With Us in Suffering

Today is Tuesday, the second of March, 2021, in the second week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,000!! Today, I have been alive on this earth for 23,000 days!

33 days until Resurrection Sunday

C’s first day back at work was okay, but she said she got less accomplished than she normally did on a day working from home. That figures, because some of her previous work time was spent driving to the office, and, when working from home, she would stay on her work computer later in the day.

There’s not a lot to share, this morning, no real significant news or anything. It’s 40 degrees outside, which is, in my opinion, close to where it should be. We are expecting a high in the low sixties today, with plenty o’ sunshine.

Baseball is being played at the Spring Training locations. The rules are weird, though. I listened to part of a game Sunday afternoon, Rangers v Royals. They only played six innings, and when the Rangers did not catch up in the top of the sixth, instead of the game being over, the continued to play the Royals’ half of the inning. It was explained that this was so the Rangers could have another pitcher get in some work. That makes sense, being that is what Spring Training is all about. It’s just weird.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you, and desire nothing save 
only you. 
Let me hate myself and love you. 
Let me do everything for the sake of you. 
Let me humble myself and exalt you. 
Let me think of nothing except you. 
Let me die to myself and live in you. 
Let me accept whatever happens as from you. 
Let me banish self and follow you, and ever desire to follow you. 
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you that I may deserve 
to be defended by you. 
Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among 
those who are chosen by you. 
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in you. 
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you. 
Let me cling to nothing save only to you, and let me be poor 
because of you. 
Look upon me, that I may love you. 
Call me that I may see you, and forever enjoy you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Forsake Myself for Jesus, by St. Augustine of Hippo)

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
(Psalms 97:1-2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne
  • That, if I walk humbly before You and fear You, You will instruct me, guide me, and confide in me
  • For the places where Your glory dwells
  • That You, Jesus, are always with us, most especially should we have to suffer

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

LENT – DAY 12

INVITATION

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Meditate for a moment on the enduring kingdom and dominion of YHWH.

BIBLE SONG

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
(Psalms 25:8-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
(Genesis 17:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are several words in the psalm that catch my eye. “Instruct,” “guide,” “confide.” All of these things that the Lord will do with those who humble themselves and fear Him. Twice, it is said, of those who fear the Lord, that He will instruct them and confide in them. And in the middle of this passage, the psalmist shows his own humility by interjecting a prayer for forgiveness for his “great” iniquity.

Abram, as he became Abraham, showed equal humility, falling facedown before the Lord when it was declared that God was making a covenant between them and that his (Abram’s) numbers would increase. Abraham would be the father of many nations, and God would be the God of Abraham’s descendants for many “generations to come.”

Abraham walked humbly before the Lord, and the Lord kept His promises. If we walk humbly before God, and fear Him, He will, according to Scripture, instruct us in His ways, guide us in what is right, instruct us in the ways we should choose, and confide in us, making His covenant known to us.

Father, I thank You for these promises and truths, this morning. Help me to be one who walks humbly before You all the day long. Some days I fail miserably in this quest for humility, getting agitated and aggravated when my work is interrupted by more work, or when I get requests from people that I think are silly. It is not up to me to decide what requests are silly or what is or isn’t important. Grant me humility today, as I work, that I might fear You, and that You might instruct, guide, and confide in me throughout the day. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name, O great YHWH!

"Covenant God,
thank you for your promises,
which are full of blessing and life.
Thank you most for your promise to send your Son,
the powerful Jesus,
to crush the head of the devil
and to bring my life blessing.
In the strong name of Jesus,
amen."
(Belgic Confession 17)

BLESSING

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.
(Psalms 26:8 NIV)

“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”
(Isaiah 58:5-8 NIV)

She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?
(1 Timothy 5:10 NLT)

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLT)

Recently, we talked about how we speak to people who are suffering, and that sometimes, the words we might say could be resented, as we do not share the experience of those who suffer.

However, the words of Jesus in these letters are not like those words. He has felt everything that we could possibly feel. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the Source and He is the destination. He knows what has gone before, and He will be with us in the days to come, whatever they may bring.

This is the One who speaks to those who are suffering. He has the authority to speak, because He has endured the suffering.

In the case of Smyrna, we can piece together the nature of their suffering. They lived in the Roman Empire. They were pressured to worship Caesar. They could do anything they wanted, worship any other “gods” that they wanted, as long as they proclaimed their initial allegiance to Caesar.

