The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this 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 heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.


Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

A Great and Awesome God

Today is Wednesday, the 1st of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ bless you today!

Day 23,701

Once again, my header photo is courtesy of Romanian photographer Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the link provided and take in his magnificent photos of the land in which he lives.

It is now officially my least favorite month of the year. I have severely disliked February for almost 40 years, for a variety of reasons, none of which I will share here, today. This year, February seems to have stolen the last two days of January, at least in DFW, Texas. We continue to be in winter weather, and we are officially in an “Ice Storm Warning,” until 6:00 AM tomorrow. The library is closed again, today. They say they are going to open at 10:00 tomorrow morning, but I’m skeptical. There is a 78% chance of more stuff falling from the sky today, and it may not get above freezing until after 9:00 AM tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that much to me, because I’m not scheduled to work again until Friday, but I do care about the safety and well-being of the best group of co-workers I’ve ever worked with.

Well, that may not be 100% true. I did have a pretty awesome crew to work with when I was the loading supervisor at Tex-Pack Express. But they are definitely my best group of work associates in almost 40 years. I’m still in contact with one of them, all these years later, shoutout to Robert Warden.

C continues to work from home today. I’m not sure what her plans are for tomorrow. She may be asked to come in later, around noon or so. I’m pretty sure she won’t be trying to get out and drive at 6:15 AM.

I thought I would share the video of our church orchestra playing, this past Sunday morning. I’m the bald head trombone player on the right. You can see the top of my head over the cellist’s music stand.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD, 
and teach me your ordinances.
(Psalms 119:108 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we thank you that we may be your children and may be led by your hand. Give us patience and faith, especially when our way on earth seems difficult and life is full of grief and hardship. You are light. You show us the right path. You go before us in the self-denial and patience taught us by your Word. Protect us on all our ways. May your kingdom grow among us until it can be plainly seen that you, O God, are truly with us doing your work and bringing us joy, even though what we do seems fruitless. But your work endures. In your work we rejoice, and we want to give thanks to you every day. Amen.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we are safe and warm; praying for all who may not be so fortunate
  • for patience and faith, “especially when our way on earth seems difficult”
  • for the love that the Father has given us, “that we should be called children of God”
  • that we have nothing to fear in any circumstance of life; our God fights for us
  • that our God listens to us: “Everything we say, every groan, every murmur, every stammering attempt at prayer: all this is listened to” (Eugene H. Peterson)

Worship the LORD in holy splendor; 
tremble before him, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:9 NRSV)
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. 

May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us, 
[Selah]
(Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.
(Psalms 119:164 NRSV)
O guard my life, and deliver me; 
do not let me be put to shame, 
for I take refuge in you. 
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, 
for I wait for you.
(Psalms 25:20-21 NRSV)

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 NRSV)

Praise the LORD, all you nations! 
Extol him, all you peoples!
 For great is his steadfast love toward us, 
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 117:1-2 NRSV)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

From there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the LORD your God and heed him. Because the LORD your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.
(Deuteronomy 4:29-31 NRSV)

So acknowledge today and take to heart that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
(Deuteronomy 4:39 NRSV)

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. 

Hear, O Israel: 
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NRSV)

Have no dread of them, for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.
(Deuteronomy 7:21 NRSV)


O sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:1 NRSV)
My foot stands on level ground; 
in the great congregation I will bless the LORD.
(Psalms 26:12 NRSV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
(Colossians 3:16 NRSV)

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:1-2 NRSV)


“I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.”
(2 Corinthians 6:16 MSG)


Over and over again, in Moses’s long sermon series that is the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people, “Do not fear them,” or some variation of that statement. The “them” for Israel was the different nations they would encounter as they entered the Promised Land.

The “them” for us is entirely different. I’m not rampaging through a new, foreign land, destroying every people in my path. My troubles pale in comparison to what the children of Israel went through. In fact, the majority of my “troubles” would fall under the category of what I have, in the past, referred to as “footstool” problems. I don’t remember where I got that . . . but I will say that I did not originate that idea.

Today, it’s the fact that the trash didn’t get picked up this week because of the winter weather we are experiencing. So it sits until next Tuesday. But at least we are allowed four extra bags that can be set out at the curb, next week. But that doesn’t help the recycling. Our recycling bin will be completely full, which will cause us to have more trash.

Footstool.

Last week, it was the police drama outside on my street, that caused me to not be able to park in my driveway until well after 11:00 PM.

Footstool.

Earlier in our lives, though, it was the challenge of raising and autistic daughter, who is now an adult who still lives with us. There were times during those years that I admit that we forgot to not be afraid of “them,” because the Lord will fight for us.

“Them” is different for everyone. But one thing is the same for all of us (and I’m speaking of Christ-followers, here). And that is the truth of Moses’s statement to Israel.

Do not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”
(Deuteronomy 3:22 NRSV)

And then, in chapter 7, verse 21, he adds this little bit, “for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God.”

This is why we can “sing a new song” (Psalm 96:1). This is why “my foot stands on level ground” (Psalm 26:12). This is why the word of Christ can dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).

And this . . . this is why we can (and must) “let mutual love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

It is a beautiful thing. Our God has said, and I believe Him because He said it, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Yes. Our God is a great and awesome God! So do not fear “them,” whoever your “them” is. Have no dread of “them.” God is bigger and stronger, and He dwells with us.

To use more modern terminology, He’s got this.


Thank You, Father, that You are a great and awesome God! Praises to You for choosing to dwell with us and in us, so that we have nothing to fear, no “them” to dread. I pray for all of my brothers and sisters who seem to live in a constant state of fear over “them.” May their hearts be filled with Your love, and their eyes be opened to the truth that we have nothing to fear or dread in this world. Let us remember that, in the words of Dallas Willard, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

Let us love one another with the love with which Christ has loved us. Let us love You with all of our beings, heart, soul, mind, and strength, and in doing these two things, fulfill all of the Law and Prophets. May the Word of Christ dwell richly within us as we walk through this world. And keep our feet on level ground in You, that we might not slip or stumble.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

New Things

It is Tuesday, the 31st of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,700!

