The Savior of the World

Today is Saturday, the twentieth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,536

The birthday was a great success. We wound up having to go to a different bowling alley to get our bowling done, as they were having a clinic at C’s workplace. But there is a bowling center just a few miles away from there, in Grand Prairie, and it is one that is still owned by the family that originally opened it, and has not yet been assimilated by the Borg Bowlero. And, to make it even better, it was $2 Friday, so our games were only $2 each. In our second game, C bowled a 199. She needed a spare to get 200, but left a 6-7-10 split and picked up two of them.

Lunch was really great, as well. Martha’s Mexican Cocina has seldom, if ever, disappointed, and they did not disappoint, yesterday. The service was very good and friendly, and the food was delicious. And they brought S a huge piece of cheesecake, drizzled with sauces (strawberry and chocolate?), with “Happy B-Day” written on the plate in one of the sauces.

And then we had our mani/pedis. So very relaxing, just a wonderful time. A fun time was had by all. After a quick stop at a nearby Sonic (of course), we headed home to have some cookie cake and collapse.

Today is my work Saturday (every other week), so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15. After I get home, C, S, and I plan on heading over to Goldfish Sushi for dinner.

We hit 93 for a high, yesterday, after having one day below 90. There was no rain, but we have five straight days in the forecast with rain predicted, beginning later today. The high today is projected to be 96, but the next five days are below 90 with one day (Monday) potentially being below 80!

Martin Perez had another rare loss, yesterday, as the Twins beat the Rangers 2-1. Perez gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning, but that was it for the Twins. Unfortunately, it was all they needed. The Rangers are now 53-66 for the season, in third place in the AL West, a game ahead of the Angels. They are 23 out of first, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They continue the series tonight, in Minnesota, at 6:10 PM CDT. Texas has 43 games remaining.

The Red Sox lost to the Orioles by the score of 15-10. Right. That’s what I said. That was the score in the seventh inning, when I checked in, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game. I’m not even sure what to say about that. The Sox are now 59-61, seemingly unable to crawl back up to .500. They remain in last place, especially since the team they are playing is currently a place above them. They are fourteen out of first, and five out of a Wild Card spot. Boston has 42 games remaining.

The Wild Card situation in the AL still has two teams in the East. Seattle, from the West, has the first spot, followed by Toronto and Tampa.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, at 82-36, six games ahead of the next best Mets. The stumbling Yankees are now fifth in MLB. The Nationals, in spite of a two-game winning streak, continue to be the worst, at 41-80. The Cardinals still have the best winning streak, now at five games. The Giants and Other Sox both have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers, as they continue to dominate, have a run differential of +250. The Nationals, on the other end, have one of -207. The Rangers are now at -4, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Speaking of the Other Sox, I am beyond dismayed that our dear Elvis Andrus, after having been release by Oakland, has signed with the Southside.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may be your children who receive the Spirit and all they need from you. You strengthen us not only physically but also inwardly, in our hearts, enabling us to face the uncertainties of earthly life and whatever still needs changing in human society. Keep us from giving in to weakness. May your power be always with us. May we have patience and hope, because you are working for the good and we may wait for it in expectation. Amen..
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

 1. that there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus
2. that we receive all that we need from God the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit
3. that God's power and kingdom are always available to us, providing patience and hope as we navigate through these troubling times
4. that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world
5. that if we ask anything according to God's will, He hears us

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:39-42 ESV)

Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:10-11 ESV)
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, 
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
bring an offering and come before him! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 
tremble before him, all the earth; 
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, 
and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" 
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! 
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, 
for he comes to judge the earth. 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:28-34 ESV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
(Psalms 1:1-3 NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)


Jesus Christ is revealed as the “Savior of the world.” He was acknowledged and recognized in this way numerous times in Scripture. What shall we do with this?

Each individual’s destiny is contingent on their response to that information.

I don’t frequently “evangelize” on this forum, but I do try to go wherever the Spirit takes me with the passages I read for that day. And today, I read the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The culmination of that account was her townspeople declaring this truth, “this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

A person’s family heritage is not enough to secure their destiny, although it can provide a highly favorable environment, and there are places where individuals are encouraged to believe, which would result in them being saved “and their households.”

Even more importantly, a person’s place in a nation will not be enough to secure their destiny. There is a drastically mistaken notion that has been popular for a number of years, that “America” is a “Christian nation.” I’ve said it before, and will likely say it again. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation.” Only an individual can be a Christian.

Our Father deals with us as individuals, and as the Body of Christ. He makes no difference in nationality. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, not any particular nation.

If Jesus has, in fact, saved me, then I will look more and more like Him, as I grow in Him. I will do the things that He did and said. I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I will love my neighbor as myself, and I will love the saints, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

And I will try to find ways to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the imprisoned, relieve the oppressed, and so on, because whatever I do to the “least of these,” I have, in fact, done to Jesus, Himself.

It is true . . . a glorious truth . . . there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But we must truly be “in Christ Jesus” for that to be true, and the evidence of that is that we are doing what He commanded.

So my admonition today is to believe in the Savior of the world. Follow in His footsteps, His teachings. Love God and love people. Let’s start a love revolution.


Father, I pray for the name of Jesus to be loved in this world. I pray that all will know Him as the Savior of the world. I pray that people will stop pretending to know Him when their actions say otherwise. I pray for love to reign, and for the Body of Christ (the true Body) to rise up and be recognized. I pray that any false teachers and false “churches” be shut down.

Your Word says that if we pray anything according to Your will, You will hear us. I believe, with all my heart, that praying for the salvation of the word is according to Your will, as Your Word also tells us that You desire all people to be saved. I pray that we, Your people, will rise up and proclaim the Good News that Your Kingdom is here, now, available to all who want to walk in it.

And then, Father, may we use the resources which You have provided, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the prisoners, relieve the oppressed, heal the sick, and so on. We are in desperate need of a revolution, Father. Jesus and His disciples were subversive, Lord. May we engage in that behavior today, but in all love and peacefully. Yes, in love and in peace, which is extremely important. Jesus did not overthrow a government; rather, He sacrificed Himself in order to accomplish His purpose.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Peace Like A River

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,530

We hit a high of 98 degrees, yesterday, for our fourth consecutive day under 100. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. I wonder if that was 1980? The ten-day forecast still includes six days of under-100 temperatures, but the next four are 100+. The great news is that at the end of the ten days, I’m seeing two days that will possible be below 90! The not-so-good news is that we likely aren’t going to get any more rain until around August 21.

I have an adventure tomorrow. I get to take S’s guinea pig, Princess, to an exotic animal doctor to have her eye looked at. It’s been a little cloudy of late, although it seems a little better this morning, and she has exhibited a bit of a head tilt, which may mean she has some inner ear trouble going on.

We have our church gathering, this morning, at 10:15, and it looks like most of us will actually be there. However, we will not be there next Sunday, as we will be traveling to FBC Mineral Wells as part of S’s birthday celebration. Oh, I didn’t put that up there, did I? S turns 29 in only FIVE MORE DAYS! We should probably get that cookie cake ordered, huh?

C and I have scheduled a Glen Rose trip in October for our anniversary. It will be the weekend before the actual anniversary, which is October 12. It’s been a while since we have been to Paluxy River Bed Cabins, so we are very excited about that.

