A Key, Not A Hammer

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-first of April, 2021, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,050

29 days until our Glen Rose weekend

It is uncharacteristically cool, this morning, here in north central Texas (DFW). It is 37 degrees and clear, which is perfect condition for frost. And frost is something we don’t need right now, because plants are budding, and we just recently transplanted some Four O’Clocks and Gazanias to the front flower bed. Digits juxtaposed. I checked outside, when I got up, and there was a very thin layer of frost on the top of C’s car, but none on the windows. So I’m hoping everything will be okay. At least we aren’t west of the line where temps got down to freezing or below, this morning.

I made it through the day fairly well, yesterday. The morning was tough, and I was really thinking I should have stayed home for the day and taken a PTO day. I even thought about taking off at noon, at one point. But our other expedite clerk was out, yesterday, and I would have felt bad doing that to our lead. And, somewhere between noon and 2:30, things got better. No explanation as to why, but my whole mindset improved. Someone, somewhere, must have prayed for me.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
(Colossians 3:17 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee (for coffee in general, but especially that one) 🙂
  • for whoever prayed for me, yesterday afternoon
  • for grace extended to me; may I be faithful to extend it to others
  • that the Gospel of Christ is a key, not a hammer
  • that death will end, but life goes on for ever

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

EASTER – DAY 18

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

Pausing to reflect briefly on the fact that I am a representative of Christ, and that all that I do or say today will reflect on that truth.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”:

“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’
But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
(Psalms 82:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:44-49 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in God’s presence, this morning, I linger a bit over these passages, looking for the Spirit to lead me toward greater understanding and wisdom.

In the Psalms passage, there is a clear call to defend and rescue the weak and the needy, and to stop defending the unjust. This seems especially timely, in light of yesterday’s verdict in the George Floyd case.

Who are “the ‘gods?'” I’m not wise enough to fully understand this. I have my thoughts, but I’ll keep those to myself. Suffice it to say that they are, though, those who “know nothing,” who “understand nothing,” and “walk about in darkness.”

Jesus made a statement to which attention should be paid. He said that everything was written about Him must be fulfilled. Now, He only mentioned the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. I believe that there were things written about Him after He left our plane that must also be fulfilled. But those had not been written about Him when He said this.

The point is, prophecy must be fulfilled, and will be fulfilled. This doesn’t mean that I need to become obsessed with prophecy, as some folks are. What it does mean is, going back to previous affirmations, God will do what He says He will do, and I am fully persuaded that He is able to do this.

But, once again, this begs the question, why don’t I consistently live like I believe this?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer to that question. I’m still working on that one.

Father, I pray for the strength of Your Spirit, to enable me to live my life like I say I believe. And, truly, it is more than just “say.” I do believe! Help my unbelief! Make my life more consistent with my beliefs, which are firmly based on Your Word! And make me more faithful to help, defend, and rescue the weak and the fatherless and the widows and the needy; those to whom You are drawn and whom You defend. I want to be on Your side; I don’t ever, ever want to be fighting against You, Father!

God of grace,
the gospel is like a key that opens up all of heaven and unlocks dead-bolted human hearts.
As you send your church to declare the good news,
remind us that we carry a key and not a hammer;
convince us that the gentle gospel promises fit the contours of human life,
opening minds to know and receive the forgiveness of sins through what Jesus has done.
Today, unbolt my heart to accept the grace of Jesus.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 84)

“We carry a key and not a hammer.” I LOVE that!!!

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)


Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
(John 20:27 NIV)


On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
(Isaiah 25:6-9 NIV)

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
(John 11:25 NLT)

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!
(Acts 3:15 NLT)

Death is singular; life is plural. Death will end; life goes on forever.


Father, I thank You for life! I praise You that death is limited, it will end, and has already been defeated. I praise You that life is eternal, plural, and will go on for ever. Oh, how I look forward to being Home, Lord! More and more, I feel like this world is not my home, and know that this is true. I grow weary of waiting, but You tell us not to grow weary, so I carry on. Help me to do good as much as I can; help me to always do the right thing. And help me to remember that the Gospel message is “a key not a hammer.”

Lord, this morning, I lift up all governments, leaders, and needs throughout the world. May Your grace and Your face shine on all people, whether they look for it or not. I lift up the continent of North America, upon which I dwell. May Your presence be felt among us all today. I lift up all issues surrounding the poor and the poverty stricken, Lord. Help us to help in any way we can. Show us how to help more.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

If We Would Only Listen

Today is Tuesday, the twentieth of April, 2021, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,049

Today is a somber day in our family, as we remember six years ago. My father passed away on April 20, 2015, after falling on April 8. The official cause of death, I believe was cardiac arrest, but it was brought on from complications due to Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), a muscular disease in the family of Muscular Dystrophy.

We would appreciate your prayers for our family, today, as the memories flood back in. Good memories, lead the way, of course, as we celebrate the life we had with him, but the pain is still as real as ever. As many others have learned, time most definitely does not heal wounds. I don’t know who made that up, but it is wrong. The pain becomes more distant, perhaps easier to bear, but it is not “healed.” Nor do we want it to be! What a ridiculous idea! If the pain went away, it would mean we had forgotten the person we loved! Who wants that?

Another thing that makes it more bearable is our belief in Jesus Christ. We believe that my father is safely resting in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that his “wounds” are, indeed, permanently and gloriously healed!

Enough about that. I must move on to the devotions for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
(1 Timothy 2:1 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • on this, the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing, for the many years of happiness that we had with him
  • for the legacy of faith that he lived every day
  • for the way he loved, demonstrating daily the love of Jesus
  • for the way Your Spirit speaks to me, teaches me
  • that I am, more and more, satisfied in You

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

EASTER – DAY 17

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I am pausing to quietly (and joyfully) reflect on how appropriate the above Scripture is on this day! Yes! I believe this!

BIBLE SONG

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
(Psalms 81:8-16 NIV)

BIBLE READING

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
(Luke 24:36-43 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in and enjoy the presence of my Lord and Savior, this morning, I look again at these passages, looking for words or phrases that draw my attention. I invite the Holy Spirit to teach me, to speak to me.

“If my people would only listen to me,” says the Lord! I believe that He still says this today, as people, in general, are still stiff-necked and stubborn. But look at some of the results, if we would only listen. Our “enemies” would be quickly subdued; the Lord’s hand would be against our foes; we “would be fed with the finest of wheat,” and with “honey from the rock.”

We would be satisfied.

That’s it. That last one. That’s where I’m landing today.

Satisfied.

This hearkens back to an hour-long discussion on Psalm 23, this past Sunday morning. You know the one. It begins with “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” (NLT) And then, the next five verses describe how the Lord provides all that you need!

If I have all that I need, another word to describe that is . . . satisfied.

As I grow older, I notice that I am also growing more satisfied. Not because I’m getting more “stuff.” As a matter of fact, my desire for “stuff” has dramatically decreased in the past decade or so. Even as I look around me and see all of the “stuff” in my room, I realize that the “need” for much of it was drastically exaggerated. I don’t really “need” any of it.

I hope this means that I have been listening a little better. I still struggle with it. Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. But it’s better than it used to be.

