Today is Tuesday, the thirty-first of August, 2021. Last day of August. And just in case anyone wonders, there still twenty-two days of summer left.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,182

Six days until Labor Day.

It still feels like summer, in DFW, too, with temps soaring to the upper nineties every day this week, and no rain in the ten-day forecast.

Today is We Love Memoirs Day, which is fitting, because I just finished one, yesterday, and you can see the review of Willie Nelson’s Letters to America on my other blog by clicking here.

The word for today is gorgonize, a verb which means, “hypnotize; petrify.” “She felt trapped and totally helpless in his gorgonizing stare.” Wouldn’t that be an adverb in that context? What do I know?

Today’s quote, from Arthur C. Clark, is one that I love and believe I have used before. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s true, right? Seriously, anyone from a primitive culture (and they do still exist on this planet) who saw the things we do with computers would only be able to assume that we were engaging in sorcery.

Birthdays for August 30:

Lizzie Arlington, the first woman to play men's professional baseball, 1877-1919
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1880-1962. The state park and lodge in Mena, Arkansas are named after her, because many of the original investors were Dutch.
Buddy Hackett, actor in The Music Man, 1924-2003
Frank Robinson, HOF baseball player and manager, 1935-2019
Roger Dean, album cover illustrator for Yes, 77 years old today
Van Morrison, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland, turns 76 today
Roger Dean album cover illustration

I’ve officially gotten my work schedule, which will be effective after the beginning of October, assuming the city goes ahead with plans to open the library on Fridays. It will look like this:

Every Tuesday: 4:15PM-8:15PM
Alternating Wednesdays: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Every Friday: 9:15AM-6:15PM
Alternating Saturdays: 9:30AM-6:15PM

So, based on the city’s work week, which begins on Friday and ends on the following Thursday (makes my head hurt trying to figure this out), I will work Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. I actually like this better than my current schedule, which has me working Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When you break it down like that, it looks fine (and I am NOT complaining, here), but if you look at the calendar week, I have weeks like this week where I am working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as well as Saturday, which falls in the next pay week. So I’m actually working four calendar days, this week, and only two next week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Like I said . . . if you think about it too hard, it makes your head hurt. I get twenty hours per pay week, but it looks like I’m actually working twenty-eight hours in this calendar week and only twelve hours next week.

Today, I’m working 11:15AM-8:15PM, and will be training in the computer center for the first time.

C is getting ready for her surgery on Thursday. She works from home today, and tomorrow will be the last day at the office for anywhere from four to six weeks (mid October, sometime), but may be able to work from home after two or three weeks, depending on how the recovery is progressing.


Glory to You, Lord God of our fathers;
You are worthy of praise;
glory to You.
Glory to You for the radiance of Your holy Name;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You in the splendor of Your temple;
on the throne of Your majesty, glory to You.
Glory to You, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.
Glory to You, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to You.
Glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise You and highly exalt You for ever.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, in spite of the "wild storm of hatred" outside, You still have things firmly in hand
2. that You give me quiet and rest during these times in my own home; I don't have to fly away to some distant place
3. for Your blessing upon us
4. for Your face being turned toward us
5. for the call to be peacemakers, and the peace with which You gift us

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



I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 ESV)

During this moment of peace and quiet, I pause to simply reflect on the presence of the Lord, with me at all times, in all places.


For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
(Psalms 61:1-8 NIV)


The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and
be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”‘
“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)


As I remind myself that I am always in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to move within my soul, guiding my thoughts, meditations, and prayers.

Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart
 be acceptable in your sight, 
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

These are two great passages, full of depth and encouragement.

The prayer of David is one that I am fully persuaded that God stands ready to answer.

We can cry out to God “from the ends of the earth.” It matters not where we are, He is there. It matters not when we are, He is there! Consider that our Father is currently present when you were born. He is “omnipresent,” with us at all times and all places. Therefore, He stands ready to hear us, no matter where we are.

Where is the “rock that is higher than I?” There can be various interpretations of this. I tend to see this “Rock” as Jesus. Matthew Henry, however, visualizes this rock as a place he cannot attain without the assistance of our God. I can equally see this as being true, as in the old hymn, Higher Ground.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

There’s another hymn, though, that speaks of the “Solid Rock,” being Jesus.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior
In times like these I have an anchor
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

What a longing is expressed in verse 4: “I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” This is a sentiment that is expressed many times in the Psalms. And I can most certainly echo the prayer, as my heart grows more and more in its longing for Home. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like my life, here, but just means that I know where I belong, ultimately.

