Let Us Go Into the House of the LORD

Today is Sunday, the second of April, 2023, in the sixth and final week of Lent. It is Palm Sunday.

May the peace of the risen Lord be within you today!

Day 23,761

My Wordle score for today:

Wordle 652 3/6*


Yesterday’s word was “march.” I thought that was clever of them, on April Fool’s Day.

I must be at church by 8:15, this morning, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. However, I also must stay there until after the 11:00 service, because we are having an orchestra rehearsal for Easter Sunday’s services. So, I believe I will leave the first service right after the choir sings, and either find a place to get a coffee (maybe some breakfast?), and also do my reading for this evening’s Mere Christianity group. Then I will return for the 11:00 service, to stay for communion.

Yesterday was a sort of strange day at the library. I would not say it was “bad,” but it definitely was not as nice a day as Friday was in the computer center. But we got through it, and all is well.

The Texas Rangers jumped all over the Phillies, yesterday afternoon, early and often. They got ahead 4-0, then the Phillies came back with 3 runs, to make it 4-3. That was as much as the Phillies were able to do. Final score, 16-3, Rangers, with Nathan Eovaldi getting his first win as a Ranger and the first Rangers starter win for the season. So the Rangers are 2-0 on the season, all alone in first place in the AL West. They will play again, this evening, at 6:08 PM CT, with Martin Perez finally getting his first shot. Sadly, the game will be on ESPN. Oh, I almost forgot. Mitch Garver hit TWO three-run home runs in the game.

The Red Sox pulled off a comeback win, yesterday, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth, to beat the O’s 9-8. They are in a four-way tie of teams with 1-1 records, in the AL East. They will play again, this afternoon, at 1:35 PM ET, in Fenway, with Tanner Houck taking the mound.

We have four teams with 2-0 records: Texas, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota. And there are four teams that are 0-2: KC, Philadelphia, Detroit, and, Washington. There are six teams with a two-run winning streak (Texas is one), and, consequently, there are six with two-game losing streaks. The Rangers have the best run differential, at +17 (in two games), and the Phillies, of course, have the worst, at -17.


I keep your precepts and decrees, 
for all my ways are before you.
(Psalms 119:168 NRSV)
We give thanks to you, 
heavenly Father,
through Jesus Christ your dear Son,
that you have protected us through the night
from all danger and harm.
We ask you to preserve and keep us,
this day also,
from all sin and evil,
that in all our thoughts, words, and deeds
we may serve and please you.
Into your hands we commend our bodies
and souls and all that is ours.
Let your holy angels have charge of us,
that the wicked one have no power over us.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, in you we want to find our strength, in you we want to hold out even in these times. We rejoice that the end is coming, the end you are preparing, when your salvation and justice will come on earth according to your promises. Be with us and with the believing circle given to us through Jesus Christ. Make us alert and give us fresh courage again and again, however difficult life may be. We want to continue to live and find strength in the grace of Jesus Christ, holding on in joy without grumbling and complaining. Lord God, may your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done in us according to your plan. Amen.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, 
and look at the earth beneath;
 for the heavens will vanish like smoke, 
the earth will wear out like a garment, 
and those who live on it will die like gnats; 
but my salvation will be forever, 
and my deliverance will never be ended.
(Isaiah 51:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for today’s opportunities to worship together and take communion with the saints; may the body and blood of our Savior sustain us
  • for the salvation and deliverance of our God
  • for Palm Sunday, and the events of the following week in the life of Christ
  • that I can sing to the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13)
  • that Jesus, knowing the path set before Him, set His face toward Jerusalem, and did not falter

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, 
but to your name give glory, 
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
(Psalms 115:1 NRSV)
Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart 
be acceptable to you, O LORD, 
my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 NRSV)

Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
(Luke 18:31-34 NRSV)

How long, O LORD? 
Will you forget me forever? 
How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I bear pain in my soul, 
and have sorrow in my heart all day long? 
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
 Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
 and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; 
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. 
But I trusted in your steadfast love; 
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 
I will sing to the LORD, 
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalms 13:1-6 NRSV)
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. 
"Gracious Father,
whose blessed Son Jesus Christ
came down from heaven to be the true bread 
which gives life to the world:
Evermore give me this bread,
that he may live in me,
and I in him;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”
(John 12:12-13 NRSV)

Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
(John 12:23-28 NRSV)
When they said, "Let's go to the house of GOD," 
my heart leaped for joy.
(Psalms 122:1 MSG)

I remember, as a child, singing a little song, one of those Scripture songs. It was Psalm 122:1, but in King James Version, because that’s what we used back in those days.

I was glad when they said unto me, 
Let us go into the house of the LORD.
(Psalms 122:1 KJV)

I also remember, as a child, loving to go to church. I enjoyed Sunday School. I enjoyed singing hymns. I’ll confess that my enjoyment of the sermon was usually not so much. But I loved the hymns and the music of the choirs. And I also liked it when we had “the Lord’s Supper.” Sadly, that was usually only about once per quarter.

Over time, that enjoyment faded. Not permanently, though. It has waxed and waned, through my adult years. Today, I can say that I truly look forward to going “into the house of the LORD.” There are two parts of the Lutheran worship service that are my favorite.

First, that bit at the beginning where one of the pastors says, “By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In fact, just reading that right now sends chills down my spine. I’m pretty sure that, the first time I heard that spoken at Living Word Lutheran Church, I wept.

The other part that is my favorite is the Supper, the communion, which takes place near the end of the service. Everything, in my opinion, leads up to that moment, when, as I kneel at the altar, one of the pastors places that wafer in my hands and says, “Body of Christ, given for you!” And then the next person has the tray of wine cups and says, “Blood of Christ, shed for you!” My brothers and sisters, I am almost weeping as I type this.

I was glad when they said unto me . . . let us go into the house of the Lord.

Father, I am so very grateful to be part of Your Church. I praise You for molding my heart to where I am glad, so very glad to be participating in Your worship and in Your communion. As we worship You, in Christ, this morning, remembering that first “Palm Sunday,” may our hearts be pure and holy. May You take our offerings and use them. May You take our lives and make them holy and use them to spread Your Gospel of peace throughout the world.

