It’s All About Love. Still. Again.

Today is Wednesday, the 18th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Day 23,687

I’m due in at the library at 9:15, this morning, so I won’t dally.

Update on that: I seem to have come down with a bit of a chest cold. I don’t feel terrible, but don’t feel great. After a text conversation with my manager, it was advised that I stay home and take care of myself. I don’t work tomorrow, anyway, so I feel confident that, by Friday, I will be better. I’m negative for Covid, so it’s not that. I feel like it’s related to weather and/or air quality, i.e. Mountain Cedar and so on.

Yet another thing I love about my library job. I have worked way too many places where the response would have been, “We really need you here, today,” rather than, “You stay home and take care of yourself.” ❤

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am yours; 
save me, for I have sought your precepts.
(Psalms 119:94 NRSV)

Lord our God, be with us. Touch us with your Spirit so that our hearts may receive something from you. Let us find joy even in a life of struggle and temptation. Let us find joy in every need we face, even in the agony of death. Protect us through your Word, and let it always be a light to us so that we can follow you and do your will. Be with us on all our ways. Guide everything with your hand until the goal for all humankind is reached and we may rejoice over all the trials and testing because in the end the glorious prize can be won. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, . . . Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 
(James 1:2, 12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that joy can be found in even the most unpleasant circumstances
  • for the hope of the crown of life, promised to those who love the Lord
  • that we are chosen by God, in Christ, appointed to bear fruit
  • for mercy
  • for love; may we truly understand and obey the commands of Jesus

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:34-35 NRSV)


You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
(John 15:16 NRSV)


We're watching and waiting, 
holding our breath, 
awaiting your word of mercy.
(Psalms 123:2 MSG)

Not as Scripture to work from, this morning, which gives me more of a challenge. I’ve got some good verses, but do they fit together at all?

The Lord has chosen us. Jesus said as much, speaking to His disciples. There was a period of my life when I was a strict, five-point Calvinist. I’m not quite so firm in that, any more. I shifted back a little; the pendulum swung back toward the center. Earlier in my life, I was more Armenian (but didn’t really have a clue what that meant). I was introduced to “Calvinism” in seminary, and it fascinated me. Certainly there is plenty of Scripture to support the theology. May not all five points, but at least some of them.

But there is also Scripture to support the theology of “free will.” And what happens when we try to put God in a box is that, well, you just can’t. That’s what happens. You cannot put God in a box. He is greater than any box you could try to fit Him into. And His ways are not our ways. As soon as you try to fit Him into one particular theology, you’re going to find Him busting out of it with His ways, not yours.

I still believe that I am chosen by God. There’s not doubt in my mind about that. And I also believe that I will walk on this earth until He is finished with me. Maybe not, necessarily, “walk,” you know, but at least be alive. I have this somewhat fatalistic belief that I cannot die until God is finished with me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to test that theory by standing in the middle of Loop 820 during morning traffic.

God’s purposes cannot and will not be thwarted by humans. We are chosen by Him to bear fruit. “Fruit” can mean a lot of different things, though, not just other believers. There is a very narrow interpretation of that, in evangelical circles, that believes that that only refers to getting more people to pray that “sinner’s prayer” (which is nowhere in the Bible, mind you, and neither is any notion of “inviting Jesus into your heart,” but that’s a topic for another day).

If you read around the verse from John 15, up there, it brings more understanding. Verse 17, for example:

I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
(John 15:17 NRSV)

Also, check out verses 12-14:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
(John 15:12-14 NRSV)

Why has it taken us so long to figure this out? I mean, down through the ages, there have been individuals who got a glimpse of this truth. We celebrated one of them a couple days ago. MLK, Jr. had the right idea.

So we killed him.

Makes sense . . . we killed Jesus, too, and we would probably do it again, today.

Think that’s harsh? Then you’re not paying attention. There is still enough bigotry in this world, that if Jesus showed up today, preaching what He preached in the Gospels, certain groups of humanity would crucify Him all over again.

But here’s the challenge. We are supposed to love those people, too. One of the things that I have said, in recent years, is that if you hate the haters, you’re just another hater. What makes us different from the world is not the things we don’t do. That’s a common notion, that we are supposed to illustrate our difference from the “world” by abstaining from things.