I believe that this prayerful psalm goes hand-in-hand with the blessing seen in Numbers 6. Such a beautiful passage that I have adopted as prayers for people for a long time, now. And I like it in many different versions. I have sort of “tweaked” it, combining a couple of my favorite versions to make it go like this:

May God bless you and keep you;
May He smile on you and gift you;
May He look you full in the face and give you peace.

The majority of that comes from The Message, but Peterson ends his with “and make you prosper,” and I would rather have it say “give you peace.” Prosperity is not my goal, here.

I pray this blessing over people when I see that it is their birthday. We frequently end our worship gatherings by either saying or singing the blessing. There are several contemporary songs that incorporate it. Matt Redman has a good one:

Then this one, more recently, from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes (video is long, but powerful):

My favorite part of the blessing is the line that speaks of the Lord turning His face towards us. It gets translated “lift up His countenance toward you,” “look you full in the face,” “turn His face toward you,” and “show you His favor.”

The lowest point in the life of Jesus was when His Father turned His face away from Him, resulting in the cry of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me??”

I am moved to tears, this very moment, as I try to imagine what it must have felt like for this ripping of personalities apart. Jesus, God incarnate, experienced a tearing like none of us will ever experience, couldn’t possibly even imagine. For those few hours, on that day, there was a rift in the Holy Trinity, that perfect fellowship which had existed for all eternity. The Father turned His back on the Son, because He cannot look upon sin. The Son, for that moment, took on all the sin that had ever been committed, and ever would be committed. According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, at that moment, Jesus became sin!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

So, today, I pray for you, whoever happens to stumble upon this humble blog, and manages to read this far.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He smile on you and gift you; may He look you full in the face, make His face shine upon you, turn His face toward you, show you His favor . . . and give you peace!

Father, I am overwhelmed, this morning. There are tears in my eyes as I try to type this. This famous blessing is so appropriate to be prayed for all of Your people, today. It is even appropriate to pray over people who don’t know You or refuse to acknowledge You. I would ask You to make Your face to shine upon people all over the world, so that they might prosper and have Your peace in their lives. After all, Your Word does say that You show favor on the just and the unjust, alike. People who have never once acknowledged Your existence still reap the benefits of that existence, whether they know it or not. And I believe, with all my heart, that, deep down inside, they do know it.

May Your Holy Spirit fill us, today, Father. Fill us with Your presence, Your peace, Your blessing. Send us out to wherever we need to go, with Your Gospel of peace fitted on our feet. Peace. That is the key word in all of this. Make us peacemakers in this world, not rabble-rousers, not dividers. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. Lead us, O God, to the Rock that is higher than we are. Help us up to those heights which we cannot reach on our own.

I pray for the call to follow You out into those workplaces and neighborhoods, Lord, and I pray for the peace and well-being of those workplaces and communities. May You rain down Your special blessing on those who work in agriculture, who provide food and sustenance for us.

"May I see Your face, God?
For to live with Your face turned from me is more bitter than death.
I thank You that in this ancient blessing, 
I may place my life in the grace of Jesus and catch sight of Your face turned in delight toward me.


for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14 ESV)

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(Psalms 51:2-4 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
(Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)

There is a Hebrew word in that Jeremiah verse. “Makhashabah,” which means “texture,” a sort of “weaving” of a plan together. It’s the word that is translated “plans” in the ESV, and other translations, but “thoughts” in the KJV and WEB. Here’s the KJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

“Thoughts” is the Hebrew makhashabah, while “think” is “chashab,” which literally means to weave or to fabricate.

So just as it is impossible to see what the weaver on the loom is fabricating until she is finished with the work, so it is not possible to see what the Lord is doing with our lives until He is finished. We need to trust in the truth that He knows what He is doing. He is weaving a perfect work, and “all things work together for good” in our lives.

Father, I praise You for this truth. And in this weaving, I wonder how much our prayers effect things. In light of that, and in that spirit, I ask of You to end this plague on our world. Please do away with the COVID-19 virus, once and for all, that we might have peace in our world and in our nation. We are unable to come together to fight this. We are too concerned with our own “freedoms” and “rights.” Please eradicate this. I believe that You can do this. I also pray for the racial strife to end, that all people, in Your Kingdom, will be treated equally. Oh, how look forward to seeing that multitude described in Revelation, of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, praising Your Holy and majestic Name as one!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Open My Eyes That I May See

Today is Monday, November 26, 2018.