Late again, today. Here it is after 11:00 and I’m barely getting started. The ground is covered with sleet, outside, and it is currently 25 degrees. The projected high is 29. Tonight’s low is 21, and tomorrow’s high is 32 (or 31, depending on which app I look at). The “winter storm warning” now goes until noon on Thursday, February 2.

The library is closed today and tomorrow, and is scheduled to open at 10:00 on Thursday. I don’t work on Thursdays, so I will be in on Friday morning. That means I will only have 8 hours on the week, instead of 20. I am scheduled to work this coming Saturday, though, so I may need to set a reminder to go to work on Saturday. Haha!

Thursday, by the way is Groundhog Day. Of course, how it looks in DFW Texas is irrelevant to that. Punxsutawney Phil lives in Punxsutawney, PA.

I was “proactive” enough to think about ordering something to make for dinner tomorrow and Thursday (just in case I didn’t work tomorrow)(and S doesn’t have Club Metro, anyway, on Thursday), but I totally forgot to have something in mind for tonight, in case I didn’t work tonight. But I have decided, and others have agreed, to cook eggs and bacon tonight. Breakfast for dinner.

As for choir practice tomorrow night, that remains to be seen. I haven’t yet heard if it will happen, but I may not try to get there, anyway. It’s about 15 miles away, for me, and there is at least a 60% chance of more snow/sleet tomorrow.

The big question is, can we survive two days without Sonic drinks??

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I am severely afflicted; 
give me life, O LORD, 
according to your word.
(Psalms 119:107 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we worship you, for you come to meet us everywhere and you reveal your glory on our earth. May we become worthy of you, people who can represent you with our whole being. Give us the strength to endure, even through struggles and temptations. Be merciful to us at all times through Jesus Christ our Savior. May we remain body and soul in his hands, that at last we may come to you, our Father in heaven, as your true children, reborn through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.
(Isaiah 62:1 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God meets us everywhere
  • that I don’t have to try to get out to go to work in this weather
  • that God is constantly doing new things
  • that God is not limited by my ignorance or despair
  • that, as His disciples, we will be like Jesus, someday

O come, let us sing to the LORD; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
(Psalms 95:1-2 NRSV)
To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. 

May God be gracious to us and bless us 
and make his face to shine upon us, 
[Selah]
(Psalms 67:1 NRSV)
A Song of Ascents. 

To you I lift up my eyes, 
O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, 
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, 
so our eyes look to the LORD our God, 
until he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, 
have mercy upon us, 
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
(Psalms 123:1-3 NRSV)
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, 
and sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NRSV)

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:13-14 NRSV)

Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, 
you and the ark of your might. 
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, 
and let your faithful shout for joy. 
For your servant David's sake 
do not turn away the face of your anointed one. 

The LORD swore to David a sure oath
 from which he will not turn back: 
"One of the sons of your body 
I will set on your throne. 
If your sons keep my covenant 
and my decrees that I shall teach them, 
their sons also, forevermore, 
shall sit on your throne."
(Psalms 132:8-12 NRSV)
"Keep my, Lord, as the apple of your eye 
and carry me under the shadow of your wings." 
(The Divine Hours - The Small Verse)

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.

"Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
Amen."
(The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)

A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.
(Luke 6:40 NRSV)

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
(Proverbs 22:6 NRSV)

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:4-8 NRSV)

Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
(1 Peter 4:10 NRSV)


I am about to do a new thing; 
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 NRSV)

"The gospel message says: 'You don't live in a mechanistic world ruled by necessity; you don't live in a random world ruled by chance; you live in a world ruled by the God of Exodus and Easter. He will do things in you that neither you nor your friends would have supposed possible. He is not limited by anything you think you know about him; he is not boxed into the cramped dimensions of your ignorance or your despair. As Isaiah says, "I am about to do a new thing."'"
(Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)

Let’s consider this a bit more.

God will do things in us that neither we nor our friends would think possible. The most amazing of those things is our salvation. God came to earth as a man, fully God and fully human. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was resurrected three days later. Then He ascended into heaven, where he waits at the Father’s right hand, and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

He put part of Himself in us, His children. He clothed us in the righteousness of Christ (I believe I waxed on about that a bit, yesterday).

Because of that righteousness of Christ, we have the ability to pray to Him, and He will answer our prayers, because “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Each one of these is a “new thing,” and God hasn’t stopped doing new things. I realize that the writer of Ecclesiastes said that there is nothing new under the sun.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NRSV)

There are a couple of things to consider in that. One is that “The Teacher” was speaking from a perspective of almost despair. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” he said. The other is that, in my opinion, he is mostly speaking of human events. I could be wrong about that.

But I am surprised by the grace of God, pretty much every day. I started to say “every time I turn around,” but that would be a bit exaggerative. And the reason I consider these “new things” is because they haven’t happened before. Not to me. Every second that I live is a “new thing.” As I am typing this paragraph, it is 12:45 PM. Whatever happens to me at 12:46 PM has never happened before. And it will never happen again.

Oh, sure, I will drink water again, but I will never have that drink of water again. That’s kind of like how a river is never the same river, from minute to minute. And it will never be the same river again.

I’m probably getting philosophically absurd, here. But my point is that life with God is ever new. It never stays the same. He never stops working in our lives, and He never stops working in our world, in our “history.”

Time, as we know it, is a human construct. God is not “boxed in” to that human construct. He is not limited by our ignorance or despair, as Eugene said, up there. And how arrogant are we that we believe that our ignorance limits God? Oh, sure, we don’t call it “ignorance,” because we think we are smart. But it truly is. Most of what we think is true about God is ignorant. And God is not limited by what we think about Him.

I, for one, am very grateful for that. We would be in big trouble if what I saw a lot of people on Facebook posting about God was truth.

God is God and we are not. Therefore, we should remain humble and accept what He gives us in His infinite wisdom. And He is constantly doing something new. If we would but pay attention, keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open to His will, and maybe shut up for a minute, the blessings that we would experience would be incredible.

