PCKHG

Today is Friday, the seventeenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,472

Warning: This one is pretty long. Sorry.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence and bow down before you, the Almighty. We come before you and repent, believing in you and in your will to save us. Your will to save goes out over the whole world, over the whole godless world, that all may repent and be redeemed. Grant us the thoughts of your heart so that we may begin to understand your will. We dedicate ourselves to you, the holy, just, righteous, and merciful God. Grant that we may be your children, led and guided by you every day. Turn our hearts to you so that you can make us more and more as you want us to be. Turn our hearts to you until your goal of atonement and redemption is reached through the quiet working of your almighty power. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
(Mark 1:15 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the will of God to save us and His mercy and grace in making it possible
2. for the Good News (Gospel) that the Kingdom of God is here
3. for 1984 (that year in my life, not George Orwell's book), one of the best years of my life
4. for the Lord's great mercy and blessing in my life; unexplainable and totally and utterly undeserved
5. for wonderful friends, brothers and sisters, that the Lord has placed in my life, through the years
6. for the music and artists that have inspired me and kept me on the path of life
7. that "God is so good, He's so good to me . . . there's never been anyone like You, You are worthy!" (Pat Barrett)

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
(Mark 3:24-25 ESV)

Father, I pray desperately for the Body of Christ, Your Church, both in this nation and in this world, that we would be united under the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. Heal our divisions that are over irrelevant politics and cause us to be focused on loving one another.

“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
(2 Samuel 7:18 NLT)

While I realize this is King David speaking, I pray the same thing, today, Father. Who am I, what am I, that You have brought me this far? I do not pray for my “kingdom” to be expanded. I do not pray for riches or wealth, nor do I pray for fame or fortune. My humble prayer is that I might effectively spread the Gospel of Christ, that Your Kingdom is here, and that we must do better at loving one another in Your Name.

“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”
(2 Samuel 7:22 NLT)

“For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:28-29 NLT)

Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is lead. (We are referring to the verb, not the element.)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:13 NIV)

I confess that I, probably like most people, when repeating the “Lord’s Prayer,” rush right through that phrase, many times without thinking. Either that, or focusing on the second half of that verse. “Deliver.”

What if there was a comma after “us?”

“Lead us.”

Full disclosure, here, I’m not making this up, it’s coming from the daily reading.

What if there was a pause after “us?”

When a shepherd leads the sheep, he sets the pace. He watches ahead for dangers or obstacles. He makes sure the sheep stay on the right path. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,
Be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us,
Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Early let us turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor,
Early let us do Thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Savior,
With Thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

(Attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Yes, Father, lead us. I always thought it strange that most translations use the word “temptation” in that prayer. I do not believe any of us would ever think that You, our heavenly Father, would lead us into temptation! I can see that another acceptable word might be adversity, which would make more sense to me. One translation says, “keep us safe from ourselves” (MSG). But I like to envision Jesus, as my Shepherd, setting the pace, watching ahead for danger, and looking behind to make sure we stay on the path. He leads us, not into adversity or danger, but into safety and peace. Hallelujah! Lead us, O Lord!

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NLT)

I stumbled across this verse back in the early to mid eighties. I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life, and the Lord had brought a couple of people into my life, as well as some extremely important music albums. I started writing signs to myself and placing them in conspicuous places in the house, probably much to the confusion of my roommate at the time.

Two of those albums were Michael W. Smith’s second album, simply known as “2,” and Amy Grant’s “Straight Ahead.” In addition, a fellow trombone player in the seminary symphonic band introduced me to Daniel Amos, which changed my life forever, but that’s a story for another day.

One of the songs from the MWS album was called “I Am Up.”

I am up
Like the sun is up
I can feel my life on a rise
I am up
Like the stars at night
I get up on bein' alive
I am up
Like the Lord is up
And my life is filled with His life
I was freed and I am saved
I am up
I am up

That’s the chorus. The last verse goes like this:

There are times life is so fine I can't contain it
Everywhere I look I see what God had done
And I don't have to work and worry to sustain it
When I walk with God His joy will always come
When I walk with God His joy will always come

Another important song was the title track of the Amy Grant album.