Day 22,173

29 days until Christmas!

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
Arthur C. Clarke, English physicist & science fiction author, 1917-2008
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is tsuris, “trouble, woe.”

Yesterday turned out to be a good day. We had a good worship gathering in the morning, which included a tremendous message by our friend, Clark Dunlap, previously pastor of First Baptist Church Smithfield. It was, essentially, a whirlwind tour through 1 John with an emphasis on making sure our faith is settled.

Our “Fall Feast” was a huge success, I think. The food was all great, and we had a great time in fellowship. At the end, we sang a few songs, finishing up with “O Holy Night.” Brandon and Terry lead the worship time, but asked me to come up and sing with them. Of course, I belted out, “O Holy Night,” as it is one of my favorite Christmas songs to sing.

But, alas, today is Monday, and we must return to work.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7

Today I am thankful for:
1. Cooler temperatures (I don’t mind the cold)
2. Good food and fellowship that we had last night
3. Music, which “hath charms to soothe a savage breast”
4. Weekends, so we can rest
5. The Christmas season, for ’tis joyful

(From The Book of Common Prayer)

“Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee,
and hast promised through thy well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them:
Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth,
and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.”
(A Prayer of St. Chrysostom)

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 
Psalm 119:18

What a beautiful, short, prayer from the author of the epic Psalm 119. The longest chapter, by far, in the entire Bible, Psalm 119 contains 176 verses, almost all of which make some kind of reference to God’s Word (law, precepts, rules, and so on). Each verse is a self-contained prayer.

In this one, the Psalmist asks God to open his eyes. It’s a prayer worthy of our consideration. I am constantly needing my “eyes” opened that I might see the truth in God’s Word, the “wondrous things” contained in His Word. Because my eyes get clouded by circumstances and distractions; they get glossed over by my own concerns and worries. There are many things that take my eyes off of the beauty of God’s Word. So I should pray this prayer frequently.

The story that Daily Guideposts uses to illustrate this truth is of a skunk with his head stuck in a yogurt cup, wondering aimlessly around a parking lot, changing directions when he bumped into something. Are we not all like that skunk sometimes? I fear I am, more than I want to admit.

May God open my eyes, that I may see.

I am reminded of an old hymn by Clara H. Scott.

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Open my mouth and let me bear
Tidings of mercy everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Open my mind that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine!

Father, indeed, I pray today that You might truly open my eyes that I may see all of Your wonder and beauty. Let me know Your presence throughout this day.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Grace and peace, friends.

Above All These

Today is Tuesday, October 2, 2018.

Day 22,118.

FOUR DAYS until Galveston!!!!

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” Arthur C Clarke, 1917-2008, BrainyQuote

The word for today is cloister (v.), “to seclude from the world in or as if in a cloister.”

I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but I decided to take Friday off, as well. S and I will be going to pick up Mama around noon on Friday, so it will be a much more leisurely day, rather than doing all that driving in the evening, from Carrollton, in rush hour. I do remember mentioning it, now, because I wrote about how we would have burgers at Dairy Mart for lunch. We’re excited about our upcoming trip to Galveston, even though the weather forecast shows rain up through next Thursday. That doesn’t really bother me, though. As long as I can see and hear the ocean, I don’t care if it rains. I might even go walk on the beach in the rain. As long as there’s no lightning. I don’t want to walk on the beach in the lightning.

I missed posting the baseball scores, yesterday. On the final day of the season, the Red Sox crushed the Yankees, 10-2. That was great fun. The Sox finished with a record of 108-54, eight games ahead of the Yankees. As division winners, they will face the winner of tomorrow’s Wild Card game between the Yankees and the Athletics. I will be rooting for the Athletics in that game.

The Rangers lost to the Mariners, 3-1, to finish their season 67-95.

The exciting part was the National League. Both the West and Central divisions finished with two teams tied for first place. So there were tiebreakers, yesterday. In the tiebreakers, the Brewers beat the Cubs 3-1 (Yay!!) and the Dodgers beat the Rockies 5-2 (Boo!!). The Brewers/Cubs game was much worse than the score appears, as the Brewers outhit the Cubs 12-3. The Brewers will face the winner of today’s Wild Card game, which could be the Cubs again. The Dodgers will face the Braves.