The last amazing, new thing that I want to focus on is from Luke 6:40, up there. While we, as disciples, will never be greater than our teacher, Jesus says that we will be like Him, when “fully qualified.” What does “fully qualified” mean? I’m not sure that will ever happen in this life, but I think it means when we have learned from Him, and have succeeded in walking in His steps, in His “easy yoke,” and when we fully reflect His image to the world.


God, our Father in Heaven, I worship and adore You. I give due reverence to Your name. I pray for Your will to be done on earth as in heaven, and for Your kingdom to be fully realized. I thank You for the new things that You are constantly doing, in our world, and in our lives. I pray for all who do not believe in You, or believe that, while You exist, You are not active in human affairs. May their hearts and minds be open to see You as You are.

Help us in our arrogance and ignorance, Father. We believe many things about You, some of which may or may not be true. I am grateful that You are not limited by anything, especially by our foolish misconceptions about You. Your plan is in place, and it will be carried out, and it will be carried out in Your perfect timing. Help us to fall in line and walk in that timing. Help us to get our of ourselves and care about someone else, for a change.

And help us to love like You love, Lord.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Eyes on Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of January, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Day 23,693

There’s a nice, slow rain falling outside, this morning, as I type this, our first rain in well over thirty days. It is currently 43 degrees outside, and that’s the highest it is expected to be today. Tonight’s low should be just below freezing. I suppose there is a slight chance of some snow, later in the day, as it gets colder. I do have to work tonight, but I’m not worried about travel conditions, as it has been unseasonable warm for the past week or so.

My cold is gradually getting better, but only after feeling slightly worse yesterday. It was a busy weekend, working Friday and Saturday, then having church activities on Sunday, but it’s a light work week for me, this week, and there is plenty of time to rest. I do need to get some trombone practice in, and hope that I will feel well enough to walk on the treadmill, maybe tomorrow.

The visit with the estate sale planner went fabulously, yesterday. It’s all arranged, but they are a little behind, so our sale won’t happen until the first weekend in May, which is fine with us. We are in no hurry, and we don’t have a timeline for selling the house, either. So they have ample time to look at everything in the house and determine pricing. He got a good look at everything, yesterday, and seemed mildly excited about doing the sale.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I understand more than the aged, 
for I keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:100 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you for giving us your love, for letting us draw nearer to what is right and good. May your Spirit penetrate everywhere, overcoming what is false and helping people everywhere to understand the true nature of your justice. Guard us on all our ways. Protect us when our bodies and our lives are worn down by sickness and distress of every kind. Grant us your help according to your truth and righteousness. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the LORD speak the truth, I declare what is right.
(Isaiah 45:19 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for a great meeting with the estate sale planner yesterday
  • for safe travel to and from Mineral Wells, yesterday
  • that God does not hide from us, and is not difficult to find
  • that it is the Lord who opens my eyes and ears, that I might “behold wondrous things” in His Word, and who opens my lips that my mouth may declare His praise
  • for the promise of victory in Christ

O Lord, open my lips, 
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 NRSV)
Open my eyes, 
so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 NRSV)
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 NRSV)
For who is God except the LORD? 
And who is a rock besides our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 NRSV)

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
(Matthew 10:16-20 NRSV)

You are righteous, O LORD, 
and your judgments are right. 
You have appointed your decrees 
in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 
My zeal consumes me 
because my foes forget your words. 
Your promise is well tried, 
and your servant loves it. 
I am small and despised, 
yet I do not forget your precepts. 
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, 
and your law is the truth. 
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, 
but your commandments are my delight. 
Your decrees are righteous forever; 
give me understanding that I may live.
(Psalms 119:137-144 NRSV)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

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.

"Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:55 NRSV)

To the leader. A Psalm of David. 

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalms 19:1 NRSV)
He has made everything suitable for its time;
 moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, 
yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NRSV)
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." 
"Where, O death, is your victory? 
Where, O death, is your sting?" 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)


In Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God to open his eyes, that he might “behold wondrous things” in God’s Word. In this verse above, the author of Hebrews admonishes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the One “who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

In between, we see Stephen, who, as he is dying from being stoned, looks up and sees “the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

I fully believe (and have for many years) that it is impossible to gain much wisdom and understanding from God’s Word without the help of the Holy Spirit. If God does not “open our eyes,” we aren’t going to see much of the truth of His Word.

And, if God does not open our eyes, we won’t succeed in keeping our eyes on Jesus.

It’s hard enough to do that, even with my “spiritual eyes” wide open. There is so much in this world that is distracting us from keeping our eyes on Jesus. It is a daily struggle to do this, and if we relax for even a moment, we will pay the price for it.

Hence the frequent reminders from Scripture that we need our eyes opened, and we need to fix them firmly on Jesus, who, by the way, has already finished this race we are in!

How encouraging is that??

That’s another thing we need to remember. As we fight and claw to finish this race, we need to take a step back and realize that Jesus has already done it; He is finished with the race. And He is the one who gives us the strength to do it, as well. Remember the “easy yoke?”

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV)

In a sense, I suppose it could be said that Jesus, who has finished the race and sits next to the Father, is also back out here running it with us. If we would but step into that yoke and follow His instruction, the burdens would drop, and we would find rest for our weary souls. Because His yoke is easy.

Open our eyes, Lord,
We want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch Him,
and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus.
(Robert Cull, 1976, Maranatha Music)

Father, open my eyes, that I might behold wonderful things from Your Word. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear Your name. Open my lips that I might proclaim Your praises, daily. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, who has already finished the race in which we are running.

I am so easily distracted, Lord. And, in the words of C.S. Lewis, I am far too easily pleased. Help me to stay focused on this life, and to remember, as I read yesterday, that all sin is sacrilege, no matter how small it may seem at the moment.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Psalm 86:11

Today is Thursday, the 12th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

I had an unusually productive day, yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I made a quick trip to the grocery store for some necessary items. After I had my lunch, I played my trombone for twenty to thirty minutes (yes, I got my new squirt bottle!). Then I walked on the treadmill for close to 45 minutes, after which I showered and cooked dinner for the family. Then after dinner, I went to my first choir practice at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was fun, but I’m going to be really busy with their schedule, especially since I signed up to be in their orchestra, as well.

