Little Is Much When God Is In It

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,442

I had a pretty average evening at the library, last night. I had plenty of work, and shelved a pretty full cart of youth books, along with a partial cart of DVDs. That kept me busy for a little over three hours, and then I did my walk through the library, picking up stray books and marking them “used” in our system. We do that simply to indicate that someone at least showed some interest in the item, even if they didn’t wind up checking it out.

The Texas Rangers surprised the Angels in an eighth inning similar to what the Boston Red Sox are kind of famous for. The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the first. But the Angels answered with three in the top of the third. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, right after I got home. It was tied until the top of the seventh when the Angels scored on a Mike Trout solo homer. But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rangers erupted for seven runs! They held on and wound up winning 10-5. Danny Santana got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 16-19 for the season, all alone in third place in the AL West. They are one game ahead of Seattle, two games ahead of Oakland, and seven games behind the first place Astros. The Rangers and Angels will play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, facing the fearsome Shohei Ohtani. Dane Dunning will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Red Sox lost to the aforementioned Astros, 13-4. Egad. They are 14-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of the Orioles. They have another game against the ‘stros, tonight at 6:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees still have the best MLB record, 27-9, and still have not lost that tenth game. The Cincinatti Reds still have the worst record, 10-26, but finally won their tenth game. They are only one game below the Washington Nationals, though. The longest win streak is now a tie between the LA Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, both with a four-game win streak. The Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the longest losing streak, both at five games. The Dodgers are back on top of the run differential chart, with +81. The Pittsburgh Pirates overtook the Reds for the worst differential, now with -72. The Rangers’ run differential, after last night, is down to -5.

I’m off work today, as this is my “light week.” I’m about to head to the store to grab a few things. The lawn guy is coming around noon, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Chicken for dinner tonight. I’ll be at work tomorrow, 11-8, so we will likely have some crock pot soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Father of us all, grant that we may know something of you in our hearts. Each one of us is different, with his own particular needs, but we are all your children and should all become children of your Spirit. Then even in the difficulties of life, in the many struggles, temptations, and sorrows, we can keep up our courage and remain in the Spirit, who is victorious in every aspect of life. Protect and strengthen us on all our ways. We praise you for all you have done and for all the help you have given us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:15b-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ
3. that all I really need to be willing to do is small acts of daily kindness
4. that all of our small acts of daily kindness can add up in the community of saints
5. for the priesthood of all believers
6. for the availability of God's Word in my language (something many of us take for granted)

Sing praises to God, sing praises; 
sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King over all the earth. 
Praise him with a psalm. 
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:6-8 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “morsel.”

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
(Proverbs 17:1 ESV)

I can attest to the truth of this Proverb. Not that I have ever been reduced to only being able to eat a “dry morsel.” But I have certainly feasted in a house full of strife, and the meal leaves much to be desired.

But, truthfully, that is not really the thrust of this word, today. The idea in today’s reading coincides with a song I have heard that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”

We all have this desire to do “big things” for God, right? I used to want to be a rock star, then I wanted to be a “Christian rock star.” I wanted to do great things for God. There is also a possibility that I really just wanted to be noticed and famous.

At this point in my life, having never been famous or a rock star, I simply want to be willing to do small things for God. “Little acts . . . in the Lord’s faith hands become precious morsels that go down sweet.” Simple acts of kindness are sometimes all that is needed in this world, today. Other people can handle the big stuff. I just want to be one who shows love and kindness in my own little corner of this world.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray that You would allow me to be a “precious morsel” in Your kingdom, showing small acts of kindness to people with whom I come in contact. Let me be willing to provide the simplest of acts, maybe nothing more than a friendly smile, a cup of water, or a generous tip to a server. You have given me this desire, so I pray for opportunities to live it out.


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

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.
(Romans 16:1-4 NLT)

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT)

What happens when you have a bunch of morsels all together? You get a meal! Even Paul, that “giant” of faith, didn’t do things by himself. His work could hardly be called a “morsel,” but he collaborated with others, and he always was sure to give them credit in his greetings.

What was the first thing in creation about which God said it was “not good?”

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 NLT)

As much as I enjoy being alone, we are not expected to be alone in our work for God. We need each other. We need community. There are some things that I can do alone, sure. Some of those “morsels” I mentioned above can be done by myself. But I could never have donated 1700 pairs of socks to a homeless ministry by myself.

Just something to ponder, this morning.

Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ; the ones I know personally, and gather with regularly, as well as all the ones that I have never met and will never meet until the day we all stand in glory together. Together, we can do great things. May we spread Your love, mercy, and grace around the world!


One of the beautiful things about this community of saints is this thing that we call “the priesthood of all believers.” I have heard that phrase for most of my life, having grown up Southern Baptist. One of the things that this means, and probably the most important in Baptist life, is that we don’t need a priest (as in Catholic) to read and interpret Scripture for us. This was one of the big tenets of the Reformation, because, before Martin Luther came on the scene, the average parishioner did not have their own copy of the Bible. And it wasn’t available in their language, anyway, as all the copies were in Latin. So only the priest could read it.

One thing this does not mean, however, is that everyone’s interpretation is valid. That would be pure chaos. We still need people who are educated in biblical history and context. But, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit. And it is my contention that no one can truly understand the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. And no one who is not in Christ has the Holy Spirit.

The other piece of the priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, in this community of saints, to be priests to one another, ‘with each of us mediating grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and with each of us capable of connecting with another in a way that brings God’s love home with personal force.” Eugene Peterson even goes so far as to word it “the leadership of all believers.”

“Leadership is that capacity everyone has for taking the first step, making it possible for others to follow–the capacity to connect with another so that others can get in on what we are in on. What we are ‘in on’ is Christ.”

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

My desire and hope in this is that I am taking those “first steps” by promoting the love of God through any forum I can access. If I can get just one or two people to follow in that, then maybe they can also be leaders in their own community, as well, and maybe we can have this “love revolution” that I’m praying for.

Father, I thank You for this idea of the priesthood of all believers. I thank You that, first of all, I have the access to read and understand Scripture in my own language. I also thank You that, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to be priests and leaders to one another, showing Your love, mercy, and grace to not only all other believers, but the rest of the world, as well. I pray that there would be more of a spirit of unity in Your Church, and that we would focus on the things that really matter, like walking in Your kingdom, and displaying the love of Christ in our world.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

True Evangelism

Today is Thursday, the twelfth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,436

It was a pretty good day, yesterday. The library was moderately busy, but not too much so. I issued at least five new library cards before lunch, which is an unusual amount. I also replaced a few cards for people, as well.

We had a new version of our crockpot chicken soup, last night. I thought of this a week or so ago. I got some Alfredo sauce mix, and instead of Ranch mix, I sprinkled it in the crockpot with the chicken and the cream of chicken soup. That’s the only difference, but then we served it over cauliflower linguini, and it was most delicious!

The Texas Rangers lost last night’s game, 8-2, to the KC Royals. They had won Tuesday night, but I didn’t have time to talk about that, yesterday morning. The Rangers are now 12-17 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL West, a half game ahead of the Athletics. They finish the series with KC tonight, at 7:05, and tomorrow, the Red Sox roll into town. That should be an interesting series, as the two teams have had similar starts to the season.

Speaking of the Sox, they lost last night, to Atlanta, 5-3. They are now 11-20 for the season. Their next game is tomorrow night, here in Arlington.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“This Day Is,” by Daryl Madden

It’s blessed to us
A gift of His
And that is what
This day is

Let us receive
His love, adore
That is what
He’s longing for

His love to share
Abundantly
That is where
Our joy will be

Of heaven here
His love to bind
That’s how this day
Becomes divine

Please check out more of Daryl’s poems at the link provided.

Lord our God, we thank you that we can be children of your Spirit. We thank you that because you have called us, we receive eternal gifts that enable us to stand firm even when many sorrows and burdens weigh us down. For you are our life, and in all the darkness, even that of death, you give us light and strength and joyful hope. Keep these alive in us. May an ever brighter light shine on all that you have already put into our hearts, on all that draws us daily to you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”
(John 14:23 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this new day, a gift of blessing from God
2. for His eternal gifts that help me to stand firm, even when things threaten to weigh me down
3. for faith, without which it is impossible to please God
4. for the Word of God and the impact it has had on my life
5. for the Gospel of Christ, that the kingdom of God is here, now, available for us to live in right now
6. for the love of my wife

Today’s prayer word is “faith.” About time we got around to that one, right?

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 NLT)

“I understand the power of faith. I can touch it on my daughter’s face, smell it in the roses gracing my garden, and read it in the Bible. It’s forever. And it’s mine.” ~ Heidi

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Faith is real. We are mocked, frequently, by people who think that faith is unrealistic, that we are believing in a myth. That’s fine. Let them think that. But even they exhibit faith. Every time someone sits in a chair or turns on a light switch, they practice faith. My faith is just a little bit bigger. I believe that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. I believe that I, too, will one day be resurrected to live with Him in eternity. I don’t know what that will look like. But I believe it. Because God has given me faith. My faith is a gift from Him.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

Father, thank You for my faith, and for the faith of all of Your children. I pray that our faith will ever increase as we draw closer to the Day of the Lord. I pray that this faith will lead us into the most wonderful love that this world has ever seen. And I pray that this faith will cause us to never worry about or fear the things that are happening in this world, today.


My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
(Proverbs 3:1 NLT)

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
(Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NLT)

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
(Proverbs 22:6 NLT)

I have, through life, endeavored to remember the things that my parents taught me. There were certainly times when I strayed, but God has always brought me back to the path.

We tried, as parents, to commit ourselves “wholeheartedly” to God’s words. We taught them to our children, and now, they are grown. One of them still lives with us, but the other is pretty far away. We continue to pray that God will keep her in His sight and draw her closer to Him. It is no longer up to us.

Is Proverbs 22:6 a promise? I used to believe it was. But this is considered “wisdom” literature in Scripture, just as the Psalms are “poetry” and “songs.” It is not always wise to attempt to build a theological system on poetry, songs, and wisdom. But, then again, it is wisdom. Maybe it is not so much a promise as it is a truth.

