Overlooking God

Today is Monday, the fourth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,398

Lent is beginning to wind down, as this coming Sunday is Palm Sunday (April 10). April 8 is my mother’s birthday, and as part of the celebration, we plan to visit her and S’s home church in Mineral Wells, for their Easter music. Also, there will be cake. The cake is not a lie. (Bonus points if you get that reference.)

There’s not a lot going on today, so I will get on into the devotional for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Sense of Three,” by Daryl Madden

Sight and sound and taste and more
What are our senses really for?

To open eyes and truly see
The Spirit here surrounding me

To hear His voice, adoringly
The Word of love calling to me

To feel with heart so gratefully
For all the gifts God’s blessing me

A greater view consuming me
The sense within, the Trinity

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

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:17-20 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit; music from the heart to the Lord
2. that we have water, clean water to drink
3. for flexibility in life, and the willingness to shift direction, when called upon
4. for the presence of God in my life, that I can see and hear and touch; may I not become so used to Him that I forget to notice
5. for places that are away from the hustle of life, places where we can truly rest

Today’s prayer word is “shift.” That’s interesting. Let’s see what they mean by this.

Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward . . .’
(Deuteronomy 2:2-3 ESV)

Ironically, I just read that chapter in the reading plan for today, from my Bible app. The idea here is a “shift” in life direction. I did that last year, myself. At the end of July, I retired and began drawing Social Security. I made the decision a few years early, so I’m not getting the full payment, but it was a good move for me, as I am now working as a part time library aide to supplement the SS.

In my spiritual life, I frequently “shift” directions. Not, of course, the ultimate direction which is always (at least I hope) “God-ward.” But there are times in my life when I must examine the things I have habitually believed and practiced, to make sure that I am still really following in the words and steps of Jesus, as I walk in His kingdom.

We should never be afraid to “shift” our direction. We should never be so comfortable in our beliefs and practices that we refuse to heed better instruction, more scholarly teaching, or even warnings. I don’t know everything. No one knows everything. But there are many who know things better than I, and it would be foolish for me to not at least consider what they have to say, and, then, perhaps, “shift.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
(Mark 6:31 ESV)

How often do we need to do exactly this? It is, I firmly believe, one of the reasons that C and I love to get away to Glen Rose, often. It is a secluded place where we can rest. God’s creation has wondrous restorative powers. After all, if we remember, He called it “very good.”

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:31 ESV)

“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.”
(Job 14:7 ESV)

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
(Luke 5:16 ESV)

Even Jesus, God incarnate, needed to withdraw away from everything and everyone, in order to pray and refresh. By the way, the essential meaning of that word that is translated “desolate” is simply to be alone. It could be translated as “loneliness,” or “solitary.” I think “desolate” conveys a bit of a negative idea there. But I’m not well-versed in the terrain of ancient Israel, so maybe it really was “desolate.”

The point, though, is that we all need rest. And sometimes, it is very good to get out in the midst of God’s creation, alone, to do so.

Eugene Peterson, in a reading called “On the Overlook,” discusses the possibility of overlooking the presence of God in our lives. He brings it home by considering someone who might live at the base of an awesomely majestic mountain. After living there for so long, they might no longer look at the mountain, and almost forget it is there, even though it is the “most significant geographical feature in their lives.”

So it goes in a life with God. He is “obvious, essential, inescapable,” but, over time, we get used to Him, along with His “personal and passionate and gracious and merciful” character. We get caught up in the “urgent” business of life, as we struggle to make ends meet and avoid crises and disasters.

“That is why we work together as a community to have awareness of the great presence of God in our lives. We seek to wake ourselves up, to make sure that the roar of the vacuum cleaner doesn’t drown out the knock of the treasured Guest at the door, to deliberately step out of the fast lane so that we can see and hear and touch the God who is around and within us and can shut up long enough so that we hear and truly listen to the story of God coming to us, born in Jesus. Born in us.”

Have I mentioned how much I love the way that guy could put words together?

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

Father, I am in awe of how close You can be, at times. I mean, You’re always here, just as You are always everywhere. But there are times when I feel it more closely than others. I do confess that there are also times when I forget that You are near me, and I am sorry for that. Life is so much better when I am aware of Your constant presence. The thought that I can almost literally see, hear, and touch You is amazing. Certainly, I can do none of those things, in reality. But I can see, hear, and touch You when I am in the presence of other saints, because we all contain You in our lives. So when I am with my brothers and sisters, like on Sunday mornings, You are present in them, and we can see, hear, and touch one another. May we never grow used to this to the point that we forget just how awesome and amazing You are.

I pray for some time to get away soon, some time when we can go “hide away” in the midst of Your creation, in a lonely place, or a “desolate” place. I sense the need for some refreshing, soon. I thank You that there are places where we can do just that. In the meantime, please make sure that we rest enough.

Thank You that I have the willingness to constantly be shifting my life direction, whenever I sense You leading me differently. I thank You for the major shift that happened last year, and I pray for more direction as I continue to suss out what that looks like.

Thank You, Father, for all Your blessings in our life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Courage and Joy

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the second of April, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,396

Yesterday turned out to be pretty productive for me, as I got quite a few things done around the house. I also managed to squeeze in two episodes of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, which I checked out last Tuesday from the library. It’s a miniseries, with nine episodes. I won’t likely be finished by this coming Tuesday, but I should be able to renew it at least once. Unless, of course, someone has placed a hold on it, in which case, I will have to take it back and finish it later.

Today, I’m due at work by 9:30, and it’s almost 8:00 already. I actually managed to sleep until almost 7:00, this morning, and probably could have slept later, but decided I should get up. I’ll be taking C’s car so Mama and she can take mine to galivant. Oh, and Mama’s birthday is next Friday, April 8. And, to celebrate her birthday, MLB decided to have Opening Day on it! Well, some of the teams, anyway. It looks like some of them are opening on the seventh. The Red Sox and Yankees are playing on Thursday, the seventh. But the Texas Rangers are opening on the eighth.

Anyway, I need to get moving with what’s important, so here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of family and friends
2. for the courage God gives me to follow in the words and steps of Christ when it frightens me or threatens to shake my faith
3. for joy in the face of tragedy and sadness
4. for the "good news"
5. for the grace of Christ that puts our lives back together

Today’s prayer word is “courageous.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

I’ll confess, right up front, that I’m not a fan of this word. But that’s mostly because of the modern connotations of it. It tends to carry a lot of baggage in the arena of toxic masculinity; you know, “being a MAN!” But that’s a discussion for another day, and, frankly, someone else’s blog.

There is also a misconception that courage is the absence of fear. And the reading for today seems to perpetrate that misconception. I disagree with that. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to do something that causes you fear or frightens you! Courage is being scared out of your wits and doing it anyway. John Wayne is alleged to have said, “Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway.”

I don’t know much about saddling up, but I agree with the sentiment. And, considering what Joshua was about to take on, I would imagine that young man was scared to death. On the one hand, he had a land full of enemies ahead of him, and on the other hand, he had a bunch of rebellious ignoramuses behind him. So God gave him that command.

