Ministry

Good morning. It is Monday, September 29, 2014. Only two days left in September.

Today is International Coffee Day. Now there’s a day I can get behind!

Yesterday turned out okay, although it was very close to being a disaster. Christi’s meeting lasted a while, but went okay. However, it is taking longer than they expected to go over the old bylaws of the church and make revisions, so they didn’t get finished.

Stephanie and I got to the ballpark with no issues at all. But when we found our seats, I knew we were in trouble. I have to remind myself, in the future, that any seats on the second level that are left of home plate are very bad choices for day games. Our seats were in the sun for the entire game (except for when the clouds finally came along, around the bottom of the eighth inning). We had some sunblock, but sunblock doesn’t stop the heat! After about two innings, Stephanie couldn’t take it, and said she was going to go sit up in the concourse area. After about another half inning, I joined her. A lot of other people apparently had the same idea, because we had to walk a bit to find a table. We sat up there and drank some water for a while, unable to see the game. Around the fourth inning or so, we went back to check it out. There was a small cloud over the sun, so we went back down to our seats. The sun came back out, but it took a while to get as hot as we were before. By that time, there were several sections in our same area that were in the shade, so we followed the example of the family in front of us and moved to some empty seats over there, which made it possible to really enjoy the rest of the game. The bad news is that the Rangers lost 4-0. That was also bad news for Seattle, who were in the process of beating the Angels, but to no avail. As the Oakland A’s celebrated on our pitcher’s mound, a rousing chant of “Let’s Go Royals” erupted from the upper deck, and I gladly joined in. I will be rooting for the Kansas City Royals, for at least one game (Tuesday, September 30), and hopefully a little longer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

(From The Divine Hours)

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

Psalm 103:20-22
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 115:1
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Today’s Gospel Reading

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Matthew 8:14-17

Jesus speaks no words in this passage, he simply does one of the things that he came to do, to bring healing to people. But even that wasn’t the primary purpose, as many confuse it to be. The purpose was to display the Kingdom. Jesus was showing people what it would look like when the Kingdom came to earth.

Unfortunately, I’m out of time. I have been chatting on Facebook with a person in Canada who is going through some tough relationship issues right now, trying to minister to her. Her husband cheated on her and wants a divorce. My heart is broken for her, and I’m struggling with the right things to say, trying to display the Kingdom, you know. Anyway, it’s time to get ready for work.

Father, I pray that you would reveal yourself to this woman and show your grace and mercy to her. I pray that you would help her find you through this awful time. I pray that you would help us all to be more hospitable in our lives and to find ways to share time with each other. While we are on this earth, relationships are very important. Sometimes they are more important than even our own devotional time. May your grace guide us through your Spirit.

I pray for this day. May we have peace today, and safe travel to and from work. I pray for Stephanie to be close to you today, and that you would show her wisdom and understanding.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all show the Kingdom to people around us today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Root Beer Float Day

Good morning. It is Wednesday, August 6, 2014.

Sadly, I do not have time for a devotional this morning, as I’m going in to work at 7. We got a lot of stuff in yesterday, so there was a bunch left over when I left, and I couldn’t stay late on Tuesday evening.

I will, however, take a minute to tell you that today is Root Beer Float Day. I can remember having those in a frosted mug at some place close to my grandparents’ house in Henderson, Texas, when I was a little boy. Maybe I’ll get one of those today.

If you have prayer requests, you can post them at my Facebook prayer page, A Prayer Gathering. I check it frequently, throughout the day.

Father, I regret that I do not have time this morning to read my daily devotions, but I will depend on your Spirit to keep me in touch with you throughout the day. May I be successful in praying without ceasing today, and remember those things that need to be prayed for. May we have safe travel to work and home today, and a good work day. I pray for Christi right now, who is dealing with yet more drama with her mother. Give her strength, Father. Give her strength.

Hopefully, I will be back to my routine tomorrow morning.

Grace and peace, friends.