Day by day, dream by dream
I fight to find the way to go
Every day opens a different door
Every dream shadows the one before
But slowly I can see
The way You've made for me

Straight ahead, I can see Your light
Straight ahead, through the dark
Straight ahead, there's no left or right
Straight ahead, to your heart

Carry on through the night
When the road is hard to find
Lying lights tell me to turn around
Lying thoughts tell me I'm lost not found
But clearly I can see
You're waiting there for me

Those two songs don’t seem much alike, do they? But I did mention that it was a very difficult time in my life. And, by His grace, I determined that, while 1983 was probably the worst year of my life, 1984 would be the best year (at least up to that point). And it was.

You might wonder what any of this has to do with Colossians 3:12. I’m getting there. In the middle of all of this, I found (or, perhaps it might be better to say that God planted it) that verse. I think the most modern version of the Bible we had back then was the NIV.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

Since it uses the word “compassion” instead of “tenderhearted mercy,” one of the signs I put up said, simply, “PCKHG.” I pronounced that “puckhug.” Patience; Compassion; Kindness; Humility; Gentleness.

That sign was right by my front door, where I had to look at it every day when I left the house. It reminded me, then, and still reminds me (the verse, not the sign . . . it is long gone) today how I am to “dress” myself each day when I go out into the world.

I think it is safe to say that the world could use a lot more “PCKHGs.”

Oh . . . and the best thing that happened to me in 1984? December 7. First “date” with C, my wife of almost 37 years.

Father, You are so good. I look back up at that verse from 2 Samuel, from that prayer of David, and I can only shake my head in wonder at Your goodness and mercy. I am absolutely and utterly unworthy of the favor that You have shown me in my life. I deserve the opposite. Why on earth You never struck me dead on the spot, I cannot explain, other than to simply believe that there must be something left that You have for me to do on this earth.

Best I can figure, that “something” is to spread those PCKHGs around as much as I can. I thank You and praise You for the people who kept me sane and on Your path, back in those days. Some of them, I can’t remember their names. But I can remember most of their faces, and how they ministered to me. I praise You and thank You for those friendships. And I pray that, even this late in my life, I might be able to be that kind of friend to someone.

I am also so very grateful for the family that You have given me and placed me in. I have thanked You many times for that, and it can never be enough. Thank You for bringing my wife into my life in 1984, and for keeping us together all these years. It is You and only You that has accomplished that.

I don’t want to leave this place, this morning, Father. But I have things to do. I praise You for Your goodness. And like Pat Barrett said, “there’s never been anyone like You; You are worthy!” Only You are worthy of my worship and praise and adoration, Lord. And, while I must leave this room, I don’t have to leave You. Thank You for coming with me wherever I go. Help me to spread the love and mercy of Your Kingdom as I venture out into the world today.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and make everything right!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Great Disruptor

Today is Sunday, the twenty-first of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign on your hearts today.

Day 23,264

Four days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.!

We had a lovely day, yesterday. We hung out at our Airbnb until almost noon, when we went to pick up R & J to go to Yats for lunch. Lunch was delicious, just as the dinner was Wednesday night.

We debated over what to do next. We finally decided to not visit the Children’s Museum, but, instead, to go to a Christmas Market in the Carmel district. It was slightly amusing to see the difference between the areas in the city. The Carmel area reminds me of Southlake in DFW.

The Christmas market was a lot of fun, and quite charming. It seems to have been designed around a German theme, and all of the booths appeared to have German names. I took some pictures, and will post some of them here.

The entry gate
J, R, C, and S
Beautiful carved decorations
Ice rink
Alpine horns. They really played these. It was beautiful!

It was a wonderful time. We bought way too many snacks, but we also got some Christmas ornaments to take home with us.

We went back to R’s house, where we watched some stuff, discussed (but didn’t solve) the problems in the country, and then ordered way too much food from the City BBQ. We had a wonderful “Thanksgiving” meal, full of love.

This morning, we plan to meet them back at Lincoln Square at 10:00 for breakfast, and then we must head back to the airport to go home. Mixed emotions, of course. Sad to leave R & J, but it will be nice to be back home. We have been quite busy for the last four days. It’s been wonderful, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When, by Daryl Madden

When light is laid
Upon the ground
When Spirit speaks
Without a sound

When gifts are blessed
Of treasure found
Of one to share
Is so profound

When God of love
Is always here
Found within
A simple prayer

When the response
Is clear to see
To simply dwell
For us to be

He alone is your God,
the only one who is worthy of your praise,
the one who has done these mighty miracles
that you have seen with your own eyes.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, and that You alone are worthy of my praise
2. for a wonderful and safe trip (so far); please carry us safely home
3. for Jesus, the "disruptor"
4. that we can "be still and know" that You are God
5. that You are my fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge

And he told those who sold the pigeons,
“Take these things away;
do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
His disciples remembered that it was written,
“Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:16-17 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 ESV)

Jesus was a disruptor. He stormed onto the scene and disrupted everything for the religious leaders of His day, providing a new way to approach the Father, who had been, up until that time, largely unapproachable.