For example, I will have to be at the church by 8:15, this coming Sunday, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. Then I need to stick around for the orchestra rehearsal, which begins immediately after the 11:00 service. Oh, and there’s a Saturday morning choir “retreat,” this weekend. Fortunately, the orchestra rehearsals are only the two weeks preceding the performance in a Sunday morning service. We will be playing in both services on Sunday, January 29 (and the choir is singing in both services, as well . . . that will be fun!).

No doubt, I will not be able to make every Sunday performance, but I will make as many as I can. There are also some weeknight services that I may or may not be able to make. There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 22. It looks like I won’t be working that day, so I should be able to make that. However, there is also a service on Good Friday, and the choir is scheduled to sing a cantata that evening. I always work on Fridays, so I don’t know if I will be able to make that one.

But it has been a very long time since I have sung this kind of music, and I am enjoying it immensely. And looking ahead, I see that Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” is in our folder, and I am very excited about that! I love that song!

Just a quick note on our crazy weather. We have broken heat records for two days in a row, with temps at 82 on Tuesday (previous record was 77, in 2017) and 85 yesterday (previous record was 80, also in 2017). And then today’s high is projected to be thirty degrees lower, at 55. It will be below freezing tomorrow morning. But at least we are closer to the average temps for these days, now, which for today is 59/36.

In sad news, we lost Jeff Beck, yesterday. Beck was recognized by many as one of the premier guitar players of our lifetime. He died of a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 78. Here is a video I like of Beck and Rod Stewart performing “People Get Ready.” Stewart once described Beck as being “on another planet.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

They have almost made an end of me on earth; 
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
(Psalms 119:87 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, you let us see and feel your great goodness toward us. Grant us the inner help to be victorious in the Savior, rejoicing to be by his side with faith and loyalty, and with the strength of soul that frees us from all burdens by laying them in your hands. Hear us as together we pray to you. All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s great goodness toward us, His provision and His protection
  • that He will not allow us to be moved or shaken
  • for the blessing of singing praises to the name of the Lord
  • for the effectiveness of prayer
  • for the gift of faith, a heart that believes
  • for Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 

[Selah] 

O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; 
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; 
and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; 
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:28-35 NRSV)

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.

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.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NRSV)

In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, 
and in your help how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart's desire, 
and have not withheld the request of his lips.

 [Selah] 

For you meet him with rich blessings; 
you set a crown of fine gold on his head. 
He asked you for life; 
you gave it to him—length of days forever and ever.
(Psalms 21:1-4 NRSV)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods!
(Jeremiah 16:19-20 NRSV)

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)


“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
(Exodus 7:3-5 NRSV)

“Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible)


Psalm 86:11 (quoted above) is my “life verse.” I don’t exactly remember when it became so, but I believe it was early in the time that we lived in our current home, so somewhere in the last two decades, as we have lived in this home for almost 24 years. It is the first bookmark in the Bible program on this computer on which I am typing.

It is a beautiful prayer, that features honesty and humility before the Lord. First, a request to “teach me your way, O LORD.” This is similar to many verses in Psalm 119, which I have been working through at the pace of roughly a verse a day. God’s “way” is seen in two places. It is seen in His Word (the written Word), and it is seen in His Word (the living Word, the Son of God).

The reason for the request is so that “I may walk in your truth.” This truth, just like the way, is found in both the written Word and the living Word. In fact, Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is “the Way.” And Jesus is “the Truth.” So, even though he did not realize it, the psalmist who wrote Psalm 86 (it is attributed to David) was asking to walk in the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

But it is the second phrase in this verse that gives me even more inspiration. The honesty and humility of it are refreshing. “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” To pray for an undivided heart is to admit that my heart is, in fact, divided.

And certainly it is. My heart is divided in so many directions. Perhaps I can honestly say that God takes up the biggest portion of it, but I’m not even sure that would be truthful. I want it to be. And I want to revere the name of the Lord with my whole heart, just like I want to be able to thank Him with my whole heart, as verse 12 of the same Psalm says.

While I may not pray this prayer daily, I have certainly prayed it many days since it became my life verse. And I will continue to pray it until I meet my Savior face to face, because, as long as this treasure of salvation is contained in this jar of clay, I will not reach the point where my heart is fully undivided.

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”


Father, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Your Way and Your Truth are both contained in Jesus. So teach me Jesus, that I may walk in Jesus. And then, please, by Your Holy Spirit, continue to work on my divided heart, unifying it, that I might properly revere and fear Your holy name.

I continue to think about Enoch, and desire to walk with You the way he walked with You. This, though, requires the second part of that verse to be true for me. So I’m back to that again.

You have made Scripture so very dear to me, Father, for all of my life. I have loved the Bible since before I was able to read. I am grateful for it, and for the impact it has had on my life. Nevertheless, there are still times, all too frequently, when I do not live by it or walk in it. This is the evidence of my divided heart, Father. So, once again, I pray, give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Let It Be

Today is Friday, the 23rd of December, 2022, in the fourth week of Advent.

It is Christmas Eve Eve. 🙂

May the peace of Christ be with you always!

Day 23,661

TWO days until Christmas!

It got down to either 9 or 10 degrees, last night, depending on which app I look at. At one point, the windchill was, close to, if not below -10. It was very windy all day, yesterday. Today will be a little better, eventually. It is currently (at 9:30 AM) 14 degrees, with a windchill of -2. Winds are currently blowing from the NW at 14 mph. It should reach a high of around 25 today (again, depending on which app you look at). The windchill advisory goes until noon today.

I’m not at work, as the City of Hurst gave us this day as a holiday. We were all pretty surprised, as we were expecting Saturday (Christmas Eve) and Monday for Christmas, since Christmas falls on Sunday, this year. But we got today, as well. We are all very glad about that, considering what the weather did.

I would also like to gladly report that our power stayed on all night. Apparently, there were some scattered outages, as I know of one family in Fort Worth whose power went out overnight. I don’t know the cause of it, though.