Consumerism

Good morning. It is Monday morning, March 10, 2014. After the disaster that happened yesterday, having 90% of what I had been typing for the past two hours completely disappear, I am trying something a little different today. I’m using MS Word to write the post and then have it uploaded to WordPress. I’ve never tried this before, so we shall see how it works out.

 

Today is Day of Awesomeness! What a great name for a holiday, right? So be awesome at whatever you do today!


We had a really good time yesterday, visiting with Rachel and Justin. On the way up to Denton, we passed a strange caravan, though. As we approached, we saw police lights on one vehicle, but it seemed to be moving in the flow of traffic. As we got closer, it appeared that there was a bus in front of the police vehicle, which turned out to be a Denton County Sheriff vehicle. The bus was completely black, with no windows. In front of the bus was a Justin Police Department vehicle, and in front of that one was a Ponder Police Department vehicle. Obviously, this was some sort of prisoner transport. It was rather eerie.

When we got to Denton, we met the new cat, Max, so named because, well, he’s pretty max! A very large, yet not at all obese, black and white cat that weighs eighteen pounds. He’s about as friendly as they come, too. We went to lunch at a place called Luigi’s, where we had Italian food. I had pizza, Christi had lasagna, and Stephanie had, as she does whenever it is available, the “pasta combo.” The pizza was a bit disappointing, actually. Christi said the sauce tasted like it came from a can. Oh, well. After lunch, we went to a place called Sugar Queen Cupcakes. Wow! This place is amazing. Not a huge variety, as it is a fairly small shop, but there were probably eight or ten different flavors of cupcakes in the showcase; white chocolate strawberry, wedding cake, birthday cake, cream cheese lime, red velvet cake, peanut butter chocolate, and more. We got a variety, which Rachel actually paid for (it’s my birthday this week), ate some at Rachel’s place and took the rest home with us. It was a great visit.

As already mentioned, I only work three days this week, and I am off the rest, to celebrate my birthday. As is our custom, we will be visiting our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, the Cedar House at Paluxy River Bed Cabins. We can hardly wait. Just typing that name relaxes me! 😀


(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1747, John Newton, “ a sailor on a slave ship, is converted to Christianity during a huge storm at sea.” He would go on to not only become a zealous abolitionist, himself, but to also write one of the most famous and well-loved hymns in history, “Amazing Grace.”


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
Isaiah 1:18
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalm 71:3
The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Priorities.”

 

The majority of conversations in middle-class America seem to revolve around the following topics: “what to buy, what was just bought, where to eat, what to eat, the price of the neighbor’s house, what’s on sale this week, our clothes or someone else’s, the best car on the market this year, where to spend a vacation.” We are entrenched in consumerism and can’t stop “eating shopping, or consuming.” Our success is not measured in terms of “love, wisdom, and maturity but by the size of one’s pile of possessions.”

 

The disciple of Christ can afford to be different. How much we love the cross is directly proportional to how we are able to deal with the “powers and enticements of the world.” When we succeed in being dead to the world, but alive in Christ, we can say, along with Paul, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Matthew 6:19


Father, I pray that you teach me to be content with what I have. Teach me to stop consuming. I understand, of course, that I cannot stop eating, at least not for very long. The point is not in the eating. The point is in the priorities, as the title of the reading suggests. Our priority needs to be in serving you, pleasing you, not in impressing our neighbors or garnering human respect. Truthfully, I should care not what any other human thinks of me. I should only care about what effect your grace and the cross of Christ are having on my life. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day. May you keep me safe between work and home as I travel today. I pray that the day’s work will go well. I also pray for Christi’s interview with UTSW this afternoon, that she might find favor with the one doing the interview, and that, perhaps, this might result in a job offer. May your will be done, and we accept it, graciously. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would draw her closer to you heart and teach her wisdom and understanding. I pray your grace and mercy in Rachel and Justin’s lives today.
Your grace is sufficient.


May we learn to stop being a bunch of consumers and, rather, be the body of Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.

Thanks A Lot WordPress

Good morning. It is Sunday, March 9, 2014. As predicted, I missed yesterday, for which I apologize to both you, faithful readers, and the Lord. I think he understands, as my true devotion did not miss any days.

