What I Believe

Today is Monday, September 5, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul today!

Day 23,552

Today is Labor Day in the US, a holiday for many people (not the retail folks, though).

We had a nice thunderstorm with a decent amount of rain, yesterday afternoon. During the storm (we were under a “severe thunderstorm warning,” but it didn’t seem that severe in our location), the temperature dropped from 93 (the high for the day) to 70, in the space of less than an hour. I ventured out to get Sonic drinks between 3:30 and 4:00, and it was very nice outside. According to the site I use to check the amount, we got .38 inch in the last 72 hours. That’s the way I like my rain, not 9.5 inches in, say, twelve hours.

Today’s high is predicted to be 91, and our highs seem to be stuck in the 89-92 zone for the next ten days. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, at 105. I’m glad I don’t live in Citrus Heights, CA. One source predicts a high of 113 there, today. Egad.

We watched the Elvis movie, yesterday, on HBO Max. It’s a very well-done movie, and the young man who plays Elvis Presley did a very good job. I understand he did a lot of the singing, and also plays piano and guitar. Tom Hanks plays Col. Tom Parker. In this movie, it is coming from Parker’s POV, as he tries to convince us (not successfully) that he is not the villain, here, but that Elvis wouldn’t have existed without him.

I think I might do a separate review of the movie, later.

The Texas Rangers lost the fourth and final game to the Boston Red Sox, yesterday, 5-2. The Sox swept the Rangers. Have the Rangers given up? Or are the Red Sox surging? Hard to say. The Sox may have a slim chance of making the playoffs, and the Rangers have slim to none. The Rangers are now 58-75, soon to be twenty games below .500. The Angels lost, though, so the Rangers are still in third place in the AL West, 27.5 out of first place and 15.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 2, and the WCE# is 15. They have 29 games left, and begin a series in Houston today.

The Red Sox are 67-68, almost back to .500. They are still in last place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E# is 15, and their WCE# is 22. They have 27 games left, and begin an important series in Tampa today.

The Minnesota Twins have caught up with the Cleveland Guardians, as the Guardians have lost five in a row. This is important for Minnesota, as there is currently no team in the AL Central in a Wild Card spot, because they are still locked up by two AL East teams and one AL West team. The Red Sox could knock Tampa out of that spot this week. Here’s hoping.

The Dodgers won again, so their MLB leading record is now 92-41. With 29 games left, they have to win 25 of those to break the 116 win record. The Nationals won again, but still have the worst record, at 47-87. The Mariners continue to win, now having a seven-game win streak. The Rangers, feeling the need to be the “best” at something, are in sole possession of an eight-game losing streak. The Dodgers edge closer to a +300 run differential, now at +294. The Pirates have overtaken the Nationals with the worst run differential, now at -209.

Not much on the agenda for today. Groceries are on the way, I’ve ordered some Crumbl cookies for the family, and we might have Lone Star BBQ for lunch. It’s Monday, so I’ll probably make chili for dinner, this evening. There might be a movie at some point, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, Father in heaven, that you concern yourself with us and that you bind us to yourself through all your deeds and all your help. We thank you for showing us a way of hope, a way that becomes always clearer, always firmer under our feet. On this way we can defy every evil of this world and time, knowing for sure that everything will come out right and we will all be brought to the great, eternal goal, even though we have to deny ourselves and go through much suffering. Your kingdom must come to the glory of your name, so that all people may live on a higher plane and follow you, the only true help and true life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God concerns Himself with us and helps us, showing us a way of hope, which, if we are following Him, becomes ever more clear
  2. that we who long for Christ’s appearing will be awarded a crown of righteousness at the end of the race
  3. that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and, though we physically die, yet we shall live
  4. for the rest that comes with my relationship with Christ
  5. for the example of Jesus and His prayer life

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
(John 11:3-4 ESV)

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
(John 11:14-15 ESV)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:21-27 ESV)

We give thanks to you, O God; 
we give thanks, for your name is near. 
We recount your wondrous deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 ESV)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)


All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:27-30 ESV)

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)


And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 ESV)


“All things work together for good.” When Jesus received word of Lazarus’s (did anyone else grow up hearing people call him “Lasaruth?”) illness, He purposefully delayed His visit. I think it is important to understand this, to comprehend it fully, or at least as fully as it is possible for our human brains.

Jesus let Lazarus die, in order for God to be glorified by raising him from the dead!

Take a few minutes to process this. It’s not unlike the man that was born blind, to whom Jesus restored sight. Jesus declared that it happened that God might be glorified.

There are people who would explain away things like this, try to reason humanistic values into the truth. “My God would never do something like that; He wouldn’t intentionally cause someone pain.”

The Bible says differently. And if you’re not okay with that, then your understanding of God Almighty is somewhat incomplete.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
(Psalms 115:3 ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
(Psalms 138:2 ESV)

Here’s the thing. God created everything. He created the universe, then He created life on this planet. He may or may not have created life on other worlds. If He has, He hasn’t deemed it necessary to tell us about that.

He has the right to do whatever pleases Him, including things that will glorify Himself. And He is worthy of all of that glory because, as previously stated, He is the Creator. If you create something, it is yours, and it is your right to do whatever you wish with that creation.

