Some Good News

Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,352

It’s getting colder outside, by the minute, today. We have already had our high today, of 58. At 8:00 AM, it is 54, and by noon, it should be in the mid-to-low forties. Low tonight of mid-twenties. But there shouldn’t be any more precipitation. They’re saving that for next Wednesday and Thursday, when we will, apparently, be having a second winter. Fortunately, I do not work next Wednesday or Thursday.

Speaking of work, it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. It seems like it was a bit slow. There was a little activity, early, but even that wasn’t much. We had a little staff gathering at 9:30, to celebrate the birthdays that are happening this quarter. This was my first one of those. I must have not been working the day they had it for the fourth quarter of last year. And my birthday is in March! So it was very cool. Everyone got a little bag of goodies. Someone said it was a “charcuterie cup.”

You can see the chocolate covered pretzels, the club crackers, and a cheese stick. There were also a couple of skewers in there, one containing some fruit, and the other containing some salami and cheese. It was a nice mid-morning snack.

I am off work today, as Thursday is one of my normal off days. However, I will be heading up to the library at 3:00 PM for a genealogy class, called “Genealogy 101.” One of my co-workers, an assistant librarian, is leading it, and I am interested to see what kind of information she might have.

I’ve made a little more progress in the study. I got my plastic file boxes Tuesday evening, and have moved some files to the garage. Now, I just need to go through the stacks that are laying around, and see what needs to be filed and what needs to be shredded. Hopefully, I will get at least some of that done, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Showers of blessing;
Oh, that today, they might fall,
Mercy-drops on us!
(Inspired by D.W. Whittle's hymn)

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
(Psalms 72:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received during the night, last night
2. for "showers of blessing" that fall on us, constantly
3. for the truth of the Gospel, the Good News, that God's kingdom is right here, right now, available to us
4. that "generosity begets generosity" (Mark 4:25 The Message)
5. that the Lord is my Shepherd and I lack for nothing (Psalm 23)

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here,
(Mark 1:1 MSG)

“Good news.” “The Gospel.” “Euaggelio.” What does it mean? It is not the “bare announcement that God exists.” That’s not news. “Most people in most centuries have believed in the existence of God or gods.”

No, the good news is that “God is here right now, and on our side, actively seeking to help us in the way we most need help.”

“Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
(Mark 1:15 MSG)

That is the Gospel.

“Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”
(Mark 4:24-25 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


You are my Shepherd,
Therefore, I lack for nothing; I have everything I need.
You give me peace and rest by leading me away from 
the hustle and madness of the crowds.
You refresh my soul.
You lead me down the right path,
to the glory of Your name.
Even though my journey takes me through deep darkness,
troubles, and world-wide pandemics,
I will fear no evil,
because You are with me!
Knowing that You are present at all times comforts me.
You bless me right in front of non-believers,
and I will share those blessings with them.
You have chosen me for a purpose,
and anointed me for that purpose.
My cup truly overflows, spilling onto all around me.
Your grace and mercy will follow me and surround me,
all the days of my life, and beyond,
as I dwell in Your house for all eternity.
Thank you, my Savior and my Shepherd!
(My version of Psalm 23)
What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 
(Psalms 116:12-14 ESV)

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
(Psalms 72:6 ESV)

D.W. Whittle wrote this hymn in 1883.

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we're confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Today’s prayer word is “shower.” No, not as in, “Lord, please inspire that guy to take a shower.” More like “scattered showers,” as the weatherman says. And using the context of the verse from Psalms, I think that fits, perfectly.

In the sense of prayer, the word “shower” can be used quite similarly to the way we talked about the word “there” a few days ago. We’re asking for God’s blessings to fall on people. On ourselves. So, as we walk through the day, we could point out a person (or group of people), and, for today, rather than saying “there,” we could say, requesting blessing from God, “shower.”


Father, I am so grateful for the Good News that Your kingdom is here, now, and that we can walk in it. It is not so much the thought that “God loves you and has a full and meaningful plan for your life.” While that is certainly “good news,” the true Gospel is that Your kingdom is right here, right now, and that it is a kingdom of peace and love. I am so thankful for the path of love that You have been walking me down, in the last decade. It has been, and continues to be, challenging, as I am still a creature made of “dust.” I still carry this treasure around in a “jar of clay.” Oh, how I long for the day when this mortal coil is shed and I no longer have to worry about such things.

I am grateful, also, that my cup truly does overflow. There have most definitely been “showers of blessing” in my life. I know that, oftentimes, I take these for granted. More recently, though, I am remembering to be thankful for these. My daily practice of gratitude has helped that, immensely. But, even with that, there are days when I have to think too hard to come up with five things that I’m grateful for. That’s ridiculous. Gratitude should be flowing off of my heart and tongue like an untamed waterfall.

You have made me aware of the truth that “generosity begets generosity.” The older I get, the more generous I am becoming. And, it seems, the more generous I become, the more generous You are! But why would I be surprised at this? Your Word has always taught that this is true, and that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated, even if they don’t treat us that way in return.

So, keep teaching me, Father, every day. Some days, I’m weary. Some days, I am not really feeling like doing these things. But keep me doing them; keep me walking in Your kingdom, even when, and most especially when, I don’t feel like it.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Oh!

Today is Tuesday, the fifteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23.350

C has gone to work, this morning, to the office. She says she is feeling some better, but still experiencing what she describes as sinus headaches. My manager at the library seems to be experiencing similar symptoms and was out yesterday and will be today, as well. She also had a negative Covid test result. So far, I have managed to avoid whatever this is.

C and I got the shelf back up in the study, yesterday afternoon. We managed to find a couple of studs in the wall and got it attached to them, so no anchors were needed. Hopefully, it won’t fall off the wall again. I finished going through old files in the file cabinet, so that’s done. I have a stack of files that are going to the garage, as soon as I get the new plastic file boxes that I ordered from Amazon. They should arrive today. These are files that are important enough to not be tossed out, but not important enough to take up space in the file cabinet.

Now I just have a few stacks of papers to go through and file, and things will look much better in here. This will also be conducive to more music making in the future.

Since this is Tuesday, I will be working at the library from 4:15-8:15 tonight. This is also my week in circulation, so I will be working tomorrow and Saturday, in addition to my usual Friday shift in the Computer Center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

GOD IS SO GOOD, by Daryl Madden

My heart would say more
If it only could
But words will suffice
That God is SO good

The gift that has rescued
From my deserved fate
Let me proclaim
God’s mercy is great!

Blessings abundant
Each day He brings
Gifts all for free
God’s grace is everything

Each moment I find
Beyond comprehending
Unconditionally
God’s love is unending

I love this poem, which was published yesterday. I’m not sure how I missed it, yesterday. Please see more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power and love of community in Christ
2. for the wonder, amazement, and praise indicated by the simple word, "oh"
3. for simple things, like getting a shelf back on the wall
4. for my wonderful wife, who is a perfect fit for me, and whom I most definitely do not deserve
5. that God is so good, His mercy is great, His grace is everything, and His love is neverending

They are blessed who keep his commandments; they will have their eternal place. Come in, all of you, so that you may be happy and be able to say, I’ve seen him on the cross, the one who loves me. Teach me, Father, to love you, praise you and pray to you.