Are you satisfied in Him? Are you listening?

In Luke 9, the transfiguration of Jesus takes place. The voice from heaven says:

“This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.
(Luke 9:35 NLT)

“Listen to him.”

If we would only listen . . .

Father, I praise You that You have been teaching me to listen more and better. I thank You that my need for more stuff has decreased, over the years. I have come to realize and believe that, for the most part, I need only You and Your grace. I crave Your presence in my life much more than I crave the presence of physical, material goods. I need You more than life, itself, because You are life! Help us to listen, Father! O, please, Lord, help Your Church to be satisfied.

Christ,
the go-between God,
who can blame the disbelief of the disciples?
If a person dies,
I don't expect to see her walking again or sitting down to a meal.
You bled and suffered,
died,
and were buried,
yet rose from the dead with that same body,
with its healed wounds
and working digestive system.
And with that same body,
you now reign in glory.
With your scarred hands lifted,
pray for me,
Jesus.
Amen.
(Westminster Confession 8.4)

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)


Fifty days after the first Passover, Moses received the Law of God, on the mountain. But the people grew impatient while Moses was up there, and began to worship that golden calf and have a party. The result was the death of about three thousand people (Exodus 32).

Fifty days after the Passover when Jesus died, the disciples were gathered together, along with other people who were celebrating the “Feast of Shavuot,” when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples. The result was the salvation of . . . about three thousand people!

Just something to ponder, this morning. “Three thousand died and, centuries later, three thousand came to life on the same exact holy day.”

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NLT)

The Mission: Instead of struggling to accomplish the will of God, live, move, and be moved by the Spirit of God – and you will fulfill His will.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)


Father, the numbers in Scripture get fascinating, at times, and the truths when these things are pointed out are so, well, mysterious and wonderful. Thank You for the revelation of these things. But may I ponder the deeper meaning, today, more than the really cool thing about the three thousand people. May I walk in Your Spirit, putting more emphasis on this than on trying to live out the letter of the Law. Life is more important than death; life is more powerful than death. Indeed, death has been defeated by life!

Lord, help me heart be committed to the communities in which You have placed me. Help me to serve in unique ways, as You equip me. I pray for those, today, who work in the trade industry.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Shine Forth

Today is Monday, the nineteenth of April, 2021, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,048

31 days until our Glen Rose weekend

We had a lovely day, yesterday. Our church gathering, while we were few in number, went quite well. We never got out of Psalm 23, which exceeded my expectations for a good discussion on the most famous of all Bible chapters. Who would have thought that we could talk for almost an hour about six verses?

We picked up our lunch at Applebee’s, drinks from Sonic, and went home. C and I watched an episode of “Behind Her Eyes” on Netflix, which is a pretty good show. We are enjoying it. I believe I would call it a mystery, but I’m not sure what genre it fits in.

Before settling in to play Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, I prepped our dinner by seasoning and sealing the steaks and corn, and setting them back in the fridge to marinate. About 5:00 PM, I got the sous vide set up and started cooking them. They turned out as least as good as the first time, maybe even better. There is an extra piece of steak, which I may take to work today, for lunch.

The Texas Rangers managed to squeak out a win against the Baltimore Orioles, 1-0 in extra innings. John King got the win in relief. Nate Lowe drove in the run with two outs. The Rangers are now 7-9 on the season, a half game behind the Astros, and three games out of first place. Their next game is today, at 8:38 CDT, out on the west coast, against the Angels of LA. Kohei Arihara (1-1) will take the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox lost both games of a double header to the Other Sox, 3-2 and 5-1. They are still in first place, though, in the AL East, two games ahead of the Rays, with a 10-6 record. Their next game is this morning. Yes, I said morning. Today happens to be Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, and they always play and early game for this day. The game, against the Other Sox again, will take place at 10:10 CDT, with Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) pitching for Boston.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.
(1 Timothy 4:4 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for a good weekend
  • for the peace in my soul, this morning
  • that the Lord will make His face to shine upon us, today
  • for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • that God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the same . . . yesterday, today, and forever

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

EASTER – DAY 16

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to reflect on the fact that everything God created is good.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might; come and save us.
Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
How long, LORD God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-7 NIV)

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I look more closely at these passages, looking for the Holy Spirit to draw me to a particular word or phrase that speaks to me, this morning.

I am immediately drawn to a word in the passage from Psalms. “Shine.” It is actually repeated several times in the passage. The psalmist asks the Lord to “shine forth.” Then, twice, he asks the Lord to make His face shine on them. This reminds me of the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6, in which (depending on the translation, of course) it says, “the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (NIV and ESV).

That is a prayer that I will echo today. First, asking that He make His face to shine on me, today, and then also that He might make HIs face to shine on you. I will pray that for everyone who stumbles across this humble blog, today. I also pray that God will “shine forth” and awaken His might in our world, today.

I challenge you, gentle reader, to look for evidence of God’s shining today, as you go through your day, wherever you are, whatever you find yourself doing.

And remember the Gospel that Paul is reminding the Corinthians about in the other passage, today. One thing that I don’t think we do enough is to remind ourselves, to “preach the gospel” to ourselves. I need to be reminded, daily, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that He died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day, “according to the Scriptures.” That, alone, should provide impetus for a “good day.”

And then, never forget, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (NIV)

Father, I praise You for Your infinite grace and mercy. It is never-ceasing, and Your sweet mercies are, most assuredly, “new every morning.” Thank You. I pray that Your face would shine on us today. May Your glory shine on all who stumble across this place on the Internet, today, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. May Your glory shine forth, and may You awaken Your might in our world, today. Make Yourself known in the midst of all peoples. And remind us, daily, of the great and perfect work of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Son of God,
thank you for not being shy in showing yourself. 
So many people saw you,
a long list of witnesses with names and addresses testify to your resurrected life.
And the fact that I'm praying to you now is one more testimony.
What's proclaimed in Scripture has happened to me -
your resurrection power has made me alive,
a new creation,
raised from the dead.
I praise you,
risen Savior.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 3/4.12)

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)


Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
(John 8:12 NLT)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NLT)


I thank You, Lord, that You are the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Everything around me changes, daily, but You remain constant, never changing. Even the sun, around which we revolve, changes, but You do not. Thank You that we can depend upon this truth. Help me to look at everything in my world today, with this perspective, with this mindset.

Lord, give us eyes to see Your work in our world, as we go, today. May Your care and comfort be known in all places where natural disasters occur, as well as in a creation that is groaning. May there be more creative and innovative conservation strategies developed, that we might care more for Your creation.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

For the Sake of Your Great Name

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of April, 2021, the third Sunday of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,047

32 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

I wound up working four hours, yesterday morning, so that wasn’t too bad. I got some good things accomplished, some tasks that I have been putting off for a while, as they were not priority tasks. My manager expressed great gratitude for my coming to work, which was nice. I also received a compliment on the cleanliness and orderliness of my work area. The supervisor told me that I was probably the only person he has not had to have a “5S” conversation with. That was a good feeling.

What is “5S,” you ask? Well, if you work anywhere, especially in a company that has nationwide or worldwide locations, you probably already know this. But it is a system of organization that insists that all workstations look as much the same as possible, and, as you might guess each of the five points begins with S. It’s like an alliterative sermon, only with five points instead of three. And no poem or quote at the beginning and end.