I cannot thank You enough for all You have done for me, for my family, and for Your Church. Sustain us, O God, through the body and blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 KJV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Prayer for Light, Peace, Joy, and Presence

Today is Thursday, the 16th of March, 2023, in the third week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ fill your hearts and minds today and every day!

Day 73,744

It’s my normal day off today, and I don’t have anything planned. We have S’s Club Metro event tonight, which she says she is going to, so C and I will have an evening out, if that happens. We’ll have to decide where to have dinner, in that case.

It’s been a pretty good week, so far. Yesterday’s work day was unremarkable. It was not terribly busy at the library. There were brief periods of activity, the busiest being right after the afternoon program, which was “Creature Teacher,” a lady who carries around some “wild” animals. I wasn’t able to attend the program, but I did get a chance to go down to the program room and see this.

She was SO adorable! And she hopped right up to me and sniffed at my hand. But then someone else came in the room and startled her, so she hopped away. But then the “Teacher” picked her up and let us pet her. She was much softer than we expected. Felt a lot like one of my cats.

We had a flurry of activity at the circ counter right after that program, but the rest of the afternoon was not very busy. And we didn’t have any lingerers after the lights went out at 6:00 PM.

I can’t remember if I displayed my birthday presents here. I don’t have pictures of all of them, especially the nice shirts that C got me. But I got a picture of my favorite thing, which was this blanket/throw.

It is so very soft. The cat in the middle looks just like our Luna. The one in the upper left looks like Rocky, and the one just below that one looks a little like Cleo, as she is Siamese. She is much darker, though. There’s a tabby on the top, which looks like S’s Maggie. The only one not represented is Trixie.

I also got these from R.

That Beatles songbook has been on my wishlist for a very long time, and I have really been wanting to read Liturgy of the Ordinary. And I’ll get something good with that PS gift card.


Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near; 
they are far from your law. 
Yet you are near, O LORD, 
and all your commandments are true.
(Psalms 119:150-151 NRSV)

Had I been paying a little closer attention, yesterday, I would have noticed that these two verses go together. While my “enemies” are far from God’s law, He, Himself, is always near me. This is a truth that I still struggle with, knowing that God is always near me.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Dear Father in heaven, may we receive your Spirit so that we win the victory over ourselves and over the world around us, not with our human crudeness, force, and clamor, but only through your Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Help each of us in our own particular situation. We all know there is much evil around us; there is much we must fight. But in Jesus’ name we want to plunge right in, right into the world, right into whatever suffering is meant for us in the midst of the evil that is not yet overcome. In Jesus’ name we go toward the great victory that will come when all who are granted your joy will praise you with all their hearts, O Father in heaven. Amen.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that we can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, win the victory of ourselves and the world around us
  • for Jesus Christ, who “poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors,” and who “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12
  • that God speaks “Light!” into our hearts and lives
  • that God’s purpose will stand and He will fulfill His intention (Isaiah 46:10)
  • that our God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)

Remember this and consider, 
recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
remember the former things of old; 
for I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is no one like me,
 declaring the end from the beginning 
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 
"My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,"
(Isaiah 46:8-10 NRSV)
O send out your light and your truth; 
let them lead me; 
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
(Psalms 43:3 NRSV)
Seek the LORD and his strength, 
seek his presence continually. 
Remember the wonderful works he has done, 
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
(1 Chronicles 16:11-12 NRSV)
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, 
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NRSV)

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

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
(John 16:22 NRSV)

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
(Genesis 1:3 NRSV)

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared.
(Genesis 1:3 MSG)

Father, I am feeling great comfort in the Scriptures that tell me that You are near. Many people in this world are far away from Your Word, but You are always near to me, to us. You are near, especially, to those whose hearts are hurting and broken, who are “crushed in spirit.” You draw near to them and save them, healing their broken hearts. I have experienced this in a number of ways.

You are near, always. Your promise is that You will never leave or forsake us. You send out Your light and Your truth, that can guide me to Your “holy hill and your dwelling.” But You also speak “Light!” You spoke “Light!” at the beginning of everything, and there was light. I believe that You can speak “Light!” into our hearts and our lives, as well, and ask You to do this. This world is dark, Lord, and getting darker by the minute. I pray for Your light to shine. I know that it is supposed to shine through us, Father, so help us to do that.

We focus on the wrong things. We find pet causes that we care about and those become our entire existence. But You, Father, are the only “cause” worth giving a life for. Jesus died to save us and to forgive all of our sin. This is my “cause.” Worshiping You is my life, Father. Help this light to shine through me into the world around me, as I attempt to practice love, to put on compassion, to show Your great and steadfast love and mercy to a world that so desperately needs it.

Speak, Lord, speak “Light!” And then, speak “Peace!” in the midst of our storms. Your Word, Father, is the only thing that can create from nothing. And You are the only One who can make sense out of all of this chaos. We have pain, now, Father. Your disciples had pain when Jesus left them for a time. But He promises, and You promise, joy; joy that can never be taken away. So, while we have pain, now, we also have joy because of Your presence with us, in the Holy Spirit. This can never be taken from us. We can forget it, sometimes, but it is always there, just as You are always near.

I will celebrate Your nearness; I will celebrate Your light; I will celebrate Your peace; and I will celebrate Your joy. I embrace Your steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness, and pray that I can be more like Jesus today.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


It is Sunday, the 5th of March, in the second week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ enrich your life today!

Day 23,733

Yesterday was a fine day at the library, yesterday. The weather was pretty nice, all day, and I even went outside and took walk around our library building during an afternoon break. It was actually the first time I realized that one could actually walk all the way around our building. It was quite lovely, and I had a brief, but not too close, interaction with a squirrel. It was not very busy, though, yesterday, which made the day seem a bit on the long side.

During one of the times when I was emptying a book drop, I found a book by C.S. Lewis that I had not heard of before. At least I thought I hadn’t, but then I see that I had marked to “Want to read” on Goodreads. The book is called The Dark Tower: And Other Stories, and was published after his death. Looking at a couple reviews, I can see that the title story and some others are, in fact uncompleted. I will read it, anyway. I checked it out yesterday afternoon.

I now have seven books checked out. But I should be taking one back Tuesday, as I will likely finish it today, sometime. And I also have to read an e-book that I got from Book Sirens, so I can post a review of it. I have until March 24 to read that one.

