Turn, Turn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Today is Wednesday, the ninth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts today.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, from Romania. Please check out his awesome photography at the link provided.

Day 23,372

The A/C and heater people are supposed to arrive, this morning, between 9 and 10. The work should take most of the day. It is currently pretty cool outside, at 36 degrees, but should get up to around 60 by mid-afternoon.

An update on my computer situation. I finally got all of the files moved to Dropbox, but when I opened up the PC, I couldn’t tell which part was which. I’m also not 100% sure which part is making the noise, so I’m not going to try to swap out the hard drive myself. I have talked to the Computer Center manager at the library, so when I go to work Friday, I will take it with me, and he has agreed to look at it. I’ll take the new hard drive with me, as well.

There’s not much else to talk about, this morning. I’m starting a new devotional book, as I finished Symphony of Salvation, yesterday. The new one is also by Eugene Peterson, called On Living Well.

You might notice that I have not addressed world events that are going on. That is intentional. There are plenty of places you can read/hear about that. My purpose here is to present the Word of God in the best way I can, as positively as I can. My goal is encouragement, not discouragement. I know that I occasionally point out issues and shortcomings in the Church. But that is because I love the Church and I want to see her flourish.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place -
the Most High, who is my refuge -
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
(Psalm 91:9-10)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Church, the community of saints, faithful and true 
2. for angels who minister to the saints
3. for Salt of the Sound and their beautiful, inspiring music
4. for the way God works in my devotionals
5. for those times when the things of earth go strangely dim

John Henry Newman speaks of Daniel’s two recorded fasts. The first one, I believe was for ten days, in which neither Daniel nor the three Hebrews we know as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ate any meat or any of the king’s delicacies. The second was for three weeks.

The result of the first fast was that Daniel and his three friends were all stronger and healthier than the king’s people. On the second fast, Daniel was visited by an angel.

Newman keys in on the angel visit, and notes that, when Jesus was fasting in the desert for forty days, He was visited and helped by angels. “And so we too may well believe, and take comfort in the thought, that even now, Angels are especially sent to those who thus seek God.” Newman then takes note that Elijah, as well, was strengthened by an angel. We also have record of Cornelius, the Gentile, being visited by an angel when he was fasting.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
(Psalm 91:11-12)

The devil is well-aware of this promise, says Newman, “for he used it in that very hour of temptation. He knows full well what our power is, and what is his own weakness. So we have nothing to fear while we remain within the shadow of the throne of the Almighty.”

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
(Psalm 91:7)

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


“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)

“The Word was first. The Word was previous to everything else. Before we were conceived and took shape in our mothers’ wombs, before we were born, before anything happened, there was the Word.”

Before anything else existed, sun, moon, stars, trees, flowers, fish, governments, hospitals, schools, “there was the Word.”

I can’t paraphrase this stuff . . . it’s too good.

“If the Word were not first, everything else would have gone awry. If the Word were second – or third or fourth – we would have lost touch with the deep, divine rhythms of creation. If the Word were pushed out of the way and made to be a servant to the action and program, we would have lost connection with the vast interior springs of redemption that flow out of our Lord, the Word made flesh.

“When the Word is treated casually or carelessly, we wander away from the essential personal intimacies that God creates . . . by his Word.” (Emphasis mine)

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


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

It is the season of Lent. We are “supposed” to give up something. I did see a TikTok by a reverend that I respect and follow, suggesting that, maybe, instead of trying to force ourselves to give up something, perhaps we should try to add something positive, such as trying to pray for a person every day.

But this is a “season,” as indicated in Ecclesiastes 3. Almost everyone is familiar with the next ten verses or so of that chapter. Pete Seeger helped us all with that. The Byrds probably made it more famous than Pete, but he wrote the song.

I’ve read over this many, many times, in my life, but it is always “time” to look them over again. The many “times” or “seasons” that the writer of Ecclesiastes notes are as follows:

A time to for birth and a time for death
A time to plant and a time to reap
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to destroy and a time to construct
A time to cry and a time to laugh
A time to lament and at time to cheer
A time to make love and a time to abstain
A time to embrace and a time to part
A time to search and a time to count your losses
A time to hold on and a time to let go (there's a whole bunch of us who need to learn that one)
A time to rip out and a time to mend
A time to shut up and a time to speak up
A time to love and a time to hate
A time to wage war and a time to make peace
(I used The Message for these)

And, as we work our way through the season of Lent, perhaps giving things up and perhaps adding things, there is one thing that we need to do. We need to “Turn” our eyes upon Jesus. It is always time for that.


Today’s prayer word is “ponder.” Isn’t that fitting, based on what I’ve just written?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 NIV)

“Ponder,” of course, means “to think about.” To think about carefully, to chew over, to meditate. Unfortunately, we tend to ponder over the wrong things, sometimes.

I have to interrupt myself and simply be awestruck over how my Father works these things out, how all of this works together, this morning. The writer of today’s reading, identified only as “Becky,” writes about trying to go to sleep at night, but as soon as her head hits the pillow, she starts pondering her day, her family members, and then the world and the future and . . . well, you get the picture.

In her case, “ponder” is more like “worry.” And I have most certainly been there. But the writer of Philippians would have us ponder different things. And I’m sure, if he were around today, he would agree with the song above the purple line, and say that all of the things in that verse are summed up by saying, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Because, most assuredly, when you do that, the things of earth grow strangely dim.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Father, help us all to turn our eyes upon Jesus, during these times, so that the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Not that we stop caring, may it never be! But that we stop worrying, fretting, fearing. We are Your children . . . have mercy on us . . . teach us how to obey Your commands to “fear not.” Help us to live Isaiah 41:10 every day, ever minute, throughout all of those many “seasons” listed above. There is NEVER any reason for us to fear, Father!

NOTHING can separate me from Your love in Christ Jesus. None of the things mentioned in those two verse, nor anything else that we could possibly imagine. And, most beautifully, not even my sin can separate me, because of the powerful and efficacious work of my savior Jesus Christ, my Lord! Your Word made flesh, existing before there was anything else, and who will come again to make all things right.

All praise and glory to You, my Father, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Pause . . . Pray

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the eighth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,371

Yesterday was an interesting day. I had scheduled a grocery delivery (a rather large one) to be delivered between 10-11 AM. This was set up the night before, as C, Mama, and I sat around discussing the grocery order. The order arrived right on time, but as I brought everything in, it appeared that some things might be missing. So I checked items off of the receipt as I put them away. Sure enough, it appeared that the driver (or a store associate . . . I will never know exactly whose fault it was) didn’t get a couple of bags. All of the cat treats were missing (oh, the horror!!), and none of the items that would be from the area by the pharmacy were there (toothpaste, ibuprofen, and so on). I was also missing one of the three Healthy Choice meals that I ordered.

I found a customer service number on one of my emails and called them. They helped me quickly and courteously, and said they were going to process a refund. After finishing my blog for the day (the grocery delivery interrupted that), I was getting ready to go to a grocery store and pick up the items that were missing, and I got a text telling me that my Albertson’s order would be delivered in a few minutes.

Wait, what?

Apparently, they found the missing bags at the store and immediately arranged for them to be delivered. Everything was there except for the Healthy Choice meal. So I took off my hat and shoes and had some lunch. As of this moment, I have seen no evidence that the refund was ever processed, so I’m glad about that. I don’t want to have to deal with trying to get me to charge me again for those items.

In the meantime, I was also wondering if a scheduled appointment with Milestone was going to happen. When the electrician made the repairs last week, he set up an appointment for a plumber to come by, yesterday, to look at my outdoor faucet in the back yard. The window as 11-2. By noon, I had heard nothing at all, not even a confirmation of the appointment, so I had assumed that they weren’t coming. But around 12:30 or so, I got a text and a phone call telling me that someone was on the way.

He arrived, and was extremely professional and friendly. However, after going over what needed to be done, and then giving the estimate, we elected to not have them do the work. They are outrageously high on their prices. We probably won’t be calling them again. They wanted over $500 to fix the outdoor faucet, and C found an average price of around$150-$300. I think, when the A/C folks are here tomorrow, I will ask them if they have any plumbing recommendations. Or I may check with our “handyman,” who doubles as a Walmart store manager. Hahaha!