The Christians at Smyrna refused to do this. “Christ is Lord,” they proclaimed and would not compromise to even give Caesar “half a place.” This created an atmosphere of persecution and extreme anxiety. They suffered economically, as well, finding it difficult to do business as merchants.

One of the hardest parts of suffering is thinking that we are suffering alone. No one wants to suffer or die alone. Jesus assures His people that this is not the case. He is with them, because He has experienced it. He will never leave or forsake anyone. “We are not isolated. We are not separated either from God or from his people. He knows, and he is with us.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I have not gone through anything, recently, that I would call “suffering.” Even the time that we were without power in the sub-freezing temperatures week before last, I would not consider suffering, especially since there were many, many people who had it much worse than we did. But I thank You greatly that You are always with Your people during our suffering. Help us, though, to know this truth. Help us to have the constant knowledge of Your presence, so that, should we have to suffer, we will not forget, and we will not complain, nor will we give up hope, thinking that You have abandoned us. Praise Your great Name, that You will always be with us, and that You, Jesus, have suffered everything that we could possible go through, and that You will always share this in our lives with You. All glory to You, our great King!

Lord, I pray that we, Your children, would love and commit our best to the communities in which You have placed us. May You equip us to serve in unique ways as we live in these communities, helping us to not hide our light under a basket. I pray especially today for teachers, administrators, and all others who work in education. Give the teachers strength and patience. Give the administrators wisdom (some of them need a lot of this). Give aides and other workers love and compassion for those whom they serve.

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.

The Bread of Life

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), the third of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,973

I actually had to stop and think a minute to remember what day this is.

I hear the “big game” is this Sunday. I certainly don’t have a “dog in this hunt,” but I might watch at least part of the game. I don’t know, though . . . Sunday is one of my major gaming days, so I will have to weigh which is more important to me. The only reason that I might watch is to see this Patrick Mahomes kid play. I definitely will not be rooting for Tom Brady. I don’t hate him, like a lot of Texas people. Neither do I like him very much. He’s great, I’ll give him that. But I can’t bring myself to root for a team from Tampa.

Sports logic is weird, so don’t question it. The Tampa Bay Rays are one of my top three most loathed teams. The other two are the New York Yankees (duh), and the Toronto Blue Jays (even though Joey Bats doesn’t play there, any more). Now that my primary allegiance is to the Texas Rangers, perhaps I should shift the brunt of my baseball dislike a bit more to the west. But, hey . . . Rangers fans don’t like Toronto, either, right? And everyone but Yankees fans hates the Yankees.

Enough of that. Time to get serious.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
(Psalms 63:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee; good stuff – highly recommend
  • For Your words . . . sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalm 119:103)
  • That my times are in Your hands (Psalm 31:15)
  • That every word You speak is true
  • For the Bread of Life

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 29

INVITATION

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:103-104 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.
(Psalms 31:1-5 NIV)

My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
(Psalms 31:15-16 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“My times are in your hands,” says the psalmist. I can easily echo these words, and have, many times, in my life. The truths stated in this psalm are some of my most favorite in Scripture. “Rescue,” “rock,” “fortress,” “refuge,” these are all words that describe how I feel about God, my Father. I feel safe when I think of Him in terms like these.

Jesus continues to challenge our ways of thinking in His Sermon. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them,” He says. I added the emphasis.

Because, seriously, where else are you going to “practice your righteousness,” other than “in front of others?” I honestly do not think that Jesus is telling us that we should never allow our “good works” to be seen by others. He is challenging our motivation. He is telling us that, if we are doing good works in order to be noticed by other people, we’re doing it wrong! The attention is not the motivation.

The motivation is love, compassion, service, the simple joy of doing something good.

I have never liked the church’s practice of calling someone up and pointing out the good things they have done. We should not be calling attention to our deeds. Let them speak for themselves. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with putting up pictures of all the gifts we gave to some families for Christmas (The Exchange did this a few years ago). I guess as long as we are only showing it to ourselves, and saying, “Look church. Here is what you did for these people.” That’s probably okay. But if we start putting stuff like that on our social media, where everyone can see it, it becomes tricky.

We’re not hiding anything. People will hear about our good deeds, they will find out about them. But we don’t parade down the street, blowing a trumpet when we carry food to the hungry. We do it quietly, simply. We do it for the love of our Lord and for the care of people whom He cares about, and no other reason.