“In Himself, He presented the kind of mega-gigabyte network that even our technology-obsessed world will never see. He was eradicating the spam, clearing out the detritus, and demonstrating a new way for us to ‘do’ faith.” (Thanks to Marci Alborghetti, in Daily Guideposts 2021)

Perhaps we have all gotten a little too comfortable in our faith and need to allow Jesus to disrupt us again.

So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights.
He neither ate bread nor drank water.
And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the Ten Commandments.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai,
with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain,
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone
because he had been talking with God.
Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses,
and behold, the skin of his face shone,
and they were afraid to come near him.
But Moses called to them,
and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him,
and Moses talked with them.
(Exodus 34:28-31 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
(Psalms 96:1-3 ESV)

“Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:5-11 ESV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 ESV)

We find God on the mountaintops. We dwell with Him on a sort of “high,” during our devotional times. Many mornings, I have a sort of “mountaintop” experience. But the mission is down the mountain. We have to come down from the mountain.

“You have to go down the mountain. That’s where your ministry is . . . at the bottom of the mountain . . . where the cities are, and the towns, and their marketplaces, and the fields, and the rest of the world. That’s where they are, at the bottom of the mountain. So you have to go down. You have to bring down His love to the unloved. Bring down His blessings to the cursed, His riches to the poor, His presence to the godless, and His salvation to the lost.” (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY ONE – CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

INVITATION

He says,
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment, to consider and be still. Help me to know that You are God; my heart desires that You be “exalted among the nations.”

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.

LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NIV)

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
(Psalms 144:9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Colossians 1:15-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, slowly repeating them, meditating on them. I pray my thoughts, my desires, my heart, and my life, to God, enjoying His presence.

In the psalm, I am noticing words (and this is common for me) such as fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge. God is all of these things to me. Other places in Psalms speak of running and hiding in these places.

But the truth stated by Jonathan Cahn, above, stands. I have to leave those places in order to minister. I cannot minister to those who are unloved, hungry, desolate, or poor, while hiding in the refuge or fortress that is my God. I cannot share my blessings while remaining on the mountaintop. I must come out of that fortress and come down from the mountaintop. And I do so with the confidence that my God will cover me and protect me while I do.

The Colossians passage speaks of the significance and importance of Christ. There may not be a more important passage in the New Testament, at least about this topic.

He is the image of God; all of the fullness of God dwells in Him. In Christ, “all things hold together.” And when I consider the phrase, “It’s all about Jesus,” it makes a lot more sense in the context of Colossians 1:15-20.

My life needs to be all about Jesus. As I consider this, going forward, I do not know what kinds of decisions will be made. But I must consider what Christ would have me do, in all circumstances. Not so much “WWJD,” but what would He want me to do? The consideration, the meditation, the pondering, and the praying will happen in the fortress, in the refuge, on the mountaintop. And when the direction is given, I must leave the solace of the mountaintop.

Jesus is the Great Disruptor. He does not allow our lives to remain static. When He appears, we must decide what to do with Him. He is either who He says He is, or He is a raving lunatic, or He is an outright liar. He cannot be simply “a good teacher.” He is the Son of God; He is God Incarnate; all of the fullness of God dwells within Him.

Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, the Great Disruptor. May You be glorified in Him, throughout the earth. I pray for the knowledge of Christ to be spread through all the earth, and that all peoples will glorify Your Name. Help me to be a channel of blessing and honor for You in this world. In all I do, may You be glorified. Take me out of the refuge, out of the fortress, down from the mountain, to do Your will. Keep me from sin; purify me by Your grace and mercy. Help me to love You and love people in the way that I should.

I pray for full fellowship with Jesus Christ, King of kings. May You grant spiritual renewal and refreshment to Your people.

"King of kings and glorious Lord,
You are above all.
You rule,
and the whole universe is Your kingdom.
Have the supremacy in all things and draw more  and more to the freedom of Your reign.
Be first in my life,
now and always.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test,
that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NIV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

My Anchor Holds

Today is Wednesday, the thirtieth of June, 2021. Last day of June!

