At ALL Times

Today is Friday, August 17, 2018. Day 22,072.

TWO DAYS until S turns 25!!!!!

50 days until GALVESTON!!

“Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.” ~ Michael Crichton, 1942-2008, The Quotations Page

The word for today is corpocracy, “a society in which corporations have much economic and political power.” I’m just gonna leave that there.

Today is my second day off, this week, one of which was unplanned until my accident on Monday. Since I had already planned to be off today, to begin celebrating S’s big birthday, I made the appointment to drop off my car at 10:00, this morning. They’ll have a rental for me. I’m not sure which car we will take to Mineral Wells tomorrow. We may take C’s. I guess some of that depends on what kind of rental I get. I have no idea how long the repairs will take. That depends on what they uncover when they remove the bumper assembly. Personally, I thought the inspector’s estimate was a bit on the low side. But it is getting fixed at a Lexus dealership, so I have good confidence that it will be done right. And the other party’s insurance is responsible for the whole cost.

C plans to come home at lunch time. Then we will go to lunch at a place of S’s choosing. After that, we have pedicures scheduled for around 2:30 this afternoon. Guys, if you’ve never had a pedicure, you don’t know what you’re missing! Seriously. We may get our grocery order in and picked up this evening, or schedule it for early tomorrow morning, so we can get to Mineral Wells by noon tomorrow. Knowing us, we won’t make it quite by noon, but that can be our goal.

The weekend will be spent at Grandma’s house. We will not, however, be going over the river and through the woods to get there. It’s more like under a train bridge and through some “mountains.” Shut up. We call them mountains. They’re taller than the ground, so they’re mountains. Until you visit Wyoming. Then they’re more like mole hills.

The Red Sox were off last night. The Yankees weren’t though, and they lost to the Rays, so the Sox gain a half game, and are now ahead by 10.5 games! There are forty games left.

The Rangers beat the Angels, 8-6, and they turned a rare triple play. One source said that the type of triple play they pulled off had not been accomplished since 1912. Profar doubled up the runner at third (tagged him) and the runner at second (touched third base), then threw to second for the force at second. Just for good measure, Odor also tagged the runner coming from first. So, technically, they got four outs in the inning, as the runner at first was out twice. The batter was not retired. The Rangers are 54-69, and 21 games out in the AL West. Nineteen out in the Wild Card. 39 games to go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Of David.
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; 
he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. 
O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? 
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. 
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! 
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them! 
Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, 
whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. 
I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, 
who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword. 
Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. 
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; 
may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; 
may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! 
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

Psalm 144

Hopefully, the only “war” and “battle” that the Lord is training me for is spiritual. I can proclaim, with David, that the Lord is my steadfast love, my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, and my refuge. I receive great comfort and encouragement in knowing that God is all of these things to me.

Then, David asks, similar to Psalm 8, who are we, that You, O Lord, even think about us?? The very fact that Almighty God, Creator of the universe, cares at all for us puny, fragile humans, is astounding. We are, indeed, like a breath. When we are children, sixty years seems like forever. Suddenly, we are sixty, or eighty, or a hundred, should we be blessed to live that long, and it seems like fifteen was only yesterday. This all reminds me of a beautiful song by a group called Five for Fighting. The song is called “100 Years.”

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah. 
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! 
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. 
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. 
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

Psalm 20

This is a great Psalm to pray for people you know and love, for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Dare we even pray such prayers for our enemies? Especially verse 5, “May we shout for joy over your salvation!” Take a moment and pray this Psalm for someone you know.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Psalm 96:1
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psalm 62:8

These all look like positive statements, and, to a degree, they are. But consider, for a moment, applying them to times in your life when things don’t quite go the way you planned. Maybe you have a disturbed child who has attempted (or perhaps even succeeded) suicide. Maybe you have lost a close loved one sooner than expected. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you’ve gotten a frightening diagnosis. Can you say these things in those cases? We should be able to, because of all of the truths already proclaimed about the Lord. We should be able to “bless the LORD at all times.” ALL times. We’ve all heard the statement that has become a bit of a cliche: God is good, all the time.