Of course, this thought translates next into how we pray, but I don’t want to take the time to get into that, this morning. I was more drawn in by the first portion. And I have a feeling that the praying part will continue in tomorrow’s Bible reading.

Father, I thank You that You have given us generous hearts, that You have led us to hold onto our possessions with open hands rather than closed fists. But we could still do better, I think, which is evidenced by the fact that our “tithe fund” still has money in it. Help us to see with better eyes and spirits the needs of people around us, that we might help them. Not for attention, or not for glory. Not to us, O Lord, but to You goes the glory. May we serve and work quietly and simply, for the attention to go to You, rather than to us.

"God of mercy,
thank you for the freedom to do good -
not to prove to you,
others,
or myself
how good I am,
but instead forgetful of self,
focused on your pleasure,
and moved by your undeserved mercy.
Give me a gentle heart of compassion
by deepening my experience of your grace,
knowing that in doing good works
I only do what is appropriate
to your generosity in Jesus.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 24)

BLESSING

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)

“You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 GNB)

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
(Proverbs 30:5 NLT)

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
(Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT)

The Hebrew word for “bread” is “lechem.”

The Hebrew word for “house” is “beit.”

You may already know where this is going.

Beit Lechem means “house of bread.”

Bethlehem.

Bread is a major source of life. It can be, perhaps, seen figuratively as that which we need most to survive.

“If what we needed most was money, if money was the bread of our lives, then what we’d find in Bethlehem, the house of bread, would be money. If what we most needed was success, then we’d find success there. Or if it was acceptance or pleasure or substances or careers or possessions or any other thing we desired. If any of these were what we needed most, then that’s what we would have found in Bethlehem. But we didn’t find any of those things there.”

What did we find in Bethlehem, the “house of bread?”

The Bread of Life.

The Mission: Stop filling your needs and desires with that which is not bread. Fill your heart with the love, the presence, and the fullness of your true bread – Him.”

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.
(Micah 5:2 NLT)

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
(John 6:32-35 NLT)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, thank You for the Bread of Life, which was found in Bethlehem, the house of bread! Help me to fill up my life with this true bread, not with things that are meaningless and fade away. Teach me Your ways, show me Your path; help me walk with Jesus today.

Lord, I also pray, today, that my fellowship with the risen Christ would be deep and intense. Remind me, frequently, throughout this day, of His work and sacrifice for me, and of His victory over sin and death. Give me spiritual renewal and refreshment, today, even as I go through the mundane tasks of “work.”

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Alive and Breathing

Today is Monday, October 14, 2019. Blessings to you!

The coffee is ready!

Day 22,495

45 days until Thanksgiving.

The real vacation begins right now. Because it’s Monday morning, and I’m not going to work! I’ve got my cup of coffee, the deck doors are open, the sound of the ocean drifting in. C is now out on the deck with her coffee.

The sun is shining after a night of thunderstorms. Well, an early morning of thunderstorms, as they didn’t really start until around 4:00 AM. But they are done, at least for the moment, and it’s quite beautiful outside.

There are no plans today, other than a late breakfast and a mid-afternoon meal. That’s typically how we roll on vacation.

The Astros took game two of the ALCS, last night, on a Carlos Correa walkoff home run in extra innings. Final score 3-2. That series is tied 1-1, as they will now head to Yankee-land. The NLCS continues tonight, in Washington. The Nationals lead that series 2-0.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. 
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Psalm 71:4-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the variety of weather we are experiencing.
2. For the peace in my soul.
3. For the song in my heart.
4. That I’m still alive and breathing.
5. That God has condescended to make himself available and accessible to us.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-3

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:18-19
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; 
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalm 59:16-17.

Several verses spoke to me, this morning, all listed above. There are a variety of thoughts going through my mind as I write this.

First, in the Isaiah passage, God tells us not to focus on what has gone before. Do not “consider the things of old,” he says. He’s going to do a new thing. He will “make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Now, I know that this passage was written specifically to Israel, but I see principles at work for my own life, things to ponder for my future, however much I have left.

