Today Forever

Today is Monday, the nineteenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

The Queen’s funeral is going on, as I type this, and S is in the living room watching it. I suppose it is fitting that it is happening on September 19, which is already a sad day for me, as it is the day that Rich Mullins was killed in an auto accident, twenty-five years ago. This all rather overshadows “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

We had a nice day, yesterday. The church gathering was good, and we had Applebee’s for lunch afterward. We watched an episode of Call the Midwife (C and Mama have been watching them, but I hadn’t seen any, yet) during lunch, then spent the rest of the day relaxing (after taking out the trash bins).

The high temperature yesterday wound up being three degrees below the predicted high of 95. Does that count as a cold front? That’s four degrees higher than the average for the day. Today’s high is projected at 95 again, as is tomorrow’s. Saturday’s high is 97, and then it begins to drop, going down below 90 for the last three days of the ten-day forecast. Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we plan to take the truck to Mineral Wells to move furniture. Hopefully, the truck doesn’t fall through, this time.

The record high temp for today is, once again, 98, back in 2005.

The Texas Rangers, after losing again to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3, have been officially eliminated from any hopes of playoff contention for this season. They are 63-83 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are 32.5 games out of first place and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. And they dropped back to fourth place, a game behind the Angels. They are off today, and begin a series with the Angels, in Arlington, tomorrow.

The Boston Red Sox came back with a vengeance and beat the Royals 13-3, yesterday. This puts them at 71-75 for the season, with sixteen games remaining. They are still in last place in the AL East, 5.5 behind the Orioles. They are 17 games out of first place and are now officially eliminated from the division race. They are 9.5 out of the Wild Card race and their WCE# is 8. They, too, are off today, and begin a series in Cincinnati tomorrow.

The Astros and Dodgers are still the only two teams to have clinched playoff berths, and the Dodgers are the only team to have clinched their division.

The Dodgers kept their chances alive with another win, yesterday, to make their MLB-leading record 101-44. They must win sixteen of their remaining seventeen to break the win record. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nationals remain the worst, at 51-95, 1.5 behind the A’s.

The Mets have the longest current win streak, at four games. The Pirates and Phillies both have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a run differential of +329, and the Pirates are at -214. The Rangers are at -22, and the Red Sox gained back the nine runs they lost yesterday (plus one) and are now at -34.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for all the light you let shine on earth to gladden our hearts. Your light shows us how to live in your creation with open eyes and open hearts, accepting in a childlike way all the good gifts from your hand. How much good you send to many sorrowful hearts, and how much strengthening to those in weakness, poverty, and sickness! Grant that we may recognize what comes from you, that we are not cast down in spirit but mount up again and again on wings like eagles. May we learn to say at all times, "Through how much need has not our merciful God spread out his wings to protect us!" Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Exodus 19:4-6 ESV)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light from God that shines to gladden our hearts and strengthen us in our sorrows and weaknesses
  2. that the Lord abounds in steadfast love (mercy) to all who call upon Him
  3. that He is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (shouldn’t we be the same??)
  4. for every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights
  5. that my thoughts are drawn toward eternity

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
(John 19:16-22 ESV)

I have frequently wondered about the eternal destiny of Pilate. He was very close to believing, I think. He knew there was something more to Jesus than what was visible.


Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 
Gladden the soul of your servant, 
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, 
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. 
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, 
nor are there any works like yours. 
All the nations you have made 
shall come and worship before you, O Lord, 
and shall glorify your name. 
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
 unite my heart to fear your name.
 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your steadfast love toward me; 
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalms 86:3-13 ESV)
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, 
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 
Turn to me and be gracious to me; 
give your strength to your servant, 
and save the son of your maidservant.
(Psalms 86:15-16 ESV)

This has long been a favorite psalm of mine, and I can’t remember how long ago it was that I chose verse 11 as my “life verse.” That’s the verse in italics, above. It’s probably been a little over twenty years, because I seem to remember being in this house when I did that, and we have lived her for 23 years, now.

I’m still working, or should I say He is still working, on that united heart bit. And as for giving thanks with my whole heart, I’m still working on that one, too. What I want to focus on this morning, though is that steadfast love that is mentioned in this psalm. The word that is used in the Hebrew language is chesed. The KJV translates that word as “mercy.” The Strong’s entry on that word is as follows: “kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty:—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.”

Then verse 15 also tells us that God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger. As I read this psalm, this morning, my thoughts were drawn to questions about our own behavior in this world. If God shows mercy, steadfast love, and is merciful and gracious and slow to anger, are we not directed to be like Him?


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)


And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(1 John 5:11 ESV)

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:28-30 ESV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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 8:37-39 ESV)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

“Eternal life.”

How often do we consider the words “eternal” and “eternity?” The first definition of eternity is somewhat oxymoronic. “Infinite or unending time,” it says. The fact that it includes the word “time” makes me chuckle. I prefer the second definition, which, to me makes it clearer: “a state to which time has no application; timelessness.”

The first thing I always type in this blog is the date. Many people are interested in what “holiday” is featured for the day. Some holidays are official, some not so much. For example, today is “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” Shiver me timbers. I also remember this as the day that Rich Mullins died. It will, from this day forward, be remembered as the day that Queen Elizabeth II was buried.

We remember birthdays. We mark years. I remember significant years in my life.

In eternity, none of those will matter. Eternity will be one infinite day. It will be “today” forever. There will be no more tomorrow, and there will be no more yesterday. Or, perhaps “yesterday” will be remembered as a vague time when we were walking on earth. I have no idea if we will remember this life.

Great. Now my brain hurts.

The burdens of time, these “light momentary afflictions” that we must endure, are temporary. When we worry about them, we do ourselves a grave disservice (no pun intended). We steal joy from ourselves by allowing ourselves to be ruled by them. Yes, we must pay attention, and we must, to a degree, abide by them. It would be to my best interest to be at work on time on days when I am scheduled.

I find some words of Paul in Galatians to be quite interesting.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years!
(Galatians 4:9-10 ESV)

But, then, it is also important to note that, when Paul was writing these letters to the churches, they were all quite sure that Jesus would be returning in a couple of years, at the most.

“Eternal life.” Today forever. My soul rejoices at the hope!


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)

Andrew Murray focuses on meditation, from this passage. He says, “Through meditation the heart holds and appropriates the Word of God.” The intellect takes in the words when we read, but they must get into the heart, and the way this happens is through meditation.

It is important to meditate on God’s Word because “whatever the heart truly believes, it embraces with love and joy and thus influences the life.”

Meditation was a lost art, for a long time, in modern Christianity. It is still shunned by many well-meaning Christians because of its Eastern implications. But meditation was encouraged, even demanded, as far back as Old Testament times.

But before we try to meditate, we must “present ourselves before God.” You see, the words on the pages of a Bible mean nothing without His presence, without the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are just words. “It has no power to bless apart from Him.” As it brings us into His presence, then we can begin to meditate on it and hide it away in our hearts. This is done in “quiet restfulness,” during which our minds need not expend energy, as we do in “study.”

And then, meditation leads to prayer, as it, by nature, “provides subjects for prayer.” I can attest to the truth of this, as I have many times been led into prayer by meditating on a specific passage of Scripture. In fact, every day, in this blog, I am led to prayer by the passages on which I meditate.

Today, I’m meditating/contemplating/pondering eternity.


Father, my soul rejoices, this morning, as I consider eternal life, and the implications within. Much of what we believe about eternity is speculation, as You have not provided an abundance of information about it. You have told us that there would be no pain, no sickness, and no tears, which is what causes me to question whether we will, in fact, remember our lives on earth. Such knowledge is too high for me, I cannot attain it.

All I know for sure is that I look forward to it with great anticipation. And I know that this eternal life comes from Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All praise to You for giving us this life, Father, and for drawing us into it as You have.

