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.

Jesus in Gethsemane

Today is Friday, the 26th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,542

I’m getting closer to going back to working Fridays at the library, rather than Thursdays. The new computer center person has been hired and is going through the HR processing. She could possibly begin next week. In spite of the fact that I will lose my alternating four-day weekends, I am okay with this. I would rather not be working two evenings a week. If it starts next week, however, I could possibly wind up working five days in a row, next week, since Thursday and Friday fall in different pay weeks for the city. It’s all good, though.

The Texas Rangers didn’t play yesterday, and begin a home series with the Detroit Tigers tonight. They have 38 games left.

The Red Sox lost again to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-5, completing a sweep and increasing their losing streak to four games. And, to make matters worse, they face the streaking Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The Sox are now 60-65 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and eight out of a Wild Card Spot. They have 37 games left.

The current Wild Card standings have Tampa, Toronto, and Seattle still in the three AL Wild Card spots. Houston, New York, and Cleveland lead their divisions. In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, and Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego hold the Wild Card spots.

The Dodgers didn’t play last night, and still have the best MLB record, at 86-37. They are 7-3 in their last ten games. In order to break the all time season win record of 116, they would have to win 31 of their remaining 39 games. Certainly doable, but not likely. The Nationals, on the other end of things, are the worst MLB team, with a 42-83 record. With 37 games left, they would have to lose all of those games to tie the worst record in modern history, which is the 1962 Mets, at 40-120. At least they won’t do that, probably.

As previously mentioned, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the league with a six-game winning streak, and are heading to Boston, who currently has a four-game losing streak. They aren’t the worst, though, as the Twins and Angels are both “enjoying” a six-game losing streak. In the run differential department, the Dodgers will likely finish the season on top, with +275 currently. There will likely be no records broken, though, as the best run differential in history is by the St. Louis Maroons in 1884 (+458). It is possible, however, that the Nationals might not end on the bottom. They currently have -209, but the Pirates have -192, which isn’t that far behind (ahead?). The worst in history is the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, with -723. They also have the worst season record in history, at 20-134. As for individual games, the Texas Rangers still have the best single game run differential in modern times, when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007. The current Rangers are still at +16 for this season, while the Red Sox have fallen to +45.

There are a few tasks in the day ahead, but not much, so I’ll get on to what’s ultimately important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, be our Father and care for your children here on earth, where it is often bitterly hard and where everything seems to turn against us. Keep us faithful in our inner life, drawing all our strength from you, the eternal power of life, and from Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. For Jesus has promised to come to us, and you will send him in our time of need. Let your strong hand be with those who often do not know where to turn. Show us paths we can follow, to the glory of your name in all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s strong hand of love
  2. that the Lord will show me His ways and teach me His paths, and my hope is in Him, “all day long”
  3. that the more I soak myself in Jesus and His words, the more I can see that I, as well as all of my neighbors, are beloved
  4. for all the saints, brothers and sisters in Christ, that are in my life and have ever been in my life and ever will be in my life
  5. that Jesus, when faced with the ultimate crisis in Gethsemane, surrendered to His Father’s will, procuring the power and authority to ask anything of the Father; we, His brothers and sisters, share in that power

“Beloved,” by Daryl Madden

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
You’re the beloved one
I praise you as my Savior
For everything you’ve done

Soaking, soaking, soaking
Claim my treasure, true
Through your gracious mercy
I’m the beloved too

Seeing, seeing, seeing
In each neighbor aware
They are the beloved
In this binding share

Grateful, grateful, grateful
Let our binding be
In our belovedness
Loving joyfully

As we soak ourselves in Jesus, our Beloved, we can more easily see the “belovedness” of our neighbors, and be grateful that we are beloved, as well. Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.


"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:63-69 ESV)

I thank my God every time I remember you.
(Philippians 1:3 NIV)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:35-36 ESV)


Jesus speaks to us words of spirit and life. The flesh is of little consequence. This does not mean, however, as some would have us believe, that the flesh is totally evil and only the spirit is good. This results in heresy known as Gnosticism.

After Jesus’s teachings in John 6, some left Him. His true disciples, however, recognized that there was nowhere else left to turn. “You have the words of eternal life,” they acknowledged.

And, “Because of the entire surrender of His will in Gethsemane, the High Priest on the throne had the power to ask what He would. He also has the right to let His people share in that power and ask what they will.” (Andrew Murray)

Murray further says, “if He had to say, ‘Yet not what I will,’ how much more do we need to say it? . . . it is precisely here that we have sure ground and an open way to assurance of an answer to our prayers.”

As I pray for various saints (and for some who may not be “saints”), I keep this in mind. There are times when I admit that I do not feel quite comfortable praying exactly what someone has requested of me. There are other times when I am not sure how to verbalize their prayer request in my own prayers. Those are times when “Thy will be done” is a phrase that is very close to my heart.

I find myself echoing Jesus’s Gethsemane prayer frequently. Not that I have a “cup” that I am asking God to take away from me. Rather, though, I would prefer God’s will over my own in any given situation. I also ask Him, frequently, to let me know if my own “will” is simply wrong. I am always open (unlike a lot of folks, apparently) to the notion that any of my opinions might be wrong.


Father, when I think of the saints in my life, I thank You. I have not always been able to echo Paul’s words in that passage from Philippians, but I am closer to it today, than I have ever been. I am grateful for the presence of Your saints in my life. Help me to see Your face in all of them; help me to observe Your Holy Spirit working in all of them. And help me to love them authentically, and “on purpose.” That is a phrase that someone brought to my attention today, and I like it. When we love people, it should always be “on purpose.”

Father, I pray, in all circumstances, that Your will would be done, on earth as in heaven. Whatever is supposed to take place will take place, of that I am sure. You are working Your plan, and it will be carried out. I don’t know the details; I may not want to know some of them, to be honest. I’m not sure that I desire to be around when Your final Day arrives. I have confidence and faith that my “life” will continue on beyond that Day, though. I only pray, though, that, should true persecution arise in my country, that I will be faithful to stand with You in all circumstances.

Help me to echo the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: Not my will, by Yours be done. May that be true of all of my prayers. I thank You for the responsibility and privilege that You have give me, that of praying for others. I confess that I am not always as faithful to carry that out as I should be. But You have been impressing that upon me, more and more, of late, and for that I am also grateful. Just yesterday, I saw an earnest prayer answered for a beloved sister in Christ. All glory and honor to You, and I continue to pray for that specific situation, that Your presence would be on that family and things would go well for them.

May I be as surrendered to You as my Savior was in Gethsemane. May I know the power that comes in prayer from that surrender, that I might receive anything that I ask for. Just help me to not be asking for frivolous things or things that are not part of Your will for me or others.

I thank You for the words of life that come from Jesus. Truly, as His disciples said, we have nowhere else to turn, for He has the true words of spirit and life. “The flesh is no help at all.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Tomorrow . . . He Is Able

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of August, 2022, in the twenty-first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,540

The mild weather continues after Monday’s monsoon rains. We had a high of 82, yesterday, and, according to Weather Underground, we had a small amount of rain in the area. The record high for yesterday’s date is 107. Today’s anticipated high is 86, and the ten-day forecast shows temps ranging from 87 to 94.

My evening at the library went fine, yesterday, and I shelved a couple carts of adult books. There was almost a whole shelf of Spanish language books on one of them, which was unusual. When I commented on that to one of our adult services ladies, she said that she thought we recently got some new Spanish books, so that probably explains that.

