Wonderful Revelation

Today is Wednesday, the tenth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in you today!

Day 23,526

Only nine more days until S turns 29! And we have a day planned for that day. Lunch at Martha’s Mexican Cocina, pedicures, bowling, a cookie cake, and there will be presents! Should be quite a day.

We did hit 100 degrees, yesterday, but almost immediately after (shortly before 3 PM), the temperature dropped about twenty degrees as some light rain moved into the area. So that was our 42nd day of 100+, and began a new streak of two days. Today’s high is also predicted to be 100, followed by four days of less than 100. S’s birthday is the last day visible in the ten-day, and it is currently predicted to be 93! Let’s hope that holds true!

The Texas Rangers lost to the Astros, last night. They started out strong, but faded quickly, and Martin Perez had a rare loss in the game. Final score 7-5. The Rangers are now 48-61, thirteen games below .500. They are still in third place in the AL West, 22 games behind first place, and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Astros again tonight at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. They aren’t likely to win because a) Glenn Otto is starting, and b) Justin Verlander is pitching for Houston. He is 39 years old and has a 1.73 ERA.

I think we need to have his DNA checked, because I’m pretty sure he is not human.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox lost to the Braves, 9-7, to drop to 54-57 for the year. Significantly better than the Rangers, but still in last place in the AL East. Seventeen games out of first and five out of a Wild Card spot. They play again tonight at 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Dodgers remain on top of MLB, with 76-33 record (the Yankees have dropped to fourth), and the Nationals remain on the bottom, with 37-75. The Dodgers are still winning, now with a nine-game winning streak. The Athletics now have the longest losing streak, with four straight losses. The Red Sox just ahead of them, with three. And the Dodgers are still on top with a run differential of +233, and the Nationals remain on the bottom with -198. The Rangers dropped to -3, and the Sox to -32.

It’s my light week, this week, so I’m off today. I don’t know what I have planned for the day, other than a “surprise” meal for the family dinner, tonight. I’ll give a small hint . . . it involves macaroni.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God! What can separate us from your love? Can trouble or fear or persecution or hunger or nakedness or peril or the sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Dear Father in heaven, we long for courage. You will answer our prayers and again and again grant us strength, the power of your Spirit, the only power that can strengthen us. We thank you for all you have done for us. Help us onward from victory to victory until everything on earth is won for the good, to your honor among all humankind. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
(Romans 8:35, 37 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ!
2. for the power of the Holy Spirit, from which we gain all strength in this life
3. for the "still, small voice" of God
4. for the confidence that, if we ask according to His will, God hears our prayers
5. that Jesus came to make His Father our Father

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV)

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
(Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV)

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
(1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 ESV)

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)


When we acknowledge our weaknesses, it makes us stronger. Paul learned that, and tried to teach his churches the same thing. Our modern culture resists that, though. We flaunt things that make us appear “manly” or “tough,” forgetting the things we are taught by God’s Word.

God, of course, has no weaknesses. Yet, when He deals with us, He deals with us gently (except for a few exceptions, like when Jesus knocked over the tables of the folks who were cheating people).

There are connections in the above passages. A solid reason that we should “keep silence” before God is shown in the passage from 1 Kings. An important point of prayer is that silence is involved. Why? Because, when we are always talking, we are not listening! Note that the voice of God was not in the fire, not in the earthquake, and not in the boisterous wind. There are, certainly, times that God must speak loudly to us, but that is usually because we are not paying attention.

As Elijah waited patiently for the Lord to reveal Himself, the voice of God finally came through in that “still, small voice” the KJV references, or, in this translation, a “low whisper.”

The first thing that Jesus teaches us, in His model prayer, is that God is in heaven, and that His name should be hallowed. What does “hallowed” mean? “Greatly revered and honored.”

Jesus, the master of prayer, gives us words to use when we are praying. He not only taught us how to pray, He demonstrated it, as well. There’s a whole chapter in John (17) that is a complete prayer of Jesus.

But in this model, Jesus gives us “a prayer that breathes the freshness and fullness of eternal life, so simple that a child can learn it, so divinely rich that it covers all we need.” (Andrew Murray) I don’t believe that, when Jesus said, “Pray then like this,” that He meant “pray these exact words every time you pray.”

I believe He was giving us a pattern to use. There aren’t many things that we can pray for that wouldn’t fit somewhere in this pattern.

Of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with reciting this prayer. I do it frequently. It has a centering and calming effect when I do it.

There’s another important thing, though, here. That word “Father,” preceded by the word “our.” The word “our” may be the most important word in the prayer. Why? Because, up to that time, no one in Scripture, none of the saints of old, had ever referred to God as “Father.”

“The invocation places us at once in the center of the wonderful revelation that the Son came to make His Father our Father.” (Murray, emphasis his)

“The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest–but also the last and highest–lesson in the school of prayer. It is in personal relationship to the living God and fellowship with Him that prayer begins.” (Murray)


Father, thank You for this revelation. I give praise to You for making this relationship possible through Jesus Christ. This is, truly, a “wonderful revelation,” as described by brother Murray. Help us to walk in this knowledge, to know this “Father-love” that is so readily available to us. The thing that amazes me is that this love of Yours is lavished on everyone on the planet . . . not just the people who acknowledge it! As Scriptures says, you send rain on the just and the unjust alike. There is air for the atheists to breathe, as well as the believers.

And You could very easily make it not so.

Your patience with mankind is staggering. I pray for the same patience, that I might love people as You love them. Help me to be a channel of that love, that, as it passes through me, it might spread out, fan out into the world and touch everyone around me.

Help me to keep silent before You, when appropriate, that I might hear Your “low whisper.” Teach me the ways of meditation and contemplation that I might know Your presence without having to speak, that I might gain knowledge of You in the stillness of Your presence. I want to be immersed in You.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” ~ L.R. Knost

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Name of Jesus

Today is Tuesday, the ninth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,525

Ten days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday’s procedure went quite well, I think. And I must have been dreading it a lot more than I thought, because I was in better spirits, yesterday afternoon, than I have been in quite a while. Anyway, the procedure went smoothly, and they found only a couple of polyps, which were removed and sent to pathology. The doctor did not seem at all concerned that they might be cancerous. The nurses and techs were all very friendly and treated me very well. Best nap I’ve had in a long time. I tried to get them to give me some of that stuff to take home, but they wouldn’t do that. Propofol. That’s it. Best anesthesia ever.

Afterward, for lunch, I had a double cheeseburger (with a fried egg and bacon on it) and fries from OC Burger, followed by one of their gigantic chocolate chip cookies. It was delicious, and, at that moment in time, it was the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. Hah.

Let’s see. Weather. It hit 101 yesterday, for our 41st day of triple-digit temperatures, this summer. Hopefully, there won’t be a streak to count, because it is not supposed to hit 100 today. In fact, the predicted high today is 97! And, if the forecast holds true, we have six straight days coming, below 100. And tomorrow, there is almost a 50% chance of rain! The record high for yesterday’s date is 106. The record low is 58. Now there’s a record I’d like to break!

There was no baseball that mattered to me, yesterday. I’ll take a look and see if any of my stats changed. Likely not. There were only seven games played, yesterday. The Nationals lost, so they will still be the worst in all of the categories. The Dodgers didn’t play, but will still be the best in all of the categories. The Rangers and Red Sox did not play, so they didn’t lose, and their run differentials didn’t get worse. For today, the Rangers play the Astros in Houston, and the Red Sox play the Braves in Boston. The only thing the Rangers have going for them is that Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch.

Since it is Tuesday, I’ll be working at the Hurst Public Library from 4:15-8:15, tonight, shelving books and/or DVDs. Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Matthew 18:20 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the presence of Jesus, when we gather together in His name
2. that I belong to Jesus, and have freedom in Him that can never be taken away by any government or earthly power
3. that God is constantly showing me the path of life, as I seek the "ancient paths" (Jeremiah 6:13)
4. for the fullness of joy in His presence, the eternal pleasures at His right hand
5. for the promise of Jesus, that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it; may I understand this promise correctly and walk in it

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV)

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
(2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
(John 12:26 NLT)

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:14 NIV)

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)

“Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6 ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:12-14 ESV)

When we speak a person’s name, we are (or at least should be) speaking more than just a proper noun. Names conjure up different things for different people. I could say the name, Jimmy Carter, and it would mean something different to everyone. But to me, it brings thoughts of integrity, honor, and extreme generosity. It speaks of his character and his nature.