Father, I thank You for the things that my parents taught me, as I grew up. I thank You that these things have stayed with me, well into adulthood. I pray that those same things will stick in the hearts and minds of our daughters as they grow older. And may we all continue to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Your Word.


I’m going to talk about an unpopular word, for a minute. Well, it’s unpopular with half of the country, at least. “Evangelism.” What is evangelism?

Evangelism is the label we give to all those words and gestures, acts of witness both deliberate and subconscious, that get out the news in a person way that God is alive in the world, that it is his will that we experience his love, and that Jesus Christ provides the way in which we get in on it.”

There are many who do not quite grasp this “good news.” Many do not understand that “God is for them;” many who “don’t know the way and are wasting their lives hunting and pecking, guessing and groping, hoping that they will get lucky someday with a lottery ticket to heaven.”

On a side note, there are also quite a few who are not interested at all, and don’t even believe that there is a heaven.

The true Christian knows that God is for us and knows that the way to get to Him is through Jesus. “We don’t know everything about these great issues, but we know at least that much.” We also know that we have an obligation to share this “good news.”

Another side note: there are those who believe that this “obligation” requires us to mention Jesus in every single conversation that they have. I have even heard suggestions on how to manipulate conversations with random people, say your barber or someone, around to salvation and Jesus. I am not one of those people. I am, however, as Paul suggested, ready to give an answer should someone ask the reason for my hope.

Part of the problem is that we think we have to put on big productions in the name of “evangelism,” you know, like with “football-stadium crowds and television glamour.”

“But most evangelism is incremental and unobtrusive. Most evangelism takes place in the world as Christians live and work alongside one another in families and at jobs over the course of ten and twenty and thirty years. The primary field for evangelism is not with strangers who cross our lives briefly but with the people with whom we live and work and socialize over a lifetime. That is why it is so difficult–we must learn how to communicate through the ordinariness of our lives the extraordinariness of God’s grace. We need constant stimuli and direction in both what to say and how to say it right with our words and our lives.”

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

Here’s the thing: the people who believe that we must constantly be talking to strangers about Jesus (they claim that the Bible says that we have to talk about Jesus to everyone we meet . . . this is not true) would rather do that than with the people they live and work with every day. Why is that? More than likely because, in their everyday lives, they do not live according to the words of the One whom they want to talk about to all the strangers.

I’m doing some conjecture here, but it is based on observation. A lot of these people, who would manipulate a conversation with their hairdresser, treat their co-workers with contempt and scorn, abuse their families, and possibly other things, as well. They spew hatred on social media toward people who don’t think the way they do, and call them things like “idiot” and “stupid.”

I could very well be wrong, but this doesn’t seem very “Christlike” to me.

I am, at heart, evangelical. I happen to be white. However, I am most definitely NOT a “Christian Nationalist,” which is what “evangelical” has come to mean in our current culture.

I can’t help but wonder what brother Peterson would have to say about that.

Father, I thank You for the “good news,” and I thank You that You given us this news to share with others. I pray for the ability to share this Gospel with the people with whom I live and work on a daily basis. I pray also that I would be able to share it in the way that I live and the words that say, both toward random people, as well as those with whom I am in contact on at least a semi-daily basis. I thank You fort he social media platforms I have to share the Gospel. And I thank You for the simplicity of this Gospel, which is nothing more than the fact that Your kingdom is here, now, and that we can walk in it right now.

I pray for the souls of the people who claim to know You and claim to follow Jesus, but turn around and treat their fellow man with hatred. I pray for Your intervention in these circumstances. And it is because of these circumstances and others in our world that I pray, daily . . .

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Everything GOD does is right— 
the trademark on all his works is love. 
GOD's there, listening for all who pray, 
for all who pray and mean it. 
My mouth is filled with GOD's praise. 
Let everything living bless him, 
bless his holy name from now to eternity!
(Psalms 145:17-18, 21 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Clothed by God

Today is Wednesday, the eleventh of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,435

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Summer Guilliams, friend and sister in Christ.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for making us into a community whose refuge and certainty is Jesus Christ. We thank you that he will not remain hidden from us forever; his life will be revealed, perhaps soon, in our times. Lord God, how long, how long have your children waited! Now a new time is coming, the end of this age, and we rejoice in this even if you must also judge and punish. No matter what happens, we are at peace. We live in your future, in the future of Jesus Christ, in the great day when humankind will receive the Spirit and their old works will come to an end. Be with us. Bless us this night and help us in what we have most on our hearts. We have so much on our hearts, but you see everything and you know our needs. Lord God, your grace will overcome all earthly troubles, and your name will be glorified on earth if only there is a church that believes and truly awaits your help. Praise to your name! You have done immeasurably much for us and you will do even more. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
(Colossians 3:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my life is hidden in Christ, who will soon reveal Himself to all
2. for people in my life that I have called "hero"
3. that God alone is who I worship
4. for the command to not pretend to love others, but to really love them (Romans 12:9)
5. that God will clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and, above all, love

And since no one dares to disturb [Leviathan], who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”
(Job 41:10-11 NLT)

Side note. If you keep reading Job 41, beginning in verse 12, to the end, it is my humble opinion that what is described (called “Leviathan” in an earlier verse) is nothing other than a dragon! As a lover of the fantasy genre, it gives me great pleasure to believe that they did, in fact, once exist.


Today’s prayer word is “hero.” There are a lot of ways in which this word is used. For most people, it is someone who has had a significant impact on their lives, and is, the majority of the time, a human. For example, I have a couple of people that I call “heroes.” One is Carl Yastrzemski, former MLB player for the Boston Red Sox. He has always been my favorite baseball player, since I began loving baseball in 1967. Yaz won the coveted Triple Crown of batting in 1967, having the most home runs, highest average, and most RBIs for the season. That feat was not accomplished again until 2012, when Miguel Cabrera finally did it. The Red Sox also won the AL pennant, that season, and were known as The Impossible Dream Team.

I also have a musical hero. His name is Terry Scott Taylor. Terry is the “front man” for alt-Christian rock group Daniel Amos, as well as a couple of other side projects, The Swirling Eddies, and The Lost Dogs, which is a sort of “Christian Supergroup.” I have been following his music since the early eighties, when a seminary friend introduced me to the Daniel Amos album called “Alarma.” I have met Terry, along with other members of The Lost Dogs. I have not met Yaz.

Do I refer to Jesus as a “hero?” Lola Garcia (I’m not sure who this is, but there is an actress by that name) is quoted as saying, “God has my admiration. I admire all He has done, is doing and will do. He is my Hero!” That’s all well and good, but I think God wants more than our admiration. He wants our worship; He commands our worship. In fact, He wants our all.

I struggle with the idea of giving God the same characterization that I give a couple of mere humans. “Hero.” I looked up “hero,” and here is what I found. The first definition most definitely does not fit God. “A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” The second could, I suppose, “an illustrious warrior.” The third, though, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities,” doesn’t exactly fit. And “one who shows great courage?” Maybe. However, I do not believe that God has “courage,” because when is He ever afraid?

There are a few other definitions, most of which involve literature. One of those is, “the central figure in an event, period, or movement.” I suppose Jesus would fit in that category. Then there is the odd one out, which involves submarines. And finally, “an object of extreme admiration and devotion : IDOL.”

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Is Jesus or God your hero? As I said, my only hesitation in calling Jesus “hero” is the fact that I also call a couple of humans by that designation. I will note, however, that I do not engage in “hero worship.” I realize that both of my “heroes” are but dust. I do not worship them. I do admire them, though, for their accomplishments, probably Terry Scott Taylor more so than Yaz, as Taylor has had much more of an impact on my life than a baseball player whom I have never met.

Father, at this point, I cannot, in good conscience refer to You as my “hero.” However, You are my God, and You, alone, are the One whom I worship. I will not give that worship to a human “hero,” as only You are worthy of that. I cannot flippantly refer to You in the same way that I use that word for any human being, or any cartoon comic book character. [I neglected to mention my love of Spiderman when I was a young lad.] I do pray that Your Spirit will continue to work within me that I might ascribe all glory and strength to You, and give You the full amount of my devotion and worship. Let my heart not be drawn to another, Father, at least in terms of worship and adoration. May I truly love You with my whole heart, Lord, as I walk in Your kingdom.


Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NLT)

This verse comes up a lot in my devotions. I have to assume it’s because I haven’t perfected it, yet. In fact, I know very few people who have even come close.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NLT)

Wow. That passage from Romans in the New Living Translation! “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” That sends shivers down my spine, my brothers and sisters. We do an awful lot of pretending, in this culture, these days. There is a lot of “posturing” or “posing.” But when the proverbial rubber meets the road, what happens? Are we really caring for the oppressed and downtrodden? Are we taking care of the widows and orphans? Or are we too concerned about ourselves and our own “freedoms” and “rights?”

Father, I pray that You help me to obey the commands in these verses. I pray that I am not a pretender, but that I really love people. And there doesn’t need to be a reason to love someone, other than the fact that we are supposed to love them. Love is supposed to be the primary identification of someone who calls the name of Jesus. The old youth song says it, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I find that to be laughable, today, Lord, because I don’t see a lot of love coming out of the “Christian camp.” God help us! God forgive us! Make us lovers, not fighters, Father!

I pray that You clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Let those be qualities in me that people can see right when the meet me. And let Your grace and mercy shine through me, so that the world can see You in me. Let me not do anything out of “selfish ambition,” but help me to be last; help me to consider others as more significant than myself, in all things. In short, I am nothing without You, and in the words of John the Baptizer, “He must increase; I must decrease. Above all, clothe me with love!”


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Beyond Reason

Today is Tuesday, the tenth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,434

Yesterday seemed a little busy, but not terrible. I got C’s oil changed and filled up her car with gas, as planned. I also got several loads of laundry completed, and then cooked chili for us for dinner, last night.