Anyway . . . back to Lazarus. He was allowed to die so that the world could see the power of God in resurrection. It was a foreshadowing of what would happen to Jesus, who allowed Himself to die, so that God could be glorified in His resurrection.

And yes, Jesus allowed Himself to die.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:18 ESV)

And this, again, causes us to consider our thoughts about Jesus. I’ve mentioned this before, and will likely do so again. Any thoughts of Jesus simply being a “good person,” or a “good teacher,” are simply ridiculous, because of the claims He, Himself made. If any “normal” human being said the words in John 10:18, today, he would be locked up as crazy and be forced into therapy.

Either Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, or He was insane, or He was an outright liar. Those are the only three options.

And if we believe that He was exactly who He claimed to be, then we should be believing His words and obeying His commands.

I do my best, in human terms, to do that. I believe that He was who He claimed to be; I believe His words, believing that He is the resurrection and the life, and that, even though I die, which I will, that I will live on into eternity, after the resurrection. Lazarus died again. He wouldn’t be the only person in history to do so, but there are only a handful of people who would die twice. And Lazarus will live again, after the resurrection, which will occur at the second coming of Christ.

I will remind you that I do not believe in the popular notion of a “rapture.”

I also try my best to obey the commands of Jesus, which are, as previously stated (perhaps ad nauseum to some), to love the Lord with all of our being, lover our neighbors as ourselves, and to love one another (all the saints) the way Christ has loved us.

So that’s what I believe. That wasn’t the original direction this was going to take, but, as any real writer (not that I’m a “real writer,” mind you) knows, sometimes your characters take you into some strange places.

I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
and born of the virgin Mary.
I believe He lived a sinless life and performed many miracles while on earth,
and was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day.
I believe He ascended into heaven (I'm not sure about the descending into hell part)
where He sits at the right hand of God (except for that bit when Stephen was stoned and He was standing up)
until the day He will return to resurrect those who have "fallen asleep,"
and gather up the rest who are still alive
to live with Him in eternity in a new heaven and a new earth, 
wherever those will be.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the unified Church, the Body of Christ,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

That’s mostly the Apostles’ Creed, with some modifications.

I also believe in the rest that comes from following Christ and walking in His easy yoke. He bids us come to Him when we are weary and He will give us rest. He does the hardest work, if we will but let Him.


Father, I have lived most of my life believing in You and in Christ. I have believed longer than I can remember. I have loved Your Word since I have been able to read. Sure, there are some times, in the course of my life, that my belief waned, and that maybe I didn’t love Your Word as much as other times. Nevertheless, I still believe, today. In fact, my belief today is stronger than ever, and I praise You for bringing that to pass in me.

My belief and acknowledgment of the Holy Spirit and His power has not been as long or consistent as my belief in You and Christ. That is more complicated, and my “understanding,” if we can call it that, of the Holy Spirit came much later in life. I now, while not necessarily claiming to understand or comprehend, embrace the truth of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally loving and directing our attention to the other two. Three in One, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

I believe that You are the Creator and that You do whatever pleases You. I am very glad that one of the things that pleases You is to commune with us, Your creation, Your people. I am grateful that You condescend to be concerned about us, and that You give us light and life. It is because of this belief that I can read the account of Lazarus without being upset about him being allowed to die so that You could be glorified. You are God; it is all about You, it is not about me or us. It is also about Jesus Christ, Your Son, and His glory.

I thank You for Jesus and all that He has done for us. I feel like I am rambling a bit, today, but there are a lot of thoughts running through my head, and I can’t quite make them all make sense. But another thing I believe is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I do not know how to put my prayers into words. So I have faith that this is happening today.

Help me to be a light in this world of trouble. Help me to follow the commands of Jesus, to love You and to love people, giving them encouragement instead of criticism (oh, how critical I have been in the past . . . my God, I pray for forgiveness for that!). There is more than enough criticism in this world, Father. Help me be light, life, and encouragement to people. Salt and light.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility Trending

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,240

Ten days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

My day started out dubiously, as I made a cup of coffee. Without putting a cup under the drip. Oops. Hopefully, that’s the worst thing that happens today. And it could have been a much worse mess. The drip tray caught most of it.

This afternoon, we are finally supposed to close on our mortgage refi. It was supposed to be Tuesday morning, but then they realized that there were some forms that I had to sign and send back. Then, last night, there were even more places that I needed to sign and send back. Makes me wonder if these people really know what they are doing.

Yesterday was a good day at the library. It wasn’t terribly busy, it seems, at the circulation desk, so there were side jobs/tasks that got accomplished. I’m still not perfect, though. I was, however, complimented on humility, by one of the assistant librarians who always seems to enjoy working with me. I think she likes that I don’t get all huffy when she points out my mistakes.

And yes, I still make mistakes. Please reference above comment about not being perfect. The thing is, the way the schedule works, since I’m the lone “floater” (which I like being, by the way), I go a whole week at a time without working in circulation, followed by a week where I work two shifts in that department. So there is a lack of continuity, which makes for less consistency, so that makes me more apt to forget little details. The main aspects are easy to remember. But I tend to forget to fill in certain pieces of the information for new patrons. The most common is the birthday field. In my opinion, it’s in a weird place in the system, which makes it easier to forget.