Today’s prayer word is “oh.” That’s it. Just, “oh.” But that word carries with it an entire dictionary of meaning, does it not? The Scripture reference is the beginning of Mary’s Magnificat, from the New Living Transation.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.”
(Luke 1:46 NLT)

Sometimes, “oh” can indicate surprise, wonder, or praise. Sometimes, it is a response when someone gives us information, and is followed by the word, “okay.” I see that a lot. “Oh, okay.”

The Psalms are filled with the word. One of my favorite instances is Psalm 34:8.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
 Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, 
for those who fear him have no lack! 
The young lions suffer want and hunger; 
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 
(Psalms 34:8-10 ESV)

Many is the time that I have uttered the word in amazement, when looking out over something in God’s creation. And I love to sing along with Rich Mullin’s use of it in “Step by Step,” as he sings “Oh, God, You are my God.”


“Oh, God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You!” That is my cry to You, this morning, for it is true. No matter what I go through, no matter where I have been or what has gone before, You have remained my God through all of these years of my life, and I see no reason that this should ever change. I have changed like the wind, but You remain constant, and that is the thing that has kept me following You. Your patience with me has been remarkable and most certainly praiseworthy.

As I consider Christ on the Cross, today, and the commands that He gave us, may I follow closely in His steps, walking in the rest of His easy yoke and light burden. Let me not burden myself by attempting to carry loads that are not mine to carry.

Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, both on the earth and in the skies above. May I never grow tired of the amazement and wonder that I get when I see it.

I lift up prayers, today, for C and my manager at work, and others I know who are not feeling well, right now. Please bring them healing and relief. I also pray for wisdom for decisions that need to be made in the future.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Living and Active

Today is Monday, the fourteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,349

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people who recognize it. I hope you have a good time today.

C continues to work from home, and is still not feeling well. Something seems to be going around (not Covid-related, as far as we know, because everyone who is suffering from this has gotten negative tests), though, as I know of at least two other people (not in the immediate area) who have not been feeling well. So far, I’m fine. I’ve tried to not get too close to C, since she has been feeling unwell.

Monday is my normal day off. I actually slept until after 8:00, this morning, which is not normal. I have a couple of household things to get done today, and I plan to straighten up my study, a bit. I want to get it looking better, and more conducive to actually making some music. I also would like to get in some reading, as well. I’m currently in the middle of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. I’m still trying to figure out what it is really about. It has some great elements of humor in it, and maybe a murder by poisoning?

I think the Rams won the Super Bowl. Of course they did, because I wanted the Bengals to win. But not enough to watch the game or any part, thereof.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. that the Word of God is alive in me
3. for the admonition and potential to "stir up one another to love and good works"
4. that, as we gather together, we strengthen one another
5. for the day when God will be acknowledged as King over all the earth

“I have never put my hope in any other but in you

Can I speak those words to God? Truly? That question reminds me of yesterday’s prayer word. “Almost.” Maybe I could say “I have hardly ever put my hope in any other but You.” Or, “I have almost never put my hope in any other but You.”

And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
(Acts 13:46-49 ESV)

I can’t identify at all with the Gentiles in this passage. The question is asked, “Do you remember the word of the Lord being spoken to you for the first time?” Of course, I don’t remember that. I grew up in church. I was probably at church as soon as my parents could safely take me out of the house. Which, in the fifties, was probably sooner than it is, these days. I’m a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” I feel relatively certain that the Word of God was spoken to me before I could comprehend what it was.

So, no. I don’t remember. And, to be honest, I can’t ever remember a time when I celebrated that I was able to hear that Word. Because it has always been a privilege in this country. These Gentiles in Acts rejoiced because they had previously been excluded from any possibility of hearing God’s Word. I can only imagine what it must be like for a people in some remote area of the world to be able to read God’s Word in their own language for the first time.

You bet I have taken this for granted, as have most of God’s people in this country, especially here in the “Bible Belt.” But here’s the thing. Just because we have had it readily available, and in large amounts, doesn’t mean we have always read it correctly.

You see, there’s this verse in Hebrews. Two of them, actually.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV)

And because this is true, every time I read the Bible, any part of it, there is potential for me to “see” something that I have never “seen” before. And, praise God, this has been happening quite a bit in the last decade, and, perhaps, even more so, in the last few years. I rejoice, kind of like those Gentiles, every time the Holy Spirit reveals something “new” to me. It’s not really “new,” is it? Because it’s always been there. But my understanding is ever new, because the God with Whom I have to do, and to Whom I must give account, is always doing something new.

And because of this growth, which, truthfully, doesn’t look like this:

but more like this:

, perhaps I can come closer to saying that “I am currently not putting my hope in any other but You.”

(From Pray As You Go)


Today’s prayer word is “shelter.”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
 He will cover you with his pinions, 
and under his wings you will find refuge; 
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 
(Psalms 91:1, 4 ESV)

This is not brick and mortar shelter, although, in some cases, He does provide this for us. This is more of a spiritual shelter, a place to find refuge, a hiding place. Over and over, the Psalms describe our Father as a place where we can run and hide. What are we hiding from? It’s different things for different people, and that is one of the beautiful things about God. Yes, He is one God, but He is also many things to many different people. When we get weary of the hate that we see in this world, all the pain that we see around us (which, unfortunately, is necessary for us to sometimes be in the middle of), and the negative news that we are bombarded with, we can run to this shelter, and simply rest in His presence for a while, regaining strength, renewing faith and hope, so we can go back out and continue whatever work He has given us to do.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV)

. . . with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV)

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV)



Father, I praise You and look forward to that day when You will be King over all the earth. What a day, glorious day, that will be! However, I do not look forward to that day in arrogance, as some do. I do not look forward to seeing any of Your enemies destroyed. I would rather see them all become part of Your Church and acknowledge Your glory and beauty along with the rest of us.

I thank You for the strength that comes in numbers, as we gather together as Your people. Not strength as in power to be in control or anything like that, but strength to prevail in righteousness, in right living, and in doing the things that You have called us to do; strength to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves, strength to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, release the oppressed, and help the downtrodden and immigrants who need our help. Help us to be more generous with the resources You have given us.

I also praise You for the shelter we can find in You, when we are filled to the brim with the hatred we see in the world, the frustration of people who claim to be following You, but still, for some reason, don’t seem to filled with love for their fellow man. Shelter where we can hide and rest when we feel all used up, when we think we can’t do any more, when our strength is dried up. But we also need to utilize this shelter together. Shelter isn’t just for me to go hide alone, although I am free to do that. Shelter is where two or more of us can gather, as well. When our little “church” gathers in the home where we meet, we are, in a sense, sheltering under Your wings. Thank You for this, Father.

And I praise You that Your Word is alive, and growing within me, by the power of Your Spirit. My growth isn’t always steady. Sometimes, I fail and fall. But You pick me back up and put me back on the path so that I can grow some more. I thank You that, in all the years I have been reading and hearing Your Word (and, yes, please forgive me for when I take this privilege for granted), I can still find truth and beauty in it, sometimes things that I have never noticed before.

I pray for Your Word and truth to continue to be shared and grow in our world today, just as it did when the book of Acts was written. May You go before us and prepare the hearts of men to hear Your Gospel truth. And then equip us to share it in love, and, as best we can, keeping our person opinions and politics out of it.

