Today is Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Day 21,831.

Only SIX more days until Christmas!! I still need to wrap some presents!

Alvin Lee, born on this date in 1944 (died 2013), said, “I started off playing the clarinet, after I was inspired by listening to my dad’s Benny Goodman records.”

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is stultify, a verb, meaning, “to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical.”

Today is Look For An Evergreen Day. Granted, they do seem a little harder to spot in these parts.

The weather is looking really “iffy” for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The high Christmas Eve is supposed to be only around 40, with temps dropping to below freezing that night. It says “partly sunny,” with only a forty percent chance of precipitation, so maybe we will be okay. I don’t want a “white Christmas” because we are planning to travel later that day. I know. Selfish of me, huh?

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)
Tuesday – Third Week of Advent

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Psalm 95:1
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Psalm 144:5
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
Psalm 71:23
I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 89:1
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:10-13
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:10-14
Dear Father always near us, may your name be treasured and loved, may your rule be completed in us – may your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven. Give us today the things we need today, and forgive us our sins and impositions on you as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us. Please don’t put us through trials, but deliver us from everything bad. Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours – forever – which is just the way we want it!
Dallas Willard
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory now and for ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Luke 5:15-16

Even Jesus, the Son of God, and God Incarnate, needed time alone. Being continuously around people sapped his strength. I can only identify with that a small bit, but I know that, when I am constantly around a lot of people, it makes me tired. I’m an introvert and don’t try to hide it. But getting alone to pray is more and more difficult, these days. I find a small bit of solace in my morning drive to work, but even then, I’m surrounded by other people. We’re just separated by hunks of metal and plastic. We need time alone to pray. One of the more important of the Spiritual Disciplines is solitude. It’s important to be alone, sometimes. If Jesus needed that, how much more do we?

Father, please help me find time to be alone and pray, and, when appropriate, to be silent and listen.
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.

First Or Last?

Good morning. It is Friday, December 19, 2014. Just 6 more days until Christmas! My last day of PTO for this year.

(New feature)Today’s Word of the Day is syncretic: “characterized or brought about by a combination of different forms of belief or practice.”

Today is Underdog Day. So go ahead; cheer for the unlikely winner today. Or watch cartoons featuring a little dog that wears a leotard.

We had a great time, yesterday. After the doctor’s appointments (the dental appointment was canceled, because the dentist we were taking Stephanie to doesn’t take Medicaid for patients over 21), we went and had breakfast for lunch at Joe’s Coffee Shop in Watauga. Or is that Haltom City? Anyway, they always have a good breakfast. After that, we took our new bowling balls to Watauga Brunswick Lanes, and had the pro there fit us and drill the balls. Christi decided on a fingertip grip, rather than conventional. We aren’t sure, but it may be her first time to use fingertip. I have used fingertip for years, but it has been twenty years or more since I have been fitted, so the pro wanted to do a new fitting, rather than copy my old ball. We also both elected to have slugs and grip inserts put in the balls. He said it would be about thirty minutes to an hour, so we left to go look for bowling shoes and bags. Academy Sports does not have any bowling equipment. Dick’s Sporting Goods, even though the Interwebs claim they do, did not have bowling equipment.

So, we wound up back at the pro shop, where I found some decent bowling shoes for about the same price they were selling for on Amazon. Then we looked at several rolling bags that he had, which fit two balls and shoes, and picked out one of those, so we can both put our bowling balls in the same bag. It’s pretty likely that we will always be together when bowling, so that’s a good thing. He had our drilling finished, and all he had to do was determine which finger grip inserts to put in them. Within fifteen minutes we were bowling with our brand new Columbia 300 Throw Down balls. I have used Columbia 300 bowling balls for about 30 years. Of course, they really aren’t “Columbia 300” any more, even though they carry the logo. They are made by Ebonite.

Anyway . . . Stephanie bowled with us, and we had an awesome time. Christi did very well, and by the end of game two, had really found a groove! She got three strikes in a row, at least twice, and finished game two with a 172, significantly above her average from twenty years ago. I failed to break 100 the first game, as I had a little more trouble figuring out the new ball’s breaking characteristics. Also, my “style” suffers severely, from lack of usage. But the second game was much better, with a 162. Christi beat me soundly, 319-259, for the two game score. We plan to get in more practice, and possibly join a league next year, sometime, maybe over the summer.

