On Being Right

Today is Thursday, May 25, 2017. Day 21,623. Nine days until our Oregon vacation!

“Everything popular is wrong.” ~ Oscar Wilde
From Brainy Quote

Chinwag ~ an idle chat; to chat idly; gossip.

Today is Towel Day. For those who are not “in the know,” this is a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The first thing to remember is, of course, DON’T PANIC! The second thing is to always remember your towel.

C hasn’t been feeling well over the past couple of days. Both days, she set out for work and wound up coming back home. She thinks she’s feeling better this morning. She was having chills and a very low-grade fever (barely over normal, most of the time).

The Red Sox beat the Rangers again, last night, 9-4. Perhaps it would be better to say that Sam Dyson beat the Rangers. I’m not sure why they are still letting him pitch. If he hadn’t pitched, last night, the Rangers might have won that game. Of course, you never know. The Twins beat the Orioles, so the Sox are now only 3.5 games out of first. The Rangers are 7 out, behind the Astros, who remain the best team in baseball, for the time being.

We finally watched the two episodes of The Voice, from this week, including the finale. So we now know who won this season. I somehow managed to get all the way through yesterday without finding out. I was slightly disappointed, but not unhappy when Chris Blue won the competition, edging out Lauren Duski, who, in my opinion, is one of the best female country vocalists I have ever heard. And I don’t even like country music that much. All four contestants sang an original song that was written just for them. Lauren wrote hers, herself, and it was really good. I didn’t care for Chris’s original. As for the performances on Monday night, I think Jesse Larson’s were the best for that particular night. He and Adam Levine nailed Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” But Jesse came in fourth place, followed by the youngest to ever reach the finale, Aliyah Moulden.

Today would have been the 60th anniversary of my parents’ wedding day.

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

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:2-4
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Psalm 69:16
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
. . . who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
Psalm 104:32

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

Joshua DuBois says, “We can do anything today–and we’d probably be right.” We can probably back up our words with “unassailable facts and solid figures.” We might even be justified in the way we feel and/or act toward those who may have wronged us, and our judgments upon others might be justified, as well, “given their misdeeds.”

However, is being right always worth it? “Once we’ve summited the mountain of our own correctness, what great prize will we receive?”

The words of Maya Angelou, above, closely echo those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. There are times when how we make people feel will be much more important than whether or not we are right.

Dallas Willard once said, “One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it.”

“Dear God, let me put first things first–not my own ‘rightness’ but my love for you and others.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer. It’s not always important to be “right,” or to exercise our “rights.” Truthfully, if we are following Jesus, we have surrendered those rights, including the “right” to be “right.” Let me always consider others more than myself, Father, in my walk with Christ.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The House of My Soul

Today is Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Day 21,622. Ten days until our Oregon vacation.

“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling, I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” ~ Mitch Hedberg (The Quotations Page)

Cantankerous ~ disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish.

Today is Brother’s Day. I don’t have one of those (not by blood, anyway). C doesn’t have one of those. Neither of our girls has a brother. But my mother has a brother. A twin, no less. If you have a brother, let him know you’re thinking about him today.

Not a lot to talk about this morning. The Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6, last night. I was able to watch part of it, before the DVR kicked us off of live TV. I’m not a big fan of Charter’s DVR, but it’s who we have, right now, so I’ll just have to live with it.

So far, this morning, I have managed to avoid finding out who won The Voice last night. If we can both make it through the day without finding out, we will likely watch the finale tonight.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
Psalm 25:8
Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 
For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it, that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases your sight; I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, Lord,
and spare your servant from strange sins.
(Augustine of Hippo, in Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name)
(From The President’s Devotional)

Father, what a beautiful prayer from Augustine! There are definitely times when I feel the same way, that the house of my soul is ruinous and needs so much cleaning. Indeed, to whom shall I turn but to you, for you are the only one who can truly cleanse me. Keep cleansing me, Father, by the blood of your Son and the power of your Spirit. May the Holy Trinity be active in my life today!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Celebrate Life

Today is Monday, May 22, 2017. Day 21,620. Eleven days until our Oregon vacation.

Quote of the Day

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Word of the Day

Ultracrepidarian ~ noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise. This relates to probably 99% of the political posts I see on Facebook.

Today is Sherlock Holmes Day. Elementary, my dear.

I don’t have enough words to describe how amazingly, awesomely, wonderful this past weekend was. We arrived at Uncle Buddy’s house at around 12:30. Johnny and Shelia, Jayne and Jimmy, and Robbie and Katie (along with Hannah) were already there. Joan, Tiffany, and Darrell arrived shortly after. After visiting for a few minutes, lunch was served, delicious BBQ brisket and pork, cooked by Johnny, along with beans, pasta salad, baked potatoes, sopapilla cheesecake, chocolate cake, and peach cobbler.

After lunch, we took rides around the property on a “side-by-side” that Darrell had brought over. I saw part of the property I had never seen before. It’s all so beautiful and wild out there. I got a great picture of my mother and uncle about to take a spin around the place.