The only time I plan to leave the house today is to get Sonic drinks, and I don’t have to get out of the car for that. So I shan’t wear anything but pyjamas today. Warm ones.

Time to stop scrolling Facebook and start scrolling Scripture!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love;  
teach me your statutes! 
(Psalms 119:64 ESV)

Interestingly, when I read that verse, it made me think of an old hymn called “God Is Working His Purpose Out.” It wasn’t ever sung in the church where I grew up, but I learned it many years later.

Lord our God, our Father in heaven and our Father on earth, our Lord and our Ruler, we thank you that to this very day you have guarded and guided us and delivered us from great need. We praise you with hearts full of hope as we continue on our pilgrimage. For Christmas Day is coming with its message of hope that we may somehow bring honor to you in spite of all hindrances, mistakes, and sin, in spite of all death and the horror of dying. We know that you hold us in your hands. With your help we can look ahead, and again and again we may take a small step forward and live to the praise and honor of your name. So be with us now and bless us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16–17, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the joy of the season
  2. for the guidance and guarding of the Lord in our lives
  3. for the love of God and that, in His grace, He has given us “unfailing courage and a firm hope”
  4. for the faith and selflessness of Mary
  5. for the admonition to deny self and engage in the “fast” of God’s choosing, which is to “loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke,” “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”

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" 

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. 

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." 

And Mary said, 
"My soul magnifies the Lord, 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
 For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, 
and holy is his name. 
And his mercy is for those who fear him 
from generation to generation. 
He has shown strength with his arm; 
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones 
and exalted those of humble estate; 
he has filled the hungry with good things, 
and the rich he has sent away empty. 
He has helped his servant Israel, 
in remembrance of his mercy, 
as he spoke to our fathers, 
to Abraham and to his offspring forever." 

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
(Luke 1:26-56 ESV)
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.' 
If you take away the yoke from your midst, 
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 
if you pour yourself out for the hungry 
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, 
then shall your light rise in the darkness 
and your gloom be as the noonday. 
And the LORD will guide you continually 
and satisfy your desire in scorched places 
and make your bones strong; 
and you shall be like a watered garden, 
like a spring of water, 
whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:5-11 ESV)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 NRSV)


For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9 NRSV)

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. 

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." 

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
(Matthew 16:19-24 NRSV)

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.
(2 Corinthians 2:14 NRSV)


Let’s talk about Mary, this morning. (It was morning when I started). There’s something about Mary, to borrow a 1998 movie title.

I’m not Catholic. So I don’t “venerate” Mary, nor do I believe that she was sinless. I don’t believe the Bible tells us that. Jesus was the only person who ever lived a life entirely without sin.

Nevertheless, Mary should hold a very special place in our hearts, and in our “theology.” It is probably that she was barely a teenager when this happened. We really don’t know how old she was, but I have seen estimates of anywhere between 12-16, with the majority being on the lower end of that range.

Teen pregnancy. How would she have been regarded in the twentieth or twenty-first century?

Nevertheless, Mary, when given the news, essentially said, “Okay.” I have visions of Pete Davidson’s “Chad” character on SNL, who, no matter what was said to him, responded with a somewhat nonchalant, “Okay.” Now, I realize that Mary was anything but nonchalant. But she was accepting.

Look at what she said at the end of the angel visit.

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:38 NRSV)

Mary, in that moment, became the “fragrance” of which Paul spoke in that verse in 2 Corinthians. And she was the ultimate spreader of that fragrance.

She had no thought for herself, or her reputation, at least not that we see. She did go spend a few months with her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also experiencing a miraculous pregnancy, as she would give birth to the Baptizer. Side note: It must have been pleasant to be there with Elizabeth during the time when Elizabeth’s husband couldn’t talk.

Hahaha!!

Mary also became that person of which Jesus speaks when He says that whoever wants to follow Him must take up their cross and deny themselves. Mary did just that. She denied herself, possibly earlier in life than anyone else in history. Not only did she have no regard for her future or her reputation, she risked disgrace for her future husband, who, had an angel not visited him, would have divorced her even before they were married. And she had to endure watching her son be crucified.

And us? We complain when there are too many cars in the drive thru. Me, I get completely bent out of shape if the Internet quits working, or if the Subway app won’t let me order ahead.

The lesson we all need to learn from Mary is in what she said to the angel. “Let it be to me according to your word.”


Father, I praise You for Mary. I have no idea what place she holds, next to You. I hope she has a place of honor in heaven, though, because of her sacrifice, her willingness to set herself completely aside in order to bring our Savior into the world. I thank You for the example she gave us of complete surrender, of saying, “Let be to me according to your word.”

So, Father, every time something doesn’t go the way I think it should, or if something doesn’t work right, let Your Spirit remind me, sharply, if necessary, of those words of Mary, and how she acted in total surrender and selflessness. Make me to remember the kind of life she had, especially the last few years of the life of Christ. Make me to remember that this adolescent girl wound up having to watch her grown son crucified for the sins of the entire world, for people about whom she knew nothing, and likely cared nothing.

Father, we are so wretchedly spoiled, and I am right there at the top of the heap of spoiledness. I live in a society that is used to getting everything instantly. Even at what I consider to be a “median income,” our household income is more than fifty times the average global income. In short, I literally have nothing to complain about. Help me to remember this, and how blessed we are, here.

You have given us generous hearts, and I love that. Make them even more generous. I haven’t yet gotten to the point of inviting a homeless person into my house, yet. Granted, I don’t have a place for them to stay or sleep, but I could feed them.

At this time of year, two days before Christmas, I pray that You would make us aware of some need that we could meet with the resources we have set aside to do just that. I would love to empty that account before the end of this year.

And Father, let it be to me according to Your Word.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Of the Wicked, Peace, and the Good News

Today is Tuesday, the 13th of December, 2022, in the third week of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Day 23,651

Twelve days until Christmas.

Update on the Covid situation at our house: S tested positive again, this morning, much to her dismay. She is feeling much better, more like her usual self, and hates having to wear a mask when she comes out of her room. C and I both tested again, this morning, and both are still negative. So that’s good. But we have activities and appointments on Thursday, for S, that will need to be canceled, I suppose. At this rate, we are going to run out of our “free” home tests.