We can trust in him at all times. ALL times. It is in the troubling times that we have to work harder to remember our faith, and to remember that our God is sovereign over everything. And everything that happens to us in this life is temporary. Maybe that’s the best thing for us to remember. No matter what it is, “this, too, shall pass.” Even if it is the dreaded cancer! It WILL pass, because there will come a day when this earthly life is over and we cross over into whatever comes next.

If we are walking in God’s Kingdom today, we have nothing to fear. We do fear, because we don’t trust perfectly. But, truthfully, we have nothing to fear. As Dallas Willard once said, because of our Father, “This world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” Some would look at that statement and decide that he was out of his mind. No, he wasn’t. He had a bigger faith than anyone I have ever seen. He knew/knows God, our Father, and trust Him fully.

It’s a sort of decision. I will decide to bless the Lord at ALL times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Even when I’m standing on the side of the road next to a sixteen year old kid who has just rear-ended me. Even when my father dies from some strange, rare disease. Even when my daughter has autism and we don’t know what the future holds for any of us. I will trust in Him at all times. I will pour out my heart before Him. He IS my refuge.

Father, I praise You that I am able to say these things. I know that, from day to day, minute to minute, I don’t always reflect these statements. But my joy is in You, and I always come back to this place. I may stray from the path, but You and Your Spirit always nudge me (sometimes more of a shove) back to the center of the path. I will trust in You at all times. I will bless Your name at all times. Your praises shall continually be in my mouth. I will sing a new song to You! You are my refuge, my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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In the Potter’s Hands

Today is Thursday, August 16, 2018. Day 22,071.

Only THREE MORE DAYS until S turns 25!!!!!

90 days until Fallout 76!

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.” ~ Gertrude Stein, 1874-1946, The Quotations Page

The word for today is refection, “Comfort or refreshment received through some spiritual or intellectual influence; an instance of this.”

Yesterday turned out to be quite productive. The inspector arrived right at 8:00, and was done within fifteen minutes. He did say that we wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until the bumper assembly was removed. That part obviously needs to be replaced. I have elected to take the car to a Lexus dealership in Fort Worth, which deals directly with the insurance company. Arrangements have been made to drop it off tomorrow morning at 10:00. This is good, since I am also scheduled to be off work tomorrow.

We also got S’s state ID renewed, so that is taken care of for the next six years. The process was a little lengthy, as the place was crowded. We arrived there around 10:15, I think. There was some initial frustration, as two of the three check in kiosks were malfunctioning. Our tax dollars at work, right? Then there were only three people working that side of the building, and I think either one or two of them were working appointments. All in all a rather inefficient business model. No surprise there, as government is involved, right? Anyway, it’s done. Oh, I forgot. “Only” took two hours.

We picked up lunch at O.C. Burger (neither of us got burgers) and went home. Back to work today, but only one day. Tomorrow, I will drop off the car, then the rest of the day will be about S, as we begin to celebrate her birthday.

The Red Sox lost a game. The Phillies beat them 7-4. That’s okay, though. The Yankees lost, too. The Sox are 86-36, and still ten games up in the AL East. They have tonight off and begin a series with Tampa tomorrow, in Fenway.

The Rangers did not play last night. They begin a series with the Angels tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Psalm of David.
Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! 
Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. 
For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 
Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. 
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. 
I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah. 
Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge. 
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! 
For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! 
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Psalm 143

One of the best things to do when we are struggling is what David does in verse 5. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”

When we are down in the dumps, as David obviously is, here, we need only think back on all of the God’s great works. Ponder the works of His hands. Think not only on the works He did for Israel in the Old Testament, but also on what He has done in your own life. If you can’t come up with anything there, you have a deeper problem. I have no trouble at all reminding myself of God’s great work in my life, beginning as early as my childhood. I’m sure there are some things that were forgotten, but there are plenty that I remember.

Then, once having reminded ourselves of these great things, we can, like David, stretch out our hands to Him (v. 6) and acknowledge that our souls are, indeed, dry and parched, and in need of “refection.” (See today’s word of the day.)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah 18:1-6

Just a reminder that, no matter what our flaws may be, our God can work with them, and produce something of great value out of us.

