Stop Trying Harder

Today is Saturday, the 21st of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,690

I suppose the next “big thing” coming up is Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22, this year. That’s 32 days from today. I’m looking forward to observing Lent at my new church.

I made it through my work day pretty well, yesterday. Some coughing, used a few tissues, but it was okay. I’m feeling better, this morning, but still not quite 100%. I will “mask up” at work until my symptoms are gone. I’ll be at the library from 9:30-6:15 today, working at the circulation desk. We never know what Saturdays are going to look like at the circ desk. The last Saturday I worked, two weeks ago, was one of the busiest that I can remember. But yesterday was really slow, at least in the computer center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, how I love your law!
 It is my meditation all day long.
(Psalms 119:97 NRSV)

Father, I thank You for Your Word. I confess that I do not make it my “meditation all day long,” but I do, at least, remember to come back to it, during my day. I keep praying for a united heart, that I might properly fear Your name.

Dear Father in heaven, we rejoice that you are our Father. We rejoice that you rule and guide each of us so that our path in life leads to what is good and genuine and we do not get stuck in this or that concern. Lead us, renew us, and again and again free us to go forward, finding new courage and joy for ourselves and for our fellowmen. Then we can praise you, your strength and power can be revealed to us, your heaven come down to earth, and your will be done on earth. Here on earth your help shall come to the poor, the weak, the lowly, the sick, and the suffering. May your name be praised! We rejoice in your name. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

In my distress I called upon the LORD; 
to my God I cried for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice, 
and my cry to him reached his ears.
(Psalms 18:6 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s Word; may it be my meditation all day long (Psalm 119:97)
  • that the Lord hears me “from His temple,” when I cry out to Him.
  • that the Spirit guides us to what is good and genuine
  • that life in the kingdom of God is not about trying harder
  • that because the Lord is my light and my salvation, my stronghold, I have nothing to fear (Psalm 27:1)

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
But you indeed are awesome! 
Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
(Psalms 76:7 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 NRSV)

You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 
Because you have made the LORD your refuge, 
the Most High your dwelling place,
 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 
On their hands they will bear you up, 
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 
You will tread on the lion and the adder, 
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
(Psalms 91:8-13 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

"Now we cannot . . . discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is every going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.'"
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible, in regard to Leviticus 14-16)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 NRSV)
Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 NRSV)

But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
(Colossians 1:22 MSG)


The book of Leviticus is arguably the most difficult book of the Bible to read. I have never known anyone who has enthusiastically approached this book, and declared it to be their favorite book in the Bible. I have heard it said that you can find Christ on every page in the Bible. I’m skeptical about Leviticus.

I mean no disrespect or dishonor. It is part of what we have before us as God’s Word, and, therefore, has some purpose for us. And I believe that at least part of that purpose is illustrated by the quote from C.S. Lewis, above.

I started reading through the Bible, again, this year, starting with Genesis, in the new NRSV that I got for Christmas. This week, I arrived at Leviticus. I’m reading five chapters a day, so I don’t have much more to go . . . maybe another day or two. Or three. I have twelve chapters left.

It is, essentially, nothing but laws about this and that. Most of the five chapters I read today are about what to do if leprosy appears on one’s body or one’s clothes or in one’s home.

We are no longer under the law, as we have moved into the era of grace, because of Jesus. As the verse in Colossians says, Jesus has brought us “over to God’s side,” and put our lives together. We are, in Christ, “whole and holy.” Or, as one of my favorite Mercy Me songs says, “The Cross has made you flawless.”

We have a choice in our lives. We can keep on “trying harder and harder,” as C.S. Lewis said, or we can stop that nonsense and come to the correct conclusion that, “You must do this. I can’t.”

We can try our best to live by the Ten Commandments, and all of that Levitical Law, but then we must accept what was said in Paul’s epistles, that, if we fail at even the smallest point of the Law, we have violated the entirety of it. That should be most discouraging to anyone.

Unless that “anyone” has become a Christ-follower. Christ kept the Law for us; He fulfilled it. He did not abolish it, but He fulfilled it, which means we don’t have to. All we have to do is follow His commands. And His commands are short and sweet. They sum up the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. We simply must love God and love people.