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

What a Day that will be! 

No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! 
The Day is coming—the timing is GOD's—
when it will be continuous day. 
Every evening will be a fresh morning. 

What a Day that will be! 

Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, 
half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, 
flowing year-round, summer and winter! 
GOD will be king over all the earth,
 one GOD 
and only one. 

What a Day that will be! 
(Zechariah 14:6-9 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lute and the Plectrum

Today is Friday, the fourth of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,339

It is currently 20 degrees outside, and everything is still covered in ice/snow. Mostly ice. I received word about 3:25 PM, yesterday, that the library would be closed again, today. So I don’t have to worry about getting out there and driving until tomorrow. We are supposed to get above freezing sometime this afternoon, possibly up to 40 (although the hourly only shows it getting to 37). It is sunny outside, as well, though, so hopefully, even though it looks like it will get down to 20 again tonight, the roads will be clear in the morning.

We have had no more power outages since night before last, which is good. I know at least one family that had to get a room in a hotel, because their power has been out since early yesterday. They live in a rural area, north of DFW, though. I’m not sure what’s going on with their power.

There are no plans for the day, since I would have been working. We were going to have our pizza tonight, but we don’t have enough ingredients to make two of them, so I’m not sure, at this point, what we will do. I may make a trip to the store, this afternoon, though. I don’t know what the shelves will look like. We may just order out, this evening.

I got lucky with my Wordle guess today.

Wordle 230 2/6*

⬜🟨🟨⬜🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing; I have breath, so I'm praising the Lord
2. that God is constantly making all things new
3. that we have heat and electricity and plenty of food
4. that, in God's kingdom, I have nothing to fear
5. that prayer is like God "strumming my heart with His fingers"

Praise the LORD! 
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, 
in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, 
studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 
(Psalms 111:1-4 ESV)

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
(Romans 8:19 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, 
are being transformed into the same image 
from one degree of glory to another. 
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
 teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, 
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, 
with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 
(Colossians 3:16 ESV)
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, 
so walk in him, 
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, 
just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, 
to which indeed you were called in one body. 
And be thankful. 
(Colossians 3:15 ESV)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
(1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV)

Can we find a common thread in all of these passages? They occur in a reading on prayer, in the Spiritual Classics book. In this reading, prayer is likened to a lute player strumming his lute. In this imagery, the lute is the heart of the player, and the strumming is done with a plectrum (in modern days, we call this a “pick”), which is God’s Word, or the recollection of it, as well as the Name of Jesus.

The question is asked, do we view prayer as more of a burdensome duty or obligation? Can this idea of playing a musical instrument make it more a gift of grace? As a musician, I can identify with the attitudes presented. There are times when it’s a burden to grab my guitar or turn on my keyboard and begin playing.

In this reading, a selection written by Andre Louf, the idea presented, if I am understanding it correctly, is akin to the thought, “just do it.” However, it isn’t as simple as that. Before the section on prayer, there were a few readings on meditation, which is a precursor to prayer, and away to allow the Word of God to begin doing the “strumming” on our hearts. It reminds me of a song (that I never liked very much) in which the singer said that someone was “strumming my heart with his fingers.” Through meditation and contemplation, we allow the Spirit of God to begin the work of prayer in our hearts. And then, it becomes a gift of grace.

I have experienced this, in my own prayers. There have certainly been times when my prayers were mechanical, more of a burden or obligation than a joy. However, like practicing a musical instrument, there are times when it is more important to simply do the duty. It will not always be a joy. But the more we practice, the more it will become joyful.

That passage from Colossians 3 is instrumental in this endeavor. We allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts (and trust me, this is a choice that we must make), work to be thankful (another choice that must be made), and then allow His Word to dwell in us richly. All of these are choices that we must consciously make. They won’t just happen. Just like becoming proficient in any musical instrument will not just happen.

Louf makes a statement that prayer can’t be learned from someone else. Actually, Louf is quoting Callixtus II, a fourteenth century Byzantine monk. “Nobody can learn how to see. For seeing is something we can do by nature. So too with prayer. Authentic prayer can never be learnt from someone else. It has its own instructor within it. Prayer is God’s gift to him who prays.” I agree with this to a point. However, we must not allow this idea to keep us from reading what other great people have to say about the subject. And it certainly doesn’t prohibit the use of pre-written prayers.

All of this was launched by the question, “is praying difficult?” And the question is not answered. In fact, Louf goes so far as to say that “No one is going to give you the answer to that question.” There will be some who try to tell you that it is easy. I say they do not fully comprehend prayer. As we learn to allow ourselves to be, in a sense, taken out of ourselves by the Spirit, prayer becomes more of an intricate part of our being. And we learn that prayer can be both difficult and easy.


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me. 
(Psalms 23:4 ESV)

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
(Luke 12:22 ESV)


Today’s prayer word is “step,” in the sense of taking one step at a time. A Chinese proverb is quoted. “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” I once had a pastor who spoke of something he called the “one-percent grade.” As long as you are moving upward at even a one-percent grade, you’re doing okay, he would say. And, of course, we’ve all heard the famous statement that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” And, for a little levity, “How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time.”

The kingdom life doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” It’s easy to interpret some of the commands in this way, but that only leads to a life of impossibility and frustration. It eliminates the concept of “grace” altogether. It is good to know that God remembers that we are dust; He knows we are imperfect.


Father, as I pray for You to keep teaching me how to pray, I also ask for more of an understanding of how prayer works, how I am to go about it. I pray that You would, indeed, strum my heart with Your Words, with the Name of Jesus, reminding me constantly who I am and whose I am. I pray for consistency, but I also pray for real, authentic prayer in my life, prayer that comes, not necessarily easily, but naturally, as I become more and more consumed by Your Word.

Remind me, please, that I have nothing to fear in Your kingdom, and that, as long as I am moving in Your direction, thought it be only one step at a time, I am doing okay.

I pray for people I know who are still without power. Please intervene and give them power and heat, that they may be safe and warm in their homes. I pray for any who might be without shelter, during this time, that they might be able to find someplace warm to stay. I also pray that they would have food to eat.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

Grace and peace, friends.

Keep Your Eyes On the Son

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the third of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,338

It was a fairly busy day at the library, yesterday, as people came in to get books in preparation for today’s winter storm. We have a subscription service that was initiated during the time that the library was closed in 2020. Those who sign up get three books a month, personally curated by a library staff member, based on the patron’s likes and preferences. A bookmark is provided with each book, that gives an opportunity for the patron to respond to the choice, indicating if the library staff person made a good choice for them. I see a lot of those come back through, some with good comments on them, but some with nothing at all, which is not at all helpful for the next month’s bag of books. I have thought about signing up for that myself.

Anyway, I handed out no less than seven of those bags, yesterday, which is, by far, a record for me. I handed out five during my first hour at the circ desk, and I don’t think I had ever given out that many in a whole day before.

The library, along with all city services (other than emergency of course), is closed today. I can’t speak for the rest of the area, but at my house, we pretty much only got sleet/freezing rain all night, and have had very little snow. Snow would be better, because sleet is ice, which means the roads are covered in ice. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, regarding my library shift, because it won’t get above freezing today. In fact, the projected high is only 23.