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,120

Four days until July 4th! Only two more days to work this week!

The weather is unseasonably not hot. Today’s high is projected at 89 degrees, with a 42% chance of rain. There is a moderate chance of rain every day for the next ten days, which is very strange for the first part of July, in Texas.

Meanwhile, I have heard that Portland, Oregon, and other parts of the Pacific Northwest, hit over 110 degrees, this past weekend. Very strange.

The Texas Rangers continue their win streak (now up to four games), beating the Athletics in Oakland last night, 5-4, behind a couple of home runs from Joey Gallo. They will play again tonight, starting at 9:40 CDT. They remain in last place, but have improved to only 16.5 games out, and seven games behind the Angels.

The Boston Red Sox have won five in a row, as they beat the Royals last night, 7-6. Those two teams will meet up again today, at Fenway Park. The Red Sox moved back into first place, and are two games ahead of the second place Rays.

The Giants of San Francisco remain the best team, with a 50-29 record, while the Diamondbacks are holding the worst spot, at 22-59.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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 where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.
He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
(Psalms 33:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your great power, demonstrated in creation.
2. that wherever I am, You are present.
3. that I have the hope of Jesus set before me, to which I have fled, which is an anchor for my soul.
4. that You watch over the way of the righteous.
5. that You have created the Body exactly the way You want it.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIX – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.”
(Daniel 2:20 NIV)

As I sit in the presence of the Lord, this morning, I consider the fact that He simply spoke words and everything came into begin. “He breathed the word, and all the stars were born,” says the psalmist. Amazing.

BIBLE SONG

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
(Psalms 1:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:13-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to rest in His presence, I look for any word or phrase that speaks to me, guided by the Holy Spirit to meditate on these thoughts.

I am drawn to the last verse of the Psalm passage, that says, “The Lord watches over the way of the righteous.” I believe I have experienced this watchfulness all of my life. I cannot explain, in any other way, my life. God has watched over me.

The truth is, though, that I don’t feel very “righteous,” at any given moment. But if I read and understand Scripture correctly, I don’t really have any righteousness of my own, anyway. Any righteousness that I possess comes from Jesus Christ, imputed to me by His great work on the cross and in the resurrection.

And in this work, I have hope, which is the word I grasp from the passage in Hebrews. I also take note of that word, “fled,” in verse 18. I like the idea that we have “fled” to take hold of hope, and this hope is an “anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

This hope even takes me “behind the curtain” of the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where Jesus has entered on my behalf.

This is mystical language, and I embrace it. This anchor of hope is what keeps me going, day after day. In truth, my life has been pretty easy. Of course, there have been challenges, and times that I have perceived as difficult. There have been times of high stress and anxiety.

But, taken in a broader perspective, my “difficulties” do not compare at all to those of some. And my anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.

Father, I praise You because of who You are. “You spoke the word and all the worlds came into order.” You merely breathed and the stars were formed. Yet, still You love me. You have given me hope, the hope of Jesus, which is an anchor of my soul, and carries me through my days. Help me to walk in the easy yoke of Jesus, allowing Him to lead me along. Lead me on, Jesus; lead me on.

Promise-keeping God,
to believe is to commit myself,
to give my heart away--
a scary proposition.
But you woo me like a lover,
making clear your intentions and making certain your promises by giving your guarantee in Jesus,
who has already given himself fully for me.
May this hope be the anchor of my soul.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 22)

BLESSING

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
(Philippians 1:9-10 NIV)

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
(1 Corinthians 12:18-19 NLT)

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 NLT)

Unity in Christ. The Body of Christ will eventually be exactly the way God has designed it. And my opinions will not factor into that, not one iota.

For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.
(Psalms 92:13-14 NLT)

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:1-5 NLT)

Father, I praise You that there is no longer “Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female,” in Your Body. Help us, Your Church, to embrace these truths and stop treating people differently, based on these “natural” divisions. You have designed the Body exactly the way You want it, and we do not know better than You! Help us to accept our place in Your Body and do the work that we are supposed to do, that which has been appointed for us, prepared in advance, for us to walk in. O God, my Father, help me to remain in Christ, that I might bear much fruit for You.