I have not had a whole lot of opportunities in my life to be truly courageous, and I dare say not many people have. I guess it took a certain amount of “courage” to get on one of those rides at Six Flags, last year. I was pretty scared. But I haven’t been all that scared, too many times in my life.

Sometimes, I believe courage takes us into places of deep faith, though. Maybe we don’t have to be “scared to death” to show courage. If we feel the hand of God on us, and feel that God is asking us to do something that we wouldn’t normally do, there is going to be a measure of fear in the decision, and if we choose to follow His direction, we have displayed courage. And that is where I believe today’s word comes into play.

We need to be “courageous” when we approach life in God’s kingdom, because it will take us places we never expected, and it will most definitely stretch our faith. And, frankly, if it doesn’t scare you, sometimes, I question your whole belief system.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Here’s another verse that I believe shows courage. It takes courage to work through anxiety. I know people who experience anxiety so badly that it literally debilitates them, for a period of time. To take that anxiety and cast it on the Lord is courageous!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
(Proverbs 15:1-3 NIV)

These are wise words to remember when we find ourselves in a situation that induces anxiety or worry. Especially if we know that there are others watching us. How we react in these situations can also display courage.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV)

The word “gospel” is misunderstood, a lot. We call the first four books of the New Testament “Gospels.” It comes from a Greek word, “euaggelion,” pronounced “yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on.” That is also the basis for our word, evangelism. Essentially, it means, “a good message.” We sometimes call it “the good news.”

“The Christian life is an invitation to hear something good – not something sad, morose, or tragic. One of the fruits of the Christian life is joy. Praise and gladness are characteristic marks of the worship that Christians offer.”

These are words from one of my favorite wordsmiths, Eugene H. Peterson. We get this quality of life, this joyfulness, “not by avoiding sin or by sidestepping evil or by carefully constructing one’s life so that one will not be troubled by misfortune.” Rather, the joy that we have is so powerful that it can “confront what is tragic and overcome it. Christian good news is solid enough that it can absorb the world’s bad news and still maintain itself as good news.”

I absolutely love that statement. It is so powerful!

“Christian good news is solid enough that it can absorb the world’s bad news and still maintain itself as good news.”

There is a lot of bad news out there, these days. And, sadly, there are a lot of “Christians” who are really freaking out about it. That out not be so. Our joy should be so powerful, the strength of the “good news,” the “Gospel,” should be so powerful that we should be able to maintain our own sense of good news and joy in the midst of it all.

Peterson tells a fable. “Two frogs fell into a jar half full of cream. One frog soberly appraised the situation, realized struggle was useless, put its little fingers together, and drowned. The other frog was not so intellectual and did not stop to analyze the situation. Since it did not have the same information as the other frog, it went on struggling for its life. The rapid strokes of the frog’s hands gradually thickened the cream and created a lump of butter. The emotional frog crawled onto this solid lump and jumped out of the jar.”

In some ways, this summarizes Christian faith. Not to say that we are totally emotional and not intellectual. I like to think of myself as somewhat of an intellectual; I have a brain, and I like to think I use it. But I’m also one who allows my emotions to run amok, at times. And I see the value of the struggle. We can “experience the deepest kind of humiliation and rejection and still have life make sense, finally, because God” works in us.

“The suffering that Jesus experienced and confronted didn’t produce a morose, depressed man but rather resulted in the gospel, the good news.” (Emphasis mine)

The grace of Jesus Christ (that we experience with courage, by the way) “puts things together again in a way that feels strangely like joy.”

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

Father, time is short, so I must condense, here. I thank You for courage, regardless of how it comes about in our lives. I thank You for the sense to acknowledge when something makes me afraid, and then Your courage to go ahead and step into it, leaning on the faith of Jesus that is within me, infused into my life.

I also thank You for the joy that comes from knowing Jesus, and the way that faith takes bad news, tragic news, and our messed up world, and turns it around so that, while it may not actually make sense, I can still walk through it with my head held high, experiencing joy. This is Gospel. This is Good News. And that is what we are supposed to be projecting in this world.

Father, help Your children display this faith, this joy, this Good News. Help us to stop being sidetracked by the bad news, and dear God, PLEASE help us to stop acting like we don’t believe You are in control of things!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

What’s Your Story?

Today is Friday, the first of April, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent. April Fool’s Day, if you are so inclined.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,395

This is my first Friday off in a while. I think the last Friday I had off, that was not due to inclement weather, was the Friday before Thanksgiving, when we traveled to Indianapolis to visit with R & J. But, beginning today, I now have every Friday off, and will begin my Thursday shifts next week.

My appointment at the vein care clinic yesterday went well, I think. I liked the doctor. They did an ultrasound that showed that I have three of four main veins that are “broken,” resulting in the many varicose veins in my legs. I would show pictures, but I don’t want to gross everyone out. Including me. However, the condition is not, currently, life-threatening, or even dangerous, really, and causes me no pain or discomfort. They seemed surprised when I told them that the varicosities are not hindering my lifestyle at all.

I will, though, begin wearing compression socks today (or whenever they show up from Amazon), and will do so for at least twelve weeks, because insurance won’t even consider covering treatment until compression socks have been tried for twelve weeks. Of course, compression socks don’t fix the problem. They just prevent it from getting worse. After the twelve weeks is up, I may or may not choose to have the treatment. What they do is basically seal off the broken veins, forcing blood to re-route through healthy veins. The body will then eventually break down and consume the old veins.

I don’t have an estimate, just yet, on how much this will cost, but one of C’s work friends is having the same thing done, and it’s costing him $2400. Our max out of pocket is about $6500, so we may go ahead with it. We’ll see how things look when mid-May gets here. I’m also needing to schedule a colonoscopy soon, and I have no idea how much that is going to cost.

I have no real plans for the rest of today, other than finishing up some laundry that was started yesterday. Since it is Friday, there will likely be a trip to Freebird’s for dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“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)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my vein condition is not immediately serious
2. that, "whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 'it is well with my soul'"
3. for story; we all have one
4. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, simply that the kingdom of God is at hand
5. for the lavish, unexpected generosity of our Father in heaven

The prayer word for today is “story.” I have become a huge fan of story, in recent years. The thing is, everyone has one; we all have a story. The Bible is full of stories, some real and some more like parables. The quote provided is from Hanna Arendt, who was a political philosopher and holocaust survivor. “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” I confess I’m not 100% sure what that means.

The reading involves the idea of people who come into a bookstore, searching for a book they remember from their childhood, but all they have are hazy memories of it. Having worked in a library for a few months, I know that this sort of thing happens to our librarians, as well.

The thing is, those stories that we remember, even if just barely, have become part of us. I don’t remember what the first book I ever read was, but I definitely have some memories of favorite childhood books. I ran across one, recently, while shelving children’s books at the library. Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was not only delighted to see that our library had a copy, but that someone had actually checked it out!

Memories of all kinds are part of us, and they all combine to make up our over-arching story. Our Story is made up of tiny stories, or sub-stories, if you want to call them that. “Chapters,” maybe?

