Love Extravagantly

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,399

We had some “weather” last night. Thunderstorms rolled through a bit later than originally expected, hitting us late in the evening, and going on until around 11:00 PM or so. As far as I know, we just got heavy rain and wind. I never heard any hail and didn’t see evidence of anything else. But it rained quite a bit. There were tornado warnings southeast of us.

I don’t have much on my agenda today. I’ll go out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and will include dinner for them and C, because I will be at work this evening, from 4:15-8:15. Typical Tuesday, in other words. I’m also really close to finishing my current read, an ARC of When Earth Shall Be No More, a science fiction novel by Paul Awad and Kathryn O’Sullivan. I’m 92% through, and, unless something drastic happens, I can already tell you it’s getting a five-star rating. I’ll also try to get in an episode or two of The Stand miniseries.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
(Luke 6:27-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received last night, and that we had no damage from the storms
2. for the "golden rule"
3. that our Father delights in us, and surrounds us with His shield
4. that God gives me songs to glorify Him in thanksgiving
5. for the hope and ability to love extravagantly

Today’s prayer word is “favor.” That’s a dangerous word, there, and I feel it is misused by many. But let’s see the referenced Scripture verse.

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
(Psalms 5:12 NIV)

This is also a word that is dependent upon a particular translation of the Bible. NIV has “favor,” ESV has “favor,” and KJV also has “favour.” But the NLT says this:

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.
(Psalms 5:12 NLT)

And here is The Message:

You are famous, GOD, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.
(Psalms 5:12 MSG)

Interestingly, when I look at “KJV+” in my Bible app, it shows that the Hebrew word translated as “favor” in most translations can also mean “delight.” Well-played, Mr. Peterson.

My problem with the word “favor” is that, to many people, it indicates “special treatment.” Even the writer of the reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” says, “Even so, I beg for Him to single me out and toss me a rose, so to speak.” (You would have to read the rest of the reading for that rose bit to make sense.)

I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable asking God to single me out. It’s like asking Him to help me “win.” Of course, I want to win. Who doesn’t? But the Christian life isn’t about “winning.” It’s about sacrifice and giving.

Side note: Part of my dislike of the concept of the word has to do with one particular person who, when asked a simple greeting question that we all usually ask one another, “How are you?”, would respond with, “Blessed and highly favored.” Ugh.

So when I think of the word “favor,” or “delight,” I see God delighting in all of His people! In the NIV, it is the “righteous” who are surrounded by God’s favor, or decked out in delight, as The Message says. “The righteous” is a group of people. It is all of the followers of Jesus.

I will, occasionally, pray for favor, but not so much for myself. I might pray for someone to find favor when going for a job interview or something like that. But I prefer to think of this one more in terms of “delight,” as Peterson rendered it. God, our Father, delights in us, in all of us! And, in that way, He shows US favor.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 NIV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:4-5 NIV)

My regular readers will note that I have a gratitude list up at the top of the devotional section each day. There are always at least five things, sometimes more. This has been a practice of mine for several years, now, and it launched out of dissatisfaction upon seeing people suddenly get thankful because it was November.

That’s the month in which Thanksgiving occurs in the United States, for my readers who live in other countries. I find it somewhat . . . I don’t know what the word is . . . it’s not “hypocritical,” necessarily. But it chafes me that people who grumble and complain the other eleven months of the year are suddenly all thankful for thirty days.

So I took that and ran with it, and kept it going, and have done it ever since. Every day. It’s not for show; it’s not to appear “religious;” it is not to appear more “favored.” It is to inspire others to be thankful. It is to display an attitude that, even in the toughest of times, I can find something for which to be thankful. Some days, it is hard to come up with five things. Other days, it is hard to keep it to only five. Because frequently I find that I have the same mindset of the composer of Psalm 23. “My cup overflows.”

At some point, a few months ago, I decided to wade into the murky waters of TikTok, and I started publishing a short video of my gratitude, where I read the Scripture passage that is before my gratitude list, along with the points of gratitude. I also post the list on Facebook, as well as a daily post asking, “What can I pray for you today?”

Again, I want to be clear: I am not “tooting my own horn,” here. I am not attempting to look like I’m super-spiritual. I am anything but super-spiritual. I sin; I fall short; I do grumble, much more than I should; I forget about the many blessings that I have in my life (see yesterday’s blog). But in my imperfect state, I want others to see that you don’t have to be perfect; we just have two jobs to do, you know. Love God and love people. You can make that as complicated as you want, but it still boils down to those two jobs. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

In today’s reading, Shawnelle Eliason (one of my favorites) writes this prayer. “Lord, forgive me when grumbling lives where gratitude should. Amen.” I heartily echo that plea.

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


And to kind of go along with what I said up there about the two jobs, here is this from Eugene Peterson:

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

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


Father, I thank You for making me grateful. Yes, I am grateful that I am grateful. But it is because You have placed that spirit of gratitude within me. I could never do that by myself. Everything I do, at least anything that is positive and worthwhile, comes from You.

I praise You that we, Your people, are covered by Your delight. Yes, You “favor” us, You delight in us. But let us not get all selfish and self-centered about that delight, because it is not about me, an individual. It is about us, Your people, the saints, the Church, the Body of Christ. As an individual, I have a place to fill in that Body, so I pray for the ability to fill that place. I do not pray to be singled out, to be thrown a “rose,” or to receive special favors. I don’t want that. But I do desire to know that delight that You have for all of us, and I desperately want to pass that delight along to others.

Which brings me to that last bit. Lord, help me to be truly “biblical,” in the sense that I “share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall,” that I can successfully carry the cross of Jesus (which, no doubt, means different things for each of us), and that I can “love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.” That last one, to me, is the most important and the most desirable.