  • Sort – go through everything that is at your workstation and evaluate what needs to be there and what doesn’t. Anything that is not needed to complete the task at hand should be removed
  • Set in Order (this used to be “straighten,” but someone decided, at some point that this point should have three words while all the others have only one) – this is different from “sort,” in that, in this state, one is identifying the storage location for each item at the workstation. We want to make sure each tool that we use has an identifiable place. “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This also involves a lot of labels. Everything at my desk is labeled. Or, at least, the place where it belongs.
  • Shine (this used to be “sanitize”) – clean the place, and keep it clean. I have seen some posters that use the word “sweep” for this one, which is, in my opinion, too specific. I kind of like “shine” best. You want your workplace to shine.
  • Standardize – this is where you get into every workstation (that performs the same operation) looking identical. What I don’t like about this one is that it does not allow for any personal items at the workstation. This means people cannot have family pictures at their desk, even though they are the only ones using it. Each of our workstations has a photo above it. “Does the area look like this?”
  • Sustain – this point is obvious. Keep it up, going forward. Which, if you are doing, gets easier over time, because you don’t have to spend as much time on the other four points.

I have mixed feelings about 5S. I certainly recognize the value of a clean and organized workplace. However, the “standardize” feature creates a very impersonal feel and makes employees feel more like numbers or tools than people. It goes along with calling people “resources.” I don’t like that. We are not “resources.” We are human beings, and we are not all identical, as our workstations are supposed to be.

I also believe that hyper-focusing on 5S wastes time that could be used in productivity. If I am required to stop “working” at a certain time every day, in order to practice 5S, that is time when I could be completing at least one more task. May more more than one.

So there you have it. Whether you wanted it or not. If you are still reading, I applaud you (and thank you, because I’ll get to the “good stuff” soon.

The Texas Rangers lost another game to the Baltimore Orioles, last night, 6-1. Texas scored first, in the bottom of the fourth inning, but, once again, the bullpen was unable to hold that small lead. Joely Rodriguez (0-1) only gave up two of those six runs, but it was enough to get tagged for the loss. Here’s a thought. What if every pitcher in the bullpen got tagged with a loss every time that happened? The single run, I believe, was scored by Nate Lowe. I also notice that Willie Calhoun played as DH and went two for four. That makes me happy.

The Rangers remain in the cellar in the AL West, with a 6-9 record, three games behind the first place LA Angels. Next game will be today at 1:35 CDT, with Kyle Gibson (2-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox came from behind to beat the Other Sox 7-4. They scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Adam Ottavino (2-1) got the win. The Sox remain alone at the top of the AL East, with a 10-4 record, 3.5 games ahead of the second place Orioles. And Rays. And Blue Jays. Yes, there is a three-way tie for second place. And the Yankees take up the rear, five games out.

The Soxes will play again this afternoon, at 4:10 CDT, with Martin Perez (sigh) (0-0) taking the mound for Boston.

The LA Dodgers continue to dominate the MLB, with an eight-game winning streak (thanks to a spectacular catch by the Mookster last night), and a 13-2 record. Boston is 2.5 games behind them. Oddly, the Reds of Cincinnati are third over all. It’s still early. Hahaha! The Colorado Rockies finally won a game, but are still at the bottom, with the Arizona Diamondbacks barely ahead of them.

We have our worship gathering of The Church that Meets at Brandon and Kristin’s this morning at 10:15. We will be picking up with Psalm 23, this morning, to which I am looking forward. Even though it is probably the most popular and most read Psalm, there is so much in there to unpack. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

After church, we will, most likely order lunch from Applebee’s, and pick it up on the way home. We plan to have steaks this evening, cooked with the sous vide cooker.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Awaken, by Daryl Madden

A gift everyday
To find we’re alive
When we awake
And open our eyes

Up out of bed
The kitchen we find
With a cup of coffee
We awaken our mind

Time to clean up
With a shower begin
With soap and hot water
We awaken our skin

We’re ready to go
The world now to face
But we forgot
This thought to embrace

A time to pause
And give up control
With intentional purpose
To awaken the soul

To soak in the sunrise
Or dwell in the Word
A prayer of the stilling
The Spirit be heard

As I commented on Daryl’s WordPress page, I am never ready “the world now to face,” until I have accomplished the last two stanzas, which is why I’m sitting in front of this computer today and every day.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign.”
(Revelation 11:17 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for the love of friends and family
  • for the beautiful weather expected today
  • for books and my love of reading
  • for the Resurrection and the Life
  • for Your great Name
  • for the peace that is given us by Jesus
  • for the fullness of joy in Your presence, and the “pleasures forevermore” at Your right hand

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

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to meditate on the resurrection and the life.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
of scorn and derision to those around us.

How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
(Psalms 79:1-5 NIV)

Help us, God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-57 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy being with God, this morning, I look again at these passages, seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit. Are there words or phrases that resonate with my spirit, this morning? What does God wish to say to me? What does the Spirit wish to speak into my life, this morning?

The psalms around Psalm 79 seem to have a consistent theme. I was reading Psalm 78 earlier . . . verse 41 seems to summarize . . . “Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.” (NIV) This is reminiscent of the book of Judges, where, again and again, it is stated, “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

The events being described in Psalm 79 are consequences of their rebellion. But Asaph is crying out to God, not so much because the people are suffering, but because the Name of the Lord is being defiled. “Your holy temple;” “your servants,” “your own people.”

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:9 NIV)

The psalmist’s main concern is the glory of the Name of God.

We don’t seem to care as much for the glory of His name, these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m right in the middle of the group, as well. How many of our prayers are for the sake of His name and the glory of His name?

People who know me on Facebook are well familiar with my daily “What can I pray for you today” post. I can’t remember one single request asking for anything for the sake of His name, or for the glory of His name. Most of them are for travel safety or something like that. Someone in the family is having surgery. Weight loss, health concerns. A lot of times they are quite vague.

Don’t misunderstand . . . there is absolutely nothing wrong with such prayer requests. In fact, I believe that, as long as we are bringing our thoughts/prayers/needs to the throne, God does not judge our prayer requests. I’m not judging them, either. That would be wrong.

I’m simply pointing out that we seldom pray, or ask for prayer, for anything for the sake of His great Name, which is what Asaph does in Psalm 79. At the risk of sounding boastful, I will say that there are times when I will tag my prayer for someone else with a phrase such as “for the glory of Your Name.” I don’t do that lightly, when I do. It’s not “vain repetition.” I mean it.

I guess, though, that I chalk it all up to our self-centered culture. Even when we pray, We tend to be self-centered. And take a look at the most popular worship songs. They are full of “I” and “me,” rather than “us” or “we,” and a lot less than “You.”

I strongly believe that we have allowed our culture to influence us too much, in this area. I believe that we need to step back and reevaluate our mindset. Maybe we need to consider why we want God to heal us (or a family member); maybe we need to consider why we want that travel safety. If our reason is not “for the sake of Your name,” then what is it?