The thing is, though, that the birth date is probably the most important piece to put in, because that is the demographic we use first, to check if someone already has a library account. The other thing I tend to forget is the alternate ID, which would be their driver’s license or other photo ID number.

In my previous job, forms like that, on the computer, had markers on fields that had to be completed. In fact, the software would not allow us toe save the work unless those fields had been filled in. But, in this case, I just need to work on memory. The thing that hurts is that, as previously referenced, I don’t do these tasks on a daily basis.

They don’t seem to be upset about it, though, so that’s good. I keep getting compliments, and people seem to like working with me.

I’m off work today, and have a couple of things I want to get done. There is some laundry to fold, and I think I’ll make a trip to a grocery store. We need bananas. I have already started our dinner, which will be our Chicken Taco Crockpot Soup, tonight.

I am currently reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.

Today is Plush Animal Lover’s Day. So is it the animal or the animal lover that is “plush?”

The word for today is sanguivorous. Hah! My spellchecker’s got nothing on that one! It means, “feeding on blood, as a bat or insect.” Or vampire?

Today’s quote is from R. Buckminster Fuller, American inventor. “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” This guy died in 1983, and he said that prior to that. Prophet, maybe?

Significant birthdays on October 28:

Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch humanist and theologian, 1466-1536
John Laurens, American soldier, diplomat, and abolitionist, and good friend of Alexander Hamilton, 1754-1782
Elsa Lanchester, British actress (Bride of Frankenstein), 1902-1986
Jonas Salk, American scientist (polio vaccine), 1914-1995
Bowie Kuhn, American lawyer, MLB commissioner 1969-1984, 1926-2007
Dame Joan Plowright, British actress (Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmatians), 1929 (92)
Charlie Daniels, American country-rock guitarist and fiddler (Devil Went Down to Georgia), 1936-2020
Annie Potts, American actress (Designing Women, Ghostbusters), 1952 (69) (I've always thought she is really cute)
Bill Gates, American businessman, founder of Microsoft, 1955 (66)
Julia Roberts, American actress (Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman), 1967 (54)
Joaquin Phoenix, American actor (Walk the Line, Joker), 1974 (47)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Spirit Invoking, by Daryl Madden

A prayer of presence
The Spirit invoking
Drenched in Your love
A sacred soaking

The Spirit igniting
The word to devour
In time of beyond
A Holy hour

With soul of surrender
A finding so freeing
The Spirit infuses
A blessed being

Within this new wineskin
The Spirit is swelling
One of becoming
A divine dwelling

Save us,
O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
(Psalms 106:47 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for reminders of the necessity of humility
2. for the indwelling of Your Spirit
3. for You teaching me humility
4. for Your great love toward us, and Your faithfulness that endures forever
5. for Your heart for the poor and needy, and that You have embedded that care in my heart, as well

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else; I would rather stand at the gate of the house of my God than live in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I reflect on the reality of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, providing us with strength and wisdom for this life. I pray for the knowledge of His presence.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 117:1-2 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.

A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.

The fear of the LORD leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
(Proverbs 19:17-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in the presence of the Lord, I mull over these passages, looking for truth and wisdom for my life. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the meditations and prayers.

Psalm 117 is short and simple, the shortest chapter in the Bible, and very close to the exact middle of the text of the Bible. There is nothing in it that has not already been said. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. The message is clear and plain. We should be praising God because His love for us is great, and His faithfulness endures forever. It is not possible to overstate those truths.

There are several ideas in this passage from Proverbs that bear looking at. The first, in verse 17, is the idea that Jesus promoted when He made his sheep and goats speech. Remember what He said:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

This is part of his lengthy teaching on the end of the age, that begins with the somewhat cryptic chapter 24. But Proverbs 19:17 restates this truth. When we are kind to the poor, we “lend” to the Lord. And we will be rewarded. Now, personally, I think it better to be kind to the poor simply because we have a kind heart. But if we do it for the reward, we are still doing something good, even if the motivation is less pure. The point is, we must note that God has a heart for the poor, the neglected, the oppressed. And, since we know this to be true, then we should also strive to have that same heart.

Verse 19 is interesting, because it seems to support the idea of not enabling people. In other words, don’t keep helping someone who will just fall right back into the same trouble. You’ll just have to do it again. Great wisdom and discernment is required, here.

Verse 20 assures us that, if we listen to good advice and accept discipline, we will be considered wise. Notice that our job performance is not mentioned. Where this gives me comfort is in thinking about my work at the library. I listen to advice. I accept discipline, willingly, with a noticeable heart to correct my errors. And yesterday, I was complimented on being humble. Believe me when I say that I am always shocked when someone calls me “humble.”

Verse 21 does not forbid the making of plans. Some might read it that way, but I don’t. What it does do, for me, is remind me that, yes, I can make plans, but it is God’s ultimate plan that will be worked out. If my plans don’t get in the way or are even in agreement with God’s plans, it’s all good. If my plans don’t figure into God’s plans, I had better be willing to change.

That idea reminds me of a preacher story.

In the darkest part of the night, a ships captain cautiously piloted his warship through the fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers lurking just out of sight. 

Then His worst fears were realised when he saw a bright light straight ahead. It appeared to be a vessel on a collision course with his ship. To avert disaster he quickly radioed the oncoming vessel.