Help me, O my Father, to love extravagantly.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Larry Norman can be heard on this song.

Gobsmacked

“Jesus is leading us to the death of illusions, and illusions die hard. Jesus is leading us to the death of self-will, and self-will is a stubborn survivor. Jesus is leading us to the death of sin, and sin is a cat with nine lives. Jesus is leading us to the Lenten death that will catapult us into the Easter resurrection.”

Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of March, 2022, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,380

Today is also St. Patrick’s Day. March is a busy month. St. Patrick’s, Ides of March, my birthday, Spring Break, and the Vernal Equinox. Oh, and the change to fake time, which may be on the verge of being permanent real time.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. I didn’t know what to expect, it being Spring Break. But it was also a beautiful day outside, so that may be why we didn’t get a lot of traffic. I’m off today, and will be back in the Computer Center, tomorrow.

The weather is pretty nice again today, with a high of 78 predicted, but possible thunderstorms late this afternoon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
(Isaiah 29:13-14 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a growing sense of awe, wonder, and mystery surrounding my Father in heaven
2. for the utterly astonishing mercy, unconditional love, and faithfulness of God; I am gobsmacked
3. for the community of saints; oh, how we need each other
4. that, though I may not be the wisest, the mightiest, or the richest, I can boast I know the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
5. that Jesus teaches me to die so that I can live

Today’s prayer word is “glorious.”

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

There are a lot of things that we might think are “glorious.” But truly, our God is the only One worthy of the adjective. One of the definitions is, “having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.” There are many things in our physical world that might evoke such feelings. A beautiful sunset, the ocean waves crashing on the shore, whether it be rocks or a sand beach, a beautiful mountain range, or a dense, green forest. I have seen all of these things.

I have not “seen” God. Yet I know that He is beautiful; He has a striking beauty and splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration in me. Therefore, He is glorious. In the words of one known only as “Susanna,” “I am stunned by His mercy. I am gobsmacked by His unconditional love. I am awed by His faithfulness.” Yes, she said “gobsmacked.” That’s a British adjective that means, “utterly astonished; astounded.”

I, too, am all of those things in the presence of God.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
(Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
(John 7:38 ESV)


Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
(Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 ESV)

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
(Ecclesiastes 4:4 ESV)

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


It’s only two paragraphs, so I’m going to quote the Peterson reading in its entirety.

“A gospel paradox: in getting us ready to live, Jesus gets us ready to die. First he gets himself ready to die so that he can live. Then he gets us ready. Our habit is to think life first, then death. Jesus radicalizes our perceptions: first death, then life. This death is not primarily biological, although it will eventually include that.

“Jesus is leading us to the death of illusions, and illusions die hard. Jesus is leading us to the death of self-will, and self-will is a stubborn survivor. Jesus is leading us to the death of sin, and sin is a cat with nine lives. Jesus is leading us to the Lenten death that will catapult us into the Easter resurrection.”

“Death, Then Life” is the title of this reading. Just as we have traditionally gotten evening and morning reversed in our thinking (the ancient Hebrews considered evening as the beginning of the new day), we may have the whole death and life thing reversed. In order to truly live, a lot of things must die first.

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


As I continue looking at Augustine’s writing on fasting, I see that he uses a word that is not used much these days. “Ostentation” is indicated as something that should be avoided in fasting. What is that? It means, “pretentious and vulgar display, especially of wealth and luxury, intended to impress or attract notice.” I’ve seen the word “ostentatious” a number of times, and confess that I was unclear on its meaning. Now I’m more clear.

Jesus spoke of this in the Gospel accounts, in the Sermon on the Mount.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

So, instead of ostentation, we are to exhibit joy when we are fasting, not sadness or gloominess. If we practice fasting in order to attract the attention of others, Jesus is quite clear that that will be the extent of our reward.

“In his fasting, therefore, let a man rejoice inwardly in the very fact that by this his fasting he is turning away from the pleasures of the world to make himself subject to Christ, who in the words of this precept wants him to have his head anointed. With the same intent he will be washing his face, that is, cleansing his heart whereby he is to see God.”

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


Father, indeed, you are glorious, and I am, indeed, “gobsmacked” by Your mercy, faithfulness, and unconditional love. It is all of these things, along with Your great kindness, that lead me down the ongoing path of repentance, constantly revising the way I think about reality. And reality, for me, is what I run into when I am wrong. And I’m wrong a lot. Oh, how I love You, Lord! Your glory is everlasting and beyond my comprehension. The word “glorious” isn’t even adequate to describe You.

I am so very grateful that I know You, Lord, and that is the only truth in my life that is worth boasting about. Well, maybe not the only truth. I feel justified in boasting about the things in my life that You have placed there, such as my loving wife and family. But all of the things that I could boast about have come from You, and are from nothing “good” that I did. I am not very wise, not very mighty, and my “riches” are made up by much more than material things.

I praise You that I have been, for the most part, delivered from any kind of envy about anything that my “neighbor” might have. I am, by Your grace and Holy Spirit, quite content with all that I have. I am also praising You for the relationships that I have that make life so much easier, beginning with my family, and continuing into the community of saints, and I use the definition of saints that says that it is everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.

Thank You for teaching me how to die in order to live. We’re still working on that, because there are plenty of places I have not yet surrendered to You. But, like I said . . . we’re working on it, and for that, I thank You for Your great, and seemingly infinite (thought I think it probably isn’t) patience with me. Help me to eradicate illusions, self-will, and sin in my life.

All glory to You, the One and only glorious God, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Pause . . . Pray

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

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,371

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

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

Wait, what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?
(Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

And, with the twenty-four elders joining in,

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

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

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

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

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

Consider this scene from chapter 19:

I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing,

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

Then, more singing:

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

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

Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!