Father, help me to remember, especially when I am feeling down or overwhelmed, the wonderful and marvelous things that You have done, both through history on a world-level, and during my brief life on this earth. Thank you for those acts, Father, and thank you for memory which provides me a springboard of praise to You. Like David, I can pray, teach me to do Your will. Oh, how I still struggle with this. And thank you so much for continuing to work with me, in spite of my many flaws. Like the potter, You continue to mold and rework. Someday, I will be something beautiful for You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

If You Can’t Say Something Good . . .

Today is Wednesday, August 15, 2018. Day 22,070.

Only FOUR DAYS until S turns 25!!

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” ~ Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903, The Quotations Page

The word for today is marplot, “a person who mars or defeats a plot, design, or project by meddling.”

Today’s blog entry is a little later than usual, because I am staying home to have the damage inspected on my car, from Monday’s accident. The inspector is supposed to be here between 8:00 and 8:30 this morning. I scheduled PTO for today when I learned what day they would be coming. I initially thought about going on in at noon, but then I thought that it would be better to go ahead and get S’s state ID renewed so we don’t have to mess with that on Friday.

The Red Sox beat the Phillies last night, 2-1, as Porcello notched his fifteenth win for the season. The Sox are now at 86-35, 51 games over .500. They remain ten games up on the Yankees in the AL East. They play the Phillies again tonight.

The Rangers lost to the D-backs, 6-4. Their record is 53-69, 21 games out in the AL West. The AL Wild Card race has gotten a bit more interesting, lately, as Oakland seems to be on a good run. They are only one game behind the Astros, now!

St. Louis is still rolling, now having seven consecutive wins.

In other news, it seems inevitable that we are about to lose the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin is reported to be in hospice care.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.
With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. 
I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. 
When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. 
Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. 
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” 
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! 
Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

Psalm 142

David was feeling somewhat alone when he composed this Psalm. And with this, I think we can see that it is, in fact, perfectly acceptable to pour out our complaint before God. Far better, I believe, to do that than to constantly be complaining to others around us. For one thing, God is probably the only one who can do anything about it.

The important thing is, that after David complains, he says, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” After we have poured out our complaint, we must not end there. We must acknowledge our position before God. We must know that He is our refuge. In Psalm 73:25-26, it is written, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” And, truthfully, there is no “may” about it. My flesh and my heart WILL fail. It is certain. But God, who is “my portion in the land of the living,” will forever be faithful.

I have always thought the last verse was beautiful. I remember the NIV, back when I used to read that version on a regular basis, said, “Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” It’s almost the same, but there are some subtle differences that I like. With either translation, I love the idea of the righteous gathering around each other, because of God’s goodness to us.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:12-14
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:8-10
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
James 3:5-6

Psalm 19:14 is a beautiful verse, that ends a beautiful Psalm. But it is a sobering prayer, if we take time to think about it.

Now, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am guilty of letting an occasional swear word escape my lips. Rarely, if ever, do I swear where anyone else can hear (I hope). Nevertheless, we are admonished by God’s Word to not allow “obscene talk” to come from our mouths. I don’t see how swear words could be acceptable in the sight of my Lord, Rock, and Redeemer.

So today’s Scripture verses from Daily Guideposts definitely speak to me about reigning in that tongue. Of course, one man’s “obscene talk” might be another man’s normal speech. I’m not here to argue about what is obscene and what is not. These verses will mean different things to each person who reads them, and that’s fine. This one’s about me.

It’s not all about swearing, either. It’s about being deliberately deceitful. It’s about gossiping. It’s about anger, and all other negative emotions that can be expressed with our tongue. Elsewhere, and I didn’t take time to look it up, Paul admonishes us to not let any speech come out of our mouths that is not edifying.

That’s a tall order, isn’t it? We all know the old adage: “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.” Or something like that.

