What A Friend . . .

Today is Monday, the twenty-seventh of June, 2022, in the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,482

C and I had a good time at the show, yesterday, but I don’t think either one of us was crazy about the production. There were some great moments, and some not-so-great moments. Ironically, my great moments were probably C’s not-so-great moments. But that’s the way it goes. I will say this much. Anything that we didn’t care for was solely on the production, not the talent. The performers were marvelous.

As previously stated, I have jury duty today. Normally, I would have had to be there in about twenty-five minutes, but last week, I received an email with a court assignment and revised reporting time of 10:30, so I don’t have to leave as early. Parking might be more tricky, though. For our courthouses, though, there is a free off-site parking lot with free shuttle bus service from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, so I should be okay.

The Texas Rangers lost again (and lost the series) to the Nationals, yesterday, 6-4. It was actually worse than it looks, as the Rangers’ last three runs weren’t scored until the bottom of the ninth, too little, too late. They are now 34-37 for the year, but still in second place, a game ahead of the Angels, 10.5 out of first place, and 5.5 out of the Wild Card race. Tonight, they begin a series with the KC Royals, another terrible team.

The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, swept the Cleveland Guardians, beating them 8-3, yesterday. They are 42-31 for the season, and also in second place, but 11 games out of first. They are, however, in sole possession of the first Wild Card spot. Tonight, they begin a series with the fourth place Blue Jays.

Of course, the Yankees still have the best MLB record, at 53-20. The Athletics continue to be the worst, at 25-49. The Red Sox continue to streak, having won seven consecutive games, now. The Guardians, thanks to the Red Sox, now have the longest losing streak, currently at four games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +144, and the Nationals, in spite of having just embarrassed the Texas Rangers, have the worst, at -111. Texas is at +3, and Boston is at +65, only two behind the NY Mets. The next team up is roughly double that. But, the run differential column isn’t the most important. The “W” column is what really matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, help us to be holy as you are holy, and free us from all the earthly things that try to torment us. Grant us your Spirit so that we do what is right. May we always hold your hand confidently. Protect your children everywhere on earth, and help them do what is right even if the whole world does what is wrong. Help us, so that all we do becomes holy and pleasing in your sight. Let your grace grow among us and among the nations, and let your hand be strong to bring in your day, your day when everything is made new. May your name be kept holy, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holiness of God, and the desire to imitate that
2. for the heart that God has given me
3. that Jesus calls me "friend"
4. for a morning of silence and solitude, directing my heart to God
5. for shelter over my head, with protection from the heat outside
6. that "forever and ever His heart is my home" (Matt Maher)

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?
(Mark 8:34-37 ESV)


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

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

When we speak of “heart,” we are usually speaking of what is considered, at least in Western culture, the seat of the emotion, the center of the person. It is very close to, and similar to, the notion of “soul.” I’m not going to go into a lengthy exposition on this, though.

We also know that the heart is what God looks at, when He is judging a person. And when we consider actions, the heart is akin to the motivation behind an action. A person could do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.” And then He immediately applied that to prayer, as well. Don’t pray just so other people can hear you pray. Don’t “heap up empty phrases” or “vain repetitions.”

What is in your heart when you give to the poor? What is in your heart when you pray for someone? For that matter, why do we dress up so fancy to go to church? Who are we trying to impress?

For many years, I have loved this passage in Ezekiel:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
(Ezekiel 11:19-21 ESV)

The last verse there reminds me of Jesus’s warning, also in Matthew 6, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (verse 21).

Father, direct my heart toward You. May my heart be a “heart of flesh” rather than a “heart of stone.” I believe that it is, as You have given me the desire to be generous with the blessings with which You have blessed me. You have given me the desire to do my best to follow the commands of Jesus and to try to do the things that He mentions in His parable of the sheep and the goats. But I know that I can do better, and that I can do more. I pray for Your Spirit to direct me to people who need the help, that I might do what I am able to help them. I pray this for Your whole Body, that we might be more in tune with the needs around us, and less concerned with our opinions and causes.


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
(John 15:13-15 ESV)

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!"
(Joseph Medicott Scriven, 1855)
"I've found a friend, O such a friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him;
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which naught can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Naught that I have mine own I call,
I’ll hold it for the giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are His, and His forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
So kind and true and tender,
So wise a counsellor and guide,
So mighty a defender!
From Him who loves me now so well,
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life or death, shall earth or hell?
No! I am His forever."
(James G. Small, 1866)

Thank You, Jesus, for calling me “friend.”


Father, this morning, I pray for the fire in Palo Pinto County to be extinguished. Please send rain, or otherwise intervene, that no more damage would be done. Please protect all the firefighters who are involved in attempts to contain this fire. Please protect the homes of those nearby, who might be in the path of it.

I know of several who have recently lost loved ones, Father. I pray for peace and comfort for them and their families. I also lift up my mother’s good friend, who is having some physical issues. Please bring healing there.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


That piano playing!!!

“Forever and ever His heart is my home!”

Grace and peace, friends!

Let It Shine

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

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

Day 23,481

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What I Long For, by Daryl Madden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

To Infinity and Beyond

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fifth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,480

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love Conquers All Fear, by Daryl Madden

Turn to page of scripture
Through Spirit be aware
Strength within the Word
Love conquers all fear

For God’s all powerful
He’s is our ruler here
We know that God is love
Love conquers all fear

With angels in heaven
One voice rising clear
The Word of God is spoken
Love conquers all fear

Engrain it in my soul
This truth to declare
Through the grace of God
Love conquers all fear

This is a much-needed message in today’s world. The primary emotions that I seem to be seeing in our world are fear, anger, and hatred. It’s bad enough when these are coming from outside the church, but when I see them infiltrating the church, as well, it’s tragic. We need this message, badly. I am grateful to Daryl and his poems, and would love it if you would click on the above link and visit his site.