Today, I don’t have much going on. It’s a normal Tuesday for me, which means I work this evening, 4:15-8:15. I’ll run out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and pick up stuff for them and C to have for dinner. I might get something for me to have for a late dinner, as well.

Winter is giving a final gasp (I hope?) at the end of this week, as we will have yet another bout of freezing temperatures overnight on Friday to Saturday morning, with chances of rain and snow showers. Actually, some of the snow could occur while I’m at work on Friday afternoon. Yuck.

My Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. On the physical side, I have had no candy. On the spiritual/emotional side, I have not been perfect, but have made progress. Last night, in fact, I stopped myself, mid-sentence, just about to say something critical about someone. C and Mama both approved, and also stopped talking about what we were talking about. It was a cool moment.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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?
(Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that today is a new day; none of yesterday's anxiety is welcome; none of tomorrow's worries are allowed; it is today, and it is the best day; it is all we have
2. for the power of worship
3. for the scenes of worship in the book of Revelation, especially those that include people "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages"
4. for the pauses that God places in my life
5. for the wisdom He gives me to notice those pauses and to pray through them

John Henry Newman gives us three examples of Old Testament fasting. First, he mentions Jacob, whose account occurs in Genesis 32. Jacob had separated his entire camp into several groups, in preparation for meeting up with his estranged brother, Esau. Jacob was scared. He was sure that Esau was out for revenge.

After crossing the Jabbok, with his wives, children, and a few servants, Jacob spent the night wrestling with “a man.” It doesn’t specifically mention fasting in this context, but if he was wrestling all night, he was fasting. And the end result of this was a blessing.

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 
(Genesis 32:28 ESV)

The next example is Moses, who, after coming down the mountain to find Israel worshiping a golden calf and generally partying, went back up the mountain for forty days and nights, to intercede for them.

“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'"
(Deuteronomy 9:25-26 ESV)

The end result of this fast was that God didn’t wipe out Israel. Would He have done that, anyway? I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us know.

Tomorrow, we will look at the third example, which is Daniel.

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


The final chapter in Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation is, rightfully, on the book of Revelation, and called, “Worship.”

“The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections, and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multidimensional act of Christian worship.”

It starts with the four “living creatures” in chapter 4, who are said to be chanting night and day, never taking a break,

Holy, holy, holy
Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
THE WAS, THE IS, THE COMING.

And, with the twenty-four elders joining in,

Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
Take the glory! the honor! the power!
You created it all;
It was created because you wanted it.
(Revelation 4:8, 11 MSG)

By mid-book, all the “saved ones” have joined in:

Mighty your acts and marvelous,
    O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
    King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
    give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
    all nations will come and worship you,
    because they see your judgments are right.
(Revelation 15:3-4 MSG)

Regardless of everything you have ever read about the book of Revelation, the central theme of John’s book seems to be worship. I love how Eugene Peterson has brought this out, in his different writings about Revelation. John was worshiping when he received the vision, and is responsible for “a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship.”

“Our times are not propitious for worship. The times never are. The world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians are even killed because they worship.”

Consider this scene from chapter 19:

I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing,

Hallelujah!
The salvation and glory and power are God’s—
    his judgments true, his judgments just.
He judged the great Whore
    who corrupted the earth with her lust.
He avenged on her the blood of his servants.

Then, more singing:

Hallelujah!
The smoke from her burning billows up
    to high Heaven forever and ever and ever.

The Twenty-four Elders and the Four Animals fell to their knees and worshiped God on his Throne, praising,

Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!

 From the Throne came a shout, a command:

Praise our God, all you his servants,
All you who fear him, small and great!

Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of mighty rapids, the sound of strong thunder:

Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
    of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

And Peterson doesn’t even mention on of my favorite Revelation passages:

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 7:9-12)

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
(Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
But you, O Lord,
    are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
(Psalm 86:15 NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:16 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “comma.” Another good one, when taken in context, here. Obviously, the word is likely not in the Bible anywhere. I’m not going to go to the trouble to verify that right now, but I don’t think it is.

The quote at the beginning of the reading is from Christian musician TobyMac.

"Practice the pause. 
When in doubt, 
pause. 
When angry, 
pause. 
When tired, 
pause. 
When stressed, 
pause. 
And when you pause, 

pray."

Commas are interesting. I remember an English class I had in college, taught by a TA. I would write an essay for an assignment, and there would be a note written in the margin, “Comma not necessary.” Then, the next time, “You could put a comma there.” I was, like, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!”

But that’s the funny thing about commas. I’m a staunch supporter of the “Oxford comma,” so I use more commas than some. I was going to launch into this long, drawn out example, but there’s nothing spiritual about that, so never mind. But a comma in a sentence is a place to pause, perhaps to breathe.

Sometimes, God puts commas in our lives. Sometimes, those commas are at very inconvenient places. Over the last couple years, we have had a very large comma, haven’t we?

As written by one who is only referred to as “Barbranda,” “[God] inserts a comma in various spots in my life because He wants me to stop and rest or learn a lesson. Sometimes I recognize it as such; other times I think I’m facing a defeat or the end. But it’s only the Lord’s comma – a pause, not a period.”

We would all do well to ponder this, especially the next time a “pause” is forced upon us. I’m not necessarily an “everything happens for a reason” person. But there are times when those things do happen for a reason. Side note: that reason is, in my opinion, never to make you feel guilty or helpless or anything like that. But that’s a discussion for a whole ‘nother day.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”
(Psalm 46:10 MSG)

Father, thank You for the pauses. I’m even grateful for this gigantic pause we have had since the beginning of 2020. That doesn’t mean that I am thankful for the million deaths we have had in our country. It doesn’t mean I am thankful for Covid-19. There are, unfortunately, some who would read that that way. But I am grateful for the “reset” that has been forced upon us, the opportunity to step back and realize that there are most definitely things that we can live without. And, when some of the things we like are not available, we survive . . . we can adapt and get by. We can do without! Thank You for showing us that.

Thank You for the magnificent displays of worship that we see in the book of Revelation. And I thank You for the work of Eugene Peterson, who, at this moment, is likely enjoying one of those scenes of worship, in helping us to reframe our perspective on the difficult book of Revelation. It isn’t quite as difficult after hearing Eugene talk about it. You know, Father . . . I love worship, and I miss the act of worship in my life. This past Sunday was, for me, a great time of worship. I know that not everyone responds to the kind of worship setting that we were in, but my soul resonates with it. Help me to get back into the habit of worship, especially in my daily life. And that’s not a call for more music or singing, although I could definitely do more of that. It is a call for my life to be worship. For I believe that worship is something that are, more than something we do.

Thank You for the way my fast is going, and I pray for strength to continue it and to improve. Thank You for adopting me as Your son, through Christ Jesus. I believe that this adoption is permanent, and that no man can snatch me out of Your hands, per the words of Jesus. I praise You for this. Keep me growing in You, and learning more about You.

By Your Spirit, help me to pause and pray more often, today.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

God and Love are Inseparable

Today is Sunday, the sixth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,369

Later this morning, I plan to attend the 11:00 service at Living Word Lutheran Church with my friend, former pastor, and fellow blogger, Jacob Seay. I’m looking forward to the new experience.

Yesterday was a good day, although it seemed rather long. I remember looking at the clock at around 2:30, thinking “We still have three and a half hours!” But, as usual, things picked up during the last hour. C brought Mama up to the library just before my lunch break, so I was able to spend a little time introducing her to my friends/coworkers that were there, yesterday. Since it was Saturday, and there were no extra programs going on, we had a smaller staff, yesterday.

After work, I cooked our standard dinner for Saturday, which is burgers and fries. C only had fries, and Mama had some leftover food from lunch at Boston Market, so only S and I had burgers.