Mama and I watched most of the Texas Rangers game in NYC, but they lost, 1-0. It was obviously a very close game. Both pitchers pitched well, the Yankees pitcher flirting with a no-hitter. In the end, the Rangers got 2 hits and the Yankees only got 3, but they were able to plate the run. John Gray, the starter, did pretty well, and was not pegged for the loss. The Rangers are now 11-16 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL West, one game ahead of the Athletics, who broke their losing streak yesterday. The Rangers begin a series with the KC Royals today at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday. That’s good, because it meant they didn’t lose. Hopefully, the rest did them some good, and they can maybe refocus and win a few. They face the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Yankees are back on top of MLB, with 20-8 record, being the third team to have 20 wins. The LA Dodgers (19-8) are only a half game behind them. The Cincinatti Reds have a win streak! They have won TWO IN A ROW! They still have the worst MLB record, at 6-23, but they are only 2.5 games behind the Tigers. There are now only three teams who have yet to win 10 games; the Reds, the Tigers, and the Royals. Let’s hope the Rangers can keep that true for the Royals. The Astros continue to hold the longest win streak at 7, and the Tigers now have the longest losing streak, at 6. The LA Dodgers have, by far, the biggest run differential, at +70, while the Reds have the biggest negative at -74.

It’s Tuesday, so I work tonight, from 4:15 to 8:15, at the library. It’s my “heavy” week, so I will also be working tomorrow and Thursday, have Friday off, and work Saturday. I think there might be plans for C and Mama to go to Mineral Wells on Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, bless us who have become united in our hope in you and in our expectation of your help on this earth, where people live in all kinds of foolish ways. Bless your Word within us. Grant us your Holy Spirit to restore life and gladness to our hearts, even in grief and suffering. Grant this not only in the distress of the whole world, but also in our own lives as long as we remain on this earth. Let signs be seen on every hand that you help us and give us a strength we can rely on. You help us in all circumstances every day, every year, ever anew. For this we thank you and praise your name. Amen.
(Today's daily prayer from Plough)
Trust in the LORD and do good. 
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 
Commit everything you do to the LORD. 
Trust him, and he will help you. 
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, 
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
(Psalms 37:3-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the safety that I feel in the presence of God
2. that, in Christ, there is no difference between any of us; we are all equal in Him
3. for the hope of the full realization of my salvation, my inheritance in heaven; may I wait patiently and confidently
4. that God cares for us more than He cares for the birds of the air; this should give us great confidence in Him
5. for the various platforms of social media that are available to spread the positive message of the Kingdom of God; I pray that people would stop using them to do harm and spread harmful words

Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
(Job 40:1-5 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “differences.” Author Tom Robbins is quoted as saying, “Our similarities bring us to a common ground; our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.”

In many ways, everyone is different. According to science, everyone has a unique DNA string, with very few exceptions. In many ways, we are alike, as well. Everyone has at least one doppelganger in this world.

While Mr. Robbins has a good point, all too often, we focus too much on the differences. Much ado is made about the differences between, say, male and female. And there are people out there that are proud of their difference. Some people want to be known as outside the norm.

But here’s the thing. According to the Bible, in the eyes of God, there is no difference. No, that doesn’t mean we are made out of cookie cutters. It doesn’t mean that we are rolled out like doughnut dough and run through that machine that cuts out fifty doughnuts that all look exactly the same.

What I mean by this, and what I believe Paul meant, is that, in Christ, we are all equal. It has been said, and I have quoted this here, before, that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Here’s what Paul says:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 NLT)

Here is another passage that brings the same kind of message:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
(Romans 3:21-24 NLT)

Where the NLT says “no matter who we are,” the NIV says, “there is no difference.”

So, yes, let us celebrate differences, as long as we are looking at them in a positive light. As soon as you use “differences” as a way to place yourself ahead of someone else or make yourself feel more important than someone else, you have crossed a line into sin. Because, here’s another word from Paul:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NLT)

(Inspired by Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You for the differences in all of us that keep things interesting. But I pray that we not use differences as a way to discriminate against others. It makes me sad that I see a lot of that going on, these days, and, at times, even using Your name as an excuse. That ought not be, Father. I pray that Your Spirit would intervene in these cases and change hearts and minds to view everyone as equal under Your gaze. This, I believe, falls under Your command to love one another. So, please help us to do that. May we embrace differences, but not use them.


King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.”
(Daniel 4:1-3 NLT)

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
(Romans 8:24-25 NLT)

This is the essence of hope. We are looking forward to something that we do not yet have, and we wait. Sometimes not so patiently, and most definitely, not always confidently.

If I’m being honest (isn’t that a strange phrase? I mean, shouldn’t we always be “being honest?), I do not always wait patiently. If my wife would read that statement, she might fall on the floor laughing. I do believe I’m getting better, though. Confidence is another thing entirely.

I’ve always had this problem. My faith is not an issue, when it comes to what I believe God can do. I’m just not always confident that He wants to or He will. So I wait, sometimes not patiently, and sometimes not very confidently.

But there are things that I am both patient and confident about. One of those is the “future grace” (a John Piper-ism) of my inheritance in “heaven.” This is something that I hope for, because I do not yet have it. In one sense, I do have it, because it is, I believe, set aside for me. But in a more tangible sense, I do not yet possess it, because I cannot see it or experience it.

So I hope. And, even though I have been “saved,” I do have salvation, I am also still waiting for salvation to be fully realized. I long for the reality of this, yes, with all my heart. But I wait. Patiently and confidently. And that changes the way I look at the world.

Father, I thank You for this hope that I have. For if I was not confident of my eternal inheritance, I would have no hope. And, frankly, I do not see how anyone can survive, in this world, without hope. My hope in Christ is what allows me to look around me and see all the trouble and still keep going. That hope is what keeps me from despair. And that hope is also what keeps me from chasing after “causes” that are not relevant to Your Kingdom. Help me to walk more confidently and patiently in that hope, Father.


Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
(Matthew 6:26-27 NLT)

Here is something that addresses that struggle that I have with confidence in my waiting. In The Place of Trust, Martin Luther also addresses this, and, quite handily, puts us to shame as he speaks of the birds being our “schoolmasters and teachers. It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow should become a theologian and a preacher to the wisest of men.”

Finally, he says, “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting Him and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more. Thus this is an excellent illustration that puts us all to shame. We, who are rational people and who have the Scriptures in addition, do not have enough wisdom to imitate the birds. When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people. But after his fall from the word and the commandment of God, man became crazy and foolish; and there is no creature alive which is not wiser than he. A little finch, which can neither speak nor read, is his theologian and master in the Scriptures, even though he has the whole Bible and his reason to help him.”

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

I find this both amusing and shaming. Amusing because of the way Luther presents it to us, but shaming, because it is true. Any amount of worry that I might experience falls to the ground when I consider the truth of Jesus’s words. And, when I acknowledge the truth of those words and embrace it, the weight that is taken from my shoulders is immense. We have no excuse, my brothers and sisters, to worry about anything. We have ever reason to live like the birds. Not that we don’t need to work for our living, because that is our lot in life. We need to do that for which we were created. The birds can do that for which they were created, and the Lord takes good care of them. We have our own purpose, and when we are walking in that purpose, we will have all that we need.

Of course, “need” is the operative word in that sentence.

Father, I thank You for the truth of these words, and I thank You that they arrived on the heels of a brief discourse about my struggles with confidence. There will always be doubt in my mind when it comes to certain prayers that I lift up. I don’t know if it is Your will or plan to heal someone from a disease. I don’t know what You have in store for someone who is suffering or struggling with something. But I do know that You are there with us, and that everything we do, we do in Your presence. I also know that You love us beyond measure and beyond human reason.

If we could fill the ocean with ink and make the sky a parchment, and attempt to write Your love on that parchment, it could not contain all the words, and it would drain the ocean dry. Help me and help all of us to embrace this love, this love beyond human reason, and to live our lives in confidence that You will care for us like You care for the sparrows.


These words from Eugene Peterson, to a large degree, sum up the way I feel about my presence here, and on other forms of social media.

“My first and continuing pastoral purpose in this pulpit is that you confess Christ personally. As a pastor, I have never wanted to be a moral policeman. Your morals are not that interesting to me. I am not interested in rewarding you when you are good or punishing you when you are bad, nor as a pastor have I wanted to gather large crowds here for religious entertainment. It makes little difference to me whether there are many or few in this place. Religious crowds are the easiest crowds to gather. But increasing the number of people under one roof has never been a conspicuously successful way of involving people in what is essential. The pastoral act that is central to me is to introduce God at his personal best (Jesus, the Christ) to human beings at their personal best.

“That is exactly what I hope happens here each week. I don’t want merely to tell you about this great story I have been reading in this book (the Bible); I want you to meet the Author. And he has told me that he wants to meet you–to involve you in a new story he is making. I can arrange the interview.

“Do you see why I have little interest in entertaining you with gossip about God? Do you see why I have little interest in lecturing you about what kind of life you ought to lead? There is something far more interesting and more to the point about introducing you personally to the personal God so that you no longer talk about God but to him. I long for you to confess Christ personally and get in on the new creative work that God is writing: the story of your salvation.”

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

Obviously, I’m not a pastor with a pulpit. But I am a person with a forum, a form of media that I use to proclaim a message. I might be guilty, at times of “lecturing,” but that is only because I desire to see people doing what Jesus commanded us to do, which is to love God and love people.

One thing I do not do is beg for followers or try to manipulate people into following me. That is something that I find quite annoying on TikTok and other social media platforms (YouTube, as well, although, at this point I do not have a YouTube channel), the constant begging and trying to attract followers. I couldn’t care less what that number is. Oh, sure, I’ll admit that it felt good to see that I now have over 1000 followers on WordPress, but that is not my intent; that is not my purpose. That just means that there are that many more people who will be introduced, in some way to Jesus.

My favorite part of the piece by Peterson is the bit where he says he wants people to be talking to God, rather than talking about Him. And that is why I include my prayers in this blog. I want to encourage everyone who reads this to not only think about, meditate on, and contemplate God and the Scriptures, but I want to also encourage people to pray.