This is not as easy as it sounds. I know this from experience. God is easy to love. Most of the time. Except for maybe when things don’t go quite the way I want them to. But people? People, especially some of them, are really hard to love. I imagine I am pretty hard to love, to some people.

But here’s the thing. Way up there, close to the top of this post, are some verses from Psalms that give great advice, advice that is very helpful in this journey of faith. I’ll repeat them.

Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually.
(Psalms 105:4 NRSV)
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
Do not hide your face from me. 
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. 
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
(Psalms 27:7-9 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)

Seek. Seek the Lord. Seek His face. Expend as much energy as you can on this, and the rest of this stuff will align itself. I’m not pretending that it will not still be difficult to love some people, but if we are seeking God, constantly (Frank Laubach, in his “game of minutes,” opined that it is possible to think about God at least once per minute, throughout our day), His love will channel through us and shove our own unloving thoughts to one side, and maybe even eliminate them altogether.

It’s not about trying harder. Remember what Moses said to the Israelites, when they saw Pharaoh and his army coming after them at the Red Sea?

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
(Exodus 14:14 NRSV)

They didn’t have to “try harder.” They just had to stand still and watch the mighty hand of God take out their enemy.

So stop trying harder and start seeking.


Father, I praise You for Your Word and what it means to me. I thank You for the truths contained therein. I pray that You will help us to take these truths and incorporate them into our lives, that we might fully love You and then love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to stop expending so much energy in trying to be “better Christians.” We can’t do it. I can’t do it; You must do it. I surrender.

I thank You that, in Christ, I have nothing to fear. You are my light and my salvation, the stronghold of my life. I may not always live like I believe that, and I pray that that would change as I continue to seek Your face. As I go through this day, may my mind, soul, and spirit be drawn into Your presence, to know You more, and to contemplate You and Your presence even more.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Psalm 86:11

Today is Thursday, the 12th of January, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,681

I had an unusually productive day, yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I made a quick trip to the grocery store for some necessary items. After I had my lunch, I played my trombone for twenty to thirty minutes (yes, I got my new squirt bottle!). Then I walked on the treadmill for close to 45 minutes, after which I showered and cooked dinner for the family. Then after dinner, I went to my first choir practice at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was fun, but I’m going to be really busy with their schedule, especially since I signed up to be in their orchestra, as well.

For example, I will have to be at the church by 8:15, this coming Sunday, as the choir is singing in the 8:45 service. Then I need to stick around for the orchestra rehearsal, which begins immediately after the 11:00 service. Oh, and there’s a Saturday morning choir “retreat,” this weekend. Fortunately, the orchestra rehearsals are only the two weeks preceding the performance in a Sunday morning service. We will be playing in both services on Sunday, January 29 (and the choir is singing in both services, as well . . . that will be fun!).

No doubt, I will not be able to make every Sunday performance, but I will make as many as I can. There are also some weeknight services that I may or may not be able to make. There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 22. It looks like I won’t be working that day, so I should be able to make that. However, there is also a service on Good Friday, and the choir is scheduled to sing a cantata that evening. I always work on Fridays, so I don’t know if I will be able to make that one.

But it has been a very long time since I have sung this kind of music, and I am enjoying it immensely. And looking ahead, I see that Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” is in our folder, and I am very excited about that! I love that song!

Just a quick note on our crazy weather. We have broken heat records for two days in a row, with temps at 82 on Tuesday (previous record was 77, in 2017) and 85 yesterday (previous record was 80, also in 2017). And then today’s high is projected to be thirty degrees lower, at 55. It will be below freezing tomorrow morning. But at least we are closer to the average temps for these days, now, which for today is 59/36.