The Texas Rangers snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Mariners, by winning 7-4, last night. That losing streak was exclusively against the Mariners, by the way. They are now 50-63 (finally won that fiftieth game), still in third place by a half game, 23 games out of first place, and 9.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They play Seattle again today, at 1:35 CDT, with Martin Perez taking the mound. The Rangers have 49 games left in 2022.

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 3-2 (I think that’s the same score they won by, the night before), to make them 56-59 for the season. They remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They will play the Yankees again, this evening (it’s an ESPN game). The Red Sox have 47 games left in 2022.

The LA Dodgers can’t seem to lose, now. They continue to be the best team in MLB with a 79-33 record, twelve straight wins, and a run differential of +251. The Washington Nationals remain on the bottom, at 38-77, and a -204 run differential. The Athletics of Oakland, however, have the current losing streak at seven games. The Texas Rangers have a run differential of -4, and the REd S

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may heed your commandments, that our peace may be like a river and our righteousness like the waves of the sea. Be with us through your Spirit, we pray. Speak with us and tell us what we need to hear so that we can understand what draws us always nearer to you. Show the might of your hand to help us and all people. Even under judgment we shall not despair, we shall not lose courage because of troubles and distress. Come with your strength, that we may grow strong to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the possibility of peace "like a river," by heeding the commands of God (loving God and loving people)
2. for an understanding of what draws us nearer to God
3. for the strength to overcome the world through Jesus Christ the Savior
4. for the songs that my God sings over me
5. for the encouragement to always be growing, moving forward in Christ, and the knowledge that, if I am walking with Him, He will lead

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:29-34 NIV)

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.
(Zephaniah 3:1-4 ESV)

“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”
(Zephaniah 3:11-13 ESV)

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

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 ESV, emphasis added)

“A faith walk is measured by forward movement. And when we walk with Jesus, He takes the lead.” (Shawnelle Eliasen)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
(Luke 17:5 ESV)

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
(Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)


I could have easily stopped, today, after that bit from Plough about having peace like a river. I kept on reading my prescribed readings, though, from my various devotional materials.

Here’s the thing. Do you have peace in your life? And I’m strictly speaking to believers, here, because I know a bunch who don’t live like they have peace. And the reason for this? It’s right there in Isaiah!

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:18 NIV)

The problem is that we seem to be getting bogged down in what those commands are. Let’s go over that again. I will never get tired of quoting Jesus Christ on this, because it is simply the essence of life.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)

When we don’t have peace in our lives, it is very likely because we are not heeding those commands.

Another thing that happens when we heed those commands is that we grow. We move forward. I love the quote from Shawnelle Eliason, this morning. When I walk in faith, I will move forward. And Jesus will take the lead, if I am truly following Him.

There’s one final thought, here, from Andrew Murray. “We find the Christian life difficult because we seek for God’s blessing while we live according to our own will. We make our own plans and choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to watch and see that sin does not overtake us and that we do not wander too far from the path.”

If we are heeding His commands, we will be entirely at His disposal, we will be moving forward in our faith walk, and we will have peace like a river.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, help me, today, to enjoy this peace. Help me to focus only on obeying/heeding those two commands (three if we add that “new command” from Jesus) to love You, love my neighbor, and especially love the saints. If I can do those things, I will have peace, my walk will be moving forward, and, more importantly, my life will be Yours, to do with as You will.

I pray for all of Your children, today, that they might experience this peace in their lives by heeding Your commands and loving. It truly is all about love, Father.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

To Know Him is to Love

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,529

Only SIX more days until S turns 29!

Friday the thirteenth falls on Saturday, this month!

We had our third consecutive day of below-100 temperatures, yesterday, as the high only reached 97 again, in our area. The record high for that date is 104, so we are well below that. Today, we are expecting 98, with virtually no chance of rain. The ten-day forecast shows six days below 100, and some chance of rain next weekend. In fact, my favorite weather site shows next Sunday and Monday to have highs of only 92. We don’t even consider that “hot” around here.

I didn’t do much of anything, yesterday, but I did cook a pretty good dinner. Well, the slow cooker cooked it, but I mixed it up and arranged it. It was Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing, from Emily Bites. It was a big success with the family, and, I’ll confess, quite tasty. Relatively easy, too, as it only has five ingredients. Chicken, a box of stuffing mix, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and chicken broth. We’ll be doing that one again, next week.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Seattle Mariners, 6-2. Ironically, they were only outhit 11-9. But that is typical of the Rangers. They tend to get a lot of hits, but are unable to get the runners to home. They are now 49-63 for the season, and still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. The Angels are on the verge of catching up with them. They are 23 games out of first place, and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Mariners again, this evening, at 6:15 CDT (that’s a strange start time), in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox BEAT THE YANKEES! 3-2 in ten innings! This makes them 56-58 for the season, but still in las place in the AL East. They are 15.5 out of first place, and four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Yankees again, today, in Boston.

Speaking of Wild Cards, if the playoff were to begin today, here’s how it would look. The Yankees, Guardians, and Astros lead the AL divisions. The Mariners, Blue Jays (BOO), and the Orioles (!!) currently occupy the three Wild Card spots. Notice that the AL East still has two of those three Wild Cards. In the NL (which I really don’t care beans about), the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards are leading their divisions, and the Wild Card spots are occupied by the Braves, the Phillies (!?!), and the Padres.

The LA Dodgers, now having won eleven straight games (didn’t they just get Joey Gallo??), continue to lead all three categories that I track, here (78-33, W11, +241). The Mets are better than the Yankees (picture me singing that in a mocking tone of voice); the Mets are better than the Yankees. The Washington Nationals continue to be the worst in two of the three categories. Their record is 37-77, and their run differential is -205. The Athletics have the longest current losing streak, at six games. THREE of the teams in the AL East (Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays) have a three game losing streak! Hee. As fun as that is, it would be a lot more fun if my favorite teams would start winning.

Today, I really don’t have any plans. C and I might do something later . . . not sure. I’m planning to make burgers for dinner tonight, but I have no idea what lunch will look like. I have groceries scheduled for delivery at noon. I didn’t get them yesterday, because I wanted to wait and see how last night’s dinner turned out.

On to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the trust you have put into our hearts. We thank you for all the signs of your goodness that comfort us when we are in great need and when many deaths take place around us and touch each of us. We thank you for comforting us, for always giving us fresh courage wherever we may be, and for giving us hope for other people, who also struggle hard to find what is good. O Lord God, bless our world with power from on high, with your gifts that bring good to many people. Bless our world. Save it from sin, from ruin, from every kind of despair. Give your blessing, O Lord our God! As you bless us, so bless all the world, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. “I, even I, am he who comforts you.”
(Isaiah 51:11-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the signs of the goodness of God that comfort us when we are in need
2. for the courage to go on in life when things around us seem to be crumbling
3. for the hope that we will "enter Zion with singing"
4. that God's thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours
5. that God demands/commands that we love

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 ESV)

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:11-14 ESV)

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.
(Zephaniah 2:3 ESV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

“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.”
(John 15:12-14 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 ESV)


So here’s the thing. It’s really a no-brainer, yet so many of us seem to be struggling to brain it.

God commands that we love; God demands that we love. It is not negotiable; it is not optional.