Father, I thank You for this platform that has been provided, and the freedom I have to express my beliefs on said platform. I thank You that this goes out all around the world, and that it is available for people to see almost anywhere. I do realize that there are exceptions to this, because of various circumstances. I pray for this blog to reach people for Your kingdom, for Your “cause.” I believe with all my heart that Your cause, the Gospel of Christ, is the only cause worth following and fighting for. I pray that someone will read these words, today, and get a glimpse of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that they might being to experience Your love beyond reason.

I don’t even have to know about it. I send out these words with the confidence that You will work through them. I have the same confidence in Your Word, because You have said that Your Word will not return to You without serving its purpose. I also pray that You would, as far as it serves Your purpose, “redeem” all forms of social media, that they would be used for good and not harm. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Grace and peace, friends.

Praise Him Anyway

“We cannot take a word of Jesus here and think on it for a few minutes, then admire and act there. This is a world-determining and life-transforming person we are involved with. No detail of our lives is exempt from his energetic, eternal work.”

Today is Monday, the ninth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,433

We had a most wonderful day, yesterday. Our gathering at the house of Brandon and Kristin was a great time. A couple brought “cronuts,” which are “donuts” made out of croissants. They were quite delicious. We simply had a great time fellowshipping, then we read some Scripture and took the supper. We kind of didn’t leave time for prayer this time, but will work on that next week.

The baked potatoes and steaks were marvelous. Even though I cooked them, I will boast just a bit and say that we never had a better ribeye at Hoffbrau, and theirs are pretty darned good.

C and I had a great time at our massage, as well. Those people do a magnificent job. The environment is so very calm and peaceful, and the way they do a couples massage is so tranquil. It was just amazing. We plan on trying to get over there at least once a quarter. They have a monthly membership, but we kind of feel that that would be too often and it might lose its “specialness” if we do it that often.

The Texas Rangers managed to split the double header with New York, and, while I’m disappointed that the win streak ended, I’m proud of them for holding their own against the current best team in MLB. (Scratch that . . . after yesterday, the Dodgers are back on top, thanks to the Rangers!) The first game, they lost in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1. Dane Dunning pitched spectacularly, and had five innings of no-hit ball. Glenn Otto started game two, pitched very well, but gave up 2 runs. Garrett Richards got the win, as they tied and went ahead in the seventh inning, first on some smart base running by Jonah Heim, and then a two-run shot by Brad Miller.

So the Rangers hold fourth place, with a 11-15 record, two games ahead of Oakland, who has now lost nine consecutive games. The Rangers finish this series in NY with a makeup game today, at 12:05 CDT. I will likely watch at least part of that game.

The Red Sox . . . man. I don’t even want to talk about them.

As previously stated above, the LA Dodgers now hold the best record in MLB, at 19-7. The Mets, however, were the first team to win 20 games. The Reds won a game!! Actually, the seem top have won two, since the last time I looked, because they are 5-23, now. Still firmly entrenched in the cellar, but things may be looking up. The Athletics now have the longest current losing streak, at nine games. Unfortunately, the current best win streak belongs to the Astros. This, too, shall pass.

Today, I have a couple of things to get done. Most importantly is getting the oil changed in my wife’s car and filling it up with gold gas. This is a sort of carryover Mother’s Day “gift.” I told her to take my car to work today, and I would take care of those things for her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, our God and Father, we thank you that in all the misery and night on earth you have let your hope dawn as a light shining for all your people - all who honor your name, all who dwell in Jesus Christ through forgiveness of sins and through resurrection to a new life. Praise to your name. Praise to Jesus Christ. Praise to the Holy Spirit, who can comfort, teach, and guide our hearts. O Father in heaven, we can never thank you enough that we are allowed to be a people full of grace, full of hope, and full of confidence that your kingdom is coming at last to bring salvation and peace for the whole world. Amen.
(Today's Daily Prayer at Plough)

“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
(Isaiah 60:19 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for hope that dawns as a light shining for all of God's people
2. for God, my everlasting light and my glory
3. that, no matter what is going on around me, I can praise and thank God, anyway
4. for the compassion, mercy, and unfailing love of God; I pray that He helps me to display those characteristics in my own life
5. that things in God's kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine; therefore, I will not focus on what appears to be "bad" around me

God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.
(Acts 19:11-12 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “anyway.” Interesting choice, but a good one, because it takes into account anything that may occur in our lives and says, “I will praise You, anyway.” The choice of Scripture is fitting.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT)

I rather like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased this:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to GOD. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on GOD’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 MSG)

The writer of today’s reading, Bob, compares the word “anyway” with the word “whatever,” which he notes was used extensively by his teenaged offspring.

“‘Whatever’ signaled indifference; ‘anyway’ signified determination. ‘Whatever’ implied helplessness; ‘anyway’ indicated strength. ‘Whatever’ suggested stagnation; ‘anyway’ denoted motion.”

Bob calls Habakkuk’s passage, there, the “anyway prayer.” And even though the text doesn’t use the word “anyway,” it can be paraphrased from the word, “yet.” Even though these things may or may not happen, I will praise the Lord, anyway.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I can easily embrace the words of Habakkuk, this morning. Even though there may be things that challenge me, threaten to dishearten me, I look to You for comfort and strength, and I will praise You anyway, because I believe, in the words of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”


The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
(Psalms 103:8 NLT)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 NLT)

So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
(Romans 9:16 NLT)

Father, since You have shown such compassion and mercy and unfailing love, who are we, who am I to not do the same? We have fallen far short, I fear, in those categories, in general. While I do see examples of Your love and mercy, if I look hard enough, what is more visible is many of us refusing to display the characteristics that Jesus displayed when He walked on the earth. His words, His commands, tell us to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love You. Help me to do these things, Father, in the same way that Jesus did. Mold my heart, Father, to love more.


“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?”
(Matthew 6:25 NLT)

Martin Luther discusses this passage in The Place of Trust. This life on earth does not last forever. Therefore, expending energy on gaining property and wealth is a waste of our time. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and “mammon,” which means, in a sense, wealth as an evil influence, or “the devil of covetousness.”

There are certainly things with which we must be concerned in this life. We do need food; we do need clothing; we do need shelter. But we must not “worry” about these things, to the point that it is all our heart thinks about. There is a fine line between making sure we provide for ourselves and our families and obsessing over the procurement of more stuff and money.

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

Father, I pray that all of us would be able to follow Jesus’s words on dealing with possessions and money. While I don’t believe that You expect all of Your people to sell all their possessions and give everything to the poor (that was only commanded to one individual that I know of), I do believe that You would have us hold on loosely to our possessions, especially considering that everything we “own” has come from You. So help us to not worry about things and know that, just like the flowers and birds, You are going to take care of us.


What does the word “salvation” mean? We think we know, because the word is so common in our vocabulary. But, in a sense, it has almost become a cliché.

Eugene Peterson says, “it refers to action that exceeds our comprehension even as it invites our participation. We need to return to the word with fresh attention, with lively curiosity, over and over again, and discover anew the central action of the universe. Jesus is ready to save.”

Salvation is what Jesus is up to. It is His “hidden” agenda, although it really isn’t all that hidden. But the thing is, those of us who name His name and gather to worship Him must be willing and ready to “enter into his act of salvation.”

This does not mean we “work” for our salvation. Not at all. Participating in it and working for it are two completely different things. We have to understand that “salvation” is not a “one and done” thing. This is a fallacy that may or may not have been propagated by certain preachers.

“We cannot take a word of Jesus here and think on it for a few minutes, then admire and act there. This is a world-determining and life-transforming person we are involved with. No detail of our lives is exempt from his energetic, eternal work.” (Emphasis mine)

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

One big problem that I have observed is that there are way too many people who think that participating in, or entering into, this salvation means nothing more than evangelism. They think that by “preaching the Gospel,” that they have done their job. This is, apparently, based on the fact that the last thing that Jesus said to His was what we call “The Great Commission.” But it seems to me that Jesus spent a lot more time talking about this:

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
(Matthew 25:35-36 NLT)

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
(Matthew 25:42-43 NLT)

I would recommend reading the entire passage, which, by the way, is not described as a “parable.”

The words and ways of Jesus are not meant to be observed and appreciated from afar. They require a response. It is not possible to simply think that Jesus was a “good teacher.” That, my friends, is absurd. He claimed to be God.

Supposedly C. S. Lewis said this thing, but I don’t care if it was him or someone else, because it is logical and true. Either Jesus was who He said He was, or He was a lunatic, or He was a liar. Those are the only three choices. A “good teacher” is not one of those options.

I believe that Jesus is who He said He was. Therefore, my life needs to reflect that, and it requires more than just preaching or teaching the Gospel. It requires that I sacrifice myself, my resources, my possessions, all that I have, in His name.

It’s a work in progress, this “salvation” thing. Back to that thing I said about “one and done,” it’s not something that just happens, and that’s it. We must immerse ourselves in this “world-determining and life-transforming person.” If we claim to follow Christ, and someone who is “down and out” asks us for something, and our response is “Get a job!!” there is something wrong; there is something very wrong.

Father, I please forgive us for when we get so self-absorbed that we can’t see the plight of those around us who are hurting. Forgive us when our eyes are all on ourselves and our “rights” and our bank accounts and how much we have to pay for gas, instead of maybe things we can do to help others. Help us to remember those words from Habakkuk, way back up at the beginning of this. When gas prices are high, when inflation is out of control, when things simply look bleak all around, I will praise You anyway. Because, truly, when we are in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. I will not focus on what is “bad,” especially since “good” and “bad” seem to be somewhat arbitrary in human eyes, anyway.

Thank You for the great salvation of Jesus Christ, and all that He has accomplished for us in Your name. I pray that You would help me to be involved in that salvation, and that I would keep my eyes open, to see where You are working in this world, and to join in, with all my heart and soul, as I walk in Your kingdom. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


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.

Yield to Joy

Good morning. It is Sunday, the eighth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,432

It is Mother’s Day, today, so happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers. If you are not a mother and desire to be, I pray that God would make that come to pass for you, that your joy may be full. If you are missing your mother, today, I pray that God would bring you comfort in this. If your relationship with your mother is, at best, strained, or, at worst, estranged, I pray for comfort in that, as well, and, if possible, resolution.