As we grow closer to the time when this will come to pass, I pray that You draw us away from earthly things that do not matter, special days, years, and even memories. Not that I want to forget loved ones or anything like that. I just don’t want to be focusing on things that relate to time, which will no longer be a factor in our lives. I love the concept that was brought into my mind today, the idea that, when we enter eternity, it will be an endless day, it will be “today” forever.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Light In Our Hearts

Today is Thursday, September 8, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,555

No time for trivial matters today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Father in heaven, we turn to you in these times when we are under so much stress and temptation. Let your light glow in our hearts to give us firmness, patience, and perseverance throughout the time of testing, no matter how long it lasts. Your hand can change everything. Your hand can shorten the time we must wait until your light shines out of the darkness of death and evil, until your light reveals your life to your children and to the whole world. You are our God and Father as you have promised, and remaining at your side, we look to you in faith and trust. You will bring about goodness, justice, and mercy as you have promised, and so fulfill your will. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
"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."
(Psalms 77:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the deeds and miracle that God has done in history
  2. for the light of God in our hearts that can give us patience and perseverance through times of testing
  3. for the presence of God through all of the difficult times we endure; nothing can separate us!
  4. that, if we are fully trusting in the Lord, we do not fear “bad news”
  5. that there is always time to pray

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
(John 12:27-28 ESV)

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
(John 12:44-50 ESV)


And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
(Matthew 24:6 ESV)

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
(Deuteronomy 20:1 ESV)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
(Psalms 112:6-8 ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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 8:35-39 ESV)


They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
(Job 21:14-15 ESV)


When we look around and begin to think that God has “forgotten to be merciful,” or “withheld His compassion,” we must stop and meditate on His deeds of the past. Our enemy will take those thoughts and run with them, if we let him. This is one of the great values of the book we call the Bible. In the Old Testament, we have many, many stories that tell us of the great deeds of God, throughout history, for His people.

Even Jesus’s heart was troubled, at times, but He had good reason for His troubled heart. Seriously, He was about to endure more pain and suffering than any human has probably ever endured. All for our sake. So, yes, His heart was troubled. But what did He say? “But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

When the events of the world would draw us into darkness (and I confess that I have allowed that to happen, from time to time), Jesus would tell us that He has come into the world as light, so that, when we believe in Him, we do not remain in darkness.

Two thousand years ago (give or take), Jesus told us that we would always be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. But then He also told us to not be alarmed, because this has to happen.

Even as far back as the book of Deuteronomy, we are told to not be afraid if our enemy’s army appears to be larger than ours. “The LORD your God is with you,” Moses said to Israel.

In the Psalms, we are told that the righteous will never be moved, and that the righteous person shouldn’t be afraid of bad news, because his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Jesus provides this righteousness for us. We have no righteousness of our own. And in His righteousness, we can live like this, never being moved, not fearing bad news, not being afraid of our enemy. That famous passage in Romans 8 gives us so much encouragement, because, truly, nothing can separate us from His love! And hear this, because not even my sin can separate me from His love.

And knowing these things, we ought always remember that there is time to pray. There is always time to pray. We may, in our own ignorance and selfishness, proclaim that we simply cannot find enough time in the day to spend more than five minutes in prayer.

This is foolishness. A man will find time to do the things that he wants to do, that he truly desires to do. When someone says, “I don’t have time to pray,” what they are really saying is, “I don’t want to pray.”

“The holy and most glorious God invites us to come to Him, to converse with Him, to ask Him for the things we need, and to experience the depth of blessing there is in fellowship with Him.” (Andrew Murray) If God is everything to us, if we delight in Him, we will find joy in this.

“We must acknowledge that we disrespect and dishonor God when we say we cannot find time for fellowship with Him.” (Murray)

May God convict us of our sin of prayerlessness and cause us to find joy in the fellowship with Him.


Father, I praise You for the encouragement in the Scriptures featured today. May we always know that You never leave us, that we are always in Your presence. And may that presence be even more heightened when we are experiencing troubling or trying times. This world can seriously be a dark place, but Jesus has come to us to shed light on us, that His light might emanate from our hearts, shining on this dark world, that we might not dwell in darkness.

Let our light shine on the world around us, that they might see Your light in us!

Help us to be more serious and intentional about prayer, Father. Give us the desire to pray more, that we might find the time to do so. Let us pray without ceasing, as Paul said to us. Let our prayers be like breathing, something that we simply do naturally, almost without thinking about it.

May our first response to any event in our lives be prayer, whether it be something good or something “bad” or threatening.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Apocalypse does not mean simply fear. Rather, it means fear that turns to joy. It is joy when the old world of sorrow and death is overthrown. For Christianity, this way of escape lies on the horizon of the present transient world. Other religions imagine an endlessly repeating cycle (and endlessly repeating misery). But Christianity waits in confidence for history to culminate in a mighty goal. In earlier times, for the first Christians, this waiting was like a torch in the night." ~ Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz
(Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Words Like Honey

Today is Monday, August 29, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,545

It is one week until our Labor Day holiday in the U.S.

We hit 96 degrees, yesterday, for a high, which was exactly what was predicted. Sadly, our few days below 90 have disappeared from the forecast, with today being 95, and the rest of the ten-day forecast showing low nineties. There are a few days in there where rain is possible, though, so that’s always good.

Today’s agenda includes an exploratory trip to Target for groceries, just to see how they compare to our usual stores. It’s a little farther away from home, which is why we haven’t frequented that store. After we see how this goes (someone recently told us that their grocery prices have come down in recent years and I already see that bananas are even cheaper than Walmart), I may see about signing up for delivery from that store.

We also have at least one more trip to the exotic animal vet, to take Princess (guinea pig) to have her eye looked at again. I’m hoping this will be the last time. At least, today, there should not be a monsoon occurring while we are driving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we thank you for all you do in our lives, for you stretch out your hand to us on earth through our Savior Jesus Christ. We entrust ourselves to you, knowing that everything depends on your rule over our lives. It is your rule that enables us to go forward in your strength and in your light, always finding new joy in spite of struggles and temptations. May your mighty hand be with those who call to you, no matter how they may do it. You see into their hearts. You know those who are sincere, and you will send your Savior to bring them out of all evil and darkness. Be with us today and every day. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 
(Hebrews 13:7, 9 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the many teachers of the Word that God has brought into my life over the years, especially the ones who did not offer “strange teachings”
  2. that God, our Father, stretches out His hand to us through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit
  3. for the strength that God gives to go forward, always finding new joy in life
  4. that God, in His greatness, holiness, and unspeakable glory, condescends to converse with us; He listens to us and speaks with us; He loves us and cares about us
  5. for saints who speak gracious words and have soothing tongues; may they speak louder than those who do nothing but complain and express anger

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
(John 8:7 ESV)

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
(Proverbs 15:4 NIV)

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
(Proverbs 16:24 ESV)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
(Proverbs 18:4 ESV)

Glory in his holy name;
 let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 
Look to the LORD and his strength; 
seek his face always.
(1 Chronicles 16:10-11 NIV)

“Think of God, His greatness, His holiness, His unspeakable glory, and then imagine the inestimable privilege to which He invites His children, that each one of them, no matter how sinful or frail, may have access to God at any time and may talk with Him as long as he would like.” (Andrew Murray)

On top of this, God, through Jesus Christ, has also made numerous promises about hearing and answering the prayers of His children. What joy that should bring us! What an honor to have this privilege and this great salvation!

I speak to my own shame when I say that there should be no more precious place to the saint than the place of private prayer. Yet I spend so little time there. And, at the same time, considering the great privilege and the amazing truth that God desires this conversation with us, how much more important does this make the Proverbs verses quoted above?

If I truly believe in the precious nature and power of prayer, how could I allow my tongue to speak words that are not gracious and soothing? How can I allow my tongue to speak perverse words or complaining words or angry words? If I am seeking His face always, my words, both spoken and typed, in this age of rampant social media, should express that in the most positive ways possible.


Father, as I read and type these words, this morning, I confess that I do not always speak words that are gracious and soothing. While they might not often be “perverse,” they are often judgmental and full of complaint. My purpose, though, especially in regard to social media, remains to spread the Gospel of love and peace, and to attempt to speak words that line up with those Proverbs above.

I am not without sin, so I have no place to throw stones, literally or verbally. Let my tongue and my fingertips be soothing and not perverse (which really just means unreasonable or unacceptable). May my words, both spoken and typed, be like honey, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Let my words be like the deep waters of wisdom that comes from You, as I have no inherent wisdom of my own.

As I pray for people who have requested prayer from me, may I take this quite seriously, and may my life be such that You hear and answer those prayers, and that Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Joy of Being in the Light

Today is (I had to stop and thing) Saturday, August 27, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,543

It’s going to be a busy, but fun, day today. We start out with C’s company “picnic,” from 11:00 – 2:00. I put picnic in quotes because it is mostly inside, this year. They are having it at the ITRC facility, and will have food trucks outside (all free for us), bowling available, as well as tours of the museum and Hall of Fame. And, for additional treats, Steel City Pops will be there. I’m sure we will have a limited amount of choices, but I do hope they bring some peach pops.

After the picnic, we will be home for a couple hours, after which we will head to a good friend’s house, where we have been invited for dinner. Mama will be going with us for that. We don’t know what’s for dinner, but feel confident that it will be delicious.