We were so tired from the bowling, that we came home and collapsed to watch TV for a little while. Then Christi had her Huddle group, after which she stopped and got some dinner to bring home for us. All in all, it was a pretty fantastic day.

Today, we plan to go out and get some last minute Christmas shopping finished up; gift cards, cash, stocking stuffers, and so on. Also that evasive oil change. Looks like I’m going to have to skip the car wash for now, as there is a 60% chance of more rain today.

(Source: This Day In History)

On this date in 1986, Michael Sergio was sentenced to a fine of $500 and 100 hours of community service. His crime? Parachuting onto the field at Shea Stadium in the first inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox.

And people blame Bill Buckner . . . sheesh. Lo, and behold . . . Buckner was batting when the incident occurred!!

Today’s birthdays include Alyssa Milano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cicely Tyson, Jennifer Beals, Mike Lookinland, Kristy Swanson, Al Kaline, Robert Urich, Alvin Lee, Maurice White, William Parry, Ford C Frick, Ralph Richardson, David Susskind, and Robert Sherman.

Kristy Swanson is an actress who was unfortunate enough to play the part of “Buffy Summers” in the original movie of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie was quite awful. Fortunately, Joss Whedon was able to resuscitate the character into a very successful TV show.

Alvin Lee was the lead guitarist and singer for the blues/rock group, Ten Years After. He was born on this date in 1944, and passed away last year, on March 6. Here he is with a virtual army of other guitar players. I’m not sure what this performance is taken from, but it’s a lot of fun.


(From The Divine Hours)

Third Week of Advent

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Psalm 147:7
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:5
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalm 110:4
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 John 5:1-4
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are
sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and
deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever. Amen.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:9-12
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:20-28

In The Reformation Study Bible, this passage is prefaced with the heading, “A Mother’s Request.” I wonder if James and John were embarrassed by this shameless request by their mother. Or, do you think they put her up to it? Who knows? We really aren’t given any insight into the motive behind the request. Either way, it is quite arrogant, especially when they answered in the affirmative Jesus’s question, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” Was Jesus surprised by this request? Of course not. You cannot surprise God! Nevertheless, I can easily see him shaking his head as he responds, “You do not know what you are asking.”

I am not surprised at the reaction of the other ten. But then, Jesus gathered them all together, and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that they still weren’t quite getting it. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” He had just alluded to this a short while ago, in the parable of the landowner, when he said, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” This turned their world upside-down, just as it does ours, today. We want to be first. We don’t want to serve or be “slaves” to one another. Just look at the way we drive! We cannot stand the thought of someone getting in front of us! I struggle with this on a daily basis, as I drive to work. But God is steadily working on this attitude in me. I’m finding it much easier to allow plenty of space between me and the car in front of me; space for someone else to slide on in, if they need to. I don’t need to be concerned about who gets in front of me. Ever.

And, you know, even this gets tricky. If I’m letting people in front of me, all the while thinking, I’m going to be last so I can be first, I’m still not quite getting it, am I? I need to be letting people in front of me because I care nothing for my own status or position. All is for Jesus; all is for Christ. It is all about him; none of this is about me. It doesn’t matter whether I’m first or dead last. God will take care of me.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Gigantic Secret.”

“‘Christmas for the pagans is small publicity,’ Chesterton said, ‘for the Christian it is a gigantic secret.’

“And the gigantic Christmas secret is that Emmanuel, God-with-us, is a baby boy ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ When Jesus Christ is born in me, hope burns brightly and everything else fades into twilight. The roof can collapse, winter heat becomes unavailable, fair-weather friends shift their allegiance, popularity wane. The Kingdom of Christ Jesus remains alight within me. As Don Quixote tells Aldonza in The Man from La Mancha: ‘Wins and losses don’t matter, all that matters is following the quest.'”