Father, I confess that I am also guilty of this. I need Your help. First, help me not to judge the prayer requests of others. They are offered (I trust) in sincerity, even when they are vague. Help us to be more vulnerable in our prayers. Help us to seek the glory of Your great Name, first and foremost. Even the most basic prayers can be glorious, if, in our hearts, the motivation is for the sake of Your great Name. Remind, me, please, when I pray, that this should be my motivation, even if it wasn’t the motivation for the person’s request. “Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Incarnate God,
this body you've given me -
good and beautiful as it is -
bleeds,
breaks down,
and eventually will betray me.
Thank you God,
for the deep hope that one day,
by the power of Christ,
I will walk on strong limbs,
listen to the sound of glory,
see true blue skies,
think clearly,
dance unfettered and free,
and kneel before you lost in wonder and worship.
Thank you that my future is not some ethereal existence 
but is truly human resurrected life.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 57)

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)


My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.
(Psalms 55:4 NIV)

Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.
Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:5-8 NLT)

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
(Luke 12:4-7 NLT)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.”
(John 14:27-28 NLT)

This Tuesday, the twentieth of April, will be the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing from this life to the next. How ironic (and fitting) that today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021 features Amy Eddings writing about the three year anniversary of her own father’s passing.

I realized, a couple days ago, that this time was, once again, upon us. I do think about death, probably quite a bit. But it’s not an obsession with death. It’s more curiosity; more like wonder. Sure, there is an element of fear, because none of us knows what it’s like. Only those who have experienced it know, and they aren’t telling us.

I don’t think I fear death. It’s more the cause of it that scares me. Like most people, I don’t like pain. I can’t even begin to imagine the terror that filled the hearts of the handful of people who died in that horrific chain-reaction car crash on the I-35 Express lane, back in February. Trapped in twisted metal in below-freezing conditions. That’s the kind of thing that causes the fear, not death, itself.

My father, I assume, died peacefully. He probably fell asleep. I wonder if he even noticed the transition. Dallas Willard once said that he thinks that some people will be walking so closely with Jesus that, when they pass, they won’t even notice. Willard’s last words, it is said, with his face pointed toward the wall of his room, were, “Thank you.”

Jesus gives us peace. Peace that we cannot find in the world. Peace that we cannot find in our self-centered culture. “So,” He says, “Don’t be troubled or afraid.” There it is again. “Fear not.” Over and over and over and over . . .

So, for the sake of His great Name, I will not fear. For the glory of the Name of the Lord, I will live in peace. For His honor, I will pray for whatever anyone asks of me (unless it’s political . . . sorry, I don’t pray politics, because there’s a pretty good chance that I don’t agree with your politics, and there’s an even greater chance that God doesn’t, either).


Father, thank You for the peace that Jesus gives us. Thank You for the resurrection and the life, and that, someday, we will join You, wherever “heaven” is. I long for Home, Lord. Day by day, I grow more weary of this place, this culture, and the extreme selfishness that comes with it. I cringe when I find myself drawn in to that same self-centeredness. Forgive me when I practice that mindset. Teach me to love the way You have loved, with every ounce of my being. Teach me to approach all people without judging. Teach me Your path, Lord, and I thank You for the fullness of joy that I feel in Your presence, and the “pleasures forevermore” at Your right hand.

Lord, give us deeper fellowship with our risen Savior. Give us, today, spiritual renewal and refreshment in whatever environment we find ourselves.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Stubborn and Stiff-necked?

Today is Saturday, the seventeenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,046

33 days until our weekend in Glen Rose

I’m up early, preparing for my Saturday workday. At this point, I have no idea how long I will be working. I’m hoping that it’s not more than four hours, but it will be what it will be, right? And I will be fine.

I was going to try and put in a grocery order, last night. But it got frustrating when Walmart didn’t have any Kraft light mayo. They also don’t carry the Johnsonville turkey sausage links that I discovered at Kroger a few weeks ago. The question, at this point, becomes, why can’t I get everything I need at one store? It’s almost like there is this huge conspiracy between Kroger, Albertson’s, and Walmart; you know, like they had a meeting where they all agreed to not have everything so that we would have to go to all three stores to get what we need. But “no one else was in the room where it happened,” so we will probably never know.

It’s hard to know how much weight I would lose today, were I going to the WW Workshop. I’m a pound down from last Saturday, at home. But I also got up a couple hours earlier than I normally would on Saturday, and that makes a difference, as well.

We made our favorite Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken last night, for dinner, and it seemed better than usual, for some reason. I’m thinking it’s because we haven’t had it in a while. Or maybe the chicken was better, this time. Sometimes, the quality of the chicken we get is inconsistent. Our stir-fry on Thursday night seemed really good, as well. A previous time, the chicken seemed less tender and more “chewy.” Who knows?

The Texas Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles, last night, 5-2. Mike Foltynewicz (0-3) was the losing pitcher. Texas is now alone in the cellar, as Oakland continues to win. But Houston continued their losing streak, so the Rangers are only a half game behind them. They are three games behind the first-place Mariners. They will play again, this evening, at 6:05 CDT, with Dane Dunning (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox game with the Other Sox was postponed, last night. They will try again today, at 3:05 CDT, with the same pitchers scheduled.

The LA Dodgers continue to dominate the MLB, with a stunning 12-2 record, so far, and a seven game win streak. The Colorado Rockies currently hold the worst record, at 3-10, and a six game losing streak.

It looks like today is my wife’s niece’s birthday. Happy birthday, J!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Precious Way, by Daryl Madden

Dependent on a being
One that I can’t see
Connection through the soul
That He is loving me

Guided by a Spirit
That the ear can’t hear
A knowing in the soul
That He is dwelling near

Hope within a faith
Of not completely known
Through insights of the soul
The precious way is shown

Wisdom in the Word
Of seed that scripture sends
The promise for the soul
Of One that never ends

But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
(Psalms 77:11-15 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that I am gainfully employed and have a job to go to, even if I have to work on a Saturday
  • for the cooler weather we are currently receiving
  • for the rain that replenishes the earth
  • for the story that each of us has; may we be faithful to share it with others, openly and willingly
  • for a spirit of vulnerability

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

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I am pausing, briefly, to reflect on the holiness and mightiness of God. He is the God of great wonders!

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Asaph.

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
(Psalms 78:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:7-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I invite the Holy Spirit to move within me, directing me toward words or phrases that speak to me.

My first leaning is toward wondering if we have, perhaps, failed in doing what the psalm passage directs us to do. There seems to be a massive move, in younger generations, away from faith in God. I could go on, and could certainly fall down a deep, deep rabbit hole, regarding reasons that I see that could be an explanation for this. But that is not the intent of this forum. Neither is it to complain and moan about the situation.

Nevertheless, I see the admonition in Psalm 78 to teach future generations about the deeds and commands of the Lord. My prayer is that His Church can get back to that goal and do a better job of it, and present them in such a way that they do not seem obsolete or irrelevant. This doesn’t mean that we alter them to fit our culture. It means that our own relationship with this God and His commands and deeds must stay fresh and alive.