Weather continues to be pretty mild, here, especially for this time of year. Yesterday’s high was 93, which is just shy of the average for that date. The record high for the date is 104. I’ve started looking at multiple sources, and will, going forward, use the record highs and lows from a different source, because it gives a year. But I can only see the current date for that, so today’s record high is 106, back in 2011. I don’t remember much about that year, but it must have been hotter than this year, or at least hotter later, because a lot of the record temps seem to be coming from that year.

The forecast for the next ten days shows three days in the mid-nineties, three in the lower nineties, followed by four days in the upper eighties.

The Texas Rangers won a rare one-run game, last night, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-6. Texas scored all of their runs in the first three innings. As is par for the course, the bullpen (mostly Leclerc) tried to blow it. I really wish they would stop giving the ball to Leclerc. The Rangers are now 58-67 (nine games below .500), still in third place in the AL West. They are 22 games out of first place, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. At this point, I think we are just hoping they can get up to .500 before the end of the season. They play the Tigers again, today, at 6:05 CDT.

The Red Sox ended the Rays’ winning streak, in spite of the Rays surging with four runs in the top of the eighth inning. Final 9-8. Go figure. The Red Sox are now 61-65, still in last place in the AL East. They are 17 games out of first place, and eight out of a Wild Card spot. They play Tampa again today, at 4:10 EDT.

The Dodgers won again, making their MLB-leading record 87-37. The Nationals lost, making their record 42-84, 3.5 games worse than the struggling Oakland team. The Yankees (BOO) and Phillies are both enjoying a five-game winning streak. The Rangers have a two-game streak, currently. The Pirates are finally alone in the losing streak column, having lost six in a row. Nothing has changed in the differential column, other than the numbers on both ends getting higher. The Dodgers are now at +279, while the Nats are -213. The Rangers are now at +17, and the Red Sox at -44.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, dear Father in heaven, that you let the light from your face shine into our hearts. Look upon our time, we pray, with your clear, penetrating eyes, and let all people sense that they are watched over by more than they are able to see. Let them realize that a strong God and Father is watching over them. Protect us on our way, and let your light shine ever more brightly, so that in all we do your name is glorified. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; 
be merciful to me and answer me. 
My heart says of you, 
"Seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, I will seek. 
Do not hide your face from me.
(Psalms 27:7-9a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of God, the Light of the world, that shines brightly in our lives
  2. that the Lord hears when I call; He is merciful!
  3. for this pilgrimage, this journey into the heart of God
  4. for the ministry of Renovare and their inspirational writings
  5. for the joy of simply being

“As Never Before,” by S. Michaels/Lightwriters

Expect divine reversal
a coming into Promise
a whole new joy in being

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

As I read this little poem, this morning, I was struck with the line about “joy in being.” Such a simple, yet complex thought. Simple, because we should all be blessed with that joy, the joy of simply being. Complex because it’s not as easy as all that. But as we seek His face, as encouraged by Psalm 27, that joy becomes easier to find.

One of my favorite verses in Psalms is 16:11.

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)

You see, as we seek His face (which He is not hiding from us), we will experience that “fullness of joy,” that is found in His presence, and those “pleasures forevermore” at His right hand. These are not at all dependent upon circumstances; in fact they transcend circumstances.

Please check out more of Susan’s beautiful poetry at the link provided above.


I came across an article from Renovare, this morning, written by Rev. Laura Rasmussen. The article is called “Always Look for the Light.” In it, among other things, Rev. Rasmussen talks about pilgrimage. I found this to be very enlightening.

“As a pilgrim, I am journeying to the heart of God. To journey to the heart of God is to journey to that divine spark of light, of life, within me. Pilgrimage is not about arriving quickly and efficiently to the destination, it is about giving space and time, attention and love to the actual journey towards an intended destination.”

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

“To walk in the light of Christ,” says Rev. Rasmussen, “is pilgrimage—navigating us to the heart of God.”

Jesus also understands our vulnerabilities, as we walk through this world. There are things that are going to distract us from the Light. Daily life, daily tasks, unexpected circumstances. “It’s not Jesus’ nature to shame us and alienate us in our vulnerabilities. Instead, his nature is to light our way through our vulnerabilities and into the abundance of his life. Jesus is all about bringing us back to the heart of God, to our true self. On the way we are met, loved, healed and transformed in this divine light.”

May the Light of the world illuminate your pilgrimage!


So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
(John 7:16-18 ESV)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 ESV)

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
(James 1:26 NIV)

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 NIV)

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
(Proverbs 21:23 NIV)

In light of the last three Scripture references, I want to share some words from Henri Nouwen.

"In Jesus, no division existed between his words and his actions, between what he said and what he did. Jesus’ words were his action, his words were events. They not only spoke about changes, cures, new life, but they actually created them. In this sense, Jesus is truly the Word made flesh; in that Word all is created and by that Word all is re-created. 
"Saintliness means living without division between word and action. If I would truly live in my own life the word I am speaking, my spoken words would become actions, and miracles would happen whenever I open my mouth."

And, to kind of wrap all this up, here are some words from Andrew Murray: “We are continually praising or thanking God by our actions and by the manner in which we treat others. At times God cannot hear the prayer of your lips because the worldly desires of your heart cry out much more loudly and strongly.”

Our life, indeed, exerts a profound influence over are prayers. But if we walk in the Light of the world and allow the light from God’s face to shine into our lives, we are delivered from this, and we can pray without hindrance. In that, as we journey on this pilgrimage, we can truly experience the simple joy of being.


Father, I am thankful for the words of all of these people that have been represented here, today. From the poetry of Susan Michaels, to the writing of Rev. Rasmussen, to the words of Andrew Murray and Henri Nouwen, all of it seen through the lens of Scripture and illuminated by the Light of the world, Your Son, Jesus.

I pray for this “joy of being” to be displayed in my life, today, and every day, going forward. Whenever circumstances threaten this, help me to remember that I am on a pilgrimage into Your heart, with the way illuminated by Your light that shines from Your face, which I am constantly seeking. Your face will I seek, O Lord! Do not hide Your face from me!

I praise You for the everlasting nature of Your covenant with us. We walk in the confidence that Your covenant will never be removed from us, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
(Acts 2:42 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Sheep or Goat?

Today is Friday, the twelfth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,528

Only SEVEN more days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday was quite busy in the computer center. There weren’t a lot of patrons, but, at least early in the day, there were quite a few who needed assistance. This, of course, kept me busy, which made the day go faster. It slowed down significantly after my lunch break, and I had a nice conversation with the manager during the last hour of the evening.

The high temperature yesterday only hit 97, which was what was predicted. There was no rain yesterday, and not really any predicted today, either. Today’s high is also predicted to be 97. Yesterday’s record high is 106. I do wish the site would tell me when that occurred. Over the ten-day forecast, there are only four with 100 or higher, and the highest is 102. S’s birthday is predicted to be 96.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros 7-3, yesterday. It was probably worse than the score suggests, as it was 7-0, at one point. The new pitcher, Ragans, was the loser. The Rangers are now at 49-62, still in third place in the AL West, 22 games out of first place, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a weekend series with the Seattle Mariners tonight, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox won their single game against the Orioles, last night. Is anyone else surprised?? Final score was 4-3. Newcomer to the team, Eric Hosmer provided the game-winning RBI. The Sox are now 55-58, still in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. The O’s have moved to within a half game of a Wild Card spot, now. And, honestly, if the Rangers or the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs, if the Orioles do, I would probably pull for them. On the other hand, Tito still manages the Cleveland Guardians, so I might root for him, too. There are still approximately fifty games left, though (it differs from team to team). A lot can happen in fifty games.

There were only eight games played, yesterday, so the only stats that changed were the run differentials for my two favorite teams. Everything else remained static. The Rangers now have a -3 differential, while the Red Sox improved by one run, to -35.