. . . who through him are believers in God,
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

1 Peter 1:21

Father, as this Christmas season progresses, I sense more of the joy than I have felt in many years. I am savoring that, to the point that I almost wish it was still another week or so until Christmas Day. The funny thing is that this really should not be an issue, at all, as I should feel this joy all year long. So that’s what I pray for. May this baby be born in my all year long, and may the attitude of not caring if I am first or last be prevalent in my thoughts, words, and actions, every day of the year. May I be willing to be the servant of all, and pour myself out for the benefit of my brothers and sisters in Christ, love them the way you have loved us, which is one of the commands that you have given us. May I grow to the point that I am constantly pursuing this idea of intimacy with Jesus in my life, thinking more about him than I am anything else. Let this color everything I do every day, and may my heart be undivided toward worshiping, thanking, and serving you through Jesus Christ.

I pray for this day, that we would have a good time as we go out and about. May we get everything accomplished that we need to do. I pray for your grace to fill this family during this season, and the rest of the year, as well. As our celebrations approach, next week, I pray that we would do a good job of sharing the Kingdom with our friends, co-workers, and family members. Especially those who tend to annoy us more. May your grace rain on Stephanie during this Christmas. I pray for Rachel, in the aftermath of her accident, that she would be okay, mentally, and not be overwrought over it.

Do you want to be first? We might wind up being first in line, here on earth, but that won’t get us far in the Kingdom. Kingdom rules are different.

Grace and peace, friends.

Joy in Simplicity

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, December 19, 2013. Six days until Christmas. What’s the greatest gift you ever received?

Today is “Regifting Day.” Apparently, the third Thursday in December is the most popular day for office Christmas parties. We all know that the gifts that are exchanged at these affairs are typical junk. So today is the perfect day to get rid of that horrendous cow cookie jar that you got last year.

Stephanie’s temperature elevated a bit as it got later last night, but is down to 98.1 this morning. And with that, we shall do the Myposian Dance of Joy.

We’re all feeling better this morning. My stomach was a little “iffy” all day yesterday, but I have to believe that this was mostly because I’m paranoid. When someone else in the house starts throwing up, I immediately panic and start feeling queasy, myself.

Today’s birthdays are: Ford C. Frick, 1894, W.A. Criswell, 1909, David Susskind, 1920, Robert Sherman, 1925, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, 1926, Al Kaline, 1934, Alvin Lee, 1944, Marianne Faithful, 1946, Robert Urich, 1946, Alyssa Milano, 1972, and Jake Gyllenhaal, 1980.

Alvin Lee was the guitarist in the band Ten Years After. He died this past March. Here is a You Tube clip of their performance of “I’m Going Home,” from Woodstock, 1969.


Third Week of Advent

Psalm 51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 86:1-2 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 85:9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Mark 1:1-4 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Today’s reading in A Year With God (and I might point out that “A Year With God” is going to take slightly more than a year. . . with twelve days left in December, I still have twenty readings left) is “To Whom Do You Belong?” The scripture reading is Colossians 2:20.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations. . .

If we could find a way to refuse “to define ourselves as ‘consumers,'” perhaps would could reorient our focus on God and away from all the material stuff. While many may feel that the Amish community goes to an extreme, their rejection of modern conveniences certainly allows them to focus their attention on God’s providence. When we tithe or give offerings to God, we are decreasing our self-indulgence and raising “our awareness that everything we have is God’s gift.” Looking back at the list of disciplines that have been studied over the course of this year, it is possible to find other disciplines that can aid us in the practice of simplicity.

Prayer: Any time spent in prayer is time that we do not focus on ourselves or our physical trappings.
Worship: When we truly worship God, we take our focus off of ourselves and our own greedy desires.
Service: When we engage in acts of service, especially toward other people, we focus on someone else’s needs other than our own.
Secrecy: When I pray in secret I’m not drawing attention to myself. Anything that I do that does not feed my ego helps me live a more simple life.
Meditation: Just as with prayer, any time I spend meditating on God’s word is time that I’m not spending thinking about memememememe!
Solitude: Getting alone with God (and I believe that truly practicing solitude means also leaving behind most forms of technology) forces me to focus on him and his word while leaving the trappings of the world behind, making me less dependent on outside sources.
Fasting: When I fast, I’m giving up something that is very dear to me. Doing this makes me think more simply, again, focusing attention on God and his desires for my life.
Submission: When I submit to God (and others in authority over me), it forces my attention away from me and my desires.
Sacrifice: When I sacrifice things that mean something to me, it simplifies my life.
Silence: Silence, like solitude simplifies life because I’m not always having to think about what I’m going to say next. It also helps me truly listen to what others are saying.