Our power went out for about an hour, last night, at around 1:30. At first, I was angry. I will confess that, in the spirit of transparency. I always want to hold myself accountable for the things I “preach” here, and show that I am not, in fact, perfect, and have a long way to go. I was angry at our governor and the farcical board that controls electricity in the state of Texas, since a few years back (many of us had no idea that our government had even done this) when the state decided to foolishly remove itself from the federal power grid. This is why we were without power for over thirty hours last February (some people for even five whole days). And no improvements at all were made in the last year, because our government caters to capitalistic greed and will not hold power resource companies accountable to their actions.

However, in the midst of my anger, it was as if the Holy Spirit were speaking peace into my soul, reminding me that my trust and hope is not in human beings, but in the Lord. The power was restored in less time than predicted by the power company. It took me a while to calm down and go back to sleep, which may not have happened at all, had it not been for that peace received from the Spirit. I was wrong to be angry, yes. My thoughts were not wrong, and someone in power still should be held accountable, and hopefully in this year’s election, that will happen. But I was wrong to be angry, because my hope is not in princes, kings, presidents, or governors. My hope is in the Lord God Almighty, and He is my strength and shield.

Today is my normal day off, anyway, so the library closing really means nothing to me. However, I am glad that my beloved library friends won’t have to try to get to work in this weather. Hopefully, they are all safe and warm. One of them said she was going skiing. Hahaha! The only thing on my “plate,” today (besides the chocolate cake I ate for breakfast), is likely a few loads of laundry. There should be some reading and gaming done, as well. And probably chicken stir-fry for dinner.

And here is my Wordle score for the day. As one of my Facebook friends says, I had a “fortuitous” second guess.

Wordle 229 3/6*

🟨⬜🟩🟩⬜
⬜🟩🟩🟩⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
(Psalms 34:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good
2. that He has delivered me from all my fears (so far)
3. that my hope and trust is not in any human being, but only in the Lord God Almighty
4. for Nathan Buchanan and his ministry to FBC Mineral Wells
5. for angels
6. for the light and warmth of the sun (as well as the Son)

“Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened, seek his face always. Entering into prayer today, I too am seeking the Lord, seeking his face, looking for the signs of his presence in my life, gently guiding me in truth and peace and love.”

When David's time to die drew near, 
he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 
"I am about to go the way of all the earth. 
Be strong, and show yourself a man, 
and keep the charge of the LORD your God, 
walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, 
his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, 
as it is written in the Law of Moses, 
that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 
that the LORD may establish his word 
that he spoke concerning me, saying, 
'If your sons pay close attention to their way, 
to walk before me in faithfulness 
with all their heart and with all their soul, 
you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'" 
Then David slept with his fathers 
and was buried in the city of David.  
So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, 
and his kingdom was firmly established.
(1 Kings 2:1-4, 10, 12 ESV)

In today’s reading, we see the final words of King David to his son, Solomon. David tells Solomon to “keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes.” Perhaps there is not a lot of agreement on what it means to walk in the ways of the Lord, keeping His statutes. It seems to mean different things to different people.

I will tell you what it means to me. It means paying close attention to the words and actions of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, if I am to walk in the ways of God, then Jesus is where I need to look. Of course, it is wise and helpful to read and meditate on the Law of the Old Testament. But that should not ever take precedence over the words and steps of Christ. And even if it does, we have the words of Micah, who said, “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?”

And Jesus boiled all of the commands of the Law and Prophets into two commands. If you’ve read my blog before, you know what is coming. Love the Lord your God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything is covered in those two commands.

The question is asked, do I know a leader who carries great responsibility. I do, as a matter of fact, one whom I respect greatly. His name is Nathan Buchanan, and he pastors my mother’s church, FBC Mineral Wells. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate him very much (as well as the worship leader, Mel Kincaid). Pastor Nathan is bearing quite a load, right now, as his wife is quite ill. I believe that he is striving to walk in the ways of the Lord, as made evident by Jesus Christ. And I pray for him, that he might have “wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage” and everything else that he needs in order to successfully minister to the people of Mineral Wells, Texas.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:14 NIV)


Today’s prayer word is “sun.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It could also be read phonetically to be “Son.” Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you might be a cat owner. Dog owners might experience this, as well, but I’ve seen more cats do it. And that is laying on the floor, stretched out in a streak of sunlight that is shining through a window somewhere. Sometimes that streak is really narrow, yet the cat always finds a way to fit inside it, basking in the warmth.

“Like the sun, the warmth of Jesus’s presence does the same for me. When life feels wild, His faithful love leaves me feeling sated and calm. In light of His mercy, anxiety and anger fade away. There is no darkness in Jesus. His Holy Word is a lamp for my feet, guiding my way. His face shines upon me, bringing peace. Like the sun, Jesus brings light and life. I have all I need.” (Susanna, in Pray a Word a Day)

I’ve written a few songs, in my lifetime. One of my favorites is called “Keep Your Eyes on the Son.” It begins like this:

Have you ever looked at the sun, my friend?
If you have, then you know, when you look away again,
All you can see is a big yellow ball;
When you look at the sun, you can't see anything else at all.
Some people say, "If you look at the sun, then blind you'll be,"
But I'm here to tell you, it's the only way to see.

Keep your eyes on the Son . . .

We started out, this morning, talking about walking in the ways of the Lord (the version read in Pray As You Go had the word “faithfully” after “walk”), and walking faithfully. As we conclude, we see that the best way to walk faithfully in the ways of the Lord is to keep our eyes on the Son. The physical sun provides light and warmth to our physical bodies. The Son of God provides light and warmth to our spiritual selves.


Father, I have many things to pray, this morning. I lift up Your servant Nathan to You, asking that You would provide all the wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage that he needs in order to do Your work. I also pray for healing for his dear wife. May You bless them richly, especially for the kindness that they have shown my family.

I pray for my friend Robert’s granddaughter, Addison, who is struggling with breathing, in the hospital. Father, breathe life into this child and fill her lungs with oxygen.

Keep teaching us, Father, how to walk in Your ways, how to walk in Your kingdom. Help us to know the ways of Jesus, how to keep our eyes on Him as we walk in this world. The older I get, the more distracting life is. There are so many things that threaten to take our eyes off of Jesus, and successfully, all too often. Help us to stay focused; help us to walk correctly. Help us to do those things that are mentioned in Micah, things that please You.

Even so, come, 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.

A Love Story

“The huge, mountainous reality of all existence is that God is love, that God loves the world. Each single detail of the real world that we face and deal with day after day is permeated by this love.”

Today is Wednesday, the second of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

2/2/22

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Oh, right. It’s also Groundhog Day. I wonder if Phil saw his shadow.

It is currently 47 degrees, here, and will be getting gradually colder all day. The rain is projected to begin around late morning, early afternoon, depending on which weather app I look at. It will be freezing around 9:00 PM, and snow is projected to begin around 10:00 PM. The low for the night is predicted to be 24 and tomorrow’s high is 25. It is predicted to snow until early afternoon tomorrow, with accumulation of up to two inches. However, it must be remembered that it has been in the lower seventies for the past several days, so the ground is not cold. That should help the situation some.