Father, I pray that my relationship with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will remain vibrant and fresh, never getting stale. Please make it so that, when I have an opportunity to teach someone from a younger generation about Your love and Your mighty works in history and my own life, it will feel relevant, not stale; fresh and alive. Your deeds and commands do not change. The only thing that changes is my own approach to this loving relationship with You. If I am stale, then my testimony will be stale. Keep it fresh, Lord, living and active, just like Your Word.

Purposeful God,
thank you that my faith is not a cosmic fluke or a lucky accident of circumstance -
you've called me by a larger and longer wisdom.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus,
your aim is to redeem all those you've called from every people,
tribe,
nation,
and language.
As you have called me,
make me now a messenger of your mercy.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 2.8)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.”
(Zechariah 7:11 NIV)

But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the LORD their God.
(2 Kings 17:14 NIV)

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.
(Isaiah 30:8-9 NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

Why do I share these passages (except for the last one) that seem so negative and condemning? It’s a reminder. Some folks I know would read these passages and point their fingers at other groups and say, “Yeah!” I read these passages and look inward, because I know how apt I am to being rebellious and stubborn. I know how difficult it is, sometimes, for the Spirit to get my attention and get me to listen.

The Lord’s promises are wonderful! His mighty deeds are magnificent, transcending anything else we might experience anywhere or anywhen else. Why, then, are we so slow to listen? Why are we, why am I so stubborn? Why am I so stiff-necked?

But notice that it ends with Isaiah 41:10, in recent years, a favorite, go-to verse for me. He is with me. He is with you. Do not be dismayed. He will strengthen, He will help, He will uphold. Even when we are stubborn and disbelieving.


The LORD told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
(Exodus 32:7-8 NLT)

And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
(Romans 1:23 NLT)

for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
(1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NLT)

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.
(1 John 5:21 NLT)

I believe this progression to be the answer to the problem above. To move away from stubbornness, to stop being stiff-necked, I need to obey 1 John 5:21, and make sure that there is nothing in my life that replaces God or usurps His authority in my life. I need to make sure that I have no “gods” (small-g) in my life, but only the one true God.


Father, I pray for Your Spirit to work in me today. Lead me toward obedience; lead me toward listening. Open my ears to what You have to say to me today. Give me a willingness to share my story with anyone who is curious. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your Truth. Help me to rid my life of “gods” that are unworthy of my worship or attention.

Lord, I pray, this morning, that a Your Church would be marked by a “deep missional identity.” Give us servant leaders, kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization, enabling us, as a local body of believers, to fulfill our purpose in Your kingdom. I pray for all denominations, agencies, and programs within Your Church, all around the world. I also pray for unity within Your Church.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Stop. Remember. Consider. Meditate.

Today is Friday, the sixteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,045

34 days until our next trip to Glen Rose

This is Friday, but I don’t think I have mentioned (have I?) that I am required to work tomorrow. I’m not sure for how long, but at least four hours, I assume. I won’t go into the reason (valid or not); it’s kind of a long story. So I won’t be going to our weekly WW Workshop tomorrow. I do plan on getting up early enough to do my devotion, though. If for some reason, it does not appear, though, it will be because I failed to do so.

The Rangers beat the Rays in extra innings last night. Final score 6-4. Josh Sborz (1-1) got the win, and Ian Kennedy got his third save of the season. It was quite the back and forth game. Every time the Rangers would get ahead, the Rays would immediately come back and tie the game. Sadly, they are still tied for last place, though, with Oakland, with a 6-7 record. They are still only two games out of first, though, and only a half game behind the Astros, who are on a losing streak. The Rangers play Baltimore tonight, in Arlington, at 7:05 CDT. Mike Foltynewicz (0-2) will take the mound for Texas.

The Red Sox lost to the Twins in the bottom of the ninth, yesterday afternoon. Adam Ottavino took the loss for the Sox. This kid, Alex Verdugo, though, continues to amaze the fans with his play. He really seems to be something. Boston remains in first place, with a 9-4 record, three games ahead of the second-place Blue Jays. Tonight, they will play the Other Sox in Boston, at 6:10 CDT. Nick Pivetta (2-0) will take the mound for Boston.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.
For the LORD holds a cup in his hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices.
He pours out the wine in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs.
But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.”
(Psalms 75:7-10 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that only You have the right to judge me
  • that You will increase the power of the godly (make me more like You, Lord!)
  • that You are the God who performs miracles
  • that when doubts come against me, all I need to do is remember Your holy and marvelous works of the past; You have not forgotten me; You have not forsake me, and You never will
  • that there is no god as great as You

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

EASTER – DAY 13

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause, briefly, and quietly, to ponder the benefits of being a godly person. I pray for godliness to overtake me today.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.
(Psalms 77:1-2 NIV)

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:7-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
(1 John 1:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, this morning, I reflect on these passages, reading them again, looking for specific words or phrases which the Holy Spirit wants to bring to my attention. I can already tell you that there is not enough time to unpack these verses in this humble forum, this morning. I could spend all morning on just the Psalm alone.

The psalmist (attributed to Asaph) wonders, in verse 9, “Has God forgotten to be merciful?”

What a question. But who among us has not wondered the same thing?? “Where are You, God? Have You forgotten us? Have You forgotten that You love me? Have You forgotten to be merciful?”

But almost immediately, the psalmist comes up with a solution to his feelings. It begins with the words, “Then I thought.” He says, “To this I will appeal.” What is “this?” It is memory.

“I will remember,” he says.

When it seems that God has forgotten you or stopped loving you or stopped paying attention to you, the answer is to remember. Stop. Say to yourself, “Wait a minute!” (It might not hurt to also say “Get thee behind me” to the accuser!)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
(Psalms 77:11-12 NIV)

The thing is, this takes a little time. When I am set upon by these kinds of negative thoughts about God, I have to stop; I have to remember; I have to consider; and I have to meditate. These are intentional acts, and in order to do these, our lives have to have some kind of direction to them.

What I’m getting at is that we have to be prepared for moments like this. We have to be ready when doubts come, because they will. What happens to a lot of people is that they are not prepared, and when doubts begin to hit them, regardless of the source, they are blindsided; they are not prepared; so the doubt begins to take root, and they entertain it.

If we are prepared for such events, we will not allow the doubt to take root, and we will not entertain it. Hopefully, we will even, to a degree, ignore the source. But if it persists, then we do what the psalmist did in Psalm 77. We stop; we remember; we consider; and we meditate.

The result can be seen in verses 13-14.

Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:13-14 NIV)

I’m going to have to somehow remember to look back at the 1 John passage later.

Father, I praise You for these words. I thank You for the words of Asaph, the words that encourage us and help us when doubts attack our faith. Help me to do this today, or any day, when some kind of doubt or worry attacks. Help me to stop, remember, consider, and meditate on Your might acts of the past, both for Your people in history, and for me, in my own life. Then I will remember that Your ways are holy, that there is no god as great as You, and that YOU are the God who performs miracles and displays Your power among the peoples! All glory to You, Lord!