We will have our worship gathering, this morning, after which I will cook steaks and baked potatoes for lunch (actually, the potatoes will be cooking while we are gone), and then C and I will head out for our couples’ massage.

Hopefully, the Rangers will get to play baseball today. The first of two games is scheduled to begin at 12:35 CDT. The second game, of course, is “TBD,” because we don’t know when the first one will end, do we?

I must move on, because I still have to shower and prepare the baked potatoes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Fourth Sunday of Easter)
The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. 
He rescues them from all their troubles. 
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
 he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 
The righteous person faces many troubles, 
but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. 
For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; 
not one of them is broken!
(Psalms 34:17-20 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my mother and all that she taught me, through the years; Happy Mother's Day!
2. for my wife and all she has done for our children, through the years; Happy Mother's Day!
3. that the Lord does, indeed, hear us when we cry out to Him, and will rescue us from all our troubles
4. that I don't always have to be first, and can allow others in front of me
5. that I don't always need a crisis in my life to feel alive; I am alive in the presence of God, celebrating the joy of being in His presence, the "pleasures forevermore" of being at His right hand (Psalm 16:11)

“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. 
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"
(Job 38:2-7 NLT)

So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.
(Proverbs 23:25 NLT)

Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Solomon 8:7 NLT)

but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
(Luke 2:19 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “yield.” This is a word that we, as a culture, don’t like very much, these days. Unless, of course, we are pushing toxic masculinity, demanding that women “yield” to their abusive husbands. But that’s a topic for another day.

Andrew Murray is quoted as saying, “Being filled with the Spirit is simply this–having my whole nature yielded to His power.”

The most obvious example of yielding is the traffic sign.

When we see this sign, we are to give the “right of way” to oncoming vehicles from another direction. The most common case of ignoring these signs occurs when one is exiting the freeway. People already on the access road are normally supposed to yield the right of way to those coming off the freeway. I would opine that the majority of drivers, at least in DFW, ignore this.

But I’m not really here to talk about traffic. This is a spiritual devotional blog. Humanity, in general (and again, I’m almost always speaking in terms of Western culture), doesn’t like to “yield” to anyone. This became so very obvious in the thick of the Covid pandemic, as the simple act of wearing a mask became a hot-bed of political debate, as people (even Christians!) screamed about their “rights” being taken away.

When God commands that we love one another, we must yield. Jesus, in one of His teachings (not exactly a parable, because He wasn’t telling a story, but, rather simply illustrating a scenario) . . . well, I’ll let Him tell you.

“When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 
“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:8-11 NLT)

This is what yielding looks like. This is what loving one another looks like. I attempt to do this when I drive (sorry, but I’m back in traffic again). I almost always drive with at least two to three car spaces between me and the car in front of me. I am more than happy to let someone else be in front of me.

But we not only have to yield to each other, as we obey God’s command to love one another. We must also yield to God. This is also not easy. We have our own desires, which may or may not be bad, inherently. But our timing and God’s timing don’t always coincide. Everything works better when we yield to the Lord, allowing Him to work His good pleasure in us, which also allows us to do His will and bring Him glory.

There’s a quote, made famous by Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers: “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You that You have given me this spirit that is not concerned with being first. I live in a country of “me-first,” and sadly a large number of Your children have fallen into that trap. I don’t want to be first (I mean, sure, it’s nice, but it is not the desire of my heart, to the detriment of others). I still struggle, sometimes, because I’m still human, and dwell in this mortal coil. So I ask You to help me, always, continue to be yielding, both to my fellow humans, and, more importantly, to You, as You direct me through this life. I am far from perfect, in this, just as I am far from perfect in all areas of life. So help me to yield to Your Spirit in all things.


Have you ever known anyone who loved trouble? I believe I have, as I look back on my life. I don’t. No worries there. Trouble is not my friend. Even the smallest of troubles (for example, I recently had an issue where my PC would not go to “sleep” on its own, after a period of activity) has the potential of causing me great anxiety.

Eugene Peterson writes of a statement a friend of his made a number of years ago. “Do you know something? I have just realized that I like being in trouble. I am more myself when I am in trouble. I do things better.”

Peterson was convinced that many people share that preference. I believe I agree with him. I once had a manager who created emergencies so that he could then be the hero and solve them. I’m not joking about that.

But if you think about it, trouble does stimulate some of us to “be our best.” “Trouble forces us to gather our energy.” We might be standing around bored, not knowing what to do, when a crisis arises, and “suddenly we are alert and excited–alive.”

(Not me. I’m cowering in a corner in a fetal position.)

The Psalms tell us, many times, that God is an “ever-present help in time of trouble,” and that He rescues the righteous from all of his troubles. He never promises that we won’t have trouble. Who doesn’t remember the old classic, “I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden,” by Joe South?

God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is in the business of helping, healing, and delivering. But Peterson, as a pastor, wondered, what about those in between times, when most of the flock doesn’t need helping, healing, or delivering? “Maybe if I do a really good job on Sundays teaching you the moral discipline so that you will stay out of trouble, I won’t have to work so hard during the week! Or is there something else?”

Then, he says, “Many people find a decent, comfortable life like that intolerable, so they create trouble just to keep the action going.” Oddly enough, during his research, Peterson discovered that, during the Nazi bombing of London in WWII, “nearly all of the citizens’ psychological neuroses disappeared. People didn’t have time to be emotionally disturbed: they were in deadly trouble, and they had to do something about it.”

Spiritually, it may be true that we are always in crisis, because we know not the hour of our death. But there is more to life than dealing with crises. Peterson asks the question, “How do we live at our best when we don’t have to?”

And then the reading stops! He doesn’t answer the question!!

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

I’m no Eugene Peterson, that’s for sure, but my answer to that question revolves around the word “joy.” I take great comfort in passages of Scripture like Psalm 16:11.

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
(Psalms 16:11 NLT)

I believe that when we learn to live in Christ, embracing this joy of His presence and the pleasures of living with Him, this tendency toward needing crises goes away. This is where contemplation and meditation come into play, as well as the truth of yesterday’s Peterson reading, that spoke of reading the Bible “devoutly,” rather than just academically or superstitiously. When we truly spend time pondering the Word of God, we begin to live and walk in that sense of joy and pleasure, just to be in His presence. It is then that the need for trouble fades; it is then when we truly feel alive, no matter what is happening around us.

Father, I praise You for Your Word, once again. I thank You for that joy that comes from simply being in Your presence, and the pleasure derived from Your presence, as well. I think there are some who are uncomfortable with the idea of getting “pleasure” from You, but I’m not. You have led me down this joyful path, in recent years, and I thank You for this.

I pray for any people who feel that they must be in trouble or have a crisis to truly feel alive. I pray that they might learn to know joy and pleasure, just from being in Your presence.

As we gather to worship You, this morning, no matter where we may be, I pray that Your people would embrace joy and love one another. May we all learn to yield to each other and to You, as we worship You today, and each day. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:2 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
(Psalms 28:7 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Complete and Equipped

“Reading Scripture academically is only interesting. Reading Scripture superstitiously is merely silly. Scripture must be read devoutly so God’s Word will craft us from the inside out, shaping our awkward, ill-formed lives until we are ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

Today is Saturday, the seventh of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,431

Just in case anyone is wondering, we will be in the season of Easter until June 5, which is Pentecost. I’m pretty sure that, after that, we will be in “Ordinary Time,” until Advent. I’m still learning the liturgical calendar, and different groups of people have different Ordinary Time periods.

The Texas Rangers have already been postponed, again, today. They must be having some wicked bad weather up there in NYC. So now, there is a double-header slated for tomorrow, and a makeup game on Monday, where both teams were supposed to have an off day. The Rangers remain in fourth place, and still are working on a four-game win streak. They are a game ahead of Oakland, who has now lost seven consecutive games, apparently trying to catch up with Cincinatti in that column.

The NY weather must not be extending all the way to Boston, but I wish it had. They lost yet another game, last night, to the Other Sox, 4-2. JBJ made some great defensive plays, though, in the ninth inning. Boston has now descended into the cellar, embarrassingly behind the Orioles, who have won a couple games in a row. Boston is 10-17 for the season, and are now a half game behind Baltimore. They will attempt to get a win, today, against the Other Sox, at 4:10 EDT.

Speaking of Cincinnati, their game was also postponed, yesterday. In fact, there were six games postponed, yesterday, in total! There appears to be a huge storm system covering that whole area. Games were postponed in Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, and Cleveland. So far, only the NYC game has been postponed today.

Anyway, the Reds still hold the worst record in MLB, but it didn’t get any worse, yesterday. They have still lost nine consecutive (only two more than Oakland, at this point), and are 3-22 for the season. There are still five teams who have yet to win ten games, and Boston has the fifth worst record, in spite of not being one of those five teams.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. While many believe this to be a “Hallmark Holiday,” it actually originated, in the U.S., in 1907, on May 12, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. However, there are instances of a similar “holiday” as far back as the Middle Ages, when people who had moved away visited their home parishes on “Laetere Sunday,” the fourth Sunday in Lent. This eventually became “Mothering Sunday” in Great Britain, where, according to Britannica, it still continues into modern times, even though largely replaced by Mother’s Day.

We will not be traveling, since my mother now lives with us. I will be cooking steaks and baked potatoes for lunch. C and I will have a couples’ massage tomorrow afternoon, my gift to her. We did not buy any Mother’s Day cards because they are almost $10 this year. That’s just ridiculous. We got my mother a new table to go between her bed and easy chair in her bedroom.

Today, we will be going to a friend’s house to help celebrate the one year birthday of her grandson, Charlie. Good times. Outside of that, there are no plans.

