Promises, Promises

Today is Thursday, the nineteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,443

We stayed up (well Mama, S, and I) to watch the end of last night’s Texas Rangers game, and I’m glad we did. It went into extra innings after Matt Bush blew the save in the top of the ninth. They were ahead 4-2, and for reasons that only God Himself knows, Chris Woodward elected to not use the closer. Bush blew the save, and the game was tied 4-4. The Rangers got bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth but were unable to plate a run. My new favorite Texas Ranger, Jonah Heim struck out.

The Angels scored in the top of the tenth, because of the loathsome “zombie runner” lunacy that was instituted in the shortened pandemic season. That was all well and fine for that weird year. But it should not be continued. It’s a little league thing, in my opinion, and has no place in “grown-up” professional baseball. So the Rangers were behind 5-4 going into the bottom of the tenth. Zombie runner on second base, Nathaniel Lowe plonks the first pitch into the right-field stands to win the game. Walk-off home run.

You might say, “But the zombie runner helped them win.” My response to that is that the zombie runner also put them behind. With no zombie runner, the score still would have been 4-4 in the bottom of the tenth, and Lowe’s home run still wins the game.

I’m also glad Bush didn’t wind up getting the win. One of the things that MLB desperately needs to change is allowing a pitcher to blow a save and then come away with a win if the team wins in the bottom of that inning. No pitcher who blows a save should ever get credit for a win.

Anyway, the most important thing is that the Rangers won, and that they swept the Angels! Final score, 6-5. Dennis (I think I called him Danny, yesterday) Santana got the win again. The Rangers are now 17-19, only two games below .500. They are in third place in the AL West, five games behind the Angels, who were tied for first until last night. The Rangers begin a four game weekend series against the first place Astros tonight, in Houston. Bring ’em on! Game time is 7:10 CDT.

Speaking of the Astros, the Red Sox beat them soundly, yesterday, 5-1, behind a very strong outing by starter Rick Pivetta. The Sox are now 15-22, in fourth place in the AL East, a game and a half ahead of Baltimore, and 4.5 behind the Blue Jays. The Sox play the Mariners tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees (28-9) keep winning. They still have the best MLB record, and still haven’t lost that tenth game. Somebody please beat them!! The Reds (10-26) still have the worst MLB record, by a game and a half. The LA Dodgers continue to have the best run differential, at +83, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the worst, at -71. The Rangers have reduced theirs to -4. The Dodgers also have the best win streak, currently at five. (The Rangers have a four-game win streak.) The Orioles and Diamondbacks are still tied with the “best” losing streak, at six consecutive losses.

Today being Thursday, I will be heading to the library for my eight-hour shift at 11:15 today, working until the library closes at 8:00. My shift goes until 8:15, because it takes a few minutes to do our closing process, which involves several of us walking through the stacks to make sure no one is still in there, and also checking the restrooms. I will be starting a crockpot soup as soon as I finish my blog, this morning. Today it will be Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken, which we have tweaked a bit (not much) to make it more of a soup. We just add more cream of chicken soup and a little more chicken.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that we have often felt you close to us. We thank you that you are near us and that you strengthen the weak. Remember us and give each one the help he needs to be true to his calling. Remember all humankind and grant that we may go forward in spirit and in truth. Give new light to the peoples who are still in great darkness. Let your kingdom and your reign be revealed and your name at last be honored by all. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
I love you, LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:1-2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the nearness of God and His help to be true to that which He has called me
2. that God is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer
3. that God has called me to spread the message of love for one another
4. for the great and precious promises of God that enable me to partake in His divine nature
5. for the community of saints and how they have encouraged and loved me, through the years; may I be as loving and encouraging in response
6. for language; that You speak to us, and that we can speak to You in response

The prayer word for today is “promise.”

Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.
(2 Samuel 7:28 NIV)

It is almost ludicrous to compare the promises that God has made to His people to promises that we make one another. Every time I’m watching a TV show and one person says to another, “I promise I won’t let anything bad happen to you,” I feel like shouting back at the TV. Because no one has that ability. There is not a human being on earth that can keep that promise.

And guess what. God never promised that, either. God has not promised that He will keep anything “bad” from happening to us. God didn’t even keep anything bad from happening to Himself! Have you considered that?

The idea of “promise” is tricky. There are many things in the Bible that people say are promises that are not promises. The biggest one is the thing that fuels that “prosperity gospel,” which is, of course, no “gospel” at all. One of their main verses is the second verse of 3 John.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
(3 John 1:2 NLT)

Looking at it in KJV makes it a little clearer as to why the prosperity people like it so much.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
(3 John 1:2 KJV)

You see, KJV actually uses the word. “Prosper.” Oddly, the Greek word there literally means, “to help on the road,” or “succeed in reaching.” But here’s the thing. (I say that a lot, don’t I?) That is not a promise. It’s not even God speaking. This is a greeting from John, the author of the epistle, to his “dear friend,” Gaius. Basically, it is John saying, “Hey, there, I hope all is well with you!”

That’s all it is.

But there are some promises that God has made to us. One of my favorites is in Isaiah 41:10.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

And while the word “promise” is not used there, I believe that any time God says the words, “I will,” He is making a promise, because God will do what He says He will do.

Here’s another statement that Jesus made, that I believe is also a promise.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
(John 10:27-30 NLT)

I read this as a promise that my eternal salvation is secure.

Finally, I will mention a verse in 2 Peter. Several verses, actually.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
(2 Peter 1:3-7 NLT)

(Inspired by Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You for Your “great and precious promises,” through which I can share in Your divine nature. I pray that You help me to respond properly to these promises, that I might escape the corruption in the world that is caused by human desires. May I supplement my faith with moral excellence, and with knowledge, and with self control, endurance, godliness, and brotherly affection and love for everyone! And because of Your great and precious promises, help me to be faithful to keep promises that I make here on earth. And remind me, before I open my mouth and make some promises, that there are some “promises” that simply cannot be kept. Give me the wisdom to know when to not make those promises.


Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. . . . And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
(Philippians 1:3, 6 NLT)
In times of trouble, may the LORD answer your cry. 
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. 
May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem. 
May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings. 
Interlude 
May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. 
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
 May the LORD answer all your prayers.
(Psalms 20:1-5 NLT)

Side note: Is Philippians 1:6 a promise? We have certainly looked at it as one, historically. I am not 100% sure that it a promise. I believe it is true, mind you. I do believe that God will complete the work that He has begun in me. But this verse is, not unlike the verse in 3 John, part of Paul’s opening greeting to the Philippians, and is more of an encouragement than a promise. Just my nickel’s worth.

The idea behind these readings, though, is community. Paul opens Philippians by thanking God for them. He is grateful to God for the people he has encountered in his journeys. Do we feel the same way about the people we have encountered, the people with whom we worship on a regular basis? Do we encourage them? Do they encourage us?

Paul’s certainty that God will complete the work He has started is directed toward the Church in Philippi, not any individual within that group. This is another thing to consider when we are considering “promises.” Are they made to us as individuals, or to us as the Church?

Then I look at Psalm 20 in that same light. What a wonderful blessing/prayer is the first five verses of that Psalm! I may start alternating that with the traditional Aaronic blessing from Numbers. I challenge anyone who reads this to pray Psalm 20:1-5 over someone today.

Father, I am grateful for the people You have placed in my life, through the years. Most assuredly, I am grateful for the community of saints, the believers with whom I have worshiped in my life, in all the various places. Many of them encouraged me; some of them taught me; some of them challenged me, and not always in a good way. Most of the, though, loved me, and that is the most important thing. Help us to remember that most important part, Father. When someone in the Body of Christ challenges us or annoys us, help us to remember the command from Jesus that we are to love each other in the same way that He has loved us. This is a difficult challenge, at least for me. So I pray for the help of the Holy Spirit in times when I am challenged by another believer.

Father, You work all things together for our good. I believe that is a promise. When we love You and are called according to Your purpose, You are actively working for our good (we have to remember that “good” is according to Your definition, though, not ours). Since You are actively working for our good, then we should also be actively working for each other’s good, as best as we are capable of understanding that.


“God speaks to us. This is the great foundational fact of our faith.” In His speaking, God has brought us both into existence, as well as into salvation.

Regardless of what we believe about the length of time that creation took, I think we can agree that God spoke things into existence. He created everything, ex nihilo, by speaking. In his song, “AlrightOKuhhuhAmen,” Rich Mullins said, “Well the Lord said let there be and there was.” He initiated language, and with that language, he brought things into existence.

Side note: I believe it is worth noting that God created “light” on the first day, but didn’t create the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day. Ponder that, eh?

“Language is the means by which what is unknown becomes known and what is hidden becomes accessible.” God brings His will into existence through language.

“In return, we speak to God. This is the great foundational consequence of our faith.” We do not bring anything into existence with our language, at least nothing that is “new,” or was not already in existence. Let me clarify this. Certainly, being created in God’s image, we are able to create, to a degree. But we do not create ex nihilo. While God can, according to Romans 4:17, create new things out of nothing, we cannot.

But what can and does happen when we speak is that “our speaking brings into the open his glory, our assent to his creating and saving Word, and our sheer and exultant joy in him.”

“Language–this wonderful gift, this mysterious capacity that we have to say who we are, to bring out into the open the secrets of our hearts, the nuances of our emotions, and the thoughts whether confused or clear in our minds–is our basic means for working out who we are by answering god, responding to his invitations and commands.”

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

But there is a warning about language, as well, seen in the little book of James, perhaps one of the most difficult books of the Bible to digest.

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. 
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
(James 3:1-12 NLT)

Father, when I consider Your works of Your “fingers,” the moon and stars, like the psalmist, I am amazed and think, “what is man that You are mindful of him?” I consider that You, in Your wondrous majesty, simply spoke language and things came into existence. I believe, perhaps, that we should beg forgiveness for even entertaining the notion that we could also call things that are not as though they are.

I praise You for Your creation. I praise You for speaking those words and bringing the universe into being, because that universe includes me and all of those whom I love. It also includes beauty; things that I can see with my eyes (another miracle); mountains, oceans, trees, flowers, deserts, colors, the myriad of stars that I can see in the night sky, which You know by name.