I have to take S to the doctor, this morning, for a routine check. It’s been about a year since she has seen the doctor, so it’s overdue. Neither one of us is looking forward to it, but it’s part of the deal I “signed up for” when we agreed that I could retire last year. And, as “they” say, “this, too, shall pass.” In fact, the appointment is at 9:00, and we should be there by 8:45, because there will no doubt be paperwork to fill out. This means I will have to finish the blog entry after we get back home.

The Texas Rangers lost another one-run game, last night, to the Rockies, 7-6. However, in the course of the game, Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to twenty games, which is the second longest Rangers hitting streak, behind Josh Hamilton, who had 23 in 2010. Garcia also logged his twentieth stolen base, which, combined with his twentieth home run, hit in Minnesota, has put him in the “20/20/20 Club,” being only the second Rangers player in history to have twenty home runs, twenty stolen bases, and a twenty-game hitting streak. Pudge Rodriguez is the other one.

The Rangers are now 56-67 for the season, in third place in the AL West, 22.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Rockies again, today, at 2:10 CDT. They have 39 games left in the season.

The Red Sox also lost, last night, to the Blue Jays, 9-3. They are now 60-63 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 15.5 out of first and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They also have 39 games left, and play the Jays again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The LA Dodgers have now won 85 games, and have a MLB-leading 85-37 record. With forty games left, at the rate they are going, they could break the record of 116 games in a season. That record is shared by the 1906 Cubs (who only played 152 games), and the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who played 162. I would say that’s unlikely, though, as they would have to win 32 of their last 40 games. They are currently winning 60% of their games, which would give them only 24 more wins for the season. At any rate, they should easily win over 100.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could lose 100, as they have the worst MLB record of 41-83. The Tampa Bay Rays (BOO) have the current longest winning streak, at four games. The Twins, Angels, and Pirates all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a +269 run differential, and the Nationals have a -211 differential. The Rangers are at +4, and the Red Sox have dropped to -43.

Tonight, I plan to cook Chicken Taco Rice Skillet, from Emily Bites, one of the family’s favorites. For the record, I use two chicken breasts, which might be slightly more than one pound, and I increase the rice to 1.5 cups. I also use brown Minute Rice, which decreases the simmering time.

Update: The doctor appointment went well. S struggled a bit with anxiety, at the beginning, but by the time it was over, she was good. I’m very proud of her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we long to come into your light, to live in your strength, that we may do what pleases you and furthers your kingdom on earth. Protect us from evil and do not let us be wounded by the flaming arrows of the evil one. Make paths for us whenever we do not know how to go forward. We always know you are our Father. Because you are our Father, we want to be courageous and persevere to the end so that you can make our lives bear fruit for you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
Ephesians 6:16, NEB

Today I am grateful:

1. for the shield of faith; may I take it up consistently
2. that S's doctor appointment went well
3. that Jesus holds my tomorrows in His hands
4. for the power of music and song
5. that I would rather love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in
6. that He is able . . . able to accomplish what concerns me today, able to handle anything that comes my way, able to do much more than I could ever dream

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
(Job 38:41 NIV)

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
(Luke 12:24 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)


This is a theme that arises frequently in this blog. Tomorrow. When I read the above four references, I immediately thought of an old hymn, written by the great Ira Stanphill.

I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t really know what else to say. I certainly can’t add to this. God cares about us. He loves us. And while it is true that Jesus is the only doorway into the Kingdom, I would much rather try to love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in.

There must be thousands of songs that speak of this same sentiment. There is a quote that is attributed to C.H. Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to make a mistake. When I can’t trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
(C.D. Martin)

That song even speaks to my constant longing for Home. If I’m trusting Jesus the way I claim to be, perhaps my sights shouldn’t be so fixed on “Home,” but on Jesus and the presence of His Kingdom, here and now.


Father, You know my heart, and You know how quickly it leans toward worry. It’s not that I don’t trust You. I do trust You. And I feel, so often, like that father from the New Testament, who proclaimed, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Maybe the problem is that, while I trust Your ability, I don’t always trust what You want to do. That needs to go away. It really does. I need to embrace the truth of Your love in my life. You love Your children, and You are faithful to provide and protect us. Help my unbelief. Help my lack of trust. Help me to know that You will provide, and that You will hear my prayers and, as Jesus said, whatever I ask for in His name, You will do.

Help me to remember . . . You are able to accomplish whatever concerns me today, You are able to handle anything that comes my way, and You are able to do much more than I could ever dream.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

One Day At A Time

Today is Monday, the twenty-second of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,538

Only fourteen days until Labor Day in the U.S.

Yesterday was about as perfect as it could be. Okay, maybe not quite, but it was still a great day, and the birthday girl was as pleased as she could be, so that makes it perfect.

We got away a little bit late, but still made it to church on time. After the worship service, we touched base with the pastor, got his address, and then headed over to Taqueria La Estrella. Except we couldn’t get into the restaurant, as it was so packed that there wasn’t even a parking place. We had noticed that there was a new Mexican restaurant in the nearby shopping center, so we decided to check it out. It was called Sabor a Mexico. I have just learned that “sabor” means “taste.” So, “Taste of Mexico.”

Our experience was delightful! The food was delicious. C loved the hot sauce, which is how she judges a Mexican restaurant. Mama had the cheese quesadillas, which were delicious, and even a little bit crispy. S had cheese enchiladas with queso sauce, and queso on the rice. Plus we had a bowl of queso.

We love queso.

I had a dish called Pollo Sabor a Mexico (I think . . . it was something like that), which was somewhat fajita-like. Seasoned chicken pieces, mixed with green and red peppers, onions, and jalapenos. It was quite delicious. And C had the chicken enchiladas, which she said were good, but the chicken didn’t have much flavor. Hers was the only slightly negative review.

After lunch, we dropped Mama off at her house, and headed out to the pastor’s house, which is across the Brazos River, west of town. He has a very large place, and has a horse, a donkey, and some rabbits, as well as some dogs and cats. S was able to brush both the horse and the donkey, we all fed them both some treats and some hay, and then S got to walk the horse around (with the assistance of the pastor’s daughter). Then she got to pet a rabbit. Oh, and then they gave us ice cream!

It was a wonderful time, and S claims it was her best birthday ever. We stopped at Andy’s custard shop on the way home, and then, for a final delight, our friend who makes t-shirts had S’s shirt ready, with her newest cat’s picture on it.

We were all exhausted, but it was a most excellent day.

This morning, S and I have to take Princess (Guinea pig) back to the vet to have that eye checked out to see if it is getting better. I will likely not be finished with the blog, so it will be published later, this morning.

Update: We got a good report on Princess. The vet says the eye looks much better. We are to continue the eyedrops and ointment, but only three times a day for the drops and once a day for the ointment. The oral antibiotics can stop.

The Texas Rangers blanked the Twins, yesterday, 7-0. Kohei Arihara allowed only four hits during his six innings, and the bullpen stepped up and finished the job. They are now 55-66 for the season, and are over .500 since Tony Beasley took over as interim manager. They are 22 games out of first place, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. In a rare beyond-the-weekend series, they have a final game with the Twins tonight at 6:10 CDT, in Minnesota. Then they head over to Colorado for a two-game series with the Rockies.

The Red Sox lost to the Orioles, 5-3, which means they lost the series. They are now 60-62 for the season, in last place in the AL East, fourteen games out of first place, and six out of a Wild Card spot. They are off today, and begin a series with Toronto tomorrow, in Boston.

The Dodgers, etc. etc.. 84-36, +264 run differential. Nationals, etc. etc.. 41-82, -209 run differential. Cardinals still now have a seven-game winning streak. Miami, providing the only change in today’s stats, now has a four-game losing streak. The Rangers are back in the positive in run differential, with +4. And the Red Sox have sunk to -37.