But I digress. The point is we all have them. And everyone has A Story. Some stories are tragic; others are victorious. And if we care enough about one another to learn them, they speak volumes about why we are the way we are. Our personalities did not develop randomly, by accident. All the things that have happened in our lives work together to make us who we are.

What’s your story?

Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?
(Matthew 20:14-15 ESV)

Most of us would probably realize that, should the scenario Jesus just presented in Matthew 20 occur in twenty-first century USA, there would be lawsuits galore. But, then, we also realize that this parable is not really about money or wages for work.

“A generous God is hard to get used to,” says Eugene Peterson, as he opens this reading called “A Lavish God.” As we grow in this world, accumulating all of the aforementioned stories, we also gather up and store quite a bit of guilt. Unless, of course, we are psychopaths, but that’s not what this is about.

And, in storing up this guilt, we “assume that God – if there is a God – is just waiting for the right time to let us have it, to punish us and put us in our place.” And, if it isn’t God waiting to do that, there are plenty of preachers ready to do it for Him.

“And then Jesus tells us the surprising opposite.”

And that’s the end of the reading, much to my surprise, as I turned the page to find the next reading.

In this parable, Jesus tells us that the person who begins to follow Him right at the very end of their life gets just as much “heaven” as the person who has followed Him for their whole life. Our capitalistic, greedy, Western culture screams, “BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!”

Jesus never promises “fair.” Our Father lavishes His grace and mercy on the just and the unjust alike. Scripture is clear on this. There is much that we will never understand about the nature of God. Human preachers have made up a ton of stuff, over time. It should all be sifted through the strainer of God’s Word. And God’s Word is Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I could write for hours about things that men have claimed to be biblical truth, things that have no Scriptural basis whatsoever. One thing that recently came to mind, thanks to a Facebook post, was the “sinner’s prayer.” Not only is there no such thing, biblically, there is not even one shred of evidence that one must say a prayer to be “saved.”

What is the Gospel of Jesus? If I were to ask that question on social media, I would, no doubt, get multiple replies that had to do with dying on the cross, being in the grave for three days, and being resurrected. But that is not even close to the Gospel that Jesus preached.

Here is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:15 ESV)

That’s it. “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Our God is generous. He forgives all of our sin. He expects us to do the same with one another. And He expects us to be as generous as He is.

Father, I praise You for Your lavish generosity, so very unexpected, especially when one is raised to think that You are just waiting to dole out punishment on the sinners. Somehow, we seem to have missed that bit that says You don’t desire for anyone to perish. There is so very much about You that I do not know or understand. Probably an infinite amount. I know the promises of Scripture, though, that tell me that I will, someday “know as I am known.” At this point in life, that is both comforting and frightening all at the same time. I know that I’m not ready to know everything about You, but I’m eager to get to that point.

I thank You for my story, Lord. Yes, there are parts of it that I am most definitely not proud of. There are parts that only You and me know about (and maybe one or two others). But all of those pieces have come together to produce who I am today, and that is my Story, and it is ever-evolving, with each day that comes. My desire is that it will end with You telling me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But I don’t know how faithful I have been. I guess it all depends on how we define “faithful.” I have attempted, as Peterson called it, “a long obedience in the same direction.” There have been side trails, and times that I have moved backward, but, over-all, the direction has been forward and upward.

I thank You for Your generosity, again. Your patience with us is part of that generosity. In recent days, it has come to my realization that we, as humans, as people who claim to follow Christ, have this problem. We tend to consider ourselves in light of the New Testament, desiring Your grace to be lavished upon us. But we tend to consider others in light of the Old Testament, actually appearing to desire Your wrath to fall on people with whom we don’t agree.

God, please help us! This ought not be so! Help us to be as generous as You are, both with our resources (which You have given us, to begin with) and with our forgiveness and acceptance and love for our fellow humans.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

I Just Want to Celebrate

Today is Thursday, the thirty-first of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,394

This will be my last Thursday to be off from work, as my schedule will officially change, beginning tomorrow. Going forward, I will be off on Fridays and be working from 11:15-8:15 on Thursdays, in the Computer Center. This is all happening because one of our CC aides got a second job, which is being rather uncooperative in regard to his schedule in Hurst, and the other CC aide really didn’t want to work on Thursdays. She is very grateful that I was able to step in and work on Thursdays.

For me, it’s only a mild inconvenience to switch, as it means I will be working two evening shifts a week, and three consecutive days, every other week. This mild inconvenience is offset by having a four-day-weekend every other week. Actually, it is virtually five days, because I don’t go to work until 4:15 on Tuesdays.

I have my vein clinic doctor appointment, this morning, at 10:15. I got an email from them, yesterday (actually Tuesday evening, I think), that outlined what this visit will cost. I’m not sharing it here, but I almost canceled the appointment when I saw it. However, my wife (have I mentioned she’s an angel?) said I should go ahead and do it, because it seems necessary for my health and well-being.

After the appointment, I plan to have lunch with C, since the doctor’s office is in Arlington, which is also where C works. We will probably go to Fred’s Downtown Philly.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
In the light of His glory and grace

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
(Luke 9:35 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings in my life, too numerous to count
2. for the preeminence of Christ in all things
3. for celebrations that call to remembrance the things that God has done in our lives
4. for the "chutzpah" of the woman in Matthew 15, that shows us that we don't always need to be prim and proper when we pray
5. that God listens

Today’s word for prayer is “celebrate.” There is a lot of that in Scripture, actually. While the word, itself, only occurs in the Bible about a dozen times, the sentiment is there more frequently, especially in the Old Testament, as the people of Israel are commanded to observe various festivals throughout the year.

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance.”
(Exodus 12:14 NIV)

Of course, the number of occurrences of the English word depends on which translation you are reading. It occurs more in the NIV than in the ESV, and only three times in the KJV. The writer of today’s reading, known only as “Michelle,” claims it appears sixty-eight times. I’m not sure which version she is reading, because the NIV only shows it around fifty-five.

All of that is irrelevant, of course.

Celebration is even considered one of the classic spiritual disciplines. The reason for celebration is remembrance. All of the festivals that the ancient Hebrews were expected to observe were to commemorate something that God had done for them. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas (which is commanded, nor even suggested, nowhere in the Bible, by the way). We celebrate His resurrection at Easter (also not commanded or suggested, but the first century Christians shifted their day of worship to the first day of the week, because of Jesus’s resurrection). When we celebrate birthdays, we remember the day that a loved one was born.

Michelle suggests celebrating God’s abundance in our lives, “in a way that would strengthen my journey of faith.” And, while the discipline is considered a “corporate” discipline (one observed by a group or gathering), I believe we can easily celebrate on our own. All that is needed is to have a little “Thank You, God” party.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
(Isaiah 49:13 ESV)

That sounds like a celebration to me! And here’s the ultimate celebration, one that I cannot wait to participate in.

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:11-14 ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 ESV)

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." 
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 
But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." 
And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 
She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 
Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." 
And her daughter was healed instantly.
(Matthew 15:21-28 ESV)

Eugene Peterson says, “the woman had chutzpah.” I like that. That is a word that means, “extreme self-confidence or audacity.” She got Jesus’s attention.