Lord our God, grant us courageous hearts, we pray. Grant that we may always find our strength and support in you and may bear with joy whatever the present days bring us. No matter how much evil occurs, we know that your peace is already prepared. We await your peace, and we are allowed to believe that everything will turn out according to your will and according to the good you have prepared for your people on earth. For in faith your people overcome the world, and at last through their faith others too may receive something from you and may lift their eyes to you, the God of truth, of justice, of salvation, and of peace. Be with us every day, Lord God. Help us. Bless us, and bless all who try to bring help where it is needed. Let us praise your name forevermore! Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that love conquers all fears
2. for the peace that God has prepared for us; may we find ourselves able to walk in it now
3. for all whose mission on earth is to spread love, rather than hatred, fear, and anger
4. that our God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, infinitely more than anything we could ever imagine
5. for the faithful mercies of the Lord, new and fresh every morning!

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
(Mark 7:14-15 NIV)

And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. 

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it and told Joab, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." Joab said to the man who told him, "What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt." But the man said to Joab, "Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king's son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, 'For my sake protect the young man Absalom.' On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof." Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab's armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him. 

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, "Good news for my lord the king! For the LORD has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you." The king said to the Cushite, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man." And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 
(2 Samuel 18:5, 9-15, 31-33 ESV)

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

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
(Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

I love this verse, and I like looking at it in different versions. Oddly enough, none of them include the word “beyond,” even though one of the Greek words could be interpreted as “beyond.”

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
(Ephesians 3:20 MSG)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
(Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
(Ephesians 3:20 ESV)

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
(Ephesians 3:20 KJV)

In all of those translations, we get the idea. What God is able to do exceeds, abundantly, infinitely, beyond anything we could ever imagine, in our wildest dreams!

And not only is He able, but He wants to! He desires to lavish these things upon His children.

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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

This great love was, of course, most demonstrated in the unthinkable sacrifice that God made on our behalf.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
(Romans 5:6-8 NLT)

Think about people you love (or, if you prefer, animals that you love, cats, dogs, horses, whatever). Now multiply that by infinity. All the good things you want to do for those people or animals, multiply that by infinity, and that’s how much our God wants to lavish on us. Beyond all measure, beyond all expectation, beyond all imaginations.

To infinity and beyond.

Father, there aren’t enough words, nor is there enough space or time to adequately express my gratitude, right now. I’ve been sitting here, gobsmacked, for a few minutes, trying to put together something acceptable to pray and/or type, something that would convey what I’m feeling right now. But I have to depend on the Holy Spirit to translate what I’m feeling, and I’m grateful for that, as well.

Nevertheless, here I am attempting to do the impossible, to thank You for all of this. There are songs that have been written. “I stand amazed in the Presence . . . How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be! How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior’s love for me!” (Charles Hutchinson Gabriel) “I stand amazed in all of Your glory, that You would die for me, I stand amazed. I stand amazed in all of Your glory, true love’s sweetest story, I stand amazed.” (Dennis Jernigan) “Amazing love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me! Amazing love, I know it’s true; and it’s my joy to honor You.” (Billy Foote, Jr.) “Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” (Charles Wesley)

Father, my heart and soul bow before You, in stunned humility, not as though I have never heard these truths, before, but because I am so apt to . . . not “forget.” I don’t forget. That’s not the right word. I don’t ignore them, either. I suppose “take for granted” is the best phrase. Forgive me for not walking in this love all the time. Draw me ever closer to You, to Your sweet mercies that are new every morning.

My God, I could go on and on. That “new every morning” bit . . . such hope; such joy; such gratitude that, no matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day, it’s a new morning, and Your infinite grace and mercies are fresh and new when I awake.

Why, O why, do we not walk in this more consistently??


The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

Then you can tell the next generation detail by detail the story of God, Our God forever, who guides us till the end of time.
(Psalms 48:13-14 MSG)

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
(Romans 12:11-12 MSG)

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!
(1 Peter 1:3-4 MSG)

” . . . and the future starts now!”


"God does not impose right solutions on us. God does not pull strings behind the scenes to engineer his will despite what we are doing and saying. He treats us with dignity, giving us the freedom to be in on what he does, to have a voice in the process. Prayer is our voices in the action of God. It is also God's voice in the actions of people."
(Eugene H. Peterson, On Living Well)

I have been navigating around the concepts of free will and predestination for decades. I have gone from being firmly entrenched in “free-will-ism,” to being a staunch “five-point Calvinist,” to somewhere in between the two.

Here’s the thing. God will not be put in a box. Calvinism and Arminianism are both boxes. God is infinite and eternal and won’t fit in either box. And it is arrogant of us to think that we can squeeze Him into a box.

There are people out there who claim to not believe in God, and one of their excuses is, “If God exists, why does He allow so much evil and suffering?” The answer to that is in Peterson’s quote. “He treats us with dignity . . .” And, truthfully, those so-called “atheists” don’t like the answer to their own question, anyway, because the solution would be that God creates a bunch of cookie-cutter robot-like people who never go against His will.

I purposely avoid current events (other than baseball and bowling scores and occasional celebrity deaths) in this forum, because my opinions about those things are not part of my job description. My opinions about what happened yesterday (trust me, I have them, and many people would be unpleasantly surprised to know them) are not relevant to anything I have to say here.

But know this. The one opinion that I have that I do believe to be relevant is that, no matter what happens out there, God is in control of all things, and He is working His plan. He is not surprised by anything that we humans do or decide. Remember . . . He exists outside of time, so He is already there.

So when we run around like fools, like “chickens with their heads cut off” because things didn’t happen the way we think they should have, we are exposing our lack of trust in God.

There is a reason that God has been constantly giving me this message, recently, that His love conquers all fear. I don’t know what that reason is, exactly, and, frankly, I’m not sure I want to know. I confess that, in my flesh, I am somewhat fearful of what is ahead of us, as a nation, as a world, as the Church. But, in my Spirit, I am confident that, come what may, God loves us and has us in the palm of His hand. And the worst thing that can happen to me is that I get sent Home.

And I will not align myself with the masses on either side of a political division. I am not Democrat. I am not Republican. And neither is Jesus. It may come as a shock to many people that the Son of God is not a Republican. I am a follower of the Son of God, who commands us to love one another.

