Gifts for Service

Today is Monday, November 9, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,887

Three days until C’s birthday

We are beginning to do research on Geocaching, and what all it entails. I have downloaded the “official” Geocaching (a registered trademark) app and will be looking at it more in-depth as the week goes by. It’s free, but has a premium option, which is only about $30 a year. Whatever we decide to do, I imagine, we will wait until next Saturday, so we have plenty of time.

Yesterday was a lazy day, at least for me. After our Zoom church gathering, we ordered Applebee’s for lunch, watched an episode of “The Queen’s Gambit,” which continues to be an outstanding show, after which C went out to do a few things. She went back over to visit the family that she had gone to help on Saturday, then went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, and then she went for a walk.

I did pretty much nothing productive, yesterday. Well, I did have my weekly phone call with my mother. It was a good talk, but had one somewhat sad outcome. We agreed, because of the surging Coronavirus numbers, that we would all stay home for Thanksgiving. That was a tough one, but seems to be the right thing to do, at this point. The U.S. had 102,726 new cases . . . on a Sunday. Sunday has historically been the lowest day of the week, and, while it still was, over a hundred thousand new cases is way too high.

And we continue to hear nothing from our leaders but the sound of crickets on a summer night.

We will see how things look as we approach Christmas.

That’s pretty much all I have this morning, so on to the devotions.

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)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That this is just a blip in history
  2. That You are my rock of refuge
  3. That Your Words are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times
  4. That Your steadfast love comforts me
  5. That Your hands made and fashioned me, just as I am

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
(Psalms 71:3 ESV)

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
(Psalms 12:6 ESV)

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
(Psalms 12:5 ESV)

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
(Matthew 12:30-32 ESV)

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!
(Psalms 111:2-9 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
(1 Peter 4:10 ESV)

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
(Hebrews 6:9-12 ESV)

“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him.”
(1 Samuel 1:27 ESV)

But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
(Psalms 66:19 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

Note that there are conditions in both of the above groups of Scriptures. In the first group, the gifts are given to us that we might serve others. They are not given to make us look good, or to make us appear more holy. They are given for service.

In the second group, the condition is that we pray “according to His will.” That’s a tough one. There are times when we think we know what His will is. But, in reality, it is our own will. It might be based on what we think Scripture says, but it is still our will, and not necessarily God’s.

Yodh.
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!
(Psalms 119:73-80 ESV)

The psalmist believes that, if he is living justly and in the fear of God, that when other see him, they, too will rejoice and put their hope in God, as well (verse 76).

The psalmist gains comfort, delight, and wholeheartedness (a blameless heart) from meditating on God’s Word.

“When other believers see the power of the Word in his life, it draws them together and deepens loving fellowship. Suffering, rightly met, creates rich community and friendship.”

“Lord, when I am licking my wounds I don’t think of anyone else and I want to be alone. But help me at such times to be open to others’ help, and show me ways to encourage them in my times of difficulty. Lord, You thought only of me during Your suffering, so let me think of my community during mine. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Side note: I’ve never been a fan of the concept that Jesus “thought only of me.” I don’t agree with that statement in the above quoted prayer. If anything, Jesus thought of the Father during His suffering. But if He thought of humans, He thought of all of us together, His future Church. He did not think “only of me.”

Father, You, by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave us gifts so that we might serve each other. Forgive us for “using” those gifts to make ourselves look better or more holy. Forgive us for desiring the more “flashy” gifts. Help us to always be willing to use whatever gift You appoint at whatever time You appoint us. Make us willing servants of one another, always willing to put others’ interests above our own. And, when we pray, help us to pray Your will, which requires great wisdom and discernment. So give us those, too, please.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

As We Go Forth . . .

Today is December 31, 2016. New Year’s Eve. Last post of 2016.

Quote of the Day

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Word of the Day

Toodle-ooInformal. goodbye; so long. Sometimes shortened to “Toodles!” We will happily bid “toodle-oo” to 2016 tonight.

Besides being New Year’s Eve, today is also Make Up Your Mind Day. I think that’s fitting, since I, personally need to make up my mind about several things. For example, I will complete four different devotional books this morning. I need to make up my mind which ones to begin tomorrow. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning to decide that. Many people will make up their minds about resolutions today. Good luck with that. And, if you doubt the necessity of making up your mind, just remember this horribly over-used cliche: “Not to decide is to decide.” Ugh.