I pray, this morning, for all governments, world leaders, and all needs of our world. A broad, sweeping prayer, but needed, nonetheless, because the world needs You. I pray specifically for the continent of Australia, this morning. May Your presence be known in their midst, today. I also pray for affordable housing for the poor. You care about the poor, Father, the widows, orphans, and others who may be oppressed and rejected. May they be cared for today.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
(John 15:12 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Made Alive

Today is Monday, the twenty-first of June, 2021.

The peace of God be with you!

Day 23,111

Today is the first full day of summer. It officially began, according to information found in multiples place on the Internet, at 10:32 PM last night.

Thirteen days until July 4th.

We don’t have any big plans for that holiday, but C and I will both be off for a four-day weekend, having Friday and Monday off. My company’s holiday is being granted to us on Monday, the fifth, and I’m taking an extra day of PTO on Friday, the third.

Our house church will not be meeting on July 4, so we have made plans to travel to Mineral Wells and attend FBC on that Sunday. Our church has made plans to have a cookout on Sunday, July 11. We are also planning a pool party at our house, but have not yet pinned down a date for it.

We had another really good gathering, yesterday morning. We only made it through one Psalm (chapter 32), but we had a lot of fellowship and prayer requests. We have also started singing again, which is nice. Yesterday morning, we sang “Good, Good Father,” and “Jesus Messiah.”

We had a good lunch from Applebee’s. C and I both stretched a little and had their Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp, which was delicious. Sided with garlic mashed potatoes, the meal weighs in at 17 WW Smartpoints. But it was well worth it, and we hadn’t had breakfast, at all, so it was fine. I did cook our traditional burgers for S and me, for dinner, so I went over my daily points again. But we have weekly points to cover those.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A gift each morn’
When we awake
This sacred time
Do not forsake

Of humble heart
Appeal to pray
Please gift to me
Here, one more day

Permission of
The soul to be
Your holiness
Breathed into me

With grateful heart
The soul be blessed
The joy within
His Word of “Yes!”
("Mornings Question", by Daryl Madden)

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
(Psalms 32:6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the church family we have, small as it is, full of love and life.
2. that we can pray to You, "while you may be found."
3. that You made me alive with Christ, even when I was dead in my sin (Ephesians 2)
4. that You are always watching my path, especially when my spirit grows too weary to pay attention to where I am going (Psalm 142)
5. that if we pray, believing, we will receive what we ask for

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK 5 – DAY 2

INVITATION

You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
(2 Samuel 22:29-30 NIV)

I pause, during this moment to consider the fact that You can be easily found, as You are hiding from no one. You are my light and my salvation! Whom, then, shall I fear?

BIBLE SONG

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
(Psalms 142:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy the presence of the Lord, this morning, I read these passages again, lingering over them, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations.

I believe there is great truth in Psalm 142:3. “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.” I am fully persuaded that God watches out for me when I am too weak to watch out for myself. What I mean by that is that, when my spirit, as the verse indicates, grows tired or weary, and I grow lackadaisical in my walk with Him, He is still right there, watching over my path.

I believe this is one of those “benefits” mentioned in Psalm 103, that we are not to forget as we “bless the Lord.” Our enemy does, indeed, set traps in our way, many of which are put there by people who are not even aware that they are being tools of the enemy. For a better understanding of this, see yesterday’s blog (it might have been Saturday’s . . .) about glimpsing a Facebook post that upset me.

Amy Grant had a song, many, many years ago, called “Angels.” (1984) One of the verses goes like this:

"God only knows the times
My life was threatened just today
A reckless car ran out of gas
Before it ran my way
Near misses all around me
Accidents unknown
Though I never see with human eyes
The hands that lead me home"

There is so much truth to this. We don’t know; we have no clue how many “near misses” we have experienced each day. Our God watches over our path, brothers and sisters!

The Ephesians passage is one of the great, famous passages in the New Testament. It contains a favorite memory passage, verses 8 and 9. But this morning, I am being drawn to verses 4 and 5.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)

God made me alive in Christ (with Christ), “even when [I] was dead!” Twice in this passage, Paul says, “it is by grace you have been saved.” He hammers this truth home. God made me alive. I was dead, but God made me alive.

Evangelism has often been described as throwing a life preserver to a drowning person. But that’s not quite accurate. We were not “drowning.” We had drowned! We were DEAD in our sin! Brothers and sisters, a dead person cannot grab onto a life preserver!

I had absolutely nothing to do with my salvation in Christ! Oh, sure, I said, “yes” to Him. But that’s really just a formality. He did all the work; He did the saving, the rescuing.