The name of Jesus Christ “means His nature, His person and work, His disposition and Spirit. To ask in the name of Christ is to pray in union with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

Later on in this same discourse, Jesus tells His disciples that if they abide in Him, they can ask whatever they desire. (John 15)

“As we live in Him, we receive the power to avail ourselves of the authority of His name.” (Murray)

One of the things that Jesus showed us, while He walked on the earth, is the nature of true prayer. “To pray in His name, we must pray as He prayed.” Not necessarily in exactly the same words. But in the same Spirit, certainly. He is my example, my teacher, and my intercessor. And through Him, one of my goals is to receive from the Father, just as He did.

Things to consider, though, when we are asking. 
Is the nature of my prayer of the flesh or of the Spirit? While there are certainly material things that the Lord wishes to grant us, we must consider the words of Paul, up at the top of this entry, remembering that we do not "wage war according to the flesh." 
Can it be said that I am praying "in union with Him," when I ask for something? This is where the "prosperity gospel," the "name-it-claim-it" theology falls completely apart. If I pray for a Maserati, am I praying in union with Jesus. Is there any possible rational need for a $215,000 car when there is so much poverty in this world?
Am I asking so that I will look good? Any boasting that I do must not be in myself, but in the Lord. If I commend myself, that is all the commendation I will get. If I pray to look good to others, that is all the reward I will receive, as well, according to Jesus.

According to Jesus, the Father honors those who serve. “No time or effort is too great to serve others through prayer and intercession.”

Praying in Jesus’s name requires much more than simply tacking on “in Jesus’s name” at the end of our prayers. This is a practice that has sadly cheapened pray, over the decades. There is nothing wrong with saying that. Nothing at all. However, if we think that the act of saying validates everything that we prayed, we need to think again.

Because praying in Jesus’s name means much more than that. It means praying in union with Him, which, to me, means praying for things that He would want. I just cannot make myself even imagine Jesus praying for a Maserati or a mansion. I can, however, easily see Him praying for a friend’s surgery recovery, or for a friend’s marriage, or for even something as small as success in a weight-loss journey.

So before I pray for something, I stop and think . . . (no, I’m not going to say “What would Jesus do?”) can I envision Jesus praying for this?

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible app/reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, as I consider praying in the holy and mighty name of Your Son, I ask that I would always stop to think about things, about His character and nature, about His prayers, and about whether I can think of Him praying the things I’m about to pray. This, however, does not meant that I might simply confess to You the way I am feeling about something or someone, at the moment. But when it comes to what I ask for, I commit to evaluating those requests based on the Scriptures that we have before us.

I pray that You would always help us to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and no human being is our enemy. Even in the physical realm, I commit to not considering any human being to be my true enemy.

I commit, as well, to not seeking to commend myself, or seeking the commendation of others, and only seeking Your commendation. May any boasting I do be in You, and You only, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I praise You that You have put me on the road to life; that You have shown me this path, and that in Your presence is that fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. May I be satisfied with these, Father.

As we seem to have departed from some of the more “ancient paths,” Father, I pray that You would help me to find them again. I will, as Jeremiah stated, seek those ancient paths, by looking back at teachers of old to see how they lived their lives and how they meditated and prayed. I also pray that You will help me pray only in union and agreement with Jesus Christ. Teach me to pray, Lord. Help me to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for whatever I find to be needed.

And thank You for giving me everything I need for life and godliness.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Intimate, Spiritual, Personal, and Uninterrupted

Today is Monday, the eighth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,524

Only eleven more days until S turns 29!

We only hit 99 degrees, yesterday, for the second consecutive day of under-100 temps! The record for yesterday’s date was 105. Today’s high is predicted to be 101, but that is followed by five straight days of below-100 highs. The bad news is that Wednesday’s chances of rain have dropped.

The colonoscopy prep is going fine, I suppose. I just drank my second dose about thirty minutes ago, and am waiting for it to take effect. I’m working on my second glass of water, as I am required to drink two 16-ounce glasses within an hour of the dosage. After 8 AM, this morning, I am not allowed anything to drink or eat. The procedure is scheduled for noon, and I am due to arrive at 11 AM. My post-procedure lunch is going to be legendary.

The Texas Rangers lost the series finale with the Other Sox, 8-2, to split the four-game series. They are now 48-60 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still 21 games out of first place, and now ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They have today off, and will begin a three-game series in Houston tomorrow.

The Red Sox seem to hitting a new low, as they lost to the Royals again, 13-5, yesterday. So they lost that series, 3-1. In spite of all of this, they are still only two games below .500, at 54-56, but they remain in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and now five games out of a Wild Card spot. They also have today off, and will begin a series against the Braves tomorrow in Boston.

The LA Dodgers continue to roll along as the best MLB team, at 75-33. The Washinton Nationals continue to stumble as the worst MLB team, at 36-74. The Dodgers also have the best ongoing win streak, now at eight games (the Cardinals are right behind them with seven). The Nationals and Yankees (HAH!) still share the longest current losing streak at five games. The Dodgers, for the hat trick (trifecta?), continue to have the best run differential, now at +226, while the Nationals have a reverse trifecta with the worst run differential of -196. The Rangers have dropped back into the negative with -1, and the Red Sox have dropped to -30.

It’s Monday, so I’m off work today (the main reason that the procedure was scheduled for today), and it’s my “light” week, so I only work tomorrow evening and all day Thursday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come before you in the great name of Jesus Christ. We thank you that while we are still living on earth you give us hope and joy in this great name. May something be born in us through your Spirit to make us of one mind with Jesus Christ. In all our relationships with others may we learn that it is better to submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule, better to be the weakest than to bring pressure to bear on others. Give us this attitude. Let this attitude arise in many so that they may be Christians not only in their words and thoughts, but Christians at heart, loving their neighbors and at one with the Savior on every step of the way. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 2:3-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is "better to submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule" (Plough.com Daily Prayer)
2. for the possibility of having the mind of Christ
3. that Jesus is the exact imprint/representation of the nature/character of the Father
4. for the great works that we can do because of our faith in Christ
5. for the disciplines of meditation and contemplation, by which we truly come to a more intimate knowledge of our Father

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8 ESV)

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(Psalms 43:3 ESV)

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 
(John 14:1, 12 ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
(Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)

Do I believe in Jesus, or do I just believe in the documents that I have read about Him?

In some ways, all I have is those documents. But that’s not 100% true, because I have His Spirit, which is not contained in any document or building. Nevertheless, I don’t have the benefit of those first disciples, who walked with Him personally.

How is it possible that we (whoever believes in Christ) will do the same works as Jesus did, and even greater works?

Through the faith that leads us to know that Christ and the Father are one, so are we in Christ, and Christ is in us.

“It is this intimate, spiritual, personal, uninterrupted relationship to the Lord Jesus that manifest itself powerfully in our lives today, and especially in our prayer lives.” (Andrew Murray)

And how do we experience this? By allowing God the time to reveal Himself and His will to us during our times in the secret place of prayer. Also by bowing down to Him in worship. “Allow our Lord to take full possession of you and to show you how you may live and walk in abiding fellowship with Him. . . . It has not entered into the heart of man what God can do for those who love Him.” (Murray)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I thank You for the knowledge of You that You have given me. Yet I pray for more. I want to know You more, know You better, know You as You know me. I realize that this will not be fully possible until I stand before You, someday. Nevertheless, I pray for it now.

I pray to know the faith that comes from the understanding of the relationship between You and Christ and the Holy Spirit. I pray that this will manifest itself powerfully in my life, and in the lives of all of Your people, as we navigate the treacherous waters of life, in this day and age.

I confess that I struggle with the possibility of doing “greater works” than Jesus did. I have always struggled with that, wondering how on earth we could possibly do anything greater than Jesus did. And then, right after that statement, He told His disciples that if they ask anything in His name, He will do it.