I have, in my own thinking, wasted a good deal of my life and talent, over the years. Don’t misunderstand . . . this is not a self-bashing post. More of a self-realization thing. I believe that there is still time, that God still has use for me. I am, after all, still alive and breathing. This is a good indication that he still has something for me to do. It is simply up to me to buckle down (or suck it up) and do it. So I need his help to not spend time remembering “the former things,” but to move forward into the “way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

This leads me to the next thing. I’m a musician. I’ve been a musician for longer than I can remember. Even before I began taking piano lessons, I was singing. I have always loved to sing. But I love to play instruments, as well, mostly guitar and keyboards. So, as I move forward, I am challenged to exercise these gifts and talents. I know . . . I play and sing a couple of Sundays a month and one Saturday a month. But, for the most part, that’s the only times that I do that. I need to do more of this at home, in what little spare time I have. Even just a few minutes in the evening after dinner would be better than none at all, and I won’t speak of how much time I waste on Saturdays, and Sundays after church.

Part of this process is that I need to delight more in the ways of the Lord. There’s the verse from Psalm 37. If I delight in his ways, my steps will be established and the Lord will uphold my hand. If I trust in him with all my heart (Proverbs 3), he will make my paths straight.

So there’s my challenge for the near future. If you would, those who are praying types, pray that I can remember and meet this challenge.

Father, thank you for these words, this morning. Help me to do the the things that you have for me to do. Because I’m still alive and breathing!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 115:15

Grace and peace, friends.

Simple Faith

“I could more easily contain the Gulf of Mexico in a shot glass than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, January 11, 2014.

Today is “Step In A Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day?” Shouldn’t that be in, you know, like, May or June, rather than in the middle of Winter??


Last night, we went to the gym for the first time this year. Maybe the first time since early December, I’m not quite sure. But we’re serious, once again, and went to our old faithful Subway after working out, where I got a grilled chicken salad. We came home and watched this week’s episodes of Parenthood, The Crazy Ones, and Big Bang Theory. I wonder if anyone else is getting annoyed at Big Bang Theory for constantly making fun of people with Asperger’s Syndrome. . . I confess that I laugh at Sheldon at times, but when Penny treats him like a dog, saying things like, “Good boy,” and “C’mon boy,” I don’t think that’s very funny.

I finished reading Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn, yesterday. If you are so inclined, you can find my review of the book here. I really enjoyed it.

Today, we’ll have our usual errands, grocery store, and so on, and then church this evening. I’m not playing keys for now, as the pastor has decided that, at least for the time being, our worship will be more simple, with only acoustic guitar and vocals. I’m cool with that, as it will give me more opportunity to be involved in the prayer ministry. In face, I’ll be leading the pre-service prayer meeting this afternoon, as our pastor is away for the weekend.

Tomorrow, I think we’ll finally make it to Mineral Wells, to do some work around my parents’ house. It’s supposed to be an unusually high 74 degrees tomorrow!


On this date in 1973, the owners of the 24 baseball teams in the MLB voted to allow teams in the American League to use a “designated pinch-hitter” to bat in the place of the pitcher, while allowing the pitcher to stay in the game. This “strategy” was suggested as early as 1906, by Connie Mack. In 1928, the subject was brought up again by National League president John Heydler, but was rejected by AL management. In the seventies, Charlie Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, became the biggest champion of the DH rule. He argued that replacing the pitcher, who is traditionally the worst batter on the team, with a designated pinch-hitter, would “add the extra offensive punch that baseball needed to draw more fans.”

On Opening Day, 1973, Ron Blomberg of the Evil Empire became the first ever DH. He was walked by Boston Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant, after working a full count.

My opinion on this ruling has varied, over time. At this point, the only opinion that I have is that it is unfair to the American League when playing in National League parks. The current ruling, applying to World Series and Interleague season play (which I am vehemently opposed to), is that, when playing in the AL park, the DH rule applies, but when playing in the NL park it does not apply. This only hurts the AL team, and, actually benefits the NL team when they play in the AL park. When Bud “Lite” Selig finally retires, I would hope that a new commissioner (maybe we could get a “real” one this time) would force the issue and either make the NL use the DH rule or stop it altogether. I’ll step off of my little soapbox now.


