Good News About Ourselves

Today is Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Day 21,664.

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.” ~ Bill Watterson, who turns 59 today.

Bonus quote: “I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” ~ Mitch Hedberg
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is gobsmacked, a mostly British adjective, meaning, “utterly astounded; astonished.”

Today is Bikini Day. Don’t blame me, it’s the only choice they gave me. It’s the anniversary of the invention of the bikini, in 1946, by a Parisian fashion designer, named Louis Reard.

Yesterday was mostly a nice day. I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up about 5 things that we forgot about when we sent our order to Instacart, then picked up Sonic drinks, followed by Taco Bell for lunch. Earlier that morning, C had thrown some ingredients in the crock pot for a cheeseburger soup, which we had for dinner. It was okay, but not great. The fire-roasted tomatoes that were called for in the recipe seemed to have a sweet taste to them, and none of us really cared for that. That, along with the fact that you have to brown the ground beef before putting it in the crock pot probably make this a non-repeater, as we typically have crock pot dinners on work days.

I played Fallout: New Vegas for most of the afternoon (my reward for going to the store and getting lunch), and we watched some TV while we ate dinner. Then the fun came. It wasn’t actually as difficult to get to sleep as we thought. However staying asleep was a different story, altogether, as someone in the neighborhood thought it would be fun to toss firecrackers around, at intervals of at least thirty minutes, up until around 2:30 AM. I mean, seriously, it was as if they had some kind of monitor to tell when we had just fallen back asleep. And it was always just two or three, not a lot of them. They finally stopped, though, but sleep was restless, pretty much the rest of the night. I’m not angry (as I’m sure some people are), but feel that people who do these kinds of things (along with people who perpetrate road rage) are seriously deranged and need some time in a mental institution.

Tonight is bowling night, but the team we are supposed to bowl against will not be there. They bowled their games last Wednesday, after our normal league time was over. The good thing about that is that we should get through early tonight.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Psalm 98:5-6
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17-18
The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.”
Psalm 132:11
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 
and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

John 11:25-27

(From Living the Message)

One of the ways that the gospel is “good news” is that it is “good news about ourselves.” This reality within us is just as important as any world news that we might take in every day. Even if world peace existed, and all economies were fair and stable, we would still have to deal with the reality of ourselves.

It doesn’t matter how nice my house is, how well-educated I am, or how secure I feel within my job or family. It doesn’t matter how competent and happy I appear. If I am “filled with anxieties and guilt and hopelessness,” I can’t make it. If I cannot escape the conviction that my life has no meaning, it’s bad news. We all need “a sense of integrity and purpose. We need to count, to mean something, to be important to somebody, to make a difference.”

It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20b (The Message)

Father, help us to see the good news about ourselves in the Gospel. The good news that we don’t have to try to impress anyone, any more, not even you! Christ is in us, and we need to strive to live the kind of life that Christ would live if he were us.
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.

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.

Prayer is Hard

Good morning. It is Sunday, July 5, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is bunkum. Bunkum is a noun, meaning, “insincere or foolish talk : nonsense.” The origin of this word appears to be political. “Some words in our language have more colorful histories than others, but in the case of bunkum, you could almost say it was an act of Congress that brought the word into being. Back in 1820 Felix Walker, who represented Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the U.S. House of Representatives, was determined that his voice be heard on his constituents’ behalf, even though the matter up for debate was irrelevant to Walker’s district and he had little to contribute. To the exasperation of his colleagues, Walker insisted on delivering a long and wearisome “speech for Buncombe.” His persistent—if insignificant—harangue made buncombe (later respelled bunkum) a synonym for meaningless political claptrap and later for any kind of nonsense.”

Today is Bikini Day. I swear it was the only choice I had! Anyway, it marks the invention of the scandalous swimwear, in 1946, by Parisian fashion designer, Louis Reard.

We had a really nice day yesterday. After I finished my morning blog, we cooked breakfast and had a nice meal around the table (that doesn’t happen much at this house, these days). After some quick showers, we took my mother up to Half-Price Books and just shopped around for a bit. I left $5 richer than I went in, which is always a good thing. After picking up some drinks at Sonic, we headed back to the house for about an hour, then went up to where our church meets for the July 4th cookout. We had a nice time hanging out with the church family, eating hot dogs and brats (the sausage, not the kids), and playing a few games. Around 7:00, we left there to get my mother packed up so we could take her back to Mineral Wells.

We had a very pleasant drive both ways, and didn’t stay long in Mineral Wells, as it was already after 8:00 when we arrived there. We were both exhausted, so we didn’t stay up a long time after we got home. Over all, I would say it was a very pleasant day, and has been a delightful weekend, so far. I do believe Rachel and Justin are supposed to come over this afternoon, so we will need to go do our grocery shopping this morning.