Father, You know my heart. You know every part of me, better than I know me. You know my desires, and You know my weaknesses. I seriously pray that You would help me with my tongue. I have already asked, once, this week, that You would “set a guard” over my lips. Today I ask that Your Spirit would abide within me to the point that I consider any word before it comes out of my mouth, to see if that word would be pleasing in Your sight. If not, then I should not say it. Hopefully, that can even transfer to thoughts that threaten to work their way into speech. May You be glorified by all that I think or say.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Set A Guard Over My Lips!

Today is Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Day 22,069.

Only FIVE DAYS until S turns 25!!!!

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” ~ George Carlin, 1937-2003, BrainyQuote

The word for today is riant, “laughing; smiling; cheerful.” May we all have a riant day!

Yesterday morning, I wrote this:

But as the old Amy Grant song “Angels” said, I never really know what God protects me from, throughout the day, do I?

Ironically, I was rear-ended on the way to work, yesterday morning. Let us not be mistaken, however, and think that this means that God had momentarily stopped protecting me! While the young man’s 2016 Camaro (he was only sixteen, bless his heart) was in much worse shape than my car, neither one of us was visibly harmed. I don’t know how he feels this morning, but I am, as far as I can tell, fine. I thought I might be a bit sore, this morning, but I have no more aches and pains than I usually have in my sixty-year-old body. Another silver lining in this cloud was that I saw this coming, so I was prepared for the impact, and had left enough space between me and the car in front of me (we were at a red light) so that I was not thrust into the rear end of that car. I lost count of how many times the young man apologized, and he kept saying, “I’m just glad everyone is okay.” Yes. Cars can be fixed. Sometimes people cannot be. After a not-too-terribly-long delay, I was on my way to work.

As mentioned yesterday, the Red Sox did not play, last night. The Yankees did, though, and lost to the Mets, which widened the gap by yet another half game. The Sox now lead the AL East by ten games! They have forty-two games left. They play the Phillies tonight.

The Rangers beat the D-backs 5-3. Their record is now 53-68. They are 21 games out in the AL West, and 19 out in the Wild Card. They continue playing the D-backs tonight.

The Cardinals continue to hold the longest current winning streak, at six consecutive wins.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Psalm of David.
O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant. 
As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol. 
But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! 
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.

Psalm 141

Most of the Psalms contain passages that we could easily (and profitably, I believe) pray back to God. In this one, for example, “O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!” David then proceeds to ask God to “keep watch” over his lips. I dare say that most of us could benefit from having God guard our lips! If I had a nickel for every time my mouth has gotten me in trouble . . .

Then he asks God to keep his heart from inclining toward evil. It is a direction that our hearts so easily move toward, if we are not diligent to maintain our souls. Soul-keeping is hard work, and if we slack off, our souls will get unkempt. Then we might too easily busy ourselves with wicked deeds.

And it is at that point that we should welcome the rebuke of a fellow believer, if necessary. This seems to be a practice we have lost. How many times have you been rebuked by a brother or sister? How many times have you rebuked a brother or sister? Kindly, of course, in love. And for something serious. Such as creating division in the Church, or gossip, or something like that.

Before he prays for protection from the traps of the wicked, David says these beautiful words: “But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!” May that be our prayer today, that our eyes are directed toward our God, and that we seek refuge in Him.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
John 16:20
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Ecclesiastes 7:8

Just a reminder that God always works in our lives, and can easily turn bad things into good things. Or perhaps a better way to look at it is that things that are “bad” to us may not be bad at all, but just God working out things for our good. Have faith in God. He’s on His throne. He is God; we are not. We just need to trust Him.

Father, I am grateful that no one was injured in yesterday’s accident. I pray for the young man who ran into me. May you give him peace today as he considers the future. I also pray that he is still physically unhurt. Thank You for Your protection in all things. I thank You that You work out things that appear to be “bad.” May my eyes be ever toward You, my Father, and may I constantly seek refuge in You. Let me not stray from the path that You have laid before me. Set a guard over my lips today, and keep my heart from inclining toward evil.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Unselfing

Today is Monday, August 13, 2018. Day 22,068.

Only SIX DAYS until S turns 25!!!