Today’s birthdays include Alexander Hamilton, 1st US Secretary of Treasury, 1755, William James, philospher, 1842, Rod Taylor, actor, 1930, Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen’s sax player, 1942, Naomi Judd, singer, 1946, Tony Kaye, musician (Yes), 1946, John Piper, author/theologian, 1946, Ben Crenshaw, golfer, 1952, Lee Ritenenour, jazz guitarist, 1952, Robert Earl Keen, singer, 1956, Vicki Peterson, co-founder of The Bangles, 1958, Jasper Fforde, author, 1961, and Marc Blucas, actor, 1972.

Victoria Anne Theresa Peterson Cowsill (she married John Cowsill in 2003) was a guitar player and singer in The Bangles. Here is their popular song, “Walk Like An Egyptian.”


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Psalm 95:1-3 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make
a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 67:3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
Psalm 92:4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the
works of your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 89:11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world
and all that is in it, you have founded them.


Today’s reading from Reflections for Ragamuffins is “My Faith Commitment.” The question is put forth concerning the quality of my commitment: “Is there movement and development?” Is my faith alive and growing? Just like a human love affair, our relationship with Jesus (which is the basis of faith) cannot remain static. When our reading of scripture, observing of the sacraments, and various ministries of the church become routine, they might as well be dead. When we take God’s love for granted, we rob ourselves of experiencing his love in “new and surprising ways.” “When I become so spiritually sophisticated that ‘Abba’ is old hat, then the Father has been had, Jesus has been tamed, the Spirit has been domesticated, and the Pentecostal fire has been extinguished.” I must be at a place where I continuously want more intimacy with Jesus Christ. My desire must be to want nothing else, to comprehend the incomprehensible. “I could more easily contain the Gulf of Mexico in a shot glass than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”


Father, may my faith be ever growing. May it never be too “spiritually sophisticated,” to the point that my scripture reading, praying, and other areas of ministry become virtually dead. I believe that I have been at that point in earlier times of my life, and I look back on those times with shame and regret. However, surpassing the shame and regret is the praise that I give you for bringing me through those times, and into a more vibrant relationship with you today; one that is filled with surprise at the ways that you love us. May I always strive to comprehend that which is incomprehensible, that being the scope of your love. May I never tire of trying to understand that which I could never understand. This is why I constantly pray Ephesians 3:17-19 for friends of mine: . . .so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ah, that love that surpasses knowledge! What is the breadth and length and height and depth of it! It is infinite, therefore those measurements are unknowable! But if I ever cease striving to know this, then all my knowing might as well cease.

I pray for this day, that our errands will go safely and smoothly. May our worship tonight be faithful to lift you high. I pray for wisdom as I lead the prayer time before the service. Let me know what needs to be prayed for the most. Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth.

I keep on praying for Alicia, that she may have comfort and provision following her mother’s passing. I pray for people to help her. I also pray for our friend Rulen, who is experiencing some undesirable work conditions.


Don’t let your faith get too sophisticated. Keep it vibrant, alive, and simple.

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Likeness of Jesus

*Yawn* Good morning. It’s Monday again. Another week begins. Monday, October 28, 2013.

Tough choice on today’s “holiday.” Today is “Plush Animal Lover’s Day.” I’m a fan of plush animals. In fact, I used to have a collection of several of the Pooh characters, Eeyore being my favorite. (The other choice was “Animation Day,” and I’m also quite fond of animation.)


The reason I’m yawning is the late hours I’m keeping, watching World Series games. Last night’s was another heart palpitation and ulcer inducing game, this time resulting in a 4-2 win for the Red Sox, tying the series 2-2, and also guaranteeing a return to Fenway Park for game six. Last night’s game ended almost as oddly as the night before. Saturday night’s game ended on an obstruction call at third base, allowing the Cards to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Last night’s game ended with Koji Uehara picking off Kolten Wong at first base. It was so unexpected that the Fox camera crew almost missed it.
http://wapc.mlb.com/bos/play/?c_id=bos&content_id=31189779&topic_id=11493214
Right before this happened, Tim McCarver kept saying over and over that he just didn’t understand why Napoli was holding Wong at first. If you watch the clip, you can hear the Cardinals radio announcer saying the same thing. Then, BAM! Game over. THAT’S why Napoli was holding Wong at first base!