For the first time in a number of weeks, I not doing anything at church, this morning, other than worshiping and receiving communion. The choir is not singing, no orchestra playing or rehearsing. So I don’t have to be there until 11:00 AM. But I also slept until after 8:00, this morning, so I’d best get busy being spiritual.


Your promise is well tried, 
and your servant loves it.
(Psalms 119:140 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Lord our God, we come to you as a little flock, asking you to accept us and keep us as your own, whom you will redeem in your time. Protect us always so that we remain strong in faith. Strengthen us in the faith that you are with us, helping us. Grant that your people may come to the light, to the honor of your name. So we entrust ourselves to your hands this night. Be with us, Lord our God, through your Spirit. Amen.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
(Luke 12:32 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that it is our Father’s pleasure to give us the kingdom
  • for the promises of God, well-tried; O how I love them
  • that God is always in the process of making all things new
  • that I am gradually being changed into the likeness of Jesus; probably taking longer than it should
  • for a day of worship; may our worship, this morning, glorify You, O Lord!

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, 
for you are the God of my salvation;
 for you I wait all day long. 
(Psalms 25:5 NRSV)

Ascribe to the LORD, 
O families of the peoples, 
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
bring an offering, and come into his courts. 
Worship the LORD in holy splendor; 
tremble before him, all the earth.
(Psalms 96:7-9 NRSV)
O send out your light and your truth; 
let them lead me; 
let them bring me to your holy hill 
and to your dwelling. 
Then I will go to the altar of God, 
to God my exceeding joy; 
and I will praise you with the harp, 
O God, my God.
(Psalms 43:3-4 NRSV)
To the leader. A Maskil of the Korahites. 

As a deer longs for flowing streams, 
so my soul longs for you, O God. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
(Psalms 42:1-2 NRSV)
For who is God except the LORD? 
And who is a rock besides our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 NRSV)

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:1 NRSV)

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
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. 
"O God,
who before the passion of your only-begotten Son 
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:
Grant that I,
beholding by faith the light of his countenance,
may be strengthened to bear my cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NRSV)

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:5 NRSV)

But you're the closest of all to me, 
GOD, and all your judgments true.
(Psalms 119:151 MSG)

This is a day of worship. Thousands, perhaps millions, of people around the world will gather, this morning, to worship God. We will carry out the command of Psalm 96, to ascribe to Him glory and strength, to ascribe to Him the glory due His name.

And, as we worship Him, we also pray the prayer of Psalm 25:5 and Psalm 43:3-4. We pray that the Lord will lead us in His truth and teach us; that He will send out His light and His truth, leading us to His “holy hill,” and to His dwelling place. How lovely is His dwelling place!

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of the Korahites. A Psalm. 

How lovely is your dwelling place,
 O LORD of hosts! 
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; 
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
(Psalms 84:1-2 NRSV)

We will, indeed, sing for joy, this morning, for our souls desperately long for the “courts of the LORD,” as a deer longs for streams of water. We thirst for Him, and we trust in HIs promise that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

Today is a day of worship.

Father, I cannot wait to worship with the saints, this morning. I pray that our worship will be holy and acceptable to You. I pray that we will ascribe to You the glory due Your name, as we continue to journey through this season of Lent.

We will rejoice as we receive the body and blood of Christ in communion. May the elements of communion make us, draw us, closer to You and more worthy participants in Your kingdom of glory, Lord! We hunger, we thirst, for Your presence. May we be filled, this morning, as we worship You.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

One People, One Voice

Today is Monday, the 16th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,685

I made it through the weekend! Saturday’s choir retreat was fun, and educational. Our trip to Mineral Wells was productive and fruitful. And yesterday was pretty amazing. The choir did well (at least I think we did . . . I haven’t listened to the recording, yet), the worship service was good, and I did fine at the orchestra rehearsal afterward. I was introduced as a new member in both morning services, and in the orchestra rehearsal. Then, last night, I went back for the small group that is discussing C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. What an invigorating discussion! It’s a great group of people.

Today should be a normal Monday. Grocery shopping, laundry, a little housecleaning. It is MLK Day, today, so a lot of businesses are closed, including banks and the Post Office. C had to go to work, though. Our library is also closed today, but I never work on Mondays, so it’s just another day for me.


If your law had not been my delight,
 I would have perished in my misery.
(Psalms 119:92 NRSV)

As I launch into morning prayers, my spirit is drawn to a line that we repeat in the Lutheran worship service: Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. May I delight myself in His Word, this morning.

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you and thank you with all our hearts. You know all that we are thankful for. Continue to sustain us, we pray, and give us strength for the paths on which you lead us. Even when we must suffer and fight long, hard battles, we know that everything has its right purpose and will still lead us to your goal. For all this we praise and thank you. Protect us in mind, heart, and spirit. Keep us courageous, and lift us above all discouragement through your Spirit, who will renew our lives forevermore. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

I will extol you, my God and King, 
and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you, 
and praise your name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:1-2 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that the Lord has caused me to delight in His Word
  • for strength for the path on which God is leading me
  • for the ability to sing to the Lord and bless His name
  • for the hope of that day when all peoples will sing the praises and glory of God, together in one tongue
  • for the act of worship, the response of the creature to the Creator

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, 
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
(Psalms 96:2-3 NRSV)
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; 
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
(Psalms 5:3 NRSV)

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!

We will sing and praise your power.
(Psalms 21:13 NRSV)

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; 
let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it. 
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; 
for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world with righteousness, 
and the peoples with his truth.
(Psalms 96:11-13 NRSV)
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 
And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 
Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
(Matthew 16:13-20 NRSV)
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; 
make melody to our God on the lyre. 
He covers the heavens with clouds, 
prepares rain for the earth,
 makes grass grow on the hills. 
He gives to the animals their food, 
and to the young ravens when they cry. 
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
 nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; 
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, 
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalms 147:7-11 NRSV)
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. 
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - Concluding Prayers of the Church)

You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the LORD.” You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favor before the LORD.
(Exodus 28:36-38 NRSV)

At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.
(Zephaniah 3:9 NRSV)

May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun. 
May all nations be blessed in him; may they pronounce him happy.
(Psalms 72:17 NRSV)

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
(Ephesians 2:14-16 NRSV)

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NRSV)

The moment I called out, you stepped in; 
you made my life large with strength.
(Psalms 138:3 MSG)

There is a passage (or two) in Revelation that always gives me chill bumps. It excites me, it creates in me a deep longing for Home, and for that day when the Kingdom of God becomes tangible Reality.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NRSV)

This “worship service,” which may last for ten thousand years, for all we know, is magnificent in its scope. When I read that verse from Zephaniah 3, this morning, it made me think of this passage in Revelation. In Zephaniah, the Lord promises to create a universal language, a “pure speech,” that all people may call on the Lord together. I believe that is what we are seeing in Revelation 7. The multitude from every nation, from every tribe and people and language, is standing before the throne, singing praise in one voice, in one language.