To infinity and beyond.

Father, I praise You that You are working Your plan, and that it will not be deterred. There is no man, no woman, no president, congressperson, or any other ruler who can thwart Your plan for us. There is no dictator in any third-world country who holds any sway over what You have planned for this world. May You intervene in the hearts of Your people who act as though they believe differently. May You flood our hearts and souls with love, for one another, and especially for people who don’t believe the same way we do.

I thank You again, for the great love that You lavish on us. I pray that we would find ourselves both willing and able to turn that love around and point it toward our neighbors, toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, and toward those who have diametrically opposite political opinions from us. I pray that Your people would stop attaching themselves to political ideologies and, instead, focus on the life and teachings of the One whom they claim to follow. Turn all of us away from anything in our lives that could be considered an idol. And open our eyes to see those things, that we might forsake them out of love for You.

You love us to infinity and beyond . . . help us to do the same.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus.


Grace and peace, friends.

This Is the Air I Breathe

Today is Friday, the twenty-fourth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,479

I got up early, this morning, because I wanted to get a look at the planet alignment that is going on, right now. I didn’t get a great view, this morning, as it was almost too light out, but I did see Venus, the Moon, and Jupiter. So, right now, we have Mercury, Venus, Uranus, the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter all in a straight line. Saturn is up there, too, but couldn’t be bothered to get in line with the rest. Hah! I could see Jupiter and Venus with the naked eye, but not the rest. As I said, it was a little too close to sunrise. I was unable to get a bead on Jupiter with my telescope, but did get a decent view of the crescent moon.

I had a pretty good day at the library, yesterday. There were a few challenges, and I had to consult my manager a couple of times, but it all went well. I’ll be back at the library tomorrow morning, for a Saturday in the circulation department.

Okay. Time to get on with things.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we lift our hearts to you, our help in every need. You do so much for us even in difficult times, letting us always see your light and giving us your help in the many things you want us to bear in your strength, O Almighty God. In the end you will help our age come to your light. Through your great mercy let us receive your Word. Bless it within our hearts, and help us to serve you everywhere we go and in everything we are allowed to do. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. 
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, 
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, 
so our eyes look to the LORD our God, 
till he shows us his mercy.
(Psalms 123:1-2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the beauty of the night sky, especially on days like these, when planets are aligned
2. for the mercy of God in giving us His Word
3. for the breath of life, breathed into me daily by the Lord (I'm alive and breathing)
4. that there is no need to worry about tomorrow, for God is already there
5. that God never changes and, having Him, I lack nothing

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
(Mark 7:6-8 ESV)


Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is breathe. Thich Nhat, a Buddhist monk, is quoted as saying, “Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.”

There will most certainly be some folks who will “lose their minds” because a “Christian” devotional book included a quote from a Buddhist monk about breathing. If you’re one of those people, just scroll on, please.

One of the things that we, as a society, have forgotten how to do is breathe. Obviously, no one really “forgets” to breathe, because that is something we do naturally. Fortunately, the Lord created us with that as a kind of automatic thing. Imagine, if we had to remember to breathe, we would never get anything else done. But we aren’t talking about the natural thing that happens anywhere from 12 to 20 times a minute, for most people.

We’re talking more about how we breathe. We get so stressed out over so many little things, so many “first-world problems,” or, as I have called them in the past, “footstool” problems, that we forget to stop and take a breath for ourselves.

“When that deep pain in my chest starts to rise, for a moment I pause in confusion. What’s going on? Why am I feeling this way? The answer is simple. I didn’t take a breath. I’d let anxiety and stress take over.”

A little over a year ago, I read a book, called Breathe Well, in which the author was of the opinion that we, in the West, have forgotten how to breathe properly. A major cause of this is anxiety, and it begins about the time we start school. The author also believes that technology has hindered our breathing. No surprise, there, right? You can read my review of the book, if you are so inclined, as I have linked it with the title.

While there are certainly aspects of easter religions, such as Buddhism, that we might not want to embrace, we could benefit well from their practices of breathing. When things aren’t going the way we think they should, “Step back. Breathe. Inhale and exhale.” We’ll feel better.

And, in addition, there is certainly no harm in “breathing” a prayer in the process. The Jesus Prayer, for example. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Breathe in: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Breathe out: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeat as needed. I have found that practice to be most beneficial.

After all, what is it that made the first man a “living person?” It was breath.

Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
(Genesis 2:7 NLT)

Father, when anxiety threatens me, when fear knocks at the door of my heart, help me remember to just breathe, to breathe in the breath of Your life and remember that You are in control of all things. When opinions threaten my well-being, or my relationships with others, help me to remember to “Breathe deep the breath of God.”


You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 MSG)

Another reason for us to breathe is that, when it comes to our worries and fears about tomorrow or next week or next month or next year . . . God is already there. I wrote about this a few days ago, and it seems to be an ongoing thread, lately. It’s almost as if God is trying to tell me something. It also makes me worry wonder if things are going to get worse in this country. Like, is God trying to prepare me for something?

But, yeah, since God exists outside of time, as we understand it, whatever future events I’m worried about, God is already there, waiting for me. He’s letting me know that, as Julian of Norwich famously said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” Then, there is also the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila.

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

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NLT)

Breathe deep

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:10-13 NLT)

Breathe deep the breath of God

And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.
(Revelation 21:23-25 NLT)

Breathe deep

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Breathe deep the breath of God


Father, truly we are blessed. Truthfully, having You, I lack nothing, and You are unchanging. You are not a man that You should lie or change Your mind. Humanity is fickle, ever self-seeking and self-centered. You are constant.

It is so very tempting to worry during these days. The world has been dragged through some deep darkness over the past couple of years, and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, just yet. Unless, of course, we can manage to keep our eyes focused on You, in which case, all we can see is light.