 From the Throne came a shout, a command:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pray."

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

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

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

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

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

(From Pray a Word a Day)

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Much; Love Well

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

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

Day 23,361

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, look!

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(From Pray a Word a Day)


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

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

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

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Wilderness

Today is Friday, the twenty-fifth of February, 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,360

We never did get any snow, here. I honestly don’t know if there was any snow in the DFW area at all. It’s still cold, though, and, contrary to the initial forecast, never got above freezing, yesterday. In fact, I don’t think it got above 30 degrees. I ventured out for Sonic drinks around 4:30 PM, and it was, I think, 29 degrees. Currently, at almost 8:00 AM, it is 21 degrees.

As far as I know, the library is scheduled to open at regular time, this morning, so I will be there, ready for my day in the Computer Center. There may be some shelving on the side, but that depends on if any of the regular shelving people show up to make up lost time from yesterday. If they do, I may just be sitting at the computer desk all day, which is also fine with me.

As for the weekend, at this point, there are no plans. I assume we will have our little congregation gathering on Sunday morning. Some good news, I suppose. We have begun planning for a Night of Worship on March 12, two weeks from tomorrow. This will be the first one in well over a year, I believe . . . possibly two? I can’t remember if there has been one at all since the pandemic began. We haven’t discussed location, but, as far as I know, this one will be at the usual host’s home, which is also where we meet on Sundays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! 
Praise befits the upright. 
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; 
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 
For the word of the LORD is upright, 
and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
(Psalms 33:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the sunshine
2. for the joy of the Lord
3. for the fingerprints of God all over my life
4. for wilderness and desolate places in my life
5. that God always brings me back from those

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.

Yesterday, we looked at the request, “Your will be done,” and today, the follow-up phrase, “On earth as in heaven.” As we associate our desire with the will of God, it extends to spiritual things as well as physical. While these things have to do with “the other world,” they are also “events that take place here below, in time.” We discussed, yesterday, this idea that we must be okay with the things that have happened in the past, as they must, in some way or shape, be within God’s will. We must extend this into the future, as well.

One way a former pastor of mine used to frame this statement was to consider the state of things in heaven. We know from Biblical promises that there will be no tears in heaven; we know that there will be no pain in heaven; we know that there will be no sickness in heaven. Therefore, when we pray this prayer, we are, in a sense, asking for those things to be true on earth, as well. We know that God’s ultimate will is to eradicate pain and sickness and poverty and hunger. And this is why we pray this prayer. We long for these things to come to pass, “on earth as in heaven.”

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


God can do anything, you know—
far more than you could ever imagine
 or guess or request in your wildest dreams! 
He does it not by pushing us around 
but by working within us, 
his Spirit deeply and gently within us. 
Glory to God in the church! 
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! 
Glory down all the generations! 
Glory through all millennia! 
Oh, yes! 
(Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
(Jeremiah 18:5-6 ESV)


Today’s prayer word is “wilderness.” The Scripture reference is Luke 5:16:

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
(Luke 5:16 NLT)

The ESV calls it “desolate places.”

But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
(Luke 5:16 ESV)

Time is short, so I must move one. Wilderness seems to have a bad connotation, but it doesn’t have to. In the case of Israel, it was a place of correction, perhaps punishment, as they wandered around in wilderness for decades, after refusing to go into the Promised Land as directed.

But it was also a place of healing. In Jesus’s case, it was place to be alone. “Desolate” means, ” deserted of people and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness.” The purpose for this is to avoid distractions. If there are no people, there are no demands. If there is “dismal emptiness,” there is nothing else to distract one’s attention from God.

So we need those times of “wilderness” in our lives, in order to get our attention back on the Lord.

(From Pray a Word a Day)


Father, I am grateful for times of wilderness and desolation in my life, in my past. But I am also grateful that You have always brought me out of those, stronger than before, with eyes focused more on You. Help me to be more focused on You and on Your will in my life and in this world. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven. I pray for all things to come to pass in perfect time and in perfect order, even if some of those things are not pleasant, or don’t seem to be what we desire. Help us to mold our desires to fit Your will and not to try to get You to do the opposite.

Your will is supreme, no matter what it causes us in this world, and we must, we simply must be okay with that, as Your children. This is something that the world simply cannot understand.

At the same time, this does not release us from our obligation to do the things that Jesus told us to do to and for “the least of these.” Help us to have more compassion for the downtrodden, the oppressed, the hungry, the sick, the naked and homeless, and all of those kinds of people. Give us the love and compassion of Jesus for those, and the willingness to share our resources with them.

I thank You, Father, that I can see Your fingerprints all over my life. I pray that this never stops.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Your Will Be Done

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the twenty-fourth of February (did I almost just type “July??”), 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you today.

Day 23,359

Well, there is no snow on the ground, this morning. At least, not yet. It is cold, currently 22 degrees outside. And there is a very fine sort of mist in the air, so there is moisture out there. I could feel it, but couldn’t see it. Why was I out there, you ask? I was mailing a confirmation form for S, to the SSA office in Austin. We have a doctor appointment on March 22, for an evaluation in their ongoing effort to determine if she is still eligible for disability benefits.

We received word, last night, that the library will be closed today. I got text messages from both my manager and the circulation manager.

I know that I indicated at the end of yesterday’s blog that we had heat by that time. I’ll give a little more detail, here. We have to get a new circuit board for our heating unit. The tech indicated that he thought the blower motor might be going out in the near future. It might last another five years, or it might not last the rest of this year. One of those scenarios. He also kind of suggested that we might be better off replacing everything. Outside unit, inside unit, the whole shebang. We’re talking seven to eight grand to do that.

