Keep Watch Over My Lips

Today is Thursday, December 8, 2016. Seventeen days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” – Alexander the Great

Word of the Day

StickybeakAustralian Slang. a busybody; meddler.

Today is Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day. That would be so much fun!

Here in north central Texas, we are about to get our first bout of “cold” weather. By “cold,” of course, we mean “below freezing.” I understand that this makes people from other parts of the country and world laugh at us, but that’s okay. We admit it. We are wimps when it comes to cold weather. Just remember that we’ve had to endure summers with over 100 consecutive days of 100+ temps. Okay, now Iraq and Afghanistan are laughing at us. Never mind. Anyway, it’s supposed to be below freezing, tonight, for the first time, this season. And we are still approximately two weeks away from the beginning of Winter. As Mr. Martin told us, “Winter is coming.”

The latest updates on C’s step-dad seem to indicate that he is on the mend, but they are still struggling with the blood pressure. He has been much more coherent than he was for the first couple of days after the surgery.

We are still trying to figure out what we are doing for the Christmas holidays. We are supposed to have our worship gathering on Christmas Eve, rather than Sunday morning, but that is the time of C’s family’s traditional Christmas gathering, as well. We are still trying to work all that out. The Christmas gifts are rolling in, though, as we do the majority of our shopping online, now. I got one early, last night. I have needed a new keyboard case for a while, as the one that I have been using has been falling apart. Since I started playing at the monthly Night of Worship, I have been using it again. So we got this new case.
You can’t tell a lot about it from this picture, but it’s a Gator brand case, soft-shell, with a nice, large zipper pocket on the top. It also has what appears to be a quite sturdy wheel assembly on the end.

79 days until the first Spring Training game.
116 days until Opening Day.


Thursday in the second week of Advent

Psa 96:9  Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Psa 67:1  May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.

Psa 119:164  Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.

Psa 25:21  May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 141:3-4  Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!

“Spontaneity in prayer develops intimacy with God.” But do you know what else is spontaneous? Gossip and rumors, or “saying whatever comes into our minds without considering the consequences.” So, we are encouraged to speak whatever comes to our hearts and minds before God, but that is not necessarily the best thing to do with others.

“‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14). Amen.”

I echo this prayer, Father. Help me to stop and examine my words before they come out of my mouth today.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Kingdom Set Aside

Good morning. Today is Thursday, June 13, 2013.

There’s not a lot to report today. I had to work late yesterday, kind of doing damage control, as the temp that was (and I do emphasize the word “was“) working with us had a bit of a meltdown the night before. Based on emails that I can see (and ones that I don’t see), things are going pretty smoothly this morning. Oh, and I officially have vacation scheduled the week of June 24. Woot! I wish we could afford to go back to Cancun. Not yet, though.

Today is Sewing Machine Day. Okay. Well, we have one of those. I’m not sure if I have ever used one of those things.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
323 BC. “Towards evening today in the fabled city of Babylon he died, still only 32. In his twelve years and eight months as King of Macedonia he changed for ever the Western world. He was Alexander the Great.” Oh, the conspiracies abounded. There were bad omens. “Alexander’s pet lion was kicked to death by a donkey.” “Pet lion???” Ravens fought over the walls of Babylon and one fell dead at Alexander’s feet. Perhaps conspirators had poisoned his wine. However, modern historians believe that, “already weakened by alcohol,” he died from malaria. Told by his mother that Zeus was his father, rather than Philip II, shortly before he died, he order “all Greeks to worship him as a god.” Over time, this thought was eventually transformed into “the divine right of kings.”

Today’s birthday is Malcolm McDowell, born on this date in 1943. Malcolm is, of course, and actor that goes way back. He has had a wide diversity of roles, from “Alex” in A Clockwork Orange (I still haven’t seen that movie), to Paul Gallier in the 1982 remake of Cat People (loved that movie!). He even played Caligula in the movie of the same name. He’s had a recurring role in The Mentalist as Bret Stiles, a religious cult leader. He has been in 224 titles in his career as an actor, including 11 titles that are currently in production. I used to think he was related to Roddy McDowall. Then I realized their names weren’t even spelled the same. I like them both pretty equally. Well, except that Roddy passed away in 1998.

Honorable mentions go to Basil Rathbone, 1892, Paul Lynde, 1926, Whitley Streiber, 1945, Dennis Locorriere (Dr. Hook), 1949, Ally Sheedy, 1962, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, 1986.


Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1, 3
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Psalm 57:5

Father, I pray that you would “gladden the soul of your servant” today, as I look into your word to find grace and truth for my day ahead. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Guiding the Nations.” The scripture reading is Psalm 67:1-5.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

This psalm is a strong call for the people of the earth to give praise to God. While his actions definitely include his “chosen people,” they reach far beyond that simple demographic. We have readily acknowledged that God can guide individuals through “circumstances, signs, dreams, visions, and angels.” But have we considered that he can also guide and entire nation? Is that difficult for us to fathom? It really shouldn’t be. The Old Testament is replete with examples of God guiding entire nations to do things. And if he can guide nations, then he can certainly guide individual bodies of believers, right?

The question is asked, “If God can guide the nations, how does this impact your vision about how God can guide you in the greatest concerns of your life?” The problem is, the thought of God guiding nations and other large bodies of humanity has a reverse effect on me. It tends to make me think that God is not so concerned about guiding one individual. Now, mind you, I don’t believe that, it’s just the way my brain works. The “correct” answer is that, if God can easily guide a whole nation of people, then he can certainly guide me with ease, as well.

I’m still reading chapter 1 of The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard. (I’m working quite slowly through this book, as I want to “digest” it properly.) In yesterday’s segment, I discussed the idea that, in our efforts to rule our own kingdoms, we, as humanity, attempt to do so on our own, in our own strength, therefore getting quite off the path that God desires for us. Willard writes that, in cooperation with God, however, we “discover the effectiveness of his rule with us precisely in the details of day-to-day existence.” Do we think that God doesn’t care about the minute details of our lives? I have thought that. How could the Creator of the universe be bothered with little details in my life. Frank Laubach discovered that God does, in fact, care. As he cultivated a habit of turning his mind to Christ frequently throughout his day, he found that there was “a sense of cooperation with God in little things” that was astonishing to him. He had never felt this way before. “I need something, and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.” (From Practicing His Presence, by Frank Laubach)

“When we submit what and where we are to God, our rule or dominion increases.” What did Jesus say in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Willard goes so far as to say that “the heavenly Father has in fact prepared an individualized kingdom for every person, from the outset of creation.” That is difficult for us to wrap our heads around, isn’t it? But Willard says “we have a very weak imagination toward God, and we are confused by our own desires and fears, as well as by gross misinformation.” We must learn to trust God with what he has given us, and he will gradually increase our “kingdom” until we have what he planned for us. Look at verse 34 in the parable: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ (pp. 23-25)

Now, this sounds dangerously like prosperity gospel, doesn’t it? But I know Dallas Willard well enough to know that this is NOT what he is espousing here. This will become more clear as I keep reading in days ahead.

Father, I pray that I would continue to seek your guidance in my life on a daily basis. The timing of this segment on the discipline of guidance is very good, as there may be a major decision for me to make soon. And, right now, I can tell you, I’m not at all clear on which way I should decide. In fact, what was clear to me before has suddenly become quite muddy. Therefore, I need your wisdom in this decision (should it come up at all). I believe that you can guide an individual just as well as you can guide a whole group of people. I also believe that you care about my daily activities, and that I need to be faithful to submit everything in my little “kingdom” to you. Give me faith as I “rule” my realm. May I submit all to you and allow your cooperation in my area of influence, thereby also allowing you to expand that influence. As I pray daily, keep me faithful to stay focused on the needs that I am called to pray for. I also pray daily that you form the life of Christ in me as I live, and that your peace will not only flood my soul, but overflow onto all around me.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi as she continues walking in a regular shoe, that she will not overdo it and wind up back in the boot. She’s having a little soreness and swelling this morning, so I pray that she will take it a little easier today. I pray for her work day, that it will go smoothly, and that her job will remain secure (or that something better will come along). I pray for Stephanie today, that you would be her light today, and show her how to “rule her kingdom.” I thank you for some recent developments at my job that could make these last seven days on this account a little better. Give me the grace and strength to get through them, and then have a wonderful week of vacation.

Your grace is sufficient.

God can certainly guide us as individuals, and consider that he has a “kingdom” already set aside for you to “rule.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Faithful and Just To Forgive

It’s finally Friday. December 2, 2011. 23 more days until Christmas, 29 days left in 2011.

Stephanie was feeling a bit better last night, and her temperature was down below normal, so hopefully, her cold is about over. She still sounds pretty stopped up, but it was obvious that she was feeling better. Thanks for all the prayers that went up.

We had a great time at our lifehouse group last night. So much so that we stayed about 30 minutes past the time we were supposed to. Hopefully, the host didn’t mind too much. Good fellowship, good discussions. One of the huge “takeaways” from the group was that, in light of what God can do in relationships, we cannot afford to consider ANY relationship to be “casual.” That’s something to really think about. Not even a “chance” meeting. (I don’t believe in “chance.”)