Father, I desire that “intimate, spiritual, personal, uninterrupted relationship” with Jesus that brother Murray talks about. Help me to accomplish that, to maintain it, and to let it work its way within me, daily. But I never want to do “greater works” for my own name’s sake. My name is nothing. The name of Jesus is everything.

May I have the mind of Christ as I engage in relationships in this world, knowing that it is better to “submit in patience than to dominate, better to serve than to rule.” It is better to appear to be weak and follow the commands of Christ, than to appear to be strong and fail in the quest of loving one another.

And finally, Father, I am grateful for Your provision in my life, and that You have created within me the spirit of a cheerful giver, making us generous with the resources with You have provided. We are aware and believe strongly that we have nothing that You did not give us. Therefore, we are generous with that which You have provided.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
(John 14:15 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbled or Exalted

Today is Sunday, the seventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,523

Only twelve days until S turns 29!

We didn’t hit 100 for a high temp, yesterday. I knew that, when we were leaving the library, yesterday, one of my friends there commented that it had only hit 99 there. The official report closest to my house says it only got up to 98. Today’s predicted high is 100. Beginning next Tuesday, we might see four straight days of below-100 temps, and a possible high on Wednesday of only 94, along with some possible thunderstorms that evening.

Dane Dunning had a tremendous outing, last night, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Other Sox 8-0. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. Adolis Garcia had five RBIs in the game. I started to say they won the series, but they have one more game with them this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, in Arlington. They are now 48-59 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, 21 games behind first place, and nine out of a Wild Card spot.

Boston lost another game to the KC Royals, 5-4 on a walk-off home run. They are now 54-55 on the season, still in last place in the AL East. They are 16.5 games out of first place, and now four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play KC again, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT in KC.

The LA Dodgers are now decisively the best MLB team, with a 74-33 record. The Washington Nationals continue to be firmly entrenched in the cellar, with 36-73. The Dodgers also have the longest current winning streak, at seven games. The Nationals and the (hahahahaha!!!) YANKEES are tied for the longest current losing streak, at four consecutive games. The Dodgers also have the best run differential, at +222, while the Nats have the worst at -184. After last night, the Rangers are back in the positive column with +5, and the Red Sox continue to go backwards, now with -22.

The big news of the day, which I have avoided mentioning, is that I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow at noon. My diet has been moderately restricted since Friday (no raw fruits or vegetables, no high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, no nuts or legumes of any kind), and, as of noon today, I can have no solid foods at all. Oddly, Jell-o counts as a “clear liquid” (scratching my head over that one), but I don’t have any anyway, so I will be drinking lots of water today. I also have to start drinking the prep this evening at 6 PM. One dose then, and another dose tomorrow morning, at 6 AM (five hours before my 11 AM arrival time). After 8 AM tomorrow morning, I can have nothing even to drink.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we come into your presence so that you may lead us with the light that streams out from you. We come to your light seeking an inner birth to make us what your children ought to be. Bless us as we thank you for all your goodness and for the powerful help you have given many among us. Accept the thanks we offer you, and grant that we never forget the good you are doing for us. Help us to go forward, always forward, until your kingdom is completed. May it not be in vain that we live in the Lord Jesus and in love to you, the God and Father of all. May it not be in vain that we bring you our requests and prayers for your kingdom to come soon. Yes, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon to this earth so that all people may acknowledge the true God and may love you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
(John 12:36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the light, streaming out from God, that leads us into His Kingdom
2. that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed
3. that "if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all"
4. that "everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened"
5. for the Holy Spirit, and His many ministries in the lives of the saints

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 ESV)

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 ESV)

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

These are statements, truths, that would lead us to humility, if we are paying attention. If the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, we would do well to pay more attention to the oppressed and come to their aid. The words of Jesus scream in our ears about this.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

The body of Christ is in much need of humility, these days. Even when directed to ask, that we might receive, seek, that we might find, and knock, that the door might be opened, we need to do those things with great humility.

And it is far better to humble oneself willingly than for it to be forced upon one.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s source was Daily Guideposts 2022


Father, I pray for more humility in my life. I realize the dangers of this prayer, as it is akin to praying for more faith, which brings about more testing. But I know that I need to be more humble in all things, so please make it so.

Help me also to have the faith (in humility) to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, that I might find You and be more intimately connected to You. May Your Spirit reign in my heart and in my life, that I might know You more.

I pray for this procedure coming up and for the preparations that come with it. I confess that I am dreading this, and pray that everything goes well for it. I also pray for good results from the procedure, itself.

But more than that, I pray for the body of Christ, that all we do in Your name will draw people toward You, rather than push people away.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Ambassadors for Christ

Today is Friday, the fifth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,521

Fourteen days until S turns 29!

I’m off to a late start today, because I needed to get a grocery order in for this afternoon. Also, I picked out a couple of new recipes to try next week.

Our heat wave continued with a high of 101, yesterday. That was our 39th day of 100+ temps for this summer, and the fifth in the current streak (the longest streak, so far, was fourteen days). There was no rain, yesterday. However, the high had been forecast at 104, so we caught a slight break, there. Today’s high is also projected at 104, followed by 100 tomorrow. Over the next ten days, the current forecast shows five of them possibly being below 100. However, the chance of rain seems minimal. Yesterday’s record high was 104.

The Texas Rangers managed to win a game, last night, beating the Other Sox 3-2. This makes them 47-58 for the season. They remain in third place in the AL West, 21 games out of first place, and nine games out of the Wild Card race. They play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Royals. I need to let that sink in for a second. If that’s how the rest of the season is going to go, it may be best to stop looking. Final was 7-3. The Sox are in last place in the AL East, but would be in third or fourth place in every other MLB division. The AL East has four teams over .500. There are only two other divisions that have three teams, and the other three only have two. Anyway, the Sox are 53-54, 17.5 out of first place, and only four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Royals again, tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in KC.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, with a 71-33 record, while the Nationals are holding firmly at the bottom, with 36-70. The Padres still have the longest current win streak, at five games, while the Rockies still have the longest current losing streak, also at five games. I’m thinking there weren’t many games, yesterday, because most of these stats seem to be the same as yesterday. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 208 runs, while the Nationals have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at -3, and the Red Sox have dropped to -20.

It’s Friday, so I am off work today, and will be back at the library tomorrow in the circulation department.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come to you and seek communion with you because we know that all life comes from you, all progress among us depends on you, and our innermost being can be strengthened through your Spirit. Protect us and renew our strength time and again so that your will may be done among us and we may all find courage for our lives, even when many difficulties loom up around us. Grant that we may remain your servants and go joyfully to meet what is to come. Bless us today and every day according to your promises. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
(John 6:68-69 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the communion with God that is available in Christ and by the Spirit
2. that all life comes from our Father in heaven
3. for the inner strength that comes from His Spirit
4. that God pardons iniquity, passes over transgressions, does not retain His anger forever, and delights in steadfast love (Micah 7)
5. for the light that shines in darkness, and that darkness cannot overcome it

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 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 5:20-21 ESV)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
(Micah 7:18-20 ESV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
(Psalms 31:14-15 ESV)

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
(Psalms 37:5-6 ESV)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
(Psalms 118:8-9 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:7-21 ESV)

“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.”
(Matthew 6:5 NIV)

What is an ambassador?

When I was a young boy, there was a group in the church called “Royal Ambassadors,” also known as “RA’s.” Apparently, it still exists, for boys in grades 1-6. It was, and still is, a mission-minded organization, designed to help boys develop a “Biblical worldview.” It used to fall under the auspices of the “WMU,” otherwise known as “Women’s Missionary Union.” There used to be a corresponding girl’s organization, which was called “GA’s,” which, I believe, stood for “Girls in Action.” Apparently, they still exist, as well.

I don’t really remember much about the program. And I’m really keying in more on the word “ambassador.” See the verses above in 2 Corinthians 5.

The standard dictionary definition of ambassador is, “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” The second definition goes like this: “a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.”

Neither one of those definitions fits Paul’s writing, exactly, but if we combine the two together, we might get close. And Webster simply calls it, “an authorized representative or messenger,” which works better, as it doesn’t say anything about a “specified activity.”