His ways are infinitely higher than ours; His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. “Remembering this will prevent our being content with our knowledge and thoughts concerning the Word of God. Instead, we will wait on God to know His mind.” (Andrew Murray)

There are two things that faith in God’s Word should teach us. Ignorance and expectation. “Many of God’s children, who by neglecting to continually cultivate a childlike spirit and by resting on their creed or personal Bible study, have spiritual truth hidden from them and never become spiritual adults. Allow a deep sense of your own lack of knowledge and a general distrust in your own power to understand the things of God to characterize your Bible study.” (Murray)

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
(Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)

The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know. And the more that I know that I don’t know, the greater my expectation of revelation from God’s Holy Spirit. “The greater our distrust of our own comprehension of the thoughts of God, the greater our expectation will be.” (Murray)

When we realize and acknowledge how much higher God’s thoughts and ways are than ours, perhaps, then, we can learn to obey His commands to love one another. It is commanded. It is not suggested. It is not negotiable, and, furthermore, if we are not loving, God’s Word tells us that we do not know Him.

Period.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, we need Your help. Have mercy on us, please! Teach us love. Please, Father, make your people realize that these commands are necessary; they are essential, and they are not optional. We are not loving people; we are not sacrificing or laying down our lives for people, so how can we possibly believe that we are “friends” of Jesus?

The Gospel is here; the Gospel is now; Jesus Christ has made Your kingdom, a Kingdom of love and light, available to anyone who desires to walk in it. It is not a Kingdom of war and vengeance; it is not a Kingdom of everyone fighting for their “rights” and “freedoms.” The story, the Gospel, that great story that we have to tell to the nations, is “a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light” (H. Ernest Nichol).

My soul hurts, Father, as I look around me and see the lack of love and compassion being spread by those would call themselves Your children. Please help us, Father. The outside world is looking with scorn on those who call themselves “Christian,” but don’t follow the teachings of Christ. This drives them away from You instead of drawing them toward You. Help us to spread the true Gospel, of peace and light, Lord.

For truly, if we do not love, we do not know You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Mary, Martha, and Things

Today is Thursday, the seventh of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,492

Yesterday had some crazy moments at the library. A couple were pretty funny, and none of them were at all bad. That, of course, helped the day go by quicker.

Today, being Thursday, I will spend my day in the Computer/Media Center (11:15-8:15). It’s very interesting there, because we have a few regulars, who are there, if not every day, at least most of them. I wish that I could know their stories. Some seem to be seeking jobs, while others are seeking citizenship. I know that there is one man who comes in several times a week, and always has someone different with him. One of my associates has said they think he is a pastor who is helping people with their citizenship applications, and that he doesn’t charge them anything.

Some folks just come in to print things, because paying ten cents a page for black and white prints is cheaper than buying a printer. And, I suppose, there are still people who don’t have computers at home. Many people print things directly from their phones, which is, of course, a pocket computer, these days. In fact, there are people who come in to get a library card just so they can use the computers, and never check out a book.

The Texas Rangers got swept by the Baltimore Orioles. They lost last night’s game 2-1. This drops them to six below .500 (37-43). They are still in third place in the AL West, 15.5 out of first, and now 6.5 out of the Wild Card. At this point, they are only a half game ahead of the Angels. They have today off, and will begin a weekend series with the first place Twins, in Arlington, tomorrow night.

The Boston Red Sox lost the series to the Rays, losing last night’s game 7-1. This puts them in a dead tie for second with Tampa, both being 45-37. They are 14 games out of first place, and both teams are tied in the first Wild Card spot. Boston begins a four-game weekend series with the Evil Empire, in Boston, tonight. This could be a very important series for them.

The Oakland Athletics continue to have the worst MLB record, at 28-56. The Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Detroit Tigers all have a four-game win streak going. The St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Guardians, and Texas Rangers (uh-oh) all have a four-game losing streak going. The Pittsburgh Pirates have taken sole possession of the worst run differential, at -129. The Rangers are now at +10, and the Red Sox have dropped to +53.

We started a new TV show (new for us) last night, during our dinner. It’s a show from the Acorn network, called The Brokenwood Mysteries, and is set in New Zealand. We started with Season One, Episode One, and enjoyed it. We usually keep captions on, these days, and it’s a good thing, because the New Zealand accent is one we aren’t used to hearing. For example, every time they say “letter,” it sounds like “litter.” It appears to still be going, according to IMDB, and is in the eighth season, currently.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for all you have done for us, for all you are doing for us, for deliverance from need and death. We thank you for all the signs you give us that you hear our prayer when, without wavering or weakening, we set our hopes on you. We thank you that we can be without fear of sin and death, for you stand by us in everything. In spite of our imperfections you show us your goodness again and again. May the light in our hearts never be extinguished, the light that enables us to look into heaven and earth and see the good that is on its way to us today. May joy remain with us, and may we have the strength to be a community that follows the paths of life which bring praise and honor to you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all that God has done, and continues to do, in my life
2. that, in spite of my imperfections, God shows me His goodness again and again
3. for the light in my heart that allows me to look toward heaven and see the good that is on its way; it will never be extinguished
4. for the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible
5. for the many things in our world that are there to help us connect with the Father through the Son and by the Spirit. 

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
(Mark 14:3-9 ESV)

For 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.”
(Mark 14:21 ESV)


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

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

I’m sure that many of us have both aspects of Mary and Martha within us. My wife is more of a “Martha.” She always needs to be doing something. I’m kind of in-between, but lean more toward Mary. I have these desires, and frequently feel guilty for not doing something that I think I should be doing.

The key, I believe, is in the heart. And that is true about so many things. Martha, according to Jesus, who could read the heart, was “worried and upset about many things.” I remember a skit that was done in a church I was attending at the time. The person who played the part of Martha nailed it, I believe, as she swept furiously, muttering under her breath. In reality, everything would have been perfectly fine if Martha had sat down at Jesus’s feet, right next to Mary, to soak in the Master’s teaching.

There are definitely things we should be doing. Jesus speaks clearly about helping others, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, unshackling the chains of the oppressed, and so on. These are things of action.

But the passage from 1 Thessalonians also speaks of attitudes that must be nurtured. Be thankful. Be joyful. Pray.

I like the prayer that Julia Attaway put in today’s Daily Guideposts reading.

“Father, help me do what You ask instead of bemoaning my inability to serve in the way I desire.”

What has God asked of us? You know what I’m going to say.

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 NLT)

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
(John 13:34 NLT)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)


There are many things in this world. Just in this room, as I look around my desk, there are literally over a hundred “things.” I’m typing on a thing. I’m reading a thing. I have three musical things in this room. Probably more than that, actually, if you count a turntable an amplifier, and several speakers. Inside the closet to my right are many more things.

Things, in and of themselves, cannot be inherently good or evil. They are just things.

But when these things are used in the service of God, they become holy. The above-mentioned woman brought a “thing” into the house where Jesus was sitting, broke it open, and anointed the Lord. That thing was just a thing until she did that. Then it became holy.

“No part of creation can be bypassed in the life of faith. None of it is an inconvenience to be put up with. None of it is a stumbling block intruded by the devil to trip the feet of those whose eyes are piously lifted in praise to God. Creation is made by God as a structure for meeting God. Sacrament means that the external and internal are parts of the same reality. Creation and redemption proceed from the same God. Our bodies and souls are sustained by what God makes in creation and gives in redemption.”