We have all been made one “people,” already, in Christ, but are still splintered into various groups. On that day, we will finally all be one, in true unity.

No doubt, we will all be surprised in heaven. Now, I’m speaking, here, in a kind of “fantasy,” because we truly don’t know what, exactly, this is going to look like or be like. We have hints, but there are details that we don’t know. So bear with me. I have to think that every person is going to be surprised to find someone in heaven that they didn’t expect to be there. I’m sure there will be some who are surprised to find me there.

And, God forbid, there will likely be someone there you didn’t want to see there. Tell the truth. Everyone has at least one person like that in their lives, right?

Right now, one of the things that excites me the most about that day when “we all get to heaven,” is that there will be no politics. There will no “conservatives” or “liberals,” just as there will be no male or female or Jew or Greek, as Paul tells us in one of his epistles. I know some people who believe that there will be no Democrats in heaven. Boy, are they going to be surprised.

But, in a sense (not the one they think), they are right. Because when we leave this earth, when our spirits are resurrected (if we are already dead) and united with a new body, all of those labels will be left behind. All of our countries will be left behind. All of our foolish, petty allegiances that we hold so dear on this earth, will be left behind. There will be no United States or Canada or Ukraine or Russia.

There will only be the most beautiful mosaic of saints, singing together in one voice, in one language, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

As I used to hear some folks say, if that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet.

Father, I am so very grateful for this image of heavenly worship. I long to be there. I can’t wait to be there, to know this new language, this new tongue, and to sing this new song with all the saints and angels and elders, multitudes upon multitudes, singing the praises of Jesus Christ for ten thousand years. Or however long it takes. We will have all eternity. My soul magnifies the Lord! My spirit cries out for joy!

And this vision makes me cry out, all the more,

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

But in the meantime, I pray that we would start practicing. Not just practicing the worship; many of us do this every Sunday morning. But practicing the unity, getting used to the idea of singing together with multitudes of people from every nation and tribe and tongue, so that it won’t be as big a shock when we land there. Teach us, Father! Teach us Your ways, that we may walk in Your truth; give us undivided hearts that we might revere Your holy name! Let us give thanks to You with our whole hearts, today and every day.

All glory and honor to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:28-29 NRSV)

Grace and peace, friends!

The Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart

Today is Tuesday, the fourth of October, 2022, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be within your soul today

Day 23,581


Father in heaven, we people on earth are poor and needy. We are deaf and dumb, but you rouse us every day and call to us, "Ephphatha." We thank you for this, in gladness for all you do for our sake. Help us to become united in expectation for the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ will come, when before all people he will be proved your Son, the Savior in whom you, the Almighty, come to meet us. Through him you say again, "Let there be light! Let there be life! Let life break free from the darkness of death so that Jesus may come as the Savior of all, the Savior even of those who are still in deepest darkness." Praise to your name, O Father in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mark 7:34-35 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the “living and active” Word of God, and the many resources that I have to help keep me connected
  2. for that word, “Ephphatha,” that Jesus spoke, and how God continues to open my heart, my ears, and my mouth
  3. for the visions of worship around the throne in John’s Revelation
  4. for His drawing/leading toward humility
  5. for the confidence that God hears me when I pray
  6. for the patience and long-suffering of God, who, in steadfast love, understands that we are simply dust

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. 
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, 
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, 
who was and is and is to come!" 
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, 
to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created."
(Revelation 4:4-11 ESV)

Exalt the LORD our God; 
worship at his footstool! 
Holy is he! 

Exalt the LORD our God, 
and worship at his holy mountain; 
for the LORD our God is holy! 
(Psalms 99:5, 9 ESV)

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
(Psalms 25:9 ESV)

“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 11:29-30 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:10 ESV)

"Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul;" (and here is the catch) "though we are never to enter on it for this, or any other reason which is tainted by self-regard." 
(Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Spiritual Classics by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Let’s start way up at the top, with that verse from Hebrews. This has long been a memory verse of mine, probably as far back as my college days. But I noticed something today, and this, in itself, is proof of the first phrase that “the word of God is living and active.” Check the last phrase of the verse. ” . . . and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God can discern my thoughts and intentions.

Am I to believe that a book can do this? Words on a page? As I contemplate this, I don’t think that it is so much the physical book, the ink on dead tree shavings, but rather the spirit behind those words. And, I suppose, we can even go so far as to include Jesus in this, as He is the “Word made flesh.” The Greek word logos is used in all of those instances, whether referring to Scripture or Jesus Christ.

It takes no great imagination to believe that Jesus can discern my thoughts and intentions. But it is a much heavier thought to consider that God’s Word, i.e. the Bible, can do so.

Definitely something to ponder.

Next I want to focus on that quote from Evelyn Underhill. Worship, true worship, leads us away from “self-occupation.” This ties in with Scriptures immediately preceding that quote, that deal with humility. We are told to do nothing from selfish ambition, and to consider others as more significant than ourselves. The first Other which we should consider, of course, is our Father in heaven. If we cannot even succeed in thinking that He is more significant than ourselves, we have a long row to hoe.

And this is pretty much what humility is all about. If we come to “worship” solely for the idea of what we can get from God, then we are not worshiping. This also ties in with my critique of modern worship music, which I have mentioned multiple times in this format.

But Ms. Underhill even brings a tricky catch into the equation. If we go to worship for the reason of getting away from our self-occupation, we are still entrenched in self-occupation. Do we understand this? If we go to worship for any other reason than God, we are missing the point.

And this is much harder than it sounds. I believe that is why God is patient with us. He understands our frame, our weaknesses.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 ESV)

What a comforting verse this is! Yes. I am dust. I am cynical; I am selfish; I do come to worship with self-occupations, desiring to “get something out of it.” But at the same time I want to get away from these characteristics, and become fully embraced in the Holy Spirit, and the Son, and the Father, and for my heart’s desires to be His desires!

