first of the month, when they have money. She’s the biggest mooch I have ever known. She always says, “We’re family, we’re supposed to help each other,” when she needs something. But apparently that only goes in one direction. We are currently paying for her phone service. I think I’m going to stop doing that very soon. Anyway, things got better. Don got out of CCU and was doing better, and someone was found to go stay with Carol (someone who has been there before and knows the situation). But Christi was emotionally drained by the time we got home, so we just chilled for the rest of the evening.


Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19:2-6

(From Knowing Jesus)

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
John 6:66-71
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Matthew 26:20-25
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
Matthew 26:47-50

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Magnanimous to His Betrayer.”

(That means “very generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival.”)

Have you ever been betrayed by someone? How did you handle it? Do you know someone who has been betrayed, perhaps by a child, spouse, pastor, or co-worker? How did they handle it? “One word sums up their feelings: pain, not ordinary pain but intense pain, bitterness, frustration, and anger.” Did they forgive? Some may have, but probably not quickly.

The Bible tells us constantly to look to Jesus. When we do, we see his reactions to Judas’s betrayal of him, and we are both astonished and rebuked. “It is a mysterious puzzle, and we simply cannot put all the pieces together.”

The first question is, “Why did Jesus choose Judas in the first place, since he knew in advance that Judas would betray him?” Was this to be the ultimate example of hypocrisy for us? Or perhaps a warning? “Did Jesus choose Judas to show us the perfidy lurking in our own hearts?” (Perfidy means “deceitfulness, untrustworthiness.”) Even worse, “Are we all potential betrayers of Jesus?”

Who among us would choose a spouse or board member if we knew they would betray us? As we fall on our faces before Jesus, admitting that we just don’t understand, we must also search our hearts for “any hints of betrayal and confess those times when we have betrayed our Lord.” By the way, if you think you have never betrayed Jesus, please stop reading this and go on living your fantasyland life.

There’s another question, here. Why did Jesus call Judas “friend” at the hour of his betrayal? It’s right there in Matthew 26:50. We probably would have screamed “Traitor!” at him. If you have known someone who has betrayed loved ones, or have been betrayed, yourself, it is doubtful that the word “friend” was on your lips at the time.

“So when I look at this snapshot of Jesus, not just in Gethsemane but throughout his three years of fellowship with Judas, I see only a vast chasm between Jesus and me.” I have to confess that I still harbor hatred and anger toward some people who have treated me wrongly over the years, rather than “tenderness and forgiveness.” Oh, sure, there are some instances that are, as they say, “water under the bridge,” and I rarely think of them. When I do, it is almost with a wave of the hand, to disregard it. But there are still others that still raise my hackles and cause my stomach to hurt.

“Jesus is so different from me. He handled betrayal with patience and forthrightness during his work and at his last supper with his disciples.” He never flinched. The author of this book says that Jesus kept the door open for Judas to repent. I suppose that is technically true, but don’t believe it was ever in the cards. But that’s not the point of this reading. The point is to say that Jesus “set the highest standard for all who profess to be his followers.”

Father, sometimes I look at Jesus and am almost discouraged to the point of giving up. I see a standard that I cannot possible meet. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We cannot attain the level of Jesus. That’s why we need him in our lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can, at least partially, be the kind of person Jesus was/is. I can forgive others when they wrong me (at least 490 times for the same offense, right?). I can love people who would otherwise be unlovable. The problem is that I’m not this way most of the time, even with the help of the Spirit. So I pray for more help; I pray to be more like Jesus. Teach me to walk the way he walked. Teach me to love unconditionally and forgive when necessary.

I pray for this day, Father. If I may be so bold, I would pray that the snow and freezing drizzle be held off until after the afternoon rush hour. Nevertheless, may your will be done on earth as in heaven, and teach us to be accepting of whatever comes our way. Teach me, most of all, not to worry about this stuff, especially things that I have absolutely no control over. May your grace take us to work and home safely today. I pray for your grace and mercy in Stephanie’s life. I pray for Don and Carol, that you would bring peace to them, and physical healing, as well. Also, I pray for peace in this situation for Christi.

Your grace is most definitely sufficient.

Take a look at your own reactions to when people do you wrong, then notice how far away we are from Jesus. This is a humbling exercise. But that’s right where we need to be, isn’t it?

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Good morning. It is Saturday, February 21, 2015. 44 days until Opening Day.

I love today’s word of the day. It is dumbsize. This is a verb, indicating what corporations tend to do. “To dismiss (staff) in excessive numbers or without regard to organizational function, with the result that work can no longer be carried out effectively.” I think the place Christi worked for about ten years or so, before getting laid off, did this.