In sad news, we lost Jeff Beck, yesterday. Beck was recognized by many as one of the premier guitar players of our lifetime. He died of a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 78. Here is a video I like of Beck and Rod Stewart performing “People Get Ready.” Stewart once described Beck as being “on another planet.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

They have almost made an end of me on earth; 
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
(Psalms 119:87 NRSV)

Dear Father in heaven, you let us see and feel your great goodness toward us. Grant us the inner help to be victorious in the Savior, rejoicing to be by his side with faith and loyalty, and with the strength of soul that frees us from all burdens by laying them in your hands. Hear us as together we pray to you. All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for God’s great goodness toward us, His provision and His protection
  • that He will not allow us to be moved or shaken
  • for the blessing of singing praises to the name of the Lord
  • for the effectiveness of prayer
  • for the gift of faith, a heart that believes
  • for Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. 
Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.
For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
(Psalms 81:1-4 NRSV)
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
(Psalms 86:11 NRSV)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, 
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
(Psalms 71:15 NRSV)
People will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; 
surely there is a God who judges on earth."
(Psalms 58:11 NRSV)
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 
Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
(John 4:25-26 NRSV)
Summon your might, O God; show your strength, O God, 
as you have done for us before. 
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings bear gifts to you. 
Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, 
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. 
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; 
scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
Let bronze be brought from Egypt; 
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God. 
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; 
sing praises to the Lord, 

[Selah] 

O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; 
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; 
and whose power is in the skies. 
Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; 
he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:28-35 NRSV)

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

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:7-8 NRSV)

In your strength the king rejoices, O LORD, 
and in your help how greatly he exults! 
You have given him his heart's desire, 
and have not withheld the request of his lips.

 [Selah] 

For you meet him with rich blessings; 
you set a crown of fine gold on his head. 
He asked you for life; 
you gave it to him—length of days forever and ever.
(Psalms 21:1-4 NRSV)
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, 
to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, 
worthless things in which there is no profit. 
Can mortals make for themselves gods? 
Such are no gods!
(Jeremiah 16:19-20 NRSV)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)


“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
(Exodus 7:3-5 NRSV)

“Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, quoted in the C.S. Lewis Bible)


Psalm 86:11 (quoted above) is my “life verse.” I don’t exactly remember when it became so, but I believe it was early in the time that we lived in our current home, so somewhere in the last two decades, as we have lived in this home for almost 24 years. It is the first bookmark in the Bible program on this computer on which I am typing.

It is a beautiful prayer, that features honesty and humility before the Lord. First, a request to “teach me your way, O LORD.” This is similar to many verses in Psalm 119, which I have been working through at the pace of roughly a verse a day. God’s “way” is seen in two places. It is seen in His Word (the written Word), and it is seen in His Word (the living Word, the Son of God).

The reason for the request is so that “I may walk in your truth.” This truth, just like the way, is found in both the written Word and the living Word. In fact, Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is “the Way.” And Jesus is “the Truth.” So, even though he did not realize it, the psalmist who wrote Psalm 86 (it is attributed to David) was asking to walk in the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

But it is the second phrase in this verse that gives me even more inspiration. The honesty and humility of it are refreshing. “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” To pray for an undivided heart is to admit that my heart is, in fact, divided.

And certainly it is. My heart is divided in so many directions. Perhaps I can honestly say that God takes up the biggest portion of it, but I’m not even sure that would be truthful. I want it to be. And I want to revere the name of the Lord with my whole heart, just like I want to be able to thank Him with my whole heart, as verse 12 of the same Psalm says.

While I may not pray this prayer daily, I have certainly prayed it many days since it became my life verse. And I will continue to pray it until I meet my Savior face to face, because, as long as this treasure of salvation is contained in this jar of clay, I will not reach the point where my heart is fully undivided.

“I do believe! Help my unbelief!”


Father, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Your Way and Your Truth are both contained in Jesus. So teach me Jesus, that I may walk in Jesus. And then, please, by Your Holy Spirit, continue to work on my divided heart, unifying it, that I might properly revere and fear Your holy name.

I continue to think about Enoch, and desire to walk with You the way he walked with You. This, though, requires the second part of that verse to be true for me. So I’m back to that again.

You have made Scripture so very dear to me, Father, for all of my life. I have loved the Bible since before I was able to read. I am grateful for it, and for the impact it has had on my life. Nevertheless, there are still times, all too frequently, when I do not live by it or walk in it. This is the evidence of my divided heart, Father. So, once again, I pray, give me an undivided heart to fear Your name.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Like Spokes in A Wheel

Today is Tuesday, the 3rd of January, 2023, in the second week of Christmas. It is the tenth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today and always!