We are, says Paul, ambassadors for Christ. We are His representatives or messengers, and I think it’s fair to say that we are even “authorized.”

One of the jobs of an ambassador is to be a diplomat for person or organization/country he or she is representing. So let’s look up diplomat.

“An official representing a country abroad.” “A person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way.” Webster calls it someone who is “skilled in diplomacy,” which forces us to look up yet another word.

Diplomacy is “skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.”

You might already see where I’m going with this.

Basically, I’m getting at what I have been harping about for a while, now, and that is the blatant failure of the “evangelical church” as “ambassadors for Christ.”

As ambassadors, we have several responsibilities. And those responsibilities could easily be summed up by those two greatest commands that I talk about so often. But we also get a great picture of that in the lengthy passage from 1 John 4, above, about loving one another.

And, in Matthew 6, during the first major bit of teaching that Jesus gives His disciples, we learn a lot. We learn that God is not only King, but Father. We learn that “He not only gives all but is all.” (Andrew Murray) We also learn that knowledge of and fellowship with God are truly all the reward we need.

If you think about it, there really wasn’t a lot of teaching on prayer until Jesus hit the scene. We certainly didn’t get any from Moses, or much from the prophets. “It is Christ,” says Murray, “who teaches us to pray.”

He teaches us that we need a “secret place for prayer.” He has also taught us that worship is not confined to a specific time or place, but comes “from within the spirit and life of a believer.”

However, if, during our times of worship, we “are primarily occupied with our own thoughts and exercise, we will not meet Him who is Spirit. But to the one who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and the flesh and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal himself.”

What does all this have to do with being an ambassador? I believe that, if we are truly following the teachings of Jesus regarding prayer and worship, that we will be good ambassadors, and be able to represent Christ and His message in a pleasing and positive manner “without arousing hostility.”

Honestly, it seems that some people’s primary goal in life is to arouse hostility. They are not, in my opinion, good ambassadors for Christ.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray that I might be a good ambassador for Christ, in my life. I pray that, as I engage in these daily times of worship and prayer, in my “secret place,” that I would shut out the things of the world, so I can wait on You alone, that You might reveal Yourself to me, fully. Or at least as fully as I can handle.

I also pray for the multitudes that call themselves by the name of Jesus that seem so set on creating hostility in their world. They are always angry about something, and are not, in my opinion, representing You and Christ well in this world. Again . . . I am open to the possibility that I am wrong, and will accept any correction You might send my way. But I pray for a people to rise up and vigorously represent You in this world, showing the world that You are a God who doesn’t hold a grudge, and that You delight in steadfast love.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus.


“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
(Job 5:8-9 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

An Aroma of Christ to God

Today is Wednesday, the third of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,519

Sixteen days until S turns 29!

We hit 102 for a high, yesterday, our 37th day of 100+ temperatures for this summer, and third in the current streak. There was no rain, but at least we got a little bit last week. The current ten-day forecast shows some possibility next week, around the weekend. There are three days at the end of that forecast with highs below 100. Today and tomorrow are expected to be 105 and 104.

The great Vin Scully has died. He was 94 years old. He was the broadcaster for the LA Dodgers for, I believe, 67 years.

The Texas Rangers lost again, to the Orioles, this time 8-2. It’s like they’ve given up, or something. But Martin Perez is pitching today (miraculously, they didn’t trade him), so maybe they will win. But they have to score runs to win. They are 46-57 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play an afternoon game against the O’s today, in Arlington.

The Red Sox beat the Astros again! 2-1. Which is why the Rangers are still twenty games out instead of more. and with that, they have won their first series in over a month. They still have one game, but if they lose, they still win the series. They are now 53-52 for the season, but still in last place in the AL East, thanks to the Rangers continuing to lose to the O’s. There’s some kind of wicked trade off going on here. Anyway, the Sox are seventeen out of first, and now only two out of the Wild Card race.

The LA Dodgers are now a full game ahead of the Yankees, with the best MLB record at 70-33. The Nationals continue to hold the worst record, at 36-69. There are three teams sharing the best current win streak. The Braves, Padres, and Reds (??) have all won four consecutive games. The Miami Marlins now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +210, but the Dodgers are only five runs behind them. The Nationals still have the worst, at -168. The Rangers have dropped to a zero run differential, while the Sox improved to -15.

It’s my Wednesday to work, so I’d best get moving.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we may be your children. We thank you for giving us your Spirit so that we may truly be your children. Gather us into community with you so that our minds and hearts and all that is in us may realize what joy can come to us through your gifts. Though the world today is in turmoil, in doubt, lost in material things, grant us inner quiet to receive from you the power of faith. For through faith we can learn to know what you are and what you will be to all humankind one day, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
(John 1:9-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the true light of the world, Jesus Christ
2. for the joy that comes to us through the gifts of god
3. for the power of faith in a world lost in material things, doubt, and turmoil
4. for the possibility of being "the aroma of Christ to God" (2 Corinthians 2)
5. for the strength God gives us to move forward and not get bogged down in whatever light affliction we may be experiencing

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV)

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:2-4 ESV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
(Exodus 14:15 ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV)

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

I sit here, day after day, doing this ritual of devotion. Not because I want to become famous on WordPress (I don’t mean to brag, but this blog is read by well over ten people, world wide), or TikTok (I have a whopping less-than-three-hundred followers there), but because I desire true fellowship with God in Christ.

This is a place of relative quietness, occasionally disrupted only when S wanders in to see how I slept last night and ask “what’s the plan for today?” It is a place where I can be alone with God and strengthen my spiritual life.

Why do I blog it? I started doing this instead of keeping a handwritten journal, a couple of decades ago. So my “journal” is online instead of on paper. And, I figured, maybe someone might be inspired by my ramblings.

Andrew Murray says, “The superficiality of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God.” I believe this. Way back up there, look at that first Scripture that I shared, from 2 Corinthians. See that bit about being “the aroma of Christ to God?”

I read that, this morning, and all I could think about was the number of people out there, who claim to be Christians, who do nothing but whine and moan and complain, as well as spread anger and hatred toward people who think differently about world issues than they. It seems that they are most certainly an “aroma” in this world, but it certainly isn’t a pleasant one. “Stink” is more like it. They are a stink that drives people away from Jesus, rather then draw them toward Him.

Not that I’m perfect, mind you. I complain plenty, although I try to only do that among my immediate family and with the Lord, Himself.

I can’t help but wonder how much “real contact with God” these folks have?

“If it is true that God alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim.”

I don’t necessarily believe that it has to be “in the morning.” That idea can become quite legalistic, and has been in the past. I mean, I’ve heard sermons that declared that “You must have a ‘Quiet Time’ every morning!” “Quiet Time” was the cliche name that we gave our morning devotional, beginning back in the seventies.

It is important, though, to spend some real time along with God, at some point during the day. It might even be wise to both begin and end the day in such a manner. The ancient folks had this practice at the end of the day, called “Examen,” in which they took a look back at the day, looking over their failures and successes.

Anyway . . . that’s why I’m here. That’s why I do this. I want to be an “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Today's sources:
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, please help me be an aroma of Christ, today, in the world around me. May I be a pleasing aroma to all in the world, to those who are being saved, to inspire them to carry on and move forward in their lives, and to those who are perishing, that I might, in some way, draw them to Christ.

I pray that all who call the name of Jesus would have this same desire, and that Your Holy Spirit would have free reign in our hearts.

Even so, please come soon, 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.

Inseparable

Today is Tuesday, the second of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,518

Seventeen days until S turns 29!

I realized early this morning that I totally forgot to update the weather for Sunday. After having a slight relief, as well as some rain, over the past couple days, Sunday was back up to 104 for a high. The forecast had called for 103. Yesterday, we hit right at 100, which was the forecast high. That puts us at a total of 36 days of 100+ temps, and a current streak of 2.

For the past few days, the forecast had called for below-100 temps beginning Friday, for about four days, but that is no longer the case. After projected highs of 103 today and Thursday, and 105 tomorrow, the next seven days are either 100 or 101.