Such profound words. And so very true. The bread and wine that we consume in the Eucharist are things. And, until they are used for that purpose, that are just simply things. But when we eat the bread and drink the cup that are the body and blood of Christ, they become holy.

And, on that night, when Jesus had that “last supper” with His disciples, Jesus, according to John (the only one who saw fit to record this), did something surprising. He took another ordinary thing, a bucket of soapy water, and made it holy by washing the feet of His disciples.

“A ministry of sacrament is responsible for announcing and demonstrating that the world is holy, as opposed to, say, useful or beautiful or profane or mean. A ministry of sacrament insists on the holiness in the sick body, in the lonely heart, in dirty feet, in polluted streams, in a depersonalized institution, in vineyards, in wheat fields – and then involves us in meeting God there. The baptismal font and the communion chalice are the boundaries between which we discover that no part of this material world is unusable by God and that every part of it is created to be good, a vital part in the machinery of salvation.”

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


Father, I am grateful, this morning, for the reminder that this world, as bad as it seems, at times, was created by You, to be enjoyed by us (and You), and to be a means of connecting with You and ministering to one another. Help us to take the things of this world, so often mistakenly deemed “secular” or “unholy,” and make them holy by using them for Your purposes. While we may not need to physically wash one another’s feet, there are similar tasks that we can do for one another, tasks that involve and employ “things,” things that are neither secular or holy until we begin to use them. In this, You have declared all things in this world to be potentially holy.

Father, help us to also have the attitude of Mary, while at the same time knowing that are things that do need to be done in order to minister to this world. It’s okay to spend time sitting at the feet of our Savior, learning from His teachings. And there are times when we would, perhaps, like to be doing something that we think is more helpful, when, in fact, it is more helpful for us to simply “be still and know” that You are God. In this way, we also remember that You are in control of this hot mess of a world. We also remember that, in Your Kingdom, things are far, far better than we could ever imagine.

For Martha, the broom was holy. For Mary, the floor was holy. For the woman (possibly also a “Mary”), the alabaster vial of perfume was holy. For Jesus, the bucket of water, the bread, and the wine were holy. All of these can be true for us too, Lord, if we but pay attention. May we not walk through this world blind, but keeping our eyes on You and being attentive to everything around us.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Let It Shine

Today is Sunday, the twenty-sixth of July, 2022, in the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of God find you today. Whatever is going on, just stop. Stop and embrace the peace. Let it hold you.

Day 23,481

We had a great day at the library, yesterday. It was just busy enough that it didn’t get boring, but not busy enough to be crazy. And there weren’t any over-challenging patrons. A very pleasant day.

Today, C and I will be going to Bass Hall for the 1:30 performance of Oklahoma! We are really looking forward to that.

Tomorrow, I have jury duty. Not really looking forward to that. But not dreading it, either. Something different to do on a Monday, when I never have a work shift, anyway. I just hope it doesn’t carry over into Tuesday.

The Texas Rangers beat the Washington Nationals, last night, 3-2, on a walk-off home run by Adolis Garcia (“El Bombe”). After losing 2-1, the previous night, their record is back to two games below .500, 34-36. They are in second place in the AL West, 10.5 behind the Astros, and 4.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Guardians 4-2, to improve their record to 41-31. They are now in second place in the AL East, 11 games out of first, and in the first of three Wild Card spots. The other two Wild Cards are currently Toronto and Tampa. Again, if the season ended today, the AL East would have four teams in the playoffs. I’m sorry, Mr. Manfred, but this just doesn’t seem right.

I just sent an email to the MLB about that issue. I’ll let you know if they respond. Hahaha!

The Yankees still have the best MLB record, at 52-20. However, the have lost two games in a row, and were no-hit (??) last night. Unfortunately, it was the Astros who no-hit them, so I can’t exactly be happy about that, can I? Today, the Athletics have the worst record, at 24-49. The Yankees continue to have the best run differential, at +141, but the Dodgers aren’t far behind them, at +130. The Nationals (with whom the Rangers are struggling!) have the worst, at -113. Come on, Rangers!! The Red Sox have the longest current win streak (YAY!!) at six games, and the Diamondbacks have the longest current losing streak at five games.

The Rangers will play the Nationals this afternoon, at 1:35, while we are watching Oklahoma! at the Bass Hall. The Sox will play the Guardians at 1:40 EDT.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What I Long For, by Daryl Madden

I longed for the day
Of future years
I long for the past
Now that they’re here

I’m looking forward
To what happens today
But the gift of this moment
I let pass away

And even of heaven
Where I long to be
I can lose focus
To let life pass by me

So let all my longing
Be now in a prayer
In dealing with you, Lord
In heaven right here

So much truth here, in this lovely poem. Please visit Daryl’s site, using the link provided above, for more.

O Lord our God, grant that we may have fellowship with you every day. May our hearts be ready to fulfill your commandments and to do what you want in all things. Hear our prayer. Hear and answer when we pray for the nations, for the whole world, and let your holy will be done. Remember all who are in distress, and lead them on the right way. May we go with joyful hearts wherever you lead us. Your name will be our help, your glory will come, and the world will be full of your love, your power, and your splendor. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
(1 John 1:3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the fellowship we have with God, in Christ, and the desire to see others have that same fellowship
2. that my desire to draw people into the love of God supersedes my devotion to any other "cause"
3. for this moment, right here, right now (yes, the one that's already gone), because that is all we truly have
4. for the heart of gratitude that God has grown in me
5. for the admonition in Isaiah 58 to stop blaming and slandering, and to pour out our lives for the hungry and afflicted

Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is thanks.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV)

That is one of 72 times that the word “thanks” appears in the NIV. 33 of those appear in the Old Testament, and 39 in the New. I’m actually a little surprised that it doesn’t appear more often. However, if you take off the “s,” the word “thank” appears another 35 times. And “thanksgiving” another 22. Three more times for “thankful.” So there’s a total of 132 appearances of some form of the word in the NIV Bible.

I think God desires for us to be thankful. Do I think it’s because He desires the attention? Does it make Him feel better when we say “thanks”? You know, the way it makes you feel better when one of your kids or a close friend says “thank you.”

Here’s the thing. Actually, I’m posing a question. Which do you think is more healthy for you, a life of complaining about things, or a life of gratitude?

As you know, I start each day’s devotional with gratitude (after a brief prayer, sometimes an inspirational poem, and a verse to jump off from). This sets the stage for the day. But it would be even better (and a practice that I need to begin) if I said some thanks before I even put feet on the floor.

Dallas Willard once said that, before he got out of bed in the morning, he would meditate through either the Lord’s Prayer or the 23rd Psalm. Both worthy things, and a great way to start the day. And I’m sure gratitude was a part of that. How much better to simply start the day with some thanks, before ever getting out of bed? (Don’t misunderstand . . . I’m not at all being critical of Dallas Willard!)

I mean, how many of us jump out of bed all happy and cheerful? If you do, I don’t want to be around you. Even my wife, who is more of a morning person than I, doesn’t exactly spring out of bed in the morning. So stopping to express some gratitude would certainly help. It would set the stage for a better day, I believe, and prepare me for pretty much anything that could come my way.

I’m still not doing any “springing,” though.

It also would make me think, to be aware. I sometimes have to think about what I’m grateful for. Some days, it’s harder than others. Other days, I might lie there for a half hour, giving thanks.