I pray that You, by Your Spirit, which resides within my soul, would help me to respond correctly to Your language, using language that You have also created. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. And may my words not be like James warned against. I pray that blessings and cursings would not both come out of my mouth; that I would not be hypocritical. That is so difficult, sometimes, as I’m sure many would agree with me. But it is how we should be as people of Christ. So, as I call myself by the name of Christ, may my tongue represent that Name well on this earth. And when I am tempted to say things that would be unbecoming to a child of Yours, please stop me and make me reconsider.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Little Is Much When God Is In It

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,442

I had a pretty average evening at the library, last night. I had plenty of work, and shelved a pretty full cart of youth books, along with a partial cart of DVDs. That kept me busy for a little over three hours, and then I did my walk through the library, picking up stray books and marking them “used” in our system. We do that simply to indicate that someone at least showed some interest in the item, even if they didn’t wind up checking it out.

The Texas Rangers surprised the Angels in an eighth inning similar to what the Boston Red Sox are kind of famous for. The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the first. But the Angels answered with three in the top of the third. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, right after I got home. It was tied until the top of the seventh when the Angels scored on a Mike Trout solo homer. But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rangers erupted for seven runs! They held on and wound up winning 10-5. Danny Santana got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 16-19 for the season, all alone in third place in the AL West. They are one game ahead of Seattle, two games ahead of Oakland, and seven games behind the first place Astros. The Rangers and Angels will play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, facing the fearsome Shohei Ohtani. Dane Dunning will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Red Sox lost to the aforementioned Astros, 13-4. Egad. They are 14-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of the Orioles. They have another game against the ‘stros, tonight at 6:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees still have the best MLB record, 27-9, and still have not lost that tenth game. The Cincinatti Reds still have the worst record, 10-26, but finally won their tenth game. They are only one game below the Washington Nationals, though. The longest win streak is now a tie between the LA Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, both with a four-game win streak. The Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the longest losing streak, both at five games. The Dodgers are back on top of the run differential chart, with +81. The Pittsburgh Pirates overtook the Reds for the worst differential, now with -72. The Rangers’ run differential, after last night, is down to -5.

I’m off work today, as this is my “light week.” I’m about to head to the store to grab a few things. The lawn guy is coming around noon, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Chicken for dinner tonight. I’ll be at work tomorrow, 11-8, so we will likely have some crock pot soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Father of us all, grant that we may know something of you in our hearts. Each one of us is different, with his own particular needs, but we are all your children and should all become children of your Spirit. Then even in the difficulties of life, in the many struggles, temptations, and sorrows, we can keep up our courage and remain in the Spirit, who is victorious in every aspect of life. Protect and strengthen us on all our ways. We praise you for all you have done and for all the help you have given us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:15b-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ
3. that all I really need to be willing to do is small acts of daily kindness
4. that all of our small acts of daily kindness can add up in the community of saints
5. for the priesthood of all believers
6. for the availability of God's Word in my language (something many of us take for granted)

Sing praises to God, sing praises; 
sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King over all the earth. 
Praise him with a psalm. 
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:6-8 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “morsel.”

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
(Proverbs 17:1 ESV)

I can attest to the truth of this Proverb. Not that I have ever been reduced to only being able to eat a “dry morsel.” But I have certainly feasted in a house full of strife, and the meal leaves much to be desired.

But, truthfully, that is not really the thrust of this word, today. The idea in today’s reading coincides with a song I have heard that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”

We all have this desire to do “big things” for God, right? I used to want to be a rock star, then I wanted to be a “Christian rock star.” I wanted to do great things for God. There is also a possibility that I really just wanted to be noticed and famous.

At this point in my life, having never been famous or a rock star, I simply want to be willing to do small things for God. “Little acts . . . in the Lord’s faith hands become precious morsels that go down sweet.” Simple acts of kindness are sometimes all that is needed in this world, today. Other people can handle the big stuff. I just want to be one who shows love and kindness in my own little corner of this world.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray that You would allow me to be a “precious morsel” in Your kingdom, showing small acts of kindness to people with whom I come in contact. Let me be willing to provide the simplest of acts, maybe nothing more than a friendly smile, a cup of water, or a generous tip to a server. You have given me this desire, so I pray for opportunities to live it out.


Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.
(Romans 16:1-4 NLT)

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT)

What happens when you have a bunch of morsels all together? You get a meal! Even Paul, that “giant” of faith, didn’t do things by himself. His work could hardly be called a “morsel,” but he collaborated with others, and he always was sure to give them credit in his greetings.

What was the first thing in creation about which God said it was “not good?”

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 NLT)

As much as I enjoy being alone, we are not expected to be alone in our work for God. We need each other. We need community. There are some things that I can do alone, sure. Some of those “morsels” I mentioned above can be done by myself. But I could never have donated 1700 pairs of socks to a homeless ministry by myself.

Just something to ponder, this morning.

Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ; the ones I know personally, and gather with regularly, as well as all the ones that I have never met and will never meet until the day we all stand in glory together. Together, we can do great things. May we spread Your love, mercy, and grace around the world!


One of the beautiful things about this community of saints is this thing that we call “the priesthood of all believers.” I have heard that phrase for most of my life, having grown up Southern Baptist. One of the things that this means, and probably the most important in Baptist life, is that we don’t need a priest (as in Catholic) to read and interpret Scripture for us. This was one of the big tenets of the Reformation, because, before Martin Luther came on the scene, the average parishioner did not have their own copy of the Bible. And it wasn’t available in their language, anyway, as all the copies were in Latin. So only the priest could read it.

One thing this does not mean, however, is that everyone’s interpretation is valid. That would be pure chaos. We still need people who are educated in biblical history and context. But, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit. And it is my contention that no one can truly understand the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. And no one who is not in Christ has the Holy Spirit.

The other piece of the priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, in this community of saints, to be priests to one another, ‘with each of us mediating grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and with each of us capable of connecting with another in a way that brings God’s love home with personal force.” Eugene Peterson even goes so far as to word it “the leadership of all believers.”

“Leadership is that capacity everyone has for taking the first step, making it possible for others to follow–the capacity to connect with another so that others can get in on what we are in on. What we are ‘in on’ is Christ.”

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

My desire and hope in this is that I am taking those “first steps” by promoting the love of God through any forum I can access. If I can get just one or two people to follow in that, then maybe they can also be leaders in their own community, as well, and maybe we can have this “love revolution” that I’m praying for.

Father, I thank You for this idea of the priesthood of all believers. I thank You that, first of all, I have the access to read and understand Scripture in my own language. I also thank You that, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to be priests and leaders to one another, showing Your love, mercy, and grace to not only all other believers, but the rest of the world, as well. I pray that there would be more of a spirit of unity in Your Church, and that we would focus on the things that really matter, like walking in Your kingdom, and displaying the love of Christ in our world.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Life is Too Short for Anger and Arguments

Today is Tuesday, the seventeenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,441

Things went smoothly, yesterday, at the podiatrist. The offending toe nail was dealt with, and all is well. C feels much better this morning, and is working from home. It being Tuesday, I will be working at the library from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening.

The Texas Rangers beat the LA Angels, last night, 7-4. Most of those runs were scored in the first inning. We tuned in at the bottom of the first, and the Angels were ahead 3-0. We moaned in despair, but that despair was short-lived, as the Rangers chased LA’s starter out in only 2/3 of an inning, with a 6-3 lead! The Angels would get one more in the top of the fourth, but the Rangers would answer that one with a Jonah Heim solo shot in the bottom of the seventh. Jon Gray got his first win, and Joe Barlow got a save, and is now seven for seven in save opportunities.

The Rangers are 15-19 for the season, now, and are in a virtual tie for third place, although they are .003 percentage points behind the Mariners. They are seven games out of first, and two games ahead of the Athletics. They will play the Angels again tonight at 7:05 CDT in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox helped the Rangers last night, but beating the Astros 6-3, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win this one. The Red Sox are now 14-21, in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of Baltimore. They are 12 games out of first, and four and a half behind the third place Blue Jays, so they have their work cut out for them. They will play Houston again, tonight, at 7:05 EDT in Boston.

The Yankees (26-9) continue to hold the best MLB record, and still have not lost ten games. Ugh. The poor Reds (9-26) still have not won their tenth game. The Detroit Tigers continue to hold the longest win streak, at four games, and the Baltimore Orioles have the longest losing streak, also at four games. The Yankees have overtaken the Dodgers with the highest positive run differential, at +73. The Red and Pirates are tied with the highest negative run differential at -65. In case you don’t know what that means, it means that the Yankees have outscored their opponents by 73 runs, and the Reds and Pirates have been outscored by their opponents by 65 runs. By comparison, the Red Sox and Rangers are both close to the middle, with run differentials of -9 and -10, respectively.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we look to Jesus Christ, who is at your right hand, through whom you have promised help for the whole world. Unite us with him so that we may receive authority to help all people according to your will. May your name be kept holy among us, for your children have every reason to rejoice in the Savior you have given them. We thank you for everything you have shown to those who believe in you. We pray to you, hasten the time when your day shall come with glory, the day when you will give the glory to Jesus Christ, when he will reign and triumph over all evil and bring the peace you have always wanted to give the world. We wait and long for this. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a good night's rest and a new morning, alive with God's grace
2. for the beginnings of a love revolution that will draw many people into God's kingdom; may we draw with love and not fear
3. for an understanding of the brevity of life
4. for the peace in my soul, when I consider God's kingdom
5. that God is my refuge and my strength, always ready to help in times of trouble

For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.

 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 
Interlude 
A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
 Interlude 
Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
 Interlude
(Psalms 46:1-11 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “admire.”

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
(Colossians 4:6 NLT)

The definition of admire is, “regard (an object, quality, or person) with respect or warm approval.” There are those who desire to be admired, and there are also those who obviously do not care if anyone admires them or not. More often than not, this assessment is able to be made based on words and speech, more so than actions, although I will say that I have much more admiration for people whose actions speak louder than their words. Unless, of course, those actions contradict those words, and that’s an entirely different matter.

There is a fine line in this desire to be admired. Do we want to be admired so much that we will compromise our beliefs? Do we come across more like Hamilton‘s Aaron Burr (“Talk less. Smile more. Never let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.”)?

Here’s the thing. Sure, I want people to like me. If I think someone that I’m around on a regular basis doesn’t like me, it bothers me, and I’m curious to know why. However, I’m also insecure enough that I will never ask them. Which means that I’m just nervous around them all the time.

But I also want people to know what I stand for. Hopefully, I make that relatively clear in this forum. I stand for Jesus. But here’s another thing. That may not mean what you think it means. I stand firmly for Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, not for “Jesus” as portrayed by a very vocal group of people in the USA, today. I stand for the Jesus who tells me to love God and love people, to surrender my rights and freedoms to the Lord in order that I might serve my brothers and sisters. I stand for the Jesus who invited prostitutes and tax collectors and “sinners” to break bread with Him.