“This is Captain Jeremiah Smith,” his voice crackled over the radio. “Please alter your course 10 degrees south! Over.”

To the captains amazement, the foggy image did not move. Instead, he heard back on the radio, “Captain Smith. This is Private Thomas Johnson. please alter your course 10 degrees north! Over.”

Appalled at the audacity of the message, the captain shouted back over the radio, “Private Johnson, this is Captain Smith, and I order you to immediately alter your course 10 degree south! Over.”

A second time the oncoming light did not budge. “With all due respect Captain Smith,” came the privates voice again, “I order you to alter your course immediately 10 degrees north! Over.”

Angered and frustrated that this impudent sailor would endanger the lives of his men and crew, the captain growled back over the radio, “Private Johnson. I can have you court-marshalled for this! For the last time, I command you on the authority of the United States government to alter your course 10 degrees to the South! I am a battleship!”

The privates final transmission was chilling: “Captain Smith, sir. Once again with all due respect, I command you to alter your course 10 degrees to the North! I am a lighthouse!”

https://yfcillustrations.blogspot.com/

God is the lighthouse. He is not going to change course. I may be a battleship, or I may be a dinghy. I’ve always thought I was a little dingy.

Sorry.

Either way, when my purposes/plans run into the reality of God’s plans, I’m the one who must alter my course.

Today’s reading ends with verse 23 which, once again, stresses the idea of the fear of the Lord, and the impact it has on our lives. And, yes, it is true that the Hebrew word translated “fear” in this instance, can also be translated as “reverence.” Out of all of the translations I look at, though, only one translates the word as something other than “fear.” Just imagine how you would react if you came face to face with Him. Consider if you lived in a country with a King and you wound up somehow meeting him. That is the kind of “fear” we are referring to.

And, in this case, this fear leads to life. It leads to a life of restful contentment, “untouched by trouble.” I don’t see that as a “promise,” per se. I tend to not look at Proverbs as promises. It’s more, I believe, a statement of fact, of consequence. If you do this, then this will happen. If you live with a healthy fear of the Lord, you will have a life of restful contentment and be untouched by trouble.

Does this mean I won’t see trouble? No, no, a thousand times no! But it won’t “touch” me. The KJV, in this verse, says that the person who fears God will not be “visited with evil.” The word “visited,” translated “touched” in the NIV, also has a meaning of oversight, as an overseer. So it means that, if I live my life in the fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of wisdom, as previously stated), trouble will not have any mastery over me. It won’t rule my life.

Father, I am grateful for these truths, presented in Your Word today. I thank You for Your great love for us and Your faithfulness that endures forever. I thank You for the heart You have given me, a heart that cares for the poor and is kind to them, which, in turn, equals “lending” to You. I believe I have reached a point where my kindness is not motivated by the promise of reward. Please give me wisdom to know when it is good to help someone and when giving help will only lead to them repeating the action that got them in trouble in the first place. Thank You for teaching me humility. I don’t run around claiming to be humble, of course, because I don’t necessarily think that I am. And I praise You that You have instilled a measure of fear for You in my heart. All glory to You, Lord, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for growth in these areas to continue in my life, especially in humility and holiness. I pray that You would continually uncover idols in my heart. I pray, as well, for Your continued forgiveness, and that You would enable me to extend that same forgiveness to those who have wronged me in some way.

"Self-giving God,
in the interconnected economy of grace You graciously pay off my debt of sin,
so now I owe my neighbor a debt of love.
Yet in making payments of kindness to my neighbor I'm lending to You,
loans that You pay back,
with interest.
It's a generous cycle of grace that I never want to step out of.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
(Matthew 5:9 GNB)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV)

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
(Matthew 5:41 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Interesting . . . more about humility.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 ESV)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18 ESV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
(Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

There’s a concept being worked out, here, and it is the idea of “living from the future.” This is an interesting thought to me. Here’s what Jonathan Cahn has to say about it:

“Every problem you have will be answered, either in heaven or before. So the secret is to live not from the problem, but from the problem solved, from the answer, before the answer. You must choose to live not from your present crisis, but from its future overcoming, not from your present obstacle, but from its future breakthrough. You’re in a battle. In the future that battle will be won. [I would have worded that differently. In the future the battle IS won, not ‘will be.’] So don’t live from the battle. Live from its future victory. As it is written, when you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and in your asking, give thanks to God. Live from heaven, from the kingdom yet to come, from the life yet to be, even from the you you are yet to become. Fight the won battle, run the run race, accomplish the finished work, start from the finish line, begin from the victory, rejoice now from the joy at the end. Live now from what will one day be, and you’ll live a life of blessing, and victory, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I will be pondering this more throughout this day.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Refreshed and Refreshing

Good morning! Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life today!

Day 23,238

Twelve more days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Hard to believe that there are only five more days until November! But Halloween is this coming Sunday night. For the record, we have not purchased any Halloween candy. We do not plan to be home for at least part of the night, Sunday night. I will discuss with C (we haven’t even talked about it) whether we want to get any. If we do, and have some left over, I’m sure I will take it to the Library next Tuesday evening.

Speaking of library, I work today, from 4:15-8:15 PM, doing shelving. Easy shift, and I enjoy shelving (not that I don’t enjoy any of my duties). Tuesday night shelving is the time when I am pretty much alone for the whole shift, working, more or less, in the shadows. Peaceful and serene. Plus, surrounded by, you know, books.