“There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.” ~ E.B. White, 1899-1985, BrainyQuote

The word for today is orgulous, which simply means, “proud.”

For a weekend where we didn’t do much, that sure went by fast.

It was definitely good to be back with our Exchange family, yesterday morning. After church, C went out and got a couple of things that we forgot on our Click List from the day before, then cooked some baked potatoes and steaks for us for a late lunch. Later, I whipped up some strawberry shortcakes for dessert. Don’t worry, S, there are plenty of strawberries left for your cake, this weekend.

I’ll be taking Friday off, this week, to spend the day with S. Unfortunately, part of the day will be spent at the DMV office, getting her state ID renewed. For some reason, we can’t do it online. I think C is planning to take off at lunchtime, and we just might be getting pedicures that afternoon!

The Red Sox beat the O’s for a sweep, yesterday afternoon, winning 4-1. Their record is now 85-35, fifty games over .500. They remain 9.5 up in the AL East. They are off tonight, and play the Phillies tomorrow night, in Philly.

The Rangers lost to the Yankees, 7-2, to make their record 52-68. They remain 21.5 out in the AL West. They play the D-backs tonight in Arlington.

St. Louis continues to hold the longest winning streak with five consecutive wins.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, 
who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. 
They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah. 
Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet. 
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah. 
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD! 
O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. 
Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah. 
As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them! 
Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise! 
Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily! 
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. 
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

Psalm 140

How many of us need to pray for protection from “evil men,” people who hide traps for us, or spread nets and snares for us? Well, who knows, right? I don’t particularly know of anyone who has violence planned against me. I’m not the king of a nation, you know. I’m just a regular guy who gets up and drives to work every morning. But as the old Amy Grant song “Angels” said, I never really know what God protects me from, throughout the day, do I? So it’s probably not a bad idea to pray for God to deliver us from “evil men,” or to ask God to not grant “the desires of the wicked.”

Is it okay to pray for burning coals to fall on their heads? I would be careful with that one and let God judge who needs burning coals on their heads. Sometimes I’m just angry with someone because they didn’t act the way I think they should. That’s definitely not a cause for burning coals to fall on their heads.

I like the way David ends this one. “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.” Amen.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
Ephesians 1:3

“God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Our earthly lives, as Christians, can only be lived “in the power of the heavenly world.”

The Holy Spirit gives us understanding. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to “live a life of abiding access to the Father through Jesus Christ.” Joined together with our fellow believers, we become “a dwelling place for God.” And the Holy Spirit gives us strength.

“The believer is to walk in meekness and lowliness of heart, keep the unity of the spirit, and minister in the power of the Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ in love. He seeks never to grieve the Spirit, but rather to be filled with the Spirit, fulfilling the law of love in his daily life.”

What do we need to catch this vision? “Time, though, prayer, and quiet waiting on the Spirit of God.” And the description of the believe, above, should not be thought of as the “super-Christian.” It should be the “normal spiritual experience. We must turn away from self and the world and allow God to work out in us His purposes according to the counsel of His will.”

This sounds a lot like a sentence early in Eugene Peterson’s book, Where Your Treasure Is. He said, “America is in conspicuous need of unselfing.”

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)

Father, today, help me to “unself.” By your Spirit, Lord, make me the believer who walks in meekness and lowliness of heart. Help me to keep the unity of the spirit, and to minister in the power of the Spirit. Help me to build up the body of Christ in love, not tear down. May I not grieve your Spirit today, but be filled with the Spirit. Let my self be laid low today. Let Your Self be magnified in me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Search Me, O God!

Today is Sunday, August 12, 2018. Day 22,067.

SEVEN days until S turns 25!!!

“Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” ~ Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, BrainyQuote

The word for today is looky-loo, “A person who comes or stops to look at something out of curiosity, especially when such attention is unwelcome.” Also, “A person who views something for sale with no genuine intention of making a purchase.”

It was a nice day, yesterday, in which nothing much happened. It rained for a good part of the day, and is supposed to rain more today. The high temperature for today is supposed to be 84 degrees. I’m not fooled, though. Summer is not over. It’s just a welcome break.