Tomorrow is the only day in the next ten days that the temps aren’t supposed to get above freezing, and by next Friday, we should be hitting almost seventy again.

Happy Winter.

My mother is safely at our house, and feeling quite peaceful, I believe. She knows that she doesn’t have to worry about her own home, and feels good to be with us. We are glad she is here, and we don’t have to worry about her during this winter storm. I’m hoping that C can bring her up to the library maybe Saturday, so she can meet my library people.

I work from 9:15-6:15 today, which means I have less than ninety minutes to get this finished and be ready to leave the house, so I’d best get to the important stuff. I’ve got our crockpot soup started for tonight’s dinner. It’s Chicken Taco Soup for tonight.

The library has cancelled all programs for tomorrow. At this point, they do not know if they will be closed. That will be decided later today, maybe not until this evening.

Oh, and here’s my Wordle score for today.

Wordle 228 4/6*

⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
🟨⬜🟨⬜🟩
⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of Opportunity, by Daryl Madden

My brother, my sister
I hope you’ll agree
To live as one body
In Christ faithfully

In giving, receiving
Love through the Trinity
In our joys and sorrows
In both, our binding be

To practice with feeling
Compassionately
In cherishing grace
To celebrate joyfully

For it’s a great blessing
Of opportunity
To be Jesus to you
And you be Him to me

This attitude is desperately needed in the Church, today. We all need to be Jesus to one another. Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 
from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 
he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. 
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. 
(Psalms 33:13-22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my hope for salvation and rescue is not in any man, but in the Lord, my help and my shield
2. that in His providence, the Lord fashioned my heart to love Him
3. for any opportunities that I will have to be Jesus to someone today
4. for the story of Hosea and how it shows us the love God has for us
5. for the Light of life; I pray that it will shine through me, today

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
(Luke 2:22-26 ESV)

Today, on the Church calendar, is the day commemorated as the day that Jesus was presented in the temple, by His parents. We note that the sacrifice that they brought was not the sacrifice for the wealthy. But that’s not the focus, today. The focus is on Simeon, the “righteous and devout” man who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.”

This event would have been forty days after the birth of Christ. We are asked to imagine what this man Simeon might have looked like as Joseph and Mary enter the temple with Jesus. I see the typical image of an elderly man, slightly stooped over, white hair and beard, wearing the robes of one who stays in the temple.

But in my imagination, I see his eyes light up when he sees Jesus. Perhaps his mouth fall open and then he smiles as he approaches them, with his arms open.

And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:27-32 ESV)

Simeon’s voice, in my imagination, is soft and weary. Perhaps it even trembles a bit, as he says the words that Luke records. But Simeon knows what he has seen, and he knows who he holds in his arms. And he is ready, now, to die. He has seen the Light of the world, and the glory of God.

I do not remember my first encounter with Jesus. I’m sure it was nowhere near as profound as Simeon’s. It is tempting to feel envy, but I resist that temptation. I will get my chance to see Jesus in person, and perhaps even hold Him in my arms.

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2:33-35 ESV)

If we could put ourselves in Mary’s place, what would we think as we heard those words? Simeon prophesies the pain that Mary’s soul will experience. But he also says that the sign of Jesus will be spoken against, and that thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
(Luke 2:36-40 ESV)

It seems that Anna may have approached while Simeon was still there. I believe that I have just noticed, today, for the first time, that Anna began to speak, not to Mary and Joseph alone, but to all of the other people who were around. Can we imagine that we approach this group, as well? Picture being with them and gazing on the child that would bring salvation to the world. Stay in this place, in your imagination, and worship for a moment.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


I’m going to do something that I rarely do. But in this case, I feel that I cannot summarize adequately, and Eugene Peterson was such a master wordsmith. This is his writing on the book of Hosea, from Symphony of Salvation. It is not long, barely one full page.

“We live in a world awash in love stories. Most of them are lies. They are not love stories at all – they are lust stories, sex-fantasy stories, domination stories. From the cradle we are fed lies about love.

“This would be bad enough if it only messed up human relationships with one another – man and woman, parent and child, friend and friend – but it also messes up human relationships with God. The huge, mountainous reality of all existence is that God is love, that God loves the world. Each single detail of the real world that we face and deal with day after day is permeated by this love.

“But when our minds and imaginations are crippled with lies about love, we have a hard time understanding this fundamental ingredient of daily living, love, either as a noun or as a verb. And if the basic, orienting phrase God is love is plastered over with cultural graffiti that obscures and defaces the truth of the way the world is, we are not going to get very far in living well. We require true stories of love if we are to live truly.

“Hosea is the prophet of love, but not love as we imagine or fantasize it. He was a parable of God’s love for his people lived out as God revealed and enacted it – a lived parable. It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way8 – goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love. He says,

"I will heal their waywardness. 
I will love them lavishly. 
My anger is played out. 
I will make a fresh start with Israel. 
He'll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring. 
He'll put down deep oak tree roots, 
he'll become a forest of oaks! 
He'll become splendid—like a giant sequoia, 
his fragrance like a grove of cedars! 
Those who live near him will be blessed by him, 
be blessed and prosper like golden grain. 
Everyone will be talking about them,
 spreading their fame as the vintage children of God. 
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods. 
From now on I'm the one who answers and satisfies him. 
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree. 
Everything you need is to be found in me." 
(Hosea 14:4-8 MSG)

“Once we absorb this story and the words that flow from it, we will know God far more accurately. And we will be well on our way to being cured of all the sentimentalized and neurotic distortions of love that incapacitate us from dealing with the God who loves us and loving the neighbors who don’t love us.”

“Rename your brothers ‘God’s Somebody.’ Rename your sisters ‘All Mercy.'”
(Hosea 2:1 MSG)

I believe I will find time to read the whole book of Hosea sometime today.


Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 
Guide me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long. 
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock 
and gave me a firm place to stand. 
(Psalms 40:2 NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, 
a light on my path. 
(Psalms 119:105 NIV)

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


Today’s prayer word is “shine.”

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
(Daniel 12:3 NIV)


Father, I thank You for the story of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Simeon, and Anna in the temple, and the visions it brings to my mind. May I be able to meditate on that, throughout this day. I also pray for Your light to shine through me, during this day. May my life be a light for all around me, and may I be “Jesus” to everyone I see today.

Thank You for the story of Hosea and the picture of Your love that it gives us. Help us all to escape the cultural distortions that surround the topic of love. Help us to get down to reality as we attempt to love You and love our neighbors.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Take My Hand

Today is Monday, the thirty-first of January, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time. The last day of January.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,335

Today’s header photo is courtesy Paul Militaru. Please check out his fine photography at the link provided.

Yesterday was a day. It was, as it turns out, a pretty good day, but it was one of the more stressful days that I can remember, lately, and quite exhausting, at least mentally.

Right off the bat, let me say that no one was to blame for this. Circumstances arose that were out of anyone’s control, beginning, at least for our involvement, Saturday evening.

But what this is going to turn into, as the ongoing circumstance develops, is a praise report.

Look back a couple days ago, or so, and you will see an entry called “Disastrophe.” In it, I wrote about how the book of Ezekiel shows us that God works in and through catastrophe in our lives. We experienced the truth of this, yesterday.