As already stated (twice, I think), today is New Year’s Eve. I suppose the celebrations are already underway down under. Some celebrations may have already begun in the States. Who knows? It’s not even 10:00 AM yet, as I write this, but some people don’t need much inspiration to “celebrate” (read that as “get drunk”). Personally, I need more coffee. I’ll be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

I mentioned resolutions, above. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions any more. I stopped doing that years ago. I think they’re silly. I do, however, have some goals. What’s the difference? Resolutions are like impulsive promises. We make them, and then a month down the road, we’re all, “What was I thinking??” Goals are just that. Something to strive for. If I meet them, good. If I don’t, I haven’t necessarily failed. But the point is, I haven’t “broken” anything.

My goals for 2017 are a combination of physical and spiritual. In the physical realm, I do hope to lose some serious weight. I need to be healthier in diet and movement. I also hope to practice more on trombone and keys, and, hopefully, get my guitar-playing skills back up to snuff. Spiritually, I want to seriously hit the spiritual disciplines hard in the next year. Spiritual formation; the classical disciplines, and maybe some that aren’t so “classical.” I need to work on some much more than others. As someone who has spent a large part of his life involved in worship, I seem to have lost my way a little bit in that area. So worship needs to be stepped up. Meditation and contemplation need work; chewing on the Scriptures that I read each day. Confession . . . perhaps I need to find a group of guys that I trust enough to form a confessional group. Silence and solitude . . . who has time for those, any more, right? But we need them in our lives. How can we listen to God if we can’t be alone and quiet? Bible study . . . I have to somehow carve out time in my life for more of this. I’m great on devotion, but light on actual study. And the church we attend doesn’t do “Sunday School” or any incarnation of that organization. Compassion and humility . . . moving right along . . . Various forms of prayer, and last, but certainly not least, fasting, a discipline that has been all but lost in contemporary Christianity. So I have a lot of work to do, next year. The important thing is to realize that it all doesn’t have to happen tomorrow. There are 365 days to do this. Of course, I had better not wait until December to begin, either.

56 days until the first Spring Training game.
93 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 55:16-17  But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.

Psa 70:1  Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!

Psa 65:4  Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

Psa 103:20  Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 150  Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

“The Psalter concludes in a connonade of praise: booming salvos of joy shake the air with ‘artful thunder’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Merlin’). Every means (eight instruments are listed) is put to use for the great end. Every creature is enlisted as a voice in the climactic chorus.”

“‘Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever’ (Ephesians 3:20-21, Jerusalem Bible). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Isa 52:12  For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

“At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.” I can think of no other year that this is more true than 2016. If we ponder for too long the sorrows and anxieties of 2016, we may not enjoy God’s grace as much as we should. Nevertheless, the Lord allows our memories “to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future.”

“The Lord will go before you,” Isaiah 52:12 promises. He will also be our rear guard, which, in human physical terms, is impossible, isn’t it? But nothing is impossible with God. He surrounds us with his great love and grace, and watches over us from the future and the past.

What this does is give us the ability (if we trust in the grace of God) to focus on the present, on that day we call “today.” Chambers finishes the year with this:

As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Father, let me take these words to heart as I look toward tomorrow and the next 365 days. As I have been praying privately for several weeks, now, I ask you to help me make 2017 the best spiritual year of my life, so far. Help me to be faithful to work the disciplines, so that I might place myself in position to be mightily used by you. Help me to achieve the goals that I set, not for personal gain or boastfulness, but so that your great name might be glorified in all things.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Let the Godly Exult in Glory

Today is Friday, December 30, 2016. Two days left in 2016.

Quote of the Day

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.'” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Word of the Day

Senectitude – the last stage of life; old age.

Today is Bacon Day. What else needs to be said?

The inventor of the “red solo cup” died yesterday. I shared that on Facebook with the comment, “And not being satisfied with normal celebrities, 2016 digs deep.” An actress from General Hospital also passed away yesterday. Barbara Tarbuck. I’m planning a recap in a special blog entry tomorrow. Or maybe Sunday, since there will still be time for 2016 to take from us, up until midnight tomorrow night.