The problem is, there is no consistent list of what things we are supposed to be abstaining from. One group thinks it’s alcohol and R-rated (or worse) movies. Another group thinks it’s dancing and cards (but dominoes are okay). More groups pick on homosexuality or abortion. Everyone has their “pet sins.” Oh, I almost forgot about divorce. That’s a big one, too.

In my opinion, Jesus was very clear about the main thing that should separate us from the world.

Love.

Love your enemies. You believe in God? Good for you, so do the demons. No doubt, some would point out that that passage also teaches that “faith without works is dead.” Yes, it does. And the “works” that we do are born out of love. When we feed the hungry, we do it because of love. When we clothe the naked, we do it because of love. When we visit the prisoners and sick, we do it because of love. When we take care of widows, orphans, and refugees, we do it because of love.

It’s all about love. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus. Jesus loves us to the point of death, giving up His life for us. Jesus commands us to love one another in the same way, and He tells us that all (ALL) of the Law and Prophets are summed up in two commands . . . love God and love people.


Lord, have mercy on us. We have lost our way. We read Your commands to love one another, and, instead, we focus on the Law, the things we should not be doing.

Have mercy on us. Teach us Your ways, that we might walk in Your truth, and realize the importance of love in this world. There is way too much anger and hatred running through Your Church, today. I know that there are people who are following Your commands and doing the right things. Unfortunately, they don’t make as much noise. May Your favor rest on all who are quietly going about the business of following the commands of Jesus.

Help me, Father, because I struggle to love the people who won’t show love, themselves. I have no desire to have any hatred in my heart toward anyone. Anyone. I have no human “enemies,” and refuse to consider any human being my enemy. Help us to come together, Father, to be unified in our love for Christ, for You, and for one another.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Waiting, An Attitude of the Heart

Today is Friday, the 18th of November, 2022, in the 33rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today, and dwell in your soul.

Day 23,626

Six days until Thanksgiving!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Make me understand the way of your precepts, 
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
(Psalms 119:27 ESV)

Lord our God, we stand before you and rejoice that you want to be our Helper, our Father. We live in a dark and evil time when whole nations groan and lament. Our need rises to you in heaven, and we cry out, “Help us, Lord our God!” Help that your will may be done in all things and that your kingdom may come. Our task is to pray to you at all times, calling, “Come, O Lord God, in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all the world!” For in east and west, in south and north, among all nations, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Praise to your name that you have given us this Lord. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for coffee
  2. for the beauty of creation all around me, especially the night sky
  3. that I will never look into the eyes of someone whom God does not love
  4. for the constant encouragement to wait continually on God
  5. for His help in times of anxiety; there is no need to worry about anything

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
(Luke 12:25 NIV)

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
(Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
(Matthew 6:25 NIV)


“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
(Hosea 12:6 ESV)


Typically, we think of “waiting” as just sitting. The standard definition of “wait” is “stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens.” But it also means, “to be available or in readiness.”

Andrew Murray indicates that waiting is “the essence of true Christianity,” and states that “the maintenance of an attitude of entire dependence on Him must be continual.” (From Waiting on God, quoted in Power in Prayer)

It may be that we wind up waiting an extended time for some answer, but the “attitude and habit of the soul must remain unchangeable and uninterrupted.” (ibid)

The practice of waiting continually is a possibility, just as praying without ceasing is a possibility. The general idea of people, though, is that we are too busy, our lives are too crowded to “wait continually.”

But that’s because they do not understand that “waiting” doesn’t simply mean to sit and do nothing. I can be waiting on God as I go about my daily business. For example: I will be working at the library today, spending eight hours in the computer center. I can still be waiting on the Lord while I do that.

This is possible because, in our case, “waiting” is more of an attitude of the heart than the lack of physical action. See that second definition. I can be active in whatever it is I am doing and still be “available or in readiness.”

Murray compares this to a father/husband who might have a sick wife or child. “A father’s heart may be filled continually with intense love and longing for a sick wife or child at home, even though pressing business requires all his thoughts.” He goes on: “When the heart has learned how entirely powerless it is to keep itself or to produce any good, when it has learned how surely and absolutely God will keep it, when it has, in despair of itself, accepted God’s promise to do for it the impossible, it learns to rest in God and, in the midst of occupations and temptations, waits continually.” (ibid)

We also must understand that God is always working in us, regardless of our status of waiting. If we think, “if I wait continually, then God will work continually,” we have it backwards. We should turn that around. “God works continually; I may wait on Him continually.” The attitude of waiting reflects the faith and hope that we have in God to work in us.