The Division series will begin on Thursday for the NL and Friday for the AL. These will be going on while we are in Galveston. I have promised my wife that any baseball results will not ruin my (interpret that “her”) vacation. 😀

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
John 15:17
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

The “all these” to which Colossians 3:14 refers are as follows: “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (3:12). We are then told, in verse 13, to bear with one another and forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven us. After all of these, Paul says “above all these put on love.”

I do not think it possible to overemphasize love in the Christian community. We tend to fall quite short in the love category, and I find that I am one of the worst offenders. Maybe not, but I seem pretty bad to myself, sometimes. I still struggle with opinionated judgments toward people, and acknowledge that this is quite wrong. Love rules over all, according to Paul.

When Jesus gave the “new command” to His disciples, it was that they would love one another as He had loved them. I believe that command transfers over to us, as we attempt to be His disciples.

May we strive even more to love one another as Jesus loves us.

Father, as You know, I still struggle with this. I pray for Your Spirit to draw me in and teach me love. Take the judgmental spirit out of me; chisel it away, however You need to. I don’t like it. I want to be more like Jesus, Father. Make me more like Jesus.
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.

Religion and Politics

“It is both unbiblical and unreal to divide life into the activities of religion and politics, or into the realms of sacred and profane.”

Today is Friday (Woohoo!!), August 31, 2018. Last day of August! Day 22,086.

Only THREE more days until our Labor Day holiday!!!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008, BrainyQuote

The word for today is copse, “a thicket of small trees or bushes; a small wood.”

We may finally get that toilet installed, this evening. I know that you haven’t been sleeping at night, wondering about that.

The Red Sox scored late in the game, again, to beat the White Sox 9-4. Their record is now 93-42, and the Yankees lost (again), so they are 8.5 up in the AL East! 27 games left!

The Rangers were off last night, and begin a series with the Twins tonight, in Arlington. 28 games left.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From Where Your Treasure Is), Eugene H. Peterson

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 
You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2

Says Eugene H. Peterson, “The best school for prayer continues to be the Psalms.” I, along with some much smarter people than I, agree with him. But then he says something unexpected (at least to me). “It also turns out to be an immersion in politics.” What?? Yes. Just go back and read the Psalm that heads up this chapter. The people who lived in the days that these Psalms were written were ones who “valued and cultivated the sense of the person.” But they were also well versed in being a “nation under God.” Peterson says, “Prayer was their characteristic society-shaping and soul-nurturing act.” They prayed together. They prayed alone. And they prayed these Psalms, which “are terrifically personal,’ yet, “at the same time ardently political.”

Eugene defines politics as “what politicians do.” It’s really a pretty simple definition, isn’t it? And yet, it is, basically, true. Too often, especially in our day, it carries a lot of negative energy, because power gets associated with it, and people often abuse power. To go a little deeper, the word is derived from “the Greek word polis (‘city’). It represents everything that people do as they live with some intention in community, as they work toward some common purpose, as they carry out responsibilities for the way society develops.”

Peterson encourages us to use the word in the context of Biblical community and purposes, “untainted by corruption and evil,” so that “we are trained to see God in the places that seem intransigent to grace.” God does, in fact, seem to want us to mix religion and politics! But we must be very careful in this mixing. “The only safe way is in prayer. It is both unbiblical and unreal to divide life into the activities of religion and politics, or into the realms of sacred and profane.” That’s a bold statement. Let me highlight that again.

“It is both unbiblical and unreal to divide life into the activities of religion and politics, or into the realms of sacred and profane.”

But the only way to mix them without allowing religion to use politics or vice versa is prayer. “Prayer is the only means that is adequate for the great end of getting these polarities in dynamic relation. The psalms are our most extensive source documents showing prayer in action.”

Father, I confess that I have taken the lazy way, in recent years. I have tried to walk the “religious” path and totally ignore the “political” path. I am seeing the error of my ways. While I’m not feeling any inclination to go out and beat the streets, campaigning, or anything like that, I see the desperate need for prayer to unite the factions of our lives into one cohesive unit. Our nation is divided, and there are people who are trying to use their religion with politics to shove their religion down a nation’s throat. There are also people trying to use politics against religion. Neither scenario should be. Help us, Lord. Raise people up to pray; to pray that we can pull our lives together under your grace.
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.

Gifts In Community

Today is Saturday, August 5, 2017. Day 21,695. Fourteen days until S’s and J’s birthday!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

The word of the day is consuetude, a noun, meaning, “custom, especially as having legal force.”