He made me alive. I did not make myself alive.

Father, I praise You for making me alive, in Christ. I thank You for rescuing me, and then erasing all of my past, present, and future sins with the blood of Jesus Christ. I thank You and praise You that I was loved before the world was ever created. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. I also thank You for the good works that You have prepared in advance for me to walk in, and I pray that, as I walk in Your kingdom today, I will see those opportunities and will not fail to take advantage of them. Help me to walk, today, as one who is alive in Christ.

God my refuge, 
help me to get my prepositions straight.
I'm saved not by faith--
that's the work of your grace--
but through faith.
Increase my faith so that I can embrace more and more of Christ's new life,
experiencing his grace in me and becoming his handiwork,
through Christ the Lord,
amen.
(Belgic Confession 22)

BLESSING

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV)

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
(Mark 11:24 NLT)

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story:
“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
(Luke 11:1-13 NLT)

Father, I thank You for these words about prayer. Help me to believe when I pray. Give me the confidence that, when I pray, I will receive what I ask for. But also give me the wisdom to ask for the right things, not just for my interests, selfishly, but for the welfare and interests of those around me, friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ. May my praying be selfless, Father, and may it come out of Your powerful Holy Spirit.

Lord, give me eyes to see Your work in the world around me, today. Not only that, but to see where I can join in and work with You. May You be present in the areas of natural disaster, comforting victims, protecting Your people, and giving strength to those who are first responders and caregivers. May You give special care, today, to those who serve in “forests, farms, and on the waters.”

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

Calmed

Today is Thursday, the tenth of June, 2021

Peace be with you! Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,100

Ten days until Father’s Day

We had a cool thing happen, yesterday evening. I got home from work to an empty porch. In context, that’s not a good thing, because I had a notification that an Amazon package had been delivered. S had not brought it in, she said. She didn’t know one was out there to be brought in (which, in fact, it was not). Not too long after C got home, a few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Thinking it was the second package that was due to be delivered, C went to the door.

She actually let out a startled yell when, unexpectedly, a man was standing at the door holding a package. Turns out, the first package had been delivered to the house behind us, same house number, different street. How very kind of him to bring it to us! The sad thing was that, on this occasion, I could find no way to leave feedback on the mis-delivery. At least we got the package. That’s what really counts.

The other one arrived a while later, found safely on the porch.

Here’s to good neighbors.

My health metric numbers continue to be encouraging, although my blood sugar was a bit low, this morning, at 76. BP was good at 105/67, and my weight was exactly the same as yesterday, which is just about a pound heavier than Saturday, which is normal for me. My weight fluctuates, normally, to be anywhere from one to three pounds heavier, mid-week, than it was on the weekend. I don’t get it, I never have, but I have come to accept it. If I graphed it, it would make a perfect bell curve. So my body seems to be acclimating to the med changes made a couple weeks ago.

Did I mention that my work is having an ice cream truck stop by this afternoon? I believe I will stay inside. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
(Psalms 27:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for good neighbors
2. for singing and making melody to the Lord
3. that I have two jobs--love God and love people
4. that my opinions do not figure into those jobs
5. that there is, therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

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

INVITATION

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
(Psalms 133:1 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to meditate on the goodness of God, praying for unity among His people.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 131:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 NIV)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. 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 8:12-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I sit here, I become aware of God’s presence. It’s really not that difficult. All you have to do is simply think about it. It’s not like you’re “conjuring” God’s presence. It is always there. But by thinking about it, you become aware of it.

Being aware of His presence, now, I read these passages again, asking Him to point me toward words or phrases that speak directly to me.

I am immediately drawn to the word “calm” in Psalm 131. I have been feeling more calm, this week, thanks to my meditations and the Holy Spirit. The psalmist says, “I have calmed and quieted myself.” He does not concern himself with great matters, he says. I am getting more and more like that, these days.

In a recent interview, Amy Grant said that her basic life principle (I’m paraphrasing greatly, here) was that she had two jobs and one prayer. The two jobs, biblically, are to love God and love people. The prayer is the Lord’s Prayer, which centers around forgiveness.

Once, when someone was pressing her for an opinion regarding gay people, her response was that her opinions were not part of her job description for those two jobs.