Now, let me say that I do not think this was a money-grabbing effort. From previous experience with this company and family, I trust them, highly. There was no pressure at all, just a suggestion. At this time, though, we are only going to replace the circuit. However, we are aware that 1) the heating system in the attic is as old as the house, almost 23 years old; 2) the outside A/C unit is at least fifteen, possibly seventeen, years old. So there’s that. We’ll be spending just over seven hundred for the new circuit board. But that includes yesterday’s visit, the parts and the labor for installation. He is supposed to come Saturday to replace that.

In the meantime, he has hardwired the system, bypassing the board, so that the heater will work. The blower is on, non-stop, because of that, but that’s not that big a deal.

C is working from home, today. She came home early, yesterday, which was good. I was nervous, the whole time she was on the road, and was quite relieved when she walked in the front door. The roads were mostly dry, but there were isolated spots where the early morning sleet had accumulated, one being a small bridge between our house and the next major intersection.

So we are all safe and warm, this morning. Unless, of course, the madman in charge of Russia, right now, decides to nuke us all.

I have no agenda for today, other than finishing this blog and writing a book review blog. Oh . . . I just remembered . . . I’m supposed to start soup for dinner. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Gratitude Is the Way, by Daryl Madden

Gratitude is the way
That the heart remembers
Thoughts of kindnesses
Loving, glowing embers

Everyday blessings
Cherished interactions
Gifts of surprise
Acts of compassion

We honor and acknowledge
By remembering
Of the many ways
The ripples these acts bring

Through the soul of others
Of sacrifices giving
Of how we have been shaped
By both the dead and living

This poem was inspired by the following quote from “the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,” Robert Emmons. “Gratitude is the way the heart remembers––remembers kindnesses, cherished interactions with others, compassionate actions of strangers, surprise gifts, and everyday blessings. By remembering we honor and acknowledge the many ways in which who and what we are has been shaped by others, both living and dead.” As you know, gratitude is something that I have stressed and tried to live for a number of years, now. Every day, I share at least five things for which I am grateful. This is not to appear “super-spiritual.” It is, hopefully, to inspire gratitude in others, because, “Gratitude Is the Way.”

Please take a look at more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints who try their best to live by this scripture passage
2. for the ultimate will of God in all things that happen in our world
3. for the good things that happen when we sing
4. that, just like the wind, though we cannot see God, we can see the effects and results of His working
5. for the freedom I experience in Christ; freedom from sin, freedom to love unconditionally

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

Today, in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin, I’m continuing to look at the “prayer of prayers,” as examined by early twentieth-century mystic, Simone Weil. The phrase today is “Your will be done.” I have believed, for many years, now, that this is the safest prayer to pray.

“Your will be done.” It is the one prayer that we can pray that is sure to be answered 100%.

Simone Weil makes some bold statements about this phrase. “We are only absolutely, infallibly certain of the will of God concerning the past.” I agree with this. As fallible, faulty, sinful humans, we cannot be certain of what God’s will is, going forward. Even regarding our interpretations of Scripture, we cannot be. We fancy ourselves wise, and think we have some things figured out, but we don’t really. Every opinion we have, concerning the future will of God, is based on prejudicial presuppositions. Therefore, we can only be 100% certain of the will of God, looking backward.

Everything that has happened, looking backward, can be said to have been the will of God. This is really tough for us to agree with, because some terrible things have happened in the history of the world. But hear this: if we cannot say that this is true, then God is not fully in control of our world, and our faith in Him is useless.

When we pray “Your will be done,” we are asking for what already is. And we are asking, not for internal realities, such as holiness, and so forth, but for what will happen “in the time order. Nevertheless we are asking for the infallible and eternal conformity of everything in time with the will of God. . . . We have to desire that everything that has happened should have happened, and nothing else. We have to do so, not because what has happened is good in our eyes, but because God has permitted it, and because the obedience of the course of events to God is in itself an absolute good.”

Any objection to the above comes out of ignorance. And trust me, I have been plenty ignorant, over time. This ignorance is necessary, because we are not God. Therefore, all of us, every single one of us, is ignorant when it comes to completely understanding the ways of God in this world. Because we are not Him.

We will still pray for things according to our own desires and incomplete knowledge. This is inevitable. But we couch these prayers in the caveat of “Your will be done.” And remember . . . Jesus did the same thing in the Garden of Gethsemane. And also remember . . . the cross of Christ, where God, Himself, incarnate died for us, the most horrible event that has ever happened in history (in human eyes), was the will of God.


“When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting or keeping them ‘in their place.’ The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms experience release or escape from it as freedom. The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson, in Symphony of Salvation, “Free from Within,” the chapter on Galatians


I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:2 ESV)

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
(Psalms 71:23 ESV)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
(Acts 16:25-26 ESV)

Great things happen when we sing.


Today’s prayer word is “wind.” Wind is an interesting thing. You can’t see it. It is invisible, because it is nothing more than moving air, and you can’t see air.

Christina Rossetti, nineteenth century English writer, is quoted as saying, “Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.”

There is also a quote by Billy Graham that has been used in many places. “I’ve never seen the wind. I’ve seen the effects of the wind.”

Wind can be gentle and comforting, a gentle breeze on a beautiful fall or spring day. Or, it can look like this:

I remember that day. God is a lot like the wind. In fact, the Holy Spirit is described multiple times in the Bible, as wind. But we cannot see God, can we? We can see the evidence and effect of God, but we cannot see God. And, in addition, God can be gentle and comforting, or He can be awesome and destructive, as has been proved many times in Scripture.

The writer of today’s reading, identified only as “Barbranda,” says, “The Almighty One reminds me of the ever-moving wind: I can’t see Him, but I know He’s there.”

Incidentally, wind is needed to fly, which was yesterday’s prayer word.