I’m off today, since it is Friday. That will likely change, soon, however. One of the other part time aides is leaving us, his last day today. He had been one who only worked in the computer center (I’m a “floater,” working in three different departments). I have been informed that, once someone is hired and trained to replace him, I will be moved back to my old Friday schedule for the computer center, which is perfectly fine with me. While I have enjoyed the every-other-week four-day-weekend, I would prefer to not have to work two nights a week. Fridays would be the same schedule as Wednesdays, which is 9:15-6:15. So, on my “heavy” weeks, I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, with Thursday off in the middle. A little more balanced.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Though,” by Daryl Madden

Come to watch the light shine
Though nothing’s there to see
Only through reflection
The colors come to be

Come to feel the wind blow
Though nothing’s really there
Only through the movement
It’s affects appear

Come listen to the silence
Though nothing to be heard
Only through our faith
Will we hear the Word

Come seek the divine
Though there’s no human way
Only through the Spirit
With vision, let us pray

I simply love this poem. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


Lord our God, you are our strength and shield. Our hearts hope in you and we are helped. Accept us from among all the nations as a people who want to serve you. Strengthen our hearts, especially when we must be tested in every way and must face the many hardships that will come when we take up our task of proclaiming your name and witnessing to you. For you are strong and can protect us. You can fill us with light and with joy to proclaim again and again the salvation that is coming through your all-powerful goodness and mercy, salvation in Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord is my strength and shield, and that my heart trusts Him, and He helps me
2. that the Body of Christ is made up of people from all nations
3. for the light and joy we receive that enable us to proclaim the message of His love and salvation
4. that Jesus sums up the entirety of the law and the prophets with the two greatest commands
5. that God continues to drive my heart toward love

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; 
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; 
the mighty man cries aloud there. 
A day of wrath is that day, a 
day of distress and anguish, 
a day of ruin and devastation, 
a day of darkness and gloom, 
a day of clouds and thick darkness, 
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
 against the fortified cities 
and against the lofty battlements. 

I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, 
because they have sinned against the LORD; 
their blood shall be poured out like dust, 
and their flesh like dung. 
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. 
In the fire of his jealousy, 
all the earth shall be consumed; 
for a full and sudden end 
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18 ESV)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
(Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)

“May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.” ~ Edward Grinnan, Daily Guideposts 2022

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)


I don’t have a lot of my own words, today. I got some emotional chill bumps from Edward Grinnan’s prayer, today, as well as from the content of his reading for the day. The prayer seems to paraphrase Jesus’s words in that “parable” about the sheep and the goats. I put parable in quotation marks because I’m not so sure it’s an actual parable. In fact, the ESV does not call it a parable.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

There may be some serious surprises on this day, when some people who believe they are “righteous” get their due reward.

Today's sources:
YouVersion daily Bible reading plan
Abide meditation
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, in heaven, as we pray, sometimes in vain repetitions, but, nevertheless, for Your kingdom to come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven, is it the words of Jesus that we are considering? For I truly desire Your will on earth as it is in heaven. And, if I read the words of Jesus correctly, that will is for the hungry to be fed, the thirsty to be given water to drink, the strangers, immigrants, and refugees to be welcomed, the naked to be clothed, and the sick and in prison to be visited and cared for.

I can’t help but wonder what the self-righteous among us think they are praying for when they repeat those words? I can’t help but wonder what the bigot means when he prays for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done. I don’t think he really wants Your will at all. I think he wants his own misguided vision of what he thinks Your will must be.

Have mercy, Father! Show Yourself in our midst! Show Your power in our land. Mold our hearts that we might share in believing the truths that Jesus proclaimed when He was walking the earth, that His teachings about the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, would become our core beliefs as we strive to walk in His steps and in His words.

Because this is what love looks like. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” And I will echo brother Grinnan’s prayer. “May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Today is Friday, the twenty-ninth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,514

21 days until S turns 29!

Yesterday’s high hit 102, just as predicted, making it our 33rd day of 100+ temps and thirteen consecutive days. It is predicted to be 101 today. There still has been no rain, now at 55 days.

The Texas Rangers managed a win, last night, and not only did they win, they shut out the LA Angels, 2-0. The pitchers only gave up five hits, in total. This makes the Rangers 44-54 for the season. They are still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and nine out of second. They are 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again tonight.

The Red Sox got a win, as well, beating the Guardians 4-2, to put them back at .500, with a 50-50 record. They are still in last place, though, in the AL East, a half game behind the somewhat surging Orioles. The Sox are seventeen out of first and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to be a few percentage points ahead of the Yankees, with a 66-32 record, for the best MLB record. The Nationals, now at 34-66, are holding down the cellar. There’s a three-way tie for the longest current win streak, at three games, with the New York Mets, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the (wait, what??) Oakland Athletics. The Giants finally won a game, so the Pittsburgh Pirates now have the longest current losing streak, at four games. The Yankees continue to have the best run differential (+197), but only by five runs. The Nationals still have the worst, at -160. The Rangers are back at +5, and the Red Sox slightly improved to -14. They’re still feeling the effect of that 28-5 loss to Toronto.

I’m off work today, as I am every Friday, and C is working from home, so we are all at home, which is quite nice.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the love you show us so that we may be delivered from weakness and sickness, from sin and misery, and may be given strength to serve you, our Father in heaven. Bless us in all we have on our hearts, that through your mercy the battle of life may be fought aright. Bless us in our times and grant that justice may gain the upper hand and we may live in peace, praising you into all eternity. Protect us, your children, forevermore. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
True, he died on the cross in weakness, but he lives by the power of God; and we who share his weakness shall by the power of God live with him in your service. 
(2 Corinthians 13:4 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power of God, by which Christ lives, and in which we live
2. for the love of God, by which we are delivered from all weaknesses
3. for Jesus's question, asked twice in Mark 10, "What do you want me to do for you?"
4. that prayer is more than just talking to God and more than just a way to get things from Him
5. that confession can bring about positive change in our spiritual lives

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
(1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV, emphasis mine)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:8-10 NIV)

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11 NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
(Psalms 92:12-13 NIV)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
(Luke 8:15 NIV)

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
(Luke 11:1 NIV)

We all know the result of that request that Jesus’s disciples made. In both Matthew and Luke, we see that the result is what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'”
(Luke 11:2-4 NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'”
(Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

There are a lot of other instructions surrounding that model prayer in Matthew’s Gospel, including that scary bit about forgiving others so that God will forgive us. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus continues with the passage that gives us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

In spite of the fact that prayer is so simple that a child can do it, it is still something that we need to be taught; we have to learn the more intricate ways of prayer. It is much deeper than, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” It is deeper than asking God to “bless” everybody. There is certainly nothing wrong with those prayers, mind you.

Andrew Murray says that prayer is “the highest and holiest work to which anyone can rise. it is fellowship with the unseen and most Holy One.” And no one was better at that than Jesus. So the disciples were right on track to ask Him to teach them to pray.

“Through prayer, God has given to everyone the right to take hold of Him and His strength.” (Andrew Murray) And, we must realize, prayer is so much more than just a way to get stuff from God.

It is interesting the responses one gets when one asks for prayer requests. I do this every day on Facebook. “What can I pray for you today?” I would say that about half of the responses are not prayer requests at all, but simply information. “I have _______ surgery next month.” Okay, great. But what do you want me to pray? “We’re going on a trip next week.” Okay, but what do you want me to pray? God already knows you’re having surgery and going on a trip.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus and His interactions with people as He was on His way to one place or another is this one:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
(Mark 10:46-52 NIV, emphasis mine)

It’s actually interesting that Jesus asks this question twice in that chapter.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
(Mark 10:35-36 NIV, emphasis mine)

I love it when people actually tell me what they desire for me to pray, rather than just give me information. I mean, I can wing it, I can guess what they want me to pray, but I’d rather them say it, themselves. Because, in my opinion, a “prayer request” is actually a prayer, itself.

So, back to that word from Andrew Murray, about prayer being the “highest and holiest work.” If we consider it for all that it is, and not just a way to get things from God, we see that this is true. Because, even though Jesus asked that question, “What do you want me to do for you?” it is more than just that.

Prayer is more than us talking. I sometimes wonder if God ever feels like saying, “Would you shut up for a few seconds and let ME talk??” That is one of the points of the spiritual disciplines that employ silence. Silence, solitude, meditation, contemplation, all of these are tools that we can use to listen to God, rather than talk to Him.

Another piece of the prayer puzzle is confession. Now this is a tricky subject, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. But I will say that I don’t believe we have to constantly be in fear that there is some unknown “unconfessed sin” that we have forgotten about that is going to keep our prayers from being heard. I have actually heard preachers say that “If you have unconfessed sin in your life, God won’t hear your prayers.”

As the fairy godmother in Cinderella said, “poppycock and twaddle.” (That’s the Rodgers & Hammerstein version.) I mean, we certainly cannot afford to play fast and loose with sin and confession, but I cannot for one second believe that our God is that petty and capricious. And what about that bit about how Jesus’s work on the Cross is supposed to have taken care of all of our sin, forever?

If it seems like this has rambled, I’m sorry. There is a theme, here, and it’s prayer, and learning it from Jesus. It is part of the process of cultivating a healthy spiritual life in Christ. God’s Word is also part of that. So just as a garden or farm cannot survive without proper cultivation, so our spiritual lives need time in prayer (including confession), and time in God’s Word. And, as discussed in a previous entry, those two both feed off of each other and support each other. Prayer prepares us for reading God’s Word, and God’s Word prepares us for prayer.

Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day (confess)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, thank You for the privilege and responsibility of prayer. How amazing that You even care enough to hear us! How wonderful that You, the Creator of the universe, bow down to listen to the words of Your creation! And, as Jesus’s disciples asked, I, too, am constantly asking, “Teach me to pray!” As much as I engage in the discipline, I know that there is so much I still need to learn, and depths to which I have barely begun to plunge.

I do pray for the strength to keep myself from being entangled in things of the world, in sin and selfishness. I do know that these things hinder prayer, but not so much because I might not confess them. After all, You know my heart and You know ever word that is going to come out of my mouth long before I say it. But when my heart holds on to sinful thoughts or feelings, that is when my prayers suffer. Because if I am counting something unworthy as being worth my attention, I am not paying attention to You.

Help me to constantly be thinking about Jesus’s words, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is possible that I don’t pray enough for or about myself. But at the same time, I want my prayers for myself to be more spiritual in nature than material or physical. In all things, may I constantly be aware of the sufficiency of Your grace. And may people be inspired to be more specific when they request prayer. May Your Spirit intervene in their own spirits, that they might tell me exactly what they want me to pray.

I continue praying for rain and relief from heat, not only in our area, but in the whole world, anywhere that is currently suffering from extreme heat and drought conditions. Have merch, Lord!

Even so, come, 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.

The Measure of Faith

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,512

23 days until S turns 29!

I apologize in advance for the length of this entry.

The heat wave continues, as yesterday’s high reached 103, for eleven straight days of 100+ temps, the longest streak so far, this year. That will likely continue today. We have had 31 days of triple digits, so far this year, and no relief in sight. There has been no rain for 53 days. The average high and low for yesterday are 97/73, and the record high for the day is 104. Today’s high is predicted to be 103, and the next ten days are predicted to be at least 100 degrees.

The Texas Rangers blew another one, last night. They had gone ahead by scoring in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but then the bullpen blew the save in the bottom of the ninth and lost the game 5-4. They are now ten games below .500, at 43-53. They are still in third place in the AL West, though, still twenty games out of first (the cheaters have lost two in a row), and 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play Seattle again, this afternoon, at 2:40 CDT. That’s a strange time for a game.

The Red Sox lost to the Guardians, 8-3. So they are back at .500, with a record of 49-49. And they have dropped to last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. They are seventeen out of first, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card Race. Now what does it say about a division when the last place team is at exactly .500?? The AL East is the only division that has any team below third place with a .500 record. In some cases, even the third place team is below .500. The Sox play the Guardians again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Nationals, in spite of a three-game win streak, continue to hold the worst MLB record, at 34-65. The Blue Jays continue to hold the longest current win streak, at seven straight games. The San Francisco Giants have the longest current losing streak, at six games. The Nationals also keep the worst run differential, at -154. The Rangers are at +5, and the Red Sox have dropped to -15.

It is somewhat odd that the Rangers have a positive run differential, yet are ten games below .500. Almost every other team with a positive number in that category has a winning record, with the exception of the Giants, who are only one game below .500. The Orioles have a -5 differential, yet are one game above .500.

I guess that’s just how baseball go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, bring us together as one. Give us your Spirit so that we may know you, so that joy may fill our hearts, not only for ourselves but also for others. Root out evil from the earth. Sweep away all that offends you, all lying, deceit, and hate between nations. Grant that all people may come to know you, so that disunity and conflict may be swept away and your eternal kingdom may arise on earth and we may rejoice in it. For your kingdom can come to people even while on earth to bring them happiness and to make them your own children. Yes, Lord God, we want to be your children, your people, held in your hand, so that your name may be honored, your kingdom may come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope of unity in Christ
2. for joy that fills my heart and soul, not only for myself, but for others, as well
3. for the "measure of faith" given to us that we can obey God's commands to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely
4. that I can trust God and not be afraid, because the "universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be" (Dallas Willard)
5. that God is able to use anyone, anywhere, no matter what the weakness
6. for the power of intercessory prayer

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV, emphasis mine)

The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is “measure.”

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
(Romans 12:3 ESV)

The actual reading for today is so ridiculous I’m not even going to mention it. And they take the phrase from the verse completely out of context. So I’m winging it, here.

The NASB translates the last phrase in that verse, “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” For today’s reading, it is truncated to simply, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

While that is a true statement, we need to realize the reason for this measure of faith, and to do that, we must look at the whole verse. And the purpose of the verse is to instruct us to “not think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.”

“Measure” could easily be thought of as “amount.” Yes, each of us has been given an “amount” of faith, and we need to use that faith to obey the commands of the Lord.

There are other uses of the word, as well. Jesus used the word when He cautioned us against judging.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 ESV)

Then there was this somewhat vague usage in Mark 4.

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
(Mark 4:24-25 ESV)

Then, He kind of wraps it all together in Luke 6.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:37-38 ESV)

So how would I use the word “measure” in prayer? After all, this is the point of this whole devotional book, right? I would pray for God to help me use my “measure” of faith to obey His commands to not think more highly of myself than I ought, and to not judge others, and to give generously and freely.


“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2 ESV)

“There is none like God . . . who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
(Deuteronomy 33:26-27 ESV)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
(Psalms 46:1-3 ESV)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; 
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, 
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, 
beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life, 
my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live; 
in your name I will lift up my hands. 
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, 
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, 
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help, 
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me.
(Psalms 63:1-8 ESV)

Have you ever been afraid? Is that a dumb question?

I’ve been afraid. Many times in my life. At least one or two of those times were caused by my own stupidity or rebelliousness. Some of them are humorous, as I look back on them.

One of the times, C, R, and I were driving to east Texas to visit grandparents. C was driving, as she normally does on the road trips. It had been raining heavily, and as we passed through Dallas on I-30, we encountered some standing water. At roughly sixty miles per hour or so. The car began hydroplaning and drifting toward the center lane (we were in the left lane). C was desperately turning the wheel to the left, but with no result. There was a pickup pulling a trailer in the center lane, and we were headed straight for the back of the trailer, when suddenly, the wheels caught ground, and turned sharply to the left and struck one of the cement barriers on the side of the road. R, being a toddler, at the time, slept through the whole thing in her carseat. Some paint was scraped off the front bumper, and that was the only damage.

Then there was the time we lived in west Fort Worth, near White Settlement. R was a few years older, and S had not yet come along. C was going to night school to finish her college degree. When we lived in that part of the world, we frequently got pounded by thunderstorms. They always came from the west, and they always hit us head on, with full force. That night, C was at school, and one of those storms hit. Tornado warnings went off (back then, a tornado “warning” meant that there was one on the ground somewhere; these days a “warning” is what we used to call a “watch”). R and I got pillows and huddled in a hallway in the middle of the house. We had been watching a lot of Scripture song VHS tapes (remember those?) back then, and one of them was a Steve Green tape, I think it was called “Kids Sing Praise.” One of the songs was based off of Psalm 56:3-4.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4 ESV)

Turns out it wasn’t “Kids Sing Praise,” but “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart.”

Anyway, R suggested we sing that song while we sat in the hallway with the storm raging outside and C somewhere in between Euless and our house, coming home from her night class.

Then there was the night before R’s birthday, I believe it was the year 2000. We were putting a basketball goal together, which she had asked for, outside in the driveway. At that time, we lived where we currently live. Clouds began building, and storm warnings began occurring. A tornado was coming, and it was heading straight toward us. I mean, it was miles away, at the time, but still on a trajectory to hit our area. We huddled in a bathroom (S was with us by then), and ate pizza, which had been delivered before the storms started. We prayed. Other people we know were praying, as well.

Here’s the thing. That tornado/storm did something really weird that evening. It took a hard left turn (“left” is totally arbitrary, there) and went through downtown Fort Worth, hitting the Bank One building the hardest. But it was after 5:00 PM, so no people were injured, because there was hardly anyone there.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.”

Indeed.

Once again, I am reminded of some words by Dallas Willard, these coming from his book, The Divine Conspiracy. “Jesus brings us the assurance that the universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”


More words from Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country:

“No Christian should ever think or say that he is not fit to be God’s instrument, for that in fact is what it means to be a Christian. We may be humble about many things, but we may never decline to be used.”

“The gospel is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling. You are salt to the world! You are light to all the world! Even the hairs of your head have all been counted! These words were exciting to those who heard them. Things might be dark but they were to be the light of the world. They were given a new sense of their value as persons. Especially was this true of women.”

“There are therefore two things for us to do. The first is never to doubt that God can use us if we are willing to be used, no matter what our weaknesses. The second is to see that God can use any other person who is willing to be used, whatever his weaknesses, and if need be, to assure him of this truth.”