“Maybe we don’t have to compose ourselves into postures of reverence before we pray. Maybe we don’t have to know very much about the strategies of salvation before we appeal for help. [Remember yesterday’s prayer word?] Maybe when we feel excluded from the rich banquet of life that everyone else seems to have such easy access to, we need to push our way into the room – elbow our way to the head table and demand at least a portion of the leftovers.

“This is not the polite approach to Jesus that we are taught by our pastors and parents, but it worked once.

“Maybe it will work again.”

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

Father, I thank You for these words today, especially “celebrate.” I know I need to celebrate more. All of Your children (well, most, anyway) need to celebrate more. There is too much whining and complaining going on in the midst of Your people. One looking in from the outside might question whether we have any faith in You at all! Help us to celebrate, to remember the great and marvelous works You have done in, through, and for Your people, throughout history.

You parted the Red Sea as You delivered Your people from Egypt. You split the Jordan River in half so that Your people could enter the Promised Land. You made water come from a rock, and manna appear out of nowhere. You dropped the walls of Jericho like they were made out of paper mâché. You made an axe-head float. I could go on and on and on, and that’s what celebration is all about; remembering those things.

Most importantly, You gave us Jesus, and You displayed the most awesomely wonderful power ever when You raised Him from the dead and lifted Him up to heaven, right in front of His disciples.

Celebrate. I just want to celebrate. Help me to do that today. And I pray for things in my life that will remind me to celebrate. Should I go walking outside, in the midst of nature, put something in front of my eyes that will cause me to remember and celebrate. But also keep my eyes open so that, when You do that, I will see it.

I look forward to joining those multitudes depicted in Revelation and shouting/singing glory to You for all of eternity. That’s the ultimate celebration.

And Father, please give me the “chutzpah” of that woman from Matthew 15. Not that I want to ever be rude or presumptuous in prayer, but also to know that, sometimes, all I have to do is cry out, “help!” Thank You for listening.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Help!

Today is Wednesday, the thirtieth of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today!

Day 23,393

I just realized that I published this without adding any personal stuff, but I didn’t really have anything to add, today, anyway. So straight on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come to God,” by Daryl Madden

God welcomes us
With a sunrise’s beauty
Come receive His love
Welcome Him into me

God’s seeking us
In gifts everywhere
Come find His love
With our soul, be aware

God’s calling us
With opportunities
Come share His love
With the lost and needy

God’s wanting us
In Him to be
Come be His love
For eternity

What a beautiful invitation, especially that last stanza. There is, I fear, much misunderstanding surrounding God and His purposes. He desires us to be “His love for eternity.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the simplicity of the love of God; how deep and how mighty, yet how simple
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. that God is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20)
4. for the easy yoke of Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)
5. that God will do what He says He will do

Today’s prayer word is “help.” And the quote at the top comes from a book that I have had on my TBR list for a while, now.

“This is a hard planet, and we’re a vulnerable species. And all I can do is pray: Help.” ~ Anne Lamott, in Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers..

The writer, known only as “Bob,” says that “help” is “the most instinctive prayer we ever prayed.” And the God of the universe, to whom we pray is “our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).

And then there’s this cool Beatles song, too.

(From Pray a Word a Day)(Except for, of course, The Beatles)

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
(Psalms 72:12 ESV)

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)

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 ESV)

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 ESV)

Do you see it in there? Not only can we cry out to God for “help,” but we are also responsible, even obligated to “help” others.

Many times in our lives, in our walk with Christ, we feel unworthy. We feel the condemnation (even though God clearly tells us there is none) because of serious wrongs that we have done. Even though we have known Christ’s redemption, and know in our minds that He has forgiven us, we still struggle with this deep remorse. And the remorse is fitting, because the Spirit of God has awakened this within us.

But we must, says John Wesley, “transcend it in trust.” The Spirit has given us these words:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
(Job 19:25 ESV)

Interestingly, Wesley’s translation has the word “vindicator” instead of “Redeemer.”

The Spirit also gives us these words:

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)

In that faith, we are set free from the bondage of past sins. And remember these beautiful words, as well:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 ESV)

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

Eugene Peterson reminds us that we are invited, by our Father, “to leap, to live, and to love: to leap from the visible uncertainties of self to the invisible certainties of faith, to live intensely instead of eagerly and dully, and to love directly and personally and not secondhand.”

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

Father, there are certainly times in my life when all I could do was pray, “Help!” And You answered; You helped, just as You promise You will. My life, my hope, and my trust are all built on the foundation that You will do what You say You will do. If I trusted my own faithfulness or steadfastness, my life would have been over years ago. But I trust Your faithfulness, Your steadfast love, and Your promises. I trust in who You are and what You say You will do.

You are my help and my shield; You are my Rock and my salvation, my Redeemer and my Deliverer. I praise You, my God. And now, help me to go out into this day, to leap into faith, to live intensely and to love directly, all in the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.

In Solitude, But Not Alone

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-ninth of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,392

As expected, my work schedule is changing, pretty much immediately. It’s not a terribly drastic change, and there is only a mild down-side to it. I was asked, yesterday after noon, if I would consider switching from Fridays to Thursdays for my every-week Computer Center shift. I will be working from 11:15AM to 8:15PM every Thursday, going forward. The down-side to this is that it will be two nights a week that I basically don’t have any family time. But, I now have Fridays off, and every other week, I will have a four-day weekend! Of course, it is also true that every other week I will be working three consecutive days, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

As this is beginning right away, I will be off this Friday, but will not work Thursday until next week, as I already have twenty hours scheduled for this pay period. The pay week begins on Fridays, so for the next pay week, I will be working Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday for my twenty hours. Another bonus is that I will now be off for Mama’s birthday, which is a week from this Friday!

C and I enjoyed the couples massage so much that we are scheduling one for Mother’s Day.

And today is R’s birthday. Happy birthday to R!

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."

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
(Numbers 23:19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that "God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind" (Numbers 23:19)
2. for times of solitude, essential for re-energizing the spirit
3. for Biblical accounts of dreams and visions
4. that there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus
5. that nothing, not even my sin, can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus (see number 4 if you doubt that)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “solitude.” To me, this is not so much a word to be used in prayer as it is a condition that is helpful to prayer. Solitude is one of the classic spiritual disciplines, going hand in hand with silence, meditation, and prayer.

I find the quote at the beginning of the reading to be interesting. “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.” (Voltaire)

The thing is, when we observe solitude, we are not truly alone. To be certain, there are no other humans around, and, hopefully, we can find a place where the outside noise is either at a minimum, or purely nature sounds. I can sit in my back yard and be in solitude, but there is a lot of noise around. Even so, I am not “alone,” because my Father is with me, via the Holy Spirit.

Here’s another thing about solitude. My wife and I have sat in canvas chairs, on the banks of the Paluxy river, in Glen Rose, and I have felt “solitude.” So, yes, I believe that solitude can be observed or practiced, even in the presence of another.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 NIV)

At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God.
(Luke 6:12 MSG)

In the Luke passage, I believe solitude is implied. We see, in the life of Jesus, that He spent both time with people, and time alone with God. Both are important. As a mostly introvert (INFJ), I can recognize this, but being around a lot of people is tiresome for me, especially when I don’t know some of them. The INFJ person is energized by alone time, but also prioritizes people and emotions.