Living God,
I don't want a secondhand faith.
I need something more to bring your reality home to me.
Send your Spirit to testify in my heart that what I read in Scripture is from you;
open my eyes to see that the words of Scripture vibrate with your love and truth, 
and address these words to my heart, Lord.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 5)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:14 NIV)

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
(Psalms 23:2-3 NIV)


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(Colossians 4:6 NIV)

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:11 NIV)

Our words have great potential; potential for tremendous good or potential for unbelievable harm. May we consider these things before we speak today. May our words be precious jewels from God’s Holy Spirit, today.


Father, please have Your Holy Spirit remind me of these things today; all of them. But especially these last things, regarding words. May all of my speech today be seasoned with grace. May my words be precious sapphires from Your heart to the hearts of those around me. Help me to remember that, when I speak, I speak on behalf of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am not my own. I belong to You.

Lord, as I walk through this day, give me a deeper wonder and gratitude for the sacrifice of our Savior. Give me more of a capacity to suffer with others, this day. And I pray for Your intervention and provision for all who are unemployed or underemployed. Show us where we can help, Father.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Fear, Holiness and His Presence

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fifteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,044

35 days until our Glen Rose weekend

Under normal circumstances, today would be “Tax Day,” in the US, the deadline for filing one’s income tax return. Not this year, though. The deadline has been extended to, I believe, May 17.

I had a large plate of “humble pie” handed to me, yesterday. In the spirit of transparency, vulnerability, and what I mean for this blog to be, I will share my experience.

I was dealing with a difficult person who works for our client. He’s not mean-spirited or rude, it just seems that he struggles with understanding, at times. We were both getting frustrated, and, unfortunately, wound up in a phone conversation about the issue.

I would rather get a root canal than talk on the phone.

That may be a slight exaggeration. But we have Skype and email, and usually, problems can be resolved through those avenues.

At the end of it all, we had both made mistakes. The supplier started the mess. The person to whom I was talking made an error. But guess what! So did I! My error was in not catching his error, and, in continuing the process, received some material on the wrong line item, which actually caused it to be received, inspected, and almost stocked as the wrong material.

I was not only humbled, but embarrassed.

It was a good lesson for me.

The Texas Rangers won their game with the Rays, last night, 5-1, improving their record to 5-7. Kohei Arihara (1-1) got the win, with 5.2 solid innings pitched. That is two consecutive wins for them, and they are tied with Oakland for last place in the AL West, but at this stage of the season, only two games behind first place. They will play again tonight, in the Juice Box, at 6:10 CDT, with Jordan Lyles (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox continue to make their own little bit of history. They won both games of a double header with the Twins, yesterday, no doubt making things even worse for the good people of Minneapolis. The first game was 3-2 with Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) getting the win, and the second was 7-1, with Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0) getting the win. The Sox have now won nine consecutive games. They sit alone at the top of the AL East, three games ahead of the second place Blue Jays. The Yankees, with the same record as Texas, are tied for the bottom, with Tampa Bay. Hah! My two least favorite teams, tied for last place. How fun is that?

The Sox will play the Twins again today, at 12:10 EDT, in Minneapolis. Garrett Richards (0-1) will take the mound for Boston.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • that You grabbed my attention, yesterday afternoon, humbling me; putting me in my place
  • for the peace I feel this morning
  • that You, alone, are to be feared . . . there is nothing on this earth that I should fear, when I am walking with You
  • for Your Church, which consists of people and souls, not buildings
  • for the great hope to be revealed at Christ’s return

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

EASTER – DAY 12

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause briefly to reflect on the nearness of God to His people.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
(Psalms 76:1-3 NIV)

It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
(Psalms 76:7-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:10-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence (why must I always be having to remind myself of this truth?), I read these passages again. I invite the Holy Spirit to point me toward words or phrases that speak what I need to hear today.

Seriously, though . . . I’m drawn back to this idea that I have to remind myself that I am in God’s presence. Why? Why am I not aware of this glorious truth every minute of every day? This is definitely something to ponder, and something to work on. It reminds me of Frank Laubach’s “The Game with Minutes,” wherein he teaches the idea of consciously directing our thoughts toward God at least once, every minute.

It is God, alone, who is to be feared. Truly, when I am walking with Him (I wasn’t walking very well, yesterday), I have nothing at all to fear. Once again, I point to the words of Dallas Willard, who opined that “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God, Himself, told us, in Isaiah 41:10, “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.” I have also heard it said (I have not counted it myself) that some form of “fear not” is the most-commanded thing in Scripture.

Only God is to be feared. I have nothing else to fear, and I certainly should not be afraid of death. More truth to ponder, and, perhaps, to act upon.

Instead of fear, my stance should be hope. “Hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming,” says Peter. In that hope, we should not conform to our evil desires, but, rather, “be holy, because [God is] holy.” “Holy” is from the Greek hagios, which means, “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless, or religious, ceremonially consecrated),” “holy,” or “saint.”

Father, thank You for the lessons learned (I hope, at least) yesterday. Thank You for directing my thoughts, this morning, to Your presence, Your very precious and near to us presence. Help me to consider this presence frequently throughout this day, rather than blindly trudging through another day without noticing You. I thank You that You are all that I have to fear, and even that “fear” is not the same as, say the fear of a train derailing while I’m sitting first at the crossing. May my fear of You translate into the hope of the grace that Christ will bring when He returns. May it translate into love for all people, and my Your Spirit flow through me and out of me as I walk through this day. May peace and love be my mantra, today.

Missionary God,
thank you for sending people to speak your timely message of salvation.
I pray for all those who communicate your good news -
empower them to speak gracefully and effectively.
Raise up new messengers to bring your gospel to all people and places in clear and compelling ways.
And I ask that you send and empower me to be a timely witness of the glory of the resurrection.
In the risen Savior's name,
amen.
(Canons of Dort 1.3)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV)

In today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021, Gail Thorell Schilling reminds us of another important truth.

“It’s time to remind myself that the church is – and always has been – a community of believers, not a building. Jesus Himself taught outdoors and in homes; worship within dedicated structures came much later. And though the buildings provide shelter, often exquisitely beautiful and inspiring, the heart of a church beats in its living members’ hearts, not in the stained glass and stones. Even as I mourn the destruction of sacred spaces, I sense that God – who cannot be contained – is very near.”

However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.
(Acts 7:48 NLT)

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
(1 John 4:12 NLT)


For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)


Father, this morning I have paused to seek Your face. I believe I have encountered You in this time. I pray for Your presence to be known throughout this day. Thank You for Your Church and all that it means to me. Thank You for the reminder that Jesus taught outdoors and in homes, not in expansive, exquisite structures. Thank You for the reminder that the plans You have for us are for good, and that, if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will certainly find You.

Lord, please grow me in holiness, today. May I know more fully Your forgiveness, and, in knowing this, be more willing to extend the same grace to others in my path. May the gifts of Your Holy Spirit flourish within Your Church.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Inexpressible and Glorious Joy

Today is Wednesday, the fourteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,043

36 days until we go back to Glen Rose

It is 57 degrees, this morning, with a projected high of 68, and a 36% chance of rain. Should be a lovely day outside.

I’m already behind, this morning, so I will give some quick baseball scores and move on.

The Texas Rangers scored some runs and beat the Rays 8-3, with Kyle Gibson getting his second win. The Rangers are now 4-7 on the season, but find themselves in the cellar of the AL West, as Oakland has improved to 5-7. They will play the Rays again today, at 6:10 PM, in the Juice Box, with Kohei Arihara (0-1) taking the mound.