Day 23,672

Three days until Epiphany.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let your steadfast love become my comfort 
according to your promise to your servant.
(Psalms 119:76 NRSV)

Lord our God, we thank you that we may go to meet you with open hearts, with jubilant faith, and with this joyful shout, “God’s salvation is coming! Through Jesus Christ day is dawning on earth for all nations.” Stay with us and help us. Send us your Spirit to strengthen us, especially in times of trouble. Let all nations come before you. Let us tell all peoples, “Be comforted. The salvation of our God, who is also your God, is coming. In this salvation we will rejoice together forevermore to the glory of our God.” Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 
Isaiah 62:11, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the steadfast love of the Lord, that has become my comfort in all things
  2. for the salvation of God, through Jesus Christ, in which day is dawning on all peoples
  3. for the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve
  4. for the potential of prayer, and that God listens to us
  5. that our lives are not to be compartmentalized into “sacred” and “secular;” it is one life, lived before God. Give “Caesar” what is his, and give God what is his.

Love the LORD, all you his saints. 
The LORD preserves the faithful, 
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
(Psalms 31:23 NRSV)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God, I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 NRSV)
Our help is in the name of the LORD, 
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:8 NRSV)
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." 

He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. 
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 
John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." 
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. 
(John 1:19-20, 23-28 NRSV)
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 
Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. 
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NRSV)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; 
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love 
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:2-3 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)


“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
(Matthew 22:21 MSG)


“If you are right with Him you will inevitably be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in The C.S. Lewis Bible)


There was a time in my life, when I would only listen to “Christian” music. That’s what I called it, and people still call it that. There was this one time, I even had a copy of the “Christian Yellow Pages,” a directory that only included businesses that were run by alleged Christians.

I don’t do that any more. For one thing, I have come to believe that the adjective, “Christian,” should only be applied to human beings. Because only human beings, entities with a soul, can be “Christian.” The word, itself, first used as a derogatory designation for followers of Christ (Acts 11:26). I have heard it said that the word meant, “little Christs,” but I can’t find any official evidence of this.

But I digress. That’s not what this entry is really about.

I’m talking about the compartmentalization of our lives. We shouldn’t do it. Period. We don’t have a “sacred” life and a “secular” life. We have a life, and it is all to be lived under the authority of the Holy Trinity. Everything that we do, every act in which we participate, can be an act of worship.

I believe it was Brother Lawrence who found that he could worship God while washing dishes and doing kitchen chores. He wrote a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he talks about things like that.

We do say that our citizenship is in heaven, and that is true (Philippians 3:20). And we eagerly pursue the prize/inheritance that awaits us, there. “But this passion for the unseen in no way detracts from their involvement in daily affairs: working well and playing fair, signing petitions and paying taxes, rebuking the wicked an encouraging the righteous, getting wet in the rain and smelling the flowers.” (Eugene H. Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

Perhaps Paul said it best.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 NRSV)


Father, I pray that I will be able to live my life in this way. As a follower of Christ, I believe that it is imperative that I do everything in the name of Christ, for the glory of You, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This means that, even when washing dishes or cooking a meal for my family, I am acting in Your Name, and I am performing and act of prayer/worship. This means that when I am out and about, in public, interacting with people, other human begins, with souls, created in Your image, I must treat them as such; I must do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to You through Him.

Help me to keep this at the front of my mind, and to remember that getting short or snarky with people is not acceptable, as a disciple of Jesus. It also means that I will consider others to be more significant than myself, as we are commanded to do by Your Word. Help me to be “right” with You, in order that I will be “right” with all of my “fellow-creatures.”

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Divine Hours -The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen."
(The Divine Hours - The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

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.

All Is Well

Today is Sunday, the 25th of December, 2022, in the first week of Christmas. It is the first day of Christmas.

May the peace of the Christ-child be with you always!

Day 23,663

Seven days until 2023.