Father, I believe in You, as You know, even though I cannot see You. I am grateful for the many ways that I can see evidence of Your work, in my life, and in this world. I am grateful for the times when Your presence comes in like a gentle breeze, as well as for the times when You rush in like a hurricane. I trust You and Your will implicitly, believing that You will, as Your Word promises, work out all things for our good. This helps me look back on world events that humans see as horrific and trust that, somehow, in the grand scheme of things, they were included in Your ultimate will. I will never claim to understand the workings of these things, though, because I am not You, and Your ways are infinitely higher than mine.

God, wonderful things happen when we sing. Paul and Silas were released from prison, because the earth shook. Other wonderful things happen. Over and over, the Bible depicts Your people singing Your praises after You acted in marvelous ways for them. I pray for more opportunities to sing. I pray for future opportunities for Your people to gather and sing Your praise together and pray together, because great things happen we the saints gather and pray and sing.

I pray for our world right now. Scary things are happening, Lord, so I pray for protection for Your people. I pray for Your hand on the events surrounding Ukraine, right now. I pray for peace. I pray for leaders to have wisdom and mercy. And I pray, “Your will be done.”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Drop Your Differences

We’re Christ’s representatives.
God uses us to persuade men and women
to drop their differences and enter into God’s work
of making things right between them.
We’re speaking for Christ himself now:
Become friends with God;
he’s already a friend with you.
(2 Corinthians 5:20 MSG)

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-third of February, 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,358

It’s currently 23 degrees outside, with “snow showers” imminent. Those are not the kind of “showers” we were supposed to pray for the other day.

It’s 63 degrees in the house, because, when I got home from “work” last night, the heat was not working. I got hold of our usual A/C people, who didn’t have any techs available until this morning. Whoever I was texting with tried their best to help me get it running last night, which involved multiple trips into the attic (and hurting something in my wrist in the process . . . probably a tendon or ligament, I don’t think I broke anything), but to no avail. I couldn’t find the tools I needed to do what is probably a fairly easy fix.

The good news is that our house is “warm-natured” and holds heat quite well. Too well, of course, as it is difficult to keep it cool in the summer. That’s why, after more than twelve hours of no heat, and sub-freezing temperatures, it is still over 60 in the house.

The tech is on his way, though, which is good news, and should be here any minute. Therefore, I am typing this blog on my laptop, in the living room, instead of back in the study. You shouldn’t be able to tell any difference. The difference will be for me, as the laptop has a touchpad, which, try as I might, I have been unable to deactivate, and the slightest bump of it can send the cursor flying off to parts unknown, and has been known to completely eradicate an entire page in a single bound. Wish me luck.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your light shine bright;
You are the light of the world;
Give glory to God!
(Inspired by Matthew 5:14-16)
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, 
burst into jubilant song with music; 
make music to the LORD with the harp, 
with the harp and the sound of singing, 
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn;
 shout for joy before the LORD, the King. 
(Psalms 98:4-6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that our house holds heat really well
2. for the ability to contemplate the presence of God in my life
3. for the message of peace in the Gospel; Jesus really wants us to drop our differences and make things right between us
4. that, in the big picture, God does not play favorites; "the ground is level at the foot of the cross"
5. that, if I delight myself in the Lord, I can "fly;" that is, He will give me the desires of my heart
6. (written at the end) that our heat is on

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.

I’m continuing with the treatment of the “prayer of prayers,” by Simone Weil, from Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. Today, I’m looking at the simple phrase, “Your kingdom come.”

In this, we are asking for something yet to be accomplished, something that is not yet here. In one sense, we know that the kingdom of God has been here, ever since Jesus walked the earth. But in another sense, it is not yet here, or not yet fully accomplished. This, in itself, is somewhat of a mystery.

In this writer’s view, this involves the coming of the Holy Spirit. And, while she says we are inviting Him, we should not invite in a specific way, “to visit us or anyone else in particular . . . so that our thought of him is an invitation, a longing cry. It is as when one is in extreme thirst, ill with thirst; then one no longer thinks of the act of drinking in relation to oneself, or even of the act of drinking in a general way. One merely thinks of water, actual water itself, but the image of water is like a cry from our whole being.”

Again, this is the musings of what we call a mystic, and they are, at times, ponderous and confusing. However, I think I get this. It is similar, in concept, to what we call contemplation, in which all we do is think about God, Himself, and do not venture into any specific thoughts or requests.

So, to pray “Your kingdom come,” we are simply inviting God, in the form of His Holy Spirit, to be among us.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
(Psalms 63:1 ESV)


We're Christ's representatives. 
God uses us to persuade men and women 
to drop their differences and enter into God's work
 of making things right between them.
 We're speaking for Christ himself now:
 Become friends with God;
 he's already a friend with you. 
(2 Corinthians 5:20 MSG)

I’m telling you that if anyone comes with a different message than this, they are not speaking for God. God is in the business of reconciling. Yes, I know . . . Jesus said that He would divide even families, and He does. But He also comes, in general, to bring peace. And He demands peace and unity within His Church. He wants us to drop our differences and make things right between us.


For God shows no partiality.
(Romans 2:11 ESV)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
(John 15:12 ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:9-10 ESV)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
(James 2:1 ESV)

I could wax eloquently (or maybe not so much) for days on this group of verses. But my main message, through this forum, is exactly this, and springs directly from the verse from The Message above that last purple line. God shows no partiality between Jew and Greek, male and female, and so on. Color of skin or country of origin matters not. And, contrary to current popular belief, the USA does not enjoy “favored nation” status with God! And we, the Church of Jesus Christ have a job. That job is explicitly given in Romans 12, above. Philippians 2:3 also adds to that.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 ESV)

I also like the way The Message puts this.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
(Philippians 2:3 MSG)


The prayer word for today is “fly.” Orville Wright (surely I don’t need to tell you who he was) is quoted as saying “If birds can glide for long periods of time, then why can’t I?”