The Red Sox made history, sort of, yesterday afternoon, as the beat the Twins 4-2. With this win, they became the first team since the 1991 Mariners to lose their first three games and then win at least seven consecutive. Adam Ottavino got the win in relief. The Sox remain in first place in the AL East, with a record of, well, 7-3. They play the Twins again twice today (making up the first game of the series, I suppose), beginning at 1:10 CDT with Nathan Eovaldi (1-1) taking the mound. Game two will follow, with Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1) on the hill.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Ascending Into” by Daryl Madden

A gift of the morning
Of a blessing here
Ascending into
A cloud of prayer

Truth here before us
How little we see
So much of our life
Is a mystery

An offer so great
Assistance God sends
Of the Holy Spirit
As our guiding friend

So, open our view
Of vision so great
Through eyes of the soul
To contemplate

But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
It was you who opened up springs and streams;
you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.
(Psalms 74:12-17 NIV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for the lovely spring weather
  • for the salvation brought by God my King
  • for the simple quietness of this moment, the presence of God evident
  • for the shield that God has around us
  • for inexpressible and glorious joy

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

EASTER – DAY 11

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to reflect on Him who created the day and the night, the sun and the moon, summer and winter.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.

We praise you, God,
we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.'”

No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another.
(Psalms 75:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy the presence of God, this morning, I read these passages again, asking the Holy Spirit to draw me closer, showing me truth upon which I need to reflect today. I also ask Him to remind me, later in the day, concerning that which I read during this time. How often I manage to go through the whole day and never think back on this time!

God has a warning to the arrogant in Psalm 75. “Boast no more!” He warns them not to lift themselves up against heaven or to speak defiantly. I make note of the fact that the word used is “arrogant,” not “wicked.” To me, this is significant, because many people who claim to follow Christ speak arrogantly and defiantly, these days. Are we aware, when we do these things, that we are being arrogant? Are we aware of whether we are acting in righteousness or wickedness? Sadly, I think not. Humility is called for, even though the word, itself, is not in that passage.

Peter’s writing is so very encouraging! He speaks of an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for us. He speaks of us being shielded by God’s power until our salvation is fully revealed.

While we may, for a time, experience grief and trials in this life, we can rejoice in this hope. Consider that we, you and I, are shielded by God’s power. Does this mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us? Of course not! I have dealt with that though in this forum before. God never promised that He would keep bad things from happening to us. He didn’t even keep bad things from happening to Himself!

But, nevertheless, He shields us. There is nothing “ultimately bad,” though, that can happen to us.

I like the comparison of our faith as being even greater than gold. Even gold will, ultimately, perish, but our faith is of greater worth.

I also love the sort of “shout out” to what Jesus told Thomas, after Thomas decided he believed. “Though you have not seen him, you love him;” says Peter in verse 8, “and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Father, I praise You for this inheritance that is ours, that which will never fade, or perish, or spoil. I also praise You for the shielding that You provide for us, even in the face of grief and trials. Remind us, Lord, of that spirit of rejoicing that is ours! Let that not fade in the face of those griefs and trials. As I face the inevitable stresses of my work day, remind me to rejoice in You, and in the hope of salvation yet to be revealed. Give me that inexpressible and glorious joy!

Gracious God,
I confess that the good gift of my free will bends away from you,
its maker.
I pray for your resurrection power to turn it back to you,
God.
Spiritually revive,
heal,
and reform me so that instead of resistance to your lead and rebellion against your word there is genuine faith and ready obedience.
Help me to know my true freedom is fully restored only in obedience and service to you.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 3/4.16)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 NLT)


Father, I thank You for this time, every morning; a time of peace and quiet, reflecting on Your Word and preparing for the day. Thank You for leading me into this, and that it is not just a ritual that I feel like I have to do every day.

I lift up all governments, leaders, and needs of the world, this morning, Lord. May Your presence and influence and glory be felt all around the world. I pray for the continent of Asia, today, that Your Word would flourish there, and Your great salvation would be known among all people in that area. May You enter into the many prevalent issues of racial strife that are happening, both in our own country, and all around the world. It seems worse than every, Father. Help us to truly love one another.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.
For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:16-20 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

How Long?

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,042

37 days until our Glen Rose weekend

It is currently 56 degrees and raining, this morning. The projected high is 70 for today, with a roughly fifty percent chance of more rain. Most of that looks like it will occur late tonight, going into tomorrow morning. Imagine that! It’s acting like spring out there! April showers, and so on.

The Texas Rangers lost another game, last night, again failing to score any runs. On the plus side, the Rays only scored one run, but it was enough to win the game. Dunning, the starter for Texas, pitched four innings, gave up two hits and no runs. Having not watched or listened, I don’t know why he was removed from the game. Oh, wait. I can see that he had thrown over 110 pitches. That’s why. Taylor Hearn came in from the bullpen to lose the game. If anyone is counting, that is three out of four games in which the Rangers have not managed to cross the plate. They will try again tonight, at 6:10 CDT, with Kyle Gibson (1-0) starting for the Rangers.

The Red Sox and Twins were postponed, last night. They will try again at 1:10 CDT, in Minnesota, starting pitcher TBD.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NIV)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for the rain we are receiving, this morning
  • for the beauty of God’s creation; the wonderful colors in the world, and the silent wonder of the universe above
  • that You are firmly in control of all things
  • that, as I walk in Your kingdom, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be
  • that every day is a new beginning; “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before . . . “

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

EASTER – DAY 10

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I am pausing to quietly celebrate the glory of God, this morning, resting in His presence.

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of Asaph.

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
(Psalms 74:1-2 NIV)

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
(Psalms 74:9-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

John,
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:4-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in God’s presence, this morning, I reread these passages, inviting the Holy Spirit to enter into this time, drawing me closer and pointing out anything in these passages that I specifically need to notice.

What draws my attention in the passage from Psalms is the thought that “we are given no signs from God.” Does it seem, at times, that God is silent in our time? We have His Word, so, in that sense, He is not silent. And, perhaps, that is enough. I suppose there have been no “official prophets” since Christ ascended. And I believe there is a reason for that. As Michael Card so wonderfully wrote, “His final word was Jesus.” So, while we may not have any real “prophets” or modern-day “signs” (even though there are a number of people who will claim to be “prophets” or claim to have experienced “signs”), we have the Word of God, we have Jesus, and we have the Holy Spirit.

So, I say to you, if you believe God has been silent, that’s on you. I may not “hear from God” every day, but most days I believe that I have heard something from Him, through this humble morning devotional.

I also wonder, sometimes, the same as the psalmist, “How long will the enemy mock You?” “Why do you hold back your hand?” I’m sure I’m not alone. This is where our faith and trust must come into play. We must, in our belief, know that God has it all under control. His “right hand” will come out soon enough, and when it does, it will be horrible. I probably don’t want to see that.

The Revelation passage reminds me of some words of Eugene H. Peterson, in This Hallelujah Banquet, which I am still working through, as time allows. Peterson thinks of Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, as our Source, and our Destination. He is where we begin, and He is where we are going.