Today being Sunday, we will, of course, have Applebee’s for lunch, I’m sure. I may invite Jacob to have lunch with us. C may or may not go to the service with me. At this point she is still undecided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty God,
whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan:
Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations;
and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us,
let each one find you mighty to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen."
(Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the First Sunday in Lent)
By wisdom a house is built, 
and through understanding it is established; 
through knowledge its rooms are filled 
with rare and beautiful treasures.
(Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for an opportunity to attend a worship service outside my "comfort zone," this morning
2. for the way love is intricately associated with God
3. for the promise of God's love and His help for me to love others
4. for the promise that, if I seek Him, I will find Him
5. for the zeal of God to accomplish His purposes

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.
(Proverbs 24:17-18 NIV)

I just ran across this in my daily reading plan, and thought it worth contemplating. Everyone would do well to consider this instruction.


“The two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God. . . . The basic and biblical Christian conviction is that the two subjects are intricately related. If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love can’t be separated.”

Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love.
(2 John 1:6 MSG)

Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
(1 John 4:15-16 MSG)

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
(1 John 2:15-17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 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.
(Psalms 63:1 ESV)

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”
(Isaiah 55:6 ESV)

For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;”
(Amos 5:4 ESV)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)


The prayer word for today is “zeal.” This word, especially in today’s society, tends to have a negative connotation. However, the definition of the word is strictly positive. “Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” Now, whether one’s cause or objective is positive or negative can certainly be debated.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:7 ESV)

Some synonyms we might hear for “zeal” are passion, intensity, hustle, and determination. These have a tendency to be intimidating. The truth is, though, that God does not tire or grow weary. His throne will be established “from this time forth and forevermore,” and it is “zeal” that will accomplish this. “God’s zeal flows from His heart – inviting me along for the ride. Inviting me to trust Him.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

I want to add that, in my opinion, there is no cause worthy of my own zeal, other than the cause of Christ. This includes many of the “causes” that well-meaning Christian people assign the majority of their zeal toward. I may mildly get behind a “cause” that I agree with, but as far as expending major energy in that direction, the majority of my zeal goes to Christ and His kingdom.


Father, I pray for Your zeal for Christ to overtake me and consume me. I want no part of any human cause or objective, but only Yours. I also pray for Your zeal to accomplish great things in me, to accomplish whatever You desire in my life.

The words above, about love, always convict me. I have long been aware of the importance of love, and know that any true thoughts about the subject must contain thoughts about You. As Peterson stated, we cannot love truly without dealing with You, and we cannot deal truly with You without loving. Show us how to love, Father, how to truly love, selflessly, setting aside our own pride and prejudices, setting aside our selfishness and arrogance. Teach us to love.

I also pray for help in constantly seeking You. You have given us plenty of instruction and admonition to seek You while You may be found. You have let us know that there will come a day when You will not be found by those who refuse to seek You now. I cannot pretend to understand how things are going to play out at the end of days. I believe that You will have enemies who will fight against You. And I do believe that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. But I don’t know how the ending “judgment” will look, and strongly believe that anyone who claims such knowledge is delusional. Just give me faith in seeking You, Father, and help me lead others to You through Christ.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Attitude Check

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 MSG)

Today is Saturday, the fifth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,368

There’s not really much to write about, this morning. Yesterday was a pretty normal day. Usual stuff at the library, and we had one of our favorite meals for dinner, the Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken. And there are leftovers for me to take for lunch today, as today is my Saturday to work in the circ department. C may bring Mama to the library today, which would be cool. I’ll probably text her with the schedule when I get there, so she knows when I’m at the desk and when I’m not.

I’m getting a new hard drive for this PC. It should arrive today, and I will likely attempt to install it tomorrow. I’ll make sure and check some YouTube videos, but I think it’s simple enough that I should be able to do it. The current hard drive (the D drive, which is mechanical) seems to be operating non-stop. At least that is what the noise I am hearing would indicate, after speaking with the computer center manager at the library. The mechanical hard drives are cheap. I’m getting a 2TB drive for less than $50. I could have gotten 4TB for less than $70, but I simply cannot fathom ever needing that much storage. The current drive is 1TB and is not even half full.

The Lenten fast continues to go okay. I still have not had any candy. The criticism is getting better. The cool thing is that I am being more aware of when I am beginning to launch into something critical, and can stop myself. What I’m looking forward to is when I get to where it’s not even a temptation. That will take a while.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD 
and to inquire in his temple. 
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
 he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 he will lift me high upon a rock.
(Psalms 27:4-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes and cantaloupe
2. for quiet mornings
3. for time to read and meditate on God's Word
4. that this world is not my Home
5. that I have the strength to do everything I need to do

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 MSG)

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time.
(1 Peter 5:6 MSG)


In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:6 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you 
when I was made in the secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
before one of them came to be. 
(Psalms 139:13-16 NIV)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:13 NIV)


Today’s prayer word is “attitude.” The referenced Scripture is Proverbs 17:22.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
(Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
(Proverbs 17:22 MSG)

Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.
(Proverbs 17:22 GNB)

There it is in several different versions.

This is appropriate for the season, for me. I’ve talked about my Lenten “fast” for this year. As I strive to eliminate the critical nature from my personality, attitude is everything. What a shift in attitude to change from judgment to praise. When I am tempted to judge someone or be critical of a situation or circumstance, my attitude needs to be adjusted to find something positive in it or about the person. I’m not talking about “toxic positivity.” Yes, there is such a thing, and I used to work around it. And I promise you, I will never be guilty of that. I most definitely not a “Rah-Rah” person, and have no intention of being so.

And, like most things, there is a time and a place for healthy, positive criticism. That’s not what I’m talking about, either. I’m talking about the constant picking at things, always being dissatisfied with things. Always trying to blame someone for something. Sadly, a lot of what I am seeing from many people that are in my generation, right now.

The thing is, there is always something that I don’t know about any given circumstance. I never know what that grouchy person might be going through. They may just be grouchy, or a mean person. That’s entirely possible. But my judgment or criticism of them is not going to change that. However, if I smile and give them a positive word, anyway? It might make a difference, and it will certainly make me feel better about the world.


Father, as I go into this day, may I live these words that I’m typing. Give me the courage to approach the day with determination; determination to not judge people, to not express negative opinions about things, to not be critical. Sometimes, it may just mean keeping my mouth shut and not saying anything. You know, the old “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all,” schtick. But I pray for my attitude to be one that reflects You, Your love, and my walk with Christ. And let my walk with Christ be such that it creates an attitude that is acceptable.

Help me to submit to You, to acknowledge You in all my ways, that my paths may be straight. Please help me to remember that I can do all of these things through Christ, who strengthens me by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remind me, today, that this world is not Home. And how glad I am of that, considering everything that is going on in it, right now. Oh, how I long for Home, but I know that I am not really ready, yet. I know that I still have work to do here; work on myself, and work ministering to others. Otherwise, I would not still be here. So help me do that work. Help me to be content with who I am, and not be trying to change things (well, other than making the aforementioned positive changes).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Oh, come to the Father,
through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory,
great things He hath done."
(Fanny Crosby, 1875)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wisdom and Forgiveness

Good morning! Today is Friday, the fourth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,367

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photography at the link provided.

We had a successful and uneventful trip to get Mama, yesterday, and she is safely back here in Fort Worth, with us, for a little while. We dropped off a mail hold form at the Post Office, and left her tax documents with her CPA, and I also grabbed a couple cases of Crazy Water while in town.

The only “incident” that occurred was that my tire pressure light came on, in the car, before I got out of Fort Worth. Everything felt okay, so I didn’t stop to check it until I got to Mama’s house in Mineral Wells. The lowest tire had 30.5 (after driving that distance), so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. I just checked it, this morning, and it has 26, which is about seven pounds low. I’ll keep an eye on it, and, unless it drops drastically more between now and then, I will put some air in it Sunday afternoon.

Today is a normal work day for me, at the Hurst Public Library, in the computer center. Tomorrow is my Saturday to work the circulation desk. Sunday, our house church is not meeting, so I am going to take the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in Grapevine, with my friend and former pastor. I’ve never been to a Lutheran service before, so this should be interesting.

The Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. As expected, keeping critical comments out of my vocabulary has been much more challenging than not eating candy. I have not been 100% successful, but am being more aware of when they occur, and able to stop them in their tracks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Nothing Called My Own,” by Daryl Madden

I know I’m in danger
But need not of fearing
If I remember
That I am nothing

I’ll know that danger
Can take nothing from me
When I feel afraid
I forget, nothing I be

And If I remember
I’ve nothing called my own
That will not be lost
At the end of life shown

That only what’s not mine
But God’s will ever live
And free me from false fears
With a heart to give

(based upon words by Thomas Merton)

This poem really spoke to me, this morning, as I recall words from a little book by Horatius Bonar, called How Shall I Go To God? It opens with the line, “It is with our sins that we go to God–for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the WordPress community; I am constantly encouraged and uplifted by my blogging friends
2. for the safe trip to Mineral Wells and back, yesterday
3. for the wisdom taught in the book of James, difficult as it is
4. for the lineage of faith that is in my ancestry
5. for the strength of God that is helping me in my Lenten journey

The book of James is a tough book to swallow. Every time I have to read it, I cringe, because it doesn’t just step on my toes. It crushes them.

But one thing we learn from this difficult book is that “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.” The outside world looks at that statement and gives out a hearty “Ya think??”

Part of the problem, though, is that 1) the outside world seems to have the mistaken idea that the Christian church should be a model community of good behavior; and 2) the Christian church often tries to deceive the outside world into believing that it is a model community of good behavior.

James would have us believe otherwise. And, as Eugene H. Peterson points out, “Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential.” This does not necessarily involve knowing truth, although that is helpful, because “what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?”

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(James 3:17-18 MSG)

James was traditionally known as a man of prayer, spending much time on his knees. He lived what he wrote:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1:5-6 MSG)

“The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
(James 1:17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22 ESV)

Or, if you prefer:

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
(Matthew 18:22 NLT)

Speaking of wisdom, in this passage of Scripture, we see the wisdom of forgiveness. And we see Peter, thinking himself extremely righteous by offering to forgive someone seven whole times, having his toes crushed by Jesus’s James-like wisdom, telling him, essentially, don’t count how many times you forgive someone.

“God – on Whose repeated forgiveness I depend – requires that I do the same for others and that they do the same for me. Not grudgingly, but from a sincere heart. . . . Forgiveness is a wisdom near to the heart of God.” (Carol Knapp)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day 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 evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


Today’s prayer word is “link.” I almost passed over this one, but I got to thinking about it. Laurence Overmire, an American poet who is also a genealogist, is quoted as saying, “All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life.”

There is not a word of Scripture in this reading, nor is there any reference to it. It is entirely about someone’s lineage.

And when I think about my lineage, I am blessed. God didn’t have to birth me into this family. But He chose to place me in it. (Remember yesterday’s prayer word?)

My family has a long history of God-loving people in it, and I am very grateful for this. My spiritual life would likely have been much different otherwise.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Father, I praise You and thank You for placing me where You did. What a blessing to have been born into this family. Random luck, some would say, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “coincidences.” It was part of Your plan, and I am very grateful for this. And You kept it going, even when I tried to leave (or at least wander off) the path. You always kept me on the path, sometimes nudging me, other times outright shoving. There may have even been a few times You had to tie me up and carry me over Your “shoulder.”

Father, as Your Church continues trying to survive these years, I pray that You help us in several things. Help us to forgive the way Jesus told us to forgive, not the way Peter tried to. It is unlimited. Jesus didn’t mean seventy-seven times or four hundred and ninety times, at least that is what we believe. He seems to have been indicating that the amount of forgiveness is as unlimited as Your love. And praises be that You don’t stop forgiving us at seventy times seven times!!

I also pray that You help us, as a Church, to get along in wisdom, the way James is trying to teach us. We are strongly divided, these days, and we need Your help. There are factions that are focusing on the wrong things. We need to be focusing on Your love, the love of Jesus, and our love for each other. Maybe it really is “all about love.” And, while I wouldn’t go quite as far as the Beatles, we definitely do need love and more of it. Help us to remember that our jobs are to love You and love people, not to judge people and condemn people. That is actually Your job, and Yours alone. But You also have promised that, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Thank You for that, as well.

We are broken, Lord, all of us. So we need Your “fixing.” Give us wisdom, give us love, give us one another. And help us, as brother Daryl reminds us way back at the beginning, that we really have nothing that we can call our own.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, 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.

Jesus Only

“One of the first things we learn in experiences of fasting is how it reveals what controls us. You see, we cover up with food and other good things what is inside of us, but in experiences of fasting these come to the surface.”

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the third of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today.

Day 23,366

I’m a little behind, this morning, apparently. It is almost 10:00 AM, and I’m just starting this thing. I actually slept until almost 8:00, this morning, which was nice. And I slept much better than the night before. I still had, typically, a couple of long awake stretches, though.

As soon as I finish this, I’ll be heading to Mineral Wells to bring Mama back here for an extended stay. We don’t know how long. That is TBD.

My first day of Lent went pretty well. I had no candy. I even resisted some Oreo cookies at work, but that’s not candy. I had some ice cream at home, that had chocolate flakes in it, but that doesn’t count as candy. Candy = M&Ms, Reeses, Heath bars, and so on. Pieces of chocolate in ice cream is not candy. As for the criticism, I did pretty well. I forgot myself for a few minutes, during a conversation with C, but was able to acknowledge what had happened and stop. (I was not criticizing her, by the way.) And I resisted talking about a scenario or two at work that would have resulted in me being critical or judgmental. So that’s good.

What needs to happen, though, in order for this “fast” to be effective, is that, when I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me . . .

Oops. Sorry. My fingers just took off on their own.

When I find myself being tempted or craving candy, or when critical thoughts pop into my brain and threaten to come out my mouth, I need to stop and be thankful for something; to consider my blessings and be grateful. The idea is to divert the temptation or craving or thought into something positive.

Enough of that, let’s get on with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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 23:6 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a good night's rest and a day off work; praying for a safe trip to Mineral Wells
2. that circumstances have worked out the way they have, so that I/we can do things for Mama
3. for the spiritual benefits of fasting, both from certain types of food, and from other things, like being critical
4. for the beauty and love of the Lord that chase after me every day of my life
5. that I am chosen to be one of God's children, and that is totally by His good pleasure, not for anything that I did to deserve it

I’m going to share Richard Foster’s reflections on the writing of Catherin Marshall on fasting.

“The central idea in fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity. Now, when we understand fasting from this perspective we see its reasonableness as well as its broader dimensions. The Catherine Marshall reading helps us see these broader dimensions by teaching us about a way of fasting that is not from food but from a critical spirit. Then as she chronicles her day we see the intense spiritual activity she enters, especially as it relates to the young man for whom she was praying.

“One of the first things we learn in experiences of fasting is how it reveals what controls us. You see, we cover up with food and other good things what is inside of us, but in experiences of fasting these come to the surface. Did you notice how true this was in Catherine Marshall’s experiment? She learned how dependent she was on criticism even to feel like a whole person and how utterly bankrupt her critical insights were at creating positive change in anyone or anything. She saw what was controlling her, and this released her to begin moving in a new direction, a direction free from a critical spirit. The same will be true for you and me.”

Two major points I see here. First is the idea that we find out what controls us when we embark on a fast. This is so true. What is harder for me? To not eat candy (difficult) or to not be judgmental (virtually impossible)? So what is it that controls me? Not so much the desire for sweet treats. I have proved before that I can squelch this. But this need to judge people . . . does it make me feel superior? I have prayed desperately that this is not the case. I have no desire whatsoever to feel superior to anyone.

Or do I? That is the big question, isn’t it?

The second major point involves the lack of ability to create positive change. Being judgmental or critical, especially in a negative way (judgment is rarely if ever positive, where criticism can be), I think it is safe to say, never creates any kind of change. One only has to look at social media for a few minutes to see that. Many opinions being forcefully stated, and no minds being changed, largely because both sides of any given issue insist that they are the only ones with any brains.

So this is where I find myself today, with a “promise” to God to try to eliminate candy from my diet for forty days, and to try to not be judgmental for forty days (that one I would prefer to be a permanent change).