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


Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
(Luke 11:5-13 NLT)

“In true, unselfish prayer there is little thought of personal need or happiness. If we would be delivered from the sin of limiting prayer, we must enlarge our heart for the work of intercession.”

Our faith will be stirred, says Andrew Murray, by interceding for others. Murray lists these elements of “true intercession”:

Urgent need – In order to learn to pray as we should, “we must open our eyes and heart to the needs around us.

Willing love – “It is the very nature of love to give up and forget itself for the sake of others.”

The sense of powerlessness – In Jesus’s example, the friend admits that he has nothing to give.

Faith in prayer – What he doesn’t have, someone else does have. “To get from God and then give to others what we ourselves receive from day to day is the secret of successful ministry.”

“Intercession is the link between our powerlessness and God’s omnipotence.”

(From Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray)


Father, I do sincerely pray that I might use the “measure of faith” that You have allocated to me, and that I might not think more highly of myself than I ought, nor judge people, and that I might give freely and generously to those in need, as You direct me.

I thank You for the gift of intercessory prayer, and that You have led me, in this task, to pray for others and their needs. I know that I have nothing to give, but You do, so I can ask You to do things for others that I cannot do, and that they cannot do for themselves.

I praise You for the reassurance that You can use anyone, at any time, for Your glory, no matter what kind of weakness we might think we have.

I thank You that I can trust You and not be afraid, because, in Your kingdom, as we walk in You and trust in Christ, this universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be.

I continue to pray that You would bless us with some rain, Lord. We are in desperate need, and there are people all over the world who need relief from this heat wave. Have mercy, Father!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Bonus points if you’re still reading.

Grace and peace, friends.

Between Being and Doing

It is Saturday, the sixteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart!

Day 23,501

Hooboy, it’s been a busy day, already today! I was about two thirds of the way through my devotions, when C called me. She had gone out to look for some new chairs (I don’t even want to go into what caused that) and wanted me to come help her pick out a couple. So I left the house, and we bought two identical rocker/recliner chairs to replace some older wingback chairs that the cats had shredded. We got them home, and they are set up, and the old chairs are in the garage.

And I’m exhausted.

There wasn’t a lot that happened, yesterday. I had groceries delivered, and I cooked Chicken Taco Rice Skillet for dinner. I highly recommend this recipe. It is delicious, and my family loves it. I add more chicken to it, a total of two breasts (boneless/skinless), and I also use a cup and a half of the brown rice. The rest of the recipe is done as called for. Very tasty!

The Texas Rangers bullpen didn’t exactly blow the game, yesterday, but they were set to change the pace of the game. They started out behind 4-0, and had worked their way to within a run, when, in the top of the eighth inning, with two outs and a full count, Jose Leclerc surrendered a grand slam home run to Julio Rodriguez. Final score, 8-3, Mariners. The Rangers are now 41-47, but still in third place in the AL West, a good 3.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 16.5 out of first and 5.5 out of the Wild Card spot.

On the other hand, the Red Sox beat the Yankees!!! 5-4, in extra innings, when Xander Bogaerts scurried home on a wild pitch in the top of the eleventh inning. The bullpen held off the Evil Empire, and the Sox broke their losing streak. They are now 48-43, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place. There is a two-way tie for the third Wild Card spot, between Boston and Toronto, now. Tampa has the first spot, and Seattle moved into the second one.

The Washington Nationals have fallen into the worst MLB record, now at 30-62. The reason for Seattle being in the second Wild Card spot is that they currently have the longest win streak, at twelve games. Hopefully, the Rangers can bring that to a halt today. The poor Nationals also have the longest current losing streak, at eight games. They also have the worst run differential, at -150. The Rangers are still in the positive, but only +4. The Red Sox are currently at +42.

I want that coat!!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we stand before you and lift our eyes to you. We are poor, needy people, often wretched and tormented. Let your eyes rest upon us. Grant us the help we need. Bless us when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ, that we may be a people who learn to serve you on all the paths we follow, even if it proves bitterly hard. Give us true faith for every moment. May we have joy and confidence that you are with your children, that you remain with them forever, until the great time of redemption when we will rejoice with all past generations and with all who are living today. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 
(Micah 7:7–8 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, when I find myself in darkness, the Lord is my light
2. for the joy and confidence that comes with being God's children, especially when circumstances come that threaten those things
3. for the promise, in John 14, that Jesus is preparing a place for us, that we will always be with Him
4. that God knows my thoughts and my words, even before they occur
5. for the Holy Spirit, who intercedes when I don't know exactly how to pray

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
(1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 NLT)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is balance. There’s a quote from Maya Angelou, who was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”

Balance is a tricky word/concept. However, in general, it is a good thing. I believe (and I am not alone) that our society is so far out of balance that it is in severe danger.

The technical definition of balance is, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” But, of course, in this context, we are not speaking of weight distribution. We aren’t trying to walk a tightrope between two tall buildings, here.

On the other hand, we do want to “remain upright and steady.”

A second definition is, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” The example given is work and relaxation. This is closer to what we are looking at today. Ms. Angelou cites patience and passion. The writer of today’s reading speaks, as the definition, of a balance between work and rest/play.

Guess what! The world will not stop turning if you rest or play for a bit! And, as Christians, we are not expected to be “Jesus Jr.” With tongue slightly in cheek, I believe, she writes, “God didn’t create me to be a human doing, but a human being.”

Back a few years ago, C and I did this thing in our church that we called “Huddle.” For the most part, I didn’t like it, I’ll be honest. It employed a technique called “Life Shapes,” which I thought were mostly trivial and irrelevant. Scriptures were taken out of context in order to fit the shapes that were used.

But there was one shape that I came away liking. It was the “semi-circle.” This semi-circle was positioned with the round side down, and a pendulum was envisioned in the middle of the straight line at the top. As the pendulum swung, one side was designated as “work” and the other side designated as “rest.” They were also called “fruit” and “abide.”

The point of the semi-circle was to illustrate that, in order for us to be effective disciples, the pendulum had to be free to swing to both sides in equal measure. Balance. If all we do is work, if all we do is attempt to bear fruit, without ever resting or abiding, we will experience what is known, in the business world, as “burnout.”

It is my firm belief that a Christian should never experience burnout. But it happens, because we get out of balance, and think that we should be working all the time. That is not what Paul meant when he said “pray without ceasing.” Even Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate, needed time to rest (while we don’t see any records of recreation or “play” in the Bible, I firmly believe that there must have been some times of levity with His disciples).

I guess we think we’re stronger than Jesus?

I will note that the one issue I had with the semi-circle idea was that we should always be abiding. We don’t stop abiding to bear fruit. But there’s no such thing as a perfect analogy, is there?


In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.
(Romans 8:26 CEV)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(Psalms 139:1-4 ESV)

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
(Isaiah 65:24 ESV)

There is no language barrier with God. There are times when words fail us. I have frequently prayed that I don’t have the right words to express to God what I am feeling. But that’s okay, because He is able to see into my heart and know exactly what it is that I am trying to say. Even when I do think I know what to say, He knows what I mean, if I happen to get it wrong.

Nothing I say or do is a surprise to God. I believe it can be inferred, from Psalm 139, that the Lord also knows my every action before I do it. So nothing surprises Him. When I stary off the path and sin, He isn’t sitting there, exclaiming, “Oh, no!! Look what he did!!! What are we going to do now??”

That brings me great comfort. It also is comforting when we apply this principle to prayer, because, as Isaiah says, He has the ability to answer us, even while we are still speaking, or before we even call on Him. And I believe it’s not too far-fetched to think that He will answer a prayer that we don’t even know we need to pray.

So how does this fit in with the idea of “balance?” I think I can make it work. In our prayer lives, we need to balance speaking with listening. We also need to balance speaking with meditation or contemplation. There are times, in prayer, when it is better to simply sit and contemplate our Father in heaven, to whom we are praying. As we do this, we gain a better understanding of who He is and what He does. I have long understood (I didn’t always) that prayer is more than just asking God for things.


GOD, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. 
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. 
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. 
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. 
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.
(Psalms 23:1-6 MSG)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

“We badly distort what it means to be a human being if we think about life only in terms of solving problems or accomplishing tasks. In the areas in which we are most ourselves, life doesn’t work like that.”

I have struggled with this problem since retirement, and only a couple weeks ago did I realize that my life does not consist of “doing things” and “accomplishing tasks.” I don’t have any deadlines.

At the same time, though, I do not sit and do nothing. I work at relationships; I do tasks around the house, cooking meals, doing dishes and laundry. I play music whenever I am so inspired. Nothing is “one and done” in this life.