I’m feeling better, this morning, than I have since Monday. I almost didn’t go to work yesterday, but finally decided to, which was probably the wise thing to do. It would have been a day without pay, as I am out of PTO, having scheduled my last two hours to leave early today. That’s right. I’ll be leaving work at 2:00 PM today. I left at 2:00 PM yesterday, too, as we had run out of stuff to do. Turns out having to work last Friday may have been a good thing, after all.

57 days until the first Spring Training game.
94 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 51:15  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Psa 86:1-2  Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psa 90:1-2  Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psa 85:9  Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 149  Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

“Let the godly exult in glory . . .” This shatters modern stereotypes of what a “godly” person must look like. There is no timidity or solemness, here. There is exultation, singing, dancing, raising “exuberant songs of praise as they use every resource of voice and body to express delight in the God who delights in them.”

“O God, forbid that I should ever turn your glorious gifts into something dull and humdrum. I want to be among your faithful who convincingly demonstrate the freedom with which you set us free, and exhibit the joy that can only be sung with a new song, in the name and Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I pray for this kind of exuberance to be a marker of my life. I have spent way too much of my life being sour and grumpy, allowing myself to be too easily offended or affected by other people and their choices. Teach me to rejoice in you and not be concerned so much with what other people do. Teach me that I don’t have to be first, or to even be considered at all. You have given life to me! What more do I need, especially from any other human being? Let me, instead, be the one who gives, the one who shows love and compassion to others, with no thought of myself. Teach me to be last.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4

Grace and peace, friends.

All of Creation

Today is December 29, 2016. Only two more days left in 2016.

Quote of the Day

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

Word of the Day

Lunation – the period of time from one new moon to the next (about 29½ days); a lunar month.

Today is Tick Tock Day. This supposed to remind me that the year is almost over and there are still things to do.

Well, to that, I say, “Bah! Humbug!” Along with most other people I know, I am ready to put 2016 to bed in the graveyard, where it has put so many people that have brought us joy and happiness over the years. Someone once questioned why we feel such an emotional connection with people whom we have never met. My response is that, first, I have met some of them, and, for the most part (except for Billy Dee Williams, who may have just been having a bad day), they were all very friendly and gracious.

The second part of my response, though, is that these people have, as stated above, brought us much joy, happiness, and entertainment over the years. My teenage years were highly influenced by the music of Emerson Lake & Palmer, and I honestly shed tears when both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake died this year, one by his own hand, and the other losing a battle to cancer. I was deeply saddened at the death of Carrie Fisher, whom I have met. and now, only a day later, her mother has died. Debbie Reynolds was rushed to the hospital yesterday, after possibly experiencing a stroke. Within hours, she was dead.

We shake our heads, we even shake our fists at the sky and demand for 2016 to stop taking, TAKING, TAKING! But, hesitant as I am to say this, do we really expect 2017 to be any different? Or 2018? One of my high school classmates, who happens to be a writer, penned these words in a comment on my Facebook post about Debbie Reynolds:

This is our station. People from our generation are being called home. We are making a way for the next generation. It’s sad but, really, all is well. It’s time, and this is our life for the next 20 years.

When one of our classmates responded with, “Sad, but true. I still don’t like it,” he continued waxing eloquently with these words:

You shouldn’t. You are right to not like it. It is not part of our makeup to casually dismiss their departure.

Our life here is a wonderful gift–but it’s not meant to last forever and as they depart, because the gift of life is so wonderful, we rightfully grieve their absence.

So hold the person next to you and be thankful for his or her presence. You still have this moment, which is all you are promised. Spend it well.

The bottom line is, most of these people we admire, appreciate, and in some strange way, even love, are “baby boomers.” Some, obviously, are even older than boomers. It is not really a surprise when people who are 96 years old pass away. But a vast number of celebrities, who were becoming popular in the sixties are not reaching their seventies and eighties. In other words, it’s probably not going to get better any time soon. In the words of Arnold, in Jurassic Park . . .

Now that I’ve made everyone feel all warm and fuzzy . . .