Jesus was admired by those people whom He invited to fellowship with Him. He was not admired by the religious leaders of His day, and I truly do not think He would be admired by today’s “religious leaders” if He showed up today,

I want to be admired by those whom I am supposed to be reaching with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available to all who want to walk in it. And in order to do that, my words and actions need to be those that build up, not tear down. So I will endeavor to make my conversation gracious and attractive, or “seasoned with salt,” as another version puts it. Or, perhaps, Eugene Peterson says it best:

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
(Colossians 4:6 MSG)

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, please make my speech to always be gracious and attractive, seasoned with salt, that I might bring out the best in people in conversation, and that I might be admired by them, not just so they like me, but so that they are attracted to You. I know, from experience, that the harder I try to make You look good, the worse it goes. There is nothing that any human being can do to make You more attractive than You are, other than to allow Your Spirit to walk and talk through them. The harder I work at it, the more I mess it up. So I pray that, by Your Spirit, the words I say and the things I do will honor You and make You be admired by others, to the point that they desire to fellowship with You and walk in Your kingdom. I pray for the voices in today’s society that are bringing You down to be silenced. I pray for a love revolution that will bring many into Your kingdom. Please cause Your people to draw people in with love and not fear.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 ESV)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:17 ESV emphasis mine)

It was a tongue-in-cheek literal interpretation of Psalm 90:12 that inspired me to start “numbering my days” at the beginning of each day’s blog. I’m still keeping up with that, as you can see, up to 23,441 days. That sounds like a lot. Sixty-four years, plus a handful of days. How many days fit in your hand? As many as you want, I suppose, since a “day” is an intangible thing.

No, I’m not smoking anything, and I’m not drinking. It’s not even noon, yet.

I like a couple other translations of the Psalms verse.

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!
(Psalms 90:12 MSG)

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 NLT)

The last one is more the context of today’s meaning. Life is, in comparison to the universe and eternity, very short. It is brief. It’s like a breath in the face of eternity. If we consider this, we are more likely to allow that peace of God to guard our hearts and our minds.

And here is my main takeaway from this bit, today. Life is too short to spend your time being angry and arguing about things. Especially political things. There are too many people who simply seem angry all the time, on social media. And it’s always about the “flavor of the month.” Right now, everyone is angry and arguing about abortion. Right to life; right to choose. Both sides are angry; both sides are arguing. And this is a non-winnable argument, because both sides are arguing from a completely different perspective. Apples and oranges.

Before that, it was anger about Russian and Ukraine. Then, for the past two years, it was anger about Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. Ironically, the crowd that is on the “pro-life” side of abortion was making the most noise about “my body/my choice” during the mask and vaccine mandates. Go figure.

I will quickly confess that I got swept up in some of that, briefly. But I’m over all that anger. Now, I only get angry when technology doesn’t work right, or when I can’t watch the PWBA bowling finals on Sunday afternoon because I wasn’t paying for the right tier of DirecTV Stream.

Again, tongue is firmly planted in cheek, there, but there is, sadly, some truth to it. The point I’m getting at is that life is too short to be swept up in these things. I don’t think a single one of us is going to step into eternity wishing we had been a little more angry about X, Y, or Z. Rather, I truly think that, if we were allowed any regrets, which I don’t quite see being the case, especially considering that every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no sorrow or mourning, those regrets would be that we didn’t love enough, or that we weren’t generous enough.

You see, all of these things that we are being so angry about, in this life, are things that we might very well be wrong about, or at least partially wrong. The Bible does tell us that we will know all of these things, eventually. I wonder how we will feel when we find out that the majority of our opinions were held in complete and utter ignorance?

Because most of what we think about God and truth, in this life, is based on ignorance. We don’t know God nearly as well as we believe we do. Too many of us think that God agrees with us. Too many of us think that God is on “our side.” I’m a firm believer that the only “side” God is on is His own side, and that I had best be sure that I am on His side.

I’ve digressed just a bit, but I’m coming back to my point. We need to understand the brevity of life, and this understanding will give us more wisdom to live that life. And the wisdom that we need in order to live this life, according to James, is what?

Pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

I’m not seeing a lot of that in today’s society.

Father, I pray desperately that we, Your people, would strive harder to be all of the things that James said in that verse. I pray for wisdom; wisdom that we might know that our lives are too short to waste so much time being angry and argumentative. We really need to stop and consider whether our anger and arguments are drawing people into Your kingdom or pushing them away from it. Teach us to live, Father, wisely and well, in the country of forgiveness and grace, kindness and mercy. Teach us to love. Lord, as Jesus has loved us.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:5-7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Look

Today is Saturday, the fourteenth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of May.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,438

I initially published this without coming back up and adding a few things.

This is my Saturday to work, so I will be in the circulation department of the Hurst Public Library, today.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Boston Red Sox, last night, 7-1. Not a good showing at all, as Rick Pivetta pretty much shut down the Rangers bats, and the notorious Boston bullpen didn’t have to work very hard. Dane Dunning got his second loss of the season. The Rangers are now 13-18 for the season, but remain in fourth place in the AL West, as the Athletics also lost. The Sox are 12-20, still in last place in the AL East, 12 games behind the Yankees. The two teams will play again today, at 6:05 CDT. Glenn Otto will start for the Rangers.

The Yankees continue to hold the best record in MLB, with 24-8 on the season. The Reds continue to have the worst record, but also continue to improve, as they have a three-game win streak. Since the Tigers won, yesterday, the Reds are now the only remaining team that has yet to win ten games. They are 9-24.

The Astros continue to have the longest win streak with 11 consecutive wins. The Rockies and Blue Jays continue to have the longest losing streak, now at five games. The Dodgers have the highest positive run differential, at +74, and the Reds have the highest negative differential, at -62. The Rangers are close to the middle of the pack, with -11. Last night’s loss by six runs tied the worst lost they have had this season.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, almighty and holy One, whose glory shines upon the earth so that we may find joy in you and may live rejoicing in all your loving-kindness, spread out your hands in blessing over all people. Spread your blessing over the happy and the sad, over the courageous and the weak. Shepherd them in your love, in the great grace you have given through Jesus Christ, confirmed in us through the Holy Spirit. Do not let us remain degraded and worthless. Lift our hearts above what is transitory, for you have given us something eternal to live by. Help us every day so that we can reach the goal you have set for us, for many others, and finally for all peoples of the earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
(Romans 5:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we have peace with God because of what Jesus has done
2. for the light and truth of God, sent out from Him to guide me into His presence (Psalm 43)
3. for the example of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, given by Jesus in Matthew 6
4. for Paul's command in Romans 12 to outdo one another in showing honor to each other
5. for the community of saints, in which we all help each other stay on the path

Send out your light and your truth; 
let them guide me. 
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
 to the place where you live. 
There I will go to the altar of God, 
to God—the source of all my joy.
 I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! 
Why am I discouraged? 
Why is my heart so sad? 
I will put my hope in God! 
I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
(Psalms 43:3-5 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “blossom.” Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet, is quoted as saying, “Blossom by blossom the spring begins.”

This is not a word that appears in Scripture very often. It is normally associated with Spring. The appropriateness of this reading for today would largely depend, I suppose on where one lives. It’s mid-May, so “Spring is in the air, right?” Except I live in the DFW area of Texas, where we are currently edging toward triple-digit temperatures. We already had our “week” of Spring.

However, I do find some references to “blossom” in places like Isaiah.

The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with fruit!
(Isaiah 27:6 NLT)

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
(Isaiah 35:1 NLT)

The LORD will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.
(Isaiah 51:3 NLT)

Then there are a couple references in the last chapter of Hosea.

"I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. 
“O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” 
Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.
(Hosea 14:5-9 NLT)

It is the Lord’s great mercy and grace that give life. When our hearts feel barren, or bereft of hope, the Holy Spirit will cause us to blossom with new life.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray for Your grace and mercy to flourish within Your people, blossoming into hope and joy, as we walk through this world in Your kingdom. We definitely have reason to be concerned, if we allow our awareness to focus on the wrong things. But help us to focus on You, and on Your promises, those “great and precious promises” that You have given us, that we might share in Your divine nature.


Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
(Romans 12:10 NLT)

This is something that I will never stop writing about, whenever the opportunity arises. This verse comes right on the heels of verse 9, which I have featured a few times, here.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
(Romans 12:9 NLT)

There are, of course, a variety of translations for verse 10. While the NLT says “take delight in honoring,” the ESV words is, “Outdo one another in showing honor,” almost making it a competition to see who can honor each other the most. How cool would that be, if the church (small c) would do that, rather than people seeking their own honor? The NIV simply says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” Not so much a competition, just a simple act of looking at someone else as being more important than one’s self. I like that, and the NLT, a little better. Because, if we take the mindset of the ESV and attempt to outdo one another, then it might be done in the pretense that is forbidden in verse 9.

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.
(1 Peter 3:8-9 NLT)

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
(Colossians 4:5-6 NLT)

Here’s the thing. We never know when someone is in desperate need of some grace. When someone cuts us off in traffic, or drives aggressively, we seem to always assume that that person is just rude and inconsiderate. But, in truth, we know absolutely nothing about that person (more than likely). I believe that the Lord would have us assume something different. I believe that, if we are going to make the mistake of assuming (we all know what happens when you assume, right?), we should err on the side of grace, and assume that something is troubling that person. What if we prayed for them instead of grumbling, or, ever worse, flipping them off?

The world is in desperate need of grace, right now, and I fear that what it is seeing from the “church” (small c, again) is anything but grace. They are seeing whining and complaining about “freedoms” and “rights.” When, all the while, the Gospel message is telling us, quite plainly, that we are supposed to be honoring one another above ourselves, even to the point of outdoing one another in this effort.

I also believe that this is what we will see coming out of the true Church (Capital C, the Body of Christ). There’s an old Gospel song that I used to sing. “The Church Triumphant (Is Alive and Well).” That’s true, when you use the capital C Church, the Body of Christ. Not so much the “church,” which is, for the most part, a human institution.

Father, teach us to live in the country of grace, where we willingly and eagerly honor one another over ourselves. Help us to take our focus off of “freedoms” and “rights,” and remember that we have surrendered those to You. Yes, in Christ, we have been made “free,” but this freedom is the freedom that enables us to obey Paul’s commands in Romans 12, to not just pretend to love, but to really love, and to outdo one another in showing honor, to consider others to be more significant than ourselves. By doing this, we will show the world that there is truly a better way to live.