The writer of today’s reading gives his own suggestions. “Thanks for a good night’s sleep. Thanks for a bed and a pillow. Thanks for hot water. For indoor plumbing (ever lived without it?). For toothpaste. For soap. Thanks for a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and coffee to drink, hallelujah, amen!”

I know that my mother is thankful for being able to go out shopping with my wife, yesterday.

There’s a book that has been on my TBR list for a while, now, and I think I may try a bit harder to get it read, this year. It’s by Anne Lamott, and it’s called Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. And, judging from the fact that our Father knows every word before it comes out of mouth, and knows what we need before we ask it, those are three pretty good prayers.

As “Bob” has advised, try it today. “See how many things – including diverse things – you can say ‘thanks’ for today.” It just might change your whole outlook.

Of course, if you enjoy your whining and complaining, never mind.

Father, You know my heart, and You know the heart of my gratitude, each day. You also know that some days, it is more difficult than others to come up with five things that I’m grateful for. I pray for help for those days, and I pray that You would remind me, by Your Spirit, every morning, when I wake up, to give thanks before I even get out of bed. Help me to do that, as I want the general attitude of my day to begin with thanksgiving. And then help me to punctuate the rest of my day with constant thanksgiving, giving thanks in all circumstances, as Paul tells us to do.


if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:10 ESV)

Hmm . . . I think the previous verse needs to be included in this.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
(Isaiah 58:9-10 ESV)

The thing I found interesting, when including the previous verse (it would actually be helpful to read the whole passage), is that it is not just the pouring oneself out for the hungry and helping the afflicted that makes one’s light shine. It must be accompanied with the ceasing of the blame game and slandering!

And this is exactly where our society is, today, both within and without the church. We are blaming and slandering. I can hardly stand to look at my social media feeds, these days, because of all the slander and hatred being spewed out, by “Christians!!” It hurst my soul! If we wonder why our lights aren’t shining, we need to take a closer look at that.

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

Father, help us to stop pointing fingers and speaking wickedness, so that we might turn our attention to the things that really matter, pouring ourselves out for the hungry and helping the afflicted in our world. These are the things that Jesus seems to care about, as He indicated in His parable of the sheep and the goats. Turn our hearts toward You, Father, toward Your generosity and Your heart for the oppressed and afflicted, for the “orphans and widows.” Have mercy, Father!


We serve a God who comes to us. He is not at a fixed point in the universe, and we do not have to work hard to find Him. Yes, the Bible tells us to “seek Him,” but it’s not like He is hard to find.

He came to us, in Jesus Christ, and He has promised to return in Jesus. We live our lives between those two events. What does it mean to live in a world where God comes to us?

“This is the expectant believer’s task: to clarify that question, to celebrate it, and to live heartily and hopefully in response to the God who comes to us. Will we live slovenly, with unbuttoned minds and disheveled spirits, thoughtlessly supposing that the same things will be forever monotonously repeated, over and over again, in creation and history? Or will we live alertly and ardently, convinced that God continues to come to us and will come to us again in Jesus? Will we believe that in expectantly waiting for his coming, being hospitable to his arrival, we are getting the most out of life?”

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

Father, help me to live expectantly, not slovenly. Keep my mind sharp as I interact with You and with my fellow human beings. Help me to resist the temptation to blame and slander, but to wait expectantly for Your coming again in Christ, all the while doing my utmost to obey His commands to love You and love my neighbor as myself. May we, as Your people, be open and hospitable to the arrival of our Savior, whenever that may occur. Thank You for being the God who comes to us and does not sit out there in the ether, waiting for us to find You. I praise You that You have condescended to interact with us, and that You initiated it all. May we respond appropriately, with worship, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Overflowing Gratitude

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-first of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time. It is the Summer Solstice, the official beginning of Summer, the day with the most daylight hours.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,476

There was no Rangers game, yesterday, so they stayed at 31-35 for the season. They are in a virtual tie for second place, with a percentage difference of .001 between the Angels and the Rangers. The Rangers play the Phillies in Arlington tonight at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 5-2, improving their record to 37-31. They have overtaken Tampa and are now in third place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first, and back in a Wild Card spot, having bumped Tampa out. They play the Tigers again, today.

The Yankees still have the best record (50-17), and the best run differential (+145). The Athletics have the worst record, at 23-45. The Nationals have the worst run differential, at -109. The Rangers are at -4, and the Red Sox are at +50. The Milwaukee Brewers have the longest current win streak, at four games, and the Reds still have the longest losing streak, also at four games.

After all the qualifying rounds and match play, the top five bowlers in the PWBA U.S. Women’s Open are: 5. Erin McCarthy, from Elkhorn, Nebraska; 4. Shayna Ng, from Singapore; 3. Shannon O’Keefe, from Shiloh, Illinois; 2. Jordan Richard, from Maumee, Ohio; 1. Danielle McEwan, from Stony Point, NY. The final is airing tonight at 6:00 PM CDT. Since I will be at work during that time, I have set the program to record.

Since it is Tuesday, I will be at the library, working my shelving shift, from 4:15-8:15 tonight. This is my “heavy” week, so I’ll be working eight hours tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday, as well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have revealed your glory in your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you that today we can still see and feel the glorious grace which streams out from Jesus Christ in his victory over the world, the powerful help which benefits all those who find faith. Grant that a further glory may be revealed, faith dwelling in the hearts of all people, faith that can conquer all the need and suffering on earth, faith that is the power to look to you, to become inwardly quiet in you, and to hope in you at all times. Then your help will come quickly, more quickly than we can imagine. It will come on us unawares, for the Savior has said, “See, I shall come quickly.” We want to hope and believe and trust till the end. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
(John 17:24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the amazing love shared among the Holy Trinity and how that love is passed on to us
2. for the glorious grace, streaming out from Jesus Christ in His victory over the world; may all need and suffering on earth be conquered!
3. for the grateful heart that God has cultivated within me
4. for the amazing, sometimes overwhelming presence of God, always with me, always surrounding me
5. for the sweet, sweet love of my wife of almost 37 years
6. for times of worship together, when we practice the truth that God is both center and circumference in our lives

The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is gratitude.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

As you are aware (if you’re not, I don’t know what to tell you), gratitude is something that I am really big on. My devotions, every day, begin with a list of things for which I am grateful. I started doing this in November, at least two years ago, as a response to all the people who only display gratitude during the “Thanksgiving” month. At that point, I purposed to show gratitude 365 days a year.

As I have previously stated here and elsewhere, I don’t put this list in public to seem more spiritual than anyone else. Goodness knows, I’m as much a sinner as the next person. At least. It is, however, to inspire; to show people that, no matter how difficult things get or how bad things look, there should always be something we can be thankful for. Somedays, it is simple things, like coffee, grapes, and cantaloupe. Other days, the list is more complex and deep, more thoughtful.

Some days, I struggle to come up with five things. That’s on me, of course. Other days, it is all I can do to stop at seven or eight. Actually, I think seven is the longest list I have published.

Gratitude, while it may not be “everything,” is certainly important. And, while we know (or at least I hope we know; we should know) that we can never pay God back for the great things He has done for us (nor does He expect or desire us to), we can express our gratitude, and we can most certainly (which He does expect, even demand) pay it forward!