58 days until the first Spring Training game.
95 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 145:21  My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Psa 36:5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 

Psa 145:1  I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 148:7-14  Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!

Praising God is a very individual thing. Each of us has a choice to either engage in praise or not. When we choose to join in the praise chorus with all of creation, “it raises everyone to a new excellence.” Individual as it is, when we join together, it is amplified exponentially.

“I don’t want to miss a note, great God, in the chorus of praise, not overlook anything praiseworthy, not forget any benefit, not slight anyone or anything in my advertisements of your glory. Amen.”

Father, along with Eugene Peterson, I desire to be always in community with those who praise your great name! Let me sing along in my loudest, clearest voice, your praises, along with all of creation. May the sound, the beautiful noise shatter all of the pretenses and resistance of those who would not join in.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray Without Ceasing

Today is Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Three more days of 2016.

Quote of the Day

“I have two moods. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs… Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.” – Carrie Fisher

Word of the Day

Sockeroo – a notable success.

Today is Card Playing Day. The idea is to chill out from all of the “kerfluffle” of the holidays by just playing a few games of cards. Unfortunately, some of us have to keep working.

As 2016 continues to kick us in the gut, we lost two more greats yesterday. The first report was that author Richard Adams had died, at age 96. At least no one could say they didn’t see that coming. Frankly, I was surprised that he was still alive. The second was probably inevitable, considering the massive heart attack suffered over the weekend, and the fact that she stopped breathing, by some reports, for as long as ten minutes. But that didn’t make the report that Carrie Fisher had died any easier to deal with. She was only two years older than me, for goodness sake. She lived a hard life, I understand, and struggled with mental illness. In fact, from what I understand, she was a champion in the field of mental illnesses.

There is a video clip of her roasting George Lucas. In it, she says, “I’m an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life.” I met her once, at one of those Sci-Fi conventions, and heard her say those exact words to those of us waiting at her table for an autograph. She was one of the more memorable of my celebrity meetings at those conventions, mostly because I never figured I would get to meet someone of her status. Last night, I went to my autograph folder and found this.
carrie-autograph

Here’s the roast clip from AFI.

59 days until the first Spring Training game.
96 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 95:1  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psa 144:5  Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Psa 71:23  My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

Psa 89:47  Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 148:1-6  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

All of creation participates in the praise. “The reasons for praise are so manifold and the possibilities of praise are so multiform, that every voice is put to work.” There is not a single part of creation that is exempt.

“With everyone else singing so heartily, Lord, let not my voice be silent. Assign me my part in the music, so that with my joy, my life a song, will harmonize with the soaring melody of creation to your praise. Amen.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2016)

1Th 5:17  pray without ceasing,

Roberta Messner writes of a a four-year-old great-nephew and his habits of prayer. He seemed to be constantly uttering short breaths of prayer, such as, “Bless those sick people” when an ambulance would pass by their car. He once prayed for God to keep trick-or-treaters dry when it was raining on Halloween morning.

On Christmas day, when he smelled something burning, he cried out, “Lord, help the food!” And then, when he heard of a neighboring family who had lost a loved one, his simple prayer was, “Be with them, Jesus.”

Roberta writes, “After dinner, I sat at the end of the table and applied pressure to my eyes. ‘The medicine hasn’t touched my headache,’ I remarked to my brother. I noticed Braxton on the sofa, looking up from his computer game. He didn’t say a word, just lowered his head and moved his lips to the One Who hears every request from every believer, young or old.
“Somehow I wasn’t surprised when the pain behind my eyes disappeared.”

Just a simple reminder of the necessity and importance of prayer in our lives.

Eph 6:18  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Php 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Col 4:2  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Father, thank you for this reminder, this morning, that I need to not shirk my duty/responsibility/privilege to pray without ceasing. Let this little, simply story of a four-year-old be an inspiration to me, as I go about my work day. While it is true that I am still not feeling well, that doesn’t stop me from praying. Let me be part of the symphony of praise in your creation, and may your Holy Spirit prompt me to pray at a moment’s notice, throughout this day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

His Word Runs Swiftly

Today is Tuesday, December 27, 2016. Four more days of 2016.