The suggested activities and/or questions in the chapter involve enlarging one’s ideas about fasting. This is something that I have already accomplished, as evidenced by the two things I am fasting from for Lent. But I didn’t always think like that. Up until about a decade ago, fasting only involved food, in my mind. But if one is considering embarking on a fast, there are different types and lengths and concepts.

One suggestion is to consider a fast from criticalness for one day. Well, you can see that I’ve already gone beyond that one, looking for a complete life change in that regard.

But here is one that I find intriguing, and worthy of contemplation. “Pray over a particular personality trait of yours, one from which you would like to ‘fast,’ and consider writing in your journal about it. Express your struggle as a dialogue between you and the Lord.”

One such personality trait that I might find myself praying over is my tendency to be late, like I am this morning. Granted, I have no scheduled “appointment,” but I did have a self-imposed goal for leaving the house, and it looks like I may not make it.

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


Jesus Christ is “the centerpiece of everything we believe” (Hebrews 3:1 The Message). “Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith.”

But we tend to become “self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents’ worth.” This results in “Jesus-and” theology. When I was in college, we defined a cult as anything that added to Jesus. In other words, anything that produced “Jesus-and” thinking.

Sad to say, if we went by that definition today, almost every major “Christian” group would be classified as a cult, because very few of them are “Jesus only.”

In the book of Hebrews, according to Eugene H. Peterson, it was “Jesus-and-angels, or Jesus-and-Moses, or Jesus-and-priesthood.” Today, he says, “it is more likely to be Jesus-and-politics, or Jesus-and-education, or even Jesus-and-Buddha.”

But the unknown writer of Hebrews warns us:

Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.
(Hebrews 13:9 MSG)

And, perhaps more importantly:

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)

“When we do that, the focus becomes clear and sharp again: God’s action in Jesus. And we are free once more for the act of faith, the one human action in which we don’t get in the way but on the Way.”

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Still, when I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache . . . Until I entered the sanctuary of God. Then I saw the whole picture:
(Psalms 73:16-17 MSG)

How often have we struggled through a week’s events (or two years??), feeling defeated and, sometimes, useless. But then, we enter into that sanctuary, that place, whether it be a huge cathedral, a tiny church building, or a house, where God’s people gather, and it all comes together. “Fellowship occurs. Stability returns. The Lord is near. And I am blessed.”

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 23:6 MSG)

I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.
(Psalms 27:4 MSG)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


Today’s prayer word is “chosen.” It’s a dangerous word, true. We can get a little caught up in the pride of being “chosen.” It happened to Israel, right?

Tim Hughes, English songwriter and worship leader, is quoted as saying, “But at the heart of the gospel is this truth, we are called and chosen by God to join in with the dance of the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

For many years, now, I have loved the idea of our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being described as a “dance.” As stated by a writer known only as “Heidi,” “My part in this dance of faith is small, but important. Without me, God’s song would be incomplete. He chose me specifically for the part I play, and I’m honored.”

Yes, we are chosen. Whether this indicates predestination or not is not the topic of today’s devotional. But we are chosen by God to be His people. And He “needs” (that’s in quotation marks because God truly “needs” nothing) every one of us . . . okay, I’m going to change that. He requires every one of us for the picture to be complete. That’s why it takes all kinds of people to be the Church. That’s why we are so diverse.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Father, remind us, today, that we are chosen. Help us to remember this when we pray, not to produce pride, and make us think we deserve something. Rather, the truth should humble us and give us humility and grace in in our prayers. The idea that I am chosen for Your Kingdom makes me more humble and creates a greater gratitude within me, especially when I know that this choosing had nothing to do with anything that I possibly could have done to deserve it!

Help me in this fast, Father, to accomplish the purpose that You desire. Remind me, when I really want a piece of candy, to be grateful for something else in my life, or to pray for someone who needs prayer. Stop me when I’m about to be critical and give me something to praise about, instead. Help me to find positive things to say to and about people. Yes, even those people.

Lord, forgive us when we add things to Your great grace and action in Jesus. Please teach us and remind us that our faith involves Jesus only, not Jesus-and-anything. Remind us that, anytime we add anything, we “dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity” of Jesus and Your grace.

And thank You for Your Church, with whom I can always gather to help me figure things out and bring my focus back to what is important.

All of this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

“Remember That You Are Dust”

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the second of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,365

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the forty-day season leading up to the celebration of Easter, or, as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday. The Fat Tuesday parties are over, the revelry is complete. Today, the fasts begin. Many people will give up meat for Lent. I understand that is a common practice, especially among Catholics.

If you recall yesterday’s blog, I discussed a few things I might be looking at “giving up” for Lent. The thing is, I don’t believe it to be a coincidence that I read the selection on fasting that I read yesterday, of all days. And while I realize that the purpose of that specific selection was not necessarily driven by the idea of being critical, it certainly struck home for me.

This year, for Lent (which I do not always technically “observe”), I have two goals in mind. One is physical. I am giving up candy for Lent. Laugh or chuckle if you want, but candy has been a serious downfall for me, in recent weeks. M&Ms, Heath bars, Hershey “Nuggets,” and other forms of chocolate, mainly. Those will be eliminated from my diet for at least forty days.

I also have a spiritual or mental goal. I plan to fast from being critical for at least forty days. That’s right. I’m going to try to not criticize anything or anybody for at least forty days. If you know me, you know that the only way I can accomplish this is by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t promise that I won’t have any critical thoughts, mind you. Sometimes, those thoughts can’t be prevented. However, as Dallas Willard reminds us, we humans have a unique ability. We are the only creatures on the planet who have the ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. So that means that, when a critical thought pops into my brain (and I say “when” not “if”), it will be my duty to stop it in its tracks, “nip it in the bud,” as it were.

We got our new bed, yesterday, and got it assembled before I went to work at the library. It’s very nice, and works just like S’s bed and the one we got for Mama’s room (I wonder . . . will we still call it R’s room?). Head and feet raise and lower, and it has vibrator massages on both ends. Plus each side has four USB ports for device charging! I didn’t sleep real great, last night, sadly, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the new bed. Hopefully, tonight will be better.

We also made the decision, yesterday, after conversing with the A/C tech, to go ahead and replace our systems. We will be getting a 5-ton A/C unit that provides, I believe, 18 seer (I have no idea what that means), and is variable speed instead of single speed. That means it should be more efficient and save us somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-35% on our electricity in the summertime. The work will be done next Wednesday. Total cost for the whole shebang is roughly $12,500. Yikes.

Before I head into today’s devotional, I want to share an article by one of my long-time favorite singer/songwriters, Carolyn Arends. I remember her from years ago, when she broke into the CCM arena after having been a staff songwriter for a label. She had a number of successful albums and singles and then kind of faded (or so I thought) for a bit. Or maybe I just lost track, I don’t know. She resurfaced a decade or so ago as a major player in one of my favorite Christian organizations, Renovare. And by “major player,” I mean leader. I’m not talking about musically, I’m talking spiritually. And Carolyn has really shined (shone?) in this role. Well, what I want to share, today, is a recent article she wrote about Ash Wednesday. It’s called “I Was An Ash Wednesday Rookie.” It really resonates with me because our backgrounds are similar, at least church-wise.

I probably won’t be attending an Ash Wednesday service today. I wish I could, but it’s my Wednesday to work at the Hurst Public Library (circulation desk), and we don’t leave the library until 6:15. All of the services I can find start at 6:30, and I don’t think I could make it in time. Maybe next year, because I would really like to attend one, someday.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we,
worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you,
the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(Collect for Ash Wednesday, The Book of Common Prayer)
Jesus said to them again, 
"Peace be with you. 
As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." 
And when he had said this, 
he breathed on them 
and said to them,
 "Receive the Holy Spirit. 
(John 20:21-22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the season of Lent, as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday
2. for the many saints in my life that have inspired me and brought me to the spiritual place I am today
3. for the life and peace that Jesus breathes into us
4. for the reminder that I am dust
5. that life doesn't end here

'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. 
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? 
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'  
(Isaiah 58:3-9 ESV)

This is the scripture passage that is brought forth in Spiritual Classics, after presenting the selection by Catherine Marshall that I summarized yesterday. The people question the fact that they fast, but it seems to get no results. God answers by questioning the validity of their fast.