I want to go to worship just to worship Him, to contemplate His greatness, His majesty, His glory, and to walk away knowing nothing other than Him.

And, in doing that, when I emerge, I am more concerned with others than I am myself, and more inclined to do nothing out of selfish ambition.

Father, You have given me much food for thought, meditation, and contemplation, today. If I understand that Your Word can discern my thoughts and intentions, I will read it differently. And I do want to read it with that thought in mind, because I want my thoughts, and, above all, intentions to be pure. I don’t want to have mixed messages coming from my soul. I desire for my heart to be completely united, that I might fear Your name, that I might learn Your ways and walk in Your truth.

I also pray that You will help me to approach worship with more of an attitude of simply being in Your presence and engaging with You, with no ulterior motive (thoughts and intentions?) of what I can get out of it. This is hard. But You know this about us, and You are patient with us. I am grateful for this, Father. If You were not patient with us, in steadfast love, we would have long been destroyed.

Father, I do believe that You raised Jesus from the dead. Because of that, if I do believe that, why do I struggle with believing that You would do something less powerful (if that even makes sense) like answering my little prayers? Help me, Father! I do believe! Help my unbelief! Seriously, if we believe in the resurrection of Christ, we should be praying in much greater expectation, waiting on You, looking to You, confident that You hear us, as that verse in Micah says.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

True Worship

Today is Tuesday, the seventh of June, in the tenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,462

I haven’t written personal stuff, recently. Nothing is wrong, or anything. A couple days, I felt that the spiritual portion of the blog was, perhaps, a bit too long, and didn’t want to add to it with trivial stuff. I have actually considered moving this portion of the daily blog over to my other blog. The jury is still out on that.

Speaking of jury, I got a jury duty summons in the mail, yesterday. Fortunately, it is not for the Monday of my colonoscopy exam, which is two weeks from yesterday, June 20 (unfortunately, that is the day after Father’s Day, so I will have to spend Father’s Day evening drinking the prep). The summons is for the following Monday, June 27. Also fortunately, that happens to be my “easy” week at the library (that means that I’m not working that Wednesday or Saturday), so if I wind up having to serve on a jury, and it lasts more than one day, I won’t miss very much work.

The Texas Rangers have won some and lost a few, during the past few days, and remain three under .500, at 25-28. They are also still in third place in the AL West, even though the Angels have lost twelve in a row! Hah! Take that, Joe Maddon! They are actually only a half game behind the Angels, at this point. The Rangers got rained out in Cleveland, yesterday, so a double-header is scheduled with the Guardians, today, beginning at 2:10 CDT, this afternoon.

The Red Sox have managed to get above .500, and are now 28-27, but are still in fourth place in the AL East. They are 3.5 behind Tampa. They are currently in a series with the Angels, so it helps both them and the Rangers if they win.

The Evil Empire continues to be the best team in MLB, with a 39-15 record. Their cross-town rivals are only 2.5 behind them. The KC Royals (17-36) are holding on to the worst MLB record. I’m sure the Reds are enjoying that. The Yankees also have the current best win streak, at six games (The Red Sox are at five). As referenced previously, the LA Angels’ twelve game losing streak is the longest current losing streak. We hope it continues to grow. Another AL West team, the Athletics, has the second longest losing streak, at six games. Now if Houston would follow suit . . . The Dodgers still have the best run differential, at +113. The Yankees are trying to catch them, though, at +102. The Royals, on the other end, have been outscored by 89 runs. The Rangers are at +9, and the Red Sox are at, wait, what?? +39! Wow.

In PWBA news, Breanna Clemmer not only made history in last week’s Twin Cities Open, she also earned her first PWBA title, as she defeated Bryanna Cote (the battle of the BC’s?) in the title match of the tournament. History was made, as she had the highest three game series ever by bowling consecutive 300 games, followed by a 289, and threw, I believe 29 strikes in a row!

The ladies are currently in qualifying round 1 of the Long Island Open, one of three rapid-fire tourneys that are happening this week, at Maple Lanes Rockville Centre, NY. After two games, Liz Johnson, veteran bowler, is in the lead, followed by Jen Higgins (good to see her back up there). Breanna Clemmer is in eighth, and Verity Crawley is tied for tenth. There are a total of 81 bowlers in this round. Round 2 will begin at 2:30 EDT, after which they will cut to the top 12 for tomorrow’s two match play rounds. The stepladder finals will be tomorrow night at 7:00 PM EDT, on bowltv.com. I won’t get to see all of that, as I don’t get off work until 6:15 tomorrow, CDT.


Lord our God, our refuge forever, bless us who have gathered in your presence and who turn to you in all distress, not only in our personal need but also in the distress of the nations and peoples of the whole world. Grant that we may be your children, with a simple faith that gives us strength to go on working even when life is bitterly hard. We thank you for giving us so much grace, for helping us and never forsaking us, so that again and again we can find joy and can glorify and praise you, our Father. May your name be praised from heaven above and among us here below. May your name be praised by all people throughout the world, and may everyone on earth acknowledge you and receive all that they need from you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were born, 
before you gave birth to the earth and the world, 
from beginning to end, 
you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I'm still alive and breathing; a new day with new opportunities
2. for the confidence that I have that God is working His plan and that all will be well, in the end
3. for the confidence that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don't know what to pray (Romans 8:26)
4. that the primary way we show our love for God is by loving others
5. that true worship makes both God and our neighbors more real to us

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
(Romans 12:3 NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
(Romans 12:9-21 NLT)
May God be merciful and bless us. 
May his face smile with favor on us.
 May your ways be known throughout the earth, 
your saving power among people everywhere. 
May the nations praise you, O God. 
Yes, may all the nations praise you. 
Let the whole world sing for joy, 
because you govern the nations with justice 
and guide the people of the whole world. 
May the nations praise you, O God.
 Yes, may all the nations praise you.
 Then the earth will yield its harvests, 
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
 Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear him.
(Psalms 67:1-7 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “groanings.”

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
(Romans 8:26 NLT)

There have been plenty of times in my life when I didn’t know exactly how to pray. It still happens, sometimes, in regard to my own life, and sometimes, in regard to prayer requests that I receive. I have to stop and remember that, in those times, the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf.