Thank You, Father, for gratitude. That might sound weird to some people. I’m grateful for gratitude. But what I am truly grateful for is that YOu have cultivated this heart of gratitude within me. You have shown me how important it is to be thankful. Verse after verse of Your Word tells me this. So help me continue to be grateful every day, displaying this gratitude for all to see, to inspire them to also be grateful, even if it’s just for the next breath of air. And, yes, I’m grateful for that, too, because the next breath is not promised me. What is promised is Your amazing presence in my life, and I am certainly grateful for that, too!


“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Matthew 19:6 NIV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalms 37:4 NLT)

I would unequivocally state that C and I are most definitely “one flesh.” We are like two parts of one unit. And, while I might joke that she is my “better half” (we’re supposed to do that, right?), I don’t believe that there is a “better half” between us. We are as equal as it is possible for two people to be, in this marriage. And when we met, even though she had a boyfriend, it was obvious that there was something special between us.

God joined us together almost 37 years ago, and, in spite of a few stupid things on my part, we remain together today, as committed and in love as ever. When she is away from me, I feel like half a person. And I think we do a pretty good job of living by a verse that gets mistakenly separated from many peoples’ favorite verses to quote about marriage.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 NIV)

People, especially men and preachers (that should tell you something), love to quote verse 22. But I’m a firm believe that, since all verses and other divisions of these letters are “man-made,” verse 21 is supposed to be part of that paragraph and supersedes verse 22. And, yes, I will fight you on that. I believe that our marriage is quite a good example of mutual submission.

Father, I am so very grateful for C and the relationship that we have. We fit together so well, and much of that has come through growth over these years, growth that You have provided and nurtured. I thank You that You worked in both our hearts to grow us closer and closer together, and that You kept us together all these years. I pray that we might be an inspiration to other marriages.


“The more I am persuaded of the importance of seeking God’s will for oneself, the more skeptical I become about the possibility of saying what is his will for others. That is the source of all kinds of intolerance and abuse. People who claim to know what is God’s will try to impose it upon others with the arrogance which comes from the conviction that they are the repositories of divine truth. I avoid that at all costs. I can never know what is God’s will for someone else.” ~ Paul Tournier

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

Father, may I never be guilty of displaying this kind of “intolerance and abuse” toward others, and forgive me for times past when I have been guilty of it. Help me to display love and acceptance toward people, not condoning sinful behavior, but also not condemning, as that is Your job, not mine.


According to French philosopher Jacque Maritain, what our modern world needs most is “New fire, the essential renewal . . . an inner renewal. . . . It consists of a change of attitude, or a displacement of values that takes place in the deepest recesses of the soul, and has to do, first of all and essentially, not with any way of acting or externally behaving . . . but with a way of seeing them before God, and a way of loving them better.”

According to Eugene H. Peterson, we participate in this “when we choose to worship with the people of God, . . . As we sing and pray, give and listen.”

“The act of worship builds our inner foundations and nurtures the eternal relationships we practice all the hours and days of the week.”

(From On Living Well by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, You are, indeed, as Peterson says, both “center and circumference” in our lives. You are the middle, You are the exterior, You are the internal. You are everything. And when we worship You together, we participate in this belief, because our attention must be focused on something/someone other. Not simply someone other than ourselves, but someone/something that is other from what we are. We need this worship, Father, and we need, desperately, this outward focus on You. Society is proving this more and more as time goes by.

Lord, our culture is way too self-focused. Even when we may not be self-centered (focusing entirely on the self), we still tend to be human-focused, and not taking the time to focus or center on You, the Almighty God and Creator of the universe. Change our values, Father, and help us to see and love others before You, in a better and more compassionate way.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Extravagant Love

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,474

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ouch. Explicitly descriptive, but truthful.

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

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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Drink Deep

Today is Tuesday, the fourteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,469

The Rangers beat the Astros, last night, in a fantastic game. The Astros went ahead early, and led 3-0, until the bottom of the third, when the Rangers scored their first run. The score remained 3-1, until the bottom of the seventh, when the Rangers scored another, making it 3-2. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, the Rangers scored three times, to make it 5-3. Matt Moore came in and shut things down in the top of the ninth, to notch his first save. This makes the Rangers 29-31, in second place in the AL West, 7.5 behind the Astros, whom they will play again tonight at 7:05 CDT.

The Yankees are still the best in MLB, at 44-16. The KC Royals are back at the bottom, at 20-40. The Atlanta Braves won again, extending their winning streak to twelve games, the longest current (and maybe the longest for the season, so far) win streak. The poor Cubs and Pirates both lost again, extending their losing streaks to seven games. The Yankees continue to have the best run differential, at +127, and the Pirates have the worst, at -93. The Rangers’ run differential is currently +6. The Red Sox didn’t play, so theirs stays at +40.

The PWBA U.S. Women’s Open kicks off tonight, in South Glens Falls, NY, with the “Bowl with the Pros” event, at 7:00 PM EDT.

Since it’s Tuesday, I will be working a four-hour shift at the library, tonight, doing shelving. 4:15 – 8:15. This means I will miss the beginning of the Rangers game, but will catch up when I get home. I will likely keep tabs on it, on my phone.

Here’s a pic of four of our cats, probably the closest they’ve all been to each other without some hissing.

From the top, Rocky, Luna, Trixie, and Cleo

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, in the grace of Jesus Christ we pray to you that your will may be done for us and for all the world. Through Jesus Christ grant us faith that you love us, faith that we may live in your love, that we may hope in your love every day and have peace on earth, where there is so much unrest and trouble. Keep us firm and constant, remaining in your peace and in the inner quiet you give us because Jesus Christ has overcome the world. He has truly overcome, and this fills us with joy. We praise you, Almighty God, that you have sent Jesus Christ and that he has overcome the world. We praise you that he has overcome all evil, sin, and death, and that we may rejoice at all times in your presence. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:3-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God's commands are not burdensome . . . really, they aren't, as long as we walk in the "easy yoke" of Jesus
2. for the faith to know that God loves me and that I live and hope in His love
3. that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life
4. for the "living water" from Jesus
5. that God has given me a generous heart

Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “water.”

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
(John 4:14 NLT)

Who among us manages to drink enough water? The standard line is that adults should drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. That’s – gets out fingers and toes – 64 ounces of water. A mere half-gallon.

But everyone is different. Having gone through the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) program, I know that they do not subscribe to that blanket theory. There’s another theory (and I first heard this one at WW, many years ago) that, in order to know how much water your body needs, divide your weight in half (or multiply it by .5) and that’s the answer in ounces.

So, let’s see . . . my current weight is right at 290 lbs. 290 X .5 = 145 ounces.

Egad. That’s well over a gallon a day. I get up too many times in the night, as it is!

And I just saw another site that said you should multiply weight by 2/3! That would have me drinking almost 200 ounces of water a day. Well, that would certainly be incentive to lose weight, wouldn’t it? And, they all say you should add more if you work out, up to twelve ounces per thirty-minutes of working out.

But we aren’t talking about literal water, here, are we? We are speaking of Jesus and “living water.” I think it is probably safe to say that none of us gets enough of that water, either. In fact, I’m not even sure it is possible to get “enough” living water.