So solitude is important, not just for introverts, but for anyone who desires discipline in their lives, especially discipline regarding prayer and meditation.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:33-34 NIV)

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
(Joshua 1:8 NIV)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
(Psalms 77:11-12 NIV)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
(Psalms 119:147-148 NIV)

These are also verses that go well with the concept/discipline of solitude.

I’m reading, in Spiritual Classics, an excerpt from a book by John Wesley, called The New Birth. In this excerpt, said to be from Chapter 3, he is discussing sin and condemnation. We are all familiar with the popular verse from Romans 8.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 ESV)

And, when we read the Old Testament, we see all kinds of sacrifices and provisions for unintentional sin, sin that might occur either by accident, or simply out of ignorance. But for intentional sin, or flat-out disobedience, there doesn’t seem to be any provision.

I like what Wesley has to say about this. “Believers who are weak in faith may be overcome by these assaults; they may become inordinately angry or think badly of others with only a very slight concurrence of the will.” God will show us, in such cases, that we have “acted foolishly,” and convince us that we have “swerved away from the perfect law, from the mind which was in Christ.” As a result, we will feel “grieved with a godly sorrow and lovingly ashamed before God.” However, there is no need, he says to feel condemnation! “God does not charge them with folly, but has compassion, even ‘as a father has compassion on his children’ (Ps. 103:12).” We have the confidence to say,

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
(Isaiah 12:2-3 NLT)

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

“Most of life consists of what we cannot usually see. Dreams and visions are means of seeing the reality that is inaccessible to our senses.”

Thus begins a reading by Eugene Peterson, called “On Dreams and Visions.” He goes on to describe the implements that we use to see very small things (microscopes) and things very far away (telescopes). But, he says, “we use dreams and visions to see the truth.”

For modern Christians like me, this is a difficult thing to “wrap my head around.” Sure, I’ve had dreams. But not the kind, at least as far as I know, that reveal truth. And, to my knowledge, I have had no “visions.”

Nevertheless, this world fights to “externalize us.” In other words, it wants to “diminish the rich interiors of our lives and reduce us to what we can see and pick up and buy.” Even the most well-meaning Christians fall prey to the extravagance of showy production “worship services” with flashing lights, smoke machines, and loud, boisterous music.

“We define ourselves by what we can put on a job description. God gives us dreams and visions so that we have access to the whole thing: the world for which Christ died, the whole person in whom Christ lives.”

The Bible is full of accounts of dreams and visions: Abraham, Jacob, Balaam, Solomon, Mary, and Joseph, to name a few. I have to ask, why would it be different for me, for us? I read about these remarkable events, and my life deepens and my world changes a little bit.

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

And, I come around, full-circle again, to the prayer word.

Solitude.

Solitude, which accompanies and enhances the discipline of meditation and contemplation, which is where we know the strength of God, His great salvation, His awesome forgiveness (and lack of condemnation), our hope, our success and prosperity (not necessarily material, mind you), and reflection on His wonderful and mighty deeds, both in our own lives and in history. And solitude, where the possibility of dreams and visions increases.

Father, I’m not worried about dreams and visions. In the same way that I’m not all that concerned that I don’t witness astonishing miracles that people in biblical times saw. I do wonder, sometimes, why we do not see those, but it does not shake my faith, any more than questioning things that I grew up believing shakes my faith, because that has happened, as well. I guess it could be said that, for me “deconstruction” is nothing new . . . I’ve been doing that since I got to college, and here I am today, with faith as strong as ever.

I praise Your marvelous and holy name that there is no condemnation for my sins, even for those of outright, blatant disobedience, because of the fact that I am in Christ Jesus. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorrow for those sins, or shame because of my failure. Those are the same thing as condemnation. I firmly believe that my sin does not separate me from You (there are some who still teach that, and I think they are wrong). But I thank You that Your Holy Spirit is there to convict me and remind me when I do fall into doing/saying/thinking things that a follower Christ should not do/say/think.

I thank You for the times of solitude that I am able to find. Sometimes, they are simply the act of sitting here, alone in my study, reading Your Word, meditating on Your truth, and praying to you. My favorite times are when I can get away from all the technology and noise and simply sit outside somewhere and observe Your creation while contemplating Your presence and Your glory. Thank You for those times and those places. I pray that we will be able to escape to one of them, soon.

I will say, though, Father, that, should You choose to bless me with dreams and/or visions, I would welcome them. I would welcome anything in my life that would draw me closer to You, both in body and in spirit.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Open

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-eighth of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,391

Yesterday was a weird day, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Very interesting that it came on the heels of such a great day.

I have an appointment for my referral to the podiatrist, this morning at 10:30, and am supposed to be there by 10:00. I’m only going because my doctor’s office wants me to check in with one. As far as I know, there is nothing wrong with my feet. Other than they’re tired from supporting all of this weight for so many years.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Be Ready” by Daryl Madden

In our daily journey
Souls will appear
Let the thought be ready
That God sent them here

To be fully present
With an open ear
With a humble heart
And a soul that cares

One of heavens vision
Of ways beyond here
Let the voice of the Spirit
Of love, let us share

A blessing of calling
Let us be aware
To always to ready
To be there with a prayer

I am moved by a couple things in this poem. First, the idea that any souls I encounter during this day may have been sent there by God. Second, that I need to be fully present with them, with an open (see the prayer word for today!) ear, humble heart, and a soul that cares. Please check out more of Daryl’s poems at the link provided.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the mercies of God, fresh and new every morning
2. that God has made me more "open" in recent years
3. that I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do things that He has created beforehand for me to do (but I have to be "open" to the possibilities) (Ephesians 2:10)
4. that, in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation for us who believe
5. that You do not intend for our lives to be flat, boring, and listless, but full of Your life and love

The prayer word for today is “open.” (Isn’t that ironic, considering Daryl’s poem above?) Open can be a verb, as in “open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” Open can also be an adjective, as in, “I have an open heart,” or “our door is open,” or, “and now I come to you, with open arms.”

The reading has a quote from the Dalai Lama at the heading. “An open heart is an open mind.” While I respect the Dalai Lama, that is just not true. The heart and the mind are two completely different things. Perhaps it should say, “An open heart begins with an open mind.”

I believe that the context presented would have the word being an adjective, today. We, as human beings, in general, need to be “open.” While there are certainly things that we should not be open to, we should be more open, generally. And there are ways in which openness is indicated (or the lack thereof). Body posture reveals a great deal. Are your arms crossed? Whether we mean it or not, that is a “closed” posture. The reading even goes so far as to indicate that keeping our lips slightly open when we are not speaking conveys a more open attitude. Interesting. Whether or not that is true, you can certainly convey openness or closedness by the shape of your mouth and lips while someone else is speaking.