It is shortly after 11:00 AM when I begin this, this morning. It really doesn’t feel like Sunday, but it is. As predicted, yesterday, I did not make it to the 10:00 service, this morning. We were up around 8:30, and shortly after 9:00, I believe, we sat down to open all of our presents. I will update my other blog with the results of that, later, today. Hopefully. For now, I must get on with the important things for the day. However, one gift that I am most excited about is a new Bible. It is one that I can carry with me to my new church, because the use the NRSV in their worship services.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 
for I believe in your commandments.
(Psalms 119:66 ESV)

Because either one without the other doesn’t do a body much good.

Lord our God, you have sent light to shine on earth and have revealed your heavenly power in Jesus Christ, so that in spite of all the darkness and evil we may rejoice because we have a Savior. Reveal your power in our day. Let something be done anew toward the building of your kingdom on earth. Let something draw men’s hearts to you to give them light so that they may thank and praise you for all you have done and are still doing to bring the whole world into your hands. O Lord God, let men be moved by the opening of the heavens. May their hearts awaken and their sadness give way to joy in Jesus Christ the Savior. We are your children who are allowed to wait in expectation for you to set everything right. We can know that even in our troubled times your hand is at work to reveal your will, to make your will plain to all generations on earth, as you promised through Abraham. May your name be glorified, O Lord God. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for Christmas; for the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace
  2. for the wonderful morning we have had together, this morning
  3. for the expectation, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, of His eventual return
  4. that our Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us
  5. that darkness has fallen into the dawn of redeeming grace
  6. for this indescribable gift of God!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

"Glory to God in the highest,
 and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:1-20 ESV)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, 
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, 
and thick darkness the peoples; 
but the LORD will arise upon you, 
and his glory will be seen upon you. 
And nations shall come to your light, 
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV)
The sun shall be no more 
your light by day, 
nor for brightness shall the moon 
give you light;
 but the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your God will be your glory. 
Your sun shall no more go down, 
nor your moon withdraw itself; 
for the LORD will be your everlasting light, 
and your days of mourning shall be ended. 
Your people shall all be righteous; 
they shall possess the land forever, 
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, 
that I might be glorified.
 The least one shall become a clan,
 and the smallest one a mighty nation; 
I am the LORD; 
in its time I will hasten it.
(Isaiah 60:19-22 ESV)

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21 NLT)

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)


how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
(Hebrews 9:14 NRSV)


I have no deep words of wisdom, today. I simply encourage all to know this Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world, the glory of the Lord, risen upon us, this day.

The Gospel of Christ is that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, is hear, now, and available for anyone who desires to walk in it.

This baby that we celebrate today became our salvation. Along with the heavenly host of angels, I proclaim, “fear not!”

All is well.


Father, thank You for Your indescribable gift. And thank You for drawing me into Your kingdom, for choosing me to believe, even before the foundations of the earth. Not only did You choose me (and all who would come to believe), You arranged my circumstances so that I would choose You. As I noted, from yesterday’s verse in Psalm 119, You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord!

Saying “thank You,” seems hardly appropriate. May I live my life in such a way as to draw people into Your kingdom. May I demonstrate to people Your great love for all, as I follow the commands of my Savior to love You and love people. May I show them that there is nothing to fear, and that, indeed, in Your kingdom, all is well. In fact, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Satisfied with What Looks Good?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

Today is FRIDAY!! September 4, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,821

Only three days until Labor Day. The three day weekend begins at 4:30 this afternoon!

The weather today projects a high temp of 83, with an 80% chance of rain and possible thunderstorms. The weekend forecast appears mild to warm with highs in the upper 80s and lower 90s, with little chance of rain for the Labor Day holiday. Looking into next week, the projected high for Wednesday is 69 degrees!!

September, the threshold to Autumn!

I’m hoping that a lot of people who work for our client will be taking off today, to get a head start on the weekend. I could use a quite Friday, it would help me get caught up on some work.

So far, the only thing planned for the weekend, other than the usual things, is maintenance service on my vehicle. I have an appointment at the dealership for oil change and tire rotation tomorrow at 1:00 PM. That should take approximately an hour and a half, they said. So I’ll need to work the grocery orders around that. I’ll probably schedule the pickup later in the day. I believe I will go with the Sprouts delivery again, for our produce, though. That worked out quite well.