In light of the recent examination of some of Martin Luther’s words, in the past week, we might also consider that our reaction toward people might be a symptom of our own failure to trust God with our anxieties. Consider the following questions.

  1. “Are there time when I am crippled by anxiety and stress? Do I sometimes take my feeling of worry and anxiety out on other people in my circle? How can Jesus’ counsel help me with this?”
  2. “What concrete steps might I take to develop a deeper trust in God?”

The reference to Jesus’s counsel in the first question refers to the passage in Matthew 6 that was examined during those readings from Martin Luther.

Jesus spoke of birds and flowers, so it might be wise to do what He said to do. Jesus said, “Look at the birds. . . . Look at the lilies of the field.” Don’t just think about them. Actually go out and look at them; watch them.

At one point, Luther mentions “the concern of love.” This, we believe, is “a focused concern for the well-being of others,” while a “greedy concern,” well, you can imagine . . . it refers to the concern of the selfish heart.

These are all issues with which we must wrestle, ourselves. There is no cookie-cutter answer, for all of our circumstances are unique. Luther’s writing gives us “the idea of a life free from ulcer-generating anxiety,” and leaves us “with the responsibility of translating the reality into [our] life circumstances.” And, to help us, “we have as many teachers and preachers as there are birds in the air, as many theologians and masters as there are flowers in the field.”

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

Father, these are words that help us to continue to grapple with the issues of loving one another and considering one another more significant or honorable than ourselves. When we get caught up in “greedy concern,” we are focusing on our own needs and our own selfish hearts. And I certainly know how selfish my own heart can be. I still grapple with this, every day. Your Spirit, though, helps me set self aside and care more for others, and I thank You for this! I pray that this would be a common occurrence within the confines of Your Church, Father. May the Body of Christ live as Christ lived, caring for each other, and caring for those around us.


I also pray, Father, that You remind us how much we need each other to keep us on the path. It is too easy to lose our focus and forget that our lives are pretty much simply wrapped up in You and us. When I began this journey of faith, it was You and me. But things get cluttered and I frequently lose my way as I get sidetracked by things of the world and distracted by my own selfish ways. When I get back in community, when we, the Church, embrace one another and greet one another and pray for one another, it gets back to where it is just us and You. Jesus, Your Son, is the center of it all. Help us to keep Him the center.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
(John 13:34-35 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Clothed by God

Today is Wednesday, the eleventh of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,435

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Summer Guilliams, friend and sister in Christ.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for making us into a community whose refuge and certainty is Jesus Christ. We thank you that he will not remain hidden from us forever; his life will be revealed, perhaps soon, in our times. Lord God, how long, how long have your children waited! Now a new time is coming, the end of this age, and we rejoice in this even if you must also judge and punish. No matter what happens, we are at peace. We live in your future, in the future of Jesus Christ, in the great day when humankind will receive the Spirit and their old works will come to an end. Be with us. Bless us this night and help us in what we have most on our hearts. We have so much on our hearts, but you see everything and you know our needs. Lord God, your grace will overcome all earthly troubles, and your name will be glorified on earth if only there is a church that believes and truly awaits your help. Praise to your name! You have done immeasurably much for us and you will do even more. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
(Colossians 3:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my life is hidden in Christ, who will soon reveal Himself to all
2. for people in my life that I have called "hero"
3. that God alone is who I worship
4. for the command to not pretend to love others, but to really love them (Romans 12:9)
5. that God will clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and, above all, love

And since no one dares to disturb [Leviathan], who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”
(Job 41:10-11 NLT)

Side note. If you keep reading Job 41, beginning in verse 12, to the end, it is my humble opinion that what is described (called “Leviathan” in an earlier verse) is nothing other than a dragon! As a lover of the fantasy genre, it gives me great pleasure to believe that they did, in fact, once exist.


Today’s prayer word is “hero.” There are a lot of ways in which this word is used. For most people, it is someone who has had a significant impact on their lives, and is, the majority of the time, a human. For example, I have a couple of people that I call “heroes.” One is Carl Yastrzemski, former MLB player for the Boston Red Sox. He has always been my favorite baseball player, since I began loving baseball in 1967. Yaz won the coveted Triple Crown of batting in 1967, having the most home runs, highest average, and most RBIs for the season. That feat was not accomplished again until 2012, when Miguel Cabrera finally did it. The Red Sox also won the AL pennant, that season, and were known as The Impossible Dream Team.

I also have a musical hero. His name is Terry Scott Taylor. Terry is the “front man” for alt-Christian rock group Daniel Amos, as well as a couple of other side projects, The Swirling Eddies, and The Lost Dogs, which is a sort of “Christian Supergroup.” I have been following his music since the early eighties, when a seminary friend introduced me to the Daniel Amos album called “Alarma.” I have met Terry, along with other members of The Lost Dogs. I have not met Yaz.

Do I refer to Jesus as a “hero?” Lola Garcia (I’m not sure who this is, but there is an actress by that name) is quoted as saying, “God has my admiration. I admire all He has done, is doing and will do. He is my Hero!” That’s all well and good, but I think God wants more than our admiration. He wants our worship; He commands our worship. In fact, He wants our all.

I struggle with the idea of giving God the same characterization that I give a couple of mere humans. “Hero.” I looked up “hero,” and here is what I found. The first definition most definitely does not fit God. “A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” The second could, I suppose, “an illustrious warrior.” The third, though, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities,” doesn’t exactly fit. And “one who shows great courage?” Maybe. However, I do not believe that God has “courage,” because when is He ever afraid?

There are a few other definitions, most of which involve literature. One of those is, “the central figure in an event, period, or movement.” I suppose Jesus would fit in that category. Then there is the odd one out, which involves submarines. And finally, “an object of extreme admiration and devotion : IDOL.”

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Is Jesus or God your hero? As I said, my only hesitation in calling Jesus “hero” is the fact that I also call a couple of humans by that designation. I will note, however, that I do not engage in “hero worship.” I realize that both of my “heroes” are but dust. I do not worship them. I do admire them, though, for their accomplishments, probably Terry Scott Taylor more so than Yaz, as Taylor has had much more of an impact on my life than a baseball player whom I have never met.

Father, at this point, I cannot, in good conscience refer to You as my “hero.” However, You are my God, and You, alone, are the One whom I worship. I will not give that worship to a human “hero,” as only You are worthy of that. I cannot flippantly refer to You in the same way that I use that word for any human being, or any cartoon comic book character. [I neglected to mention my love of Spiderman when I was a young lad.] I do pray that Your Spirit will continue to work within me that I might ascribe all glory and strength to You, and give You the full amount of my devotion and worship. Let my heart not be drawn to another, Father, at least in terms of worship and adoration. May I truly love You with my whole heart, Lord, as I walk in Your kingdom.


Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NLT)

This verse comes up a lot in my devotions. I have to assume it’s because I haven’t perfected it, yet. In fact, I know very few people who have even come close.

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.
(Romans 12:9-13 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NLT)

Wow. That passage from Romans in the New Living Translation! “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” That sends shivers down my spine, my brothers and sisters. We do an awful lot of pretending, in this culture, these days. There is a lot of “posturing” or “posing.” But when the proverbial rubber meets the road, what happens? Are we really caring for the oppressed and downtrodden? Are we taking care of the widows and orphans? Or are we too concerned about ourselves and our own “freedoms” and “rights?”

Father, I pray that You help me to obey the commands in these verses. I pray that I am not a pretender, but that I really love people. And there doesn’t need to be a reason to love someone, other than the fact that we are supposed to love them. Love is supposed to be the primary identification of someone who calls the name of Jesus. The old youth song says it, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I find that to be laughable, today, Lord, because I don’t see a lot of love coming out of the “Christian camp.” God help us! God forgive us! Make us lovers, not fighters, Father!

I pray that You clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Let those be qualities in me that people can see right when the meet me. And let Your grace and mercy shine through me, so that the world can see You in me. Let me not do anything out of “selfish ambition,” but help me to be last; help me to consider others as more significant than myself, in all things. In short, I am nothing without You, and in the words of John the Baptizer, “He must increase; I must decrease. Above all, clothe me with love!”


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Beyond Reason

Today is Tuesday, the tenth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,434

Yesterday seemed a little busy, but not terrible. I got C’s oil changed and filled up her car with gas, as planned. I also got several loads of laundry completed, and then cooked chili for us for dinner, last night.

Mama and I watched most of the Texas Rangers game in NYC, but they lost, 1-0. It was obviously a very close game. Both pitchers pitched well, the Yankees pitcher flirting with a no-hitter. In the end, the Rangers got 2 hits and the Yankees only got 3, but they were able to plate the run. John Gray, the starter, did pretty well, and was not pegged for the loss. The Rangers are now 11-16 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL West, one game ahead of the Athletics, who broke their losing streak yesterday. The Rangers begin a series with the KC Royals today at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday. That’s good, because it meant they didn’t lose. Hopefully, the rest did them some good, and they can maybe refocus and win a few. They face the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The Yankees are back on top of MLB, with 20-8 record, being the third team to have 20 wins. The LA Dodgers (19-8) are only a half game behind them. The Cincinatti Reds have a win streak! They have won TWO IN A ROW! They still have the worst MLB record, at 6-23, but they are only 2.5 games behind the Tigers. There are now only three teams who have yet to win 10 games; the Reds, the Tigers, and the Royals. Let’s hope the Rangers can keep that true for the Royals. The Astros continue to hold the longest win streak at 7, and the Tigers now have the longest losing streak, at 6. The LA Dodgers have, by far, the biggest run differential, at +70, while the Reds have the biggest negative at -74.

It’s Tuesday, so I work tonight, from 4:15 to 8:15, at the library. It’s my “heavy” week, so I will also be working tomorrow and Thursday, have Friday off, and work Saturday. I think there might be plans for C and Mama to go to Mineral Wells on Saturday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, bless us who have become united in our hope in you and in our expectation of your help on this earth, where people live in all kinds of foolish ways. Bless your Word within us. Grant us your Holy Spirit to restore life and gladness to our hearts, even in grief and suffering. Grant this not only in the distress of the whole world, but also in our own lives as long as we remain on this earth. Let signs be seen on every hand that you help us and give us a strength we can rely on. You help us in all circumstances every day, every year, ever anew. For this we thank you and praise your name. Amen.
(Today's daily prayer from Plough)
Trust in the LORD and do good. 
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 
Commit everything you do to the LORD. 
Trust him, and he will help you. 
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, 
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
(Psalms 37:3-6 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the safety that I feel in the presence of God
2. that, in Christ, there is no difference between any of us; we are all equal in Him
3. for the hope of the full realization of my salvation, my inheritance in heaven; may I wait patiently and confidently
4. that God cares for us more than He cares for the birds of the air; this should give us great confidence in Him
5. for the various platforms of social media that are available to spread the positive message of the Kingdom of God; I pray that people would stop using them to do harm and spread harmful words

Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
(Job 40:1-5 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “differences.” Author Tom Robbins is quoted as saying, “Our similarities bring us to a common ground; our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.”