The record high temperature for July 31 stands at 108. Unfortunately, the chart I am looking at doesn’t give me the date for that record.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Orioles, 7-2, last night, and were never really “in” the game. The starting pitcher got pulled from the game after only getting one out in the second inning. Apparently, he had some kind of muscle cramp in his left side. He left the game with the bases loaded and one out. The Rangers are now 46-56 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and eight games out of the Wild Card race. Some of these numbers seem to be static, lately. They play Baltimore again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, in Arlington.

With the trade deadline looming today, the Rangers traded Matt Bush to the Brewers for one of their top prospect LH pitchers and a utility player.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 3-2. This puts them back at an even .500, 52-52, for the season. They are still in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first, and only three out of the Wild Card race. They play the Astros again tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in Houston. While batting practice was happening, the Sox traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros. That really has to be weird, getting traded to the team you are getting ready to play against, while you are in their stadium.

There’s no loyalty in baseball, any more. We all know that the days of a player playing out his career with one team are long gone. The older I get, the harder it is to be a baseball fan. Sure, the fan loyalty is for a team, but you can’t help but get attached to certain players. As a Rangers fan, my two historical favorite players have been Ian Kinsler (we saw him get his first major league hit with the Rangers) and Elvis Andrus, with whom part of my family had a really sweet encounter the one time we went to Spring Training. Both of them are long gone. Kinsler, I believe, has retired, and Andrus now plays for the Rangers’ rivals, Oakland.

The LA Dodgers continue to be on top of MLB, by mere percentage points, with a 69-33 record. The Nationals remain on the bottom, at 35-69. The Mets still hold the longest current win streak, at seven games. The Pirates retain the longest losing streak, also at seven games. The Yankees hang on to the best run differential, having outscored their opponents, now, by 212 runs. The Nationals, on the other end, have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at +6, and the Red Sox are at -16.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be working at the library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving books and/or DVDs. This is my “heavy” week, so I will also be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then, I have the dreaded colonoscopy scheduled for Monday, so Sunday is going to be super-weird, as I cannot eat any solid food after noon on Sunday, and have to drink the yucky prep stuff during the evening, and will likely not get very much sleep that night.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Father in heaven, we thank you that we may feel your leading, your lordship, for you have blessed us with every spiritual and heavenly gift in Christ. We thank you that we may be among those who receive true life always anew, who praise and glorify you, exulting even in difficult days. For it is just in the difficult days that we need to belong to those who are thankful and joyful, who always find new certainty in their lives. With them may we experience the good you give on earth so that humankind may be blest and come at last into your hands. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I feel; this may sound vague, but I mean more than just physical sensations; I am grateful to be able to feel anything, whether it be physical or emotional
2. for the lordship and leadership of Christ in my life
3. that no matter who rejects me in my life, I am always accepted by God, in Christ; in Him, I belong
4. that, in Christ, we also have a family that can never be separated; the bond of the blood of Christ is permanent and unbreakable
5. for forgiveness; may I be faithful to forgive as I have been forgiven

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV)

The “evangelical” church of today has most definitely shifted away from this mindset.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV)

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
(Ruth 1:14-17 ESV)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
(Luke 15:20 ESV)

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
(John 16:22 ESV)

“Be on your guard, therefore, and let nothing disturb your peace. Do good under all circumstances, but with no care for any profit, or any blessedness, or any damnation, or any salvation, or any martyrdom; but all you do or omit should be for the honor of Love.” ~ Hadewijch of Antwerp

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Mark 11:25 NIV)

Through the Scriptures found above, we find a community that is inseparable. While we may be separated, physically, at times, the bond of the blood of Christ goes far beyond physical distance, and it even goes beyond the constraints of time. In Him, we are included in the family, the community of saints, past, present, and even future.

This is, indeed, a somewhat mystical concept, but I believe in it, wholeheartedly. Every time I take the Supper, I think about the spiritual connection with everyone else who has ever taken the Supper. There are many saints who have passed on, yet we are still connected with them.

And, as Ruth clung to Naomi, and refused to leave her side, we have that kind of connection with the community of saints. And that connection remains, even if we don’t like each other very much. There are a handful of people that I don’t care to spend any time with. But they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that bond is unbreakable, and, in that, I love them.

The word for today is “belong.” And I can see that idea running through several of the Scriptures that are shared today. The Church (the true body of Christ, not the institution made up by men) is a place where we belong, we can feel included. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome, regardless of race, sex, class, or anything. We should bond together the way Ruth and Naomi bonded. We should feel the same way about each other that Paul felt about the Corinthians, that our suffering can result in the comforting of other people.

We can “do good under all circumstances, as suggested by Hadewijch of Antwerp, and not care the slightest bit about any reward or recognition. Because we belong.

And, also because we belong, we can obey the command of Jesus in Mark 11:25. If I am praying, and I remember that I’ve got something against a brother or sister, I am commanded to immediately forgive that person.

“In prayer everything depends upon our relationship to God being clear. Our relationship with others must also be uninhibited. Love for God and love for our neighbor are inseparable; prayer from a heart that is not right with God or that cannot get along with others can have no real effect. Faith and love are interdependent.” (Andrew Murray)

We know the truth, that if God dealt with us according to what our sins deserved, not only would our prayers not be heard, we probably wouldn’t be alive. “The ground for answered prayer is God’s forgiving love.”

“If an injury or injustice is done to us, we must seek first of all to maintain a Christlike disposition – to be kept from a desire to defend our rights or to punish the offender.” (Emphasis mine)

Because we are accepted in this community of faith, because we are accepted by Christ, because we “belong” and are inseparable, we can truly live a life as suggested by Andrew Murray and Hadewijch of Antwerp.

I’m not sure what it would take to see the contemporary church live up to this, but, beloved, we are a long way away from it.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray for myself, just as I pray for the Church, that we would be able to obey the commands of Jesus and live the kinds of lives that are suggested by Andrew and Hadewijch. The community of faith is severely divided. We need unity, badly. We seem to have fallen into the “me-verse” that the rest of the world has fallen into. The sad thing is that there are many alleged atheists who are doing a better job of taking care of others than the church is. That ought not be, Lord.

Please help us come together. I pray, if necessary, that pruning be done, and I believe that this is already happening, as people seem to be leaving the institutional “evangelical” church in droves. I believe they see through the facade and are tired of the “me-centricality” that is going on, right now.

We need to care more for one another; we need, Father, to obey the commands of Jesus to love You and love others. We need to exercise this truth of acceptance and belonging so that we feel like a community of saints, not a smattering of individuals doing their own thing.

Along with all of that, though, please help me to forgive those who are working against the unity that we need. I am struggling with that, Father, so I need the help of Your Spirit in this.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Extravagant Love

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,474

Today is Father’s Day, so I wish a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. I hope you are able to love on your kids today, and spend some time with them. Some of us will have to love some of our offspring from afar, and that’s okay, too. My father, of course, has been gone for seven years, now, and is still sorely missed. But he is more than fondly remembered for the love that he showed and care that he gave.

Today is also Juneteenth, but that holiday will be observed tomorrow. Since it was finally made a federal holiday last year, most banks will be closed, as well as the post office. I’m not sure about the library where I work, but I don’t ever work on Mondays, anyway.

The Rangers game was terrible, yesterday. Taylor Hearne did not have his best stuff, and they lost 14-7. It was actually quite a bit worse than the score indicates, too. But today’s another day. They are 31-34 for the season, still in second place, nine games out of first. They are also still four games out in the Wild Card race. They will play Detroit again today, in Detroit, at 12:40 CDT, with Dane Dunning taking the mound to try to win the series.

Almost as if the two teams are joined at the hip, the Red Sox also suffered an embarrassing loss, yesterday, losing to the Cardinals 11-2. They are now 35-31 for the season, still in fourth place, 1.5 behind Tampa and 14.5 behind the You-Know-Whos. They have another game with St. Louis today.

The Yankees have the highest everything right now. Best record, 49-16, highest run differential (+144), and longest win streak (nine games). Massive sighs. The Athletics have the worst record, at 22-45. The Nationals, though, have the worst run differential, at -115, as well as the longest losing streak, at eight games. The Rangers’ run differential sits at zero, today, and the Sox are at +45, after losing by nine runs, yesterday.