I’m getting a shirt made by our friend, the shirt maker. It will have a graphic on it that says, “Love One Another.” I will share a picture after I get it. The idea came to me after yesterday morning’s devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"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

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.
(Psalms 55:16-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and awake
  2. That You have chosen me to draw near (Psalm 65:4)
  3. That, though we may make plans, You have the last word (Proverbs 16:1)
  4. That, even though we are too easily pleased, You look for what is truly good (Proverbs 16:2)
  5. That I am one of the sheep of Your pasture (Psalm 100)

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 ESV)

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
(Psalms 65:4 ESV)

But when [Jesus] heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:12-13 ESV)

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
(Luke 15:4-7 ESV)

But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads. Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!
(Psalms 109:21-26 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
(Colossians 4:2-6 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

Mortals make elaborate plans, but GOD has the last word.
(Proverbs 16:1 MSG)

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
(Proverbs 19:2 ESV)

For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?
(Ecclesiastes 8:6-7 ESV)

And while I was reading Proverbs 16:1, I noticed this:

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; GOD probes for what is good.
(Proverbs 16:2 MSG)

What I see there is that we, as humans, are far too easily pleased, as C.S. Lewis famously said.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We are satisfied with what “looks good.” God looks for what IS good.

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 NIV)

We belong to God, we are not our own. We are His. As we offer ourselves to Him, it should be with joy and gladness; the word “delight” comes to mind.

“Neither moralistic religion (which sees obedience as necessary drudgery in order to put God in our debt) nor modern self-determination (which sees the loss of independence as a kind of death) can grasp this.”

We, as believers, have a different kind of motivation for this “joyful self-giving.”

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

“This indeed makes obedience a delight, a way to know, serve, please, and comet o resemble the One whose sacrificial love for us endures forever (verse 5).”

When we belong to Him, we are truly free.

“‘Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King! The heavens are not too high, His praise may thither fly, the earth is not too low, His praises there may grow. Let all the world in every corner sing, my God and King!’ Amen.” (George Herbert, Antiphon (1))

Father, I am not my own. I belong to You. And in this belonging, I am truly free. It is the Truth that has set me free, the Truth being Jesus Christ who proclaimed Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Because of this, I can easily sing, “My God and King!” Yet, I don’t always live my life as though I believe this. Once again, I pray to You, unite my heart to fear Your name. Help me to not be too easily pleased, but to look for what is truly good! But You are working, Father. I can feel it. All glory to You!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“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.

“We Are Far Too Easily Pleased”

Today is Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras.

Day 22,272

NINE days until our Glen Rose Weekend!!!

Quote of the Day

“What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn’t much better than tedious disease.”
George Dennison Prentice, U.S. Newspaper editor and writer, 1802-1870
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Patzer ~ a poor player; a novice. (Oxford English Dictionary)

C is definitely feeling better this morning. Her coughing is much better and less frequent. She still has sinus drainage issues, but is overall feeling better.

As mentioned in the daily countdown, we will be heading to Glen Rose for another weekend at Paluxy River Bed Cabins. We will be staying in our favorite, The Cedar House. Our current plan is to head down there on Thursday, March 14. What I haven’t mentioned is that March 13 is my birthday. I’m taking that day off, too. C is going to try to take that afternoon off. If she can, I may check with the cabin folks and see if Wednesday night is available, as well.

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

I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:2

Today I am grateful:
1. For another day of living.
2. That God is with me and the Holy Spirit is within me.
3. That the Lord directs my thoughts toward Him daily.
4. That the Lord is teaching me love.
5. That the Lord draws me higher.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, The General Thanksgiving)

“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self- denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
(The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis)

The last bit of this reading gets me every time. It is so very true, I believe. We are far too easily pleased. We so often settle for what is good (not that mud-pies are good), when we could have what is best. I’m trying to set my sights a little higher, these days. Trying to desire the best for myself, while, at the same time longing for the same for others, as well. Mind you, I am not speaking in tangible, material terms. I don’t care if I have the best car or the best house or the best steak. I’m talking about spiritual life; the Kingdom of God, here now, available now, walking in it now.