Today is Sticky Bun Day. Do I even need to elaborate?

I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this part. Had a good day at work yesterday, and Christi’s day went well, also. We had pizza and watched the finale of The Mentalist, last night. The series finale. Like many other shows, it ended this season. I was pleased that they allowed it to end happily, unlike Parenthood. Well, I guess Parenthood ended okay, but there was sadness. No sadness in The Mentalist finale, other than the person they killed off about three episodes ago. Then we watched this week’s Big Bang Theory, which had plenty of sadness. That’s all I’ll say about that. Don’t want to be guilty of spoilage.

I have about 20 minutes to get my devotion in, since I’m going to work this morning. So here goes. First, I will mention that we have, as always, our Anchor prayer gathering today, followed by our worship gathering, all beginning at 4:45. We are The Exchange. I might not make the prayer gathering today, but I hope to.


The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
Psalm 18:20

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Forgiver of Sinners.”

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Matthew 9:2-8
. . . for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Matthew 26:28
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:36-50
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:32-43

Here, we see several amazing examples of the forgiveness of Jesus during his life. “Jesus made forgiveness possible by suffering crucifixion, thereby atoning for the world’s sins.” This would be the message that he commanded his disciples to announce after his resurrection and ascension.

In today’s world, when someone is forgiven, it is assumed that they have done something wrong to the one who forgives, and that they need for that person to forgive them. We tend to thing in terms of repentance, an audible request for forgiveness. In regards to God and his law, we are born sinners. We have broken the law of God and offended “God’s holiness, justice, and righteousness.” We are sinners, both in nature and in deed. Therefore, we need God’s forgiveness.

Before he went to the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness. As the Son of God, he had the right to forgive people. First, we see Matthew’s account of the story that was examined yesterday, the paralytic. This man made no confession, had no visible desire to be forgiven. His friends brought him for physical healing. Yet he walked away with both physical healing and spiritual healing! Jesus forgave him first, then in order to prove that he had the authority to do that, he healed the man. In spite of what many might think, Jesus “demonstrated the best news possible, namely, that sinners can be forgiven.” This was big news in that day.

In the first Luke passage, a “real live ‘sinner’ worked her way into a dinner party so that she could worship Jesus by wetting his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.” This behavior was disgusting to Simon, the host, and he verbalized his disgust. Jesus turned the tables on him, though, by first reminding Simon that he had done nothing for Jesus, upon his arrival. He had not washed his feet, yet, here was this “sinner” washing his feet with her tears. Simon had not anointed Jesus’s head, yet here was this “sinner” anointing him with precious perfume. The woman made no verbal appeal for forgiveness, yet Jesus forgave her many sins (7:47). Her deeds indicated her desire for forgiveness. In doing this, Jesus showed that anyone who repents can be forgiven. The nature of her sins showed that anyone can receive forgiveness.

As he was being crucified, Jesus performed two amazing acts of forgiveness. The first was asking God to forgive his own executioners! We have no other explanation for this than for his endless compassion. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Then there was the brief interaction with the thief on the cross. One thief joined in with others, mocking and scoffing. But the other thief, by the grace of God, had seen something remarkable. He rebuked the first thief, stating that Jesus had done nothing wrong. After this, he simply turned to Jesus and said nothing more than, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus’s famous reply was, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”.

Just be sure we don’t miss the significance of the cross, Jesus made a statement as he passed out the first “Lord’s Supper.” In Matthew 26:28, he says, “. . . for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

“Whatever our deeds and failures, the blood of Jesus covers them all.”

Father, I thank you and praise you for the blood of Jesus, and the forgiveness of our sins that was accomplished by his selfless acts. I pray that more people will know of this great forgiveness, and avail themselves of it, as we are all sinners, both by nature, and by deed, as well.

I am short on time, Lord. I pray for this day, that my work day will be smooth, and that travel to and from will be safe. I pray for Christi this morning. I think she is taking her mother shopping. I pray for grace as they interact, and that her mother will behave. I pray ahead for Monday morning, that weather will not prevent us from getting to my mother’s surgery.

May our prayers and worship this evening glorify your name!

No matter how good we think we have been, we are still sinners, both in nature, and in deed. We need the forgiveness offered by Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.

Healer and Forgiver

Good morning! It is Friday, February 20, 2015. Pitchers and catchers report today! 45 days until Opening Day!