Today is Get Over It Day. Now, while I would never trivialize someone’s real tragedy or loss, this day is designed to help us all realize that, no matter how bed things are, someone, somewhere, has likely got it worse. So, we just need to “get over it.” Perhaps it should be followed by “Get On With It Day?”


For what it was, yesterday actually went pretty well. Work started out a little shaky, but we regrouped and got it together, finishing everything we needed to do by 1pm. I got home just in time to have lunch at Fogata’s with Christi and Stephanie. We had time for a thirty minute TV show, then it was off to church. I had to make the coffee last night, because the regular coffee-maker-guy was out running in some kind of glow-in-the-dark, foamy 5K or something like that. The things people do. . . 😀 I, myself, want to go to one of those festivals where people throw bags of paint powder all over each other. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Today, we are going to Denton in a couple of hours, to have lunch with Rachel and Justin, and to see their new cat, Max. Max is short for Maximus, because he, apparently, weighs eighteen pounds. That’s a lot of cat. (Please notice the correct usage of “a lot,” as opposed to “alot.” I know. . . preaching to the choir.)

I have been nominated for another award, this one called “The Dragon’s Loyalty Award.”

The Dragon's Loyalty Award
The Dragon’s Loyalty Award


Well, I’m not sure what happened, but WordPress has eaten my blog. I have been working on this for two hours, this morning, and went to add an image to the blog. The screen froze when I uploaded the image, and when I went back, the last draft saved was at 10:36 this morning, leaving me only what was above the line. Needless to say, I’m quite peeved, especially considering that I had already linked and commented on fifteen different blogs to let them know I was giving them this award. There’s no way I can go back and recreate what was destroyed. My apologies to everyone I said I was giving the award to.

Thanks for nothing, WordPress.

QUOTE (Corrie ten Boom) – Feb 28

I don’t often reblog, but the testimony of God’s power of forgiveness in this story is unequaled anywhere. It makes me weep every time I read it.

A DEVOTED LIFE

Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place" Corrie ten Boom, “The Hiding Place” (Photo credit: Corrie ten Boom Museum)

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’  And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’  No, he did not remember me.  ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I…

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Christi Bickley

(The daily devotional blog will be preempted today by a shameless display of love and emotion.)

My dearest Christi,

I didn’t buy a card for Valentine’s Day. We agreed that we weren’t going to do that this year. However, I cannot let this day go by without reinforcing how much you mean to me. I cannot give enough thanks and praise to God for bringing you into my life almost thirty years ago. Has it really been that long?? Has it really been almost thirty years since you came up to me in that bowling alley and declared “________ and I broke up for good!” I will never forget that December 7 night in 1984. The years that have followed that night have been virtually indescribable. Yes, there have been some rocky times, many of them my fault. But you, by the grace of God, have held on, and our love for each other is stronger than ever. My love for you can almost not be put into words. To say simply, “I love you,” does not even begin to do it justice. My heart is yours. My life is yours. I could not dream of living without you.

We are in the midst of uncertain times. We do not know what the future holds. But one thing I do know. This “threefold cord” will not be broken. I’m reminded of a great passage in Ecclesiastes that describes the benefit of a relationship such as ours.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone,
two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This threefold cord (you, me, and God) has stood the test of time and trial. It has withstood the test of raising two daughters (one with autism). It has withstood family drama, and it has withstood massive stupidity on the part of one of its members. I have faith that it will withstand anything that life can throw at it.

We have a couple of special weekends coming up, one beginning tomorrow, and another in March. These times mean more to me than I can say. To be alone with you, away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, is rejuvenating and, if I may be so bold, even divine. I look forward to celebrating more years . . . if God wills it, at least a 50 year anniversary (I need to take better care of myself) and beyond.

Let’s grow old together, my love!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Christi! I love you more than anything in this world.

All my love,

Jeff

We’ve Got To Pray, Just To Make It Today

Good morning. It’s pre-Friday, January 9, 2014. The first real “pre-Friday” of 2014. (Last week didn’t count, because Thursday was the first work day of the week for me, so it was really “Monday.” I only had Monday and Friday last week. That’s my kind of work week!)