I want to also share something I saw in a Facebook post this morning.

"You will never look
 into the eyes 
of someone 
God does not love."

Father, help me to be a better “waiter.” Help me to wait on You, continually. Let this attitude be constant in me, not so that I can coerce You to work in me, but because You are already working in me. Because I believe that You are always working, I can wait, and the attitude of my heart can be that of continual waiting.

I will be available; I will be ready; I will be waiting, but I will not just be sitting, doing nothing.

I also pray that all of Your children would embrace that statement about love and Your love for all people. It is true that I will never be able to find someone whom You do not love. Therefore, I must love them all, as well. Help me to embrace and remember that when a troublesome patron comes into my work area, today. Help me to remember that the person who is angry at the world, for whatever reason, is someone You love.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; 
teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
 for you are the God of my salvation; 
for you I wait all the day long. 
(Psalms 25:4-5 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

We Need The Whole Trinity

Today is Monday, the tenth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your soul today!

Day 23,587

Last morning in Glen Rose. We must check out by 11:00 so this might be brief.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we praise your name because you have set up a mercy seat on earth, because you forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. May your mercy be seen at work in many hearts. Shed your light upon all people, and let your glory be known. Let your glory shine in all hearts, to the praise of your name and the deliverance of those who are still in misery. Keep us in your Word, which works miracles. Protect in us all that Jesus Christ has brought to the earth, and may we use his gifts in simplicity of heart. Grant that much may be accomplished to the glory of your name and that we may draw nearer to the day of Jesus Christ, for which we wait in hope and longing. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Ploughing.com)
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith. 
Romans 3:23–25a, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. to be fully justified by the redemption of Jesus Christ
  2. for this space of beauty, grace, prayer, and grace
  3. for the gifts of God; may I use them well
  4. for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding
  5. for the workings of the Holy Trinity in our lives

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; 
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭104:31-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭56:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with goanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬


I don’t remember much talk about the Holy Spirit when I was growing up. Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, most of the emphasis was on evangelism, and worship services featured sermons that were either about that or the things we weren’t supposed to do. “A dancing foot never grew off of a praying knee,” and the like.

I am not belittling the pastor who said that. He was passing along things that he believed with all his heart.

Even as a young adult, there wasn’t much talk of the Spirit in our churches, except to scoff at or put down those “charismatics.” Not that they had it quite right, either, as most of their emphasis was on outward gifts of the Spirit, that made them look good and feel good about themselves . . . even if they were faking it. And, yes, the faked it. Just like some Baptists faked it.

The point is, over much of my life, the Holy Spirit has either been short-changed or over-emphasized.

Trying to understand the Trinity is a lot like trying to nail Jello to a tree. It’s pretty nigh impossible. But one thing we can understand is the love within the Trinity. On second thought, maybe we can’t. But we can try.

The Father loves the Son loves the Father loves the Spirit loves the Son and the Father . . . complicated, yes, and there is nothing like it in the whole universe. But each one of them points to the other two. All three are God, but not each other.

I’m not helping, am I?

When it comes to prayer, it is not just the Father or just Jesus or just the Spirit. We pray to the Father, through the Son, and we pray in the Spirit, who also prays through us, according to Romans 8:26-27. The entirety of the Trinity is involved in our prayers!

This is something worthy of our attention and consideration. That Psalm up there talks about trusting in “God” when I am afraid. This involves a right smart more than thinking about some “grandfatherly”figure sitting in the clouds, which I believe to be most people’s idea of God. It involves the power and love that is present in the three-in-one, the Holy Trinity.

This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, . . .
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

“What the Father has purposed and the Son has procured can be appropriated and take effect in the body of Christ only through the continual intervention and active operation of the Holy Spirit.” (Andrew Murray)

So much for “brief.”

We need the Holy Spirit every bit as much as we need the Father and the Son. Let’s not ignore Him or short-change Him. But let’s not over-emphasize Him, either.


Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit, and His many works in our lives, from intercession to empowerment to gifting to encouraging to comforting. How much He does for us! And how little we acknowledge Him! Forgive us, Lord!

Thank for the demonstration of love that comes out of You, the Son, and the Spirit! Please help us to mimic that love in our own lives and relationships.

Thank You for Your peace! May it reign in me today and every day!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends!

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.