What a brilliant answer! And I agree 100%. God doesn’t want or need my opinions, which makes them irrelevant in most cases. My opinion on what I want for dinner tonight is more relevant than my opinions about politics. God wants me to love Him with my whole being, and to love my neighbor as myself. I would add to that Jesus’s “new command” to love my brothers and sisters as He has loved us. My opinions about controversial issues do not it anywhere in those two jobs.

This philosophy/attitude creates a great calmness in my soul, just as the psalmist has experienced.

But the really great news is that, even if you are one who angrily expresses your opinions on social media, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation,” if you are in Christ Jesus.

If you can read that verse without getting some kind of emotion going, maybe you’re not “in Christ Jesus.” That verse contains the heart of the Gospel, and maybe the best news in the whole Bible.

It goes back to what Jesus did and what that accomplished. What He did was die on the cross, and then rise from the dead. What it accomplished was to erase my sin for all eternity. That’s why there is no condemnation for me.

Ever. Even for the sins I have yet to do. Because I will.

My obligation, then, is to live by the Spirit. And what does that look like?

Go back up there and read the two job descriptions.

Father, my praise is not enough. My “hallelujahs” are not enough. They are all I have, along with the life that I can live in Your honor. But they will never be enough. And they don’t have to be “enough” because You do not expect repayment. All You expect is for me to love You and love people. You have been giving me more of that mindset, recently, and it is wonderful. The peace and calm in which I have been walking, lately, is marvelous. I pray that You continue holding me in such a way as to prevent the enemy from working into my psyche, to create disharmony and unrest. Let me be a servant to You and to people, as I walk through this world. May my overflowing cup splash out onto all around me, displaying the wonders of Your love, mercy, and grace.

Thank you,
almighty God,
that we are free in Christ Jesus--
free from the pointing finger of condemnation,
from the curse of the law,
the bullying of sin,
the sting of death,
free from fear.
But more than that--
freed to love you,
to willingly yield our lives to you,
to know you,
and to cry from our hearts,
"Abba, Father."
Amen.
(Westminster Confession 20)

BLESSING

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
(Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV)

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
(Genesis 50:20 NIV)

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?
(Job 38:25-27 NIV)

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'”
(Job 42:2-4 NIV)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
(2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

Just some reminders that “bad” things always manage to work out for our good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
(Romans 8:28 NLT)

I praise You, Lord, that You do work all things out for our good. As You work Your plan, we are the beneficiaries of Your steadfast love, mercy, and grace. May we walk calmly in that truth, today, love You and loving the people around us.

Lord, give us a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Christ, especially that bit about no condemnation. I pray that we might experience the fullness of our adoption as Your children, as we anticipate our eternal reward. Give us glimpses of Home! May we all have vibrant prayer lives, as we care for one another as we should.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!

No Needy Persons

Today is Friday (Friyay?), the twenty-eighth of May, 2021, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,087

Three days until Memorial Day!

At this point, I don’t know what this three-day weekend will hold, besides going to Mineral Wells on Sunday so that S can join FBC. She is so excited. She got her membership packet and card, yesterday, and probably got the card filled out last night.

We are not, as it turns out, planning to visit Scarborough Faire on Monday, as the guy who is going to repair/install our new pool equipment, wants to do that Monday afternoon. I’m fine with that, as we need to get that fixed. We can’t discern if there is more damage to the pool, itself, until we get the equipment running. Hopefully, the rain will hold off on Monday, but the chances of rain have been upped to 60% Monday.

Of course, we all know that, once we hit mid-June, it won’t rain for a couple of months, at least.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.
(Psalms 22:22 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the knowledge of Your presence here, this morning
2. for the work of Jesus Christ in our lives, rendering us blameless before You
3. for Your Word, which leads me along the path that I am to walk; it is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. for the way You have guided us to care for one another's needs
5. for the fullness of joy in Your presence; contentment; pleasures forevermore

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

ORDINARY TIME – DAY 5

INVITATION

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to meditate on Your presence, to ponder the “new heart and . . . new spirit” within me, asking for guidance through this time with You. Teach me by Your Holy Spirit.

BIBLE SONG

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
(Psalms 119:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
(Acts 4:32-35 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself that I am in Your presence, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I linger on these passages. May You teach me something about my life in Jesus Christ as I read and meditate.

Is my way blameless? Hardly. Do I walk according to God’s Word? I certainly try. That is the goal of each day. I try to live and walk according to His statutes, and I hope to seek Him with my whole heart.