Quote of the Day

“Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Word of the Day

Veridical – truthful, veracious. Also, not illusory : genuine.

Today is Make Cut-out Snowflakes Day. Might as well, because we certainly won’t be seeing any real snowflakes around here this week.

C and I both seem to have come down with the crud. Call it whatever you want to, a cold, the crud, Sinu-bronchitis . . . we both got it. I’m going to work, this morning, primarily because I don’t have but two hours of PTO left, and if I don’t work at least four hours today, I don’t get paid for the holidays. C is staying home.

It was a good Christmas, though. He had a lovely time Saturday evening, with C’s sister and family, and Sunday was really good, as well. We had our Christmas at home, with S, R, & J, and then drove to Mineral Wells, where we had a wonderful time with my mother. Yesterday was a little off, because C and I were already feeling unwell, but we had a nice lunch at the Dairy Mart in Mineral Wells. Great burgers as always.

60 days until the first Spring Training game.
97 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Psa 103:20-22  Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psa 7:7  Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.

Psa 115:1  Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psa 118:14  The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Psa 92:1-4  It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 147:12-20  Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!

Everything we can observe in nature can be a means of discovering grace. The sudden changes in the weather (how well-acquainted we are in Texas) “demonstrate the quick power of God: ‘his word runs swiftly’ (v. 15).”

“What I am really interested in, Lord, is not the weather but your word. You speak the word that changes my life from indolence to discipleship in Jesus Christ, in whose name I praise you. Amen.”

Father, help me to see your beauty and grace, even in the harshness of sudden weather changes. Your power over creation exemplifies the power you have over me, as well.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

How Can We Be Troubled?

“When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him.”

Today is Saturday, December 24, 2016. Christmas Eve!

Quote of the Day

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” – Dr. Seuss

Word of the Day

Wassail – to drink to the health or success of; toast.

Today is Eggnog Day! I’ve already had some, this season, and I’m not sure I have any that is still good to drink. Who knows? I may brave the grocery store today, just to get some more. I do love eggnog. It’s especially good with some brandy added.

As I’ve already mentioned, today is Christmas Eve. The house smells wonderful, and the cooking will begin soon. C’s sister and her husband will be here, this evening, around 5:00 PM, as well as C’s niece and boyfriend. Hopefully, R & J will make it, too. We are planning turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole, pies, and who knows what else!

Tomorrow, we are going to Mineral Wells for Christmas with Mama. We plan to spend Sunday night and come back Monday. We’ll have more of the turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, and so on. I might make a sopapilla cheesecake, if I can squeeze in some time in the oven. It’s pretty booked for the day.

63 days until the first Spring Training game.
100 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

December 24–The Eve of the Nativity

Psa 57:8  Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.

Psa 31:24  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Luk 1:67-75  And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Psa 40:6-8  In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 146:5-10  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

The word “blessed,” translated “happy” in some translations, is used at least twenty-five times in the Psalms, according to Peterson. In Psalm 1, it is the first word. This occurrence, in Psalm 146:5, is the last one. “It is one of the great and characteristic words for describing a person who centers life in God and experiences salvation by faith.”

“Lord, I thank you for the wide margins of happiness
that border the story of faith.
Your kind command ‘be of good cheer’ is easily obeyed
when I find your love in all my making and my growing (Matthew 9:2; 14:27; John 16:33; KJV). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Col 3:3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The security of the life “hidden with Christ in God” is simpler than we want to make it. We speak as though it is the most difficult, “precarious thing,” when in fact, it is secure, “because it has Almighty God in and behind it.” It is more “precarious . . . to try and live without God.” Chambers says that, if we are truly born again, “it is the easiest thing to live in right relationship to God.” This is what Dallas Willard refers to as the “easy yoke.” We make it much harder than it needs to be, and I am “chief of sinners” when it comes to that.

We tend to see walking in the Spirit as a great mountain top that is difficult to attain. Once we get there, though, by God’s grace, we find that it is not a peak at all, but “a plateau where there is ample room to live and to grow.”

Chambers says, “When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him.” This is a heavy statement. Because, don’t we all doubt? Does that mean none of us has truly “seen” Jesus? His commands are not burdensome. “Let not your heart be troubled,” Jesus says. If we have truly seen him, how can our hearts be troubled, how can we doubt him? His words are real. Being a disciples means putting the words of Jesus into practice in our lives and finding them to be true.