The Exchange successfully finished its last Sunday at Caprock Elementary School yesterday, and got all of the stuff loaded up on a couple of trailers. A lot of the gear we had will go into storage, as it won’t be used in the new location. Next Saturday evening, we will begin holding worship services at a sister church in the area, Harvest Church in Watauga. After the initial setup, we’re told that setup shouldn’t take more than ten minutes each Saturday evening. Hopefully, that will be the case. We’re excited about the move and the time shift.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1533, Catherine de’ Medici married the future Henri II, who would eventually become King of France. Her uncle was Pope Clement VII, which made her attractive as a bride, and she was the “great-granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent.” Over the next 26 years, she would play “second fiddle to her husband’s famous mistress, Diane de Poitiers.” But Henri died from wounds received in a joust in 1559, and Catherine took power quickly. She ruled France for 30 years, “through the destructive incompetence of her three dismal sons.” One method that she had of keeping tabs on her court was to “establish a group of beautiful women (the Escadron Volant or Flying Squadron) who dallied with her friends and enemies alike to prise out their secrets.” Through her “shallow intelligence, malevolent deviousness and lust for power,” France’s population was “decimated and France reduced to a second-rate power.” However, there were some positive contributions. One was the “hauntingly beautiful” chateau called “Chenonceaux.”

Chenonceaux
Chenonceaux

Chenonceaux already existed and had been given by Henri to Diane. But when Henri died, Catherine evicted Diane and built “the remarkable gallery that crosses to the left bank of the Cher river.”


Today’s birthdays are Bill Gates, 58, Julia Roberts, 46, Joaquin Phoenix, 39, Charlie Daniels, 77, Lauren Holly, 50, Annie Potts, 61, Jonas Salk, 1914-1995, and Paul Wylie, 49.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! Psalm 31:24
You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. Psalm 12:7
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:3
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. Psalm 71:21

“Glory be to God the Father,
God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
so it is now and so it shall ever be,
world without end.
Alleluia.
Amen.” (The Gloria)

Father, as I read and meditate on your words this morning, may they stay with me throughout this day, no matter what challenges lie ahead. I will take heart and wait upon you, keeping faith that you will keep me and guard me, from this day, forever more.


Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “The Christ Way of Life.” The scripture reading is Romans 3:24-25.

. . . and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Everything that we have in our lives comes from Jesus. All the energy and activity of the Christian life is formed in Christ, as God has set us right with him through Christ. “‘Redemption’ and ‘atonement’ are gateway words into vast mysteries, words we cannot hope to completely comprehend, but ones we can spend the rest of our lives entering into and letting continuously expand our living space.” Through Christ, God has “forgiven all our sins, set us right with him, and gathered us into his righteousness.” There is no way I could ever comprehend all of this, but I can abide in it, live in it. This is a way of life “in which everything about us is and continues to be formed in the likeness of Christ.” Here is a prayer that asks God for strength and courage for the sacrifices ahead:

Lord, I can never replicate Jesus’ sacrifice, but just as Christ did, I too
need to completely give myself to you, to allow you to shape me into the
image of Christ. help me to relinquish the illusion of control I clutch so
tightly and to recognize you as the true master of my life. Amen.

I do like that phrase, “to relinquish the illusion of control. . .” Any thought that we have any control over our lives is just that; an illusion.


Father, I do pray for the strength and courage to relinquish that illusion that I have any control over this life. I also pray for the life of Christ to be continually formed in me. All that I have comes to me from you, through Christ. I praise you for the forgiveness of sin. I thank you that you have set us right with yourself in Christ, and that you have gathered us into your righteousness. May your name be praised throughout the earth. May I successfully live this “Christ way of life” today and every day.

As I pray for this day, I pray for Christi and me to have successful work days, meeting all challenges in the strength of your grace, by the power of your Spirit. May we find favor with our employers, and may our companies prosper. May we show forth your light and truth, but also be compassionate in all that we do or say throughout the day. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would draw her closer to your heart, and show her a purpose for her life. Teach her (and us) your ways, O Lord.


Let go of the illusion of control and be gathered into the righteousness of God. All that we have comes from him. Celebrate that today.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Dynamic and Transforming Embrace

Good morning. It is Sunday, October 38, 2013.

Today is “Mother-in-Law Day.” How appropriate. For today also happens to be my mother-in-law’s birthday. So we will be visiting her today. “Mother-in-Law Day” is the fourth Sunday in October.


Not only is today the last Sunday in October, but it is also the last Sunday of Daylight Savings Time for this year. Once again, I throw out my plea for this archaic practice to be done away with once and for all. But, alas, someone, somewhere, believes that there is a useful purpose for this time change each year. Mind you, I don’t mind the “fall back” change so much. Maybe we could just fall back once a year, hmm?