The Red Sox won both games of a double-header against Baltimore, yesterday. I did not realize there was a double-header until I received a notification of the results of the second game. But I do seem to remember a rain-out earlier in the season. The scores were 5-0 and 6-4. They are now 84-35 on the season, 49 games over .500. They are 9.5 games up in the AL East. They have another game against Baltimore this afternoon.

The Rangers lost to the Yankees, 5-3, making their record 52-67. The Astros lost, so they remain 21.5 out in the AL West. They are eighteen out in the Wild Card.

The longest current win streak is in the NL, with the St. Louis Cardinals winning four consecutive games.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
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. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139

I could write for days on this Psalm. I won’t say that it is my favorite, as I won’t pick only one of the Psalms as a favorite. But it is one of my favorite passages in the entire volume of Scripture. I also know that this Psalm was one of my father’s favorites. The words contained in this passage could either be a great comfort or a horrible terror, depending on the spiritual state of the one reading. For me, the words, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me” are a great comfort. I am happy to be known by God, even though it means that He knows the deepest depths of my depravity. It is a great relief to have everything known. There is no need for hiding; for concealment. Everything is on the table. In fact, He knows the thoughts and words even before they hit my brain or my tongue! And, I, along with King David, can say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

To know that there is nowhere I can go where God is not is also a great comfort. It has only been a short while since I finally realized, in the depths of my heart, that God is always with me, no matter where I am! This is marvelous knowledge. I don’t have to go looking for Him. He is “at hand,” according to Philippians 4:5. My hand is at the end of my arm, and cannot get any farther away than that.

I hope that you can take great comfort in the words of King David, this morning, as you read this Psalm, just as I have. It makes for a good start to a day of worshiping with people we love.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 
1 Chronicles 16:10-11

Father, I praise You that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Sometimes I sit and look at my fingers while I move them, and am in awe of the wonder of our bodies. You are magnificent. Your thoughts are beyond measure. You are always with me! I cannot go anywhere You are not, and that is great comfort to me! You are our Protector and Provider. You are our Strength. And You are Love. Show me Your love today; show me Your holiness, and teach me to love others the way You have loved me. As we gather together, this morning, may You work in our lives; walk in our midst; show Your holy face to us, this morning. Shake us to our cores.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

I Would Rather Be A Doorkeeper

Today is Saturday, August 11, 2018. Day 22,066.

Only EIGHT more days until S turns 25!

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~ William James, 1842-1910, BrainyQuote

The word for today is obliviscence, “Forgetting; an instance of this; (Psychology) deterioration of the ability to remember learned material or perform a learned task which occurs after the learning has ceased.”

It was raining when I got up, this morning. And we got some rain, yesterday, as well. It is much needed, as well as the drop in temperature. I believe today’s high is supposed to be below ninety degrees, which is a welcome, pleasant change.

Today should be a nice day of resting. The only thing that I know of on the agenda for today is picking up the Kroger Click List, between 1:00 and 2:00 PM. I’m sure some lunch will happen in there, as well. Probably some TV watching, and maybe some game playing. C will, no doubt, find something industrious and productive to do.

The Red Sox won, last night. I guess you can call it that. I mean, it goes in the “win” column, which is all that counts. I didn’t watch, but it must have been an ugly game, on both sides. There were thirty-three hits in the game. The Orioles actually got more than the Red Sox. The Sox were behind, at one point, 8-3. The final score was 19-12, Red Sox. Nevertheless, a win is a win, right? Sox record is now 82-35. They are still playing on a pace to win 113-114 games.

To make the night even better, the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees, 12-7, which put the Sox up by nine games. The Rangers’ record is now 52-66, and since Seattle beat the Astros, they are 21.5 out in the AL West. They are seventeen out in the Wild Card.

The longest current win streak is held by the Angels, with four consecutive wins.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

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

Psalm 138

Can I ever, like David, say that I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart? I don’t believe so. And this has the danger of becoming a point over which I can easily “beat myself up.” But it is also part of the reason for my “life verse” that I chose years ago, Psalm 86:11. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. While the emphasis is usually on the first half of the verse, there is plenty of emphasis on the second half, as well. I need God to unite my heart, for it is divided between far too many things.