The weather, yesterday, held out long enough for us to get the critter visits over with. It started raining on us, on the way home, sometimes heavily. When we got home, we saw that it had rained some, but nowhere near as heavily as we drove through. However, sometime around 9:00 PM, last night, the monsoons began, and they are still going on. It rained heavily both to and from the vet clinic, this morning, and is still pouring. Flash flood warnings are in effect all around. The receptionist at the vet’s office said, “All the prayers are being answered all at once.” That’s a pretty good assessment, in my opinion.

Yesterday’s high was 87, and we got about three or four inches of rain. We have had over 4.5 inches already, today. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. Today’s high is expected to be 78. Overnight, there is only a 24% chance of more rain.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, as the deer pants for refreshing water, so our souls long for you, O God. Our souls thirst for you, for the living God. We stand in your presence and pour out our hearts to you. We bring before you everything that is painful to us, all our suffering and needs. We also bring you all our hopes and the many proofs you have given us that our lives need not go to ruin but can be directed to greater things. May the light of your Spirit shine on us today and always. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
As the deer pants for streams of water, 
so my soul pants for you, my God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 
When can I go and meet with God? 

Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, 
my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 42:1-2, 5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for rain
2. for a good report on Princess, the guinea pig
3. that I stand before You, in grace, and can pour out my heart to You, being confident that You will direct me to greater things
4. that our Father will provide enough for just this day; may we be faithful to trust Him for tomorrow
5. that God is slow to anger (and expects us to be, as well)

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
(John 5:15-18 ESV, emphasis added)

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”
(Zechariah 7:8-14 ESV)

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
(Proverbs 14:29 ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 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, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”
(Exodus 16:2-4 ESV)

As we read the Biblical accounts, we see that God’s people, unfortunately, have a bad history of grumbling. And, if we keep reading, we see that there were even some who disobeyed this simple command to gather only enough for one day.

In Zechariah, God’s people were told to do a number of things, many of which are echoed by Jesus in His words, and many of which fall under the category of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Render true judgments
Show kindness and mercy to one another
Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor
Don't devise evil against another in your heart

How are God’s people doing at those things, in our modern day?

Then, in Proverbs, we see that whoever is slow to anger has “great understanding.” God, as it turns out, is slow to anger.

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
(Nahum 1:3 ESV)

If God Almighty is slow to anger, should we not be, as well? Considering that we are supposed to be like Him?

As God began to tell Moses about this strange new food that would be appearing on the ground, each morning, He told Moses to tell the people that there would be just enough for each day. “Enough for that day: Such was the rule for God’s giving and man’s receiving of provision in the wilderness. It is still the law in all the dealings of God’s grace with His children.” (Andrew Murray, Power in Prayer)

How long must we deal with our current affliction? Only one day at a time, says God. His grace is sufficient, His provision is sufficient for one day at a time.

“Only today is ours; tomorrow is the Father’s alone.” (Murray)

“Accept, enjoy, and fulfill with your whole heart the part you have to perform this day. His presence and grace enjoyed today will remove all doubt as to whether you can entrust tomorrow to Him as well.” (Murray)


Father, there is so much in Your Word that teaches us this truth that You provide us enough for just this day. Your instructions to Moses; Jesus’s teachings on faith and trusting You and not worrying about tomorrow; Jesus’s model prayer, telling us to ask for our “daily bread” for today, for just this day.

How it must hurt Your own heart to see how small our faith is, just like those Israelites who didn’t pay attention and tried to store up extra manna for the next day. We ruin today’s joy be worrying about things that may never come, or by not trusting that You are fully able to provide enough for today, and then again, enough for tomorrow’s “today.”

You have told us that You will do this, and, it is my belief, that by telling us to pray for this day’s daily bread, Jesus implies that You will answer that prayer and provide it.

You, O Lord, are indeed slow to anger. How well I know this, personally. I pray that You would work in our hearts, that we might be slow to anger, as well, and, thereby, display great understanding about things, in general. I know too many people who seem to be angry about everything. This displays a great lack of understanding. And, as for me, I know that, the older I get, the more I know that I don’t know.

Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. You are truly my Shepherd, and I can live this life without lack because of this. In Your presence, there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

An Aroma of Christ to God

Today is Wednesday, the third of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,519

Sixteen days until S turns 29!

We hit 102 for a high, yesterday, our 37th day of 100+ temperatures for this summer, and third in the current streak. There was no rain, but at least we got a little bit last week. The current ten-day forecast shows some possibility next week, around the weekend. There are three days at the end of that forecast with highs below 100. Today and tomorrow are expected to be 105 and 104.

The great Vin Scully has died. He was 94 years old. He was the broadcaster for the LA Dodgers for, I believe, 67 years.

The Texas Rangers lost again, to the Orioles, this time 8-2. It’s like they’ve given up, or something. But Martin Perez is pitching today (miraculously, they didn’t trade him), so maybe they will win. But they have to score runs to win. They are 46-57 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play an afternoon game against the O’s today, in Arlington.

The Red Sox beat the Astros again! 2-1. Which is why the Rangers are still twenty games out instead of more. and with that, they have won their first series in over a month. They still have one game, but if they lose, they still win the series. They are now 53-52 for the season, but still in last place in the AL East, thanks to the Rangers continuing to lose to the O’s. There’s some kind of wicked trade off going on here. Anyway, the Sox are seventeen out of first, and now only two out of the Wild Card race.

The LA Dodgers are now a full game ahead of the Yankees, with the best MLB record at 70-33. The Nationals continue to hold the worst record, at 36-69. There are three teams sharing the best current win streak. The Braves, Padres, and Reds (??) have all won four consecutive games. The Miami Marlins now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +210, but the Dodgers are only five runs behind them. The Nationals still have the worst, at -168. The Rangers have dropped to a zero run differential, while the Sox improved to -15.

It’s my Wednesday to work, so I’d best get moving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children. We thank you for giving us your Spirit so that we may truly be your children. Gather us into community with you so that our minds and hearts and all that is in us may realize what joy can come to us through your gifts. Though the world today is in turmoil, in doubt, lost in material things, grant us inner quiet to receive from you the power of faith. For through faith we can learn to know what you are and what you will be to all humankind one day, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
(John 1:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the true light of the world, Jesus Christ
2. for the joy that comes to us through the gifts of god
3. for the power of faith in a world lost in material things, doubt, and turmoil
4. for the possibility of being "the aroma of Christ to God" (2 Corinthians 2)
5. for the strength God gives us to move forward and not get bogged down in whatever light affliction we may be experiencing

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV)

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:2-4 ESV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
(Exodus 14:15 ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV)

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

I sit here, day after day, doing this ritual of devotion. Not because I want to become famous on WordPress (I don’t mean to brag, but this blog is read by well over ten people, world wide), or TikTok (I have a whopping less-than-three-hundred followers there), but because I desire true fellowship with God in Christ.

This is a place of relative quietness, occasionally disrupted only when S wanders in to see how I slept last night and ask “what’s the plan for today?” It is a place where I can be alone with God and strengthen my spiritual life.

Why do I blog it? I started doing this instead of keeping a handwritten journal, a couple of decades ago. So my “journal” is online instead of on paper. And, I figured, maybe someone might be inspired by my ramblings.

Andrew Murray says, “The superficiality of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God.” I believe this. Way back up there, look at that first Scripture that I shared, from 2 Corinthians. See that bit about being “the aroma of Christ to God?”