The purpose of the reading, again, was not so much to highlight the critical nature (although that is what spoke so loudly to me), but to center on the discipline of fasting. And what better time to arrive at this place than the beginning of the Lenten season?

And, as I read the passage from Isaiah, one of my initial reactions tends to lean toward being critical toward the church of today, but I am stopping those thoughts and not going there. Rather, I will focus on what I can do to accomplish this “fast” of which the Lord speaks. What can I do to help loose the bonds of wickedness, to break every chain, and free the oppressed? What can I do to share my bread with the hungry and my home with the homeless (there’s a scary thought, right there), and to cover the naked? The passage indicates that, when we are successfully doing these things, our cries will be heard.

As the week progresses, there will be questions and suggested activities, and a final thought from one of the writers of the book.

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


There is a common misconception that our “religion” is a “private matter.” And while much of what goes on in “religion” concerns matters of the heart, it cannot help but spill out into real life.

“Every movement we make in response to God has a ripple effect, touching family, neighbors, friends, community. Belief in God alters our language. Love of God affects our relationships. Hope in God enters into our work. Also their opposites – unbelief, indifference, and despair. None of these movements and responses, beliefs and prayers, gestures and searches, can be confined to the soul. They spill out and make history. If they don’t, they are under suspicion of being fantasies at best, hypocrisies at worst.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

The book of Philemon is a perfect picture of the truth of this. One of the single chapter books of the New Testament, it involves a letter from Paul to a slave owner named Philemon, who is a brother in Christ. It turns out Paul has come in contact with a runaway slave of Philemon’s, named Onesimus, who has, apparently because of Paul’s ministry, also become a Christian! As Paul writes to Philemon, it is apparent that this relationship between Philemon and Onesimus has to change, because they are now brothers in Christ. And Paul is sending Onesimus back to him, with instructions on how this has to change!

It is in situations like this that Christianity is proved to be real or, as Peterson said, “fantasies . . . hypocrisies.”

Does our belief in Christ spill out into our lives? It is my belief that the separation of “sacred” and “secular” is a myth. I cannot compartmentalize my life. If I can be “Christian” on Sunday, at “church,” but can act like a heathen at work, or treat my family terribly at home, my “Christianity” is not real.

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; 
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 
Against you, you only, 
have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; 
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 
Surely I was sinful at birth, 
sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; 
you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 
(Psalms 51:1-6 NIV)

The prayer word for today is “life.” What a powerful word, full of meaning!

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:14 NIV)

“Life” is fragile. As we have observed, so many times in our past, a loved one is “here today, gone tomorrow.” We are described, in Scripture, as a breath, a mist, as grass, that is here one minute and burned in the fire the next.

We don’t really notice this, as children. When we are children, life is forever, and the main goal is fun. As young adults, we think ourselves indestructible. But as we grow older, the frailty becomes reality. Death is imminent. We think about it more.

May God help us to treasure this thing called “life.” The good news is that it doesn’t end here. But the time here is, by comparison, short, just a breath, a wisp of smoke.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Father, what beautiful reminders, this morning, of the beauty of life with You! Yes, I am dust, and to dust shall I return, assuming Jesus does not return before my physical life on this planet ends. But “life” as we know, does not end at that point. We will carry on, in some form which we know not, for eternity, in our lives with You.

I pray for all who are embarking on a Lenten journey today. As we “celebrate” Ash Wednesday, whether we get cross-shaped smudges of ash on our foreheads or not, may we remember the truth that we are only dust. Help us all to accomplish whatever “fast” You have put on our hearts today. For me, I ask that You strengthen me, more for the elimination of judgment and criticism than candy, although I desire success in both realms. But, to me, the criticism is the more important aspect. Help me to “take captive” those thoughts as soon as they enter my brain, and not to entertain them, and especially not to let them escape through my mouth or fingertips.

So, Lord, I just realized that I’m focusing on what goes in my mouth and what comes out my mouth. That’s rather ironic.

I also pray that my faith always works itself out in reality, and is not something hidden, that no one else can see. It must be, in order to be authentic. It is not private, and I cannot separate “sacred” and “secular.” My life is in You. All of it, every aspect of it. Christ must be all and in all.

Glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Surrounded

“Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

Today is Tuesday, the first of March, 2022, in the eighth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

February is finally over. For the shortest month of the year, it sure seems like it lasts a long time. Of course, as I’ve mentioned, it is my least favorite month of the year, and has been for well over thirty years. It’s not all because of the fact that we get our harshest “winter” usually during February.

As I mentioned yesterday (I think) today is “Fat Tuesday,” otherwise known as Mardi Gras. It is the traditional day where people indulge their desires before starting the long “fast” of Lent on Ash Wednesday. I haven’t thought a lot about Lent, yet, this year. Which means that I also don’t know if I’m “giving up” anything for the forty day event. I should probably give up candy.

The electrical service went well, yesterday. They arrived on time, if not a little early. It was a bit pricey, but they were very professional and got the job done. The light fixture did not have to be replaced, so we have one to return to the store. It turns out that we had a “loss neutral” (I think that’s what he said) between the panel and the light switch. He was able to locate the place and fix it without having to run any new wiring. He did have to dig into one other switch and two outlets to find it. Based on what he found, I believe it to be an issue that has existed since the house was built, and it just finally got to a point where it “broke” Saturday night. Anyway, the light works, now, and he replaced two switches and outlets, and installed the new ceiling fan in the bedroom. All of this wound up costing almost $800.

C is working from home today, which, it turns out, is good, because her stomach was bothering her a bit, last night. The A/C guy is supposed to come over today, between 12-1 to talk about options for our heating/cooling systems. I didn’t hear from him, yesterday, though.

I work this evening, from 4:15-8:15, and will be back tomorrow at 9:15, as this is my “heavy” week at the library. I may be driving to Mineral Wells on Thursday to bring Mama here for another stay. We aren’t sure about that, just yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that ceiling fans and light fixtures are working properly
2. for the writings of Catherine Marshall regarding a critical nature
3. that I am surrounded by You
4. that You make all things beautiful in Your time; help me to trust Your timing
5. for the upcoming season of Lent, and its help in preparing us for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday

It seems only fitting that my progression in the book, Spiritual Classics, has brought me to the section on the discipline of fasting, as we begin the month of March, and as the season of Lent begins tomorrow. The first of four chapters on fasting examines a selection from Catherine Marshall, from A Closer Walk. In this excerpt, Catherine writes about fasting from criticalness.

Right off the bat, she cites Matthew 7:1-2.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2 NIV)

She speaks of getting an “assignment” from God. “For one day I was to go on a ‘fast’ from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.”

Her typical objections: “But then what happens to value judgments? You Yourself, Lord, spoke of ‘righteous judgment.’ How could society operate without standards and limits?”

She strongly felt the Lord telling her to obey Him without question, “an absolute fast on any critical statements for this day.”

My first thought was to think how silent Facebook would be if all of us were able to accomplish this for even an hour.

The encounter has humor to it. For the first half of this day, Catherine speaks of feeling a void, “almost as if I had been wiped out as a person.” And, she observed, as she had lunch with her husband, mother, son, and secretary, her comments about issues discussed were not missed at all. No one seemed to notice that she wasn’t talking. They were all too busy talking, themselves. “The federal government, the judicial system, and the institutional church could apparently get along fine without my penetrating observations.”

As the afternoon went buy, though, Catherine began to see what this was accomplishing. She had been praying for a young man whose life had gotten sidetracked. “Perhaps my prayers for him had been too negative. That afternoon, a specific, positive vision for this life was dropped into my mind with God’s unmistakable hallmark on it – joy.”

It turns out that her critical nature, while not fixing one single thing with which she had found fault, had stifled her own creativity “in prayer, in relationships, perhaps even in writing.”