The Tuesday shift is kind of strange, still. It’s like I have a whole day off, but still have a shift at work.

I didn’t leave the house, yesterday, other than to check the mail and bring the trash bins back up from the street, after the garbage pickup. Today, I will probably go out around noon. We need a few things from the grocery store (I may start planning grocery trips on either Monday or Tuesday, and Thursday, going forward), and I’ll probably pick up lunch for all of us, since C is working from home today.

The World Series begins tonight, at 7:00 (ish) PM, broadcast, of course, on Fox. Which means, if you watch, you have to listen to Joe Buck. That’s one good reason not to watch. I doubt I will watch, anyway (I’ll be at work when it starts), but I do want the Braves to win.

As recognized every year on October 26, today is Howl at the Moon Day. But the moon isn’t full, it is only “waning gibbous,” whatever that means.

The word for today is revenant. In the context of the season, it means, “a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.” So that’s what that means! And here I thought it had something to do with bears!

Today’s quote is from Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman. “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”

Significant birthdays on October 26:

C.W. Post, American manufacturer of breakfast cereal, 1854-1914
Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer, 1911-1972
Jackie Coogan, American actor (Uncle Fester on The Addams Family), 1914-1984
Bob Hoskins, English actor (Smee in Hook), 1942-2014
Hillary Clinton, U.S. 1st Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, 1947 (74)
Bootsy Collins, American guitarist and singer (Parliament, Funkadelic), 1951, (70)
Lauren Tewes, American actress (Julie on Love Boat), 1953 (68)
Cary Elwes, English actor (Princess Bride), 1962 (59)
Natalie Merchant, American singer/songwriter (10,000 Maniacs), 1963 (58)
Keith Urban, New Zealand-Australian country singer, still married to Nicole Kidman, 1967 (54)
Seth MacFarlane, American animator (Family Guy), 1973 (48)
Jon Heder, American actor (Napoleon Dynamite), 1977 (44)
Cary Elwes in his best role (my opinion)
Jon Heder

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace of God appeared,
Bringing salvation for all;
We wait for our Hope.
(Titus 2)

Oh give thanks to the LORD;
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
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!
(Psalms 105:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all of Your wondrous works; may I faithfully make them known among the peoples
2. for the gift of music, with which I can sing praises to You
3. that You have caused my heart to seek You and rejoice
4. that You have given me/us a generous heart, eager to share with others and refresh them
5. for the stark realization that life is not a competition; I am not out to "beat" anyone

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(Psalms 84:10 ESV)

As I pause in the quietness of this moment, I reflect on the presence of the Lord and the strength He provides in my life. Imperfect as I am, I can only imagine how life would be without Him in it.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD,
both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:21-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words and/or phrases that speak to me. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, as I seek the Lord and His strength, this morning.

The passage from Psalms contains encouragement, as well as a good prayer to be prayed for just about anyone. First, we get the encouragement that the Lord remembers and blesses those who fear Him. At first, it is specific to the Israel, even down to the house of Aaron. But verse 13 is more general, directed toward all who fear His name, both “small and great alike.”

The prayer of verses 14 and 15 is a wonderful blessing to pray over someone. I plan to incorporate that into my own prayers.

In Proverbs, we see some comparisons between the wicked and righteous, the generous and stingy, with the humor of verse 22 thrown in.

We are assured that the “wicked will not go unpunished.” We may not live to see the ultimate punishment of the wicked, and I’m not sure I would want to, anyway. I’ve discussed that, previously.

Also of interest is the verse about the desire of the righteous (verse 23). Note that all of our desires, if we are righteous, end only in good. It doesn’t say that our desires are necessarily good, nor does it say that we will get everything we desire. It says that our desires will end only in good. This reminds me of a popularly quoted verse, Romans 8:28. Many people are familiar with it. The Lord works all things for good. It does not say that everything that happens is “good,” but that He works it out for good.

Then we get a couple of comparisons between the generous and stingy. The generous give, yet keep getting more. I can say from experience that this is true. God has blessed my family. By many standards, we are wealthy. We aren’t millionaires, but we have more than enough. We are eager and quick to share those blessings, and, as a result, God continues to bless. I boasted about Him and His provision, at the start of my retirement, just the other day.

When you share God’s resources and blessings with others, you are, as worded in verse 25, “refreshing” them. By doing so, God will, in turn, “refresh” you. Just for kicks, I looked up “refresh.” This is what I found: “give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.” Think of this in terms of poverty or need. If you give something to someone who is in desperate need, you give them “new strength or energy;” You “reinvigorate” them. You can be sure that God will then do the same for you.

Father, as I read these passages from Your Word, I am encouraged. My prayer life receives new direction and purpose as I make plans to pray more blessing over people I know and love. I am also encouraged to continue to seek You and Your strength daily, as well as sing more praises to You. My heart is full as I consider Your blessings in my life, especially in light of how You have also made me more generous, holding on loosely, as it were, with open hands. You are amazing, and Your grace is, frequently, unbelievable, incomprehensible. May I continue to share those blessings with other; may I continue to be generous. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

May You give us the strength to follow the call of the Gospel into our communities and workplaces. May You provide peace in our communities.