Today is also the last Sunday that The Exchange will meet at Caprock Elementary School. Beginning next Saturday evening at 5:45, we will meet in a suite of rooms at Harvest Church in Watauga, which happens to be about five minutes from our house. Woot!

The Red Sox lost game 3 of the World Series last night, on a bizarre call that I still don’t quite understand. In fact, I’m just going to leave it at that, as I don’t want to seem like a “sore loser” or a whiny brat. The series continues tonight at 7pm CDT, with the Sox trailing 2-1.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

It was on this date in AD 312 that Constantine defeated his brother-in-law Maxentius at the great battle at Milvian Bridge. Constantine was fighting for control over the Roman Empire, and the day before this battle, he “saw suspended in the ski a flaming cross brighter than the sun inscribed with the words In hoc signo vinces. (By this sign thou shalt conquer.)” He took this to be a direct message from God and had “a cross interwoven into the imperial standard and attached to the helmets and shields of his soldiers.” Constantine went on to overcome Licinius, successfully reuniting the Roman Empire. He also became seriously committed to Christianity and “for the remainder of his reign, Constantine actively and continually tried to Christianize his subjects.” In 326, after his mother Helena traveled to Jerusalem and discovered the Holy Sepulchre, he “ordered the construction of a great basilica on the spot.”


Today’s birthday is John Cleese, born on this date in 1939, in England. Cleese is one of the masterminds that came up with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and later went on to star in a popular British comedy, Fawlty Towers. Here is a clip from Fawlty Towers.

Honorable mentions go to Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919, Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953, Captain James Cook, 1728-1779, Scott Weiland, 46, Simon Lebon, 55, Lee Greenwood, 71, Ralph Kiner, 91, Emily Post, 1872-1960, Nanette Fabray, 93, and Carrie Snodgress, 1945-2004.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:7-9
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Psalm 43:3-4
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1-2
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? Psalm 18:31

“Almighty and everlasting God, increase in me the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that I may obtain what you promise, make me love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” The Divine Hours

Father, I ascribe to you glory and strength, this morning. I pray that you would send out your light and truth as I read and meditate on your word this morning. Teach me your way, lead me to your holy hill.


Today’s reading in A Year With God “Jesus: The Atoning Sacrifice for the World.” The scripture reading is 1 John 2:1-2.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

“The key to the Christian life is to know and love Christ, which is reflected both in our responsiveness to Jesus’ guidance and in a readiness to confess times of failure.” As we live in Christ in he in us, we are kept cleansed and filled with God’s love. “This is no theoretical belief system, but a dynamic and transforming embrace.” I like that phrase, “a dynamic and transforming embrace.”

Today, the book offers a prayer from Luther’s Prayers, by Martin Luther.

O Gracious God, I am fully aware that I am unworthy. I deserve to be
a brother of Satan and not of Christ. But Christ, your dear Son, died and
rose for me. I am his brother. He earnestly desires that I should believe
him, without doubt and fear. I need no longer regard myself as unworthy
and full of sin. For this I love and thank him from my heart. Praise be to
he faithful Savior, for he is so gracious and merciful as are you and the
Holy Spirit in eternity. Amen.


Father, as I continue on this journey, I pray that I would be constantly in the middle of your “dynamic and transforming embrace.” I know that the best times of my life are when I consider myself to be right in the center of you and your grace. It is when I forget this and stray off the path that I struggle. The very thought of being in your embrace is an amazing thought that I can scarce wrap my brain around. May I know and love Christ each day of my life, every hour, every minute, never once forgetting who I am or whose I am. Christ in me and I in Christ, this is the truth, this is the way.

I pray for this day, Father, that our worship service this morning will be pleasing to you. May our songs of praise rise up to you like sweet incense from the candles of the cherubim. As we, the worship team, play our instruments and sing with our voices, may you fill us with your Spirit, and, through us, lead others to worship and praise you. Teach us your word through your servant, Jacob this morning. I pray that our tear down today will go smoothly as we begin the transition to the new place.

I pray for our visit with Christi’s mother today. May it go smoothly, as we celebrate her birthday today. May your grace fill this day.


“A dynamic and transforming embrace. . .” May you find yourself in that embrace today.

Grace and peace, friends.