In the PWBA, the top 30 are currently in the fourth round of qualifying in the U.S. Women’s Open in South Glens Falls, NY. After three rounds, the top thirty were, in order, Cherie Tan (Singapore), Jordan Richard, Lindsay Boomershine (I like her name), Shayna Ng (another Singapore bowler), Shannon Sellens, Stefanie Johnson (from Texas), Erin McCarthy, Hui Fen New (Singapore), Shannon O’Keefe, Danielle McEwan, Rocio Restrepo, Birgit Noreiks (Germany), Liz Johnson, Daphne Tan (Singapore, Cherie’s sister), Dasha Kovalova (Ukraine), Verity Crawley (England), Missy Parkin, Bryanna Cote, Kerry Smith, Kayla Bandy, Clara Guerrero (Columbia), Chelsey Klingler, Sydney Brummett, Breanna Clemmer, Olivia Farwell, Hope Gramly (also from Texas), Jenny Wegner (Sweden), Diana Zavjalova (Latvia), Jen Higgins, and Josie Barnes.

This morning’s round will cut to the top 24, who will bowl in match play one round this evening, and two rounds tomorrow, to determine the top five, who will be on the live TV broadcast Tuesday night.

We aren’t going to church, today, as C has not been feeling well. She does not have Covid, though. Just some kind of cold or allergies, or something.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, O great and almighty God, we thank you that you have given us the Savior, in whom we can become united and have peace on earth. May he, the Savior, work powerfully among us. May your Spirit come into people’s hearts so that they learn to acknowledge you as their leader and their God and to rejoice in their lives, which are intended for eternal life. Bless us through your Word and through all the good you do for us. Constantly renew and strengthen us in faith and in patience through the grace you send us. Remember all the peoples who should become yours in the name of Jesus Christ. May they all confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the honor of God the Father. We praise you for the promise you have given us of a wonderful new day of help for all. We praise you that you have created all people to recognize their true calling and their way to salvation. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that unfailing love and unshakable covenant of peace from God, our Father
2. for the love that I had from my earthly father for all the years he was with us, and that he did his best to train me up in the love of the Lord
3. for the faithful love of my two wonderful daughters
4. for the extravagant love that our Father in heaven has lavished upon us
5. for the equality of all people in Jesus Christ (the reality is not necessarily realized, but it is still the reality . . . the ground is level at the foot of the cross)

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32 NIV)


The prayer word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is extravagant. You have to look pretty extensively to find that word in any version of the Bible. It occurs a single time in the NLT, in Revelation 18:3, in reference to the sins of the Great Babylon. It does not appear in NIV, ESV, or KJV.

However, Eugene Peterson likes the word, apparently, and it occurs multiple times in The Message. This particular verse is featured in today’s reading.

I’ll make a list of GOD’s gracious dealings, all the things GOD has done that need praising, All the generous bounties of GOD, his great goodness to the family of Israel— Compassion lavished, love extravagant.
(Isaiah 63:7 MSG)

And what a word to describe the love of God for us. Extravagant! There are, of course, many other words that have been used, over the years, to describe God’s love. Frederick M. Lehman may have said it best, in 1917, when he wrote the song, The Love of God. In the chorus (or refrain, if you prefer, he wrote:

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.

And then, the last verse, one of my favorite hymn verses of all time:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made;
were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,
and ev’ryone a scribe by trade;
to write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.

He doesn’t use the word “extravagant,” but it certainly fits.

Father, I praise You for Your extravagant love. Your love split seas and rivers in half, crumbled walls, even made the sun move backwards. Your love created things out of nothing, and miraculously fed your people with food from heaven. And then, when we thought it couldn’t get any more extravagant, Your love died for us, and then rose from the grave so that we could live in eternal glory in Your Kingdom. Extravagant, indeed. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.


So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
(Galatians 3:26 NIV)

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 NIV)

Father, today, I pray for racial equality in our land, and throughout the world. If we truly believe the words of Paul in Galatians, let us strive to make things better for all people, because we see all people as equals in Christ. The ground is level at the foot of the cross! And it is back to Your extravagant love that has provided this truth for us!


Eugene Peterson continues writing on the Sabbath. He makes a bold claim: “Keeping the Sabbath is easy: we pray and we play, two things we were pretty good at as children and can always pick up again with a little encouragement.”

He calls praying a “great act of freedom in relation to heaven.” Through prayer, we exercise our “bodies and minds in acts of adoration and commitment, practices of supplication and praise, and ventures of forgiving and giving.”

He calls playing a “great act of freedom in relation to earth.” Through playing, we “exercise our bodies and minds in games and walks, in amusement and reading, in visiting and picnicking, in puttering and writing.”

Easy, he says, yet we, in our society find it so hard. Part of the reason for that is that our culture doesn’t encourage us to keep a Sabbath. In fact, if anything, it is out to steal it from us. For many of us (and I have been fortunate in this respect, for most of my adult life), we are expected to work our jobs, seven days a week. Many people find themselves unable to attend worship services because of the demands of the job, as accomplishment and profit are king in America.

And the bottom line, says Peterson is that “after a few years of Sabbath breaking, we are passive consumers of expensive trash and anxious hurriers after trash pleasures.”

Ouch. Explicitly descriptive, but truthful.

“We lose our God and our dignity at about the same time.” And this is why Peterson encourages us to keep a Sabbath. “Guard the day. Protect the leisure for praying and playing.” And for those of you who think you are too mature to “play,” I give you this:

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson, except for the nose-thumbing)

Father, I praise You for the Sabbath. I thank You for the command that we have a day to rest, a day to pray, and a day to play. I realize Your command said nothing about playing, but I find myself in agreement with Peterson, whom I respect deeply, and trust just as deeply. I pray that You would remind all of us, frequently, that we need to take a day off to pray and play, a day off from the hustle and bustle that this culture demands from us. I also pray that, not just on the Sabbath, but all days, that You would help us to demolish the very concept of “hurry,” as it steals from us in many ways. You are not in a hurry. Why should we be?

Sometimes I find myself in a hurry to be Home. I also need not do that. Help me to live the life that You have planned for me, at the pace You have planned. I do pray that I will accomplish all that You have for me to do, and that I will reach and inspire all that You have for me to reach. May my presence in social media platforms be one that shows love and forgiveness to all, and inspires all to know the kind of gratitude that we should have toward You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I realize Mercy Me changed the meter, but I’m okay with that.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Witness

“I have to learn to accept things as they are and not how I want them to be. I have to let go of the frustration that rises when I can’t make things go the way I want or need them to. Let it go. There’s no use dwelling on something you have no chance of changing.”

Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,471

I’ll be working my usual eight-hour shift in the computer center today, from 11:15 to 8:15 tonight. That reminds me, I need to start tonight’s soup in the crock pot. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Oh. That also reminds me. Last night’s dinner was delicious! Here is the recipe for what I made last night.

Spaghetti Pie

It’s a great dish, but one that I should only try on days when I don’t work, as it is a little involved and takes close to an hour, total time. But it was well worth it.

Tonight will be our standard Chicken-Ranch Crock Pot Soup.

The Texas Rangers lost pretty badly, yesterday afternoon, 9-2, to the Astros. It was dismal. Unfortunately, they put a rookie in for his first MLB start. Against the Astros. So much for his ego. Anyway, the Rangers are now 29-33, in second place in the AL West, one game ahead of the Angels, and 9.5 behind the Astros. They are also 4.5 behind in the Wild Card race. They begin a four-game series in Detroit tonight.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox discombobulated the Athletics, last night, 10-1. Egad. Of course, any time the Athletics lose, it benefits the Rangers. The Sox are now 34-29, but still in third place in the AL East, 1.5 behind the Rays, and 12.5 out of first place. Barring a complete disaster (which most of us are hoping for), there won’t be any catching the Evil Empire. Best we can hope for is a wild card, and the Sox are currently in the third wild card spot. I didn’t find out until two days ago that there will be three wild card in each league.