The simple answer is because you don’t have feathers or wings. But that’s not the point of this.

The idea is not so much about physical, literal, flying as it is excelling in something in our lives. Even “excelling” is a suspect word, there. It has to do with ambition and expectation; desire. And it is wrapped up in that little question, “Why can’t I?”

I could personalize this. If Dennis Jernigan can write worship songs, why can’t I? If Dallas Willard could be the quiet, contemplative, peaceful person he was, why can’t I? Of course, we can get carried away with this. There are some things I don’t want to do. Be president, for example. No thank you.

Here are the things I want to do:

  1. Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength
  2. Love my neighbor as myself
  3. Love the community of saints as Jesus has loved us
  4. Spark a love revolution

Why can’t I? The only person holding me back is me.


Father, why can’t I do these things? It certainly isn’t You holding me back. It is me, of course. If I cannot accomplish any of these things, it is because I am holding myself back. However, I do believe that I have made significant progress in these ventures, in the past couple of decades. I thank You for that.

I pray for Your Church today. I pray that we can succeed in doing what Jesus is asking of us, specifically, dropping our differences and making things right between us. Help me to be a leader in this, Father. And that goes back to my list of desires, doesn’t it? For, in order for those things to happen, I have to practice what I preach and “love one another,” unconditionally, the way You love us.

And, Father, help me to get back into the habit of daily praying for Your kingdom to come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Grace Like Rain

Today is Saturday (I think), February 19, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,354

The main reason for the “I think” up there is that all day yesterday, I kept thinking it was Saturday. But it couldn’t have been, because I was working in the Computer Center, and I only do that on Fridays. After being semi-retired for seven months, I can only surmise that this will not get any better, and just embrace it.

This is my Saturday to work in the circulation department, as well, so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15 today. The weather should be nice today. It’s cold, at the moment, right at freezing, but is supposed to hit around 65 by late afternoon.

The forecast for next Wednesday and Thursday keeps shifting a little, but still remains with the likely possibility of more freezing rain and/or snow. Currently, it is showing a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning low of 29, a high Wednesday of only 30, a low Wednesday night of 27, a Thursday high of 36, and a Thursday night low of 22. Snow is predicted on Wednesday, and rain and snow on Thursday. Friday, my only full shift next week, is supposed to be partly sunny. I hope that will be the last of “winter” for us.

We have to take S to an evaluation appointment on March 22, as the SSA is requiring more validation of her disability status. This is somewhat frustrating for us, as they verified her status only three years ago. But this is a change, as she is supposed to be beginning to receive benefits from my SSA record. We have plenty of documentation, though, that we have saved over the years, that we plan to take with us.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)
Oh 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! 
For the LORD is a great God, 
and a great King above all gods. 
(Psalms 95:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. the joyful noise of songs of praise
2. for the constant reminder of the command that we are to love one another; love through me, Lord
3. for the grace of God that falls like rain on my thirsty soul
4. for the sunshine today
5. for word games (like Wordle and Dordle and Quordle and whatever comes next)

"You didn't choose me, remember; 
I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, 
fruit that won't spoil. 
As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, 
he gives you. 
"But remember the root command: Love one another."
(John 15:16-17 MSG)
"Let me give you a new command: 
Love one another. 
In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other." 
(John 13:34-35 MSG)

The prayer word for today is “fall.”

My teaching, 
let it fall like a gentle rain, 
my words arrive like morning dew,
 Like a sprinkling rain on new grass, 
like spring showers on the garden. 
(Deuteronomy 32:2 MSG)

We frequently use the image of rain falling to indicate the “falling” of either God’s grace or the Holy Spirit upon us. I have always like this practice, too. Falling rain is not always a good thing, but when I’m comparing the grace of God to rain, I think of a soft spring rain, or a steady shower of rain after a long drought.

I am specifically reminded of one such instance. I don’t remember the year, but I do remember that we, in DFW, had not had any rain for something like eighty or ninety consecutive days. It was either August 19, or very close to that date, and we were at a Texas Rangers baseball game, celebrating S’s birthday. In fact, she was supposed to appear in the birthday line, on camera, between innings. A couple innings before the birthday line was to happen, it rained. And it was a good, heavy rain. As crowds of people headed for the concourse, C and I (and whoever else may have been with us) just sat there and let it drench us. It felt so good.

And that is what it feels like when the grace of God rains down on us. We want to get drenched, and we want it to spill out onto anyone who happens to be around us. This is another reason that Jesus’s commands for us to love one another are so important! How can I possibly contain the grace of God when it falls on me? If it is truly God’s grace that is falling on me, I cannot possibly be selfish; I cannot possibly treat my brother or sister with anything less than love!

"And Hallelujah, grace like rain
Falls down on me
And Hallelujah and all my stains
Are washed away, they're washed away"
(Todd Agnew, Grace Like Rain)

“God, let Your words of wisdom and hope fall on my thirsty soul and revive my spirit. Amen.” ~ “Susanna” in Pray a Word a Day


Yes, Lord, Hallelujah! Let Your grace fall like rain on my soul today, and let it splash over onto anyone who is around me. I’m praising You today for the presence, the constant presence of Your grace. I know it is always surrounding me, even when I don’t feel it, or when I am not aware of it.

I am also thankful for songs of praise, and I ask that You would revive my voice of praise to You. It has been silent for too long. I pray for wisdom for us to know when it is time to begin our Nights of Worship again. I also pray for new songs of praise to be written. Put a new song in my heart and on my tongue!