Also, we are in a tornado warning until 8:45, this morning. It is 8:30 as I am typing this.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, 
who forsake your law.
(Psalms 119:53 ESV)

A lot of folks might read that verse and focus immediately on the word “wicked,” thereby justifying their own “indignation” at all people who think differently than they. I prefer to focus on that bit about forsaking God’s law. Anyone who forsakes God’s “law,” based on this, can be thought of as “wicked.” And if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I believe that the entirety of God’s law is summed up in two commands that Jesus gave us. Love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. It is my opinion that the majority of the people who focus on justifying their own indignation toward who they consider to be wicked, are, in fact, wicked, themselves, because they fail in at least half of Jesus’s commands.

The bottom line is that we had best be careful anytime we start feeling indignant toward anyone.


Lord our God, may our lives be awakened, for you send your Spirit to blow through heaven and earth and you stir everything to life. May we long for your Spirit’s prompting. Grant that we not be overpowered by evil and sin. May we be born anew to be fighters for the highest good on earth, which leads into heaven. Hear the prayers of all people far and near who are sighing for the Savior. We pray for them all as we pray for ourselves, and you will hear our prayer. You will send power to lift up their hearts and souls so that there may be a great throng of your joyful people on earth. In spite of all the misfortune, adversity, and danger in the world, there will be a people exulting from one end of the earth to the other, a people trusting in you and sure of victory through the great grace you give in answer to our prayers. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. I will put my spirit in you and will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 
Ezekiel 36:26–27, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all the prayers being lifted up by all the saints; in Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers
  2. for the promise of victory in Christ
  3. for the great and everlasting love the Lord has for us who fear Him
  4. for the admonition to imitate Jesus Christ
  5. for all true followers of Jesus Christ, the community of saints

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21 ESV)

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 ESV)


But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children—
(Psalms 103:17 NIV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
for he knows how we are formed, 
he remembers that we are dust. 
The life of mortals is like grass, 
they flourish like a flower of the field; 
the wind blows over it and it is gone, 
and its place remembers it no more. 
But from everlasting to everlasting 
the LORD's love is with those who fear him, 
and his righteousness with their children's children— 
with those who keep his covenant 
and remember to obey his precepts.
(Psalms 103:11-18 NIV)
And now these three remain:
 faith, hope and love.
 But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
(Luke 5:10-11 NRSV)

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 NRSV)


Who are we imitating? How did Jesus’s disciples learn to “share the Gospel?” For that matter, what was/is “the Gospel?”

If I were to ask that last question on Facebook or some similar social media platform, I would get all kinds of answers. Most of them would probably things like, “Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and died on the cross and was buried and rose again on the third day for our sins.” Then verses like Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9 would get quoted.

All of these things are true. But what is “the Gospel?” Jesus made it much simpler than all of this.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
(Mark 1:14-15 NRSV)

The Gospel, the euaggelion, the “good news,” is that “the kingdom of God has come near,” in the person of Jesus Christ, and we are called to believe that.

The way Jesus’s disciples learned to share this is that they spent approximately three years walking with Him. When I think about the kind of relationship that those twelve guys had with Jesus, I am very close to committing the deadly vice of envy.

I struggle, in the twenty-first century, to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that He is here, with me, in the person of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that. But it is a struggle to maintain the intimacy of that relationship, with everything in this forsaken world screaming at me, full volume!

Between that and the fact that I am dust, and that this “treasure” that I possess is in this fragile, feeble “jar of clay,” and there are days that I simply feel like giving up.

But I press on. Because I know that’s the right thing to do. And I pursue that relationship, that intimacy.

So the disciples had a three-year, in-depth course on walking with Jesus and sharing the good news of God. Fast forward a few thousand years, and we find week-long courses on how to “witness.” I took several of those, back in the day. I learned lots of individual Scriptures by heart, some of which are rather yanked out of context.

But there is something that is blatantly missing in all of those crash-courses on witnessing.

The relationship. We are not taught how to walk with Christ, and we are not taught that that piece of life is an absolute requirement to being able to effectively share the Gospel. Maybe it was assumed? But I think it’s a dangerous assumption to make, that everyone who shows up at a “Witness Involvement Now” course, or an “Evangelism Explosion” course, is already walking that deep, intimate relationship with Jesus.

It took twelve men walking with Jesus for three whole years before they were released into the world, and even then, they occasionally got it wrong. How on earth do we think that we can learn it in a week, without the actual presence of Jesus teaching us, Himself?? Especially when walking with Christ on a daily basis is not even mentioned as the most important piece of the “puzzle.”

There’s a verse up there from Isaiah 48. It’s the last verse of the chapter.

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
(Isaiah 48:22 NRSV)

What on earth, you are probably asking, does this have to do with sharing the good news?

Maybe nothing. But I think peace has everything to do with it. Who are the wicked? Remember? According to that verse in Psalm 119, at the very top, it is those who forsake the law of the Lord.

They do not know peace. They cannot know peace.

There is a lot of “unpeace” in today’s “church.” There are myriads of alleged followers of Christ who don’t seem to have much peace in their lives. And I’ll confess that there are days when I don’t feel much peace. The last week has been a real struggle for me. There have been multiple days when I really struggled to come up with five things for which I am grateful.

When we forsake God’s law, when we fail to love Him with our entire being (all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength), and when we fail to love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not have peace. And this truth is wildly visible in the world around us, today.

And if we don’t have peace, there is no way whatsoever that we will be able to effectively share the good news that God’s kingdom is at hand. We can say the words, sure. But it will have no effect, because, truthfully, who would want any part of a “kingdom” that didn’t produce peace?

Now. Back to that business of imitating. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” On the surface, that may sound arrogant, and I will admit that Paul does come across as arrogant, sometimes. But look more deeply. Paul is trying to imitate Christ, so that he will be imitable. He only wants people to imitate him if he is imitating Christ.

And that should be our goal. We should all be attempting to imitate Christ to the point that others would be safe imitating us. I don’t want anyone imitating me if I am not successfully walking with Christ in that deep, intimate relationship, similar to what His disciples must have had, being right there with Him for three years.