I will not allow myself to be worried. There will, no doubt, be temporary periods where I will forget myself, and, for a moment, lost sight of Your control over everything. But You will, also no doubt, restore that sight and renew my faith and remind me that I have nothing to fear. I pray that we who follow Christ, who truly follow Him, will be able to spread the Gospel of peace and love to the world around us. Help us to follow the commands of Jesus, to love You with all our being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

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

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Do Not Fear; Only Believe

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,477

I don’t have a lot of time, but I did want to share that Erin McCarthy climbed the ladder to win the U.S. Women’s Open, last night. She won four games (it could conceivably be said that two of her competitors lost the game) to win the title. It was a pretty amazing and fun thing to watch. There were some incredible spares made by several of the bowlers, as well as some unfortunate misses that should have been made. Erin wins $60,000 and a green jacket. Oh, and a trophy, too. The next (and final) PWBA tournament for this season won’t be until the first week of August, here in Dallas. Unfortunately, I am working most of that week, so I won’t be able to attend any of the matches.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Do You Not Believe, by Daryl Madden

I don’t see the way
Doubts I perceive
I am your God
Do you not believe?

I am afraid
Fear here surrounds
Am I your God
That lets you down?

I will be sorry
Is that your viewpoint?
Am I your God
That disappoints?

I keep up my guard
Not made a fool of
Am I your God
That isn’t love?

Come rest my child
With confidence pray
In my arms to trust
I’ll show you the way

What a beautiful depiction of a dialogue that I frequently have with God. Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided above.

Lord our God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who is close at our side as the risen and living One, we lift our eyes to you in prayer. Bless us. Bless us through your Word, and let our hearts become quiet in you. Free us from all restlessness and from the turmoil of the present age, for we belong to you, not to the world. We want to find peace in you and remain in you. You will care for us as your children, whom you will never forget in all eternity. Bless us and renew the riches of your grace in us every day, for you, O Lord our God, remain our Father. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
(John 20:21 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

 1. for the peace in which Jesus sends us into the world, freeing us from all restlessness and the turmoil of the present age
2. for the great help that God has granted me, all through my life, to get me where I am today (and I'm confident of that help, going forward)
3. for faith; for the ability to believe, yet praying that God help my unbelief
4. for the deep love that exists in relationship with God, and for the command that we love one another deeply
5. for water; cool, clear, water

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
(Mark 5:34 NLT)

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
(Mark 5:35-36 ESV)


The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is Ebenezer. (I capitalized it, they didn’t.)

There’s a line in an old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, by Robert Robinson. As I search for the original lyrics, I find that they have been altered, several times, by different people. So I consulted my copy of the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. Verse 2 of the hymn goes like this:

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

I remember singing that song, as a young lad, always wondering, “what in the world is an “Ebenezer??”

Well, it turns out, this is from a passage in 1 Samuel 7, when God routed the Philistines before Israel.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
(1 Samuel 7:12 NIV)

So here’s the thing. With all due respect (and truly, how difficult is it to come with 365 different words to use in our prayers? I don’t know . . . I’ve never tried), I don’t think using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to be all that effective for me. While I acknowledge the benefit of praying Scripture back to God, there is no formula, and there are no “secret words” that are going to command God’s blessing. And if one believes that simply using the word “Ebenezer” in a prayer is going to result in special graces, then one probably should be setting up a rock while doing it.

I know. My cynicism is showing.

But here’s another thing. What if we simply do what the word calls for? And that is remembering how much God has helped us in our journey? I don’t need the word “Ebenezer” or a big rock to remember God’s help. At the same time, as I’ve mentioned previously, on multiple occasions, I do have that Blue Jay feather in a box in the garage, as a reminder of that time God hugged me.

There’s nothing wrong with reminders. And when we come to a point in our lives, a sort of “crossroads,” if you will, where God gives us that extra motivation or help to get us through, there is nothing wrong with using something to remind us of that time. And when I come to those times, I am much more apt to remember the line that says “Hither by Thy help I’m come,” than I am “Ebenezer.”

Father, I praise You for Your help in my life. I can look back on many places in my life and see how You have helped me come this far. Even as I type, memories flood in, so much so that I don’t have time to type them all. And I don’t have to type them to remember them or to be grateful for them. I just pray that You never let me forget them, just as I know that You will never forget me, and am confident that Your help will continue in my life, for the rest of my days and into eternity.


Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
(Proverbs 17:9 NIV)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Love “deeply.” I like the way the NIV words that. “Deeply” seems better than “earnestly” (ESV). However, I also like Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message.

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
(1 Peter 4:8 MSG)

Father, please help us to love each other deeply, as if our lives depend on it.


Father, as we go through our lives, help us to simply invite people into this wonderful relationship with You and with all the saints. This relationship, this community . . . there is nothing quite like it. There is no club, no organization, no other group that can compare with the true Body of Christ and the relationship therein. There are, unfortunately, some imposters, and, no doubt, there are even imposters that have infiltrated the Body. Nevertheless, the world will know us by our love for one another.

We cannot manipulate anyone into this love, Father. We cannot coerce them into relationship with You or with us. So let us not try. Let us simply invite and demonstrate. Let us show the world how much we love You by showing them how much we love one another.

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.

Extravagant Love

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,474

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ouch. Explicitly descriptive, but truthful.

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

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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

PCKHG

Today is Friday, the seventeenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,472

Warning: This one is pretty long. Sorry.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence and bow down before you, the Almighty. We come before you and repent, believing in you and in your will to save us. Your will to save goes out over the whole world, over the whole godless world, that all may repent and be redeemed. Grant us the thoughts of your heart so that we may begin to understand your will. We dedicate ourselves to you, the holy, just, righteous, and merciful God. Grant that we may be your children, led and guided by you every day. Turn our hearts to you so that you can make us more and more as you want us to be. Turn our hearts to you until your goal of atonement and redemption is reached through the quiet working of your almighty power. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
(Mark 1:15 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the will of God to save us and His mercy and grace in making it possible
2. for the Good News (Gospel) that the Kingdom of God is here
3. for 1984 (that year in my life, not George Orwell's book), one of the best years of my life
4. for the Lord's great mercy and blessing in my life; unexplainable and totally and utterly undeserved
5. for wonderful friends, brothers and sisters, that the Lord has placed in my life, through the years
6. for the music and artists that have inspired me and kept me on the path of life
7. that "God is so good, He's so good to me . . . there's never been anyone like You, You are worthy!" (Pat Barrett)

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
(Mark 3:24-25 ESV)

Father, I pray desperately for the Body of Christ, Your Church, both in this nation and in this world, that we would be united under the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. Heal our divisions that are over irrelevant politics and cause us to be focused on loving one another.