If you are familiar with the disciplines, you will note that I did not list all of them. These are the ones that I think are most helpful in the discipline of simplicity. As I get closer to the end of this book, I see that these disciplines are meant to be practiced all at once, not one per month. The spiritual disciplines, not unlike the Beatitudes, are meant to create a style of living that glorifies God in everything that we do. And how much more joy will we experience when we achieve this?

Father, I pray that I will be able to carry out these disciplines as I move forward from this book. I don’t want to just forget about everything that I’ve studied in this past year, as I move on to new materials next year. While I am already excited about the devotional book I plan to go through in 2014 (Reflections for Ragamuffins), I still want to maintain some semblance of practicing these disciplines. I pray that your Spirit will continue to teach me the value of all of these, moving forward. I pray that 2014 will be a much more simplified year for me than any I have had in the past. Teach me the value of “holding on loosely” to all of my possessions, for they truthfully are not mine, anyway. All that I have is yours.

I pray for this day, asking for grace and peace to rule this day. May your Spirit fill us as we go to work. May we be beacons of your grace and mercy at our jobs, remembering to pray for the people we work around, and for those in authority over us. I thank you that Stephanie’s fever is gone this morning, and that she is feeling better. Give her understanding for her life, and teach her your path.

Your grace is sufficient.

A more simplified life could be helpful to anyone, no matter what belief system they follow. I believe more joy can be found in simplicity.

Grace and peace, friends.

“Confession Is Good For the Soul”

Good morning. Today is Thursday, March 7, 2013. I woke up to the news that Alvin Lee, of Ten Years After, has died at the age of 68. Not a happy way to start the day.

Today is National Crown Roast of Pork Day. I’ve never heard of this, but it looks pretty good.stuffed-crown-roast-of-pork It’s not likely that we will be preparing one of these today.

Yesterday was a pretty typical day around here. Work, then home, then gym. Not much else to report. I had allergies pretty bad all day yesterday, after waking up sneezing at around 4am. It’s better this morning. I don’t know if the pollen is lower, or if my defenses have adapted, or it was the fake Nyquil I took last night (I have finally figured out that the difference between brand names and generics, when it comes to OTC medicines, is the difficulty in opening the package). Either way, I’m feeling much better this morning, so that’s good.

Today, I stop by and weigh in for the Biggest Loser contest. I’ve lost approximately 2 pounds since the last weigh-in. I guess I should be happy with that, but it’s not quite what I had hoped for. Any loss is a good loss, though, and my goal gets that much closer with each pound lost.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in AD 161, Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus Pius as the Emperor of the Roman Empire. He was just a few weeks short of turning 40 when he became Emperor. His first act was to have the Senate make his “younger adoptive brother Verus co-Emperor.” He is, perhaps, most remembered for his Meditations, “a series of fragmentary musings jotted down over his years as Emperor.” Marcus was the last of the “five good emperors,” an era that came to an end when he died and his 18 year old son Commodus “(the villain of the film Gladiator)” took his place.

Today’s birthday is Maurice Ravel, born on this date in 1875. Ravel is most known for his one-movement orchestral piece, Bolero. Oddly enough, legend has it that the piece was originally called “Fandango.” The idea was to have a single line melody repeated over and over, with no development, simply increasing the orchestra each time around. It is, some might argue, quite maddening. Here is a very nice performance of the piece.

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:7
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

My Father, I pray that you show me something this morning, as I read and meditate on your Word, that will inspire me to live this day looking to your grace.