If we can successfully imitate Christ, we will be following His commands, which sum up the entirety of the Law and Prophets, and we will have peace. Then we will be able to successfully share the Gospel with this desperately dying world.


Father, have mercy on us. It breaks my heart to see the lack of peace, in general, among those who claim to be following Jesus. Show us, Father, how to have that deep relationship, that walk with Christ, that His disciples had. By some miracle, help us to have as strong a relationship with Him as His disciples had, when He walked with them in person. I find myself envious, sometimes, of the lives of those twelve.

Help me to walk with Jesus in such a way that I am always at peace, and, consequently, be able to effectively show the good news that Your kingdom is at hand, has drawn near, and is available for any and all who desire to walk in it. But we must be, I must be walking in it, truly, before I can share that news. Otherwise, I am nothing more than a faker, a poser.

Help me to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength; help me to love my neighbor as myself, and help me to love the community of Saints as Christ loves us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Watches of the Night

Today is Tuesday, the twentieth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,567

Only two more days until Autumn begins!! (Which, as has been duly noted, means absolutely nothing in Texas, as it is still 90 degrees outside.)

And, once again, the high temperature for yesterday was two degrees below the predicted high of 95. We are running about six degrees higher than the average for this time of year.

Today’s high is projected to be 96. The record high for this date occurred just last year, at 100 degrees.

C and Mama are currently at Mama’s doctor appointment, as she is seeing a new doctor here in Fort Worth, for the first time. I hope they like him.

I’ll be working my half-day, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, doing shelving. C will be working from home the rest of the day, after the doctor appointment, and I will probably go out and pick up Subway for lunch today.

There were only nine baseball games, yesterday, none of which involved my two favorite teams. However, the Mets, I am told, clinched a playoff berth, yesterday, when they beat the Brewers 7-2. I read that this was their first playoff appearance since 2016. Comparatively, though, six years isn’t such a long time. According to one source, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, and they are on track to get a Wild Card spot, this season.

The Astros clinched their division, yesterday, to be the second team that has clinched a division, this season. However, I’m confused, because Seattle has sixteen games left, and they are fifteen games out. So that “clinching” shouldn’t happen until Houston wins their next game or Seattle loses one, as Seattle’s E# is 1. If Houston has clinched, there should be an “E” next to Seattle.

Update: I’ve dug a little more deeply into that situation. If Houston lost the rest of their games (not likely) and Seattle won the rest of theirs (also not likely) they would be tied, in which case the head-to-head record would be used to determine the record. Houston beat Seattle 12-7 this season. So there you go.

The Dodgers won again, so their chance to beat the win record is still alive. They must win fifteen of their last sixteen games. They are, of course, still atop MLB with 102-44. The Nationals and Athletics both lost, so the Nats are still on the bottom, at 51-96. The Mets have a five-game win streak going, and the Pirates, Phillies, and Diamondbacks all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a run differential of +332, and the Pirates are at -214 (the Nats are at -213).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, "Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold." Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts. 
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— 
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
(Psalms 145:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the love of family and friends
  2. for the wonderful works of God, past, present, and future
  3. for my soul that desires to meditate on the Lord in the watches of the night
  4. for the steadfast love of the Lord, which is better than life
  5. for the admonishment to “be still before the Lord”

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

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
(Psalms 119:148 ESV)

“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”
(Lamentations 2:19 ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:12 ESV)

Initially, I am drawn, once again, to the “steadfast love,” or chesed, of God. In this case, the psalmist (reported to be David) says that the steadfast love, or mercy, of God is better than life. This stands to reason, because without that steadfast love, there would likely be no life.

But then I am drawn to the middle verses of this psalm; verses 5-7.

I have been physically satisfied (even beyond satisfied) by “fat and rich food.” This is the comparison that David gives for his soul when he remembers the Lord in his bed at night. He speaks of meditating on the Lord during the “watches of the night.”

This made me remember one of the prayers for Compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

I remember reading a great book about that prayer, by Tish Harrison Warren, called Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.

I really want to get into the habit of practicing Compline and “examen” before I go to sleep each night. Tragically, I keep forgetting. Examen is the practice of a detailed examination of the conscience, typically done at the end of the day. As a spiritual discipline, though, it goes deeper than just checking the conscience. It examines the day; what went well, what didn’t go well? What could have been better? How did I react to certain situations?

These are the kinds of things that I think about when I consider the “night watch,” or remembering God “upon my bed.” I’ve gotten out of the habit of the “bedtime prayers” that I grew up with. It is something that I really need to get back into.


“Release yourself from the bondage of your own judgment. Love yourself without condition. Love yourself through the walls of defensiveness and the darkness of your deeds. Love yourself beyond whatever you deserve for such is the love of God.” ~ Adolfo Quezada, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalms 37:7 ESV)

“Be still” is translated “rest” in the KJV. The Hebrew word is damam, which can be translated “to be dumb,” or “to be astonished,” but also means “cease,” “hold peace,” “quiet self,” “rest,” “be silent,” and so on.

Is this not the same sort of thing that happens when we remember the Lord upon our beds, meditating on Him during the watches of the night?

How many of us go to sleep at night worrying about current events or things that happened during the day that trouble us? And how many times do these worries cause us lack of sleep?

This is one of the purposes of Compline and Examen. To quiet the soul before trying to sleep. One thing I do every night (now that I think about this) is to turn on a meditation app that I have on my phone. It’s called “Abide.” They have great, Scripture-based sleep meditations. I have a set of headband-headphones that I put on (so that it doesn’t bother my wife), and I start one of the meditations. They allegedly last up to forty minutes, but I have yet to make it to the end of one of them.

This isn’t the same thing as purposeful examination of the conscience and the day that preceded, but it certainly can’t hurt anything to fall asleep listening to Scripture.

This verse, though, instructs us to not worry about evildoers or those who prosper. Eugene Peterson translated that verse this way:

Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.
(Psalms 37:7 MSG)

In this, we are shown patience and endurance by the Holy Spirit. Waiting requires great patience; resting in the Lord requires great patience and faith.