On this date in 1865, The Salvation Army was founded in London. In 1937, Spam was introduced by Hormel Foods. In 1947, Larry Doby signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first black player in the American League. In 1954, Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right,” which would be his first single, and the BBC broadcast its first TV news bulletin. And in 1971, the 26th Amendment was certified by President Nixon, officially lowering the voting age to 18.

Today’s birthdays include Thomas Hooker (English Connecticut colonist), Mary Walcott (American accuser at the Salem witch trials), P.T. Barnum (American circus owner), Warren Oates (American actor), Shirley Knight (American actress), Robbie Robertson (Canadian musician, The Band), Michael Monarch (American musician, Steppenwolf), Huey Lewis (American singer), Goose Gossage (American baseball player), Bill Watterson (American cartoonist), Marc Cohn (American singer/songwriter), Claudia Wells (American actress), and Jason Wade (American musician, Lifehouse).

Marc Cohn was born on this date in 1959, making him 56 today. Here is a wonderful song of his, “Walking in Memphis.”


To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.

Psalm 81:1-3

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

“I can think of nothing great that is also easy,” says Tim Keller. In that case, he says, prayer must be “one of the hardest things in the world.” I am inclined to agree with him. Sure, in many ways, prayer is easy. How hard is it to say grace before a meal? But to really get into deep prayer with God, having all of our senses consumed by his presence . . . this is a truly difficult thing. I cannot say whether I have ever fully accomplished this. However, when we admit that this is a difficult thing, it can be encouraging, because we can be assured that we are not alone.

Keller quotes a book by a nineteenth century theologian, Austin Phelps. The book is called The Still Hour, and begins with a chapter called “Absence of God, in Prayer.” The author begins with Job 23:3, which says, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” Phelps is quoted as saying that, “a consciousness of the absence of God is one of the standing incidents of religious life. Even when the forms of devotion are observed conscientiously, the sense of the presence of God, as an invisible Friend, whose society is a joy, is by no means unintermittent.”

Even though we know that God is always here and never absent, I firmly believe that we would be less than honest if we said that we never experienced the feeling of God’s absence. But there are reasons for this feeling, and for the feeling of dryness in our prayer lives.

One thing we learn when we try to pray is “our spiritual emptiness.” In fact, we get quite used to being empty, to the point that we don’t truly recognize it until we begin to attempt prayer. “We don’t feel it until we begin to read what the Bible and others have said about the greatness and promise of prayer.” And while it is a crucial first step, it can be very disorienting.

What happens when our prayer lives begin to flourish? Well, we might be experiencing self-pity, or in the process of justifying anger and resentment. Then, when we begin to pray, we come face to face with the pettiness of those feelings. “All your self-justifying excuses fall to the ground in pieces.” Perhaps we come to our prayer session, feeling great anxiety. As we get into prayer, we find that we wonder what we were so worried about, maybe even laughing at ourselves, thanking God “for who he is and what he’s done. It can be that dramatic. It is the bracing clarity of a new perspective.”

Over time, the experience described in the previous paragraph can become normal. But it doesn’t start that way. At the beginning, that feeling of the absence of God, along with a feeling of desperate spiritual poverty, dominates. But we must persevere, pushing forward to that place that Packer and Nystrom call getting “through duty to delight.”

Let us not understand, though. Even when the good experiences become “normal,” there will be times of dryness and emptiness that return. But, when we persevere, “the vivid reorientation of mind, and the overall sense of God on the heart, comes more frequently and sometimes in startling ways–interspersed with times of struggle and even absence.” The pursuit will bear fruit, “because God seeks for us to worship him (John 4:23) and because prayer is so infinitely rich and wondrous.”
(pp. 24-25)

Father, how well I know that prayer is hard. So many times, I have experienced this dryness, this emptiness, sometimes right on the heals of a seemingly victorious and fruitful day of prayer. I do not believe that it is you that is inconsistent, though. I know it is me. But I also know that you will take me through periods of testing, and periods of walking through the desert, in order to make those times of closeness and fruitfulness that much more blessed. And it is the promise of those times that keeps me persevering through the struggling times. Sometimes, I know that the struggles are due to my divided heart, and for that reason, I continue to pray that you will unite my heart to fear your name. Teach me through the difficulty of prayer, knowing that “nothing great is also easy.”

I pray for this day. I lift up Christi to you, who is struggling, this morning, with pain in her legs, as well as some sickness in her stomach. I pray for relief for her. May you grant us safety and success as we go out to do our chores, in a bit. And I pray for a good visit with Rachel and Justin, this afternoon. May your presence shine down on us, whatever we find ourselves doing.

Thank you for such a wonderful times over the past couple of days. Thank you that you provide for us, so that we could do the things we do, and so that we could bring my mother to participate. I pray that all of us may get some good rest today, as we prepare for another work week, ahead.

Your grace is sufficient.

Prayer is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But the joy and reward that we receive, when we struggle through the difficult times, is without comparison. Don’t give up when the dry times come; don’t give up when you don’t feel the presence of God. It may feel as though he is absent, but he is NEVER absent! Never!