"Wise God,
people name this wisdom of the ages differently -
karma,
the law of attraction,
the golden rule -
but it all comes from You.
Thank You for Your refreshing grace that jumpstarts the flow of grace to others,
Your attractive goodness that enables me to do good to my neighbor,
and Your generosity that moves me to share with those in need.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 ESV)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

Who Is In Control?

Today is Monday, the thirteenth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your lives today!

Day 23,195

Only nine more days until the Autumnal Equinox

There’s a 41% chance of some light rain, today, with a projected high of only ninety degrees. Things are cooling ever so slightly. I look with great anticipation toward September twenty-second (the last day in the extended forecast), when the projected high is eighty-eight degrees.

We had a nice long conversation with R, Saturday afternoon, and during that time, she revealed that the highs in Indianapolis had been in the upper seventies. Sigh.

Today, I go back to “work” at the library, from 9:15-6:15. I believe I am scheduled to work circulation today, and it has been a couple weeks since I have done that. I hope I haven’t forgotten everything. I believe tomorrow is the day when the city meeting occurs that will finalize the new year’s budget and confirm the opening of the library on Fridays, beginning October first.

C’s back is hurting her a little more, this morning. She was also experiencing some aching, yesterday. Hopefully, this is just a slight hiccup in the healing. She did have a slight “fall,” the other day, but only fell into her chair, so it wasn’t too bad, but it might have jerked something. She is due for a follow-up doctor visit a week from this Thursday. We are still only eleven days out from the surgery.

We have a few extra things going on, this week. Thursday, we are getting new Internet service installed. We are switching from ATT to Spectrum, just for Internet, for pricing. Then on Friday, at 3:30 PM, I take Cleopatra back to the vet for her surgery follow-up. She seems to be doing quite well.

There are a total of at least eleven different “holidays” being celebrated today. I’m not going to list them all, but we have both Supernatural Day and Defy Superstition Day falling on the same day, which seems slightly contradictory. We also have Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day (no way that’s happening) and Roald Dahl Day. But my favorite for today is Hug Your Boss Day. Unfortunately, my boss is on vacation this week. I’m not sure she would want a hug, either. Don’t know her that well, yet. I did ambush a previous boss, a few years ago. Just walked up to him and hugged him. He was like, “What? What’s going on??” It was rather funny.

Today’s word is testudinate. I swear I’m not making that up. The featured definition is an adjective, meaning, “formed like the carapace of a tortoise; arched; vaulted.” It can also be a noun, simply meaning, “turtle.” I don’t foresee an opportunity to work that into a sentence today, but you never know. “That book display is rather testudinate?”

Today’s quote is from poet John Keats: “Love is my religion – I could die for it.”

Significant birthdays on September thirteenth:

Daniel Defoe, English novelist (Robinson Crusoe), 1660-1731
Milton S. Hershey, chocolate (do I need to say anything else?), 1857-1945
Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-American composer, famous for creating his own version of the twelve-tone system of composition, 1874-1951
Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass, 1911-1996
Roald Dahl, British author (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), 1916-1990
Roald Dahl wrote the book that inspired this movie
Mel Tormé, American singer, 1925-1999
David Clayton-Thomas, Canadian singer (Blood, Sweat & Tears), 1941 (80)
David Clayton-Thomas on vocals
Peter Cetera, American singer and bassist (Chicago), 1944 (77)
Peter Cetera shares vocals with the late Terry Kath in this song.
Fiona Apple, American singer-songwriter (Criminal), 1977 (44)
Ben Savage, American actor (Boy Meets World), 1980 (41)
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japanese pitcher (Boston Red Sox), 1980 (41)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Investment of Time, by Daryl Madden

In the Word written
We know this is true
That resting in God
Is so good for you

What we all need
This treasure revealing
Letting God love us
Is such a great healing

Being in silence
Stilling the heart
To let Spirit flow
Such gifts he imparts

With the gift of our time
Let us choose well
So wise the investment
With our God to dwell

The one thing I ask of the LORD—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.
(Psalms 27:4-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. for my job at the library
3. for shouts of joy, singing, and praising You with music
4. that You still control all things, regardless of how things may appear
5. that You used harlots and donkeys in Your story

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
(Psalms 148:13 NLT)

I pause during this moment to rest in His presence and allow His love to flow over me.

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Asaph.

O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
(Psalms 74:1-2, 9-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
“Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”
(Joshua 2:1, 8-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s presence, even though my thoughts are distracted, and I find myself having to rush a little bit, I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and prayers for these remaining moments.

I can easily find myself in the same frame of mind as Asaph in Psalm 74. I wonder, sometimes, at the fact that we do not see great wonders from God, the way His people did, during Old Testament times. We have no true “prophets” (although there are plenty of presumptuous humans who claim to be prophets and apostles) in our land, and we, of course, have no idea how long our current circumstances will linger. How long will it be until Jesus returns?

We wonder why God seems to be sitting back and not acting. How long, we wonder, will He continue to hold back His hand? Nevertheless, we also declare, along with Asaph, in verse 12, that God is our King and our Lord, and that, even though we may not see Him acting (at least not overtly), He does continue to bring salvation on the earth.