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.
Taste and see that the LORD is good. 
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 
Fear the LORD, you his godly people, 
for those who fear him will have all they need. 
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, 
but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing. 
Come, my children, and listen to me, 
and I will teach you to fear the LORD.
(Psalms 34:8-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and I have experienced the joy of taking refuge in Him
2. for the closeness of the Holy Trinity, as I constantly experience the presence of Christ in me and around me
3. for the Name of Jesus, a light that the shadows can't deny, and that Name cannot be overcome
4. that reading Scripture devoutly allows me to listen to what God is saying to me and participate in the ongoing conversation that He is having with me
5. that reading Scripture devoutly will ultimately make me complete and equipped for every good work

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.”
(Acts 17:24-25 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “close.” I’m a little confused about the Scripture reference, but I’ll put it in here and see where they go from there.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
(Matthew 7:3 NLT)

The contextual meaning of the word “close,” for today’s reading, is the idea of being near something, “a short distance away or apart in space or time.”

Something being close can be good, or it can be bad. The writer of today’s reading, Buck, explains by comparing the closeness of his wife with her arms around him (definitely good) to a stranger in the plane seat right next to him, who has “dead rat breath.”

This is also where the Scripture verse comes into the picture, as Buck has a “conversation” with God in which he complains about the stranger’s breath and God replies with, “You think your breath is better?”

Even the closeness of God can be good or bad. It is certainly good to me, as I derive great comfort from the belief that God is always close to me. I love this quote from St. Patrick:

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

That is a wonderful example of “close.”

But the closeness of God is not such a good thing for those who either don’t believe in Him or are rebellious against Him.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You for Your constant closeness. Realizing the truth of St. Patrick’s words, above, gives me great comfort and reduces, sometimes eliminates entirely, any fear that I might experience. When worry or fear assails the doors of my heart, I am always tempted to give in, and sometimes I do, because I forget, momentarily, how close You are to me. But then Your Holy Spirit reminds me, I call out Your name, and the fears are gone. Indeed, “Your Name is a light that the shadows can’t deny; Your Name cannot be overcome.”


Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
(Psalms 37:5 NLT)

Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil.
(Proverbs 16:6 NLT)

I am grateful, my Father, that You have led me down a path of trusting in You. I have experienced Your help so many times in my life, and have witnessed the truth of Psalm 37:5. Help me to have a better, healthy “fear” of You in my life, as I walk in Your kingdom. There are many things with which I am grappling, at this point in my life, in terms of truth and its relationship to humanity. I pray for Your Spirit to clarify things in my mind and in my heart. I commit the way of my future to You.


All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 RSV)

The word “complete,” which is in most modern translations of these verses, comes from a Greek word, “artios,” which, according to Eugene Peterson, means “‘skillfully put together’–not thrown together haphazardly but carefully crafted.” In fact, the KJV translates the word “perfect.”

Many peoples’ lives appear to be haphazardly thrown together, being held together only by “a lot of foreign matter: drugs, hobbies, money, diversions, and fads.” It’s interesting that he chose to put “drugs” first, because I expected to see things like “alcohol, and sex” after that. But no, the next thing on the list is “hobbies,” so we are immediately humbled and stop that tendency of pointing fingers at the people whose lives are torn apart by substance abuse.

Says Peterson, “the skillful reading of Scripture is the means that God provides to put us together in the right way so that we are complete. It’s what he uses to shape, correct, and train us as human beings with dignity and eternity rather than as conditional consumers salivating at every commercial or as bundles of animal sensations enslaved to impulses of greed or lust or violence.”

Wow. That last sentence is kind of brutal, isn’t it? But when I look around, I see a lot of that, even among the people of God who have been led astray by the wiles of a greedy and capitalistic society.

“There are wrong ways to read Scripture, and Scripture is often read wrongly.”

Side note: I totally concur with this sentiment and have seen it in action. For example, I once had a conversation in which a more conservative person than I told me that he believed a woman couldn’t be a pastor because the Bible says that the pastor must be the husband of one wife. I challenged this by stating that, if that is true, then the pastor must also be married. He was not willing to follow his own logic to that end. I have little tolerance for such tomfoolery.

“Reading Scripture academically is only interesting. Reading Scripture superstitiously is merely silly. Scripture must be read devoutly so God’s Word will craft us from the inside out, shaping our awkward, ill-formed lives until we are ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

I know someone who basically only reads Scripture academically. He knows more about the Bible than I do, for sure. But his spiritual life is practically nonexistent. I also know people who pretty much only read the Bible superstitiously, searching the Scriptures for proof-texts to validate their wrong thinking about God.

Let’s be clear. I do not always read Scripture correctly, either. I used to be guilty of reading it academically, trying to memorize every nook and cranny. I have also been guilty of reading it superstitiously, thinking that, somehow, reading a portion of the Bible every morning would make my day go well. I have also been guilty of thinking wrongly about God, and probably still do about some things. And I’m getting quite weary of hearing from people who think that they’ve got it all figured out and are right about everything. Because only Jesus was right about everything.

Several things happen when we read Scripture “devoutly.” By the way, one meaning of “devoutly” is “in a totally committed and sincere way; earnestly.” So (my thinking, here) reading devoutly means that I am totally committed to allowing God’s Word to . . . what did Peterson say? “Craft [me] from the inside out, shaping [my] awkward, ill-formed [life] until [I am] ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

One thing that happens is that “we deepen and extend our involvement in the conversation that God has with us.” Yes, God is constantly having a conversation with us. We may or may not be paying attention to that conversation, but it is there. And He constantly invites us to participate in said conversation.

Another thing that happens is that “we become more at home with his ways of working and more familiar with the way his mind works.”

And the third thing that happens is “we are listening to God speak to us. His Word addresses the centers of our beings and calls forth responses that complete our lives into wholeness.”

Father, there is a lot of depth in this reading and a lot to consider/ponder. I am very grateful for Your Word and have loved it for as long as I can remember. As far as I know, I have been reading Your Word since I was able to read, and was always fascinated with it. As I grew and read it in different ways, my understanding changed (or perhaps lack, thereof). I do not claim to fully understand it, now, and know that I never will, at least not until I have shed this mortal coil and stand in Your presence in Glory. And then, if I understand correctly, at that moment, I will “know as I am known,” and all of the clouds and shrouds and fog will be lifted. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be. I will know all of the places where I was wrong and understand it all. And then, I am certain, I will fall on my face before You at that same moment, worshiping Your almighty and magnificent Name, for all eternity.

There will be no sorrow for the areas in which I have been wrong, only rejoicing to finally grasp and understand the totality of truth. Why do I believe that there will be no sorrow? Because Your Word tells me that that emotion will not exist in heaven. And, somehow, we will all be changed so that we will have no ill feelings toward everyone who disagreed with us on earth. That is almost incomprehensible! But I believe it will be true.

I pray for that day when I will be “complete and fully equipped.” I do believe I am moving in that direction, but really, really slowly. May Your Spirit work within me to help me read Your Word devoutly, every day, that I might become complete, for that is my heart’s desire. I ask for no riches or possessions, no fancy cars or homes, no more “stuff.” What I want is You, and to fully understand You, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place

Today is Friday, the sixth of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,430

I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. There were a couple of challenging patrons, but I always have help from at least one other manager or librarian during my time, there, and they were graciously helpful. As usual, I learned more about my job while I was there, and it is always good to learn new things, so that I can help the next person better.

The Rangers didn’t play yesterday, but the Red Sox did, and lost tremendously to the LA Angels, by the score of 8-0. The sad thing is, Boston’s starter, threw five shutout innings! It was the bullpen, once again, that blew the game and gave up 8 runs. The Sox are now 10-16 for the season, tied with Baltimore for last place. They begin a series with the Other Sox (11-13) tonight, in Boston.

The Rangers begin their series in NYC, against the Evil Empire tonight. Game time is . . . oops. No they don’t. Tonight’s game has already been postponed, and a double header is planned for Sunday. So there you go.

Those Yankees still hold the best record in MLB, at 18-7, but are only a half game ahead of Milwaukee’s Brewers and the Mets. The Reds have now lost nine consecutive games and are 3-22. There remain five teams who have yet to win ten games. The aforementioned Reds, the Washington Nationals, the Detroit Tigers, the KC Royals, and the Chicago Cubs.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer)

I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
(Psalms 34:1-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for blue skies and mild weather, today
2. for all things that are lovely, and for the loveliness of the Name of the Lord
3. that God will show me the right path to follow; that His Spirit will lead me forward on firm footing
4. that God is rooting out all false gods from my life, any idols that may be in His place in my heart
5. for the hope that you will see these things and be inspired to practice your own gratitude

Today’s prayer word is “lovely.”

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

We have the ability to choose what we allow our minds to dwell on. One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes is in regard to this. “The ultimate freedom we have as individuals is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon and think about.”

The casual observer might be forced to think that the majority of US citizens are choosing to dwell upon the most negative things possible. Paul gives us this admonition in Philippians, a most wonderful encouragement, to think about, to dwell upon, whatever is “lovely.”

What are some things that are “lovely?”

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude
(Psalms 84:1-4 NLT)

The dwelling place of the Lord is lovely. Now, we know that when the descendants of Korah wrote this psalm, they were speaking of a physical building. But we now think of the “dwelling place” of the Lord as the human soul. Therefore, I must believe that the soul of a human being is “lovely.” Believe me, that is extremely difficult, sometimes, especially when confronted with a human being who seems to have no soul.

The name(s) of the Lord is “lovely.”

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.
(Psalms 135:3 NLT)

There is a song that I like, called “Tremble.” It’s all about the wonder and beauty of the name of Jesus. The bridge says this:

Your name is a light that the shadows can't deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

The name of Jesus is lovely, indeed, and most worthy of the attention of our minds.

This is the value of meditation and contemplation, the classic disciplines. By practicing these disciplines (and there is a difference between the two), we train our minds to do exactly what Paul encourages us to do in Philippians 4:8, to think upon things that are “lovely.”

And what Dallas Willard said is true. As human beings, we have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. The problem is, we simply fail to do that, most of the time. Just because a thought pops into our head, doesn’t mean it has to stay there, right?

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, help me, today, to dwell upon what is lovely. If a negative thought comes into my brain, help me to push it right on through, dwelling on the loveliness of Your name or Your dwelling place. May I look upon every human being as lovely in Your sight, because You created all of us in Your image. I pray that all of Your people would do the same, and treat others with dignity and respect, even if they don’t agree about things. Your Name is lovely. The Name of Jesus chases shadows away and will not be overcome. Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble! Hallelujah!


Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
(Psalms 25:4 NLT)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
(Psalms 143:10 NLT)

As I reflect on the things that are lovely, meditating on and contemplating the name and characteristics of the Holy Trinity, then the Spirit of God can “lead me forward on a firm footing.” The Lord can “show me the right path,” and “point out the road for me to follow.” But this takes work on my part. Yes, I can pray for God to do these things, and He does answer prayer, but it’s not just automatic. I have to do the work required to learn these things. I must practice the disciplines in order to train my mind to think about the things that are pure and lovely.

Father, I praise You that You will point out the path, show me the road, and help me keep my feet on that path. But I ask You to help me practice the disciplines that will enable me to hear You when You guide me. Help me to learn how to pay attention. When I have trained my mind, heart, and soul to listen to You and focus on Your loveliness, then fear has no place in my life. Regardless of the circumstances that I see in the world around me, I will have no fear if I am simply focusing on the right things. So help me to focus on the right things. Help me practice those disciplines.


"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name, Amen."
(From The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer)

Eugene Peterson expresses a wonderful sentiment in a reading called “Do It Yourself.” He relates a personal story, in which he attended a concert by Pete Seeger (I’m not at all jealous)(yes, I am, that was sarcasm), where Seeger played the banjo and sang folk songs. Peterson was inspired by Seeger’s banjo playing, to the point that he went and bought a second-hand banjo and found some used instructions books and tried to learn how to play, himself.

Here’s the thing. As much as he enjoyed the concert, and likely would have enjoyed another, the “distinctive thing in that experience was not that I wanted to go back and here Pete Seeger sing again but that I wanted to do it myself.”

And then, as he has a way of doing, Peterson applies this to the teaching and preaching of the Gospel. “That is what pastors should want to take place when they teach and preach the Scriptures–not to have people become dependent on them but to have people become eager to get the Bible in their own hands and become competent in reading it.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this way of thinking. Sadly, however, when I observe the world around me, I see a veritable plethora of people who have not, in fact, studied the Scriptures, themselves, but, rather, are spouting nonsense that they have heard from other people, who may or may not have studied Scripture, or have studied it wrongly.

I have several goals with this blog. One is simply nothing more than to have a record of my daily devotions. Years ago, I decided that keeping them online would take up a lot less space than writing them in notebooks, and would be quicker, as well. I can type a lot faster than I can write. But another goal (as well as a corresponding goal for my Facebook posts and TikTok posts) is to inspire people to 1) read and study the Scriptures themselves, and 2) practice daily gratitude.

Don’t read what I say and just believe it (or not believe it, for that matter). Be like the Berean Christians in Acts who “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” And, for heaven’s sake, don’t just believe something because a pastor said it from a pulpit.

But more than anything, I want to inspire you to be grateful. I want to inspire you to think about things that are “lovely.” I want to inspire you to love God and love people, to take part in a Love Revolution.

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

Father, I pray that people will see this blog, read it, and then take it upon themselves to think about things that are pure and lovely, to love You and to love each other, and then to practice their own gratitude. I pray that people would see Your loveliness reflected in the way I live, not the ugliness of the world around me. Help me to reflect Your love and mercy and grace, rather than everything negative in the world.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Keep Calm and Rest in the Lord

Today is Thursday, the fifth of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,429

It seems like a lot happened yesterday. The yard people came, there was a grocery trip (I forgot a major component of what I was planning to cook for dinner last night, so that plan was delayed until Friday), and quite a few packages were delivered. All of that, along with a piece of mail being misdelivered next door, resulted in our doorbell ringing more times in one day than it has in a long time.

The Texas Rangers have a four-game win streak after beating the Phillies 2-1, last night, in ten innings. It was quite a game. We didn’t watch the whole game, but tuned in right as the Phillies home run in the bottom of the sixth inning was being overturned because of fan interference. Martin Perez, for the second straight outing, pitched deep into the game, giving up no runs. Yet, his record remains 0-2. Something is very wrong with the way MLB decides on pitching wins and losses.

So the Rangers are now 10-14 for the season, joining the ranks of teams that have won at least ten games, and they are no longer in last place! Yes, indeed, the Athletics lost again, extending their losing streak to six games, so the Rangers are ahead of them by .017 percentage points and a half game. They have a rare second day off, today, before facing the Evil Empire in NYC, tomorrow night. NY lost a game, yesterday, so hopefully, we can help them lose some more.

I’m not sure I want to talk about the Red Sox. They went into the tenth inning tied 4-4 with the Angels. But Matt Barnes could only get two outs in the tenth, and they gave up SIX runs in the top of the tenth. They wound up losing 10-5. Ugh. So they are now 10-15 for the season, and still in fourth place, but only one game ahead of Baltimore. They have one more game against the Angels tonight.

The Yankees (18-7) continue to hold the best record in MLB, followed closely by the Dodgers (16-7). There are five teams who have yet to lose ten games. The Cincinnati Reds have now lost eight consecutive games and are 3-21 for the season. There are six teams that have not yet won ten games.

This being Thursday, I am working from 11:15 to 8:15, this evening, in the Computer Center. I’m hoping for a relatively stress-free day. I do hope for some activity, though, so it won’t seem draggy.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me.
(Psalms 116:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. to wake up and spend time with God
2. for the encouragement and opportunities to be still before the Lord and know that He is God
3. for Psalm 121 and Psalm 23
4. that God is good and a strong refuge in time of trouble
5. for the desire to seek truth and not speak unless I know something is true

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
(Acts 16:25-31 NLT)

After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the LORD’s sight. So the LORD turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim.
(Judges 4:1-2 NLT)

But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died. When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
(Judges 4:21-22 NLT)

“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. 
May she be blessed above all women who live in tents. 
Sisera asked for water, and she gave him milk. 
In a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him yogurt. 
Then with her left hand she reached for a tent peg, 
and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer. 
She struck Sisera with the hammer, crushing his head. 
With a shattering blow, she pierced his temples. 
He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet. 
And where he sank, there he died. 
(Judges 5:24-27 NLT)
“LORD, may all your enemies die like Sisera! 
But may those who love you rise like the sun in all its power!” 
Then there was peace in the land for forty years. 
(Judges 5:31 NLT)

Jael is one of my Bible heroes. Judges 4 and 5 are the only places she is mentioned.

And I can’t help but wonder, in that Acts passage, how many of us would have hung around after that earthquake had released us from our bonds?


Today’s prayer word is “stillness.”

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 NLT)

While the content of today’s reading in the book is rather silly and convoluted, the sentiment is not. When we can’t make sense of our lives, or things aren’t quite going the way we think they should be, we humans tend to start going into all kinds of gyrations to figure things out.

Stillness is not our “go-to” solution. We tend to get frenzied in activities, trying to figure things out.

But there are numerous passages in Scripture that encourage us to simply be still and wait before the Lord. And while that will not always result in us understanding exactly what is happening or why, it should, at least most of the time, result in peace. Because one thing that being still before God does is calm our own soul with His steadfast love and mercy.

“Be still and know . . .” Rest in Him.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
(Psalms 37:7 NLT)

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
(Exodus 14:13-14 NLT)

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 
He lets me rest in green meadows; 
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
 He renews my strength. 
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, 
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. 
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. 
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. 
My cup overflows with blessings. 
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, 
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 NLT)

Thank You, O my Father, for giving me the ability to be still each morning. These last couple of weeks have been better, because I have made myself avoid other distractions, at least for the most part, until I am finished with my devotions. This helps me to exercise the discipline of stillness. Your Spirit, through this, gives me rest, and helps me to “be still and know” that You are God, and to know that I am blessed in You. This helps me to not worry about anything. Not that I have much to worry about, anyway, but You know how we are. Everything could be totally awesome, and we manufacture things to worry about.

I pray for stillness in all of Your people, Father. May we all learn how to be still before You, so that we may discern Your peace in all matters. I pray for unity among Your Church, Lord. This is my desperate plea.


I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! 
He will not let you stumble; 
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
 The LORD himself watches over you! 
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. 
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. 
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, 
both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)

The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night.
(Nahum 1:7-8 NLT)

You are my peace, Father. You are my refuge, and You are my help. I pray Psalm 121 over my family, this morning, Father, as You are the One who watches over all of us, and You do not slumber nor do You sleep. Thank You for keeping us from harm and watching over our lives, as we come and go, both now and forever. You are Good, Father, indeed, a strong refuge. I pray that You continue to be close to us, and I believe that You will, because I believe that You are faithful to do the things that You say You will do.


In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
(James 3:5-6 NLT)

“Not long after we learn to speak the English language coherently, we realize that a surprising number of apparently grown-up people persist in using it to speak gibberish. Words are used with total disregard for their meanings. Sentences are constructed that are out of touch with reality. Speeches are made, sermons preached, books written, and television talks given that on examination turn out to be mainly nonsense.”

This seems to be true for all subjects and topics under the sun, but religion seems “to get more than its fair share of this babble.” “Lies and blasphemies, ignorance and gossip, and malice and hypocrisy permeate discourse on God, sin, and salvation with dismaying regularity.” And all it takes, apparently, is the appearance that one knows what one is talking about for others to take one seriously.

“Truth is at risk in the world. If we think the wrong things about God, we are disoriented in reality.” And there certainly does not seem to be any shortage of people thinking wrong things about God.

Make no mistake, the first century was no better. This is part of the reason for James’s letter, appearing late in the New Testament. James points out the dangers of the tongue (and, if he were present today, I assume that he would include the fingertips on a keyboard, as well), and the need to be careful how we speak. “If we do it badly, we do great damage.”

Sadly, in today’s world, and in the far-reaching morass that is social media, there are many people who cannot be bothered with sussing out truth. They (we?) latch onto something that fits in with their preconceived opinions, and run with it, never stopping to find out if it is really true. I mean, if it’s my opinion, it must be true, right?

Wrong.