I read that, this morning, and all I could think about was the number of people out there, who claim to be Christians, who do nothing but whine and moan and complain, as well as spread anger and hatred toward people who think differently about world issues than they. It seems that they are most certainly an “aroma” in this world, but it certainly isn’t a pleasant one. “Stink” is more like it. They are a stink that drives people away from Jesus, rather then draw them toward Him.

Not that I’m perfect, mind you. I complain plenty, although I try to only do that among my immediate family and with the Lord, Himself.

I can’t help but wonder how much “real contact with God” these folks have?

“If it is true that God alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim.”

I don’t necessarily believe that it has to be “in the morning.” That idea can become quite legalistic, and has been in the past. I mean, I’ve heard sermons that declared that “You must have a ‘Quiet Time’ every morning!” “Quiet Time” was the cliche name that we gave our morning devotional, beginning back in the seventies.

It is important, though, to spend some real time along with God, at some point during the day. It might even be wise to both begin and end the day in such a manner. The ancient folks had this practice at the end of the day, called “Examen,” in which they took a look back at the day, looking over their failures and successes.

Anyway . . . that’s why I’m here. That’s why I do this. I want to be an “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

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

Father, please help me be an aroma of Christ, today, in the world around me. May I be a pleasing aroma to all in the world, to those who are being saved, to inspire them to carry on and move forward in their lives, and to those who are perishing, that I might, in some way, draw them to Christ.

I pray that all who call the name of Jesus would have this same desire, and that Your Holy Spirit would have free reign in our hearts.

Even so, please 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.

God’s Goodness – Greater Than Our Failures

“Anyone who is truly faithful will know that the goodness of his Beloved is greater than his own failures.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

Today is Monday, the first of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,517

Eighteen days until S turns 29!

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. I finished a PS4 game that I had been playing for a long time. It was one of the most difficult games I have ever played, but I stuck with it and finished the story. Then, later, I finished a book, as well.

The Texas Rangers beat the Angels 5-2 to win the series. So they are back, again, at nine under .500, 46-55. They are still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and 7.5 out of the Wild Card race. The trade deadline is tomorrow evening, and I’m waiting with great apprehension to see if they trade Martin Perez, the only decent starting pitcher they have, right now. Maybe that’s not fair . . . Jon Gray is pretty decent, but Perez has been stellar, this season. They begin a home stand, this evening, with a three game series against the Orioles. That should be interesting, seeing how the O’s have been surging, recently.

The Boston Red Sox managed to win one game out of three against the Milwaukee Brewers, winning yesterday 7-2. The Red Sox lost or tied every single series in the month of July. They are 51-52 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first, but only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race. That AL East division is something, this year. They begin a series this evening, unfortunately, against the cheaters in Houston.

The Dodgers continue to have the best MLB record, by percentage, at 68-33. The Nationals, back to losing, still have the worst record, at 35-68. The New York Mets have the longest current win streak, at six games, and the Pirates are still on that losing streak, now at seven games. The Evil Empire, though, still has the best run differential, at +207, and the Nationals remain on the bottom with -168. The Rangers are at +11, and the Red Sox are at -17.

Today being Monday, I am home all day, as I always have Monday off.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, bless us all through your Spirit, that we may find certainty of heart in community with you under your rulership. May we keep this certainty, whatever course our lives may take, whatever battles and suffering may come to us, for we belong to you and you rule and guide us as your children. Watch over all who are still far away from you but who long for you. Watch over all who are good-hearted and sincere, even if they often do not understand you. Protect them, and let your kingdom come so that your will is carried out more and more by the many who feel compelled to seek for you and for the goodness and truth which are your will. May we and many others serve you with our whole lives. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
However, as the scripture says, "What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him." But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit. 
1 Corinthians 2:9–10a, TEV

Today I am grateful:

1. that I finished a really hard video game, yesterday (not everything in life is spiritual, you know)
2. that I inherited a love for reading from my parents, and they nurtured that within me
3. that God watches over all of us, even those who refuse to acknowledge Him
4. the God has blessed us in Christ "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3)
5. that the goodness of God is greater than my failures

So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
(2 Kings 13:20-21 ESV)

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
(Isaiah 49:16 NLT)

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT)

I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
(Psalms 116:1 NLT)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

“Anyone who is truly faithful will know that the goodness of his Beloved is greater than his own failures.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

That quote from Hadewijch of Antwerp is a game changer. How often do we wallow in our failures, believing that we have somehow managed to mess up God’s plan for our lives?

Beloved, we are not that powerful.

We need to take to heart so many different verses from God’s Word that reassure us. In Isaiah 49, the people of God thought that God had forsaken them and forgotten them. Part of His reply was verse 26, in which the Lord says, “I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

The passage in 1 Peter 5 assures us of His care for us, and reminds us that “at the right time,” if we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up. Humility and patience are necessary, both of which seem to be in short supply in our culture, these days. We are then admonished to give all our worries and cares over to Him, because He cares for us. It’s a simple word, “all.” The Greek word is pas. The meaning is given as, “including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:—all (manner of, means), alway(-s), any (one), × daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no(-thing), X thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.”

So, what part of “all” do we not understand?

And guess what!! When Paul says that God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing,” it’s the same Greek word. Pas! All!

“Life and blessing are inseparably intertwined. Abiding in Christ means abiding in the heavenly places and in all the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed us in Him. Faith in Christ is meant to be nothing less than unceasing dependence and fellowship with Him and receiving from Him every grace the soul can possibly need.” (Andrew Murray)

Just as I need air for my physical life, I need fellowship with Christ for my spiritual life. And God, in Christ, has provided me with everything I need. It is truly possible, as Dallas Willard wrote a book about, to live a “life without lack.”

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Psalms 34:1 ESV)

If we believe we are lacking in something, perhaps we need to spend more time in the “adoring worship of the Holy Trinity. It is upon God the Father, who has blessed us in Christ Jesus that our expectations rest. It is in Christ that blessing is to be found if we continue in close and unceasing fellowship with Him. It is through the Holy Spirit that the presence of the Father and Son in divine power can be known and experienced.” (Andrew Murray)

Through this, though, let us not underestimate the importance of forgiveness. And I speak of our forgiveness of others more than God’s forgiveness of us. That forgiveness is also inseparably linked to our spiritual lives, as Jesus stated at the end of His “model prayer.”

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emelie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I recognize the need to be in continuous fellowship with Jesus, for my own good. I know, in my mind, that You have blessed us with all the spiritual blessings we need in order to have a great life and relationship with You. The question becomes, how do I so easily forget this on a daily basis? How do I get so caught up in things that simply do not matter?

Oh, they might matter right at the moment, as somethings do. But they do not matter in the “big picture” of spiritual life with You. They are small things, “footstool problems.”

So help me to be more aware of this, and to always be, in some way, worshiping You, the Son, and the Spirit, in my life.

I thank You that You have given us everything we need. I praise You that Your great, infinite goodness is bigger and more powerful than any of my failures. That one is really huge, because I know that there have been times when I foolishly believed that I had messed up Your plan for my life. But I know that You are much wiser and have infinite knowledge, so there’s no way that could happen.

Thank You for the way You care for us, and help us to always cast those cares upon You, rather than trying to carry the weight of them ourselves.

Also, please help us to always be forgiving toward others. I cannot pretend to completely comprehend those frightening words of Jesus, concerning forgiveness. But I do, to a degree, understand the importance of extending grace to others, just as You have extended grace to us. That parable about the guys who owed money to another is pretty clear about that.

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.