Thank You for the mild weather, this weekend, and I pray that, perhaps, the winter weather predicted will miss us. But it will be what it will be, and we will live with it, and we will still praise You, whatever comes our way.

I praise You for Your Word, this morning. I thank You for the Word that created all things, and then how that Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and lived and died for the salvation of our souls. I pray that You would help us all to seriously examine the words and deeds of Jesus, that we might mimic them, and, as He said, even do greater things in our own world, today. But first, we have to act like Him, and that kicks us back to the commands that we love one another.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Chill; Be Ready

Good morning. It is Friday, the eighteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your life today!

Day 23,353

It’s 25 degrees out there, this morning, but clear and sunny, so there shouldn’t be any issues driving. I should probably check the car for frost, though, before it’s time to leave for work, in case I need to start the car early. That made me think to look at our security camera feeds, which told me that our sync module was offline. So I had to mess with that for a minute. I don’t know what was wrong, but I unplugged it and plugged it back in, and it’s online again. Then I remembered that it’s been a month since I got my new CPAP machine, so I need to switch out the data card for that and send the old one in to the monitoring company, so they can send the data to my doctor’s office.

So, now, it’s almost 8:00 AM, and I need to be ready to leave the house in forty-five minutes (give or take . . . that’s the time I shoot for).

I got some things accomplished in the study, yesterday. The files are caught up (mostly), and the non-essential files have been moved to the garage. I have a small file box to put books in, to take to Half-Price Books at a later date, and the floor is mostly clear, except for a few cables that need to be stored, and a small pile of books that remain from Christmas. I just need to put them away somewhere.

The genealogy class was quite informative, and I got some online resources that I can use. I’m not in a hurry to get deeply into that, but I am interested in it, so this information will be helpful. I might have been the youngest person in the room, outside of the assistant librarian who was hosting the session, who is a year younger than me.

Today, being Friday, I will spend most of my day in the Computer Center, with a probably couple hours roaming the shelves, putting things away. We might actually be able to have our pizza tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Peace and Love, by Daryl Madden

Worries, worries, fear and sin
Help me Lord, come dwell within

Into, into My embrace
Come to find only grace

Fears, fears, drift away
My Beloved let us pray

Settle, settle, now the soul
Let My Spirit, take control

Go, go, let it go
Love complete, I bestow

Rest, rest, here profess
Peace to know, you’re fully blessed

Flow, flow, let it grow
Love and peace, here to know

What a blessing to simply sit and contemplate the Lord speaking these words to me! Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

That poem goes very well with today’s Radio Free Babylon “Coffee with Jesus” cartoon.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful words of peace and life that Jesus speaks to me
2. for the creativity and inspiration of other people
3. for the steadfast love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who keeps us as the "apple of His eye"
4. for the promises of God, that He will never let me go
5. for the sweet love of my wife and family and friends

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
(Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV)


Wondrously show your steadfast love, 
O Savior of those who seek refuge 
from their adversaries at your right hand. 
Keep me as the apple of your eye; 
hide me in the shadow of your wings, 
(Psalms 17:7-8 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “ready.” This, like many others, can mean a number of things. I’m not real good at being “ready” to go on time. Almost every time I’m supposed to be somewhere by a certain time, especially if it is in the morning, I’m practically running out the door. I’m using the word “running” very loosely, here. I don’t run. If you ever see me running, you should probably run, as well.

I don’t care to use the example in the book, today, for this word, as I feel that the father involved was a bit of a bully. But there is a sense in which we are all to be ready. At the beginning, English author Rose Tremain is quoted as saying, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” Actually, I’m not sure I agree 100% with that. I might agree to a degree, though.

Life is not “practice for heaven.” There is a difference between preparation and practice. This could get way more complicated than I want to be, this morning, so I think I’m going to abandon that thought track.

Jesus said these words:

You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
(Luke 12:40 ESV)

That’s what I think when I see a prayer word like “ready.” I am preparing myself for an event; and event that I have no clue when it is coming, when it will happen. I will be clear about one thing. I do not believe in a “rapture.” I just don’t see it. I understand where people get it, and there are folks who are smarter than me who do believe in it, and there are folks who are smarter than me who don’t. Just don’t tell me that it is clearly in Scripture. If it were “clear,” there wouldn’t be as much debate about it, would there?

I do, however, believe in a second coming of Jesus Christ, and I believe that is what Dr. Luke is referring to in Luke 12:40. The context of Luke’s passage is similar to when Jesus told the parable about the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come for the wedding. Five of them were wise and ready; five of them weren’t. And once that bridegroom appears, it’s all over, time is up.

So we need to be ready. What does it mean to be ready? That’s another thing that is only marginally clear. But Jesus gave us plenty of teaching to live by, and I think that is the key to the answer. In the passage in Luke, we are given the understanding that we need to be watching; we need to be awake, not asleep. This is figurative, of course. Jesus is not telling us that we can’t ever sleep. As I type this, I’m actually kind of surprised that there’s not some crazy “pastor” out there teaching that we can’t ever sleep, because Jesus said not to.

Am I ready? Depends on what day you ask me. Just this week, I can guarantee you that there were days when I was most definitely not ready. Right this second, I would say, yes. But, duh. I’m doing my devotional, so of course my mind is on the things of God. In twenty minutes, when I’m on the road to work, that might change in a few seconds, especially if someone cuts me off in traffic. But if that happens (and isn’t it strange that this seems to be our favorite example of when we get angry at someone?), then I need to hearken back to previous prayer words . . . words like “there” and “shower,” and pray those words for whoever it was that “offended” me.


Father, I thank You for the love that I have in my life; love of my wife, love of my daughters, and love of my friends. These are things that I cannot afford to take for granted, and need to embrace and celebrate. Help me to do better at displaying the same kind of love to others, the love that You have shown to us.