Today is Mead Day! I’m a huge fan of mead! Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage, resembling wine, but heavier, and honey-based. Hence, it is very sweet and thick. It’s also quite hard to find. Each year, when we visit Scarborough Renaissance Festival, I make sure to grab a glass at one of their beverage sellers.

I had to work late, yesterday, but only until about 5:30, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last two Fridays. We had a nice evening at home, just eating our dinner and watching TV. Then I played Fallout: New Vegas for a little while on the Xbox 360. I think I might be getting close to finishing that game.

The Red Sox pulled off a win over the Other Sox when Mitch Moreland hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning. They are now three games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. The Rangers didn’t fare so well, losing 8-4 to the Twins. They are in fourth place in the AL west, 18 games out. They are only 4.5 games out of the wild card spot, but if they continue to play just below .500 ball, they aren’t going to make it this year. And with the mediocre pitching they have (made even worse by dumping Yu Darvish for virtually nothing), it’s not likely to get better.

Today, we have some preparation to do, in order to get ready for the floor people to begin on Monday morning. C bought some plastic totes to start putting stuff in, especially from shelves that will need to be moved. Some shelves won’t have to be unloaded, as they will slide easily. Others, such as the cabinet full of records in our bedroom, certainly won’t slide and will have to be emptied out.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; 
sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! 
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.

Psalm 66:1-3
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:22
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 92:4
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

John 14:27-28
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

(From Practice Resurrection)

It’s been a while, but I’m getting back to this book, as I am close to completing chapter 2. This chapter focuses on part of Ephesians chapter 4. Paul is instructing us that we need to grow up, to come to maturity, in Christ. One condition of growing up is that we “take up responsibilities commensurate with our strength and understanding.” In order to exercise these responsibilities, we have to have received the Spirit of Christ, which he sent to us at Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension.

We grow up in “a profusion of gifts.” Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8) Jesus, upon ascending to the right hand of the Father, has launched his rule by giving gifts. These gifts “turn out to be ways in which we participate in his kingly, gospel rule.”

Whether we realize it or not, we understand the language of gifts. We begin as a gift. “We don’t make ourselves. We don’t birth ourselves.” And immediately after we are born, we begin getting gifts. Food, clothing, shelter, all of these things are gifts to us from the beginning of our lives. Paul even says, in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?” (The Message) Eventually, all of these gifts begin to develop and mature into strengths and responsibilities. This begins in what we know as adolescence, one of the more awkward periods of our lives. But awkward and turbulent as it is, it is the time when we begin to grow into adult responsibilities, using the gifts that we have received, thus far. It is when we begin to learn to exercise the gifts in community.

Paul begins to list gifts. In Ephesians 4:11, he lists five: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. “These are gifts that equip us to work alongside and in company with Jesus.” They are given “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v. 12). “We are being invited into a working relationship in the operations of the Trinity.”

One thing is important to understand, and I find that I have agreed with Peterson for many years on this. “Too often the gifts have been understood individually, conferred on us to be used as we have willingness and aptitude and inclination.” Peterson flat out says, “This is wrong.” As we remember that the work is the work of the Trinity, and we are invited to be fellow-workers with Jesus, Peterson says, “Any one of us, at any one time, may be given any of the jobs. We are in on this together. This is not specialty work–this is the community at work.”

Paul lists gifts many times in his letters. No one list is definitive. No one list names all of the gifts. John Stott has counted at least twenty distinct gifts in the writings of Paul. Some are very noticeable and dynamic (if you watch carefully, you will see that these are the ones highlighted by the more “charismatic” fellowships), while some are quite unsensational, such as doing acts of mercy. “The diversity of gifts adds up to a unity of function. There can be no rivalry among either gifts or the gifted.” That last sentence is so very important, and we fail at it so often. If we begin to see ourselves being jealous of other peoples’ giftings, we are completely out of sync. And, yes, I have been there, so I can speak from experience. If I’m looking at someone else and judging whether or not they deserve that gift or whether they are “doing it right,” I am absolutely wrong! I am focusing on the wrong things, altogether. We must be together, we must be for each other, and if someone has been given a gift by the Spirit, we should be encouraging.

I will say that we can’t rule out the possibility that someone might think they have a gift that they don’t really have. That’s a different topic that won’t be covered here.