I also have this feeling that there are times when the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I did think I knew what to pray.

Me: Utters prayer about any certain topic
Holy Spirit: Um . . . Father, that's not really what he means . . . this is what he really wants to pray

It is also worth noting the word “weakness” in that verse. The Holy Spirit is helping us in our weakness. I can’t help but wonder, if we feel that we have no weakness, will the Holy Spirit then condescend to intercede for us?

Father: Did he really mean to pray that??
Spirit: Beats me . . . he doesn't need my help, he's got it all figured out

I confess that I have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek when I type those dialogues. And of course, I mean no disrespect. It is merely a means of trying to illustrate what I believe this verse is telling us.

There is great comfort in embracing this truth, in knowing and believing that, when I don’t quite know how to pray, He is there for me, helping me. And when I pray something that isn’t quite right, He is also there for me.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
(Hebrews 6:10-12 NLT)

This passage is interesting to me. The emphasis is (surprise!!) on loving others! The writer of Hebrews stresses that this is how we show our love for God, by “caring for other believers,” and then says that their desire is that the recipients of this letter will “keep on loving others as long as life lasts.” By doing this, they will keep themselves from becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.”

How do we show our love for God? By loving and caring for others. Not by fighting for “causes.” Not by fighting for anything.

*mic drop*

This was one of my favorite songs as a “youth.”
"The person who wants to arrive at interiority and spirituality has to leave the crowd behind and spend some time with Jesus.
"Nobody's comfortable in public unless he's spent a good deal of time in the quiet of his home. Nobody speaks with assurance who hasn't learned to hold his tongue. Nobody's a success as a general who hasn't already survived as a soldier. Nobody respects decrees who hasn't already obeyed them."
(Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)
"When we worship God, we discover how his blessings shape our lives. We also discover how to bless and be blessed by our neighbors' lives.
"In worship, God becomes more real to us. But the mystery is this: so do our neighbors."
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Here’s the thing: if we aren’t loving our neighbors, we haven’t really worshiped God.

Father, Your Word tells us quite plainly that “pure and genuine religion” is caring for others (specifically, in that case, orphans and widows). Jesus told us, also quite plainly, that in caring for others, we care for Him, and in refusing to care for others, we refuse to care for Him.

Why is this so hard for us to embrace?? I struggle with it, sometimes, myself, but when I look around and see the hatred coming from peoples’ hearts and mouths, it breaks my heart. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. Dear Father, this ought not be so! Have mercy on us, Lord. Please reach our hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of peace and love, not fighting and hatred.

I thank You that You have given us this “law,” Father, that the way we are to show our love for You is by loving others. I thank You for molding my heart to believe this, so many years ago. I confess that I still struggle with it, but that struggle remains largely interior, these days, so at least there’s that. I rarely type or say some of the thoughts that come through my mind, and try to dismiss them as soon as they pop into my brain, as I do not wish to entertain any thoughts of “unlove” toward anyone.

Help us to truly worship You, that You might become more real to us, and that our neighbors would also become more real to us, and that we might bless them and be blessed by them, as well. As we seek to worship, I also pray that we might find time and way to spend more time alone with Christ in our lives. We, as a society, are too busy for our own good. Help us to slow down, to stop and meditate, to consider You and Your Word, and its effect on our lives.

Help me, Father, to never pretend, but to truly and really love others. I pray that I would take delight in honoring my brothers and sisters. Help me to keep praying, to pray more often and more fervently. I pray for more compassion and willingness to help others. I also pray that I would never be conceited, thinking that I “know it all.” Above all, help me to live at peace with everyone.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Pretender

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

May the peace of God be with you today!

Day 23,421


Ordinary Day Becomes,” by Daryl Madden

An ordinary morning
As light comes to this day
A breath of fresh air
Clouds drift on their way

Flowers come to blossom
Branches of trees sway
Colors here awaken
Of vision to portray

Between the birdsong calling
Of silence to convey
Listen here dear soul
What Spirit has to say

And through our connection
Of binding here to pray
This journey now becomes
An extraordinary way

Father, I pray that this “ordinary morning” helps my journey to become an “extraordinary way.” Help me to listen to what the Spirit has to say to me, today.

Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided above.

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: 
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” 
And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: 
“Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” 
And the four living beings said,
And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
(Revelation 5:11-14 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this ordinary morning, and hopes that it will become extraordinary
2. for the vision of worship in Revelation 5
3. for the belief that God has placed in my heart; may I embrace it fully
4. for the command to really love others, and to not just pretend (Romans 12:9)
5. for the ability to embrace change in my life
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. 

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! 
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. 
The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. 
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. 
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “believe.” The opening quote is from positive thinker Norman Vincent Peale: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

I almost stopped typing in the middle of that and erased it. Because why? Because, here’s the thing: Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded or called upon to believe in ourselves. That is simply not a biblical concept.

There are, however, plenty of Scriptures to tell us that we are loved by God. And we are called upon and commanded to believe in Him. So, in obeying the command to believe in God, we must believe that we are beloved of God. The danger is that somehow we have to do that without becoming prideful.

So, yes. Believe. But not in yourself; not in your own ability. Believe in God. Believe that He loves you. Believe that He who watches over you never slumbers or sleeps. Believe that He watches over your life.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I am constantly praying the prayer that that father prayed in the New Testament. You know the one. “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” Yes, that one. Help me to believe. Help me to believe in Your constant, never-fading love for me. Help me to believe in Your mercy and grace and forgiveness, because every time I sin, that belief wavers. How could you possibly still be forgiving me for that same sin?? But You do, because You already have, and that is a mystery that I still cannot fully fathom.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
(Romans 12:9 NLT)

I don’t believe I’ve ever read that version of that verse before. The ESV is more succinct, saying, “Let love be genuine.” But I like the idea presented in the NLT. It takes more words, but I think it says it better. The KJV uses the word “dissimulation.” I’m 64 years old, and I’m pretty sure I have never heard that word before. I guess I have read it, because I grew up with the King James Version. But I sure don’t remember it, and I’ve never heard it in conversation.

The Greek word could also be translated “hypocrisy.” The dictionary says it means “pretense.” So, it looks like the NLT nails it. And, oddly enough, the human-added subheading at the beginning of that paragraph says, “Marks of the True Christian.