Father, I praise You that You are firmly in control of all things, and that, as I walk in Your kingdom, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be. Whenever I begin to question or doubt, as the psalmist so honestly confessed, remind me of this truth. Remind me that there will certainly be a day when Your “right hand” will come out, and judgment will be meted out, and it will not be pretty. I praise You that You are, through Jesus, our Source and our Destination. You are our all in all; You are everything we need. You are enough.

Jesus,
glorious Savior,
I see you resurrected,
unable to be held in the grip of the grave,
immortal and yet still so vibrantly human.
You are the Son of God,
Lord of the living and dead,
head of the church,
and you have completed all your work to bring home to the Father.
Revive me in grace,
strengthen me in the good fight, 
and assure me of my resurrection.
To you be glory for ever and ever.
Amen.
(Westminster Longer Catechism 52)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)


Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
(Philippians 2:14-15 NIV)

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?”
Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”
Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.'”
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.
(Exodus 16:2-10 NIV)

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
(Philemon 1:7 NIV)


Father, I thank You that every day is a new beginning. Remind me, each night, as I lie down to sleep, that it is the beginning of a new day. Everything past is gone. Only new is ahead. May we truly “latch on” to this truth, Lord, and focus our energies, our spirits, on that which is new, and that which is ahead, or in front of us. Let me not look behind. And oh, my Father, please help me to stop grumbling and complaining . . . about anything. It does not good, whatsoever, and only makes my own moods darker. Lighten my spirit today; lighten my countenance, so that people can see Your light on my face (at least in my eyes). All glory to You, Lord.

Lord, You have called me to serve Christ wherever I am; in my home, in my neighborhood, in my workplace. May You strengthen me to do so worthily. Help us all to do a better job of serving the “common good,” rather than looking out for our own “rights.” For those who work in the arts, theater, and entertainment industries, I pray a blessing. Shine Your light on them, Lord, as that can be such a marvelous platform to display Your glory.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
(Genesis 1:4-5 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Seen, and Yet Believed

Today is Monday, the twelfth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter. (Oh, look, another word with four consecutive consonants.)

Peace be with you!

Day 23,041

38 days until our weekend stay at Glen Rose.

It is currently 62 degrees, with a projected high of 83 today. There is a 70% chance of precipitation. Beginning tomorrow, though, there is a cooling trend with a lot more rain chance over the next week. In fact, the projected highs through next Wednesday (ten days) are below 70, and one day below 60! My kind of weather, as long as the thunderstorms don’t get too raucous.

Yesterday was a good day, albeit a little strange for Sunday. We didn’t have our usual church gathering, and I wound up not going anywhere. C went out and about early, and picked up our lunch (Applebee’s) at the end of her excursion. They got my food wrong (not totally), as I had added grilled shrimp to my chicken Caesar salad, and the left it out. I called them, and they are allegedly putting my name down to get a free entrée next time. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just give me a $3.99 credit on my payment card. That seems to me to be the easier and more efficient thing to do. I’ll take the free food, but I really would have been just as happy with a credit for what I didn’t get.

I guess there are some folks who haven’t made into the twenty-first century, yet.

Otherwise, the day was spent just relaxing. My kind of Sunday.

The Texas Rangers lost their third consecutive game to the Padres, yesterday, 2-0. At least they got five hits. Folty was the losing pitcher, and they drop to a 3-6 record. They still aren’t in last place, though, as the Athletics have lost one more game than the Rangers. Today, they play in Tampa, against the Rays, with Dane Dunning taking the mound for Texas. He is 1-0 so far.

The Boston Red Sox won their sixth consecutive game, yesterday, beating the Orioles 14-9. This improves their record to 6-3, and they are all alone at the top of the AL East. Nick Pivetta (2-0) was the winning pitcher. They will take on the tough Twins of Minnesota tonight, in Minnesota. Martin Perez (sigh) will start for Boston.

I’m trying a new coffee this morning. Not a new brand, but a new flavor. It’s another Twisted Pine coffee, this time a mocha mint. I like it. Twisted Pine has become my favorite coffee brand.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

Praise the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things.
Praise his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen!
(Psalms 72:18-19 NLT)

Today, I am grateful:

  • for Twisted Pine coffee, my new favorite brand
  • for a new week, full of opportunity (giving myself a “pep talk,” here)
  • for the Psalms, where I find so much encouragement and inspiration for my life
  • for Thomas, who doubted
  • that I have not seen, and yet believed

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

EASTER – DAY 9

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I am pausing, quietly and briefly, to meditate on the victory provided by our Lord Jesus Christ.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
(Psalms 73:1-3 NIV)

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:21-26 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:24-29 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, this morning, I read these passage through again, inviting the Holy Spirit to draw me in, closer, and point toward a word or phrase, giving me some new (or refreshing an old) insight.

The first thing I see is a warning against being envious of the perceived prosperity of the wicked. Isn’t that an easy thing to fall into? “Why aren’t those wicked people being punished??” we ask. When we do this, we place ourselves in the position of God, usurping His authority (or at least attempting to) to judge them. He will do so, in His own time. And, truly, only God decides who is truly “wicked,” right? We tend to think ourselves much more righteous than we truly are.

Verses 25-26 of that psalm have long been favorites of mine.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NIV)

I don’t even feel like I need to add anything to that.

I truly believe that, by the time the events in John 20 were taking place, this is how the disciples felt. I know it was how Mary Magdalene felt. Earth held no precious thing for them. All they had was Jesus; for a time, He had been taken away from them, but He had risen! He had returned, only to be taken away again, but this time, in a much more majestic fashion. I know . . . we haven’t gotten to that point in the story, yet. Ascension Day is May 13, by the way.

Father, my prayer today is that Jesus would be my all in all, and that, as I read the verses in Psalm 73, I would truly be able to say, “Whom have I in heaven by you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you!” Lord, it causes me to return to my favorite Psalm 86, where I read,

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

Yes, Lord. Unite my heart to fear Your name!

Father of mercies,
like Thomas,
I offer you my often skeptical and stumbling heart.
And like him,
I depend on you to give the gift of faith.
Though I do not touch your wounds,
let your Word and sacraments be faith's sense of touch,
which will quench my doubt and stir my faith.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 3/4.14)

BLESSING

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 ESV)


He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
(Daniel 2:21 NIV)

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(Ephesians 4:16 NIV)


Lord Jesus, I am numbered among those who have not seen and yet believed, because I have never “seen” You, at least not with physical eyes. My heart looks forward to that day when I will see You, finally. I cannot wait to look upon the face of the One who died for me, and to feel the embrace of the arms that stretched out in sacrifice to pay the price for my and the rest of the world’s sinfulness. All praise to You, Jesus! I worship You, this morning!

Lord, this morning, I pray that we would be good caretakers of Your creation and wise stewards of the physical resources which You have given us. We do not worship creation, we worship You. But we could do better at caring for it. Give us, Your children, a better commitment to caring for Your world.

Lord, please shorten these days. Protect our families; protect our church families; heal our nation, and heal our world. We pray for this pandemic to end. We pray for racial injustice to end. We pray for a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.