David proclaims that the Lord answered him on the day that he called, and increased the strength of his soul. I can vouch for this, as I believe that our Father has answered me plenty of times, and many of those times, quite quickly. He has most definitely strengthened my soul many times. Usually, all I have to do is acknowledge His presence and focus on the truth that He is always with me, no matter where I am or what I am doing.

The biggest encouragement for me in this Psalm is the last verse. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. I have believed, for years, that, as long as my Father has purpose for me in this life, I will be here. I will not, nay, cannot die until He is finished with me. There are times, however, when I fear that I might frustrate Him to the point of deciding He is finished with me.

That’s an entirely different conversation.

I was directed, by my Bible reading plan, to read Psalm 84 today. It begins like this:

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Psalm 84:1-2

Have I mentioned, lately, how much I love the Psalms? You might not have figured that out. I have said before, and, no doubt, will say again, that I don’t think it an accident that the Psalms are in the center of our Bible.

Of course, when the sons of Korah wrote this Psalm, they were referring to the Temple in Jerusalem. How can we apply this for today? The “dwelling place” of the Lord is no longer a building, but is the human soul. We are His “temple.” But I still believe that, in reading and praying this Psalm, I can apply it to my local “church.” Not that the Northpark YMCA is “lovely,” but that the gathering of His people in the room at that facility is, indeed, most lovely! And, after four weeks of being apart from them, my soul most definitely longs and faints to be with those people. Yes, I had a blast leading worship at the other church. I had fun playing that Steinway piano. But it wasn’t all about “fun” and enjoyment. I worshiped, as well. But I missed worshiping with the people that I know and love. And we will be with them tomorrow. I don’t get to play again, just yet, as they are continuing with the simplified setup tomorrow. But we will be there, and we will embrace God’s people as we worship together. And that will be lovely.

Later, in the Psalm, we see this:

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

Yes. There is a sense in which we, even today, should have more desire to be with our church family than to be anywhere else. I struggle with that, at times. Our pastor, over the past year or so, has made a great effort to encourage us to be together in different settings. Besides having our weekly worship gathering, we have a monthly (or so) Night of Worship in a member’s home, which is more than just us getting together and singing. We sing, we pray, we fellowship, and we eat. It’s not a meal, but people bring snacks to share. Then, recently, we began what started out as Night of Conversation, but evolved into “Cookies and Conversation” (because Baptists can’t get together without eating), which happens on a monthly (or so) basis at another member’s home. C and I have only made it to one of those, but it was a good time.

We need to be together more. And if we don’t like being together, then there is something wrong, somewhere in the dynamic. I’m the kind of person who believes that the problem is with me, if I’m not enjoying being with other people. In fact, I know it’s with me. I’m an introvert. The more I read about introverts (which I should probably stop doing), the more I believe that the things I read apply to me. I’m not shy. I don’t mind being around people, sometimes. But, last Sunday evening, when we gathered at our pastor’s house, there were a lot of people in a small space. I love all of those people. But it was exhausting!! After about an hour and a half, I needed to get out of there.

The point is, I need God’s grace to help me with this. When I don’t want to gather with God’s people, for whatever reason, I need God to fix that. Because I should desire to be in the loveliness of a gathering of God’s people more than I desire to be anywhere else. And I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Father, once again, I pray that You would unite my heart to fear Your name. I find my allegiances, my affections, so divided. Well, maybe not my allegiances. I will not consider myself to be in allegiance with anything or anyone but You. My affections, though. That’s a different story. They are too divided. I pray that You would work in my heart to drive out things that do not please You. Lead me to a place where my deepest desire is to worship You and to be with Your people. I do long for Your “dwelling place,” and look forward to being there tomorrow morning. “There,” being wherever Your people are together. And I pray for Your Church in America, that we would all have the same desire, and that our affections would not be drawn to anything but You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.