Today, I am reading Isaiah 30:19-26.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures,
24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.
25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Isaiah speaks of a time of great blessing for the people of God, a time when he is readily available to all who seek him, even though there may be adversity and affliction present. His guidance will be constantly present, as his people walk with him. Idols will be destroyed and scattered. There will be great blessing of crops and livestock. It will be a time of great healing for his people.

Today, in A Year With God, I begin a new segment on the discipline of Confession. Yesterday was the last reading on the discipline of study. Confession is defined as, “Sharing our deepest weaknesses and failures with God and trusted others, so that we may enter into God’s grace and mercy and experience his ready forgiveness and healing.” When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all of our sins. All we must do is confess and ask his forgiveness, and this requires complete honesty. Sometimes, we attempt to hide our sins, out of shame, as did Adam and Eve. Sometimes, we are even unwilling to forsake our sin, so we even attempt to hide it from ourselves. We must have the courage to shine God’s healing light on our sin, else it can do much damage in our lives (as well as the lives of those around us).

Confession can be simply between the individual and God, or it can also involve another human, one who is trusted implicitly. There are three distinct parts to confession (as described in this book). First is the examination of the conscience, second is sorrow, and third is the determination to avoid future sin. I’m not sure I see the third as an actual part of the confession process, however, without that which is called “repentance,” confession does not accomplish much. We must seek the Lord’s strength, guidance, and courage to avoid further sin; we must love and desire his ways, and hate anything that keeps us from following his truth.

1 John 1:9, a rather famous memory verse, says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Today’s reading is simply called “Confessing Our Sins.” The scripture reading includes the above verse, found in 1 John 1:8-2:1.

1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Right off the bat, a challenge is issued, as is customary on the first day of a new segment. For this discipline, I am challenged, over the next ten days, to make time for confession during my daily prayer time. If this is already part of the prayer time, then I am encouraged to pay extra attention to that particular portion each day. It is suggested to go through the three steps listed above.

It might be necessary to ask God to “reach into the deepest recesses of our soul and show us our sin more clearly.” Believe me, this is a painful request, but God will most certainly honor it. There are other times when we are already burdened by sin, and the act of confession releases a weight from our shoulders that makes us feel as though we are walking on air, afterwards. In extreme cases, where a sin is particularly difficult to release, confession to another might be necessary. Great caution is called for in such cases. Great trust is needed in whoever is chosen to be the confessor. Richard Foster says, “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin.” It also helps to be part of a church body that does not pass judgment on people for particular sins. My wife and I are blessed to be part of such a fellowship. We are both a fellowship of saints and sinners!

Father, over the next ten days, I pray that you would show me my sin as you see it! Reach down into the depths of my soul and show me where I have failed you (on some days, that reach will not need to be very far). Make me aware of sin, the moment I engage in it, that I might confess immediately. Make me sorrowful over my sin. One of the beatitudes tells us that those who mourn are blessed. I take that to mean mourning over sin. That is why I pray every day that you cause me to be mournful, both over the sin of our people, and my own sin. And then grant me repentance, as even the act of repenting must be a gift from you, lest I should boast that I have done anything of value in my own strength. My God, everything that I possess I have gotten from you. Even repentance for my sin, and the faith to believe in Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. Teach me your ways, O Father, that I may truly walk in your truth.

As this day comes our way, I pray for strength to meet it head on. I pray for Christi, that, as she works today, she might have relief from pain (it does seem to be getting gradually better). I pray that she might have healing in her bones and joints. I pray that her work day will progress seamlessly, without issue or drama. I pray the same for my own work day. I also pray that my company may receive some good news either today or tomorrow. And I pray that Stephanie may be drawn closer to your heart today. Show her the path that you have for her to walk.

I lift up special prayers for two on this day, who have lost their mothers. One named Dawn, a close friend of a lifehouse member, whose mother passed early this morning, and another, Mr. Reynolds, our favorite of Stephanie’s teachers, who lost his mother sometime yesterday. Give these comfort over their loss, and help them find solace in your grace and mercy.

“Confession is good for the soul,” seems to be an old Scottish proverb. Turns out, is also seems to be true.

Grace and peace, friends.