In many ways, everyone is different. According to science, everyone has a unique DNA string, with very few exceptions. In many ways, we are alike, as well. Everyone has at least one doppelganger in this world.

While Mr. Robbins has a good point, all too often, we focus too much on the differences. Much ado is made about the differences between, say, male and female. And there are people out there that are proud of their difference. Some people want to be known as outside the norm.

But here’s the thing. According to the Bible, in the eyes of God, there is no difference. No, that doesn’t mean we are made out of cookie cutters. It doesn’t mean that we are rolled out like doughnut dough and run through that machine that cuts out fifty doughnuts that all look exactly the same.

What I mean by this, and what I believe Paul meant, is that, in Christ, we are all equal. It has been said, and I have quoted this here, before, that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Here’s what Paul says:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 NLT)

Here is another passage that brings the same kind of message:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
(Romans 3:21-24 NLT)

Where the NLT says “no matter who we are,” the NIV says, “there is no difference.”

So, yes, let us celebrate differences, as long as we are looking at them in a positive light. As soon as you use “differences” as a way to place yourself ahead of someone else or make yourself feel more important than someone else, you have crossed a line into sin. Because, here’s another word from Paul:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NLT)

(Inspired by Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You for the differences in all of us that keep things interesting. But I pray that we not use differences as a way to discriminate against others. It makes me sad that I see a lot of that going on, these days, and, at times, even using Your name as an excuse. That ought not be, Father. I pray that Your Spirit would intervene in these cases and change hearts and minds to view everyone as equal under Your gaze. This, I believe, falls under Your command to love one another. So, please help us to do that. May we embrace differences, but not use them.


King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.”
(Daniel 4:1-3 NLT)

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
(Romans 8:24-25 NLT)

This is the essence of hope. We are looking forward to something that we do not yet have, and we wait. Sometimes not so patiently, and most definitely, not always confidently.

If I’m being honest (isn’t that a strange phrase? I mean, shouldn’t we always be “being honest?), I do not always wait patiently. If my wife would read that statement, she might fall on the floor laughing. I do believe I’m getting better, though. Confidence is another thing entirely.

I’ve always had this problem. My faith is not an issue, when it comes to what I believe God can do. I’m just not always confident that He wants to or He will. So I wait, sometimes not patiently, and sometimes not very confidently.

But there are things that I am both patient and confident about. One of those is the “future grace” (a John Piper-ism) of my inheritance in “heaven.” This is something that I hope for, because I do not yet have it. In one sense, I do have it, because it is, I believe, set aside for me. But in a more tangible sense, I do not yet possess it, because I cannot see it or experience it.

So I hope. And, even though I have been “saved,” I do have salvation, I am also still waiting for salvation to be fully realized. I long for the reality of this, yes, with all my heart. But I wait. Patiently and confidently. And that changes the way I look at the world.

Father, I thank You for this hope that I have. For if I was not confident of my eternal inheritance, I would have no hope. And, frankly, I do not see how anyone can survive, in this world, without hope. My hope in Christ is what allows me to look around me and see all the trouble and still keep going. That hope is what keeps me from despair. And that hope is also what keeps me from chasing after “causes” that are not relevant to Your Kingdom. Help me to walk more confidently and patiently in that hope, Father.


Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
(Matthew 6:26-27 NLT)

Here is something that addresses that struggle that I have with confidence in my waiting. In The Place of Trust, Martin Luther also addresses this, and, quite handily, puts us to shame as he speaks of the birds being our “schoolmasters and teachers. It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow should become a theologian and a preacher to the wisest of men.”

Finally, he says, “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting Him and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more. Thus this is an excellent illustration that puts us all to shame. We, who are rational people and who have the Scriptures in addition, do not have enough wisdom to imitate the birds. When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people. But after his fall from the word and the commandment of God, man became crazy and foolish; and there is no creature alive which is not wiser than he. A little finch, which can neither speak nor read, is his theologian and master in the Scriptures, even though he has the whole Bible and his reason to help him.”

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

I find this both amusing and shaming. Amusing because of the way Luther presents it to us, but shaming, because it is true. Any amount of worry that I might experience falls to the ground when I consider the truth of Jesus’s words. And, when I acknowledge the truth of those words and embrace it, the weight that is taken from my shoulders is immense. We have no excuse, my brothers and sisters, to worry about anything. We have ever reason to live like the birds. Not that we don’t need to work for our living, because that is our lot in life. We need to do that for which we were created. The birds can do that for which they were created, and the Lord takes good care of them. We have our own purpose, and when we are walking in that purpose, we will have all that we need.

Of course, “need” is the operative word in that sentence.

Father, I thank You for the truth of these words, and I thank You that they arrived on the heels of a brief discourse about my struggles with confidence. There will always be doubt in my mind when it comes to certain prayers that I lift up. I don’t know if it is Your will or plan to heal someone from a disease. I don’t know what You have in store for someone who is suffering or struggling with something. But I do know that You are there with us, and that everything we do, we do in Your presence. I also know that You love us beyond measure and beyond human reason.

If we could fill the ocean with ink and make the sky a parchment, and attempt to write Your love on that parchment, it could not contain all the words, and it would drain the ocean dry. Help me and help all of us to embrace this love, this love beyond human reason, and to live our lives in confidence that You will care for us like You care for the sparrows.


These words from Eugene Peterson, to a large degree, sum up the way I feel about my presence here, and on other forms of social media.

“My first and continuing pastoral purpose in this pulpit is that you confess Christ personally. As a pastor, I have never wanted to be a moral policeman. Your morals are not that interesting to me. I am not interested in rewarding you when you are good or punishing you when you are bad, nor as a pastor have I wanted to gather large crowds here for religious entertainment. It makes little difference to me whether there are many or few in this place. Religious crowds are the easiest crowds to gather. But increasing the number of people under one roof has never been a conspicuously successful way of involving people in what is essential. The pastoral act that is central to me is to introduce God at his personal best (Jesus, the Christ) to human beings at their personal best.

“That is exactly what I hope happens here each week. I don’t want merely to tell you about this great story I have been reading in this book (the Bible); I want you to meet the Author. And he has told me that he wants to meet you–to involve you in a new story he is making. I can arrange the interview.

“Do you see why I have little interest in entertaining you with gossip about God? Do you see why I have little interest in lecturing you about what kind of life you ought to lead? There is something far more interesting and more to the point about introducing you personally to the personal God so that you no longer talk about God but to him. I long for you to confess Christ personally and get in on the new creative work that God is writing: the story of your salvation.”

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

Obviously, I’m not a pastor with a pulpit. But I am a person with a forum, a form of media that I use to proclaim a message. I might be guilty, at times of “lecturing,” but that is only because I desire to see people doing what Jesus commanded us to do, which is to love God and love people.

One thing I do not do is beg for followers or try to manipulate people into following me. That is something that I find quite annoying on TikTok and other social media platforms (YouTube, as well, although, at this point I do not have a YouTube channel), the constant begging and trying to attract followers. I couldn’t care less what that number is. Oh, sure, I’ll admit that it felt good to see that I now have over 1000 followers on WordPress, but that is not my intent; that is not my purpose. That just means that there are that many more people who will be introduced, in some way to Jesus.

My favorite part of the piece by Peterson is the bit where he says he wants people to be talking to God, rather than talking about Him. And that is why I include my prayers in this blog. I want to encourage everyone who reads this to not only think about, meditate on, and contemplate God and the Scriptures, but I want to also encourage people to pray.

Father, I thank You for this platform that has been provided, and the freedom I have to express my beliefs on said platform. I thank You that this goes out all around the world, and that it is available for people to see almost anywhere. I do realize that there are exceptions to this, because of various circumstances. I pray for this blog to reach people for Your kingdom, for Your “cause.” I believe with all my heart that Your cause, the Gospel of Christ, is the only cause worth following and fighting for. I pray that someone will read these words, today, and get a glimpse of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that they might being to experience Your love beyond reason.

I don’t even have to know about it. I send out these words with the confidence that You will work through them. I have the same confidence in Your Word, because You have said that Your Word will not return to You without serving its purpose. I also pray that You would, as far as it serves Your purpose, “redeem” all forms of social media, that they would be used for good and not harm. All praise and glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Grace and peace, friends.

Praise Him Anyway

“We cannot take a word of Jesus here and think on it for a few minutes, then admire and act there. This is a world-determining and life-transforming person we are involved with. No detail of our lives is exempt from his energetic, eternal work.”

Today is Monday, the ninth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,433

We had a most wonderful day, yesterday. Our gathering at the house of Brandon and Kristin was a great time. A couple brought “cronuts,” which are “donuts” made out of croissants. They were quite delicious. We simply had a great time fellowshipping, then we read some Scripture and took the supper. We kind of didn’t leave time for prayer this time, but will work on that next week.

The baked potatoes and steaks were marvelous. Even though I cooked them, I will boast just a bit and say that we never had a better ribeye at Hoffbrau, and theirs are pretty darned good.

C and I had a great time at our massage, as well. Those people do a magnificent job. The environment is so very calm and peaceful, and the way they do a couples massage is so tranquil. It was just amazing. We plan on trying to get over there at least once a quarter. They have a monthly membership, but we kind of feel that that would be too often and it might lose its “specialness” if we do it that often.

The Texas Rangers managed to split the double header with New York, and, while I’m disappointed that the win streak ended, I’m proud of them for holding their own against the current best team in MLB. (Scratch that . . . after yesterday, the Dodgers are back on top, thanks to the Rangers!) The first game, they lost in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1. Dane Dunning pitched spectacularly, and had five innings of no-hit ball. Glenn Otto started game two, pitched very well, but gave up 2 runs. Garrett Richards got the win, as they tied and went ahead in the seventh inning, first on some smart base running by Jonah Heim, and then a two-run shot by Brad Miller.