Your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Father, I want to truly see Jesus! I believe that there are times in my life when I have “seen” Jesus, but the memory fades, the reality fades, and I begin to doubt again. My heart is less troubled than it used to be, these days, but I still find my self troubled about things, especially things that I have no control over. Which is most things. Calm my heart; untrouble my spirit. Teach me to always see and know the truth that, in Christ, my life is hidden in you, and there is nothing to doubt; nothing to be troubled about.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Admiration vs Hero Worship

Today is Friday, December 23, 2016. Two days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.” – Thomas Aquinas

Word of the Day

Tannenbaum – a Christmas tree.

Today is Festivus. “For the rest of us.” Festivus was not actually invented by Seinfeld, but by author Daniel O’Keefe. It was celebrated as early as 1966. However, it surged in popularity when featured in an episode of Seinfeld. The purpose is to draw attention away from the commercialism of Christmas. “maybe Festivus is to prove that we as humans don’t need material objects to be happy on a holiday, but all we really need is excellent company, jovial attitudes, and lively music to make the holidays the best we could have.”

What’s going on today is that I’m up to go to work. Bleah. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be there the full day. We have no idea what UPS will bring to us today. They observe December 24 as a holiday, but not December 23, even if December 24 occurs on Saturday. They are, however, taking off Monday, as we are. Who knows? We may get a full load from them today. It may be just like a normal day. If so, I’ll bring in a hefty chunk of change on double-time-and-half.

We may try to go out and look at Christmas lights this evening. I keep seeing people say that there don’t seem to be as many this year. We have quite a few in our neighborhood, though.

We had a wonderful time with our pastor’s family, last night. We took them all out for dinner at Hoffbrau steakhouse, and it was great fun. Except the part where we had to wait an hour for a table. They already had several large parties there last night. We were totally surprised at how busy it was on a Thursday night. We still had fun, though, even as we sat waiting to be seated. Well, I guess we were already “seated,” weren’t we?

64 days until the first Spring Training game.
101 days until Opening Day.

It has just dawned on me that Christmas day will mark the day that there are less than 100 days until Opening Day. What a great Christmas present!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Friday in the fourth week of Advent

Psa 135:1-3  Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD, who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!

Psa 140:6  I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!

Psa 97:9  For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Psa 64:9  Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 146:1-4  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Admiration is a good thing. Through it, we see worthy attributes of others. Envy might be called the opposite of admiration, as it is typically blind to those attributes. “Hero worship,” however, is admiration distorted. “It confuses the mere human with the near divine. Hero worship is a first cousin to idolatry.” I believe that too many of my brothers and sisters put their trust in a “prince” this year. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is the only One worthy of our trust.

“God of majesty,
I would not confuse my admiration of those whom I respect with adoration of you whom I trust.
I will appreciate people but worship only you,
in and through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I echo this prayer, that I would not put my trust in any human “princes,” but only in you, through my Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel compelled to pray for all of the need that is around us during this season. There is so much, and I am only one. I feel overwhelmed at my inadequacy. Help me to be willing to give aid wherever I can. I long for the day when none shall go hungry and homeless.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

It’s A Matter of the Will

Today is Thursday, December 22, 2016. Only three days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“Love is when he gives you a piece of your soul, that you never knew was missing.” – Torquato Tasso

Word of the Day

Crepuscular – of, relating to, or resembling twilight : dim; also, occurring or active during the twilight.

Today is Date Nut Bread Day. It’s pretty much all I can find for December 22. All you Seinfeld fans, just hang on for tomorrow.

We had our Secret Santa gift exchange yesterday. My person seemed to really like the sausage/cheese box I gave. How can you go wrong with snack food, right? I received a box of Kenneth Cole “Mankind” fragrance stuff. It has a tube of hair/body wash, “eau de toilette” spray, and a tube of after shave balm. Not sure what I’m going to do with the after shave balm. If you’ve never seen my picture, I’ve had a beard since college.

Nothing much going on today. Except that we are taking our pastor’s parents out for dinner tonight. We’re going to our old standby, Haufbrau steakhouse.