“What Paul insists on is that everything we do in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit is an obedient exercise of some aspect of the work of the Trinity that we get in on as we become mature enough to do it.” We must never think that we are doing it on our own, in our own power, or that we are the originator of these gifts. Remember Paul’s words in Corinthians. “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God?”

Father, I pray for the spiritual sensitivity to be aware of the giftings that you give me, and the assignments that you give me as I live in community with other Christ-followers. May we all be the same in this. All of us are, at any given time, gifted with different gifts, strengths, and responsibilities. Likewise, we all have different weaknesses. May we recognize these and know that all of us together can make a cohesive unit that can operate with great efficiency and productivity in your Kingdom. Let us be for one another, encouraging one another in the diversity of gifts that we have. And let us never get arrogant about our gifts, but humbly acknowledge that you are our Source for everything.
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.

The Psalms Bucket

Today is Friday, May 26, 2017. Day 21,624. EIGHT days until our Oregon vacation!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke, “Profiles of The Future”, 1961 (Clarke’s third law)
(From The Quotations Page)

Backronym ~ an existing word turned into an acronym by creating an apt phrase whose initial letters match the word, as to help remember it or offer a theory of its origin. For example, rap has been said to be a backronym of “rhythm and poetry.”

Today is Dracula Day. And, being Friday, it would be really easy to “celebrate” by having an all-night Dracula movie binge. There are so many of them.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only eight days until we head to Oregon. We’re actually having a hard time not planning too many things on this trip. After all, we want to be able to spend some days doing nothing but enjoying the sights and sounds of the Pacific coast, you know.

This weekend is Memorial Day in the U.S. We get Monday off, for a long weekend. We don’t have much planned. We did reach out to another family to see if they want to go bowling after church on Sunday, and they said yes, sounds like fun. But, as far as Monday goes, I’m thinking it will be simply a day of relaxation. Maybe some movie watching if we can find something we want to see.

The Red Sox swept the Rangers, winning last night’s game 6-2. They play Seattle next, who is in last place in the AL West. The Rangers move on to a newly formed rivalry with the Boo Jays.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD, 
who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God! 
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!

Psalm 135:1-3
I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
Psalm 140:6
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 97:9
Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done.
Psalm 64:9

(From Living the Message)

We all have the impulse to pray. Even those who claim that they don’t believe in a God surely have, at some points in their lives, some impulse to pray . . . toward somewhere. There is certainly no lack of things to pray for and about, especially in the lives of Christ-followers. “Desire and demand keep the matter of prayer before us constantly.”

So why is prayerlessness such an issue? Eugene H. Peterson says that the answer is that “‘the well is deep and you have nothing to draw with.'” That’s right. We need a bucket. We need something that “holds water. Desires and demands are a sieve.”

“The Psalms are such a bucket.”

The reading ends there. But I will add my agreement to Peterson’s statement. I have long been fascinated and drawn to the Psalms, the central book in most Bibles. And I have long had the opinion that this is no accident. For, in the Psalms, you will find pretty much any topic you need help with in prayer. In Psalms, we even see the darkest emotions being displayed in prayer. I firmly believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with praying Psalms verbatim back to God. Many well-meaning people believe that all of our prayers must be original, coming from our own souls. Yet, there stand the Psalms, in the middle of our sacred Scriptures, crying out to be prayed, to be recited, to be read back to the One from whom they originated.

Pray the Psalms. Take them to God. Your own prayers will spring forth from them as you do so. The Psalms are a good “bucket.”

Father, every day, I bring my prayers to you in the bucket that is the Psalms. Help me to draw deeply from the well through them. Help me to find my own soul in them, that I might, then, cry out to you with my own words. In the meantime, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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.

Today is Thursday, August September 1, 2016. Pre-Friday. 43 days until Galveston!

Quote of the Day

“How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart.” – William Butler Yeats

Bonus Quote

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Word of the Day

Peradventure – chance, doubt, or uncertainty. Also, Archaic. it may be; maybe; possibly; perhaps. I recall Abraham’s discussion with the Lord over the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the King James Version, Abraham kept using the word “peradventure.” And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? (Genesis 18:23-24)

Today is Emma M Nutt Day, celebrating the first female phone operator. Many of you have no idea what I’m talking about, this “phone operator.” I don’t have time. Google is your friend.