Meanwhile, God uses a prostitute to further His cause in the Promised Land. Some people try to water this down by claiming that the word just means “innkeeper.” Those people also try to claim that the wine Jesus made from water was not fermented.

Whatever.

God uses who He chooses to use, and we have nothing to say about that. Rahab was instrumental in Israel’s taking of the Promised Land. Also, she lied and was rewarded for it.

I’m not saying that we should all go out and tell lies and be harlots. What I am saying is that we have nothing to say about who God decides to use in His story. I have had inspiration come from the most unlikely sources, such as “secular” rock songs. God speaks when He will through whom He will, and we had best not judge that.

Father, I thank You that You used people like Rahab in Your story. I’m even thankful that You spoke through a donkey, to Balaam. This tells me, once again, that You can always use someone like me, who sometimes has the morals of a harlot and the sense (and stubbornness) of a donkey. Praises be to You, Father! I believe that You continue to control all things, even though I can’t always see that. I do wonder, along with Asaph, how long You will continue to allow things to deteriorate the way they are. But that is not for me to be concerned with. You have given me two jobs, so help me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to do those jobs as best I can, today.

May we be able to see You at work in everything around us; open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.

"King Jesus,
thank You that Your church is not confined to the people we think should populate our pews and fill our Bible studies.
You call scandalous saints and surprising sinners marked not by sterling moral credentials but by a brazen faith in the gospel.
Give me the eyes to see those unlikely people who recognize Your kingdom when they see it.
Amen."

BLESSING

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
(Matthew 5:3 NLT)

He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT)

He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.
(Job 5:9 NLT)

“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”
(Jeremiah 32:27 NLT)

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
(Luke 18:27 NLT)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

When I Am Afraid . . .

Today is Thursday, the twenty-sixth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,177

Eleven days until Labor Day

As I’m getting started, this morning, a question came up on Facebook, wondering what was the first movie I saw in a theater. I don’t rightly remember, as that was almost sixty years ago. However, the first movie I remember seeing was at the Pinto Drive-In, in Mineral Wells, Texas, and was a double feature of The Rounders, with Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda, and the science fiction movie, The First Men in the Moon. At least I think that was the combination. I know the second one is correct, and have vivid memories of that movie, as I was born to love science fiction.

C is working from home, today and tomorrow, this week, since she went in to the office on Tuesday, her normal work-from-home day. I don’t have any plans at all for today, but I might make a trip up to the library, as it looks like my first pay check might be a paper check. I doubt the direct deposit order has gotten completely processed, yet. On the other hand, I might also wait until Monday to pick it up next time I work.

I just remembered, I plan to make stir-fry tonight, so I need to get some chicken out of the freezer. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting. I got a second cup of coffee and took out the recycling, as well.

Today is Women’s Equality Day, recognizing the date, in 1920, when the nineteenth amendment to the US Constitution was certified. I’m a big proponent of women’s rights and equality, and recognize that, just as in the area of race equality, this nation has a long way to go.

The word for today is Xanadu. It’s a proper noun, defined as, “a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.” “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree.” Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan) was the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, Thirteenth century China. He built his capital in “Xanadu,” which was really called Shang-Tu. It’s also a pretty bad (from what I heard, as I’ve never seen it) movie, starring Olivia Newton-John.

Today’s quote is from Robert Frost. “The best way out is always through.” I’m not sure I agree with that 100%, but do believe that in many cases, it is true. There are times, however, that retreat is the best course of action.

And now for today’s birthdays:

1845 Mary Ann Nichols, English first victim of Jack the Ripper, born in London (d. 1888)
1874 Zona Gale, American novelist and playwright, 1st woman to win Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1921), born in Portage, Wisconsin (d. 1938)
1884 Earl Derr Biggers, American author ("Charlie Chan" detective series), born in Warren, Ohio (d. 1933)
1898 Peggy Guggenheim, American art patron & collector, born in NYC, New York (d. 1979)
1910 Mother Teresa [Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu], Albanian-born Indian nun and founder of Missionaries of Charity (Nobel Peace Prize, 1979), born in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (d. 1997)
1918 Katherine Johnson, American NASA mathematician (portrayed in film Hidden Figures), born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (d. 2020)
1921 Naomi Parker Fraley, American who inspired "Rosie the Riveter" poster, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (d. 2018)
1935 Geraldine Ferraro, American politician (US Representative from New York (D), 1979-85), and the 1st female vice-presidential nominee (1984), born in Newburgh, New York (d. 2011)
1939 Fred Milano, American doo-wop singer (Dion & The Belmonts), born in The Bronx, New York (d. 2012)
1940 Don LaFontaine, American voice actor, movie trailer legend (d. 2008)
1941 Chris Curtis [Crummey], British rock drummer, songwriter and vocalist (The Searchers - "Needles And Pins"), born in Oldham, Lancashire (d. 2005)
1942 Vic Dana [Samuel Mendola], American singer and dancer ("Red Roses For A Blue Lady"), born in Buffalo, New York
1947 Candy Moore, American actress (Lunch Wagon, Tomboy & Champ, The Lucy Show, Leave It To Beaver), born in Maplewood, New Jersey
1949 Bob Cowsill, American musician (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island