Indeed . . .

One way to love someone is to care for them or care about them. And the way we care about or for others is to get to know them. What makes them click? What “floats their boat?” What do they like? What do they dislike? What do they need?

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, help me. I’ve not done a good job at this. I’ve certainly pretended to love some people. But have I truly loved them in my heart? Have I loved them with my actions? I’ve heard the cliché, “Love’s not a feeling; it’s a verb.” But how do I do that? Please show me how to love, really love, my brothers and sisters in Christ. And then show me how to love my co-workers. Maybe first, please show me how to best love my family. I wear the shirt, “Love one another.” But I need to do more than wear a shirt.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; 
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; 
his name is the LORD; 
exult before him! 
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
 is God in his holy habitation.
(Psalms 68:4-5 ESV)

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 NLT)

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
(James 1:27 NLT)

There are times when living in both of the above thoughts will require change. In order to fully believe in God and to believe that He loves us and has forgiven us might require change. It might require (gasp) repentance!

When I use that word, though, I am not using it in the typical “evangelical” sense of “being sorry for my sins.” I’m using it in the purest form, which simply means to turn around, to change my way of thinking, to think differently about something. That is literally what repentance means. So, in essence, “change” and “repent” are kind of the same word.

In order to truly love someone without hypocrisy or pretense, change might be required, as well.

We don’t like change. We’re all familiar with the series of jokes that ask the question, “How many ___________ does it take to change a light bulb?” You can insert whatever you want in the blank and come up with a humorous answer. I once heard, “How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer was, simply, “CHANGE?????”

I grew up Southern Baptist so I can make fun of them all I want. There’s an old saying . . . “We’ve never done it that way before!”

But sometimes, we have to. Sometimes we have to change the way we do things, and that takes work and adjustments and variations.

There are also times when we want change. We are tired of the “status quo.” “Life isn’t quite what we had hoped for, and we look for something new.”

But what makes the difference is how we involve God in that change. How do we approach the work? “God is shaping. His hand is molding. We can discover his ways in the changes of our own lives.”

“Change will probably always be uncomfortable. But we can begin to see it as desirable because the One who knows us best is carefully orchestrating the transitions of our lives.”

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

Father, the thoughts that are presented above require change in my heart. Maybe not so much the act of believing, although there is always room for improvement in my “belief department.” But most assuredly the “love department.” I do not feel that I have done a good job following that command, and I need You to help me change. I know that You have already been at work in that area; You have been working there, building and shaping, for close to a decade, now. There is nothing that You cannot accomplish in me, I do believe that. But I also know that I am, at times, stubborn and resistant to change. (Someone who knows me might read that and laugh. “At times?? Hah!”)

Father, I want to fully love people, but first I want to fully love You with every fiber of my being. Back to those two commands, aren’t we? Love You; love people. But do it according to Scripture. Help me to not just pretend, but to really love, both You and the people. I do know that when I pretend to love You, I am only fooling myself, though.

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.


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,

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,

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:

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:

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, 
When angry, 
When tired, 
When stressed, 
And when you pause, 


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 (Again)

Today is Sunday, the twenty-third of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,327

Our Hamilton show is today. I’m not sure what I’m going to count down to, next.

I had a pretty decent night’s sleep, last night. The new CPAP seems to be working pretty well. I’m getting more used to it. However, I have learned that I can’t use the humidifier feature in it, as it tends to clog up my nose. Fortunately, that feature can be turned off.

I learned a couple new things at the library, yesterday, the coolest being how to encode our RFID (I have no idea what that stands for) tags that are stuck in the back of the book. This is an electronic tag that is used to both check the book in and out, as well as provide security at the front door. So when I lay a book on the electronic pad at the circ desk, it checks the book out to the patron and unlocks the security feature so the alarm won’t go off when the patron leaves.

A patron was trying to check out a book that she had placed on hold, and the computer kept saying that the book was not in the system. I noticed that, when I scanned the book on the pad, the number that went in simply said “0.” The assistant librarian on duty helped me and showed me that the RFID tag had not been encoded with the bar code number, then taught me how to do that. Lo and behold, I had to do it again, later in the day, as I was clearing one of the book drops.

I also learned how to clear a patron’s charges from being billed for a “lost” book, after they returned the book to the library. This had not come up, yet, when I was on duty.

As previously stated, our show of Hamilton is this afternoon at 1:30. So we will be heading downtown as soon as we leave our church gathering, today. We will likely pick up Applebee’s on the way home for a mid-afternoon meal.


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:1-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for music and all the joy it brings me, both in the realm of worship and praise, as well as entertainment
2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, and the opportunity to read God's Word together
3. for chocolate candy (all kinds, actually . . . I pretty much love candy, but chocolate is my favorite)
4. that God has been merciful to me, a sinner
5. for the beautiful innocence of children, and for Jesus's teaching that we must become like them to enter the Kingdom

In this morning’s Bible readings in You Version, I came across this passage.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. 
And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 
But Jesus called them to him, saying, 
"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, 
for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 
Truly, I say to you, 
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)

As we were closing the library last night, a young family with two small boys were leaving. As they went out the front door, the two boys were waving and saying goodbye to everyone they saw. The circulation manager was standing by the front doors, as is customary at closing time. Suddenly, I heard one of the little boys shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to the manager.

My heart nearly exploded. Is it any wonder that Jesus told us that we need to become like children to enter the Kingdom? This is the kind of love we must have for others. This is the kind of love I have been striving for for at least five years, now, and more intensely every year, especially in the current political climate of our nation.

Folks, this is not negotiable, in my opinion. There are two “great commands” (here he goes again . . .) that Jesus speaks of. Love the Lord your God with all of your being, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And then, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus delved a little deeper into that second one when He told His disciples that they were to love one another as He had loved them.

This love transcends everything else, and, most importantly, it transcends our blasted opinions about everything!! We should be able to shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to anyone we meet, just like that little boy, last night, regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of the color of their skin.

Trust me, I’m preaching to myself as much as I’m preaching to anyone else. There are some who know me, who know my political leanings and opinions, but I try to keep them away from this place. You may think you know, but you might be mistaken. What I am striving for is to not “lean” in either direction, politically, but to lean toward Jesus. I am reminded of Psalm 146.

Praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man,
 in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; 
on that very day his plans perish. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD his God, 
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, 
who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed, 
who gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
 The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
 the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the sojourners; 
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, 
to all generations. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)

My hope is not in a human prince, but, rather, the Prince of Peace. My hope is not in a human king, but, rather, the King of Kings. My hope is not in a President or any other human ruler. Hope is in Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord, Son of God, maker of heaven and earth.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
(John 3:19 ESV).

Today’s prayer word is “always.”

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
(Exodus 27:20 KJV)

Father, may my love for You and the Light that is within me burn brightly, consistently, and “always.” Father, my heart is aching this morning, as I consider how I have failed to be like a child in my striving to walk in Your Kingdom. Sure, I’ve gotten better, over the years, but I still let differences of opinions and attitudes affect the way I feel about people. I confess this . . . it is sinful . . . and I ask, not only for the forgiveness that You freely give, but that You . . . well . . . fix me. Embed that light of Jesus, that love that He has, within me so deeply that I know no other way. Help me to beat my breast like that tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” I pray that prayer daily . . . “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” May it be so in my life. My hope is in You, Father. My hope is in no man. For only You can give us the resources and ability to execute justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry, set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind, lift up those who are bowed down, love the righteous, and uphold the widows and fatherless. You watch over the way of the travelers and sojourners, Father. Protect us when we travel, but help us to look out for those who are fleeing oppression in another land.

Father, help us to start a love revolution.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

He Will Deliver . . .

Good morning. It is Monday, the thirteenth of November, 2021, the third Monday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,286

Only twelve more days until Christmas!

We had a lovely day, yesterday, in Mineral Wells. Yesterday’s Christmas worship, at First Baptist Church, was very good. I love what their worship leader does. Rather than present a “canned” musical, he curates a set of music, himself, which incorporates the children’s groups, as well as the congregation, in the singing. In other words, it is not a “performance,” as much as it is simply worship.

Afterward, we had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ. I had sliced brisket and sausage, along with their “baked tater salad,” and some “Natty Flats BBQ beans,” as well as a side of their delicious chili. We also had some banana pudding for dessert.

After a few hours of visiting with Mama, we headed home, but not before having to extricate a neighborhood cat from her house. He (or she?) sneaked into the front door while we were saying our goodbyes. Fortunately, S saw it happen, so I was able to get the cat out with little effort. It was quite funny.

Today is a standard day off for me. Laundry is already started, and a trip to one or more grocery stores will be in the near future. Not a big trip. We actually don’t do much of that, anymore, since I can easily go on either Monday or Thursday of any week, not to mention Tuesday morning or early afternoon.

I finished reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly, on Saturday night. I’m going to focus on trying to finish The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, this week. I need to take a glimpse at what I’ve already read, just to refresh my memory. I’m on page eighty-five of a little more than two hundred. I have no idea what will be next.


The Lord is strength and song;
He has become salvation;
I will praise my God.
(Exodus 15:2)
But let all who take refuge in you 
let them ever sing for 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
(Psalms 5:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we have enough; food, clothing, shelter, and more
2. that our hearts are drawn toward helping those who do not have enough
3. for Christmas music
4. for Your care for the needy and weak
5. for Your rescue for the oppressed
And he called his disciples to him and said to them,
"Truly, I say to you, 
this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 
For they all contributed out of their abundance, 
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, 
all she had to live on." 
(Mark 12:43-44 ESV)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree 
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; 
they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; 
they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; 
he is my rock, 
and there is no unrighteousness in him. 
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)
The glory of young men is their strength,
 but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
(Proverbs 20:29 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of the messenger 
who brings good news, 
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns! 
(Isaiah 52:7 NLT)

I pause, this morning, in the silence of the hour, to reflect on the beauty of the message, and on the joy that comes from knowing Jesus.


Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice.  

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, 
the afflicted who have no one to help.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy 
and save the needy from death. 
He will rescue them from oppression and violence, 
for precious is their blood in his sight. 
(Psalms 72:1-2, 12-14 NIV)


John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 
"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 
And do not begin to say to yourselves, 
'We have Abraham as our father.' 
For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 
The ax is already at the root of the trees, 
and every tree that does not produce good fruit 
will be cut down and thrown into the fire." 
(Luke 3:7-9 NIV)
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 
John answered them all, 
"I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 
(Luke 3:15-17 NIV)


As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, attempting to notice how God might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, allowing my heart to respond to the Lord in prayer. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, I see again, the emphasis placed on the needy, the afflicted, the weak, those who need to be rescued from oppression and violence. I see that their blood is precious in Your sight. This causes me anxiety, as I look around me, because I see so much of all of it. So much, in fact, that I am virtually paralyzed because I don’t see how I can help. Yet You move my heart toward generosity, and I pray for direction. I have, we have, resources with which You have blessed us. Guide our hearts and our hands, Father, to know where to direct those resources, that they might provide the most relief for the most people. Help us to do the work of Jesus on this earth. I pray that more of Your people would care more for those whom Scripture clearly tells us that You care about, deeply.

Let us not get complacent or over-confident, either, Lord. We have the example of Israel, who was exiled because of their sin. While it is true that they were allowed to return to their land, and they produced the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ, yet they continue in their unbelief. Being of Israel will do them no good if they continue to deny the truth of the Messiah. Likewise, if we do not follow Jesus and obey Him, we will be lost. I do not believe that we can become lost, once we have begun to follow Him. However, I fear that there may be many who believe they are following Him, who are truly not. Give us clarity of vision, Father, and weed out all false teachers, that the message of the Gospel not be muddled. We leave that to You and Your angels, though, as Your disciples were instructed to not try to remove the weeds from the true grain.

May I not be chaff, Father, that becomes burned with “unquenchable fire.” Sometimes, my enemy foments doubt in my heart. Keep me confident . . . make me struggle with my sin, and not give in to temptation. Increase my joy, that overwhelming sense of well-being, that comes from knowing You through Christ.

"Holy God,
lead me to repentance that brings life.
Not the groveling show that's more about convincing You I'm worthy of Your forgiveness,
but the cut-to-the-heart kind of repentance that is grieved at my sin because of Your holiness and glory.
Move me by Your mercy and lead me to a life of joyful obedience.


“Praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
because he has visited 
and redeemed his people."
(Luke 1:68 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!