Today’s word of the day is lowe. I tend to think of that as a home improvement store, but it has several meanings. 1. “Flame, fire; (as a count noun) a flame, a fire; a blaze. Also: the gleam or glow of a fire, flame, etc.” 2. “fig. (chiefly poet.). A burning or passionate feeling, esp. of love. Now rare.” 3.a. “A small candle or other naked flame, used as a light by miners. Now hist.” b. “A type of torch used in the catching of salmon; the light cast by this. Now rare.”

Today is Cherry Pie Day. No, not the Warrant song. The real thing. Gooey, buttery-crusty, scrumptiously delicious cherry pie! Yum!!!

Spring training officially begins today!! Of course, many players have already been there for a bit, but today, it is official. I can picture the mild, clear temperatures, the green, well-manicured grass, the sound of baseball spikes on the ground, the pop of the ball hitting the glove, and the crack of the bat. Baseball is here.

I have to say that God is doing some pretty cool things in my life, right now. Spiritually and emotionally, I’m in a better place than I have been in a long time. I haven’t even gotten angry at work in over a week! The prayer times have begun to feel really powerful. I’ve had some very precious moments during those times, lately. I’m praying desperately that God doesn’t let me mess this up.

As I’ve said a couple of times this week, I have to work tomorrow, and will be going in at 7-ish. I get up at 5:30, so I don’t know if I’ll have time to write a blog entry or not. We shall see.


Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:7-19

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, Healer of the Paralyzed.”

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Mark 2:1-12

This is a story that I have been familiar with since childhood. It was always one of my favorite Bible stories. Paralysis has been a scourge on mankind for all of history. The authro of the book, Knowing Jesus, lived through “infantile paralysis” in the 1930s and 1940s. He has a cousin who was crippled by the disease. He remembers when Jonas Salk “developed the first polio vaccine in 1955.” I had friends, slightly older then me, who had been struck by polio.

The people of Jesus’s day had no vaccines or cures. “They suffered humiliating poverty and public abuse along with their physical pain and limitations.” The only hope they had was some miraculous cure. When Jesus came to town, he looked like a miracle worker. “So when the word got around that he was teaching in a certain house in Capernaum, they jammed the place to hear him. Seizing the opportunity, four men brought their crippled friend to the house, carrying him, bed and all, to the place where Jesus was.”

We know the story. They couldn’t get into the house because of the throng. So they used their imaginations. They carried him up to the roof, tore a hole in the roof (branches and reeds covered with dried mud, probably), and lowered their friend down into the room, right in front of Jesus!

I’m sure there was a cautious silence in the room as everyone waited to see what Jesus would do about this rude interruption. Jesus looked at the man, observed the faith of his friends, and said the most surprising thing. “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now, this wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, was it? And it also made the scribes furious. “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (They were thinking these things, not saying them out loud.) But Jesus could “hear” their thoughts. So he asked them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk?'” So he turned and said exactly that to the man. And the man did exactly that. But, as a bonus, his sins had also been forgiven. The scribes were right in their assessment that God alone can forgive sins. They just didn’t realize that God was in their midst, in the person of Jesus Christ.

We sometimes credit this thing called “luck” when good things come from Jesus. But there is no such thing as luck. I’ve said this for years. “The Holy Spirit draws people, sometimes out of dire circumstances, and drops them in front of Jesus.” He often uses friends to do this. And Jesus is never put off by what seems impossible. “As the Son of Man, he hurts with us; he knows all about chronic pain and incurable diseases.” His love will bring healing, not always from the sickness, but always from the sin.

Father, I thank you for the love of Jesus Christ, that forgives sins and, sometimes, even heals our sicknesses. The grace that you have lavished upon us, by the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is truly amazing. Help us to see this. Give us the faith to not only bring our own infirmities to Christ, but to also have the boldness to bring our friends to him, for forgiveness and healing. Help me to be the kind of friend that this paralytic had.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe travel to and from work. I pray that Christi’s work day will be good today, without stress or anxiety. I pray for Stephanie, that your great love would be revealed to her, and that you would give her wisdom and understanding. May my work day go smoothly, as well, and I pray that I would not need to work overtime tonight. I pray for a short day tomorrow.

I’m still praying for the weather reports/forecasts for Sunday and Monday to change. May there be no freezing precipitation on Monday. But you will be don, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Praises to your holy name, Lord!

To all the paralyzed, Jesus is sometimes a healer of sicknesses, and always a forgiver of sins; to the rest of us, he is the One to whom we can bring our friends, and trust that he will do right by them.

Grace and peace, friends.