1949 Leon Redbone [Dickran Gobalian], American blues and jazz musician ("Seduced"; "Theme to Mr. Belvedere"), born in Nicosia, Cyprus (d. 2019)
1952 Michael Jeter, American actor (The Fisher King), born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (d. 2003)
1960 Branford Marsalis, American jazz, classical and funk saxophonist (Sting; Tonight Show, 1992-95), born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
1960 Keith Raniere, American sex cult leader (Nxivm) and felon, born in Brooklyn, New York
1966 Shirley Manson, Scottish rock singer (Garbage), born in Edinburgh, Scotland
1966 Dan Vickrey, American guitarist and songwriter (Counting Crows - "Accidentally in Love"), born in Walnut Creek, California
1969 Adrian Young, American drummer (No Doubt - "Don't Speak"), born in Long Beach, California
1970 Melissa McCarthy, American comedian and actress (Mike and Molly, Spy), born in Plainfield, Illinois
1980 Macaulay Culkin, American actor (Home Alone, My Girl, Richie Rich), born in NYC, New York
1980 Chris Pine, American actor (Star Trek), born in Los Angeles, California
1982 John Mulaney, American comedian, writer and actor (Saturday Night Live), born in Chicago, Illinois
1985 David Price, American MLB player (2012 Cy Young Award), born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Don LaFontaine (1940-2008)
Bob Cowsill, 72 years old today
Shirley Manson, 55 today
John Mulaney, 39 today. Some swears in this clip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
(Psalms 51:10-12 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have created a clean heart within me, through the work of Jesus Christ
2. that You restore the joy of salvation to me, daily
3. that "You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before [You] in the light of life." (Psalms 56:13 NIV)
4. for the place You are preparing for me
5. that You, Jesus, have borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FOURTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

LORD, you will always be proclaimed as God; all generations will remember you.
(Psalms 135:13 GNB)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on God’s great grace, infinite and matchless, that has cleansed my soul from sin.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalms 56:1-4,12-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
Moses replied:
“It is not the sound of victory,
it is not the sound of defeat;
it is the sound of singing that I hear.”
When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
(Exodus 32:15-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself of the presence of the Lord, and read these passages again, looking for words or phrases that speak to my spirit.

Immediately, I find that I wish I could hear what “A Dove on Distant Oaks” sounds like.

The psalm has some precious words in it. Verses 3 and 4 have long been favorites. There is a children’s video that we used to have, I think it was called “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart,” and it featured the great Christian vocalist Steve Green. One of the songs featured Psalm 56:3-4.

I may have told this story before, here, but can’t remember. Many years ago, when our oldest daughter (referred to as “R” in this blog) was a child, C (her mother) was going to night school to finish her college degree. One particular night, while C was in class, a very bad storm came through our area. At the suggestion of the weather powers-that-be, R and I huddled together in the hallway, with pillows. She suggested that we sing that particular Scripture song while we waited for the storm to pass. It is one of the sweetest memories I have of her childhood.

As “grups” (a classic Star Trek reference, if you will), we have many opportunities to have childlike faith, and taking to heart the truth of Psalm 56:3-4 is certainly one of those. There are always times when we are afraid. Sometimes those fears are valid, sometimes they are silly. But in either case, we can put our trust in the Lord when we are afraid. In this case, David was being pursued by “adversaries.” And, in verse 4, he realizes the truth of the rhetorical-ish question, “What can mere mortals do to me?”

I have frequently said that the worst thing any other human can do to me is send me Home. The point is that no one can do anything to me to sever my relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Not only is there no condemnation for us who are in Christ, there is also no danger of anyone else being able to damage that relationship.

Then, for today’s reading, we skip to the last two verses, and there is great comfort in verse 13.

For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalms 56:13 NIV)

It is because of truths like that that I can put my trust in Him “when I am afraid.”

Just a quick note on the passage from Exodus. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be hilarious. But Aaron’s comment in the last verse is so humanly typical. “Out came this calf,” he proclaimed, as though he had nothing to do with it. I’m really kind of shocked that Aaron wasn’t “fired” at this point, but God graciously allowed him to continue on.

If we read on, we see that that Lord was gracious, but did state that He would punish people for their sins.

Father, I thank You that, because of the truths proclaimed in Your Word, I can put my trust in You anytime I am afraid. In fact, it causes me to not be afraid more often. I believe in Your Word, and I trust in You, therefore, I am afraid less often. The times that I do become afraid are because I have developed temporary insanity and forgotten the truth of Your Word. You are gracious, and You forgive when those times occur. And I also praise You that, because I live in the post-Jesus era, that I don’t have to worry about being punished for my sins because Jesus has already accomplished that for us.

May You give us more of a yearning to know You and the diligence of heart to seek Your face, daily. Please restore to us the joy of Your salvation, also on a daily basis, that we may experience You in Your fullness of joy. Father, I pray for wisdom for any family and/or friends who have not experienced Your salvation. May You surround them with Your Holy Spirit today.

"Father God,
like the Israelites,
I become what I worship.
They worshiped a golden calf and ran wild like laughable livestock;
I serve money and become a calculating machine,
or a slave to my career.
Focus me on Jesus,
so that I might become like him.
Amen."

BLESSING

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 GNB)

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
(John 14:3 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)

And what does He command? Love God . . . love people.

Rich and friends

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(Isaiah 53:4 ESV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.