The circumstance is that the plumbing in my mother’s house is clogged up, right now. Both toilets are backing up, and there are other issues, but the toilets are the primary, priority issue. We were already planning to go over there, yesterday, as S had an event at FBC that she wanted to attend, and we planned to have her there for that. So when Mama called Saturday evening to tell us about the problems, we decided to wait until Sunday morning to try to deal with them.

We dropped S off at the church and went over to the house. We chatted for a little while, serious talk about the eventuality that my mother wants to . . . okay, she doesn’t want to, but feels that the time is nigh for her to leave her home of almost sixty years. And, she expressed, to our surprise, her desire to come live with us for a while. Surprise because it had been previously expressed that she did not want to stay at our house, but might want an apartment or senior living space somewhere nearby.

After we talked a little while, and before we headed back up to the church for the worship service and lunch afterward, C took the short snake that we had brought and tackled one of the toilets. She actually got it to flush, and we went on to church.

As for plumbers, Mama had not been able to successfully contact any. She had called one that had been recommended, but had not been able to talk to them, as they had not returned her calls. While we were at church, I ran across a family friend, one of my high school teachers who is active in the visitation of elderly people who don’t get out much (we used to call them “shut-ins” when I was a kid), who gave me a name of a guy who does work like that, not an official “plumber,” but a handyman of sorts, who has actually done work for Mama before. But she was not aware that he was still doing work like that.

We got home from lunch, finally, and gave her the name. Of course, she remembered him, and still had his number. We talked some more, mostly about what kinds of things would need to happen in order for Mama to come live with us, and what kind of time line we were looking at. We are concerned with two things, at this point. One is getting the plumbing/toilets fixed asap, and the other is that there is an extreme cold front coming in mid-week, with snow and temps dropping to single digits. Doesn’t look anything like last year’s “Snovid” event, but still a bit unsettling. C really wanted to bring her home with us last night.

Shortly before we were getting ready to leave, Mama tried to call the guy, but he did not answer. She left him a message. We went to Braum’s to get her some milk and orange juice (and I needed to use the restroom). We got the milk and OJ, but someone was in the men’s room the entire time we were there! I waited close to fifteen minutes, too! One customer, as I was leaving opined that he would have just used the ladies’ room, as they are single occupancy. C even offered to stand watch while I did that, but I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Silly, perhaps, but whatever.

So we went back to the house (I figured I could wait on the restroom until we hit up a convenience store on the way out of town in a few minutes) to deliver the milk and OJ. Just as we were saying our goodbyes, the phone rang. Mama figured it was a good friend who was supposed to call her back, but it was the handyman. We waited while she talked to him. He is supposed to be there, sometime this morning, with a super-duper snake machine, and feels that he can fix the problem.

So let’s lay out how we believe God worked through all of this. I realize that skeptics would call all of this coincidence. I, personally, do not believe in coincidence or “luck” (even though I do, sometimes, use the word “lucky”). I ran into my old teacher/family friend at church, who gave me the name of the handyman that my mother had used before and trusted. Now, here’s the thing that blows my mind. If I had not been delayed at Braum’s, trying to use the restroom, an inconvenience and annoyance to me, because whoever was in there wouldn’t come out, we likely would not still have been at Mama’s house when the guy called back, and would have left her with little peace about what was going to happen. As it turns out, we had great peace when we left, and were able to relax and get a good night’s sleep when we got home.

So, catastrophe, yes. Stressful, to the max, yes. But God worked. It is not finished yet, but we at least have something in the works that has good potential. And there is the beginning of a plan to move my mother into our house, soon. No idea how soon, but it’s at least in the works.

Well, that got long, and probably could have been its own entry, but I’ll carry on from here. Today is a typical Monday. C is back at the office again, and I’ll be doing some housework, during the day. It’s my “heavy” week at the library, working Tuesday evening, all day Wednesday, Friday (weather permitting), and Saturday.

I have also managed to get in my Wordle for the day.

Wordle 226 4/6*

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TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."
For you are my rock and my fortress; 
and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me; 
Make your face shine on your servant; 
save me in your steadfast love! 
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, 
all you who wait for the LORD! 
(Psalms 31:3, 16, 24 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the way God works through apparent catastrophes
2. that the Lord is my rock and my fortress and that He leads me and guides me
3. for the sovereignty of God over all creation
4. that You are holding me by the hand, leading me to live right and well
5. that You bind up that which was broken (Ezekiel 34:16)

“Hear My Prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.”
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 
And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 
He lived among the tombs. 
And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 
for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. 
No one had the strength to subdue him. 
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 
And crying out with a loud voice, he said, 
"What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
 I adjure you by God, do not torment me." 
For he was saying to him, 
"Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" 
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, 
"My name is Legion, for we are many." 
And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 
Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 
and they begged him, saying, "Send us to the pigs; let us enter them." 
So he gave them permission.
 And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; 
and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
(Mark 5:1-13 ESV)

Can you picture this scene in your imagination? What do you think this “wild man” looked like? Living in the tombs, according to Luke’s version, he was also naked, wearing no clothes. Night and day, he would cry out or howl and cut or bruise himself with stones. Sounds like the making of a good adventure movie, doesn’t it? Can you imagine what the howls sounded like?

Notice that the demons inside the man recognized Jesus immediately, running to Him, and throwing the man down at His feet. The “spokesdemon” even begged Jesus not to torment him. I wonder how Jesus looked at this man . . . what kind of expression did He have on His face?

The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, 
the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 
And those who had seen it described to them 
what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 
And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 
And he did not permit him but said to him, 
"Go home to your friends and tell them
 how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 
And he went away and began to proclaim 
in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. 
(Mark 5:14-20 ESV)

Can you now imagine the man, clothed, and sitting in front of Jesus, “in his right mind?” Why do you think the people begged Jesus to leave? Was it because they were so selfish that all they could think about was their pigs? I suppose that is always possible, knowing humanity the way we do. But I think there is also a key in verse 15. “They were afraid.” Something, someone “Other” was in their midst. Someone who had the kind of power that could do this thing, someone who was more powerful than whatever it was that had plagued this man for a long time.

I can’t help but wonder what it felt like to be in His presence at that moment. I have to believe that the air must have been thick with the power and presence of God. I mean, I know what it feels like when I get a taste of His presence in my room, here. This had to have been multiplied exponentially!

Do we know someone who might be suffering in the way that this man was suffering? Perhaps not possessed by “legions” of demons, but suffering in some other way. How can we pray for these people? We can speak to God, through Jesus, the One who has this kind of power, and we can have confidence that He will answer.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


"I am GOD. 
I have called you to live right and well. 
I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe." 
(Isaiah 42:6 MSG)
Of David.

 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; 
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. 
On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. 
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, 
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. 
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. 
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. 
(Psalms 138:1-8 ESV)

In that Isaiah passage, there are several translations that have God saying, “I will hold your hand,” or, “I will take you by the hand.” Surely we are all familiar with the image of God holding us in His hand. Who doesn’t know the old gospel song, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands?” But how often do we think of God, whose “hand” is big enough to hold the world, taking our hand and holding us by the hand?

What a wonderful image. Just as God called Isaiah to “live right and well,” my God has called me to do the same, and He has pledged to take responsibility for me. There are many times in my life that I have experienced Him holding me in His hand or in His arms. But I have also known times when I believe that He is holding me by the hand and leading me.