From Death to Knowledge to Obedience

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of July, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

"I really wish you an ever deeper peace. I know that that peace quite often lives underneath the turmoils and anxieties of our heart and doesn’t always mean inner harmony or emotional tranquility. That peace that God gives us quite often is beyond our thoughts and feelings, and we have to really trust that peace is there for us to claim even in the midst of our moments of despair."
(Henri Nouwen)

Day 23,516

Nineteen days until S turns 29!

We got a long-awaited break from the heat wave, yesterday. I mean, 99 is still hot, but it’s better than the triple-digit temperatures we have been enduring. And it rained again, more in some areas than others. We drove through quite a rain shower on the way home from Mineral Wells, but I don’t think it rained nearly that much at our house. The average temps for July 30 are 97/73. The record temps are 107/65. The forecast for the next ten days predicts 100+ for five of those days, and then, beginning August 5, the next five days are predicted to be below 100. We shall see if that holds true.

I had a most wonderful time with my high school bandmates (and even a couple of their mothers showed up), as we met for lunch yesterday. There were three from my own class (class of ’76), a couple from the class of ’75, one who I’m not sure was ’75 or ’74, and then one who was probably either class of ’72 or ’73. After our lunch, a handful of us got to go over to the high school and visit with the current band director and a couple of his assistants, and we got to see their band hall. I was shocked (my, how time flies) when it was pointed out that they have been in that “new” band hall for 23 years!

What made it even more special was the way we were received and treated by them. I mean, we were practically treated like royalty! Of course, most of us were part of the first band to ever get the “Sweepstakes” award, which is a first division in all three categories of marching contest, concert contest, and sight-reading contest, which, I think, happened in 1975. One of the assistants even insisted on taking a photo of all of us, so we posed in front of our old band banner that the current band director found stored in a closet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, with all our hearts we come before your countenance. Our hearts shall always be in your presence, asking, longing, and believing that you will guide our affairs aright. Protect us, for you are our God and Father. Protect all who are in danger or who must go into danger. Make known your great love and your living presence to the hearts of the dying. Draw our hearts together so that we may have community in you, our faith and hope set on you alone. Protect us during the night, and help us to be at peace about all our concerns because they are in your hands. Every concern of every person is in your hands. We ourselves are in your hands, Lord God, our Father, and there we want to remain. Your hands can heal and restore everything. Praised be your name! Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)(emphasis mine)

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.
(Psalms 4:6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful time I had with my high school classmates, yesterday
2. that all of my concerns are in God's hands
3. that every concern of every person is in His hands
4. that there is nothing or no one that is insignificant in God's Kingdom; even the littlest things matter - nothing is wasted, nothing goes unnoticed
5. for everyday miracles that often go unnoticed; I took a breath, I see colors, I hear music and other sounds, birds fly, rain fell yesterday, the sun, moon, and stars continue on the paths to which they were appointed
6. for more rain showers, yesterday

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 
"Death is swallowed up in victory." 
"O death, where is your victory? 
O death, where is your sting?" 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV)

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
(John 1:48 ESV)

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
(Psalms 104:34 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!
(Psalms 105:3-4 ESV)
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, 
who seek him with their whole heart, 
who also do no wrong, 
but walk in his ways!
(Psalms 119:2-3 ESV)
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; 
you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down 
and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, 
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, 
and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; 
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalms 139:1-6 ESV)

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
(John 6:11-12 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? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

“O, death, where is your victory? O, death, where is your sting?”

Even at my age, death seems like a distant thing. Even though I don’t know if I will finish this sentence, death doesn’t often seem like reality. I know it is, of course, because family members and friends have died, over the years.

It is quite tempting, at times, to adopt solipsism as a philosophy.

Nevertheless, when I do think about death, it is a strange feeling. I know people contradict themselves constantly. They claim to be atheists, and don’t seem to believe in any kind of afterlife, but then, when their favorite rock stars die, they talk about what a great band there must be, “up there.” What? Up where?

Furthermore, I cannot fathom, whatsoever, the concept of not existing. Have you ever tried it? Just try it for a few minutes. Try to consider what it would be like to have never existed. Then try to think about what it would be like to no longer exist, if you believed, as some, that this life is all there is. It makes my head hurt.

I believe that we were created to be eternal beings. I believe, along with Dallas Willard, that “We are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.” And I believe, along with a multitude of saints, that Jesus Christ has won the victory for us.

Related to that, I also believe what Scripture teaches about how I am known by God. Jesus saw Nathaniel, before Phillip called him, sitting under a fig tree. Jesus knew Nathaniel before Nathaniel got to Him. Jesus knew me long before I was called into His Kingdom. He continues to know me, down to the knowing of what I’m going to say (or type) before I do so.

Now, when we speak of “miracles,” we usually think about such times as when Jesus turned water into wine, or when he fed thousands of people with a little boy’s sack lunch. And, of course, we think of the miracle of all miracles, the resurrection of Christ, from the dead.

I consider God’s knowledge of us to also be a miracle. As the psalmist proclaimed, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” And it is through this knowledge that I can begin to know His will for me. Is that too far a reach? I don’t think so.

It stands to reason that, if God knows me the way Scripture says He does, then it is also true what Paul declares in Ephesians.

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

When Jesus chose His disciples, the works that they would do had already been prepared for them. When Jesus chose you and me, the same is true.

There has been a lot of talk, and many, many books written, about finding God’s will for our lives. There have also been myriads of questionnaires, designed to tell people what their “spiritual gifts” are.

I don’t pay any attention to most of those, any more. For one thing, I learned that it is possible to answer the questions on those questionnaires so that the answer comes out what you want it to be.

Here’s the thing. If we can embrace the truth about how completely God knows us, and simply walk in that, we won’t have to search for God’s will or His wisdom. And, if we must seek, the place to look is deep within our own hearts.

No, I’m not saying “follow your heart.” That is the worst advice anyone every gave. I’m saying that that is where God works, and that is the purpose of meditation and contemplation, two disciplines that have been widely neglected in the contemporary evangelical community.

“Learn that God’s working, and the place where He gives His life and light, is in the heart, deeper than all our thoughts. Any uncertainty about God’s will makes joyful obedience impossible.” (Andrew Murray)

Wait. When did he start talking about obedience?

Well, it’s all related. If I am not confident about God’s will for my life, then how can I be joyfully obeying? On the other hand, if I am confident that God will direct my steps on the path that He has appointed for me, walking in those “good works” for which He has prepared me beforehand, then I am also confident that whatever I am doing is His will, and I don’t have to seek for it.

Consider, said Jesus. We worry too much about too many things. The disciples had food for a few days after Jesus fed those thousands. One time, there was a basket apiece left over. Another time, there were seven baskets left over. They were eyewitnesses to these events, and, bless their hearts, they still struggled to believe the things Jesus said.

He doesn’t make it hard. We make it hard.

“Life is a series of a thousand tiny miracles. Notice them.” (Quoted in Pray a Word a Day, as “Inspirational Christian quote,” but found to be attributed to Roald Dahl)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I thank You for more rain, yesterday, and that our temperature was a bit lower. The relief was much needed. I also thank You for the wonderful time of memory-sharing that we had, yesterday, as a group of former high school bandmates met for lunch. I’m hoping we can do more of that.

Lord, You know me, as the psalmist says, in Your Word. You know me, as has been said, better than I know myself. And I take comfort in this, because You love me, anyway. That’s right. You know all of the nooks and crannies of what makes me, me. You know how I am apt to react to any given circumstance, You know my tendency toward being judgmental, You know my anger issues, and You know my impatience with things and people, yet You love me anyway, with an everlasting love that won’t quit.