“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
(2 Samuel 7:18 NLT)

While I realize this is King David speaking, I pray the same thing, today, Father. Who am I, what am I, that You have brought me this far? I do not pray for my “kingdom” to be expanded. I do not pray for riches or wealth, nor do I pray for fame or fortune. My humble prayer is that I might effectively spread the Gospel of Christ, that Your Kingdom is here, and that we must do better at loving one another in Your Name.

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”
(2 Samuel 7:22 NLT)

“For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:28-29 NLT)

Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is lead. (We are referring to the verb, not the element.)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:13 NIV)

I confess that I, probably like most people, when repeating the “Lord’s Prayer,” rush right through that phrase, many times without thinking. Either that, or focusing on the second half of that verse. “Deliver.”

What if there was a comma after “us?”

“Lead us.”

Full disclosure, here, I’m not making this up, it’s coming from the daily reading.

What if there was a pause after “us?”

When a shepherd leads the sheep, he sets the pace. He watches ahead for dangers or obstacles. He makes sure the sheep stay on the right path. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor,
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

(Attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Yes, Father, lead us. I always thought it strange that most translations use the word “temptation” in that prayer. I do not believe any of us would ever think that You, our heavenly Father, would lead us into temptation! I can see that another acceptable word might be adversity, which would make more sense to me. One translation says, “keep us safe from ourselves” (MSG). But I like to envision Jesus, as my Shepherd, setting the pace, watching ahead for danger, and looking behind to make sure we stay on the path. He leads us, not into adversity or danger, but into safety and peace. Hallelujah! Lead us, O Lord!

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NLT)

I stumbled across this verse back in the early to mid eighties. I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life, and the Lord had brought a couple of people into my life, as well as some extremely important music albums. I started writing signs to myself and placing them in conspicuous places in the house, probably much to the confusion of my roommate at the time.

Two of those albums were Michael W. Smith’s second album, simply known as “2,” and Amy Grant’s “Straight Ahead.” In addition, a fellow trombone player in the seminary symphonic band introduced me to Daniel Amos, which changed my life forever, but that’s a story for another day.

One of the songs from the MWS album was called “I Am Up.”

I am up
Like the sun is up
I can feel my life on a rise
I am up
Like the stars at night
I get up on bein' alive
I am up
Like the Lord is up
And my life is filled with His life
I was freed and I am saved
I am up
I am up

That’s the chorus. The last verse goes like this:

There are times life is so fine I can't contain it
Everywhere I look I see what God had done
And I don't have to work and worry to sustain it
When I walk with God His joy will always come
When I walk with God His joy will always come

Another important song was the title track of the Amy Grant album.

Day by day, dream by dream
I fight to find the way to go
Every day opens a different door
Every dream shadows the one before
But slowly I can see
The way You've made for me

Straight ahead, I can see Your light
Straight ahead, through the dark
Straight ahead, there's no left or right
Straight ahead, to your heart

Carry on through the night
When the road is hard to find
Lying lights tell me to turn around
Lying thoughts tell me I'm lost not found
But clearly I can see
You're waiting there for me

Those two songs don’t seem much alike, do they? But I did mention that it was a very difficult time in my life. And, by His grace, I determined that, while 1983 was probably the worst year of my life, 1984 would be the best year (at least up to that point). And it was.

You might wonder what any of this has to do with Colossians 3:12. I’m getting there. In the middle of all of this, I found (or, perhaps it might be better to say that God planted it) that verse. I think the most modern version of the Bible we had back then was the NIV.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

Since it uses the word “compassion” instead of “tenderhearted mercy,” one of the signs I put up said, simply, “PCKHG.” I pronounced that “puckhug.” Patience; Compassion; Kindness; Humility; Gentleness.

That sign was right by my front door, where I had to look at it every day when I left the house. It reminded me, then, and still reminds me (the verse, not the sign . . . it is long gone) today how I am to “dress” myself each day when I go out into the world.

I think it is safe to say that the world could use a lot more “PCKHGs.”

Oh . . . and the best thing that happened to me in 1984? December 7. First “date” with C, my wife of almost 37 years.

Father, You are so good. I look back up at that verse from 2 Samuel, from that prayer of David, and I can only shake my head in wonder at Your goodness and mercy. I am absolutely and utterly unworthy of the favor that You have shown me in my life. I deserve the opposite. Why on earth You never struck me dead on the spot, I cannot explain, other than to simply believe that there must be something left that You have for me to do on this earth.

Best I can figure, that “something” is to spread those PCKHGs around as much as I can. I thank You and praise You for the people who kept me sane and on Your path, back in those days. Some of them, I can’t remember their names. But I can remember most of their faces, and how they ministered to me. I praise You and thank You for those friendships. And I pray that, even this late in my life, I might be able to be that kind of friend to someone.

I am also so very grateful for the family that You have given me and placed me in. I have thanked You many times for that, and it can never be enough. Thank You for bringing my wife into my life in 1984, and for keeping us together all these years. It is You and only You that has accomplished that.

I don’t want to leave this place, this morning, Father. But I have things to do. I praise You for Your goodness. And like Pat Barrett said, “there’s never been anyone like You; You are worthy!” Only You are worthy of my worship and praise and adoration, Lord. And, while I must leave this room, I don’t have to leave You. Thank You for coming with me wherever I go. Help me to spread the love and mercy of Your Kingdom as I venture out into the world today.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and make everything right!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Witness

“I have to learn to accept things as they are and not how I want them to be. I have to let go of the frustration that rises when I can’t make things go the way I want or need them to. Let it go. There’s no use dwelling on something you have no chance of changing.”

Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,471

I’ll be working my usual eight-hour shift in the computer center today, from 11:15 to 8:15 tonight. That reminds me, I need to start tonight’s soup in the crock pot. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Oh. That also reminds me. Last night’s dinner was delicious! Here is the recipe for what I made last night.

Spaghetti Pie

It’s a great dish, but one that I should only try on days when I don’t work, as it is a little involved and takes close to an hour, total time. But it was well worth it.

Tonight will be our standard Chicken-Ranch Crock Pot Soup.

The Texas Rangers lost pretty badly, yesterday afternoon, 9-2, to the Astros. It was dismal. Unfortunately, they put a rookie in for his first MLB start. Against the Astros. So much for his ego. Anyway, the Rangers are now 29-33, in second place in the AL West, one game ahead of the Angels, and 9.5 behind the Astros. They are also 4.5 behind in the Wild Card race. They begin a four-game series in Detroit tonight.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox discombobulated the Athletics, last night, 10-1. Egad. Of course, any time the Athletics lose, it benefits the Rangers. The Sox are now 34-29, but still in third place in the AL East, 1.5 behind the Rays, and 12.5 out of first place. Barring a complete disaster (which most of us are hoping for), there won’t be any catching the Evil Empire. Best we can hope for is a wild card, and the Sox are currently in the third wild card spot. I didn’t find out until two days ago that there will be three wild card in each league.

I’m tired of telling you who has the best MLB record. You know. 46-16. The worst record, though, seems to fluctuate, daily, lately. Today, the Athletics are the proud owners of the worst record, at 21-43. The Braves won again! They now have a fourteen game win streak! That sounds like a lot, but they have a ways to go to catch the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 in a row. The poor Chicago Cubs have now lost nine games in a row. You-know-who also still has the best run differential, at +130. The Washington Nationals have taken over the worst, for today, at -102. The Rangers dropped back into the red, yesterday, and are now at -2. The Red Sox now have a +54 run differential, still the sixth best, but only one behind the Cardinals.

Tune in tomorrow for more meaningless but fun (at least to me) statistics.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let Me Give,” by Daryl Madden

Let me give my eyes to You
Your vision of seeing
Let me give my ears to You
Your Spirit of hearing

Let me give my feet to You
To Your way of walking
Let me give my hands to You
To souls of suffering

Let me give my heart to You
To Your grace of cleaning
Let me place my trust in You
For Lord you are my king

Let me give my praise to You
My song is what I’ll sing
Let me pray a prayer to You
A humble offering

Let me give me will to You
For I can do nothing
Let me receive Your grace oh Lord
For You bless everything

Let me give my soul to You
Faithfully trusting
Let me give my life to You
In Your love of sharing

What a beautiful prayer to being the day! You can read more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link above.

Lord God, we thank you that you have upheld us and brought us to the Savior. Help us to remember this truth through your Holy Spirit, and constantly remind us while still on earth to live in heaven with all your angels. We are helpless without you. Your Spirit alone can overcome our sinful nature so that we never forget to be in heaven with the Savior now and in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
(John 14:2-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father's home
2. that we are able to walk in God's Kingdom while still on earth
3. that God is control, not me
4. that I can pray with confidence, knowing that You hear, and will answer according to Your will
5. for the witness we give when we attend a house of worship together; the witness that "God speaks to us and that we are ready to listen, a witness that God changes people and that we are changed by his action, a witness that God gives himself to us so that we may live and gladly receive his gift." (Eugene Peterson)

But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
(Daniel 3:24-25 NLT)

Today’s prayer word, from Pray a Word a Day, is acceptance. The quote is from the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

There are some very wise words in today’s reading. Words that seem even more wise in the midst of today’s struggles.

“I have to learn to accept things as they are and not how I want them to be. I have to let go of the frustration that rises when I can’t make things go the way I want or need them to. Let it go. There’s no use dwelling on something you have no chance of changing.”

This applies to more than the rampant complaining and whining that is going on in social media circles, right now. It also applies to how upset I get when things don’t go the way I think they should, like when I was trying to switch mobile carriers Tuesday afternoon. It was a terrible and complicated process that looked, on the surface, like it shouldn’t take very long.

I got quite upset. And it didn’t help anything. I also got frustrated as I tried to cancel the one remaining line on our ATT plan, yesterday evening, so that account would be closed out. The issues were most definitely caused by ATT, but there was nothing I could do to change those. So my frustration only served to raise my blood pressure and make everyone around me uncomfortable.

So today’s word is good for me. And while the word acceptance can apply to a wide range of things (accepting people for who they are, for example), the focus today is on accepting things as they are, if I have no means of changing them. If I can do something to change it, then my responsibility lies in doing that thing, but my emotions still need to remain in check.

Father, I confess my failure to keep emotions reigned in when things are outside my control. Things happen the way they happen, and I can do nothing about that. I can’t control the complexity of processes when it comes to certain things in life. I can’t control which TV channels are provided by which carriers. I can’t control whether other people will answer their phones or respond to voice mails. I can’t control whether technology will work properly. What I can control is the way I react to these things. I pray that Your Spirit will fill me with His fruit, each day, and that I might dwell completely within Your Kingdom as I walk through each day. But also, let me take this life one step at a time, and not get ahead of myself.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.”
(Matthew 6:7 NLT)

While this verse refers to how we pray, audibly, using words, I think there might be something here that we can apply to the concept of silence. And that’s not all. I think it also has some wisdom in the subject of anxiety.

Of course, Jesus spoke a good bit about anxiety, as well, didn’t He?

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? 
“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 
“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. 
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Luke 12:22-34 NLT)

Another reason to not pile on the needless words or “vain repetitions” is found in the verse immediately following the one that heads up this section.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
(Matthew 6:8 NLT)

I’ll admit that I’m on the fence about something when it comes to prayer. And that is the matter of whether I need to ask God more than once. I have a prayer book where I keep requests that are sent to me. And I do go through the requests on a semi-regular basis. But I also stop and whisper a prayer immediately, in most cases, when I see a prayer request.