The same thing applies to our spiritual life. And this is something I addressed the other day. “We don’t solve the problem of life by getting right with God, merely circling the date of our conversion on the calendar, and giving testimony to our faith. There is an incredibly rich world of grace and mercy to explore.”

Once again, we need balance. We desperately need balance between “being” and “doing.”

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


Father, I pray for more balance in my life. I do believe that my unbalance may be more on the “being” side than the “doing” side. So help me find things to do that will be good for me, in terms of balance in this journey of my life. Guide me as I continue to explore Your “incredibly rich world of grace and mercy,” and help me to exhibit that fruit of the Spirit to everyone who comes in contact with me.

This, of course, put a burden on me to do my part, even when it’s an unsolicited sales/scam call on my phone, or a person who comes to my door trying to sell me solar panels. While I don’t need to try to “evangelize” every one of them, it does fall on me to be kind to them. It also applies to people who have different philosophical/moral/political points of view than I.

I thank You for the truth that You know all there is to know about me, even down to everything that I’m about to say, think, or type. You also know everything that I am going to do, even before I do it. Sometimes, I wish You would fill me in, so if I’m about to do something stupid, I could maybe not. But, as I move forward in the journey, hopefully the stupid acts will be fewer.

I pray for my own life, that there would be a healthy balance between work and rest/play, but that I will always be abiding in You, and Your Word abiding in me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

True Investments

Today is Friday, the first of July, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time. Welcome to July!

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,486

Today is also Canada Day, so happy Canada Day to all of my friends and readers in that “neck of the woods!”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, Almighty God, grant that the nations come under your rule, under your judgment from morning to evening, from east to west, from north to south. For your will must be done, and your name must be honored among all nations. Yours alone is the kingdom; all kingdoms belong to you. Your heavenly kingdom must come so that at last we learn to be at peace and become your children, who submit to you. For your Christ shall carry out your loving, merciful, and perfect will throughout the world. We thank you for all the good you want to provide for us. May your angels watch over us this night. Be with us in all we do or leave undone. Help us with your strong hands, that we may rejoice at heart in all the good you give us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
(Luke 13:29-30 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the true peace that comes with the Kingdom of God
2. for the loving, merciful, and perfect will of God, carried out by Jesus Christ
3. that I woke up this morning to a new day, full of the new, fresh mercies of God
4. that investing in the lives of others through various charitable actions makes one much richer than simply hoarding money
5. that truths about God are also truths about me, and that I not try to separate my life and world into "secular" and "Christian"

Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is old. I’m not sure how I feel about this. There’s a quote from author Madeleine L’Engle, for whom I have the utmost respect.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

The writer speaks of the oldest thing in her house, a stuffed dog. I don’t have a clue what the oldest thing in my house is. Probably a book, because I’m pretty sure there are books in my house from the nineteenth century. I love old books. I like to look at them, hold them, and I love to smell them. I know. I’m weird that way.

I, on the other hand, am not old. “Old” is twenty years older than me (sorry, Mama). If I live to be eighty years old, “old” will be one hundred.

However, I, unlike many, do not resist the idea of getting “old.” Regardless of what marketing people tell you, we are going to get older. It cannot be helped, it cannot be stopped. There is no magic cream that will reverse or stop aging, including Olay. It’s part of life. I rather enjoy it, myself, except for some of those pains that I didn’t have yesterday. And those bruises that I have no idea how I got.

The psalmist said,

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
(Psalms 37:25 NLT)

The thing about getting older is that each new day is a gift, and we would all do well to appreciate that. I am not guaranteed tomorrow, much less the next breath. So when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’m going to be grateful. And I’m going to enjoy those new mercies of God that are new and fresh every single morning.

Father, I thank You for this new day (I realize it’s almost noon, by now). I thank You for the new mercies that come with each new day. And I thank You that, even though I get older every day, You are with me, and You provide for me. I have never been forsaken, and I have never had to beg for bread. In fact, You have blessed us to the point that we are generous with those resources and try to bless others, in a sense, paying it forward, because we cannot pay You back. May our hearts be ever generous, even as we grow older.

I am also thankful, oh, so thankful, for the wife of my youth. You have blessed us beyond imagination, Lord, and the love between us remains strong. I could not have asked for a better life. Sure, there are things I could have done differently along the way, but, as a whole, I see my life as one of blessing and joyfulness, all lived in Your presence.

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)


Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
(Ecclesiastes 11:6 NLT)

Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9 NLT)

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
(Isaiah 58:10 NLT)

There is benefit in work, in planting seed, in investing. However, there is greater benefit in investing in people. We can spend our lives grabbing for money and material things, and not be satisfied, ever. It is said that some famous wealthy person (maybe Howard Hughes?) was once asked how much is enough, and the answer was “a little bit more,” or something like that.

Truly, when it comes to material gain, it is never enough.

Dallas Willard, surprisingly, said we should work to make money, but we should do it so we can share it with others. He didn’t believe that we are supposed to be in poverty, but he also didn’t believe that we are supposed to be “wealthy,” not by the world’s standards.

There are “Christians” out there who seem to believe that God wants them to be rich. We call that the “prosperity gospel,” or “name it/claim it.” It is truly no gospel at all. What God wants is for us to do those things mentioned up there in Isaiah 58:10, as well as the things Jesus mentions in the following passage.

   "'For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’"
(Matthew 25:35-40 NLT)

THAT is the “investment” that will ultimately pay off in the long run. One of the ways we can make sure that the psalmist’s observation up there in the Psalms (about never seeing the righteous forsaken or their seed begging for bread) is to do the things that Jesus has told us to do.

And, we can do whatever we want . . . that verse in Ecclesiastes tells us that. But there will be an accounting. Jesus gave us a parable for that, too. It is also in Matthew 25, and I’m not going to quote the whole thing here. But most are familiar with it, the parable of the talents. What we do with what God gives us is important. It’s also important to remember that, in the words of an old Gospel song I used to sing, “if just a cup of water I place within your hands, then just a cup of water is all that I demand.”

Oh, and one more statement from Jesus regarind all of this.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Matthew 6:21 NLT)

Father, again, I am grateful for the blessings in my life. I am also grateful for the generous heart You have placed within me. I pray that this continues, and believe, with all my heart, that Your faithfulness will continue, and that we will continue to share with others what You have shared with us. I pray for the future of the Body of Christ, that Your children will be generous and that we will show the world what it truly means to be a Christ follower.


One of the things that helps us navigate this life, as we get older, is the understanding of the connections between a life of faith and life in the world. I refuse to call it “secular,” because I have tried to stop using terms like that to divide the world. I don’t have a “secular” life and a “Christian” life. I have a life, period, and my faith in God has a connection, an impact with all of itg.

When the early believers began their lives of faith, they realized this. "This faith was not one of secret mysteries or hidden doctrines. It met one's life. It mattered.
"Faith is the experience of connecting causes with effects, heaven with earth, the invisible with the visible."

So we must, we simply must ask ourselves, “Are we connected or disconnected? Is what we know about God connected with what we know about ourselves? Is what we experience at work connected with what we experience in worship?” (Emphasis mine)

It is my opinion that if you cannot say that what you experience in worship is not connected with what you experience at work, then you, my friend, have not worshiped!

“This is because every truth about God is at the same time a truth about ourselves.”

I cannot separate my worship life from my work life. I am not a “Christian” on Sunday morning and something else at work. I am a Christ-follower, and that transcends all boundaries. If it doesn’t bleed over into my home life, my leisure life, and my work life, then it’s not real. Period.