Someday, that righteous right hand that gives me the confidence to “be not afraid,” will take my hand and lead me Home.


And today’s prayer word is “broken.” How’s that for “coincidence?” The verse given is short and sweet, from Ezekiel 34:16, where God says,

"I will . . . bind up the broken . . ."
(NASB)

Most translations render that “injured” rather than broken. However, the KJV says this:

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
(Ezekiel 34:16 KJV)


Father, in the spirit of Ezekiel 34:16, today, I ask You to bind up my mother’s “broken” plumbing. Bring healing to whatever needs to be fixed in her house, please. I call upon that same power that Jesus had when He cast the legions of demons out of that wild man in the tombs, restoring him to his right mind. I call upon You who take us by the hand, that same hand that holds the entire world, to lead us onward, to lead us Home, eventually. You have given us grace upon grace, and I pray that this continues, as You demonstrate how You work in and through disasters and catastrophes. You have given peace in the midst of the “storm,” Father, and I thank You for this.

I pray that as cold weather approaches our area, it will not be as severe as last February’s winter storm. I pray that it would not even be as severe as is being predicted, and that we would not have any travel/transportation issues in our area, and that no one’s electricity or other means of power/heating will stop working. Protect us, Father, those of us who follow You as well as the ones who do not. I do not wish calamity on anyone.

Thank You for Your absolute sovereignty over Creation, for it gives me confidence to trust in You and hope that all things will work out for our good. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Known By God

Today is Sunday, the thirtieth of January, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,334

We’re up early to get ready to go to Mineral Wells for reasons explained yesterday, so I don’t have a lot of time to spend on “peripherals.” I will say that, last night, a situation arose that, in retrospect, may be a testing of the conclusions from yesterday’s entry on catastrophic situations. I don’t want to go into any details on it, this morning. Perhaps when it is resolved I will explain further. At this point, it does not seem to be life-threatening, but it may be the impetus of some major life-changes.

We need to leave the house in about an hour, which means I have to get this “knocked out” and get a shower, so here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Giver of Grace, by Daryl Madden

A word of arising
To dwell with and pray
With such grateful joy
Of grace here this day

I look behind me
And I’m so amazed
How grace rescued me
In so many ways

I look before me
And grace is the key
To unlock the door
To eternity

Not just to receive
But grace to live here
For the giver of grace
Gives us grace to share

Grace is truly the key, and how important to recognize that it is “not just to receive, but . . . to live here,” and “to share.” Please check out more of brother Madden’s inspiration poetry at the link provided.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the grace of God that unlocks the door to eternity
2. that this grace is not just to receive, but also to help us live, and to share with others
3. for peppermint tea, because my stomach is angry with me, this morning
4. that God knew me before I was even formed in the womb, and loved me and called me to His kingdom
5. that grace frequently works its way out as patience (there is always something we do not know about a situation)

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 
"But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 
And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 
They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you." 
(Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 ESV)

Here is the event of God’s calling of Jeremiah to be His prophet. The words of God are somewhat stunning. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” It would be easy to gloss over this and think, “Well, God is just talking to Jeremiah, here, and this doesn’t apply to me.”

And while it is true that God is specifically speaking to Jeremiah, does that mean that it does not apply to me? Does God only know certain people, even before they are formed in the womb? Just the “special” ones?

This God we serve/worship is all-knowing, right? That’s the claim we make. Omniscient. If that is the case, then He also knew me before I was formed in the womb. He knew you before you were formed in the womb. I’m not called to be a prophet, like Jeremiah, but that does not negate the truth of His knowledge.

We are challenged to take a moment to simply “be” in the presence of this God who knew us and formed us in the womb. What is it like to be so intimately known? I can imagine that, for some, this could be unsettling. I find it glorious and refreshing, as well as liberating. God knew me . . . knew (knows, in fact, as He exists outside of time, so He still exists and is present before I was born) everything about me; everything I would do, say, and think, even beyond this day, when I am typing this.

And yet, still, He loves me.

Take a minute to look back at my gratitude list from yesterday. Point number five was, “that God, the Creator of mountains and forests, thought the world needed one of me (and you, too).”

And while God may not be speaking all of the words from today’s passage to us, directly, He is speaking and calling all of us to some kind of life and response. And I love verse 19, which provides great comfort in any kind of circumstance. “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:7 ESV)

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV)


Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of me. But more than that, I praise You that, in spite of that knowledge, You chose me to be part of Your kingdom anyway. I guess You saw something good in there, to bring me this far. So I pray for the sense to stick with You and keep following Jesus. Help me to live out the words and steps of Christ, especially in those “greatest commandments” that He gave us. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

May our trip today be safe and fruitful. Give us grace as we work through things. Your grace is sufficient; it is all we need. You are all we need. Thank You, Lord.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

True Love

Today is Friday, the twenty-eighty of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,332

It’s already getting late, this morning, so I’d best get moving. It’s a work day for me, and I am due at the library by 9:15. I’ve also been informed that I will be alone in the computer center (no supervisor/manager on duty) for the first part of the morning, as the manager has an early appointment. That shouldn’t be a huge problem, though.

Anyway, I’m going ahead into the devotional part, this morning, as I have less than an hour to get done.

I did take time to play Wordle, this morning.

Wordle 223 5/6*

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TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Blessed be the LORD! 
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. 
The LORD is my strength and my shield; 
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; 
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 
The LORD is the strength of his people; 
he is the saving refuge of his anointed. 
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! 
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
(Psalms 28:6-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my faith only has to be as big as a mustard seed
2. that God is my strength and shield, and that my heart trusts in Him
3. for the love of my wife; nothing on earth equals this
4. for the beauty of creation and eyes to see it
5. for the night sky, visible when there are no clouds - the heavens declare His glory

“How glorious is the kingdom, where all the saints rejoice with Christ”
And he said, 
"The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 
The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, 
then the full grain in the ear. 
But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, 
because the harvest has come." 
And he said, 
"With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, 
is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 
yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, 
as they were able to hear it. 
He did not speak to them without a parable,
 but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
(Mark 4:26-34 ESV)

Jesus gives two examples of the kingdom, both from the perspective of the harvest, or the production of seeds. In the first, the farmer scatters the seeds, and the fruit seems to grow “by itself.” It’s as if it just magically appears. The second concerns the volume of growth from such a tiny seed as a mustard seed (I’ve seen one . . . they are almost invisible to the naked eye). It grows to be “larger than all the garden plants.”

Having never had much experience with gardening, planting, or growing things (I have killed many plants, though), I think that these illustrations might be perfect to help me understand how God’s kingdom works. It might also help to remember that many of the young men to whom Jesus was speaking were fishermen. One was a tax collector. I’m not sure what the vocation of the rest were, but I don’t think we are ever told that any of them were farmers.

But God’s kingdom is shown to be like the working of these seeds. The seeds are planted (Jesus uses a couple other illustrations like this) by the sower or the farmer. There might be some things he can do to prepare the soil, and he might have to tend the soil after planting and maybe do some weeding. But, for the most part, he scatters the seeds and waits. In the case of most plants, the “seeds” are much smaller than what is eventually produced.