Just yesterday, I found out that something I had thought was true was not true. And I accepted the correction after proof was provided. It’s all good. I hopefully didn’t make an idiot out of myself. I am not afraid, or resistant, to admit that I am wrong. And, when I am thinking that I might share something on social media, I generally attempt to find out if it is true, first.

“We need all the help we can get to learn the truth so that we will not be taken in by those who are false to the truth.” And one thing that I do know that is true . . . there are people out there who are intentionally spreading lies.

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

Father, this gives me even more cause to be still. For, in order to fully know the truth about matters, it is necessary to close one’s lips, cease the movement of one’s tongue, and learn truth. If we cannot be still enough for one moment, in order to learn the truth about things, we are utterly deserving of any consequences that come from this. Our society is hurtling down a destructive path, right now, with total disregard for truth. Misinformation is flying out of peoples’ tongues and fingertips faster than ever, in the twenty-first century. Of course, You have the benefit of already knowing how all of this will end. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to be around to see it.

I do enjoy life, though, Father. It is usually pleasant. However, I always look forward to being Home, and for all of this strife, division, worry, and unrest to be over for all eternity. Sometimes, it seems impossible that all of the people who call themselves Christian will be able to live in unity for all eternity. I mean, I confess fully, there are people that I cannot imagine spending eternity with, because I can’t stand to be around them on earth. But this is something I have to deal with. This is something that either will be fixed before we leave this plane, or it will be fixed immediately upon our arrival in the next. I actually take some comfort in thinking that it really isn’t my job to “fix it,” but Yours. However, I do have to allow You to work in me, in order to fix things on my end.

Honestly, I feel like I’m rambling, now, but I also think that rambling in prayer is perfectly fine. I will wrap it all up by asking You to help me, again, to be still and know, not only that You are God, but to also know the truth about matters. And if I cannot know the truth, then help me to simply keep my mouth shut about it. And may all Your enemies did like Sisera!


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Irish Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Tell You Three Times

“Money offered freely to Christ is given back to us changed in some deep and interior way. It can change us and the world around us. Generosity is our most reliable and useful means for turning what we have into a gift. The act of tithing is like leaven: all our money gets infected with the spirit of generosity and enjoyment. The tithe pulls all our possessions into lives and adoration and celebration.”

Today is Tuesday, the third of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,427

So there really isn’t a lot to write about, this morning. Not a lot happened yesterday, and there was no baseball. Okay, there was baseball, sure. But the Rangers and the Red Sox didn’t play, which means, for me, effectively, there was no baseball.

The Rangers play the Phillies today at 5:45 CDT (that seems really early), and the Red Sox play the Angels at 7:10 EDT (a much more normal time).

I work, this evening, at the Hurst Public Library, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. This is probably my favorite activity at the library, because I get to interact with books more than people. Heh. I have a sticker on one of my metal cups that says, “Books are better than people.” I realize God doesn’t agree with that sentiment, and, in reality, I don’t either. However, I would still rather interact with a book than another human.

C is working from home today, which is always nice, and I will venture out into the wild suburbs, in a little while, and get lunch/dinner for us from Subway and Sonic.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Vine Life,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Keep on
abiding
in Me…

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

Please check out more of this inspiration poetry at the link provided above.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. 
Remain in my love. 
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, 
just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. 
Yes, your joy will overflow! 
This is my commandment: 
Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 
You are my friends if you do what I command."
(John 15:9-14 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for coffee and breakfast; and chocolate
2. for water to take showers
3. for the peace that comes from keeping one's minds fixed on God
4. that our God is always near
5. that in His presence, there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11)
6. that everything that I have (for I truly "own" nothing) belongs to and was given to me by my Father in heaven
7. for the spirit of generosity and sharing that He has placed in our hearts, that we do not hoard any of the aforementioned gifts for ourselves

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
(Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NLT)


For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
(Job 33:4 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “near.”

Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time.
(Jeremiah 23:23 NLT).

One of the most comforting things about this journey in Christ is the constant nearness of God. There’s a fifty-dollar word we use to describe our belief about God’s presence. It is “omnipresent.” It means pretty much the same thing as “ubiquitous.” He is everywhere, and all at the same time.

At least a decade ago, I started calling God “omnichronological,” as well. The reason being that God also exists outside of time. So not only is God everywhere at once, He is also everywhen at once.

So, considering the truth that God is always near, then I might also consider that God is near me, now and here; God is near me at my birth; God is near me on my deathbed (or wherever I am when that time comes).

Psalm 139 is another Scripture that states this very well.

You go before me and follow me. 
You place your hand of blessing on my head. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 
I can never escape from your Spirit! 
I can never get away from your presence! 
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
 if I go down to the grave, you are there. 
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
(Psalms 139:5-10 NLT)

“To know He is near–to practice His nearness–is to be filled with the pleasure of God.”

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

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I abide in Your nearness; I relish and embrace the truth that You are always with me. It brings me great comfort to know that, no matter where I go, I cannot get away from Your presence. And, while it is difficult to grasp or comprehend, I am grateful that You are already with me in my future, whatever it may hold. I am also grateful that You are present in my past, and have been watching over me my whole life. May I always know Your nearness, Father, even when I am not looking for it.


You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

You are not imagining things. That verse has already occurred in this blog once, up above. And when it showed up in my Daily Guideposts 2022 reading for today, I figured that means it’s important.

To illustrate that verse, Erin MacPherson uses a personal experience with her dog, who, when afraid of something, would keep his eyes on hers, constantly, until the “danger” was past. Her conclusion: “When things are frightening, scary, or just new, I want to keep my eyes trained on the One I can trust.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

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

Oh, Father, if we would only learn the truth of these things; if we would only learn that, if we keep our spiritual eyes fixed on You, that we would have unbreakable peace, even in the most unstable circumstances. I have know this peace, but I confess that I have also been nearly shattered by similar circumstances, because I failed to keep my eyes on You. Your Word tells us that You will give us “perfect” peace, if we keep our eyes fixed on You. There is very little in this world that I would consider perfect. Okay, there is nothing perfect in this world. We use the word to describe a lot of things, but, in truth, only You are worthy of that word of description. Only You are perfect, and Your peace is perfect because it comes from You.

James tells us that “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from” You, and that You never change. Keeping my eyes fixed on You also means that I will never lean on my own understanding of things, but, rather, acknowledge You in all my ways. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use my brain. Heaven forbid! You gave me a brain, and I intend to use it. But when I rely more on my own thinking than on what You and Your Word tell me, then I create trouble for myself. So, help me to keep my eyes fixed You at all times, and to remember that, no matter what happens in my life, You are going to work it out for my good, because You are good and You only do good.


Eugene Peterson continues talking about money in today’s reading. Yesterday’s referred to the stewardship of all things that God has given us, and today singles out the resource of money, which Peterson describes as “holy.” He points out that not everyone believes that money is holy, but states that this is a “Christian and biblical conviction.”

He then begins to discuss the ancient concept of “tithing.” This is a practice that puts the aforementioned conviction into practice. “it is an offering of the firstfruits of our labor to the God who made this world of soil and rock, barley and grapes, silver and gold and tin–up to and including embossed plastic credit cards.”

Traditionally, the tithe was the first ten percent of any moneys received through our labor. “It is based on the conviction that we would have gotten nothing from all our sweat and exertion if God had not first given us ground to use, muscles to work, brains to think, and communities to live in and be employed in.”

Remember–yesterday’s reading asserted that everything that we see (and even things we can’t see) was created by God and given to us to use. And remember James 1:17, quoted in my last prayer, tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. So whatever we accomplish in our work is accomplished using things and resources that we got from our Father. Therefore, we give back to Him a portion of what we receive from that labor.

Peterson maintains that, “if we do not being with giving . . . we inevitably become dominated by the spirit of acquisition: getting and getting and getting. We become obsessed with keeping control of what we have. We scheme and covet. And in so doing, we profane our money. We violate the holiness of our money.” Does this sound or look familiar to us?

“Money offered freely to Christ is given back to us changed in some deep and interior way. It can change us and the world around us. Generosity is our most reliable and useful means for turning what we have into a gift. The act of tithing is like leaven: all our money gets infected with the spirit of generosity and enjoyment. The tithe pulls all our possessions into lives and adoration and celebration.”

We must be careful, though, and remember these words of Jesus:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
(Matthew 23:23 NLT)

Tithing can feed pride. “It can create snobbish elitism. . . . It can develop into self-righteousness that assumes that God is now obligated to take special notice.”

And we all out to rest assured that God is never, NEVER “obligated” to us for ANYTHING!!

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)

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


A lot of this all boils down to another thought from Jesus, found in Matthew 16.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25 NLT)

If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will not be focused on “things,” and our “right” to possess them. This, after all, is one of our biggest problem areas in today’s culture (I speak only for Western culture). We are all about our rights and what is “mine.” Tragically, even modern “Christians” (for so they believe themselves to be, even though their actions and words contradict that belief) have been loudly proclaiming their rights and ownership of possessions, recently.

But, as A.W. Tozer insists, in The Pursuit of God, this “self-life” is actually my enemy. And if I allow this enemy to live, I will lose everything. This is why I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. And this mindset, this way of life, produces a kind of generosity that can change the world, if not the entire world (for what can one man do to change the world?), at least for one or two souls.

Father, I praise You for the spirit of generosity that You have placed within my family. You have created in us a mindset of sharing, of not holding on to possessions, of not hoarding money. Certainly, we do save some, and even that might be an indication of a small lack of faith, but we do believe in being prepared. But we are not hoarding, thinking that it is “never enough,” to the harm of our fellow travelers on this earth. We do ask for discernment, that we might know when a person’s need is truly worthy of our support, if it is legitimate, lest we fall for scammers. But even then, it is the thought in our heart that is most important, and if someone is scamming, they must, in the end, answer to You for misusing resources provided by You.

All that I have is Yours. I have nothing, I “own” nothing that You did not give me. Once again, in the words of Horatius Bonar, my sin is the only thing that I have that can call my own. Everything else comes from You. All praise and glory belongs to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.
(Isaiah 26:3 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.