So the Rangers hold fourth place, with a 11-15 record, two games ahead of Oakland, who has now lost nine consecutive games. The Rangers finish this series in NY with a makeup game today, at 12:05 CDT. I will likely watch at least part of that game.

The Red Sox . . . man. I don’t even want to talk about them.

As previously stated above, the LA Dodgers now hold the best record in MLB, at 19-7. The Mets, however, were the first team to win 20 games. The Reds won a game!! Actually, the seem top have won two, since the last time I looked, because they are 5-23, now. Still firmly entrenched in the cellar, but things may be looking up. The Athletics now have the longest current losing streak, at nine games. Unfortunately, the current best win streak belongs to the Astros. This, too, shall pass.

Today, I have a couple of things to get done. Most importantly is getting the oil changed in my wife’s car and filling it up with gold gas. This is a sort of carryover Mother’s Day “gift.” I told her to take my car to work today, and I would take care of those things for her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, our God and Father, we thank you that in all the misery and night on earth you have let your hope dawn as a light shining for all your people - all who honor your name, all who dwell in Jesus Christ through forgiveness of sins and through resurrection to a new life. Praise to your name. Praise to Jesus Christ. Praise to the Holy Spirit, who can comfort, teach, and guide our hearts. O Father in heaven, we can never thank you enough that we are allowed to be a people full of grace, full of hope, and full of confidence that your kingdom is coming at last to bring salvation and peace for the whole world. Amen.
(Today's Daily Prayer at Plough)

“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
(Isaiah 60:19 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for hope that dawns as a light shining for all of God's people
2. for God, my everlasting light and my glory
3. that, no matter what is going on around me, I can praise and thank God, anyway
4. for the compassion, mercy, and unfailing love of God; I pray that He helps me to display those characteristics in my own life
5. that things in God's kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine; therefore, I will not focus on what appears to be "bad" around me

God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.
(Acts 19:11-12 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “anyway.” Interesting choice, but a good one, because it takes into account anything that may occur in our lives and says, “I will praise You, anyway.” The choice of Scripture is fitting.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT)

I rather like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased this:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to GOD. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on GOD’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 MSG)

The writer of today’s reading, Bob, compares the word “anyway” with the word “whatever,” which he notes was used extensively by his teenaged offspring.

“‘Whatever’ signaled indifference; ‘anyway’ signified determination. ‘Whatever’ implied helplessness; ‘anyway’ indicated strength. ‘Whatever’ suggested stagnation; ‘anyway’ denoted motion.”

Bob calls Habakkuk’s passage, there, the “anyway prayer.” And even though the text doesn’t use the word “anyway,” it can be paraphrased from the word, “yet.” Even though these things may or may not happen, I will praise the Lord, anyway.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I can easily embrace the words of Habakkuk, this morning. Even though there may be things that challenge me, threaten to dishearten me, I look to You for comfort and strength, and I will praise You anyway, because I believe, in the words of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”


The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
(Psalms 103:8 NLT)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 NLT)

So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
(Romans 9:16 NLT)

Father, since You have shown such compassion and mercy and unfailing love, who are we, who am I to not do the same? We have fallen far short, I fear, in those categories, in general. While I do see examples of Your love and mercy, if I look hard enough, what is more visible is many of us refusing to display the characteristics that Jesus displayed when He walked on the earth. His words, His commands, tell us to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love You. Help me to do these things, Father, in the same way that Jesus did. Mold my heart, Father, to love more.


“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?”
(Matthew 6:25 NLT)

Martin Luther discusses this passage in The Place of Trust. This life on earth does not last forever. Therefore, expending energy on gaining property and wealth is a waste of our time. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and “mammon,” which means, in a sense, wealth as an evil influence, or “the devil of covetousness.”

There are certainly things with which we must be concerned in this life. We do need food; we do need clothing; we do need shelter. But we must not “worry” about these things, to the point that it is all our heart thinks about. There is a fine line between making sure we provide for ourselves and our families and obsessing over the procurement of more stuff and money.

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

Father, I pray that all of us would be able to follow Jesus’s words on dealing with possessions and money. While I don’t believe that You expect all of Your people to sell all their possessions and give everything to the poor (that was only commanded to one individual that I know of), I do believe that You would have us hold on loosely to our possessions, especially considering that everything we “own” has come from You. So help us to not worry about things and know that, just like the flowers and birds, You are going to take care of us.


What does the word “salvation” mean? We think we know, because the word is so common in our vocabulary. But, in a sense, it has almost become a cliché.

Eugene Peterson says, “it refers to action that exceeds our comprehension even as it invites our participation. We need to return to the word with fresh attention, with lively curiosity, over and over again, and discover anew the central action of the universe. Jesus is ready to save.”

Salvation is what Jesus is up to. It is His “hidden” agenda, although it really isn’t all that hidden. But the thing is, those of us who name His name and gather to worship Him must be willing and ready to “enter into his act of salvation.”

This does not mean we “work” for our salvation. Not at all. Participating in it and working for it are two completely different things. We have to understand that “salvation” is not a “one and done” thing. This is a fallacy that may or may not have been propagated by certain preachers.

“We cannot take a word of Jesus here and think on it for a few minutes, then admire and act there. This is a world-determining and life-transforming person we are involved with. No detail of our lives is exempt from his energetic, eternal work.” (Emphasis mine)

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

One big problem that I have observed is that there are way too many people who think that participating in, or entering into, this salvation means nothing more than evangelism. They think that by “preaching the Gospel,” that they have done their job. This is, apparently, based on the fact that the last thing that Jesus said to His was what we call “The Great Commission.” But it seems to me that Jesus spent a lot more time talking about this:

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
(Matthew 25:35-36 NLT)

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
(Matthew 25:42-43 NLT)

I would recommend reading the entire passage, which, by the way, is not described as a “parable.”

The words and ways of Jesus are not meant to be observed and appreciated from afar. They require a response. It is not possible to simply think that Jesus was a “good teacher.” That, my friends, is absurd. He claimed to be God.

Supposedly C. S. Lewis said this thing, but I don’t care if it was him or someone else, because it is logical and true. Either Jesus was who He said He was, or He was a lunatic, or He was a liar. Those are the only three choices. A “good teacher” is not one of those options.

I believe that Jesus is who He said He was. Therefore, my life needs to reflect that, and it requires more than just preaching or teaching the Gospel. It requires that I sacrifice myself, my resources, my possessions, all that I have, in His name.

It’s a work in progress, this “salvation” thing. Back to that thing I said about “one and done,” it’s not something that just happens, and that’s it. We must immerse ourselves in this “world-determining and life-transforming person.” If we claim to follow Christ, and someone who is “down and out” asks us for something, and our response is “Get a job!!” there is something wrong; there is something very wrong.

Father, I please forgive us for when we get so self-absorbed that we can’t see the plight of those around us who are hurting. Forgive us when our eyes are all on ourselves and our “rights” and our bank accounts and how much we have to pay for gas, instead of maybe things we can do to help others. Help us to remember those words from Habakkuk, way back up at the beginning of this. When gas prices are high, when inflation is out of control, when things simply look bleak all around, I will praise You anyway. Because, truly, when we are in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. I will not focus on what is “bad,” especially since “good” and “bad” seem to be somewhat arbitrary in human eyes, anyway.

Thank You for the great salvation of Jesus Christ, and all that He has accomplished for us in Your name. I pray that You would help me to be involved in that salvation, and that I would keep my eyes open, to see where You are working in this world, and to join in, with all my heart and soul, as I walk in Your kingdom. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Yield to Joy

Good morning. It is Sunday, the eighth of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,432

It is Mother’s Day, today, so happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers. If you are not a mother and desire to be, I pray that God would make that come to pass for you, that your joy may be full. If you are missing your mother, today, I pray that God would bring you comfort in this. If your relationship with your mother is, at best, strained, or, at worst, estranged, I pray for comfort in that, as well, and, if possible, resolution.

We will have our worship gathering, this morning, after which I will cook steaks and baked potatoes for lunch (actually, the potatoes will be cooking while we are gone), and then C and I will head out for our couples’ massage.

Hopefully, the Rangers will get to play baseball today. The first of two games is scheduled to begin at 12:35 CDT. The second game, of course, is “TBD,” because we don’t know when the first one will end, do we?

I must move on, because I still have to shower and prepare the baked potatoes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Fourth Sunday of Easter)
The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. 
He rescues them from all their troubles. 
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
 he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 
The righteous person faces many troubles, 
but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. 
For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; 
not one of them is broken!
(Psalms 34:17-20 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my mother and all that she taught me, through the years; Happy Mother's Day!
2. for my wife and all she has done for our children, through the years; Happy Mother's Day!
3. that the Lord does, indeed, hear us when we cry out to Him, and will rescue us from all our troubles
4. that I don't always have to be first, and can allow others in front of me
5. that I don't always need a crisis in my life to feel alive; I am alive in the presence of God, celebrating the joy of being in His presence, the "pleasures forevermore" of being at His right hand (Psalm 16:11)

“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. 
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"
(Job 38:2-7 NLT)

So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.
(Proverbs 23:25 NLT)

Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
(Song of Solomon 8:7 NLT)

but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
(Luke 2:19 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “yield.” This is a word that we, as a culture, don’t like very much, these days. Unless, of course, we are pushing toxic masculinity, demanding that women “yield” to their abusive husbands. But that’s a topic for another day.

Andrew Murray is quoted as saying, “Being filled with the Spirit is simply this–having my whole nature yielded to His power.”

The most obvious example of yielding is the traffic sign.

When we see this sign, we are to give the “right of way” to oncoming vehicles from another direction. The most common case of ignoring these signs occurs when one is exiting the freeway. People already on the access road are normally supposed to yield the right of way to those coming off the freeway. I would opine that the majority of drivers, at least in DFW, ignore this.

But I’m not really here to talk about traffic. This is a spiritual devotional blog. Humanity, in general (and again, I’m almost always speaking in terms of Western culture), doesn’t like to “yield” to anyone. This became so very obvious in the thick of the Covid pandemic, as the simple act of wearing a mask became a hot-bed of political debate, as people (even Christians!) screamed about their “rights” being taken away.

When God commands that we love one another, we must yield. Jesus, in one of His teachings (not exactly a parable, because He wasn’t telling a story, but, rather simply illustrating a scenario) . . . well, I’ll let Him tell you.