Nevertheless, Jesus tells us that, if we drink His water, we will not thirst. How often do we seek after other “thirst quenchers” in our lives? Yet Jesus tells us,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Jesus also tells us,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 ESV)

Note the word “the.” That article is actually in the Greek text. Not “a.” Jesus is the way (the road, the path, the means). Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. Also note that Jesus, Himself, says that no one comes to the Father except through Him. There is, in fact, only one road to God.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
(John 8:34-36 ESV)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
(John 14:15-17 ESV)

One thing that happens when we are connected to this “water,” to this “way, truth, and life,” is that we become more generous. How much generosity is enough? There is no real measure of that. Scripture suggests ten percent. That seems to be a good guideline (however, I will protest anyone who claims it is a law that we must follow, today).

Truly, it is the heart that is more important than the amount or percentage. You can give 99% of everything you have, but if you are giving it begrudgingly, you might as well hang on to it. And remember the widow and her two “mites?”

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

“Generosity means dealing with our greed and our impulsive self-indulgences. It means reordering priorities and values. Most people’s lack of generosity is due not to money problems but to greed problems, avarice problems, value problems.”

“If we try to live by getting instead of giving, we go against the stream.”

Our life is a gift. Everything that we see and “possess” is a gift from God. “God gives away everything that is. When we give our money, we begin to do, clumsily and awkwardly at first, what God does expertly.”

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

Father, I am grateful for the living water that Jesus Christ provides for us. I pray that I might drink more deeply of it, and, thereby, be more deeply connected with the way, the truth, and the life. I am also grateful that, through this connection, You have given me a generous heart. It could still be more generous, true, and I pray that You increase that generosity in my heart. Help me to not hold on to anything with a closed fist, but, rather, with an open hand and open heart.

I pray for more of the confidence in You that can enable me to sometimes simply sit in silence. It is true that, the more comfortable and confident two people are in their relationship, the more they can simply sit in silence, not requiring any words. Excessive words are the tool of the insecure. Make us more secure and confident in You, and help us to observe and practice the discipline of silence, that we might fall more deeply in love with You, in Christ.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Today is Thursday, the ninth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,464

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our Savior, you are our Lord and our Helper. Show yourself again and again in our hearts as the Savior who is strong to help us even in difficult times. Remember the many people who sigh to you. Guide them into the protection of the almighty God. Even if they suffer pain and distress and have to go through fear and anxiety, even if they die, Lord Jesus, you are comfort and help. In everything life brings us you will show yourself as the One who does the will of God and who carries it out for us on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord takes delight in us with gladness
2. that the Lord calms all our fears with love
3. that real transformation is possible, changing the way I think, renewing my mind, by dwelling in and meditating on the Word of God
4. that by doing the things in number 3, I can live a life of love, joy, and laughter
5. that regularly gathering with other saints enhances this even more
Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. . . . Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. . . . So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other.
(Romans 14:1, 4, 10-13a NLT)
O God, you know how foolish I am; 
my sins cannot be hidden from you. 
Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me, 
O Sovereign LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 
Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel.
(Psalms 69:5-6 NLT)

It seems to me that a large number of us needs to spend some time in Romans 14.

The prayer word of the day is “mind.” This is not the verb sense of the word, but, rather, that which is somewhat synonymous with “brain.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 NIV)

I prefer the way some other translations word this, though.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 NLT)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12:2 MSG)

In this day and age, it is not unusual for one’s mind to feel scattered. Society has pushed the myth of multi-tasking on us. Susanna asks, “How can I figure out God’s will when I can’t even navigate my day?”

The presence of God and His Word can “rewire how I see things, changing priorities, bringing peace in the midst of chaos, resetting my moods with His grace.” This is the “transforming” or “renewing” of the mind that Romans 12 speaks of.

If we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, it will certainly change the way we think.

All too often, though, and this is what causes the attitudes that Paul is speaking against in Romans 14, we allow the way we think to “transform” what God’s Word says.

Just sit on that for a minute.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
(Proverbs 31:25 NIV)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:26 NIV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NIV)

Most people are probably familiar with Proverbs 31, and that it speaks of a “wife of noble character,” beginning in verse 10.

But that’s not what we’re talking about, here, today. I want to focus on that bit about laughing at “the days to come.”

I’m pretty sure that no one would deny that we have been living “hell on earth” for the last two years or so, maybe closer to three. First there was a pandemic (honestly, there still is . . . as much as some folks want to believe it’s over, we are still having close to 100,000 new cases a day in the U.S.). Weather has been unpredictable (February in Texas, 2021, the entire state was frozen for three to five days). Russia invaded Ukraine. Prices are skyrocketing.

Here’s the thing. Because of my faith in Christ, because of my walk with Him and in God’s Kingdom, because of abiding in His Word and His Word in me, I can do what Proverbs 31:25 says. I can laugh at the days to come.

Not because I think it’s going to be funny. I don’t think that at all. I have opinions about the way things are going. They aren’t relevant to pretty much anything, though, so I keep them to myself, for the most part. I do believe, however, that Dallas Willard nailed it when he said that, in Christ, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” And this is the attitude portrayed in Proverbs 31:25.

The psalmist alluded to that in Psalm 73:26. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” The verse immediately preceding that has long been a favorite of mine. Verse 25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

Because of these things, I can “live a life filled with love, joy, and laughter.” I can, as “they” say,

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

What makes this state of mind even better is when we can enjoy it with other believers. “Honesty in worship is maintained by keeping in touch with other Christians in company before God. There are no instances that we know of when Christians have successfully severed themselves from a regular gathering in community.”

Worship is not an option, something you add on whenever you feel like it. “Community worship keeps our relationships with God from depending on our feelings (our feelings are notorious deceivers) and restrains us from indulging. It keeps us connected to the whole revelation in the whole company of all God’s people.”

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

Father, I praise You for joy. I praise You that I can look at the days ahead and laugh, not because things are funny, but because I have You, and because I desire You more than I desire anything on earth. I pray that You keep this mindset alive in me. Continue to transform and renew my mind, my way of thinking, as I continue to read, pray, and meditate on Your Word.

I also pray for continued gathering with other saints to keep this alive and enhance the mindset. As we gather, Father, help us to have joy in our lives, regardless of outward circumstances and appearances. May Your will be done on earth as in heaven; bring heaven to earth, Father. And please do it “soon.”

Even so, come soon, 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.

True Worship

Today is Tuesday, the seventh of June, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,462

I haven’t written personal stuff, recently. Nothing is wrong, or anything. A couple days, I felt that the spiritual portion of the blog was, perhaps, a bit too long, and didn’t want to add to it with trivial stuff. I have actually considered moving this portion of the daily blog over to my other blog. The jury is still out on that.

Speaking of jury, I got a jury duty summons in the mail, yesterday. Fortunately, it is not for the Monday of my colonoscopy exam, which is two weeks from yesterday, June 20 (unfortunately, that is the day after Father’s Day, so I will have to spend Father’s Day evening drinking the prep). The summons is for the following Monday, June 27. Also fortunately, that happens to be my “easy” week at the library (that means that I’m not working that Wednesday or Saturday), so if I wind up having to serve on a jury, and it lasts more than one day, I won’t miss very much work.

The Texas Rangers have won some and lost a few, during the past few days, and remain three under .500, at 25-28. They are also still in third place in the AL West, even though the Angels have lost twelve in a row! Hah! Take that, Joe Maddon! They are actually only a half game behind the Angels, at this point. The Rangers got rained out in Cleveland, yesterday, so a double-header is scheduled with the Guardians, today, beginning at 2:10 CDT, this afternoon.