I really don’t think it is an issue to be concerned about. The important thing is where our heart is when we are praying. Am I repeating prayers because I’m anxious about something? When I pray for something once and let it go, do I find myself being doubtful or anxious, or am I confident that God hears and will answer according to His will?

He knows what we need before we ask. Therefore, I believe, it is pointless to blather on about things. Jesus’s model prayer that follows these instructions is short and to the point. It takes five short verses (six if you add the benediction that was added in later manuscripts).

Have you ever heard someone pray out loud, in church, for ten or fifteen minutes? I really believe that that is what Jesus is addressing, here.

Don’t babble on, don’t be anxious, don’t pray for show. And, honestly, I have found, sometimes, that prayers in silence do a lot more for my state of mind than praying out loud.

(Inspired by Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, help us to pray better. Help me to pray better and more faithfully. I also pray for a better mindset when it comes to prayer. Help me to have consistent faith and practice, believing that You will answer my prayers, but not always, necessarily, the way I think they should be answered. After all, You are God, not me. I don’t need to explain the situation to you; I don’t need to tell you what kind of disease a person has. I don’t need to be frantic or anxious. There are no “emergencies” in Your Kingdom. Help us/me to live in this world with that same point of view. You are in control. Help me to remember that at all times, and to pray with that truth in mind.

As for praying without ceasing, that means not praying out loud for a long time, but, rather, walking through my day with my mind and soul focused on You, remaining, as much as possible in constant contact with You and being aware of Your presence throughout the day.

Why do we go to church?

This is a question that a former pastor (and still good friend) used to ask us. To our frustration, he never answered it. Hah!

I believe I have found an answer (at least partial) from Eugene H. Peterson, this morning, in his book, On Living Well.

First of all, he points out that worship is not voluntary. It is a requirement for anyone who calls the name of Jesus. But it is also not coerced. In generations past, the “church” official attempted to coerce people into going to church, even to the point of being punished when they were not in attendance. “But coercion is no attribute of God.”

One answer to the above-mentioned question, of course, is that we go to church to worship. But, some may object, we can “worship” anywhere, and this is, to a degree, true.

I believe that Peterson nails down a major reason for going to church, for meeting together with the saints on Sunday morning (or whatever day your group meets). That reason is for a witness; “a witness that God speaks to us and that we are ready to listen, a witness that God changes people and that we are changed by his action, a witness that God gives himself to us so that we may live and gladly receive his gift.”

You see, there are people in this world who are not aware that God is present and speaking and saving and giving Himself. They believe that, if He exists at all, He is remote and silent. Oh, sure, He’s a nice idea when crisis comes, but “they don’t know that God is right now speaking and changing lives and pouring out abundant life.” They need to know these things, and one way we show them is by the witness of “going to church.”

“When you walk into a house of worship and take your place – singing, praying, listening, receiving – you are a witness to this action of God, the greatest of all actions in the world. You are irreplaceable in this witness. No one has your particular slant on it.”

Each of us is unique. If one hundred people gather to worship and you are missing, the other hundred cannot replace you. Evangelism, says Peterson, “begins in the act of worship.”

Father, I pray that we would do better at being that witness for You. I am grateful that You are speaking to us and changing people and lives and giving Yourself to us that we may live. May we gladly and joyfully receive Your gifts, and spread them around our little “kingdoms” with great joy. Let us not become affected by the distress in the world, right now. Let the circumstances of life not steal our joy in You. These things, You have told us, will always be around. They were around when You walked the earth, they were around when Your disciples started Your Church, and they are around now. You are still in control, and You are still acting in people and circumstances. And it is our duty and responsibility, our requirement, to worship together, that You might be glorified.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! 
Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Interior Silence, the Place of Strength and Power

Today is Wednesday, the fifteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,470

June is half over today. 2022 is almost half over. And even though we’ve already hit triple digits at least a couple times in the past week, Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, five days from now. That day is also known as Summer Solstice, the day with the most hours of daylight.

If I write anything that doesn’t make sense, today, it’s because I woke up too early. C gets up at 5:15 to get ready for work, and my brain had a lot of things to think about, so I wound up getting up around 6:00. What’s on my brain? Let’s see . . .

We switched mobile carriers, yesterday. We finally dumped ATT, because I’m tired of over-paying and under-getting. We have switched to Mint Mobile, for at least three months. If we like it, we will likely renew for twelve. Unlimited data for half the cost of ATT. The problem is, I still have an iPad I need to get set up, and I’m going to need some technical support today, because I made one wrong decision when I was trying to set it up yesterday afternoon.

I’m trying to reschedule my colonoscopy that is currently scheduled for Monday. I didn’t realize, when I scheduled it, that it was the day after Father’s Day! I was thinking about going ahead with it, but then I looked at the prep instructions. I can’t eat any solid food for a whole day before the procedure! I have called the scheduling number four times, and one of the facilities once, and can’t get any response. So I have to deal with that again today.

There’s more, but those are the two “big” things (first world problems, of course, or, as I have also called them, “footstool problems”). It will all work out fine.

This is my Wednesday off, at least. And I’m cooking a surprise for the family, tonight. Another dish that I got from Emily Bites, a wonderful recipe site that has tasty and relatively healthy recipes. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow morning, along with how it came out.

The Rangers blew a three-run lead, last night, to lose to the Astros, 4-3. It was almost the exact reverse of Monday night’s game, when the ‘stros blew a 3-0 lead. And the thing that ultimately led to the loss was a misplayed grounder that could have been an out (allowing a run to score), but wound up being no outs and a run scored. The next batter hit a two-run home run, and that wound up deciding the game. Oh, well. Tonight’s another night, and the Rangers could still win the series. We’re still in second place, though, because the Angels lost again. The Rangers are back to 8.5 out of first, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

I learned yesterday that there will be three wild cards in each league, this year. This is getting ridiculous. Soon, MLB will be like the NBA, where more than half the teams make the playoffs. Might as well just start the season with the playoffs. Also, currently, all three wild card spots are held by AL East division teams. If the season ended today, the AL East would have four teams in the playoffs!