We whipped up a batch of Italian Mac n Cheese for dinner last night. That stuff is incredible! And our recipe makes enough so that there is a portion left over that S can have for lunch the next day. While we were eating dinner, C and I watched Blazing Saddles. I had never seen that before, so in honor of Gene Wilder, we watched it last night (a friend from work loaned me the DVD). It was funny, and it was typical Mel Brooks silly, but I still like Young Frankenstein better. That will always be my favorite Wilder movie, even more than Willy Wonka.

About an hour after we went to sleep, I had a muscle cramp in my thigh. I get those, every now and then. While I was still awake in the aftermath of the cramp, I suddenly remembered that we had not put away the leftover food. So I jumped up (okay, it wasn’t really a “jump”) and went to the kitchen to take care of that. I had some trouble falling asleep after that, but finally was able to.

Both the Rangers and Red Sox played afternoon games, yesterday. The Red Sox pulled out a win against the Rays, 8-6. The Boo Jays beat the Orioles, so the Sox are still two games out, but are now two games ahead of the O’s. The Rangers, demolished the Mariners with five home runs (Odor hit two), beating them 14-1. The Astros, who seem to have gotten hot once again, also won, so the Rangers remain 8.5 games ahead of the second place Astros. When the Mariners came to town, they were in second place. Now, they are 11.5 games out, in third place, after being swept by the Rangers. The Rangers are the first team in the AL to reach 80 wins on the season. They could, mathematically, win 100 games this season, but it’s not likely. They would have to win at least 75% of the rest of their games to reach that. However, they are currently 7-3 in their last ten, so who knows?


(From Praying With the Psalms)

When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Psalm 107:39-43

This psalm shows us several areas in which God shows his “saving power,” and calls us to praise him for it. “Wise people are conversant with the ways in which God works and are practiced in making glad response.”

“Almighty God, you satisfy and you deliver; you heal and you rescue; you judge and you bless. I will give heed to all that you do; I will pay attention to the ways you show love; I will be glad in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, help me to be more observant as I walk through each day, observant to see the ways that you have satisfied me, delivered me, rescued me, healed me, judged me, and blessed me. Open my eyes that I might see the multitude of ways that you act on my behalf each day. And then open my mouth and loosen my lips that I might praise you for all of them. Also give me true courage; that which is needed to walk through this life rightly related to you in Jesus Christ.

Come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Put God First

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is peccable. I guess it makes sense that this word exists, but I didn’t really know it. It means, “Capable of sinning; liable to sin. Fallible, imperfect, flawed.” The opposite of impeccable.

Today is Bikini Day, because it is the anniversary of the invention of the bikini in 1946, by French fashion designer, Louis Reard. Pretty racy for 1946, eh?

We had a nice day, yesterday. R & J arrived somewhere between noon and 1:00 PM. We had our late lunch of steak and baked potatoes, which C did a marvelous job of cooking, and then sat around and talked for a few hours (the baseball game between the Rangers and Red Sox was on the TV with no sound) before I took Mama home. We had a nice trip over there and my trip back was smooth and uneventful. C & I watched a couple episodes of Criminal Minds and one episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and then went to bed.

Today is Tuesday that feels like Monday. Back to work for us, but at least it will be a short week.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:11-12

Each moment of our lives is a moment that counts, not toward us making some kind of mark or proving our worth, “but in the sense that all time is material that God uses to love us, guide us, correct us, and redeem us.”

“‘Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day’ (Richard of Chichester). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Don’t Calculate without God

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

“God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the things we have calculated on without taking Him into account.” How often does this happen to us? We get into circumstances and suddenly, we realize that we have not considered God in our actions. We would not worry nearly as much if we considered God in our plans.

I have been in church planning meetings where this happens! God has not given us an immediate thing to do, so we believe we have to make something up, rather than simply waiting to see what God would do within us.

We also cannot make plans around what we perceive as the evil. “Love is not ignorant of the existence of the evil, but it does not take it in as a calculating factor.” In other words, we cannot play the “what if” game in making plans, if we are considering God first.

Finally, there is no planning for a “rainy day” when we are trusting Jesus. He told us, “Let not your heart be troubled.” This is a command for us to do something; God will not keep our hearts from being troubled. It is something we must do. We must practice the spiritual disciplines until we are putting God first in all of our plans.

Father, I do need your help with this. I realize that it is something I must do, as are all of the spiritual disciplines. These are things that you have given us that we have to do. I cannot sit and wait for you to change me; rather, I must practice and train until the habits are formed. Help me to do so, and to put you first in all of my considerations.

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.