We even got to play some Forty-Two during the afternoon. We all manage to get together for a group picture, but I don’t have a digital copy of it yet, only a hard copy that my aunt printed. I have to get it scanned, and I’ll post it. It was a very good picture.

Later that evening, C and I went on into Henderson, had a quick bite to eat, then checked into our motel. S decided she wanted to spend the night with her cousin, who only lived a short distance from my uncle’s house. After our complimentary breakfast, we headed back over to Uncle Buddy’s house, visited a while longer, and then Joan and Tiffany came back over, as well as Johnny and Shelia. We had sandwiches made from leftover brisket from the day before, and then had a nice time just sitting and talking for a few hours.

We dropped Mama off at home in Mineral Wells, at about 8 PM last night, then headed on back home.

It was a phenomenal weekend, and I am grateful beyond words to everyone who made it happen.

Oh, and we took PTO for today, to get caught up on stuff we normally do on weekends.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 96:2-3
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:3
Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 21:14
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96:11-13
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! 
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. 
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. 
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Psalm 147:7-11

(From The President’s Devotional)

“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies
And be it gash or gold, it will never come
Again in this identical guise” ~ Gwendolyn Brooks, “Annie Allen”

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Psalm 100:4

Joshua DuBois, in this reading entitled “The Little Moment,” begins with, “Every day is precious. This one is no exception.”

What can I do to honor this day? What kind of “unique enthusiasm” can I bring to it?

Today is the 21,620th anniversary of my birth. That’s a lot of days. I don’t remember most of them. You probably don’t remember most of yours, either. But each day that we are alive is “a present gift wrapped by God, begging to be opened.”

In the past few days, I have begun to move toward an attitude of “celebrating life.” I have spent far too many days allowing myself to be drug down into a festering pool of misery, for whatever reason. I’m a moody person, always have been. But God can work through that, and he can certainly change that, if I work toward changing it, too. Again, I talk about spiritual formation and the Spiritual Disciplines. I didn’t get to practice the solitude I was hoping for over the weekend, but there was plenty of celebration! And that did us all good.

One of the things that is bringing this about is my realization that we spend far too much energy longing for the weekend. Every Monday morning, one of my work associates starts out moaning and sighing and wishing Friday would hurry up and get here. But, here’s the thing . . . what if we could just somehow skip from Monday to Friday and start the weekend? I’m sure some people would immediately say, “Yeah!” But then there’s five days gone from your life. Five days skipped. Five gift-wrapped presents from God that we never opened.

Each day is a gift. Each day is a potential treasure. Yes, they will bring challenges. They might even bring sorrow and tears, perhaps even fear. But, taken in context of the reality of the kingdom of God (Dallas Willard says, “things are really better than you can ever imagine as you live in the kingdom of God”), we can still unwrap these precious days and live them to the fullest of our potential, walking in the “easy yoke” of Christ.

Celebrate life!

“Dear God, let me honor this day with gladness in my heart. Increase the joy within me, and the gratitude I feel for this life. Amen.” ~ Joshua DuBois

Father, help me to celebrate life. I talk big ideas and big concepts, sometimes, but when things get rough, or when something doesn’t go the way I want it to, I sure tend to fall back into my old habits. I’m praying, asking you to help me crawl out of those habits and stand, triumphantly, on the broad level ground that is your kingdom. Help me to live in the reality that “things are really better than [I] can ever imagine.” Reality. Reality is not what I see with my eyes, happening in this corrupt world around me. Too many “Christians” are wrapped up in that reality. Help us all to see the truth. Help us to know the truth so that the truth can set us free. Help me to celebrate life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

No Temptation Has Overtaken You That Is Not Common To Man

Today is Saturday, May 13, 2017. One week until our “family reunion.”

Quote of the Day

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Word of the Day

Microcosm ~ a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe. Also, a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity.

There are a number of choices for today’s “holiday,” some more strange than others. I’m going with one of the stranger ones. Today is Leprechaun Day. I love the idea of leprechauns. I also love Lucky Charms, represented by a leprechaun. “It is said that if you catch a leprechaun, he will have to give you his pot of gold, but leprechauns are resourceful when it comes to defending their gold, and they are not easily caught.”

It’s another busy weekend at the Bickleyhouse. Tonight, there is a Southlake Community Band concert that doesn’t begin until 8:00 PM. I have to be there by 7:30, and it should last until around 9:30. Since we only had a couple weeks to prepare for this one, we are basically re-playing our Disney concert from earlier in the year. The next gig is on July 3 for the July 4 festivities.

Tomorrow, of course, is Mother’s Day. Since we are all going to east Texas to visit my uncle and cousins next weekend, we will not be going to Mineral Wells tomorrow to see my mother. She promised that she is fine with that. And the trip to east Texas is part of our Mother’s Day gift to her. R & J will be coming over tomorrow, though to celebrate with C. We will probably order out and have food delivered, rather than fight crowds at a restaurant. We just don’t like doing that scene at all.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 115:18
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:5
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Psalm 108:3-4
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 
  Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:1-5

(From The President’s Devotional)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

“But Satan now is wiser than of yore,
And tempts by making rich, not making poor.” ~ Alexander Pope, Moral Essays

“The wave is coming. Its crest high, thundering, overwhelming. We see it from far off and tremble at what it portends. The great wave of temptation.”