Anyway, the Rangers play the Astros again this afternoon at 1:05 CDT. We don’t know who is pitching for the Rangers, yet.

The Red Sox beat the Athletics (good for the Rangers), last night, 6-1. The Sox are now 33-29 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, 2.5 out of third, 12.5 out of first, but are currently in the third Wild Card spot. They play the Athletics again tonight, at 7:10 EDT.

We all know who still has the best MLB record, now at 45-16. The KC Royals have the worst record, at 20-41. The Braves won again, increasing their win streak to 13! The Cubs must not have played last night, and the Pirates did, and lost, so the Pirates now have the longest losing streak, at nine games. You-know-who has a run differential of +129. The Pirates are now at -103. The Rangers are at +5 after last night’s loss, and the Red Sox are at +45. Oddly, the Sox are in sixth place in the run differential category.

The PWBA U.S. Women’s Open will carry on, today, with practice sessions for all four oil patterns.

Update on tasks. My colonoscopy is rescheduled for Monday, July 11, and my iPad appears to be set up, now. Things are looking up!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, help us who are allowed to hear your Word. Help us come with all our hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Send a new age soon, a new salvation to the earth, to the glory of your name. Show us that what we have learned about you is the truth and that we may live in the truth and find the way through to heaven, to the glory of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. Often it seems that you are far away. But we know that our voices still reach you and that those roused by your Holy Spirit will become your workers for the Lord Jesus. Send your Spirit soon, O Lord God. Send the Comforter, who leads us into all light and all truth. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, to remember at every step that we belong to you, Lord God. No matter how dark it is on earth, help us remember that we are with you, your children in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
(John 1:14-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for one gracious blessing after another, received out of the abundance of the Father's unfailing love and faithfulness
2. that we are the tabernacle of God, as His Spirit dwells within us, but also that anywhere I can worship God can be my tabernacle
3. that God chooses to be with us always, an indication of how much He loves us; how then can we not also choose to love one another?
4. that we can know the strength and power of the Holy Spirit by entering into the silence of that inner tabernacle
5. for coffee

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
(Mark 2:15-17 NLT)

The prayer word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is “tabernacle.”

Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:34 NLT)

The tabernacle of the Old Testament was the place where the people of God met with Him. His presence dwelled within the tabernacle.

But now, ever since Christ came, God’s tabernacle is within us.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:20-22 NLT)

There are many verses of Scripture that tell us that we are the dwelling place of God, now.

All that being said, though, anywhere You meet God can be your “tabernacle.” This study is my “tabernacle” every morning. I have experienced “tabernacle” on the deck of a cabin in Glen Rose, as I looked out over the landscape, toward the river. I have worshiped God sitting in a canvas chair on a beach in Galveston, watching the waves of the mighty ocean go to and fro.

Anywhere you can worship God can be your tabernacle.

“I am with you always.”
(Matthew 28:20 NLT)

When Jesus makes this promise to His disciples, it is a choice that He makes. Our God chooses to always dwell with us and care for us. This is a minute indication of how much He loves us. This is something worth dwelling on, worth meditating on. And when we do dwell on this, and think rightly about God, there is no other option but worship.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Did you know that we do not have to create silence? On the contrary, it is the noise that we create, that which disrupts the silence that exists. I wonder at the silence before everything was created, before God spoke the words, “Let there be light.” That must have been the most profound silence that ever existed.

It is difficult, in our day, to encounter complete silence. Even as I sit in this room, when I am not typing, there is some kind of noise. I can hear the computer fan. I can hear the box fan in the bedroom. Occasionally, there is a noise in the room next to mine.

But it is as close to silence as I can get in the house. I have experienced a deeper silence in the Redwood forest of northern California.

As C and I walked around in the midst of those majestic trees, the ground was covered with their needles. The ground cover acted as a silencer. Our walking made no noise, and, when we didn’t speak to each other, there was the closest thing to total silence that I have ever experienced.

John Main speaks of the interior silence that is the “language of the Spirit.”

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
(Ephesians 3:14-16 NLT)

“The words we use in trying to communicate the Christian message in the Christian experience have to be charged with strength and power, but they can only be charged with strength and power if they spring from the silence of the Spirit in our inner being. . . . Leaving behind all other words, ideas, imaginations and fantasies is learning to enter into the presence of the Spirit who dwells in your inner heart [your “tabernacle”], who dwells there in love. The Spirit of God dwells in our hearts in silence, and it is in humility and faith that we must enter into that silent presence. St. Paul ends that passage in Ephesians with the words, ‘So may you attain to the fullness of being, the fullness of God himself.’ That is our destiny.”

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

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
(Matthew 16:26 NLT)

Living the Godly life turns out to be the opposite of the world’s business mindset. “The bottom line in business shows how much you accumulate, but the bottom line in life shows how much you give away.”

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

Father, may we always be humble and never think of ourselves as more righteous than we ought. In comparison with You and Jesus, we are all the worst of sinners.

I thank You, Father, for the example of the Old Testament Tabernacle, where we get a glimpse of the power of Your holiness. But I am more thankful that we do not need that Tabernacle in our day, because we are Your “tabernacle,” as Your Spirit dwells within us. I am also thankful that anywhere I can worship You can be my temporary tabernacle.

Father, the way that You love us and choose to be with us at all times is inconceivable. It is, as the psalmist said, too much, too lofty. I cannot attain it. I cannot fathom it. But it is true. Help me to embrace this daily, Father, and help me to transform that into love for my fellow human beings. Yes, even the ones with which I do not agree, and even the ones who would abuse me or harm me or take advantage of me. Even the people who come, unbidden, to my front door, trying to sell me solar panels!

Father, I pray that I can know the silence of the Spirit in my inner being, so that the words that I must use, whether they be verbal or written, are charged with the strength and power of Your Holy Spirit.

Finally, Father, I pray that I would continue to be generous with all that You have give me, that my life would be marked by how much I give away.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Drink Deep

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

Peace be with you!

Day 23,469

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus also tells us,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.