The word translated “judge” in most translations of Matthew 7 could easily be rendered “criticize.” “All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets Himself squarely against our seeing other people and life situations through this negative lens.” Following are five things that Catherine summed up that God showed her through this.

  1. A critical spirit focuses us on ourselves and makes us unhappy. We lose perspective and humor.
  2. A critical spirit blocks the positive creative thoughts God longs to give us.
  3. A critical spirit can prevent good relationships between individuals and often produces retaliatory criticalness.
  4. Criticalness blocks the work of the Spirit of God: love, good will, mercy.
  5. Whenever we see something genuinely wrong in another person’s behavior, rather than criticize him or her directly, or – far worse – gripe about him behind his back, we should ask the Spirit of God to do the correction needed.

Here is the prayer that Catherine Marshall found herself praying: “Lord, I repent of this sin of judgment. I am deeply sorry for having committed so gross an offense against You and against myself so continually. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and seek a new beginning.”

I am deeply moved by this selection, today, as a judgmental or critical nature is something I have struggled mightily with, throughout my life.

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


Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, while not directly addressing the above topic of criticism, seem to lend themselves to a similar interpretation.

Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. . . . Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it.  
(1 Timothy 4:12-13,15-16 MSG)

Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane.
(Titus 2:2-8 MSG)

In the words of Eugene H. Peterson, “This is essential reading because ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership causes much damage in souls.”

The reason I compare this to Catherine Marshall’s writing on a critical nature is that this is what I’m seeing, right now, in our culture, and it is largely coming from my generation, as well as the generation or two directly behind me. Nothing but criticism, and all negative, with no positive reinforcement. In other words, all complaining with no solutions, other than ousting the current administration.

And this “ill-directed and badly formed spiritual leadership” is driving young people away from the church (lower-case “c”) in droves.

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity.”
(Psalms 75:2 NIV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)


Today’s prayer word is “surround.” I like this one. The quoted Scripture verse is:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
(Psalms 34:7 ESV)

“Encamps around” = “surrounds.”

The writer of today’s reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” writes of using this word as he prays over family members each day. His grandchildren were attending a new school, fresh with new challenges. “Surround,” he prays over them as he drops them off.

“Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

Immediately, I am reminded by a worship song that I learned a couple years ago. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You. . . . This is how I fight my battles.”

Our Father surrounds us every day. Whether we are aware of His presence or not, He is there. How much sweeter it is when we are aware of Him!!


Father, again, there is a lot to take in, this morning. I am moved beyond description at Ms. Marshall’s writing on the critical nature. While it may not be the particular “fast” you are calling me to this Lenten season, I believe that You have been and continue to call me away from this nature. I pray desperately that You would remove any form, any remnant of the critical nature from my heart, my soul, and my spirit, Father! I literally hate that aspect about myself. I know that it does not come from You, and that it does not in any way resemble the nature of the Savior in whose steps I am supposed to walk. So please remove it.

I praise You that You surround me. That truth brings me great comfort whenever I remember it and focus on it. I know that You always surround me, but when I know it and acknowledge it, it is so much sweeter and comforting. I thank You for Your presence, Father, and I pray for my entire family, that You would make Your presence known to them. Surround them all, Lord. “Surround them with Your angels. Surround them with Your care and protection. Surround them with good friends, good influences, good teachers and coaches. Surround them with wisdom and understanding, foresight and insight, encouragement and blessing. Surround.”

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


“Lord, I repent of this sin of judgment. I am deeply sorry for having committed so gross an offense against You and against myself so continually. I claim Your promise of forgiveness and seek a new beginning.” ~ Catherine Marshall

Grace and peace, friends.

Moments Charged with Hope

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-eighth of February, 2022, in the eighth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,363

Today’s header image is provided by photographer Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photos at the link provided.

It’s been a busy morning, already. I’ve got two loads of laundry going, I’ve already vacuumed the floors (okay, so the robot did that), and I’ve scheduled an electrician to come to the house between 11-2 today, to check out the light fixture that quit working and install a ceiling fan in the bedroom. That quit on us a couple weeks ago, and it appears that the motor just finally gave out. That ceiling fan is also as old as the house, having been installed when the house was built in 1999.

So, now, I’m finally getting around to my blogging. As for what else is planned for today, nothing, at the moment. I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch. Still drinking my coffee.

Tomorrow, our A/C tech is supposed to stop by and discuss possible system replacement for our house.

We could potentially be spending a boatload of money this week. But, as I told the A/C tech last week, we have no plans to leave this house anytime soon. It’s our home, not an investment.

Yesterday, I got us tickets to see the production of Oklahoma! at Bass Hall in June. I’ve been wanting to see this, and it says that it has been “reimagined” for the twenty-first century. That would scare me, but it also said that none of the words have been changed. Should be interesting. That will be on Sunday, June 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that strong tower, where I can run and be safe
2. that because of the work of Christ (and ONLY that work), I am considered "righteous"
3. for the example of the "prayer of prayers" that Jesus gave us, a complete prayer that covers everything we need
4. for the promise of the second coming of Jesus and the hope that it gives us
5. for sunshine and mild temperatures

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

As Simone Weil’s treatment of the “prayer of prayers” comes to a close, she looks at the final statement in the older translations, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (or “from the evil one”). The bit about “Yours are the kingdom,” and so on, was added later on.

So we have contemplated, through this prayer that Jesus gave us, God’s name, His kingdom, and His will. We have petitioned for our “daily bread,” both physical and spiritual, and we have been purified from evil through forgiveness of sin. Now, says Simone, “the soul is ready for that true humility which crowns all virtues. Humility consists of knowing that in this world the whole soul, not only what we term the ego in its totality, but also the supernatural part of the soul, which is God present in it, is subject to time and to the vicissitudes of change.”

Okay, so I had to look up vicissitude. I am familiar with the word, but what, exactly, does it mean? “A change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.” And it is true. Our soul must be ready to accept the fact that not everything is always going to be “okay.” Yet, on the other hand, everything is always “okay.”

“The Our Father contains all possible petitions; we cannot conceive of any prayer not already contained in it. It is to prayer what Christ is to humanity. It is impossible to say it once through, giving the fullest possible attention to each word, without a change, infinitesimal perhaps but real, taking place in the soul.”

I find myself in full agreement of these words. And it makes sense. If Jesus gave us this prayer, telling us to “Pray then like this,” (whether we are supposed to pray it verbatim is, in my opinion, irrelevant), then the prayer must be quite perfect, right?

I would highly recommend the practice of repeating this prayer slowly, paying attention to each word or phrase, letting it sink into the soul. And then, after learning it more deeply, take the daily requests that you have to pray and work them into the phrases of the “prayer of prayers.”


In Symphony of Salvation, in the chapter on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, entitled “Taut & Joyful Expectancy,” the theme seems to center on one of the most distinctive details of the Christian faith, that being the second coming of Christ. “From the day Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers lived in expectancy of his return. He told them he was coming back. They believed he was coming back.”

We continue to believe this today. Peterson highlights this passage from 1 Thessalonians.

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 MSG)

“The practical effect of this belief is to charge each moment of the present with hope. For if the future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, there is little room left on the screen for projecting our anxieties and fantasies.”

One word of caution, though. It is my opinion that this passage eliminated entirely the popular concept of “rapture.” I have not believed in the “rapture” for at least a couple of decades, now. I don’t believe the Bible teaches the idea at all, that a group of living people will be taken away from the earth before any kind of “tribulation” occurs. And this passage in 1 Thessalonians seems to validate that. The dead in Christ will be resurrected before any who are still living are “caught up.” It is my opinion that this is the second coming of Christ, and that there will not be a separate event called a “rapture.”

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.
(2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 MSG)


Father, I am grateful for the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples (and to us, by default), that He will return. I am thankful for the words of Paul, regarding His return, words that give us hope, especially in times like these, when the world seems to be falling apart in front of us.

I pray for the insanity that I see in this world, right now. Madness in Europe, as well as insanity in my own home state and others around it. I pray for wisdom in leaders and elected officials. I pray for Your intervention in scenarios where people’s lives are threatened. And I pray that Your people, Your Church, would rise up and provide compassionate relief to the downtrodden and hopeless, rather than shoveling hatred and judgment on people who need hope and love. Help us, O God, to live and walk in the words and steps of The Word, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, Jesus Christ.