This wave comes at us, wanting us to believe that it is undefeatable, that no one has ever survived it. But it lies. Temptation always lies. God tells us that “no temptation has overtaken” us “that is not common to man.” Many people have come before us and survived this wave. “They’ve come out whole. And so will we.”

“Dear God, I know temptation is coming. Give me the mettle to withstand. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)


Father, I have succumbed to temptations many times, as have many other people. But you have always picked me back up on the other side and placed me back on your path, my journey to you. More temptations will come. They will not stop until I finally reach my destination. The thing is, I can’t even imagine what life without temptation will look like. As I continue to train, strengthen me against temptations of all kinds. Grow me to the point that following and obeying Jesus is second nature; to the point that I don’t even have to think about whether I’m going to do something that I ought not do.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Through the Midst

Today is FRIDAY, May 12, 2017.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Psalm 96:1
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 119:145
Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

(Te Deum)
Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.
Psalm 85:13
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! 
In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. 
Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.

Psalm 31:19-21

(From The President’s Devotional)

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
Luke 4:24, 28-30 (ESV)

How many close calls have you had in your life? How many times have you been on “the brink of major disaster or really poor decisions,” yet found your way “to the other side?” We might attribute some of the outcomes to our own hard work and/or wisdom, but if we are honest, and consider all of the instances, we must admit that we have seen the hand of God at work.

“Just as Jesus, when backed up against a cliff, simply disappeared through the midst of the crowd, so does he help us press through the toughest of times in an almost miraculous fashion, with so much ease that we scarcely recall the crisis when the moment has passed.” The result of this, for Christ-followers, is confidence that, when the night is falling, morning will be close behind.

“Dear God, thank you for being a miracle worker. On so many occasions I’ve made it to the other side, too many for me to remember or recount. I rest in the knowledge that you will do it again and again, for your greater glory. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo Mr. DuBois’s prayer, as I think back upon my life. There have been many times that I/we have been on the brink of disaster, and you have pulled us through, walked us through the midst of the crowd of challenges, into the bright morning that waited on the other side. I praise you for your providence in our lives. Help me to live in the confidence that you “have my back” all the time. But also help me to not get into situations that would take me down that troublesome path.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Least of These

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), May 11, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

Word of the Day

Saudade ~ (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.

Today is Twilight Zone Day. Here’s a brief clip of one of my favorite episodes, staring William Shatner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
Psalm 101:6
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
  For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. 

Psalm 33:20-22

(From The President’s Devotional)

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
Matthew 25:35-40

“Martin’s soul grew glad. He crossed himself, put on his spectacles, and began reading the Gospel just where it had opened; and at the top of the page he read: ‘I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.’ And at the bottom of the page he read: ‘Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me’ (Matt. XXV). And Martin understood that his dream had come true; and that the Saviour had really come to him that day, and he had welcomed him.” (Leo Tolstoy, “Where Love Is, God Is”)

There are people in this world who are looking for a Savior to come to them. Jesus has shown us how to be his “avatars” in this world.

“Nourishment to the hungry. Water to the thirsty. Shelter to the stranger. Covering to the naked. Healing for the sick. Comfort for the prisoner. Our King declares, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, remind me of these truths as I walk through this world. Keep my eyes open for opportunities to serve you by being your representative and spokesperson on earth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Prayer For the Invisible Workers

Today is Sunday, May 7, 2017.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Psalm 111:1
. . . that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18
But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
Psalm 71:14
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Psalm 118:22
“Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve;
and, as you have called me to your service,
make me worthy of your calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours)

(From The President’s Devotional)

In today’s reading, “Different Ministries,” Joshua DuBois reminds us of the people whom we often forget. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (ESV)

Joshua reminds us of the trash collectors, those who “keep this world from overflowing with disorder.” He calls us to pray for the largely unseen people who keep the halls of our work places (and churches, I might add) sparkling and clean. The drivers, the officers, the cooks, the groundskeepers. “We are supported in a thousand different ways each day by professionals who work with dignity and excellence.” All of these jobs, all of these “ministries,” come from the same Spirit, the same Lord. Let us honor those today, by lifting them to our Father in prayer.

Father, today I pray for the people who are frequently forgotten. I pray for the workers in our world who do the jobs that no one else wants. And who, I might add, get paid very little for it. May we honor these people with the same honor we would give a doctor. I’m sitting here typing on a computer, that is powered by electricity. I never see, and seldom think about, the people who work constantly to ensure that this electricity makes it to my house. I sure grumble when it stops, though, don’t I? I thank you, this morning, for the trash collectors, the janitors, the professional drivers who deliver my Amazon packages, the cooks, the people who mow yards and maintain lawns, the people who work on our streets . . . all of these and more. May you bring blessing to the lives of these and their families today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.