I praise You for that love. I also thank You for how You have arranged things in my life, and for the “good works” that You prepared in advance for me. Now, I know that I can only be aware of those things when I encounter them and walk in them. I won’t likely know about them until I’m in the middle of them. I believe that Your will for me is being worked out on a daily basis and revealed to me only as I spend time searching my heart for the ways You work within me. I have confidence, as I meditate and contemplate, that Your grace and mercy will be revealed in me, and that I will embrace Your knowledge of me in all things.

I thank You for Christ’s victory over death, so that death, itself, has no sway over us. Oh, sure, our physical bodies will die, someday, as we all do. But that is not the final word for us, because we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in Your great universe. There will be, as promised in Scripture, a new heaven and new earth that will appear when Christ returns to set all things right. And we pray,

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Persistent Prayer

Today is Saturday, the thirtieth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,515

Twenty days until S turns 29!

We hit 103, yesterday, two degrees beyond the predicted 101, so our streak is now at fourteen days, and we have had a total of 34 days of 100+ temps, this summer. More importantly, however . . .

It rained.

Not for very long, maybe a half hour, and it was only a tenth of an inch (I didn’t measure it, but that’s what the nearest airport said), but it rained. It smelled so good, sounded so good, and felt so good. And the temperature dropped quite a bit when that happened. Between about 4 PM and 6:30, it dropped twenty degrees. The high today, at least on one of my weather apps, is predicted to be only 96.

We are going to Mineral Wells, later this morning. I have a lunch gathering with some old High School bandmates at 11:30, so I’ll go there while Mama and C go to the house. It’s going to be hot in that house, though, so I’m not sure how much work will get done. Or actually how much is left to be done, either. We’re very close to needing to get a truck to move the large pieces that we will be bringing to our house, and then we’ll be ready to get the estate sale going. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen until autumn, though.

The Texas Rangers won their second in a row, beating the Angels 7-2, once again behind the stellar pitching of Martin Perez. I’m a little concerned that the article about the game begins with, “With the trade deadline looming . . . ” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they traded Perez. That’s what the Rangers are notorious for doing. He’s their only good pitcher, this year, and they’ll probably trade him, which will dash any hopes for playoffs this season. He has won nine straight games.

The Rangers are now 45-54 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and 7.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again, tonight, in LA, at 8:07 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-1, making their record 50-51 for the season. They are in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first place, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to hold the best MLB record (by percentage), at 67-32. The Nationals are still the worst, at 34-67. The Mets and Athletics kept their win streaks alive, so they are tied with four straight wins. The Pirates lost again, so their losing streak is now at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +203, but are only ten runs ahead of the Dodgers. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, now at -164. The Rangers improved to +10, and the Red Sox dropped to -17.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we are your children. Hear all our concerns, we pray, for we want help from you, not from men, not from anything we can think or say. May your power be revealed in our time. We long for a new age, an age of peace in which people are changed. We long for your day, the day when your power will be revealed to poor, broken humankind. Be with us, and give our hearts what will remain with us, the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for RAIN!!
2. for the power, love, and self-discipline we receive from God's Spirit; may we employ that in our everyday living
3. for an opportunity to reconnect with old friends
4. for the lessons of the parables of Jesus
5. for the ability to acknowledge my weaknesses and unworthiness before the Lord, and the ability to rejoice in all things

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62 ESV)

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
(Romans 6:13 ESV)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. . . . “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
(Luke 18:1, 6-8 NIV)

Is Jesus teaching that we have to badger God into giving us what we want? Certainly not! But I have to confess that I have often puzzled over this passage (it’s not the only one I puzzle over, believe me).

But see the first verse in the chapter. Jesus is telling His disciples this parable why? “To show them that they should always pray and not give up.” It’s not the only time that He used a so-called “secular” device to teach one of His principles.

There is another principle at play, though, that might explain why we don’t get what we ask for, at least not right away. “God in His wisdom, righteousness, and love, dare not give us what would do us harm if we received it too soon or too easily.” (Andrew Murray)

Yet another principle to consider is what we are really after when we pray. I have discussed, previously, that prayer is not just a way for us to get what we want from God. And there are too many instances where people treat it that way. How many folks only pray when something is wrong?

Certainly, or Father wants to give us what we need. There may even be times when He gives us what we want. But He also earnestly desires fellowship with us, and that we would desire fellowship with Him more than we want His gifts. We all know what it feels like when, upon coming home from a trip away from the rest of the family, the first words out of the children’s mouths is, “What did you get me??”

I imagine that our Father feels the same way when we only pray to Him when we need or want something.

“We discover how earthly and finite our heart is and how we need God’s Holy Spirit to help us. Here we come to know our own weakness and unworthiness and to yield to God’s Spirit to pray through us.” In this, we also learn to crucify, with Christ, our own way and will.

“Let us acknowledge how vain our work for God has been due to our lack of prayer. We can change our methods and make continuing, persistent prayer the proof that we look to God for all things and that we believe He hears and answers us.”

As we carefully consider these things, it is worth noting that there is a not-so-recent trend in dismissing any idea of our unworthiness before God. While it is true that Christ has made us “worthy,” it is also true that we have no intrinsic worth without Him. This does not mean that we walk around with stooped shoulders and droopy faces, thinking bad things about ourselves all the time.

There is a balance here, and Paul speaks of this when he talks about boasting in his own weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

So, along with Paul, I proudly proclaim my weakness, and my unworthiness, because it is in the acknowledgment of these truths that He is seen as strong and worthy. And I also choose to rejoice in these things.

That’s the prayer word of the day, by the way, “rejoice.” And our choice in this is emphasized by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “It is about your outlook towards life. You can either regret or rejoice.”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:12-15 ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin

Father, I thank You that You hear our prayers all the time. But I also thank You that You know what is best for us, at all times, and that You will not answer a prayer in the way that we want, if it will do us harm in any way (either spiritually or physically). Thank You for the parables of Jesus that teach us how to pray. Thank You for the examples of persistent prayer, to show us that we ought never give up in prayer.

I pray that my prayers would reflect Your will on earth, so that they will be more effective. I pray that my heart’s desires would be Your heart’s desires. And I know that the way for this to happen is for me to delight myself in You.

It is my heart’s desire, also, that I would desire fellowship with You more than the gifts that You give. Sometimes, I just want to sit and contemplate, basking in Your grace and mercy, in Your presence. There is such a warmth and acceptance in Your presence, Father, that even those words fail to describe.

And it is in that presence that I see the truth of how unworthy I am of all that You have done for me. However, I do not take that unworthiness to a level of self-deprecation that would cause me pain or grief. I celebrate it, because in Christ, You have made me worthy! I rejoice, along with Paul (not comparing myself to him in any way), that in my weaknesses, I am strong because of You and the work done in Jesus Christ on my behalf.

Help me to distance myself from thoughts and actions that would draw me away from You, or disturb my fellowship with You. And may my joy in You continue to grow and flourish.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”
(Isaiah 55:6 ESV)

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.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Today is Friday, the twenty-ninth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,514

21 days until S turns 29!

Yesterday’s high hit 102, just as predicted, making it our 33rd day of 100+ temps and thirteen consecutive days. It is predicted to be 101 today. There still has been no rain, now at 55 days.

The Texas Rangers managed a win, last night, and not only did they win, they shut out the LA Angels, 2-0. The pitchers only gave up five hits, in total. This makes the Rangers 44-54 for the season. They are still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and nine out of second. They are 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again tonight.