C had fun at her leadership team event, last night. They went to this place called the Red Door Escape Room, in Southlake. It sounds like a fun place that we need to take R & J to. They put your team in a room, and you have to solve a series of puzzles to “escape.” There’s a time limit, though. If you don’t solve all the puzzles in time, you disappear forever. Oh, wait. That’s not right. They still let you out. Apparently, only 33% actually solve all the puzzles. C and her group were in a “Once Upon A Time” themed room. That sounds like so much fun to me!

65 days until the first Spring Training game.
102 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Thursday in the fourth week of Advent

Psa 95:6-7  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,

Psa 90:12  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psa 18:2-3  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Psa 101:6  I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 145:14-21  The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

“The diversities of God’s goodness find root in the varieties of human need. Every discovered mercy in God finds application in human want. And every realization of human desire is an invitation to grace.” Beautiful words by Eugene Peterson. No way I could adequately paraphrase.

“Father in heaven, I find my desires and needs an index to your will and promises.
What I long for and require is what you bring to me in your steadfast love.
Purify my desires and satisfy my being with the salvation in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Joh 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

“When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once.” Chambers says we should never “discuss when anyone when God speaks.” What he means by this is that our belief is an act of the will, and any kind of intellectual discussion is pointless. Do not misunderstand. We are to love God with our MINDS, as well as with our hearts. But the action of belief is not based on intellect. “Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says?”

It is a surrender of the will. We do not surrender to “persuasive power.” Rather it is “a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God.” It is, as they say, “blind faith.” And it must be an act of the will. The growing of the intellectual understanding comes after this.

Father, I praise you because you have been working this in me, this year. I have seen the importance of believing the words of Jesus as much or more than believing in Jesus. Thanks to the writings of some other people that you have place in my life, this year, I am understanding this more and more. I pray that you continue shaping my will to the point that all of my confidence is willfully placed in you and your Word, and none of my confidence is in me or anything I have done or can do. Help me to completely surrender.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Let All Creation Praise

Today is Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Winter solstice. Four days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“A sad tale’s best for winter: I have one of sprites and goblins.” ― William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

Word of the Day

Genuflect – to bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor in reverence or worship. I always thought that it was the whole movement of taking a knee AND crossing one’s self. Turns out it’s just the knee thing.

There are a lot of good choices for today’s “holiday.” Today is Short Story Day. I love short stories, especially ghostly ones.

So today is the first day of Winter. The high in the DFW area will be 67. It was 15 degrees Sunday morning. It will be 73 on Christmas, with thunderstorms. At least that’s what the forecast says.

We are having our “Secret Santa” gift giving today, at work. I think I got a pretty good gift for my person. It’s edible. Not a fruitcake. I said it’s edible. We are also supposed to get a turkey at work today. The sign says, “All CEVA employees will receive a turkey.” I realized last week that it did NOT say, “EACH CEVA employee will receive a turkey.” I’m wondering if we will have to all split one turkey.

If you add up all the gifts in The Twelve Days of Christmas, you get 364 gifts.

66 days until the first Spring Training game.
103 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Wednesday in the fourth week of Advent

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.

Psa 43:3-4  Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

Psa 84:10  For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Luk 1:30-38  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 145:8-13  The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]

The works of creation and the “people of the covenant” all collaborate to praise the one who is worthy of our praise. “Like a theater in which sets are constructed to enhance the dramatic speech of the players, the world is designed for the drama of blessing.” We find reason for praise when we discover the purpose and design of the works of God.

“God, help me to hear the praise that proceeds from things, from mountain shapes and rock textures, star tracks and sun warmth; and then let me add my ‘little human praise’ to make a song pleasing to you (Robert Browning, ‘The Boy and the Angel’). Amen.”

A quick quote from My Utmost For His Highest: “Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.”

Father, I pray, along with Mr. Peterson, that you would help me to hear the praise that comes from your creation. Let all the rivers clap their hands, let the trees resound in glorious praise, let the mountains shout out your majesty, and let me hear it all! Then let me join in the praise that all of your creation gives to you. You are Almighty God, and you, alone, are worthy of our praise and worship!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4

Grace and peace, friends.