Jesus spoke most of the stories in parables, as He spoke to crowds of people. He did explain them to His disciples when they were in private. What I am taking away from these two stories, this morning, is that God is the one who does the bulk of the work. Maybe I’m supposed to be scattering seeds. But in one of the other parables, I believe the explanation is given that God is the sower. In any case, what I do think I understand is that faith is the key. I need to understand that God’s kingdom is bigger than anything I can imagine, and grows from the smallest of seeds.

(From Pray As You Go)


I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.
(Song of Solomon 6:3 MSG)

House and land are handed down from parents, but a congenial spouse comes straight from GOD.
(Proverbs 19:14 MSG)

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
(Proverbs 31:10 MSG)

Love never gives up.
 Love cares more for others than for self. 
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. 
Love doesn't strut, 
Doesn't have a swelled head, 
Doesn't force itself on others, 
Isn't always "me first," 
Doesn't fly off the handle, 
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
 Doesn't revel when others grovel, 
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 
Puts up with anything, 
Trusts God always, 
Always looks for the best, 
Never looks back, 
But keeps going to the end. 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG)

The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.
(1 Peter 3:7 MSG)

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

I don’t have any comments to add to these passages, other than to say that I have experienced these things.


Father, I thank You for these apt illustrations of how Your Kingdom works. I thank You that You have given me faith, but is it strong enough? Does my faith even equal a mustard seed? Some days, I might say, confidently, that it does. Other days, I’m not so sure. But I do know that Your kingdom is larger than any of us realize, and I also know that I cannot do anything to either make it bigger or make it smaller. I know that Your Kingdom will come, on earth as it is in heaven, which is why that is a safe prayer. So I pray, along with the disciples of Jesus, increase my faith, in the right directions.

Thank You for the love of my wife, that I have experienced for over thirty (closer to forty, now) years. You have blessed me wonderfully. I can only hope that she feels half as blessed as I do. True love has been shown me, and I am grateful for this. The love that I get from You is like unto the kind of love that we try to show one another. Help us to love each other, as that Message paraphrase says, “like our lives depend upon it.” Because, in some ways, they do.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Measure You Use

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the twenty-seventh of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,331

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. If there is every anything that we should “never forget,” the horrors of Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews is certainly one of them.

Yesterday’s adventure with Maggie (cat) went almost perfectly. We got in and out of the TCAP facility in a flash. In fact, the doctor had administered the vaccine before I finished filling out the paperwork. We were not charged anything, as the voucher from the Watauga animal shelter covered it. We picked up Sonic drinks and some candy, along with a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, because C is totally stressed out with work, right now, on the way home, and dropped off the proof of vaccination at the Watauga facility, which is just down the road from our house, probably less than a mile away.

I need to make a quick trip to a grocery store, today, because I don’t have any buttermilk, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner tonight. One of these days, I’m going to get adventurous and try something new.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; 
be gracious to me and answer me! 
You have said, "Seek my face." 
My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." 
Hide not your face from me. 
Turn not your servant away in anger, 
O you who have been my help. 
Cast me not off; forsake me not, 
O God of my salvation! 
(Psalms 27:7-9 ESV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid? 
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord is my light and my salvation
2. that, in Him, I have nothing to fear, for He is the stronghold of my life
3. for Jesus Christ, light of the world
4. that if we are generous with others, both in physical resources and with grace, our Father will be generous with us
5. that in some respects, our Father is generous with us even when we are not generous with others (that's mercy)

“O Christ, light of the world, whoever follows you will have the light of life.”
And he said to them, 
"Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, 
or under a bed, and not on a stand? 
For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; 
nor is anything secret except to come to light. 
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 
And he said to them, 
"Pay attention to what you hear: 
with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, 
and still more will be added to you.
 For to the one who has, more will be given, 
and from the one who has not, 
even what he has will be taken away." 
(Mark 4:21-25 ESV)

These are images that the people to whom Jesus was speaking could understand. Lamps were their source of light, and where a lamp was placed in a room made a big difference. Obviously, if you put it under a basket or a bed, it didn’t shed much light. But then, Jesus seems to be relating this to secrets and hidden things.

Likewise, these people would be familiar with measuring and weighing things, as in the marketplace. It’s how they sold and bought grain. Jesus seems to be indicating that the more generous you are, them ore generous the Father will be. And He’s not just talking about physical goods, here.

The light of Jesus Christ is not meant to be hidden. “This little light of mine . . . I’m gonna let it shine.” It’s not a secret. Doesn’t mean that’s all I’m going to talk about. But I’m not going to try to hide it. And I’ve been learning more and more, over the past decade or so, about the measuring out and the measure that I use. This has to do with grace.

I do believe that it relates to physical goods and generosity, and God has led me down a more generous path, the older I get. However, I believe that it also, and perhaps more accurately, defines the usage of grace in our lives. The measure I use to categorize and judge my neighbor or my brother in Christ is the same measure that will be used against me. That’s what Jesus said.

Now. Take that and apply it to yourself. Examine yourself, I challenge you. What measure do you use against your neighbor? Are you willing to have yourself judged by the same measure?

One of my favorite illustrations that my former pastor used to use is the illustration of imagining that we all had a voice recorder hanging around our neck for our whole lives. What would happen if, after our death, the Lord would play back the recording and ask us if we lived according to our own “rules?” “The measure you give will be the measure you get.”

“Pay attention to what you hear,” Jesus said. I could take this in several different ways, but I think that Jesus is telling us that we really need to take heed of what He is saying. This is serious stuff. We should not simply read over this without paying attention to it. This is one reason that I have, in recent years, tended to not do a reading plan that goes through the whole Bible in a year. I’ve done it many times, and I am, in fact doing it again, this year. But it definitely encourages reading (or listening, in my case, this time) without really comprehending what is being said. It becomes another thing to mark off the checklist.

I’m trying real hard not to do that, this time.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)


Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
(Psalms 25:5 ESV)

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:24 ESV)


Today’s prayer word is “kiss.” And while we are not exactly in an environment that encourages 1 Peter 5:14, these days, we can still certainly “love one another.”

Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
(1 Peter 5:14 ESV)


Father, I pray for grace to be the measure I use; all the time, for all people, everywhere. We tend to show grace when it is convenient, when we have “time.” But it’s not really “grace” then, is it? Help me to be more gracious to all people. Help me to remember that the measure I use is the same measure that will be used for me. That’s a terrifying thought sometimes, and if anyone says otherwise, they are either lying or just plain ignorant. Or maybe delusional, thinking that they are much better people than they really are.

Help me to live my life as though every second was being recorded and would be broadcast for all to see at the end of it. How much that has already happened would I be utterly embarrassed by? (A lot, that’s for sure!) What if my thoughts would someday be broadcast for all to hear? I might have a lot fewer friends than I have. I’d probably live alone in a cave.

I’m not alone, I know this, Father. But we all need a shot of reality in this. And while we may not be able to safely kiss one another (and that isn’t welcomed quite as much in this culture as it is in other countries or the days of Jesus), but we can still practice love, and we can still follow Jesus’s command to do to others what we would like to have done to us.

Thank You for the Light of the world. Thank You for the words of Jesus, that we have, recorded, that we may read them and heed them. Help us to take them seriously, and read them carefully. Then help us to put them into practice in our own lives.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.