My life has been more open for the last decade or so. I was more closed-minded before that. In many ways, I can identify with Bob Dylan’s song, “My Back Pages,” with the famous line, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” I’m more open; my opinions are constantly evolving, as I am presented with fresh evidence. And yes, my theology changes along with that. There are, of course, certain theological truths about which I am not open to change. The Holy Spirit will see to that, I trust.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

The writer of today’s reading, Jerusha Agen, speaks of a time when she was leading a Bible study in a county jail. She was open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and, in a moment when she truly had no earth-shaking “theological” answers, opened her mouth and words came out; words that ministered to and inspired a woman who had suffered serious trauma in her life.

We are, indeed, His workmanship, and we created to do good works, “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” But we have to be “open” to those possibilities before we can walk in them.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today, Eugene Peterson asks the question, “Has life gone flat on you?” Sounds like the beginning of a commercial, doesn’t it? I would imagine he rather intended it that way. Have I surrendered my dreams? It happens, says Peterson. “Morals get flabby. Goals lose their magnetism. Imagination goes slack.” Goodness knows I have experienced that!

But we were not “created to live listlessly.” We are not “fated to boredom.” (I, myself, have even opined, in the past, that boredom is rather sinful.) “God did not design this marvelous creation and invest us with eternal hungers and thirsts with the expectation that we would sit around and in fatigued voices ask, ‘What’s next?'”

Jesus tells parables that wake us up “to the central vitalities of life, the realities that provoke intensity and participation and commitment. His example prompts us to live upward toward God, to live on tiptoe, to live in such a way that our lives increase and develop with the energies of God’s grace.”

And here is yet another concept to which we need to be “open.” I need to be open to having my static life challenged. Granted, since last July, it has been anything but routine. I’m still struggling to get a handle on this retirement business. But I have not come close to realizing the full potential of the possibilities, and have frequently caught myself sinking into a sort of boredom. So I have some things to ponder today.

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

Father, thank You for challenging me, today. I am grateful that You have worked to open me up more, in recent years. I am grateful that You have opened my heart, my mind, and my spirit to more love, and, more recently, to the idea of a love revolution. Please keep pushing me in that direction.

But I also pray that You would push me further toward more creativity, and help me to live in a more “upward” way toward You, even, as Peterson said, “on tiptoe.” Help me to live expectantly, not flat and listlessly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I might be composing more music and playing more, but I can’t help but think that that would be my primary outlet. Prayer will figure into this, as well, I suspect. I see prayer as a mighty place where imagination can figure in, heavily.

I believe in the truth of Ephesians 2:10, and have for many years. Help me be more open to seeing the possibilities around me, of the good work that You have created in advance, for me to walk in and through.

Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Believe

Today is Sunday, the twenty-seventh of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ fill you today!

Day 23,390

April is almost upon is, it seems. And the weather continues to be somewhat schizophrenic. We are predicted to have above 90 for a high today, but then, as April swings in, the highs for next weekend are below 70. I’m definitely looking forward to those days. It’s a bit too early for it to be 90 degrees, for me.

Yesterday was one of the most wonderful days I can remember. C surprised me by taking me to the Sea Life Aquarium at Grapevine Mills Mall. It was a delightful time. We saw some beautiful sea creatures (not all fish), some with brilliant colors, and some that were, well, nightmare material. I’ll post some pictures soon, but don’t have time to get them all uploaded, this morning. There was one moray eel in a tank that was as large as a huge tree trunk.

After the aquarium, we decided to have lunch at the Blue Goose Cantina in Grapevine, close to the mall. C had the sour cream enchiladas, and I had slow-roasted brisket tacos, along with an appetizer of fresh guacamole. It was amazing, and we had the most wonderful server, who also gave us complimentary sopapillas for dessert, because it was our first time there. We will definitely find a way to get back there.

But the pièce de résistance of the day was the couples massage at The Eucalyptus Room (also in Grapevine). It was my first massage and it was amazing. We will also definitely find a way to return there. Everything was very zen-like. The room was quiet and peaceful, and the masseurs moved in almost total silence. it was truly the most relaxing thing I have ever experienced. We almost signed up for a membership there, which gives monthly massages, but decided that we would just try to get over there maybe once a quarter or for celebrations. Mother’s Day is coming up, right?

Today, we have our church gathering (in about an hour, so I’m running out of time), and our usual lunch from Applebee’s, and then, well, nothing. I will probably do some laundry, because I have an appointment with a podiatrist tomorrow morning at 10:30. But we’ll see. Maybe some reading, as well. I’m almost 3/4 finished with a book, so I’d like to get that finished today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent)

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful day we had yesterday
2. for the two "great commands:" Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself
3. that God is able to remove from me things that do not belong in my heart and in my life
4. that I still believe
5. that belief is more than religious emotion; it is being involved in what God is doing in this world

Today’s prayer word is “remove.” Again, we have a word with a somewhat negative connotation, but only in the sense that we would ask God to “remove” something from us that we don’t need or doesn’t belong.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)

The example is given of trying to plant a vegetable garden, but encountering a large rock in the way. The rock needed to be removed. As a comparison to our spiritual lives, then, we find things that may be difficult to remove, things that would trip us up or tear us down or hinder our progress. There are some that come from outside forces, and some that come from within. There are some that are easy to remove, and others that take hard work and time.

Occasionally, there might be some that God will not remove, as in the case of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” (Don’t tell me you know what that was, because you don’t. No one knows.)

So, we pray, “remove, Lord. Remove everything from within me that does not belong, even the things that I might not really desire to be removed.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 NIV)

Normally, we tend to focus on the first phrase of Ecclesiastes 3:11, but we should also notice that bit about setting “eternity in the human heart.” There is something in our hearts which only God can satisfy. Some have called it a “God-shaped hole.” However you want to conceive of it, I believe it is there, and can only be satisfied by God.

This is one reason why some will never seem satisfied with anything, as they refuse to consider their need for God in their lives.

Eugene Peterson talks about belief in a reading called “Shaping Belief.” He believed that belief “is the single most significant thing about us.” it is more important than our “bank accounts, our reputations, or our schooling.”

“Belief shapes character, results in behavior, and gives coherence to life,” he says. “If we are concerned only with saving our own skin, have no awareness of God, or take no responsibility regarding ancestors and descendants, we cannot be said to truly live as human beings at all.”

But, he also says, belief “has become tepid and murky, a dishwater word.” He cites James, the brother of Jesus, who said, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder” (James 2:19). In other words, people claim to have beliefs in God or about God, but then treat “the person that God created with cruelty and contempt.” (Does this sound familiar in our modern culture?) Belief, it seems, had become “a religious emotion – a mere fluttering of the soul in the presence of the sublime.”

“True belief requires resurrection, the resurrection that comes through personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” Otherwise, it is meaningless (or vanity, as the writer of Ecclesiastes would say).

“Belief should be the all-involving act of our lives. What it involves us in is what God is doing. The center of the action is God: he is creating, and he is saving; he is blessing, and he is preserving. The world is electric with meaning, fascinating in its beauty, alive with action – because the God of creation is in action. Belief involves us in participation in God’s action in the world.”

We must not be glib in our language of belief, while avoiding the “everyday action of God.”