The Red Sox got a win, as well, beating the Guardians 4-2, to put them back at .500, with a 50-50 record. They are still in last place, though, in the AL East, a half game behind the somewhat surging Orioles. The Sox are seventeen out of first and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to be a few percentage points ahead of the Yankees, with a 66-32 record, for the best MLB record. The Nationals, now at 34-66, are holding down the cellar. There’s a three-way tie for the longest current win streak, at three games, with the New York Mets, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the (wait, what??) Oakland Athletics. The Giants finally won a game, so the Pittsburgh Pirates now have the longest current losing streak, at four games. The Yankees continue to have the best run differential (+197), but only by five runs. The Nationals still have the worst, at -160. The Rangers are back at +5, and the Red Sox slightly improved to -14. They’re still feeling the effect of that 28-5 loss to Toronto.

I’m off work today, as I am every Friday, and C is working from home, so we are all at home, which is quite nice.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the love you show us so that we may be delivered from weakness and sickness, from sin and misery, and may be given strength to serve you, our Father in heaven. Bless us in all we have on our hearts, that through your mercy the battle of life may be fought aright. Bless us in our times and grant that justice may gain the upper hand and we may live in peace, praising you into all eternity. Protect us, your children, forevermore. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
True, he died on the cross in weakness, but he lives by the power of God; and we who share his weakness shall by the power of God live with him in your service. 
(2 Corinthians 13:4 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power of God, by which Christ lives, and in which we live
2. for the love of God, by which we are delivered from all weaknesses
3. for Jesus's question, asked twice in Mark 10, "What do you want me to do for you?"
4. that prayer is more than just talking to God and more than just a way to get things from Him
5. that confession can bring about positive change in our spiritual lives

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
(1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV, emphasis mine)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:8-10 NIV)

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11 NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
(Psalms 92:12-13 NIV)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
(Luke 8:15 NIV)

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
(Luke 11:1 NIV)

We all know the result of that request that Jesus’s disciples made. In both Matthew and Luke, we see that the result is what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'”
(Luke 11:2-4 NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'”
(Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

There are a lot of other instructions surrounding that model prayer in Matthew’s Gospel, including that scary bit about forgiving others so that God will forgive us. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus continues with the passage that gives us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

In spite of the fact that prayer is so simple that a child can do it, it is still something that we need to be taught; we have to learn the more intricate ways of prayer. It is much deeper than, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” It is deeper than asking God to “bless” everybody. There is certainly nothing wrong with those prayers, mind you.

Andrew Murray says that prayer is “the highest and holiest work to which anyone can rise. it is fellowship with the unseen and most Holy One.” And no one was better at that than Jesus. So the disciples were right on track to ask Him to teach them to pray.

“Through prayer, God has given to everyone the right to take hold of Him and His strength.” (Andrew Murray) And, we must realize, prayer is so much more than just a way to get stuff from God.

It is interesting the responses one gets when one asks for prayer requests. I do this every day on Facebook. “What can I pray for you today?” I would say that about half of the responses are not prayer requests at all, but simply information. “I have _______ surgery next month.” Okay, great. But what do you want me to pray? “We’re going on a trip next week.” Okay, but what do you want me to pray? God already knows you’re having surgery and going on a trip.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus and His interactions with people as He was on His way to one place or another is this one:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
(Mark 10:46-52 NIV, emphasis mine)

It’s actually interesting that Jesus asks this question twice in that chapter.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
(Mark 10:35-36 NIV, emphasis mine)

I love it when people actually tell me what they desire for me to pray, rather than just give me information. I mean, I can wing it, I can guess what they want me to pray, but I’d rather them say it, themselves. Because, in my opinion, a “prayer request” is actually a prayer, itself.

So, back to that word from Andrew Murray, about prayer being the “highest and holiest work.” If we consider it for all that it is, and not just a way to get things from God, we see that this is true. Because, even though Jesus asked that question, “What do you want me to do for you?” it is more than just that.

Prayer is more than us talking. I sometimes wonder if God ever feels like saying, “Would you shut up for a few seconds and let ME talk??” That is one of the points of the spiritual disciplines that employ silence. Silence, solitude, meditation, contemplation, all of these are tools that we can use to listen to God, rather than talk to Him.

Another piece of the prayer puzzle is confession. Now this is a tricky subject, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. But I will say that I don’t believe we have to constantly be in fear that there is some unknown “unconfessed sin” that we have forgotten about that is going to keep our prayers from being heard. I have actually heard preachers say that “If you have unconfessed sin in your life, God won’t hear your prayers.”

As the fairy godmother in Cinderella said, “poppycock and twaddle.” (That’s the Rodgers & Hammerstein version.) I mean, we certainly cannot afford to play fast and loose with sin and confession, but I cannot for one second believe that our God is that petty and capricious. And what about that bit about how Jesus’s work on the Cross is supposed to have taken care of all of our sin, forever?

If it seems like this has rambled, I’m sorry. There is a theme, here, and it’s prayer, and learning it from Jesus. It is part of the process of cultivating a healthy spiritual life in Christ. God’s Word is also part of that. So just as a garden or farm cannot survive without proper cultivation, so our spiritual lives need time in prayer (including confession), and time in God’s Word. And, as discussed in a previous entry, those two both feed off of each other and support each other. Prayer prepares us for reading God’s Word, and God’s Word prepares us for prayer.

Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day (confess)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, thank You for the privilege and responsibility of prayer. How amazing that You even care enough to hear us! How wonderful that You, the Creator of the universe, bow down to listen to the words of Your creation! And, as Jesus’s disciples asked, I, too, am constantly asking, “Teach me to pray!” As much as I engage in the discipline, I know that there is so much I still need to learn, and depths to which I have barely begun to plunge.

I do pray for the strength to keep myself from being entangled in things of the world, in sin and selfishness. I do know that these things hinder prayer, but not so much because I might not confess them. After all, You know my heart and You know ever word that is going to come out of my mouth long before I say it. But when my heart holds on to sinful thoughts or feelings, that is when my prayers suffer. Because if I am counting something unworthy as being worth my attention, I am not paying attention to You.

Help me to constantly be thinking about Jesus’s words, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is possible that I don’t pray enough for or about myself. But at the same time, I want my prayers for myself to be more spiritual in nature than material or physical. In all things, may I constantly be aware of the sufficiency of Your grace. And may people be inspired to be more specific when they request prayer. May Your Spirit intervene in their own spirits, that they might tell me exactly what they want me to pray.

I continue praying for rain and relief from heat, not only in our area, but in the whole world, anywhere that is currently suffering from extreme heat and drought conditions. Have merch, Lord!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Measure of Faith

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,512

23 days until S turns 29!

I apologize in advance for the length of this entry.

The heat wave continues, as yesterday’s high reached 103, for eleven straight days of 100+ temps, the longest streak so far, this year. That will likely continue today. We have had 31 days of triple digits, so far this year, and no relief in sight. There has been no rain for 53 days. The average high and low for yesterday are 97/73, and the record high for the day is 104. Today’s high is predicted to be 103, and the next ten days are predicted to be at least 100 degrees.

The Texas Rangers blew another one, last night. They had gone ahead by scoring in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but then the bullpen blew the save in the bottom of the ninth and lost the game 5-4. They are now ten games below .500, at 43-53. They are still in third place in the AL West, though, still twenty games out of first (the cheaters have lost two in a row), and 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play Seattle again, this afternoon, at 2:40 CDT. That’s a strange time for a game.

The Red Sox lost to the Guardians, 8-3. So they are back at .500, with a record of 49-49. And they have dropped to last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. They are seventeen out of first, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card Race. Now what does it say about a division when the last place team is at exactly .500?? The AL East is the only division that has any team below third place with a .500 record. In some cases, even the third place team is below .500. The Sox play the Guardians again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Nationals, in spite of a three-game win streak, continue to hold the worst MLB record, at 34-65. The Blue Jays continue to hold the longest current win streak, at seven straight games. The San Francisco Giants have the longest current losing streak, at six games. The Nationals also keep the worst run differential, at -154. The Rangers are at +5, and the Red Sox have dropped to -15.