I pray that You continue to speak peace and life into my life, that I might celebrate Your “wonderful words of life” as they grow within me and my spirit. Keep my soul, my heart, and my mind ready, Father. May I be prepared for Jesus to return, appearing when we know not, but confident that He will be appearing again. Let us all be “ready” when that happens, Father, not “asleep,” dabbling in worldly ways that distract us from You and Your presence. This is a challenge, Father, as the world has plenty of attractions.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Some Good News

Today is Thursday, the seventeenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,352

It’s getting colder outside, by the minute, today. We have already had our high today, of 58. At 8:00 AM, it is 54, and by noon, it should be in the mid-to-low forties. Low tonight of mid-twenties. But there shouldn’t be any more precipitation. They’re saving that for next Wednesday and Thursday, when we will, apparently, be having a second winter. Fortunately, I do not work next Wednesday or Thursday.

Speaking of work, it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. It seems like it was a bit slow. There was a little activity, early, but even that wasn’t much. We had a little staff gathering at 9:30, to celebrate the birthdays that are happening this quarter. This was my first one of those. I must have not been working the day they had it for the fourth quarter of last year. And my birthday is in March! So it was very cool. Everyone got a little bag of goodies. Someone said it was a “charcuterie cup.”

You can see the chocolate covered pretzels, the club crackers, and a cheese stick. There were also a couple of skewers in there, one containing some fruit, and the other containing some salami and cheese. It was a nice mid-morning snack.

I am off work today, as Thursday is one of my normal off days. However, I will be heading up to the library at 3:00 PM for a genealogy class, called “Genealogy 101.” One of my co-workers, an assistant librarian, is leading it, and I am interested to see what kind of information she might have.

I’ve made a little more progress in the study. I got my plastic file boxes Tuesday evening, and have moved some files to the garage. Now, I just need to go through the stacks that are laying around, and see what needs to be filed and what needs to be shredded. Hopefully, I will get at least some of that done, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Showers of blessing;
Oh, that today, they might fall,
Mercy-drops on us!
(Inspired by D.W. Whittle's hymn)

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
(Psalms 72:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received during the night, last night
2. for "showers of blessing" that fall on us, constantly
3. for the truth of the Gospel, the Good News, that God's kingdom is right here, right now, available to us
4. that "generosity begets generosity" (Mark 4:25 The Message)
5. that the Lord is my Shepherd and I lack for nothing (Psalm 23)

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here,
(Mark 1:1 MSG)

“Good news.” “The Gospel.” “Euaggelio.” What does it mean? It is not the “bare announcement that God exists.” That’s not news. “Most people in most centuries have believed in the existence of God or gods.”

No, the good news is that “God is here right now, and on our side, actively seeking to help us in the way we most need help.”

“Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
(Mark 1:15 MSG)

That is the Gospel.

“Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”
(Mark 4:24-25 MSG)

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


You are my Shepherd,
Therefore, I lack for nothing; I have everything I need.
You give me peace and rest by leading me away from 
the hustle and madness of the crowds.
You refresh my soul.
You lead me down the right path,
to the glory of Your name.
Even though my journey takes me through deep darkness,
troubles, and world-wide pandemics,
I will fear no evil,
because You are with me!
Knowing that You are present at all times comforts me.
You bless me right in front of non-believers,
and I will share those blessings with them.
You have chosen me for a purpose,
and anointed me for that purpose.
My cup truly overflows, spilling onto all around me.
Your grace and mercy will follow me and surround me,
all the days of my life, and beyond,
as I dwell in Your house for all eternity.
Thank you, my Savior and my Shepherd!
(My version of Psalm 23)
What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 
(Psalms 116:12-14 ESV)

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
(Psalms 72:6 ESV)

D.W. Whittle wrote this hymn in 1883.

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we're confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Today’s prayer word is “shower.” No, not as in, “Lord, please inspire that guy to take a shower.” More like “scattered showers,” as the weatherman says. And using the context of the verse from Psalms, I think that fits, perfectly.

In the sense of prayer, the word “shower” can be used quite similarly to the way we talked about the word “there” a few days ago. We’re asking for God’s blessings to fall on people. On ourselves. So, as we walk through the day, we could point out a person (or group of people), and, for today, rather than saying “there,” we could say, requesting blessing from God, “shower.”


Father, I am so grateful for the Good News that Your kingdom is here, now, and that we can walk in it. It is not so much the thought that “God loves you and has a full and meaningful plan for your life.” While that is certainly “good news,” the true Gospel is that Your kingdom is right here, right now, and that it is a kingdom of peace and love. I am so thankful for the path of love that You have been walking me down, in the last decade. It has been, and continues to be, challenging, as I am still a creature made of “dust.” I still carry this treasure around in a “jar of clay.” Oh, how I long for the day when this mortal coil is shed and I no longer have to worry about such things.

I am grateful, also, that my cup truly does overflow. There have most definitely been “showers of blessing” in my life. I know that, oftentimes, I take these for granted. More recently, though, I am remembering to be thankful for these. My daily practice of gratitude has helped that, immensely. But, even with that, there are days when I have to think too hard to come up with five things that I’m grateful for. That’s ridiculous. Gratitude should be flowing off of my heart and tongue like an untamed waterfall.

You have made me aware of the truth that “generosity begets generosity.” The older I get, the more generous I am becoming. And, it seems, the more generous I become, the more generous You are! But why would I be surprised at this? Your Word has always taught that this is true, and that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated, even if they don’t treat us that way in return.

So, keep teaching me, Father, every day. Some days, I’m weary. Some days, I am not really feeling like doing these things. But keep me doing them; keep me walking in Your kingdom, even when, and most especially when, I don’t feel like it.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.