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

Father, I am grateful that I still believe. Help my belief to be more than just religious emotion, but rather, help me be involved in what you are doing in this world, from day to day. Help me to be awake and watching to see what You are doing; to see you creating and saving, blessing and preserving.

I thank You that You have made everything beautiful. I also thank You that You have placed eternity in our hearts and only You can satisfy those longings.

Finally, I ask You to remove those things from my life and from my heart, things that would trip me up or slow me down or stop me in my quest to know You more and to glorify You in this world.

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

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.

SHINE!!!!

We need to “develop lives that connect what God did in the past with what he will do in the future. Will we live in spasms and jerks, in fits and starts, in fads and fashions? or will we live coherently and organically, believing that God will complete what he has begun? The expectant command is for us to love.”

Today is Saturday, the twenty-sixth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,389

I’ve been looking forward to this day for a couple weeks. Why? Because, today, C and I are going out to “celebrate” my birthday, which was two weeks ago. She had to work that weekend, and I had to work last Saturday, so we now have this Saturday to get out and do some things.

She has one thing planned for us that is a surprise. After that, we will have lunch and then head to Grapevine for a couples’ massage. I’m really looking forward to that. I have no idea where we will have lunch, nor do I really have a clue what the first activity will be. I do know that it’s not axe-throwing.

Next week will be busy, but not bad. I have a podiatrist appointment Monday morning, and a vein clinic appointment on Thursday morning. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, so there is something going on every day. It will be okay, though.

My schedule may change slightly, going forward. One of the aides who works exclusively in the Computer Center got a job at the Irving library. he is not quitting Hurst, but may have to shift hours some, which may leave a whole in Computer Center coverage. Not sure what that will look like, just yet. But my manager told me yesterday about it, during our monthly one-on-one. It won’t increase my hours, and it sounds like the sixteen hours a week in circulation will stay the same, so I may not be doing shelving every Tuesday. We shall see.

Speaking of my manager, who is the coolest ever, well, let me give a tiny bit of back story. We have posters spread around the library, that simply have the word “READ” on them, featuring various celebrities holding books. There is one in particular, on the back wall in the non-fiction section, that I had expressed interest in having, should they ever change them or replace them. I believe I expressed said interest multiple times.

When I arrived at work, yesterday, there was a rolled-up poster in my inbox.

My boss is awesome! And yes, I might have a bit of a “crush” on Rachel McAdams.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
(Matthew 5:15-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this lovely Saturday and its forthcoming events
2. that we, followers of Christ, are to be light in this world; go forth and shine!
3. that our relationship with God gives us dignity; may we extend that same dignity to our fellow human beings!
4. for the expectancy that God is going to move and that He will finish what He started
5. that I am loved, and that you are loved; YOU ARE LOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 

Today’s prayer word is “light.” Now, there is a word that is replete with meaning. I mean, how many different meanings can you think of for the word “light?” In this case, it refers that that which obliterates the darkness.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

Now, what I find interesting in this verse (and admit having not noticed it before) is that the verse, at least in my favorite translations (ESV, included) states that the recipients of the letter WERE darkness and ARE light. This is a state of being, not a characteristic that was possessed. NLT and MSG indicate that the people were once full of darkness, but now have light. Honestly, I’m not a Greek scholar, so I don’t know which one is correct.

But the idea that one could be so full of darkness that one actually becomes darkness, and the resulting change of knowing Christ is that one actually becomes light . . . that idea appeals to me, greatly. And we have the admonition, that is pretty much the same in each translation, “Live as children of light.”

The writer, known only as “Becky,” speaks of entering a friend’s home, shrouded in darkness, as the friend wallowed in depression, and throwing open curtains to allow the light in. I like that example.

“Maybe that’s what Jesus wants me to do – throw open the curtains for others, allowing His light to illuminate the darkness around them.” I like that. But here’s what that doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean noisily and hatefully expressing our opinions in the name of “right” or “light.”

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
(1 John 1:5 ESV)

But, the following is also true:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8 ESV)

And . . .

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

So don’t go trying to be “light” without also being “love.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 ESV)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

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

So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
(1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NLT)

As God’s people, we should live lives of expectancy. Instead, a large number of us seem to live lives of reaction. We react to circumstances around us, and we are not reacting well. We are complaining and whining about minor inconveniences, as though we believe the world is about to end. It may be about to end, but that is not because gas prices hit $4 a gallon again.

God’s typical movement is to approach us. He “comes,” He does not “leave.” He comes and He speaks, and we need to be awake to this truth.

We need to “develop lives that connect what God did in the past with what he will do in the future. Will we live in spasms and jerks, in fits and starts, in fads and fashions? or will we live coherently and organically, believing that God will complete what he has begun? The expectant command is for us to love.”

And then this:

“We ought to cultivate the skills that equip us to live in cheerful anticipation of what God will do tomorrow. Will we live anxiously, complaining and querulous, because we don’t have all we want or because we don’t know what is coming next? Or will we live in confident joy, sure that God’s next move will be a good one? The expectant command is for us to rejoice.”

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

So let’s pull this all together, here. We are light. We are expected to imitate Jesus in being the “light of the world.” We are also supposed to be love, as God is love. So we can be light, removing the darkness, not by violence and fighting, but by shining and loving! When you turn on a lightbulb in a room, there is no fighting or violence. There is no explosion, and there is no noise. The lightbulb simply and quietly shines.

Father, oh, Father! My heart is full of praise and expectation in this moment! You have filled me with light, and love! Thank You for the Light of the world, Jesus! And thank You for infusing us with that same Light, so that we might also be light in this world. I pray for us, Your children, Lord, that we might truly shine as light, blocking the darkness. But remind us, oh, please remind us, that we do not accomplish this with violence and fighting, but simply by allowing Your light to shine through us.

I pray for unity within Your Church, Lord. And I desperately pray that, if there are those who will not be unified, that they would just leave. I’m serious. I would love to see the ones who insist on fighting, complaining, and whining, just get out. Let them go start their own “church.” Let Your Church be filled with people who want to live and walk in the words of Jesus Christ, loving You and loving others as themselves. Let the witch hunters and haters be brought down, Lord. There is no place for hatred in Your kingdom!

That being said, I would rather see said folks repent and begin to shine and love.

Help me to live a life of expectancy, being awake to Your coming and speaking in my life, being filled with love, fully believing that You will finish what You started, both in me and in this world/universe, and rejoicing, believing that what You are going to do next will not only be good, but will be excellent and praiseworthy!

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

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“Do You Want To Be Healed?”

Good morning. Today is Friday, the twenty-fifth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ reign in your spirit today!

Day 23,388

Yesterday, I believe, was quite successful. Our trip to Mineral Wells and back was safe and smooth. There was no mail to pick up at the Post Office, nor was there any in the mailbox at the house. It appears that the forward order has already gone through, so Mama’s mail should begin appearing at our house soon.

She got her taxes taken care of, which is another box checked off, another thing that she doesn’t have to worry about any longer (until next year, of course). I also made it known that I would be more than happy to drive her back to MW, next year, so the same person can prepare her taxes. It’s not that far to drive.