I thank You for the prayer that Jesus gave us, and ask that You give me more understanding and wisdom around it. Help me to remember that this prayer can be the basis of anything for which or about which I need to pray. Help us to live in prayer, and to, as Paul admonishes us, “pray without ceasing.” To me, what this means, is that I need to be praying like I breathe, constantly being aware of Your presence around me and my need for Your grace and mercy in my life.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Love Much; Love Well

So here is a call: May we all, who call the name of Jesus, do our best to make “Jesus Christ attractive to all,” love much and love well, and “provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-sixth of February, 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Day 23,361

It is currently 34 degrees, here in Fort Worth, today. But the high is only supposed to be 33. Things that make you go “hmmm . . .” There is, allegedly, a chance of “snow showers” this afternoon. I’m not down with that. I don’t care for cold showers, so I’ll take mine hot, please.

Speaking of hot, the HVAC tech is supposed to be coming between 3-5 this afternoon, to replace the circuit board in our system. It has been working fine, since he bypassed the broken one Wednesday, but, as previously noted, the blower runs non-stop.

It was an interesting day at the Computer Center, yesterday. There was non-stop activity for about an hour, yesterday morning, and the fax machine was busier than it’s ever been, when I’ve been there. But people were incredibly patient and kind during that time. One young lady who was faxing four different documents of five pages each (this takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes for each bundle) allowed someone to break in and scan his documents to email (which is almost instant) in between a couple of her faxes.

Another young man tried to help a woman who was trying to print something that was on her phone. She didn’t have email on her phone, and didn’t remember the password needed to download our mobile print app. Those are the only ways you can transmit a document from phone to our printer station. Finally, the gentleman convinced her that he was trustworthy enough to allow her to text the document to his phone, and he printed off two copies for her. He wouldn’t even let her pay him for the prints.

In this world that seems to be so full of hatred and animosity, it is nice to see some compassion and kindness in action.

Outside of the heater guy coming and a grocery delivery from Walmart between 2-3 today, I have nothing on the agenda. Well, except that I’ll likely make cheeseburgers for S and me tonight. I’ll make one for C if she wants, but she usually doesn’t. We had pizza (not our homemade variety) last night, and have some left over for lunch, today. We haven’t gone totally off the rails, diet-wise. Or have we? Not sure. I’m committed to not gaining all of my weight back, at least.

Talk about a rambling paragraph. I guess I should move on to the devotional before I lose all sense of focus.

Oh, look!

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Do not be anxious;
Life is more than food and clothes;
Seek first the Kingdom.
(Inspired by Matthew 6:25-34)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings and privileges that I usually take for granted
2. for a heart of generosity and a leaning toward humility
3. for all the grace that I need for today
4. for the saints who focus on gratitude and goodness
5. for my imagination, spawned by the ultimate imagination of God

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

Today, I’m examining the phrase, “give us today our daily bread.” As physical beings, “bread” is necessary. We are not speaking only of literal “bread,” of course, in the form of carbs and grains. We simply mean that our energy source must come from outside of our bodies. We must ingest food, lest we become “feeble and incapable of movement.”

Beyond physical food, we also need “incentives” (Simone Weil’s word for them) of “money, ambition, consideration, decorations, celebrity, power, our loved ones, everything that puts into us the capacity for action.” These are also like “bread” to us.

“There is a transcendent energy whose source is in heaven, and this flows into us as soon as we wish for it. It is a real energy; it performs actions through the agency of our souls and of our bodies.

“We should ask for this food. At the moment of asking, and by the very fact that we ask for it, we know that God will give it to us.”

In this case, we are asking for “bread” that is supernatural. This bread is Jesus Christ. He is, and He calls Himself this, the bread of life. So, in this case, we see that the petition in question has a double meaning. We ask God to supply our physical food, but we are also asking Him to provide Christ’s presence in our lives. But we can only have enough for today, for this moment, because this moment is all we have.

It’s like the manna that the Israelites gathered for food while in the wilderness (wasn’t that yesterday’s prayer word?). They were only given enough for the day. If they tried to gather more than they needed for the day, they would awaken the next morning to find it rotted and useless. We cannot save up grace.

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


Here are some words for today’s Christians, from the book of Philippians, Message-style.

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.
(Philippians 2:14-15 MSG)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

If you claim to follow Christ, are you doing these things on a daily basis? I don’t mean perfectly, of course. None of us is perfect.

A little over a month ago, I ventured into the dark territory that is TikTok. If you aren’t familiar with it, TikTok is a video app that allows users to produce up to three-minute videos on just about any topic they want. There are, of course, “community guidelines” which prohibit certain things, such as nudity or explicit sexuality, blatant hate speech, and other such things. A lot of time can be wasted scrolling through TikTok, just as it can be wasted scrolling through Facebook. I should know. I have wasted ample time in both places.

But I have chosen to try to live up to Paul’s words, to some degree, but posting my gratitude lists in video form every day on TikTok, just as I do on Facebook (not in video form on Facebook, but just copied and pasted from this blog). I don’t do these things to appear to be “super-spiritual.” I do these things to inspire positivity and gratitude in others. I want people to see something other than the hatred and hypocrisy that some others who claim the name of Christ are portraying. You can find my TikTok profile here, if you are interested. I hope to also, eventually, post some music, as well as my love of books, on there.

So here is a call: May we all, who call the name of Jesus, do our best to make “Jesus Christ attractive to all,” love much and love well, and “provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)


Today’s prayer word is “imagine.” Now there’s a word that can be of great use in our prayer lives and in our physical lives. But it can also be a great danger. An imagination running amok can create some serious problems, as we have seen in our world in recent years.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

There is another version of this quote that I found. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Here’s another, claiming to come from an original source, Einstein’s book, On Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

So, regardless of which one is actually correct, it is apparent that Einstein said something to that effect. It also illustrates that we may be too quick to attribute quotes to people without due research. I won’t hold that against the Guideposts people, today, as there does seem to be validity to at least one version of the quote.

I love imagination. Mine is fairly active, but I am mildly envious of people whose imaginations soar much higher than mine. I’m speaking of people who can write great songs and wonderful books. People like Paul McCartney and Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. You know . . . people with crazy levels of imagination.

The “imagination” of God, if it can even be called that, because His knowledge is ultimate and complete, is endless. It was the imagination of God that resulted in this universe, this planet, along with you and me. The ultimate imagination is responsible for my imagination and everything that it can conjure.

And, yes, I can use that imagination in prayer. If I can imagine it, I can most certainly pray for it. So, I imagine sick people healed; I imagine hungry people fed; I imagine homeless people with roofs over their heads; and I imagine people not having to live in fear of tyrants and their madness. Is it even possible to pray without imagination? Now that I think about it, I think not. How can you pray for something that you cannot imagine?

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Father, there is a lot today. I pray for my daily bread, both the real kind, the physical kind that I consume, as well as the spiritual kind, which is the presence of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, the Bread of Life. I pray for enough for this day, as I am aware that I cannot store up grace for tomorrow. Then tomorrow, I will pray for enough for that day.

I pray for the ability to make Your Son attractive to all. Help me to never do anything that makes Jesus unattractive to those around me. Help me to live my life in His service, walking in His steps, living in His “easy yoke.” Help me to love much and love well, as I have been trying to do for a number of years, now. Don’t let me lose sight of this Love Revolution, Father. May I give people a glimpse of good living, and of You, a loving and good and giving Father.

I thank You for my imagination, Father, and I also thank You for the imagination of many people in this world, people who can compose and write music and books, that both entertain and inspire. I pray for more of them who might display their faith in You in ways that inspire us to do the things that I have prayed for above. And help me to use my imagination to pray, to pray for people in other lands, people I have never met, and for people that are close to me, as well. And, should it be Your will, help me to use that imagination to compose songs of praise to Your Name. Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Your face, even if just in my imagination.

All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.