The Red Sox have managed to get above .500, and are now 28-27, but are still in fourth place in the AL East. They are 3.5 behind Tampa. They are currently in a series with the Angels, so it helps both them and the Rangers if they win.

The Evil Empire continues to be the best team in MLB, with a 39-15 record. Their cross-town rivals are only 2.5 behind them. The KC Royals (17-36) are holding on to the worst MLB record. I’m sure the Reds are enjoying that. The Yankees also have the current best win streak, at six games (The Red Sox are at five). As referenced previously, the LA Angels’ twelve game losing streak is the longest current losing streak. We hope it continues to grow. Another AL West team, the Athletics, has the second longest losing streak, at six games. Now if Houston would follow suit . . . The Dodgers still have the best run differential, at +113. The Yankees are trying to catch them, though, at +102. The Royals, on the other end, have been outscored by 89 runs. The Rangers are at +9, and the Red Sox are at, wait, what?? +39! Wow.

In PWBA news, Breanna Clemmer not only made history in last week’s Twin Cities Open, she also earned her first PWBA title, as she defeated Bryanna Cote (the battle of the BC’s?) in the title match of the tournament. History was made, as she had the highest three game series ever by bowling consecutive 300 games, followed by a 289, and threw, I believe 29 strikes in a row!

The ladies are currently in qualifying round 1 of the Long Island Open, one of three rapid-fire tourneys that are happening this week, at Maple Lanes Rockville Centre, NY. After two games, Liz Johnson, veteran bowler, is in the lead, followed by Jen Higgins (good to see her back up there). Breanna Clemmer is in eighth, and Verity Crawley is tied for tenth. There are a total of 81 bowlers in this round. Round 2 will begin at 2:30 EDT, after which they will cut to the top 12 for tomorrow’s two match play rounds. The stepladder finals will be tomorrow night at 7:00 PM EDT, on bowltv.com. I won’t get to see all of that, as I don’t get off work until 6:15 tomorrow, CDT.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our refuge forever, bless us who have gathered in your presence and who turn to you in all distress, not only in our personal need but also in the distress of the nations and peoples of the whole world. Grant that we may be your children, with a simple faith that gives us strength to go on working even when life is bitterly hard. We thank you for giving us so much grace, for helping us and never forsaking us, so that again and again we can find joy and can glorify and praise you, our Father. May your name be praised from heaven above and among us here below. May your name be praised by all people throughout the world, and may everyone on earth acknowledge you and receive all that they need from you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were born, 
before you gave birth to the earth and the world, 
from beginning to end, 
you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I'm still alive and breathing; a new day with new opportunities
2. for the confidence that I have that God is working His plan and that all will be well, in the end
3. for the confidence that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don't know what to pray (Romans 8:26)
4. that the primary way we show our love for God is by loving others
5. that true worship makes both God and our neighbors more real to us

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
(Romans 12:3 NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
(Romans 12:9-21 NLT)
May God be merciful and bless us. 
May his face smile with favor on us.
 May your ways be known throughout the earth, 
your saving power among people everywhere. 
May the nations praise you, O God. 
Yes, may all the nations praise you. 
Let the whole world sing for joy, 
because you govern the nations with justice 
and guide the people of the whole world. 
May the nations praise you, O God.
 Yes, may all the nations praise you.
 Then the earth will yield its harvests, 
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
 Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear him.
(Psalms 67:1-7 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “groanings.”

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
(Romans 8:26 NLT)

There have been plenty of times in my life when I didn’t know exactly how to pray. It still happens, sometimes, in regard to my own life, and sometimes, in regard to prayer requests that I receive. I have to stop and remember that, in those times, the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf.

I also have this feeling that there are times when the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I did think I knew what to pray.

Me: Utters prayer about any certain topic
Holy Spirit: Um . . . Father, that's not really what he means . . . this is what he really wants to pray

It is also worth noting the word “weakness” in that verse. The Holy Spirit is helping us in our weakness. I can’t help but wonder, if we feel that we have no weakness, will the Holy Spirit then condescend to intercede for us?

Father: Did he really mean to pray that??
Spirit: Beats me . . . he doesn't need my help, he's got it all figured out

I confess that I have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek when I type those dialogues. And of course, I mean no disrespect. It is merely a means of trying to illustrate what I believe this verse is telling us.

There is great comfort in embracing this truth, in knowing and believing that, when I don’t quite know how to pray, He is there for me, helping me. And when I pray something that isn’t quite right, He is also there for me.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
(Hebrews 6:10-12 NLT)

This passage is interesting to me. The emphasis is (surprise!!) on loving others! The writer of Hebrews stresses that this is how we show our love for God, by “caring for other believers,” and then says that their desire is that the recipients of this letter will “keep on loving others as long as life lasts.” By doing this, they will keep themselves from becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.”

How do we show our love for God? By loving and caring for others. Not by fighting for “causes.” Not by fighting for anything.

*mic drop*

This was one of my favorite songs as a “youth.”
"The person who wants to arrive at interiority and spirituality has to leave the crowd behind and spend some time with Jesus.
"Nobody's comfortable in public unless he's spent a good deal of time in the quiet of his home. Nobody speaks with assurance who hasn't learned to hold his tongue. Nobody's a success as a general who hasn't already survived as a soldier. Nobody respects decrees who hasn't already obeyed them."
(Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)
"When we worship God, we discover how his blessings shape our lives. We also discover how to bless and be blessed by our neighbors' lives.
"In worship, God becomes more real to us. But the mystery is this: so do our neighbors."
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Here’s the thing: if we aren’t loving our neighbors, we haven’t really worshiped God.

Father, Your Word tells us quite plainly that “pure and genuine religion” is caring for others (specifically, in that case, orphans and widows). Jesus told us, also quite plainly, that in caring for others, we care for Him, and in refusing to care for others, we refuse to care for Him.

Why is this so hard for us to embrace?? I struggle with it, sometimes, myself, but when I look around and see the hatred coming from peoples’ hearts and mouths, it breaks my heart. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. Dear Father, this ought not be so! Have mercy on us, Lord. Please reach our hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of peace and love, not fighting and hatred.

I thank You that You have given us this “law,” Father, that the way we are to show our love for You is by loving others. I thank You for molding my heart to believe this, so many years ago. I confess that I still struggle with it, but that struggle remains largely interior, these days, so at least there’s that. I rarely type or say some of the thoughts that come through my mind, and try to dismiss them as soon as they pop into my brain, as I do not wish to entertain any thoughts of “unlove” toward anyone.

Help us to truly worship You, that You might become more real to us, and that our neighbors would also become more real to us, and that we might bless them and be blessed by them, as well. As we seek to worship, I also pray that we might find time and way to spend more time alone with Christ in our lives. We, as a society, are too busy for our own good. Help us to slow down, to stop and meditate, to consider You and Your Word, and its effect on our lives.

Help me, Father, to never pretend, but to truly and really love others. I pray that I would take delight in honoring my brothers and sisters. Help me to keep praying, to pray more often and more fervently. I pray for more compassion and willingness to help others. I also pray that I would never be conceited, thinking that I “know it all.” Above all, help me to live at peace with everyone.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.