Today is “Static Electricity Day.” I remember making balloons stick to the wall when I was a kid. Here’s a bunch of static electricity demonstrations that must have been recorded in a school classroom.


On this date in 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. Has it really only been seven years? The iPhone was debuted as a “touchscreen mobile phone with an iPod, camera and Web-browsing capabilities, among other features.” Jobs, himself, described the iPhone as “revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” It went on sale six months later, on June 29, and thousands of people lined up at Apple stores to be the first to have one. In November of that same year, almost 1.5 million had been sold, and Time magazine named it the invention of the year. Fast forward seven years. We are all captivated by our phones.
look-up-from-your-iphone
(Source: History.com)


Today’s birthdays are Chic Young, cartoonist (Blondie), 1901, Richard Nixon, 37th U.S. President, 1913, Gypsy Rose Lee, actress, 1914, Judith Krantz, author, 1928, Bart Starr, quarterback, 1934, Bob Denver, 1935, Anne Rivers Siddons, author, 1936, Joan Baez, singer/songwriter 1941, Jimmy Page, guitarist (Led Zeppelin), 1944, Crystal Gayle, country singer, 1951, J.K. Simmons, actor, 1955, Dave Matthews, musician, 1967, and Kate Middleton, duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, 1982.

Bart Starr was the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers in the era of the infamous Ice Bowl of 1967. Here is the quarterback sneak that won that game for Green Bay.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Psalm 47:5-8 God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

Psalm 70:4 May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 13:5-6 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

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


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “God’s Voice in Prayer.”

Why do we struggle so much with “being human?” Why do we walk a thin line between “self-hatred and despair?” Could it be that we don’t pray? “We pray so little, so rarely, and so poorly.” Oh, we have plenty of time for other things! “Visits, get-togethers, movies, football games, concerts, an evening with friends, an invitation we can’t decline . . .” And guess what! These are all good things! They are good, because it is “natural and wholesome that we come together in community.” But when God wants some of our time, we hesitate. We struggle with believing that God delights in talking with his children.

If we could look God in the face, what kind of face would he be making? Would it be saying, “When are you going to shape up? I’m fed up with you and your hang-ups. My patience is exhausted. We’re going to have a little reckoning!” If he said only one word to us, would it be “Repent?” Or would he, perhaps, say, “Thank you. Do you know what a joy it is to live in your heart? Do you know that I have looked upon you and loved you for all eternity?”

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with
all your heart.


Father, keep teaching me to pray. I feel that I have done somewhat better with this over the past couple of years, but there is still much room for improvement. You have asked me to be an intercessor, and I have tried to walk that path. But i’m still learning how to do it. I’m still learning how to pour out my heart and soul for the sake of others, and, to be honest, I’m not sure I get it, yet. I still think i don’t pray enough. Or perhaps I don’t pray properly. I get too easily distracted by other things, even when there is no other activity going on. I pray for your Spirit to teach me to pray. I pray, also, for all of your children to understand the necessity of prayer in their lives. It’s not just something for people who are called to be intercessors. Prayer is not a magic formula that can only be used by those who are properly trained. It is our life-blood, Lord. It is our breath. We should not be able to live without it.

I pray for this day. I ask for relief from pain for Christi. Lately, her hip and back have been bothering her. But you know this. I pray that you would touch her and relieve her pain. May our work day be good today. May our day be full of you and your Spirit. May we frequently stop and remember to pray, praying for whatever you bring to our minds at the time. I also ask that you would give Stephanie understanding and wisdom, teaching her your way, that she may walk in it.

I pray especially for Alicia Rojas and her mother this morning. Things are not well for her, and her mother is not doing well, in the hospital. Life has been very difficult for them lately. I pray that you would impress upon some people to give them assistance. But I also pray for healing for her mother.

Your grace is sufficient.


Say a prayer for your day. Talk to your Father. He delights in talking to you, because he loves you with a never-ending love.

Grace and peace, friends.