I’m tired of telling you who has the best MLB record. You know. 46-16. The worst record, though, seems to fluctuate, daily, lately. Today, the Athletics are the proud owners of the worst record, at 21-43. The Braves won again! They now have a fourteen game win streak! That sounds like a lot, but they have a ways to go to catch the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 in a row. The poor Chicago Cubs have now lost nine games in a row. You-know-who also still has the best run differential, at +130. The Washington Nationals have taken over the worst, for today, at -102. The Rangers dropped back into the red, yesterday, and are now at -2. The Red Sox now have a +54 run differential, still the sixth best, but only one behind the Cardinals.

Tune in tomorrow for more meaningless but fun (at least to me) statistics.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let Me Give,” by Daryl Madden

Let me give my eyes to You
Your vision of seeing
Let me give my ears to You
Your Spirit of hearing

Let me give my feet to You
To Your way of walking
Let me give my hands to You
To souls of suffering

Let me give my heart to You
To Your grace of cleaning
Let me place my trust in You
For Lord you are my king

Let me give my praise to You
My song is what I’ll sing
Let me pray a prayer to You
A humble offering

Let me give me will to You
For I can do nothing
Let me receive Your grace oh Lord
For You bless everything

Let me give my soul to You
Faithfully trusting
Let me give my life to You
In Your love of sharing

What a beautiful prayer to being the day! You can read more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link above.

Lord God, we thank you that you have upheld us and brought us to the Savior. Help us to remember this truth through your Holy Spirit, and constantly remind us while still on earth to live in heaven with all your angels. We are helpless without you. Your Spirit alone can overcome our sinful nature so that we never forget to be in heaven with the Savior now and in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
(John 14:2-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father's home
2. that we are able to walk in God's Kingdom while still on earth
3. that God is control, not me
4. that I can pray with confidence, knowing that You hear, and will answer according to Your will
5. for the witness we give when we attend a house of worship together; the witness that "God speaks to us and that we are ready to listen, a witness that God changes people and that we are changed by his action, a witness that God gives himself to us so that we may live and gladly receive his gift." (Eugene Peterson)

But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
(Daniel 3:24-25 NLT)

Today’s prayer word, from Pray a Word a Day, is acceptance. The quote is from the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

There are some very wise words in today’s reading. Words that seem even more wise in the midst of today’s struggles.

“I have to learn to accept things as they are and not how I want them to be. I have to let go of the frustration that rises when I can’t make things go the way I want or need them to. Let it go. There’s no use dwelling on something you have no chance of changing.”

This applies to more than the rampant complaining and whining that is going on in social media circles, right now. It also applies to how upset I get when things don’t go the way I think they should, like when I was trying to switch mobile carriers Tuesday afternoon. It was a terrible and complicated process that looked, on the surface, like it shouldn’t take very long.

I got quite upset. And it didn’t help anything. I also got frustrated as I tried to cancel the one remaining line on our ATT plan, yesterday evening, so that account would be closed out. The issues were most definitely caused by ATT, but there was nothing I could do to change those. So my frustration only served to raise my blood pressure and make everyone around me uncomfortable.

So today’s word is good for me. And while the word acceptance can apply to a wide range of things (accepting people for who they are, for example), the focus today is on accepting things as they are, if I have no means of changing them. If I can do something to change it, then my responsibility lies in doing that thing, but my emotions still need to remain in check.

Father, I confess my failure to keep emotions reigned in when things are outside my control. Things happen the way they happen, and I can do nothing about that. I can’t control the complexity of processes when it comes to certain things in life. I can’t control which TV channels are provided by which carriers. I can’t control whether other people will answer their phones or respond to voice mails. I can’t control whether technology will work properly. What I can control is the way I react to these things. I pray that Your Spirit will fill me with His fruit, each day, and that I might dwell completely within Your Kingdom as I walk through each day. But also, let me take this life one step at a time, and not get ahead of myself.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.”
(Matthew 6:7 NLT)

While this verse refers to how we pray, audibly, using words, I think there might be something here that we can apply to the concept of silence. And that’s not all. I think it also has some wisdom in the subject of anxiety.

Of course, Jesus spoke a good bit about anxiety, as well, didn’t He?

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? 
“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 
“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. 
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Luke 12:22-34 NLT)

Another reason to not pile on the needless words or “vain repetitions” is found in the verse immediately following the one that heads up this section.

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
(Matthew 6:8 NLT)

I’ll admit that I’m on the fence about something when it comes to prayer. And that is the matter of whether I need to ask God more than once. I have a prayer book where I keep requests that are sent to me. And I do go through the requests on a semi-regular basis. But I also stop and whisper a prayer immediately, in most cases, when I see a prayer request.

I really don’t think it is an issue to be concerned about. The important thing is where our heart is when we are praying. Am I repeating prayers because I’m anxious about something? When I pray for something once and let it go, do I find myself being doubtful or anxious, or am I confident that God hears and will answer according to His will?

He knows what we need before we ask. Therefore, I believe, it is pointless to blather on about things. Jesus’s model prayer that follows these instructions is short and to the point. It takes five short verses (six if you add the benediction that was added in later manuscripts).

Have you ever heard someone pray out loud, in church, for ten or fifteen minutes? I really believe that that is what Jesus is addressing, here.

Don’t babble on, don’t be anxious, don’t pray for show. And, honestly, I have found, sometimes, that prayers in silence do a lot more for my state of mind than praying out loud.

(Inspired by Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, help us to pray better. Help me to pray better and more faithfully. I also pray for a better mindset when it comes to prayer. Help me to have consistent faith and practice, believing that You will answer my prayers, but not always, necessarily, the way I think they should be answered. After all, You are God, not me. I don’t need to explain the situation to you; I don’t need to tell you what kind of disease a person has. I don’t need to be frantic or anxious. There are no “emergencies” in Your Kingdom. Help us/me to live in this world with that same point of view. You are in control. Help me to remember that at all times, and to pray with that truth in mind.

As for praying without ceasing, that means not praying out loud for a long time, but, rather, walking through my day with my mind and soul focused on You, remaining, as much as possible in constant contact with You and being aware of Your presence throughout the day.

Why do we go to church?

This is a question that a former pastor (and still good friend) used to ask us. To our frustration, he never answered it. Hah!

I believe I have found an answer (at least partial) from Eugene H. Peterson, this morning, in his book, On Living Well.

First of all, he points out that worship is not voluntary. It is a requirement for anyone who calls the name of Jesus. But it is also not coerced. In generations past, the “church” official attempted to coerce people into going to church, even to the point of being punished when they were not in attendance. “But coercion is no attribute of God.”

One answer to the above-mentioned question, of course, is that we go to church to worship. But, some may object, we can “worship” anywhere, and this is, to a degree, true.

I believe that Peterson nails down a major reason for going to church, for meeting together with the saints on Sunday morning (or whatever day your group meets). That reason is for a witness; “a witness that God speaks to us and that we are ready to listen, a witness that God changes people and that we are changed by his action, a witness that God gives himself to us so that we may live and gladly receive his gift.”

You see, there are people in this world who are not aware that God is present and speaking and saving and giving Himself. They believe that, if He exists at all, He is remote and silent. Oh, sure, He’s a nice idea when crisis comes, but “they don’t know that God is right now speaking and changing lives and pouring out abundant life.” They need to know these things, and one way we show them is by the witness of “going to church.”

“When you walk into a house of worship and take your place – singing, praying, listening, receiving – you are a witness to this action of God, the greatest of all actions in the world. You are irreplaceable in this witness. No one has your particular slant on it.”

Each of us is unique. If one hundred people gather to worship and you are missing, the other hundred cannot replace you. Evangelism, says Peterson, “begins in the act of worship.”

Father, I pray that we would do better at being that witness for You. I am grateful that You are speaking to us and changing people and lives and giving Yourself to us that we may live. May we gladly and joyfully receive Your gifts, and spread them around our little “kingdoms” with great joy. Let us not become affected by the distress in the world, right now. Let the circumstances of life not steal our joy in You. These things, You have told us, will always be around. They were around when You walked the earth, they were around when Your disciples started Your Church, and they are around now. You are still in control, and You are still acting in people and circumstances. And it is our duty and responsibility, our requirement, to worship together, that You might be glorified.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! 
Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Interior Silence, the Place of Strength and Power

Today is Wednesday, the fifteenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,470

June is half over today. 2022 is almost half over. And even though we’ve already hit triple digits at least a couple times in the past week, Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, five days from now. That day is also known as Summer Solstice, the day with the most hours of daylight.