“When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 
“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:8-11 NLT)

This is what yielding looks like. This is what loving one another looks like. I attempt to do this when I drive (sorry, but I’m back in traffic again). I almost always drive with at least two to three car spaces between me and the car in front of me. I am more than happy to let someone else be in front of me.

But we not only have to yield to each other, as we obey God’s command to love one another. We must also yield to God. This is also not easy. We have our own desires, which may or may not be bad, inherently. But our timing and God’s timing don’t always coincide. Everything works better when we yield to the Lord, allowing Him to work His good pleasure in us, which also allows us to do His will and bring Him glory.

There’s a quote, made famous by Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers: “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I thank You that You have given me this spirit that is not concerned with being first. I live in a country of “me-first,” and sadly a large number of Your children have fallen into that trap. I don’t want to be first (I mean, sure, it’s nice, but it is not the desire of my heart, to the detriment of others). I still struggle, sometimes, because I’m still human, and dwell in this mortal coil. So I ask You to help me, always, continue to be yielding, both to my fellow humans, and, more importantly, to You, as You direct me through this life. I am far from perfect, in this, just as I am far from perfect in all areas of life. So help me to yield to Your Spirit in all things.


Have you ever known anyone who loved trouble? I believe I have, as I look back on my life. I don’t. No worries there. Trouble is not my friend. Even the smallest of troubles (for example, I recently had an issue where my PC would not go to “sleep” on its own, after a period of activity) has the potential of causing me great anxiety.

Eugene Peterson writes of a statement a friend of his made a number of years ago. “Do you know something? I have just realized that I like being in trouble. I am more myself when I am in trouble. I do things better.”

Peterson was convinced that many people share that preference. I believe I agree with him. I once had a manager who created emergencies so that he could then be the hero and solve them. I’m not joking about that.

But if you think about it, trouble does stimulate some of us to “be our best.” “Trouble forces us to gather our energy.” We might be standing around bored, not knowing what to do, when a crisis arises, and “suddenly we are alert and excited–alive.”

(Not me. I’m cowering in a corner in a fetal position.)

The Psalms tell us, many times, that God is an “ever-present help in time of trouble,” and that He rescues the righteous from all of his troubles. He never promises that we won’t have trouble. Who doesn’t remember the old classic, “I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden,” by Joe South?

God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is in the business of helping, healing, and delivering. But Peterson, as a pastor, wondered, what about those in between times, when most of the flock doesn’t need helping, healing, or delivering? “Maybe if I do a really good job on Sundays teaching you the moral discipline so that you will stay out of trouble, I won’t have to work so hard during the week! Or is there something else?”

Then, he says, “Many people find a decent, comfortable life like that intolerable, so they create trouble just to keep the action going.” Oddly enough, during his research, Peterson discovered that, during the Nazi bombing of London in WWII, “nearly all of the citizens’ psychological neuroses disappeared. People didn’t have time to be emotionally disturbed: they were in deadly trouble, and they had to do something about it.”

Spiritually, it may be true that we are always in crisis, because we know not the hour of our death. But there is more to life than dealing with crises. Peterson asks the question, “How do we live at our best when we don’t have to?”

And then the reading stops! He doesn’t answer the question!!

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

I’m no Eugene Peterson, that’s for sure, but my answer to that question revolves around the word “joy.” I take great comfort in passages of Scripture like Psalm 16:11.

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
(Psalms 16:11 NLT)

I believe that when we learn to live in Christ, embracing this joy of His presence and the pleasures of living with Him, this tendency toward needing crises goes away. This is where contemplation and meditation come into play, as well as the truth of yesterday’s Peterson reading, that spoke of reading the Bible “devoutly,” rather than just academically or superstitiously. When we truly spend time pondering the Word of God, we begin to live and walk in that sense of joy and pleasure, just to be in His presence. It is then that the need for trouble fades; it is then when we truly feel alive, no matter what is happening around us.

Father, I praise You for Your Word, once again. I thank You for that joy that comes from simply being in Your presence, and the pleasure derived from Your presence, as well. I think there are some who are uncomfortable with the idea of getting “pleasure” from You, but I’m not. You have led me down this joyful path, in recent years, and I thank You for this.

I pray for any people who feel that they must be in trouble or have a crisis to truly feel alive. I pray that they might learn to know joy and pleasure, just from being in Your presence.

As we gather to worship You, this morning, no matter where we may be, I pray that Your people would embrace joy and love one another. May we all learn to yield to each other and to You, as we worship You today, and each day. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
(Psalms 9:2 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
(Psalms 28:7 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Complete and Equipped

“Reading Scripture academically is only interesting. Reading Scripture superstitiously is merely silly. Scripture must be read devoutly so God’s Word will craft us from the inside out, shaping our awkward, ill-formed lives until we are ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

Today is Saturday, the seventh of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today!

Day 23,431

Just in case anyone is wondering, we will be in the season of Easter until June 5, which is Pentecost. I’m pretty sure that, after that, we will be in “Ordinary Time,” until Advent. I’m still learning the liturgical calendar, and different groups of people have different Ordinary Time periods.

The Texas Rangers have already been postponed, again, today. They must be having some wicked bad weather up there in NYC. So now, there is a double-header slated for tomorrow, and a makeup game on Monday, where both teams were supposed to have an off day. The Rangers remain in fourth place, and still are working on a four-game win streak. They are a game ahead of Oakland, who has now lost seven consecutive games, apparently trying to catch up with Cincinatti in that column.

The NY weather must not be extending all the way to Boston, but I wish it had. They lost yet another game, last night, to the Other Sox, 4-2. JBJ made some great defensive plays, though, in the ninth inning. Boston has now descended into the cellar, embarrassingly behind the Orioles, who have won a couple games in a row. Boston is 10-17 for the season, and are now a half game behind Baltimore. They will attempt to get a win, today, against the Other Sox, at 4:10 EDT.

Speaking of Cincinnati, their game was also postponed, yesterday. In fact, there were six games postponed, yesterday, in total! There appears to be a huge storm system covering that whole area. Games were postponed in Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, and Cleveland. So far, only the NYC game has been postponed today.

Anyway, the Reds still hold the worst record in MLB, but it didn’t get any worse, yesterday. They have still lost nine consecutive (only two more than Oakland, at this point), and are 3-22 for the season. There are still five teams who have yet to win ten games, and Boston has the fifth worst record, in spite of not being one of those five teams.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. While many believe this to be a “Hallmark Holiday,” it actually originated, in the U.S., in 1907, on May 12, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. However, there are instances of a similar “holiday” as far back as the Middle Ages, when people who had moved away visited their home parishes on “Laetere Sunday,” the fourth Sunday in Lent. This eventually became “Mothering Sunday” in Great Britain, where, according to Britannica, it still continues into modern times, even though largely replaced by Mother’s Day.

We will not be traveling, since my mother now lives with us. I will be cooking steaks and baked potatoes for lunch. C and I will have a couples’ massage tomorrow afternoon, my gift to her. We did not buy any Mother’s Day cards because they are almost $10 this year. That’s just ridiculous. We got my mother a new table to go between her bed and easy chair in her bedroom.

Today, we will be going to a friend’s house to help celebrate the one year birthday of her grandson, Charlie. Good times. Outside of that, there are no plans.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.
Taste and see that the LORD is good. 
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 
Fear the LORD, you his godly people, 
for those who fear him will have all they need. 
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, 
but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing. 
Come, my children, and listen to me, 
and I will teach you to fear the LORD.
(Psalms 34:8-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and I have experienced the joy of taking refuge in Him
2. for the closeness of the Holy Trinity, as I constantly experience the presence of Christ in me and around me
3. for the Name of Jesus, a light that the shadows can't deny, and that Name cannot be overcome
4. that reading Scripture devoutly allows me to listen to what God is saying to me and participate in the ongoing conversation that He is having with me
5. that reading Scripture devoutly will ultimately make me complete and equipped for every good work

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.”
(Acts 17:24-25 NLT)


Today’s prayer word is “close.” I’m a little confused about the Scripture reference, but I’ll put it in here and see where they go from there.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
(Matthew 7:3 NLT)

The contextual meaning of the word “close,” for today’s reading, is the idea of being near something, “a short distance away or apart in space or time.”

Something being close can be good, or it can be bad. The writer of today’s reading, Buck, explains by comparing the closeness of his wife with her arms around him (definitely good) to a stranger in the plane seat right next to him, who has “dead rat breath.”

This is also where the Scripture verse comes into the picture, as Buck has a “conversation” with God in which he complains about the stranger’s breath and God replies with, “You think your breath is better?”

Even the closeness of God can be good or bad. It is certainly good to me, as I derive great comfort from the belief that God is always close to me. I love this quote from St. Patrick:

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

That is a wonderful example of “close.”

But the closeness of God is not such a good thing for those who either don’t believe in Him or are rebellious against Him.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You for Your constant closeness. Realizing the truth of St. Patrick’s words, above, gives me great comfort and reduces, sometimes eliminates entirely, any fear that I might experience. When worry or fear assails the doors of my heart, I am always tempted to give in, and sometimes I do, because I forget, momentarily, how close You are to me. But then Your Holy Spirit reminds me, I call out Your name, and the fears are gone. Indeed, “Your Name is a light that the shadows can’t deny; Your Name cannot be overcome.”


Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
(Psalms 37:5 NLT)

Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil.
(Proverbs 16:6 NLT)

I am grateful, my Father, that You have led me down a path of trusting in You. I have experienced Your help so many times in my life, and have witnessed the truth of Psalm 37:5. Help me to have a better, healthy “fear” of You in my life, as I walk in Your kingdom. There are many things with which I am grappling, at this point in my life, in terms of truth and its relationship to humanity. I pray for Your Spirit to clarify things in my mind and in my heart. I commit the way of my future to You.


All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 RSV)

The word “complete,” which is in most modern translations of these verses, comes from a Greek word, “artios,” which, according to Eugene Peterson, means “‘skillfully put together’–not thrown together haphazardly but carefully crafted.” In fact, the KJV translates the word “perfect.”

Many peoples’ lives appear to be haphazardly thrown together, being held together only by “a lot of foreign matter: drugs, hobbies, money, diversions, and fads.” It’s interesting that he chose to put “drugs” first, because I expected to see things like “alcohol, and sex” after that. But no, the next thing on the list is “hobbies,” so we are immediately humbled and stop that tendency of pointing fingers at the people whose lives are torn apart by substance abuse.

Says Peterson, “the skillful reading of Scripture is the means that God provides to put us together in the right way so that we are complete. It’s what he uses to shape, correct, and train us as human beings with dignity and eternity rather than as conditional consumers salivating at every commercial or as bundles of animal sensations enslaved to impulses of greed or lust or violence.”