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. Today is, um, Friday. Yeah, that’s it. Friday, July 5, 2013. We had a great day yesterday. After discovering that my external hard drive was, in fact, okay (I’m still not sure what happened, but I unplugged it from my main pc and took it into the living room to plug it into the laptop, where it worked fine; when I brought it back in here to the study, it worked okay), I finished up yesterday’s blog and ran up to Best Buy where I bought a new WD My Book 2 TB hard drive. I’m still in the process of figuring out the software on that one, so nothing has been moved over yet. But I’ve left the old one on, just in case. While I was going to Best Buy, Rachel and Justin arrived. We had already decided that Christi would just cook the steaks in the oven and boil the corn, instead of cooking out on the grill. I was only gone for about 30 minutes, as it didn’t take long to decide which drive to get. Lunch was delicious. Christi did a spectacular job on all of it. While we ate lunch (and a while after), we watched a “Twilight Zone” marathon on the Sy-Fy channel (I still pronounce that “siffy” in protest of that horrible re-branding of the network). Then we played a game of 42 (dominoes) and ate some cheesecake. After R & J left, Christi and I watched this week’s episode of “Major Crimes,” after which she, Stephanie, and I went to Braum’s to get some ice cream. We watched one more TV show and then went to bed. We didn’t try to go see fireworks. Too late for us. They don’t start unto close to 10pm around here. And, fortunately, there weren’t a lot of “private” fireworks displays going on around here, so Tessie didn’t bark a lot after we went to bed.

Today is (ahem) Bikini Day, so named in recognition of the invention of the bikini by Parisian fashion designer Louis Reard in 1946. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. 😀

I’m sorry, but time has run short today, and I have no time left for history and birthday trivia.


But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:16-17
Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. Psalm 50:3
For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Psalm 25:11
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! Psalm 109:26

Father, I pray that, as I look into your words this morning, you will reveal yourself to me, by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Today’s, in A Year With God, I’m beginning a new section on the discipline of Solitude. Solitude is defined as “The creation of an open, empty space in our lives by purposefully abstaining from interaction with other human beings, so that, freed from competing loyalties, we can be found by God.” We see in the Gospels that Jesus’s public ministry was mixed with periods of solitude, when he left the crowds, either completely alone or with his disciples, so that he could spend time in prayer. “These times of solitude appeared to nourish Jesus for those times when he was in the public eye.” The very beginning of his ministry was preceded by 40 days of solitude in the desert, immediately after his baptism.

This is not about “becoming a hermit or misanthrope.” (A misanthrope is one who hates or mistrusts all people.) Times of solitude can enhance not only our relationship with God, but with others as well. And solitude is not loneliness in that we are completely and utterly alone. It is intended to be time spent solely with God. It seems like something that should be completely natural, but it is a difficult thing in our culture. We have to work to create this space. In Mark 6:31 Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Rest; abide; it is what we need to do more of.

Today’s reading is called “Withdrawing to a Deserted Place.” The scripture reading is Luke 5:15-16.

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

The ten-day challenge is to do exactly what Jesus did each day. “Withdraw to a place where you can be alone with God and use that time to pray.” It is suggested that it is most valuable to have these times immediately before or after times when we have to be around many others. If necessary, work to create that time. The amount of time is not so important, as much as achieving that solitude with God, “even if all you can manage is a solitary cup of coffee in the morning or a few moments of prayer in your car before your drive to work.” These times will nourish and refresh us. I already spend a few moments in the middle of my work day in a solitary place. Typically, I shut myself in an unused office for five or ten minutes during my first break time of the day. During that time, I pray through the “Midday Office” of The Divine Hours, and then pray for the ten people that God has placed atop my Facebook friend list. It tends to be a very sweet time each day, and helps me stay focused on abiding in him throughout the day.

Here is a suggested “Celtic Daily Prayer” to begin with:

Here am I, Lord,
I’ve come to do your will.
Here am I, Lord,
in your presence I’m still.

Father, may I find refreshment and sustaining power in times of solitude today. Even now, I sit alone in my study, tying out this prayer to you. May you use these times in my life to keep me focused on you, to teach me more about how to abide in you as I reflect on your awesome power and the promises that you have given us regarding our lives with you and in you. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Create in me a clean heart and renew my spirit. Teach me the value of solitude.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi to have a good work day today, and that her foot will continue to heal as it has. It seems to be getting better all the time, and we are most thankful for this. I pray for Stephanie to have a good day today, and that she will find rest and nourishment in your word, searching for your promises. I pray that you would show her how to live in those promises. Finally, I ask for a good work day for me, as I continue to learn new things. Give me a sharp mind and help me focus on the task at hand throughout the day, that I might learn these new responsibilities and have them firmly in my grasp.

Find some time to get alone today. Seek the wisdom of God and his nourishment before or after you have to deal with people.

Grace and peace, friends.