Father, help me to wait and rest better. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to remind me, each night, to examine the day, to check my conscience, to see how I could have done better, and also how I could have done worse. Help me to remember You on my bed, and meditate in the watches of the night. If I have trouble going back to sleep, simply draw my thoughts and meditations toward You in prayer.

Thank You for these words of worship and wisdom, and help me to apply them to my life today.

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” ~ Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

Grace and peace, friends.

Today Forever

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

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,566

Only three days until Autumn begins!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

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

“Eternal life.”

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

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

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

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

Great. Now my brain hurts.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Even so, please come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Toward More Humility

Today is Sunday, the eighteenth of September, 2022, in the 25th week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,565

Only four more days until Autumn begins!

We had a great time, last night, as we celebrated a friend’s birthday. There were people there whom we have not seen for quite some time, so, as S commented, it was like a reunion. The food was good, but the fellowship was “gooder.” Our friend loved my gift to her, which was all of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files books that I owned. Four of them were special editions, signed and numbered. I didn’t have quite all of them in physical form, as I had read two or three in ebook form. I believe she has only read the first one, so that should keep her busy for a bit.

Today, we have our church gathering at 10:15-ish, although I’m not sure how many of us will be there. I guess we shall see. As far as I know, there are no other plans for today.

Yesterday was pretty busy at the library. There was a steady stream of patrons, especially in the afternoon, and, at one point, I turned to my co-worker and opined that it sounded like a mall in there. It’s good for the library to have that much traffic, and it makes the day go by faster.

Yesterday’s high got up to 91, the first day over 90 in almost ten days. True to form, though, that was two degrees lower than the predicted high of 93. Today’s high is projected to be 95, and eight of the next ten days have expected highs of over 90.

The Texas Rangers failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities, last night, and lost to Tampa 5-1. This puts them at 63-82 for the season. With seventeen games left, they are in third place in the AL West, 31.5 out of first place, and 17.5 out of the Wild Card race. Their WCE# is 1. They play Tampa again today, at the Juice Box, at 12:10 CDT.

The Bost Red Sox were embarrassed by the KC Royals, last night, losing 9-0. The Royals. A team that is thirty games below .500. Oh, well. The Sox are 70-75 for the season, and with seventeen games remaining, they are 17 games out of first place, which puts their division E# at 1. They are 10.5 out of the Wild Card race, with a WCE# of 8. But if they keep playing like it no longer matters (and it kind of does, still), that won’t last very long. They play the Royals again today, in Boston, at 1:35 EDT.

Houston has now joined the Dodgers in clinching a playoff berth. However, they still haven’t clinched their division, as Seattle still has a slim chance.

The Dodgers won game number 100, yesterday, keeping their chances of breaking the win record alive. Their MLB-leading record is 100-44. They must win seventeen of their last eighteen games to break the record. The Nationals won again, but so did the Athletics, so the Nats stay on the bottom, 1.5 behind the A’s. The Mets, Cardinals, and Guardians all have three-game win streaks going. The Reds, Phillies, Pirates, and Twins are all on three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers now have a +328 run differential, and the Pirates are back on the bottom with -210. There are now eight teams eliminated from any chance of playoffs, the Cubs being the most recent.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us your glorious future as the basis for our lives. We thank you that on this foundation we can forget our present troubles and believe that the power of good can move us today to oppose sin, death, and everything evil. Free our hearts from all burdens, and grant that we may have courage to wait patiently for the great help which is to come. Grant that what is happening in the world today may somehow help toward the solution of all the problems. We praise your name, our Father in the heavens. We praise you for the good you do for us each day and for the light you will shed one day on everything on earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
(Revelation 21:21-23 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the hope of our future inheritance, that great city that needs neither sun nor moon because the Glory of God gives it light
  2. for the hope of future grace
  3. that God keeps teaching me about humility (obviously, I haven’t gotten it right, yet)
  4. that I have no righteousness of my own, nothing that I can call my own; all belongs to God; all comes from Jesus
  5. for friends and family, and reunions

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
(John 19:10-12 NIV)

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; 
but let them not turn back to folly. 
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, 
that glory may dwell in our land. 
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, 
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
(Psalms 85:8-11 ESV)

Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


It is interesting to me, how often I keep coming back around to these Scriptures about humility and seeking the good of others. Pride and arrogance are equated with evil and perverted speech. But humility is equated with the fear of the Lord.

How do we get to a place where we can, as Paul encourages us, “pray continually,” or, as the more popular phrase reads, “pray without ceasing?”

“If we seek to pray without ceasing simply because we want to appear very pious, we will never attain to it. It is by forgetting ourselves and yielding our lives to God that our heart’s capacity is enlarged to know God’s will.” (Andrew Murray)

People want to know God’s will for their lives. They don’t know because they aren’t looking for it. It’s right there. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s God’s will for our lives. Or at least part of it.

But we can’t get to that place of praying continually until we embrace the previous Scriptures that instruct us toward humility; until we can “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

This comes back to that idea of confusing the struggle, too. When our whole life becomes wrapped up in God, in looking to Christ for our life and righteousness, when we truly realize that we have nothing to call our own, then we are close to being able to grasp the concept of humility and seeking the good of others instead of our own “rights.” Then, maybe we can be successful at the idea of praying continually.

“To forget oneself and to live for God and His kingdom among men leads to prayer without ceasing.” (Murray)


Father, this keeps coming around, and I have to consider the implications for myself. I can’t just point fingers at others without applying the lessons to myself, as well. There is always more that I need to be learning in regard to this journey, and this relationship. You are always here, always near me, always pointing me toward greater humility.

But self gets in the way, so often. I fall to the temptations of pride and arrogance, and begin to think that I am better than someone else because of my beliefs and my practices. But I’m not. I’m no better than anyone. I am not better than the “vilest offender.” I have no righteousness other than the righteousness of Christ in me, and that is pure grace, a gift from You, that no one should haven anything about which to boast.

So keep bringing it up, Father, because I haven’t gotten it right, yet.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
(Proverbs 8:12-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.