Today’s Bible readings:
1 John 1; Daniel 7-8; Genesis 3:15

The book of first John is believed to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel of John, one of the “inner circle” of Jesus’s disciples. He starts out this letter with a testimony of eye-witness to the events that he has written about. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (vv. 1-3) So we have testimony that this man, who is writing this letter about Jesus, has touched him; has seen him with his own eyes. These are not stories that have been fabricated, but eyewitness accounts; relationships with the Son of God.
The next paragraph speaks of the perfect righteousness of God. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (v. 5) Therefore, says John, if we claim to know God, but walk in darkness, we are liars. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (v. 7) Next comes one of the most popular memory verses in the Bible. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (vv. 8-9) If we have confessed our sins, God has forgiven us and cleansed us. If we claim we don’t have any sin, not only do we lie, but we make God out to be a liar, as well.
Our pastor, who likes to occasionally spark controversy on Facebook (not in a mean way, mind you…) states that, because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we are made holy, and we are no longer “sinners.” Many people misunderstand what he means by that. I recall a recent thread on FB that contained one such misunderstanding. He does not say that we don’t sin any more. But, because we have accepted the righteousness and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and we have been made holy, we are not “sinners” by lifestyle. Yes, we do sin. Sometimes a lot. Probably every day. But we are constantly seeking the face of God and a deeper relationship with him through Jesus. We are not “sinners” any more, who choose to live life regardless of God’s commands and precepts. It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but I totally understand what he means. He objects to Christians calling themselves “sinners, saved by grace.” While it is true that we are saved by grace, we are not “sinners” by nature any more. Our nature has been changed. We have confessed our sins, and God has forgiven us and cleansed us, according to 1 John 1:9.

Chapter 7 of Daniel is interesting, but very cryptic. Daniel has a vision that includes four different beasts. Each of the beasts represented a kingdom that would arise on the earth, the fourth being the greatest and most terrible. The fourth would take over the entire earth, and out of that one would come ten other kings (this was the beast with ten horns). Of course, there have been many speculations on what these things mean. I don’t pretend to have any great understanding about it, but I do know one thing. The chapter is very clear on who wins.
“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
“I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
(vv. 9-14)
The Ancient of Days prevails and gives all of the kingdoms to his Son and gives him “everlasting dominion.”
Again, in the interpretation that was given to Daniel, it says:
But the court shall sit in judgment, and his [the fourth beast] dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’ (vv. 26-27)
So, you see? We win.
Chapter 8 seems to mostly be a vision about the rise of Alexander the Great and his Greek empire. Some time after Alexander’s kingdom, a ruler arose named Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was very evil. His actions as described in the part of Daniel’s vision in verses 9-14. Daniel, himself, claims to have difficulty understanding this vision, and was very disturbed by it (v. 27), to the point that it made him ill.

Genesis 3:15 is part of God’s proclamation to the serpent, after Adam and Eve disobeyed his one command in the Garden of Eden (“I told you to do one thing, and you didn’t do any of them!”) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. This is the first promise we see in Scripture concerning the coming of a Redeemer. It speaks of a man who will, more accurately, crush the head of Satan.

Father, I thank you for promises that we can see early in the Bible, that point to our Savior. How good it is to know that you had this all worked out from before creation! I thank you that Jesus has crushed the head of our enemy, and that, ultimately, we have nothing to fear.
I praise you for your forgiveness, Lord. We do not deserve it. We all deserve the punishment for our sins. But you chose to place it upon Jesus, our Redeemer! Therefore, when we confess our sins to you, you are faithful to forgive. Faithful and JUST, the Bible says. I thank you that I am made holy by the blood of Christ. I pray that you would help me to always be walking in the light, rather than darkness. I want to be following your commands, your precepts, your wisdom that is given to us through your words.
I also praise you, Lord, that you are the ultimate victor as seen in the visions of Daniel (this is also displayed tremendously in Revelation, which I will read later this month). Because I have faith in the ultimate outcome of history, I have nothing to fear from anything that this world threatens. I pray that you would help me to live that out in real time. Because I do allow myself to be overcome by fear sometimes, which shows a lack of faith. But I do believe you. As the man said to Jesus in the New Testament, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” Oh, how I long for the day when I won’t be plagued by this flesh any longer. Not only am I weary of this weak body and its infirmities, I am also weary of the fight against temptation and sin.

I thank you for the wonderful fellowship that we had last night with our lifehouse group. I love the relationships that are being built there, and pray that these will continue to grow, and become what we described last night as “providential relationships.”

I pray for this day, Lord. May Christi and I have a good day at work; let it go smoothly without any issues. I pray that Stephanie will continue to feel better throughout this day.

I pray for the weekend ahead. Let us get some much needed rest, but at the same time, let us get things accomplished that need to be done.

I pray that The Exchange will soon have a permanent place to meet.

If we have confessed our sins, God has forgiven our sins. Hallelujah!

Grace and peace, friends.