Wow. That last sentence is kind of brutal, isn’t it? But when I look around, I see a lot of that, even among the people of God who have been led astray by the wiles of a greedy and capitalistic society.

“There are wrong ways to read Scripture, and Scripture is often read wrongly.”

Side note: I totally concur with this sentiment and have seen it in action. For example, I once had a conversation in which a more conservative person than I told me that he believed a woman couldn’t be a pastor because the Bible says that the pastor must be the husband of one wife. I challenged this by stating that, if that is true, then the pastor must also be married. He was not willing to follow his own logic to that end. I have little tolerance for such tomfoolery.

“Reading Scripture academically is only interesting. Reading Scripture superstitiously is merely silly. Scripture must be read devoutly so God’s Word will craft us from the inside out, shaping our awkward, ill-formed lives until we are ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

I know someone who basically only reads Scripture academically. He knows more about the Bible than I do, for sure. But his spiritual life is practically nonexistent. I also know people who pretty much only read the Bible superstitiously, searching the Scriptures for proof-texts to validate their wrong thinking about God.

Let’s be clear. I do not always read Scripture correctly, either. I used to be guilty of reading it academically, trying to memorize every nook and cranny. I have also been guilty of reading it superstitiously, thinking that, somehow, reading a portion of the Bible every morning would make my day go well. I have also been guilty of thinking wrongly about God, and probably still do about some things. And I’m getting quite weary of hearing from people who think that they’ve got it all figured out and are right about everything. Because only Jesus was right about everything.

Several things happen when we read Scripture “devoutly.” By the way, one meaning of “devoutly” is “in a totally committed and sincere way; earnestly.” So (my thinking, here) reading devoutly means that I am totally committed to allowing God’s Word to . . . what did Peterson say? “Craft [me] from the inside out, shaping [my] awkward, ill-formed [life] until [I am] ‘complete, equipped for every good work.'”

One thing that happens is that “we deepen and extend our involvement in the conversation that God has with us.” Yes, God is constantly having a conversation with us. We may or may not be paying attention to that conversation, but it is there. And He constantly invites us to participate in said conversation.

Another thing that happens is that “we become more at home with his ways of working and more familiar with the way his mind works.”

And the third thing that happens is “we are listening to God speak to us. His Word addresses the centers of our beings and calls forth responses that complete our lives into wholeness.”

Father, there is a lot of depth in this reading and a lot to consider/ponder. I am very grateful for Your Word and have loved it for as long as I can remember. As far as I know, I have been reading Your Word since I was able to read, and was always fascinated with it. As I grew and read it in different ways, my understanding changed (or perhaps lack, thereof). I do not claim to fully understand it, now, and know that I never will, at least not until I have shed this mortal coil and stand in Your presence in Glory. And then, if I understand correctly, at that moment, I will “know as I am known,” and all of the clouds and shrouds and fog will be lifted. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be. I will know all of the places where I was wrong and understand it all. And then, I am certain, I will fall on my face before You at that same moment, worshiping Your almighty and magnificent Name, for all eternity.

There will be no sorrow for the areas in which I have been wrong, only rejoicing to finally grasp and understand the totality of truth. Why do I believe that there will be no sorrow? Because Your Word tells me that that emotion will not exist in heaven. And, somehow, we will all be changed so that we will have no ill feelings toward everyone who disagreed with us on earth. That is almost incomprehensible! But I believe it will be true.

I pray for that day when I will be “complete and fully equipped.” I do believe I am moving in that direction, but really, really slowly. May Your Spirit work within me to help me read Your Word devoutly, every day, that I might become complete, for that is my heart’s desire. I ask for no riches or possessions, no fancy cars or homes, no more “stuff.” What I want is You, and to fully understand You, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place

Today is Friday, the sixth of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,430

I had a fine day at the library, yesterday. There were a couple of challenging patrons, but I always have help from at least one other manager or librarian during my time, there, and they were graciously helpful. As usual, I learned more about my job while I was there, and it is always good to learn new things, so that I can help the next person better.

The Rangers didn’t play yesterday, but the Red Sox did, and lost tremendously to the LA Angels, by the score of 8-0. The sad thing is, Boston’s starter, threw five shutout innings! It was the bullpen, once again, that blew the game and gave up 8 runs. The Sox are now 10-16 for the season, tied with Baltimore for last place. They begin a series with the Other Sox (11-13) tonight, in Boston.

The Rangers begin their series in NYC, against the Evil Empire tonight. Game time is . . . oops. No they don’t. Tonight’s game has already been postponed, and a double header is planned for Sunday. So there you go.

Those Yankees still hold the best record in MLB, at 18-7, but are only a half game ahead of Milwaukee’s Brewers and the Mets. The Reds have now lost nine consecutive games and are 3-22. There remain five teams who have yet to win ten games. The aforementioned Reds, the Washington Nationals, the Detroit Tigers, the KC Royals, and the Chicago Cubs.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer)

I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
(Psalms 34:1-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for blue skies and mild weather, today
2. for all things that are lovely, and for the loveliness of the Name of the Lord
3. that God will show me the right path to follow; that His Spirit will lead me forward on firm footing
4. that God is rooting out all false gods from my life, any idols that may be in His place in my heart
5. for the hope that you will see these things and be inspired to practice your own gratitude

Today’s prayer word is “lovely.”

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

We have the ability to choose what we allow our minds to dwell on. One of my favorite Dallas Willard quotes is in regard to this. “The ultimate freedom we have as individuals is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon and think about.”

The casual observer might be forced to think that the majority of US citizens are choosing to dwell upon the most negative things possible. Paul gives us this admonition in Philippians, a most wonderful encouragement, to think about, to dwell upon, whatever is “lovely.”

What are some things that are “lovely?”

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude
(Psalms 84:1-4 NLT)

The dwelling place of the Lord is lovely. Now, we know that when the descendants of Korah wrote this psalm, they were speaking of a physical building. But we now think of the “dwelling place” of the Lord as the human soul. Therefore, I must believe that the soul of a human being is “lovely.” Believe me, that is extremely difficult, sometimes, especially when confronted with a human being who seems to have no soul.

The name(s) of the Lord is “lovely.”

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.
(Psalms 135:3 NLT)

There is a song that I like, called “Tremble.” It’s all about the wonder and beauty of the name of Jesus. The bridge says this:

Your name is a light that the shadows can't deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

The name of Jesus is lovely, indeed, and most worthy of the attention of our minds.

This is the value of meditation and contemplation, the classic disciplines. By practicing these disciplines (and there is a difference between the two), we train our minds to do exactly what Paul encourages us to do in Philippians 4:8, to think upon things that are “lovely.”

And what Dallas Willard said is true. As human beings, we have the unique ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. The problem is, we simply fail to do that, most of the time. Just because a thought pops into our head, doesn’t mean it has to stay there, right?

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, help me, today, to dwell upon what is lovely. If a negative thought comes into my brain, help me to push it right on through, dwelling on the loveliness of Your name or Your dwelling place. May I look upon every human being as lovely in Your sight, because You created all of us in Your image. I pray that all of Your people would do the same, and treat others with dignity and respect, even if they don’t agree about things. Your Name is lovely. The Name of Jesus chases shadows away and will not be overcome. Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble! Hallelujah!


Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
(Psalms 25:4 NLT)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
(Psalms 143:10 NLT)

As I reflect on the things that are lovely, meditating on and contemplating the name and characteristics of the Holy Trinity, then the Spirit of God can “lead me forward on a firm footing.” The Lord can “show me the right path,” and “point out the road for me to follow.” But this takes work on my part. Yes, I can pray for God to do these things, and He does answer prayer, but it’s not just automatic. I have to do the work required to learn these things. I must practice the disciplines in order to train my mind to think about the things that are pure and lovely.

Father, I praise You that You will point out the path, show me the road, and help me keep my feet on that path. But I ask You to help me practice the disciplines that will enable me to hear You when You guide me. Help me to learn how to pay attention. When I have trained my mind, heart, and soul to listen to You and focus on Your loveliness, then fear has no place in my life. Regardless of the circumstances that I see in the world around me, I will have no fear if I am simply focusing on the right things. So help me to focus on the right things. Help me practice those disciplines.


"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name, Amen."
(From The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer)

Eugene Peterson expresses a wonderful sentiment in a reading called “Do It Yourself.” He relates a personal story, in which he attended a concert by Pete Seeger (I’m not at all jealous)(yes, I am, that was sarcasm), where Seeger played the banjo and sang folk songs. Peterson was inspired by Seeger’s banjo playing, to the point that he went and bought a second-hand banjo and found some used instructions books and tried to learn how to play, himself.

Here’s the thing. As much as he enjoyed the concert, and likely would have enjoyed another, the “distinctive thing in that experience was not that I wanted to go back and here Pete Seeger sing again but that I wanted to do it myself.”

And then, as he has a way of doing, Peterson applies this to the teaching and preaching of the Gospel. “That is what pastors should want to take place when they teach and preach the Scriptures–not to have people become dependent on them but to have people become eager to get the Bible in their own hands and become competent in reading it.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this way of thinking. Sadly, however, when I observe the world around me, I see a veritable plethora of people who have not, in fact, studied the Scriptures, themselves, but, rather, are spouting nonsense that they have heard from other people, who may or may not have studied Scripture, or have studied it wrongly.

I have several goals with this blog. One is simply nothing more than to have a record of my daily devotions. Years ago, I decided that keeping them online would take up a lot less space than writing them in notebooks, and would be quicker, as well. I can type a lot faster than I can write. But another goal (as well as a corresponding goal for my Facebook posts and TikTok posts) is to inspire people to 1) read and study the Scriptures themselves, and 2) practice daily gratitude.

Don’t read what I say and just believe it (or not believe it, for that matter). Be like the Berean Christians in Acts who “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” And, for heaven’s sake, don’t just believe something because a pastor said it from a pulpit.

But more than anything, I want to inspire you to be grateful. I want to inspire you to think about things that are “lovely.” I want to inspire you to love God and love people, to take part in a Love Revolution.

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

Father, I pray that people will see this blog, read it, and then take it upon themselves to think about things that are pure and lovely, to love You and to love each other, and then to practice their own gratitude. I pray that people would see Your loveliness reflected in the way I live, not the ugliness of the world around me. Help me to reflect Your love and mercy and grace, rather than everything negative in the world.


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.