It is somewhat odd that the Rangers have a positive run differential, yet are ten games below .500. Almost every other team with a positive number in that category has a winning record, with the exception of the Giants, who are only one game below .500. The Orioles have a -5 differential, yet are one game above .500.

I guess that’s just how baseball go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, bring us together as one. Give us your Spirit so that we may know you, so that joy may fill our hearts, not only for ourselves but also for others. Root out evil from the earth. Sweep away all that offends you, all lying, deceit, and hate between nations. Grant that all people may come to know you, so that disunity and conflict may be swept away and your eternal kingdom may arise on earth and we may rejoice in it. For your kingdom can come to people even while on earth to bring them happiness and to make them your own children. Yes, Lord God, we want to be your children, your people, held in your hand, so that your name may be honored, your kingdom may come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope of unity in Christ
2. for joy that fills my heart and soul, not only for myself, but for others, as well
3. for the "measure of faith" given to us that we can obey God's commands to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely
4. that I can trust God and not be afraid, because the "universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be" (Dallas Willard)
5. that God is able to use anyone, anywhere, no matter what the weakness
6. for the power of intercessory prayer

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV, emphasis mine)

The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is “measure.”

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
(Romans 12:3 ESV)

The actual reading for today is so ridiculous I’m not even going to mention it. And they take the phrase from the verse completely out of context. So I’m winging it, here.

The NASB translates the last phrase in that verse, “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” For today’s reading, it is truncated to simply, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

While that is a true statement, we need to realize the reason for this measure of faith, and to do that, we must look at the whole verse. And the purpose of the verse is to instruct us to “not think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.”

“Measure” could easily be thought of as “amount.” Yes, each of us has been given an “amount” of faith, and we need to use that faith to obey the commands of the Lord.

There are other uses of the word, as well. Jesus used the word when He cautioned us against judging.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 ESV)

Then there was this somewhat vague usage in Mark 4.

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
(Mark 4:24-25 ESV)

Then, He kind of wraps it all together in Luke 6.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:37-38 ESV)

So how would I use the word “measure” in prayer? After all, this is the point of this whole devotional book, right? I would pray for God to help me use my “measure” of faith to obey His commands to not think more highly of myself than I ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely.


“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2 ESV)

“There is none like God . . . who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
(Deuteronomy 33:26-27 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
(Psalms 46:1-3 ESV)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, 
beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live; 
in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, 
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

Have you ever been afraid? Is that a dumb question?

I’ve been afraid. Many times in my life. At least one or two of those times were caused by my own stupidity or rebelliousness. Some of them are humorous, as I look back on them.

One of the times, C, R, and I were driving to east Texas to visit grandparents. C was driving, as she normally does on the road trips. It had been raining heavily, and as we passed through Dallas on I-30, we encountered some standing water. At roughly sixty miles per hour or so. The car began hydroplaning and drifting toward the center lane (we were in the left lane). C was desperately turning the wheel to the left, but with no result. There was a pickup pulling a trailer in the center lane, and we were headed straight for the back of the trailer, when suddenly, the wheels caught ground, and turned sharply to the left and struck one of the cement barriers on the side of the road. R, being a toddler, at the time, slept through the whole thing in her carseat. Some paint was scraped off the front bumper, and that was the only damage.

Then there was the time we lived in west Fort Worth, near White Settlement. R was a few years older, and S had not yet come along. C was going to night school to finish her college degree. When we lived in that part of the world, we frequently got pounded by thunderstorms. They always came from the west, and they always hit us head on, with full force. That night, C was at school, and one of those storms hit. Tornado warnings went off (back then, a tornado “warning” meant that there was one on the ground somewhere; these days a “warning” is what we used to call a “watch”). R and I got pillows and huddled in a hallway in the middle of the house. We had been watching a lot of Scripture song VHS tapes (remember those?) back then, and one of them was a Steve Green tape, I think it was called “Kids Sing Praise.” One of the songs was based off of Psalm 56:3-4.

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?
(Psalms 56:3-4 ESV)

Turns out it wasn’t “Kids Sing Praise,” but “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart.”

Anyway, R suggested we sing that song while we sat in the hallway with the storm raging outside and C somewhere in between Euless and our house, coming home from her night class.

Then there was the night before R’s birthday, I believe it was the year 2000. We were putting a basketball goal together, which she had asked for, outside in the driveway. At that time, we lived where we currently live. Clouds began building, and storm warnings began occurring. A tornado was coming, and it was heading straight toward us. I mean, it was miles away, at the time, but still on a trajectory to hit our area. We huddled in a bathroom (S was with us by then), and ate pizza, which had been delivered before the storms started. We prayed. Other people we know were praying, as well.

Here’s the thing. That tornado/storm did something really weird that evening. It took a hard left turn (“left” is totally arbitrary, there) and went through downtown Fort Worth, hitting the Bank One building the hardest. But it was after 5:00 PM, so no people were injured, because there was hardly anyone there.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.”

Indeed.

Once again, I am reminded of some words by Dallas Willard, these coming from his book, The Divine Conspiracy. “Jesus brings us the assurance that the universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”


More words from Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country:

“No Christian should ever think or say that he is not fit to be God’s instrument, for that in fact is what it means to be a Christian. We may be humble about many things, but we may never decline to be used.”

“The gospel is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling. You are salt to the world! You are light to all the world! Even the hairs of your head have all been counted! These words were exciting to those who heard them. Things might be dark but they were to be the light of the world. They were given a new sense of their value as persons. Especially was this true of women.”

“There are therefore two things for us to do. The first is never to doubt that God can use us if we are willing to be used, no matter what our weaknesses. The second is to see that God can use any other person who is willing to be used, whatever his weaknesses, and if need be, to assure him of this truth.”

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


Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
(Luke 11:5-13 NLT)

“In true, unselfish prayer there is little thought of personal need or happiness. If we would be delivered from the sin of limiting prayer, we must enlarge our heart for the work of intercession.”

Our faith will be stirred, says Andrew Murray, by interceding for others. Murray lists these elements of “true intercession”:

Urgent need – In order to learn to pray as we should, “we must open our eyes and heart to the needs around us.

Willing love – “It is the very nature of love to give up and forget itself for the sake of others.”

The sense of powerlessness – In Jesus’s example, the friend admits that he has nothing to give.

Faith in prayer – What he doesn’t have, someone else does have. “To get from God and then give to others what we ourselves receive from day to day is the secret of successful ministry.”

“Intercession is the link between our powerlessness and God’s omnipotence.”

(From Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray)


Father, I do sincerely pray that I might use the “measure of faith” that You have allocated to me, and that I might not think more highly of myself than I ought, nor judge people, and that I might give freely and generously to those in need, as You direct me.

I thank You for the gift of intercessory prayer, and that You have led me, in this task, to pray for others and their needs. I know that I have nothing to give, but You do, so I can ask You to do things for others that I cannot do, and that they cannot do for themselves.

I praise You for the reassurance that You can use anyone, at any time, for Your glory, no matter what kind of weakness we might think we have.

I thank You that I can trust You and not be afraid, because, in Your kingdom, as we walk in You and trust in Christ, this universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.

I continue to pray that You would bless us with some rain, Lord. We are in desperate need, and there are people all over the world who need relief from this heat wave. Have mercy, Father!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Bonus points if you’re still reading.

Grace and peace, friends.