If I write anything that doesn’t make sense, today, it’s because I woke up too early. C gets up at 5:15 to get ready for work, and my brain had a lot of things to think about, so I wound up getting up around 6:00. What’s on my brain? Let’s see . . .

We switched mobile carriers, yesterday. We finally dumped ATT, because I’m tired of over-paying and under-getting. We have switched to Mint Mobile, for at least three months. If we like it, we will likely renew for twelve. Unlimited data for half the cost of ATT. The problem is, I still have an iPad I need to get set up, and I’m going to need some technical support today, because I made one wrong decision when I was trying to set it up yesterday afternoon.

I’m trying to reschedule my colonoscopy that is currently scheduled for Monday. I didn’t realize, when I scheduled it, that it was the day after Father’s Day! I was thinking about going ahead with it, but then I looked at the prep instructions. I can’t eat any solid food for a whole day before the procedure! I have called the scheduling number four times, and one of the facilities once, and can’t get any response. So I have to deal with that again today.

There’s more, but those are the two “big” things (first world problems, of course, or, as I have also called them, “footstool problems”). It will all work out fine.

This is my Wednesday off, at least. And I’m cooking a surprise for the family, tonight. Another dish that I got from Emily Bites, a wonderful recipe site that has tasty and relatively healthy recipes. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow morning, along with how it came out.

The Rangers blew a three-run lead, last night, to lose to the Astros, 4-3. It was almost the exact reverse of Monday night’s game, when the ‘stros blew a 3-0 lead. And the thing that ultimately led to the loss was a misplayed grounder that could have been an out (allowing a run to score), but wound up being no outs and a run scored. The next batter hit a two-run home run, and that wound up deciding the game. Oh, well. Tonight’s another night, and the Rangers could still win the series. We’re still in second place, though, because the Angels lost again. The Rangers are back to 8.5 out of first, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

I learned yesterday that there will be three wild cards in each league, this year. This is getting ridiculous. Soon, MLB will be like the NBA, where more than half the teams make the playoffs. Might as well just start the season with the playoffs. Also, currently, all three wild card spots are held by AL East division teams. If the season ended today, the AL East would have four teams in the playoffs!

Anyway, the Rangers play the Astros again this afternoon at 1:05 CDT. We don’t know who is pitching for the Rangers, yet.

The Red Sox beat the Athletics (good for the Rangers), last night, 6-1. The Sox are now 33-29 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, 2.5 out of third, 12.5 out of first, but are currently in the third Wild Card spot. They play the Athletics again tonight, at 7:10 EDT.

We all know who still has the best MLB record, now at 45-16. The KC Royals have the worst record, at 20-41. The Braves won again, increasing their win streak to 13! The Cubs must not have played last night, and the Pirates did, and lost, so the Pirates now have the longest losing streak, at nine games. You-know-who has a run differential of +129. The Pirates are now at -103. The Rangers are at +5 after last night’s loss, and the Red Sox are at +45. Oddly, the Sox are in sixth place in the run differential category.

The PWBA U.S. Women’s Open will carry on, today, with practice sessions for all four oil patterns.

Update on tasks. My colonoscopy is rescheduled for Monday, July 11, and my iPad appears to be set up, now. Things are looking up!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, help us who are allowed to hear your Word. Help us come with all our hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Send a new age soon, a new salvation to the earth, to the glory of your name. Show us that what we have learned about you is the truth and that we may live in the truth and find the way through to heaven, to the glory of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. Often it seems that you are far away. But we know that our voices still reach you and that those roused by your Holy Spirit will become your workers for the Lord Jesus. Send your Spirit soon, O Lord God. Send the Comforter, who leads us into all light and all truth. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, to remember at every step that we belong to you, Lord God. No matter how dark it is on earth, help us remember that we are with you, your children in eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
(John 1:14-16 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for one gracious blessing after another, received out of the abundance of the Father's unfailing love and faithfulness
2. that we are the tabernacle of God, as His Spirit dwells within us, but also that anywhere I can worship God can be my tabernacle
3. that God chooses to be with us always, an indication of how much He loves us; how then can we not also choose to love one another?
4. that we can know the strength and power of the Holy Spirit by entering into the silence of that inner tabernacle
5. for coffee

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
(Mark 2:15-17 NLT)

The prayer word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is “tabernacle.”

Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:34 NLT)

The tabernacle of the Old Testament was the place where the people of God met with Him. His presence dwelled within the tabernacle.

But now, ever since Christ came, God’s tabernacle is within us.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:20-22 NLT)

There are many verses of Scripture that tell us that we are the dwelling place of God, now.

All that being said, though, anywhere You meet God can be your “tabernacle.” This study is my “tabernacle” every morning. I have experienced “tabernacle” on the deck of a cabin in Glen Rose, as I looked out over the landscape, toward the river. I have worshiped God sitting in a canvas chair on a beach in Galveston, watching the waves of the mighty ocean go to and fro.

Anywhere you can worship God can be your tabernacle.

“I am with you always.”
(Matthew 28:20 NLT)

When Jesus makes this promise to His disciples, it is a choice that He makes. Our God chooses to always dwell with us and care for us. This is a minute indication of how much He loves us. This is something worth dwelling on, worth meditating on. And when we do dwell on this, and think rightly about God, there is no other option but worship.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Did you know that we do not have to create silence? On the contrary, it is the noise that we create, that which disrupts the silence that exists. I wonder at the silence before everything was created, before God spoke the words, “Let there be light.” That must have been the most profound silence that ever existed.

It is difficult, in our day, to encounter complete silence. Even as I sit in this room, when I am not typing, there is some kind of noise. I can hear the computer fan. I can hear the box fan in the bedroom. Occasionally, there is a noise in the room next to mine.

But it is as close to silence as I can get in the house. I have experienced a deeper silence in the Redwood forest of northern California.

As C and I walked around in the midst of those majestic trees, the ground was covered with their needles. The ground cover acted as a silencer. Our walking made no noise, and, when we didn’t speak to each other, there was the closest thing to total silence that I have ever experienced.

John Main speaks of the interior silence that is the “language of the Spirit.”

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
(Ephesians 3:14-16 NLT)

“The words we use in trying to communicate the Christian message in the Christian experience have to be charged with strength and power, but they can only be charged with strength and power if they spring from the silence of the Spirit in our inner being. . . . Leaving behind all other words, ideas, imaginations and fantasies is learning to enter into the presence of the Spirit who dwells in your inner heart [your “tabernacle”], who dwells there in love. The Spirit of God dwells in our hearts in silence, and it is in humility and faith that we must enter into that silent presence. St. Paul ends that passage in Ephesians with the words, ‘So may you attain to the fullness of being, the fullness of God himself.’ That is our destiny.”

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
(Matthew 16:26 NLT)

Living the Godly life turns out to be the opposite of the world’s business mindset. “The bottom line in business shows how much you accumulate, but the bottom line in life shows how much you give away.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, may we always be humble and never think of ourselves as more righteous than we ought. In comparison with You and Jesus, we are all the worst of sinners.

I thank You, Father, for the example of the Old Testament Tabernacle, where we get a glimpse of the power of Your holiness. But I am more thankful that we do not need that Tabernacle in our day, because we are Your “tabernacle,” as Your Spirit dwells within us. I am also thankful that anywhere I can worship You can be my temporary tabernacle.

Father, the way that You love us and choose to be with us at all times is inconceivable. It is, as the psalmist said, too much, too lofty. I cannot attain it. I cannot fathom it. But it is true. Help me to embrace this daily, Father, and help me to transform that into love for my fellow human beings. Yes, even the ones with which I do not agree, and even the ones who would abuse me or harm me or take advantage of me. Even the people who come, unbidden, to my front door, trying to sell me solar panels!

Father, I pray that I can know the silence of the Spirit in my inner being, so that the words that I must use, whether they be verbal or written, are charged with the strength and power of Your Holy Spirit.

Finally, Father, I pray that I would continue to be generous with all that You have give me, that my life would be marked by how much I give away.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.