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

Father, I thank You for these truths, and I, for one, am glad to be able to say that I try to make sure that my faith goes across those lines. I’m not perfect, by any stretch; I still sin, and in my personal life will do things that might not line up with my faith. I will also confess those and repent and proceed down the path You have ordained for me, walking in the forgiveness and grace of Jesus. I will not try to separate “secular” from “faith.” I simply cannot do that. I don’t believe it is truly possible to do that. The fact that people try is why we see things not being done according to the words of Jesus.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humble Confidence

Today is Monday, the sixth of June, 2022, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,461

I’ll confess that I have been slightly confused about when Ordinary Time occurs, partially because of a devotional book I used last year. The primary Church calendar, however, shows Ordinary Time to occur between Epiphany Sunday (usually the first Sunday in January) until Ash Wednesday, and then from Pentecost Sunday (which was yesterday) up until Advent. Hence today beginning the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.
Lord our God, gather us together in one flock to praise you with one heart and one voice. Let this praise ring out on earth in the midst of all the evils that still confront us. We thank you for your protection, for all the help and deliverance you give us. We thank you for the hope you put into our hearts. We thank you for the hope that we may yet see great things done through the working of your Spirit, for us your children and for all peoples and nations. For your love will not rest until life on earth has come into your hands and all may rejoice. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! 
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. 
Your unfailing love will last forever. 
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
(Psalms 89:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the understanding that the purpose of my life is to love; to love my family, to love Jesus, to love the Church, and to love my neighbor as myself
2. that I don't have any "agenda" for my life, other than the above declaration;
3. that I am a child of God, but also that He has led me down a path of humility in that relationship, because, not only is He my Father, He is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe!
4. that I will be praising God for "ten thousand years and then forevermore" (Matt Redman)
5. that my joy is not dependent upon my happiness; I may not always smile, but there is always hope and celebration in my soul
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! 
Sing about the glory of his name! 
Tell the world how glorious he is. 
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! 
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
 Everything on earth will worship you; 
they will sing your praises, 
shouting your name in glorious songs.” 
Come and see what our God has done, 
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
(Psalms 66:1-5 NLT)
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)

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “confident.” The quote used comes from Maya Angelou.

“Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”

Let me say, right off the bat, that I have no problem with the thought of confidence before God. I believe that Scripture teaches this.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

But there is a stark difference between confidence and arrogance. And we must not cross that line when we come before the Lord, in my opinion. I really don’t have a problem with Ms. Angelou’s quote, either, in the context of Hebrews 4:16.

I do, however, have a problem with where today’s reading takes the idea. The writer, Jeanette, applies this to a mindset of prayer, and relates a time when friends at a Bible study told her, “Hold up your head when you talk to God. You are His child. You have every right to come to Him and ask for what you need and want.” (I added the italics.)

This, in my opinion, crosses that line. Especially that bit about asking for what we want. I started to write that I don’t have a problem asking God for things that I want. But that’s not quite accurate. I’ll admit that I do struggle some with asking God for things that I want, but don’t necessarily need. I even struggle with praying for other peoples’ prayer requests when they ask me to pray for something that they want, but don’t necessarily need. It’s not my place to judge, for sure. And I will pray for what they ask me to pray for (unless it’s political . . . I won’t go there), but I will also let God know how I feel about that.

Haha. That last sentence is kind of ridiculous, you know? “I will also let God know how I feel about that.” As if He already doesn’t know that, right??

We say, sometimes, the most foolish things about God and our relationships with Him. He knows everything! He already knows how I feel about that prayer request.

So, do we have a “right” to ask God for anything we want?

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
(John 15:7 NLT)

Here’s the thing. I think there’s a catch there. It’s not a “blank check” as some folks want to believe. Yes, we may ask for anything we want. But I firmly believe that, if I am remaining (abiding) in Christ and His words are abiding in me, that will have a drastic effect on whatever I want! I won’t want the same things.

I can speak from experience on this. Not that I have perfectly nailed down this concept of abiding. Far from it. However, as I work toward that, and when I do abide in Christ and His words abide in me, I find that I cannot, in good conscience, ask for the same things that I would have asked for, earlier in my life.

I find myself praying that God would bless my “enemies” rather than curse them. I find myself praying more for things like unity in the Body of Christ, because that’s one of the more important things that I want when I am abiding in Him.

“Jeanette” naively compares us asking God for something to her own children asking her for stuff. She doesn’t want them to hang her head, but to ask confidently. I would like to see how faithful she is to that belief when her kids come to her in arrogance, asking for something that they want, that might harm them in some way.

Her prayer at the end says, “Dear Lord, help me remember that although You are God, You are also my Father.” I would turn that around. It’s true. He is both. But, lest we get too comfortable, we must also remember that our Father is also Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. A little humility is in order, I do believe.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Praise the LORD, who is my rock. 
He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. 
He is my loving ally and my fortress, 
my tower of safety, my rescuer. 
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. 
He makes the nations submit to me. 
O LORD, what are human beings that you should notice them, 
mere mortals that you should think about them?
 For they are like a breath of air; 
their days are like a passing shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NLT)

“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
(Job 42:3 NLT)

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. 
Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. 
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; 
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
(Psalms 39:4-5 NLT)

And look! What more reason for humility do we need than what we find in these Scriptures?? We are but a breath, in comparison with our eternal, infinite, majestic God! “My entire lifetime is just a moment to you!” How could I come before this God with any thought of arrogance, with any though of demanding something that I seem to think I have a right to???

This life is so very short. But eternity is long. And, as the following song says, we will have 10,000 years and then forevermore to sing His praises! Hallelujah.

To me, this is a very stirring moment, as I watch and listen to Matt unable to contain his emotions while singing this praise song.

The same mindset that would have us come before our Father in arrogance also brings us the idea that we should always be smiling. And I think the bottom line in all of this is that we must remember that there is nothing “fake” about being a Christian.

The idea of “fake it until you make it” has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. This life is real. There is nothing, in my opinion, more real than walking in Jesus Christ. He is Reality.

“It is a myth that the Christian always wears a smile. There is a stream of joy that runs through the Christian life and keeps surfacing in praise and glad service. There is a powerful note of celebration in the church’s life and the Christian’s witness. But that is not the kind of smile that maintains itself by ignoring or denying everything that is troubling or difficult.”

I used to work with someone who displayed what I call “toxic positivity.” She could not bear any negative thought whatsoever, about anything.

We do, as followers of Christ, face difficulties in this world. “We must wrestle with unanswerable questions. If we take seriously the commands of God and give ourselves seriously to the task of loving our neighbors and our enemies, we are going to find ourselves in conflict with others, even find ourselves looking silly and naive – a laughingstock, in short.”

We will feel, at times, that God is unfair. I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt that. And, even worse, there is the danger of beginning to think, “If only I were a better Christian, I wouldn’t feel this way. If I just had more faith, these blasphemous thoughts would never cross my mind. If only I could be well balanced and peaceful and accepting of God’s will in my life, like the really good Christians!”

But here’s the thing. As Christians, we are not people who never have doubts or feelings of despair. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you (and probably lying to themselves, as well). As Christians, we are people who believe in spite of those things! We obey God’s commands when we don’t feel like it, and we hope, even when it looks like there is no hope.

I certainly struggle with these things. I look around me, right now, and see very little hope for this nation. It is more divided than I have ever seen it, in my 64 years, and it is, quite frankly, so foolish that I can hardly stand it. The political division in the country right now is asinine. It makes no sense. But guess what? My hope is not in this country. My hope is not in a political party (either one, or any of the alternatives). My hope is not in a president, past, present, or future.

My hope is in Jesus. And when I look around and see no hope, I still have hope because of Him. It is because of Him that I can sing “10,000 Reasons.” It is because of Him that I can go before the God of the universe with humble confidence, and ask for whatever I want, knowing, or at least hoping, that “whatever I want” is also what He wants.

And what does He want? If you’ve read this blog at all, you already know what I’m going to say. He wants us to love Him with all our being, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love the saints in the same way that Jesus loves us.

“The picture we have of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shows him agonizing over the decision of the Cross. He struggled with his own feelings. He wrestled with the will of God and finally chose the will of God. And out of this struggle came something we call good news.”

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

Father, there may be too much stuff here, today. There is certainly a lot to pray about. I pray, Father, that people would not be subjected to false teachings. I know that Your Word says they will come. And come, they have, in droves. I won’t name names, but there are certain people that I truly believe are teaching serious error in Your kingdom. I pray for truth to be known. I also pray that we, Your children, would have the confidence to come before You boldly, but also have the sense to come before You in humility. Yes, You are our Father, and You love us. But You are also Almighty God, and have all the power.

I come before You as one who has surrendered any “rights” to anything that I might want. Therefore, when I read Jesus’s words about asking for whatever I want, I take that in context of abiding in Your Word and Your Word abiding in me. I do not have a right to anything I want, because I have surrendered those rights.

I thank You for whatever life I have on this earth. I am grateful for the number of years that I have had, so far, and will graciously accept whatever number of years You grant me, going forward. I pray that, through the rest of those years, I will heed Your Word and do what You have commanded us to do. I pray that I will always shove my opinions into the “back seat,” and simply do my job, which is to love You and love people. And I pray that this example will speak more loudly than ten thousand words.

I thank You for the hope of “ten thousand years and then forevermore.” That hope is what keeps me going, some days. And I look forward with great anticipation to that day when that multitude from every tribe, nation, language, and people will stand before You, arms lifted high, shouting and worshiping Your holiness and Your Name! You are worthy, O Lord, to receive power and glory and honor and blessing! Worthy Is the Lamb! Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!

All glory to You, Lord, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Grace and peace, friends.