But “stuff” happens and gets in the way of all of these things. This is where I stop and acknowledge that the Lord does, in fact, remember that we are but dust. He knows our frailty. And, because of the precious blood of Christ, He does not see my faults, because they are erased. So, effectually, yes, I am blameless!

As are all of us who call the name of Jesus and walk in His ways. Are we all one in heart and mind? Sadly, that does not appear to be the case, in this day and culture. The enemy has sneaked in with faulty ideas that many have latched onto, and division is caused. The sad thing is that the divisions are mostly over things that don’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things.

I recently listened to a podcast, with John Joseph Thompson, of True Tunes. In it, he had the pleasure of interviewing the queen of CCM, Amy Grant. It was a fascinating interview. Did you know that she is sixty years old??

How can Amy Grant be sixty??? I think she will forever be fifteen in my mind.

Anyway, she said something in that interview that will forever stick with me. She talked about two jobs and a prayer. The two jobs are to love God and love people. I’m certainly down with that, as those are the two “greatest commandments” that Jesus emphasizes, and He proclaims that the entirety of the law and prophets can be summed up in those commandments.

The prayer is the Lord’s Prayer, which has a very strong emphasis on forgiveness.

Once, earlier in her career, she was asked about her opinions on controversial subjects, such as homosexuality. Her response was that she doesn’t think her opinion on those things is included in the job description for those two jobs.

How brilliant! I love this, and believe that I have already adopted this philosophy regarding all such issues.

My jobs are to love God and love people. My opinions (and trust me, I DO have them!) are, for the most part irrelevant to those jobs.

I believe that the early believers had this kind of mindset among themselves. And the result of this is seen in verses 33 and 34.

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
(Acts 4:33-34 NIV)

There were no needy persons. They took care of one another, which was part of the “new command” that Jesus had given the disciples before He departed earth.

Our little church group is attempting to emulate these early believers. I personally believe that some of the things we have accomplished are astounding, small as we are. And that is largely because of the giving model we have adopted. You see, we have no building to pay mortgage or rent on. We have no “staff” to pay a weekly or monthly salary. I suppose we might have “elders,” although none of us would be quick to assume that title.

We all set aside our regular giving money (call it “tithe” if you must), and some of us put it into a separate bank account created exclusively for that money. It sits there until we become aware of a need, and then we gladly, generously provide for that need.

It is with great caution that I say that we (C and I) recently gave $4000 to a family whose van had been repossessed, so they could get it back. This is not to boast in our own generosity, but to simply illustrate the benefits of this model.

Outside of that, we do not share with others what we do with our money. It is between us and God.

I’m not knocking “traditional” church. There are great benefits to it, and there are certainly some aspects of it that I miss. But I do enjoy the model that we are using with our little band of believers, and I believe that it follows closely with what the early believers did.

Father, I give You praise for the examples of the early church that we receive from the book of Acts. I also thank You that, in Christ, I can say that I am “blameless.” This does not mean that I never do anything sinful or wrong. But it does mean that, because of the work, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, You do not see those sinful or wrong acts. They have been perpetually erased. This, as the psalmist says, is to wonderful for me, too lofty to attain. But I know it is true, and Your Spirit validates it within me. May I walk in ways that are worthy of these truths today.

Generous God,
your Spirit dwelling among your people,
working your salvation deep into our daily lives,
is a thing of simple beauty--
powerful grace,
freely flowing forgiveness,
lavish giving.
Continue to make us full players in Christ's redemption story through the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism 29)

BLESSING

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
(John 1:16 NLT)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NLT)

The LORD detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.
(Proverbs 11:1 NLT)

The LORD demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness.
(Proverbs 16:11 NLT)

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
(Isaiah 5:20 NLT)

Father, as I walk through this day, may it be with justice and fairness, treating all people as equals in Your eyes. You make the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. At least half of the world has no clue how merciful and gracious You are! Help us to show them, Father. Help us to show them Your mercy and grace, rather than meanness and wrath and injustice. Bring us to our knees in repentance for our injustices, our racism, our prejudices, and our unfairness. Teach us that You are the measure of good and evil, of accurate scales and balances, not any human. Thank You for the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore found in Your presence!

Lord, give me great wonder at the sacrifice of Jesus. May it never become commonplace to me. May we have the capacity to suffer when others suffer and to rejoice when others rejoice. Please increase the generosity of our hearts; may it be ever-expanding.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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!