We got the car loaded up with some big things. We got Mama’s favorite chair, a recliner. That one presented a brief challenge, as it took me a few minutes to get the back separated from the bottom. I also got her TV, as well as her favorite lamp that sat behind her chair. We are looking into mounting the TV on a wall in her room. We’ll figure it out somehow. The room may need to be rearranged, which certainly would not be a problem.

We also picked up some more of her clothes and odds and ends around the house, such as favorite mugs for coffee and stuff like that. Oh, and we retrieved the cable and Internet boxes to send back to Suddenlink, which we will handle tomorrow.

We were quite tired when we got back to Fort Worth, but it was a good trip and “good tired,” because we felt that we had accomplished a great deal.

Today is my day to work in the Computer Center, so I will be at the library all day. It also appears that we may be having Freebird’s for dinner again, tonight. It used to be a Friday tradition, so we may return to that. We really like them, and they don’t have to be unhealthy.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

The end of the matter; all has been heard. 
Fear God and keep his commandments, 
for this is the whole duty of man. 
For God will bring every deed into judgment, 
with every secret thing, whether good or evil. 
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the good trip that we had to Mineral Wells, yesterday
2. that all who follow Jesus are on level ground at the foot of the Cross
3. that the Lord is my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing
4. that Jesus knows what we are capable of and gives us the strength to  be our best
5. for second chances (and third, and fourth . . .)

Today’s prayer word is “favorite.” This one has me scratching my head, so let’s see what they are getting at. The Scripture references is one that is quite popular.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I sense that this is a rare case where the word is presented in a sort of “negative sense.” That being that our God does not play favorites. I believe, and I think the Bible backs this up, that we are all equal in His eyes. Yes, we are all gifted differently, but the fact that I have musical talent while someone else has the talent to write a novel or fix the electricity in my house or work on an automobile doesn’t mean that one is favorited over another.

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
(Acts 10:34-35 ESV)

I have heard it said that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” This means that we are all in equal standing when it comes to our relationship to God. No doubt someone will have a question about this that I cannot answer, and I will always admit it when I can’t. I don’t make up answers. I will, if applicable, always say, “I don’t know.” But I do believe that, in regard to our standing in Christ, with God, we are all on level ground.

And, while that verse in Jeremiah was written to a specific people, I also believe that it applies to use today. And by “us,” I mean people who follow Jesus, not a country. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:18-19 ESV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 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 6:25-34 ESV)

I almost didn’t paste that whole passage from Matthew, but then I thought, maybe someone needs to see that today. So there it is.

Our God is our provider. It’s easy to say when things are going great. But then, when you take a look at events through your life, you can see the places where He was working to provide for today, decades ago. For example, we moved into this house twenty-three years ago, this July. We are the only people who have lived here, as we watched it being built. Not a “custom” home, but still, it was built for us. It is a “ranch-style” house, meaning that it is a single story house. Don’t ask me why that’s called “ranch-style.” I don’t know. (See? Not afraid to say that.)

During the time that we were looking at homes in this area, we considered two-story houses. But we decided to stick with a single story house.

Fast forward a decade or so. C began having serious knee issues, and has, subsequently, had two knee replacements. She would not have been able to navigate stairs. And now, twenty-three years later, my mother has moved in with us, and there is no way she would be able to handle stairs, as she has significant knee/leg issues.

Some would shrug this off as coincidence. But I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in “luck.” I believe that God’s hand was involved in the decision making that we did twenty-three years ago, and we had no clue.

Some might also claim that this is evidence that God plays “favorites,” because not everyone appears to be so blessed. Let me assure you, we have our share of issues. And I know of people who seem to have more than their share. But I’m not the One who decides what the “fair share” is. And I’m not the One who knows how much anyone can handle in their lives.

And, no, I’m not embracing the fallacy that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” However, God does know the extent of our faith, so He knows how far we can be tested and still survive.

And this has rambled far more than I intended. Sorry about that.

My whole point in this is that God provides, whether it be physical needs or spiritual needs. And, as long as He is my Shepherd, I shall lack for nothing.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
(John 5:6 ESV)

This verse is in the middle of the passage where Jesus heals the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Eugene Peterson writes a reading around this verse, and in the reading, at first, he seems to be somewhat unkind, as he points out how little there is to admire in the “people who are prominent in our culture.” At further glance, though, it is explained. He does not pull any punches, however, as he assesses our culture.

“We have celebrities but not saints. Famous entertainers amuse a nation of bored insomniacs. Infamous criminals act out the aggressions of timid conformists. Petulant and spoiled athletes play games vicariously for lazy and apathetic spectators. People, aimless and bored, amuse themselves with trivia and trash. Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness gets headlines.”

When we turn to Scripture, Peterson notices, to see what it means to be a “real man” or a “real woman,” we find “neither splendid moral examples nor impeccably virtuous models to imitate” (except, of course, for Jesus). “Abraham lied. Moses murdered and complained. David committed adultery” (and also murdered). “Peter blasphemed. Jacob cheated. What we find, in fact, is not a perfection but a confrontation. Each person is challenged by God to live in a uniquely glorious life of faith in relationship with him.”

When Jesus asked the invalid at Bethesda if he wanted to be healed, the man answered with excuses. “I don’t have anyone to help me,” he whined. Sound familiar?? Here is a man who was “accustomed to living half a life. He had adjusted himself to the average.” As we hear what might be self-pity in his answer, we might also even hear him blaming someone else for his plight.

Jesus would have none of it.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
(John 5:8 ESV)

“Jesus commands our best and thrusts us into lives of excellence that we never knew we had the strength or capacity to embrace.” He knows “what we are good for. And with a word, he can make us good at it.”

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

This reminds me so much of some very famous words by C. S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory.

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

Father, I acknowledge that I all-too-often fall into the habits that Peterson writes about here, and that C. S. Lewis also writes. I am, it seems, far too easily pleased, much of the time. And in this, I ask for Your forgiveness and thank You for Your patience and long-suffering with me. It seems that Your patience is infinite, but that is, perhaps, because You know the outcome and are manufacturing a life for me that will end in the result that You want. For I believe in Your sovereignty over all aspects of life.

May I never be one to answer with self-pity or even worse, blame others, when I am experiencing difficulty. When Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” may I be quick to answer to something appropriate and truthful, not something silly or vague.

I thank You for the way You are present in all of our lives. I thank You for Your providence, throughout the life of our family, and the way we can look back and see Your hand so active in all things. Sure, You allowed me to stray from the path, from time to time, but You always brought me back, and preserved many wonderful things in my life. The blessings are beyond counting. My gratitude soars.

I pray for the future that we have here. While I want to pray for comfort, I also want to pray to not be too comfortable. In the words of one of the Scripture writers, I pray that I have enough, that You not let me have too much, so that I don’t forget You, and that You don’t allow us to fall into lack or want, so that we profane Your name in other ways. My faith is in You alone, Father.

I thank You that the biblical examples are flawed characters, just like us, so that we can’t look at them and claim that they are too far beyond what we can believe or accomplish. Through all of them, we see how strongly Your grace and mercy works in all circumstances, and that You can take the most messed up life and fix it so that it can glorify You.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.