I will say that I think Lewis’s assessment of unselfishness is slightly unfair. My view of unselfishness involves more than just going without something. Observing Lent is not necessarily unselfish. But being willing to share what I have with others, out of love is also unselfishness. I’m getting better at that, too. In fact, I have this goal of going through my whole collection of t-shirts and getting rid of a lot of them, donating them to whoever I can find that wants them. I have way more t-shirts than I need. That’s just one thing.

Father, help me to seek the “infinite joy” that is offered me, that “holiday at the sea.” Let me not be satisfied with what is simply good when what is best awaits me. Help me to seek You every hour of every day. Help me to desire You and only You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

Soli Deo Gloria!!

The Church and AA

Today is Tuesday, February 26, 2019.

Day 22,265

16 days until our next Glen Rose Weekend!

Quote of the Day

“The trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”
C.S. Lewis (The Magicians’s Nephew), English author, 1898-1963
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Homophily ~ The tendency of people to be drawn to or seek out those they perceive to be most like themselves. Also: such similarities between individuals or groups. (Oxford English Dictionry)

We actually went and exercised last night! I did 35 minutes on the elliptical. We stopped at Subway on the way home. The girl that was working the counter was all alone in there, and there were several people in front of us. She did a great job, but I think we were in Subway longer than the time we spent in the gym. Oh, well.

I think R & J might be coming over for lunch this Saturday! It’s been a while since we have seen them.

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

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 5:1-3

Today I am grateful:
1. That we finally got back to the Y last night.
2. That the Lord’s mercies are new every morning.
3. That I attend a church that seeks to love people.
4. That Jesus can teach us not to condemn.
5. That Jesus can teach us to love.

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord,
and in your great mercy defend us from 
  all perils and dangers of this day;
for the love of your only Son,
our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Aid against Perils)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “AA and the Body of Christ,” by Frederick Buechner.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Romans 7:19

“Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is the name of a group of men and women who acknowledge that addition to alcohol is ruining their lives.” The come together with a common purpose, and, in doing so, aid others who do the same. They have come to the realization that the cannot do this on their own. The strongly believe that they need each other and they need God (or a “Higher Power” if they aren’t so sure about God).

Does this sound familiar? Doesn’t this sound like what the Church is supposed to be? Maybe it is what the Church was before it got to be “big business.” “Sinners Anonymous.” Paul said that he knows what is right, but he just can’t seem to do it. We all find ourselves in the same boat, at times, and finally, hopefully, we realize, as I have many years ago, that we need each other and we need God. Dallas Willard’s definition of grace is God doing for us what we cannot do on our own.

No matter where an alcoholic finds himself, he knows that there will be an AA meeting nearby; a place where he can go meet with strangers who are not strangers. This should also be true of the wandering Christian. There should always be a place nearby where she can go and meet with strangers who are truly brothers and sisters. There should only be support; there should never be any judgment or condemnation.

Remember the words of Jesus, as he faced the naked woman who had been caught in adultery (I’ve always wondered where the man was). When he asked her who was left to condemn her, the woman said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn you.”

If Jesus does not condemn her, how dare we condemn. Let us pray that the Church can get back to the kind of place where people feel comfortable bringing their sin and misery for support from others who have learned to do likewise.

Father, I pray that we can be more like the AA model, which, if I’m not mistaken, was sort of patterned after the Church, to begin with. May we be more supportive of people who bring their issues with them, their baggage. Yes, we all need to lay our baggage at Your feet, but we have to get in the door with it first. May we never condemn people who are different from us, who believe different, who act different, and who sin different. May we treat everyone with the same compassion with which Jesus treated the woman in John 8.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

On Being Priests

“As priests through the blood of Christ we live to pray for others, to work among them, to teach them, and to bring them to God. To be a priest is not an idle, self-seeking occupation. it is a compelling power to enter into God’s presence on behalf of those in and out of the kingdom.”

Today is Saturday, December 1, 2018. Welcome to December!

Day 22,178

24 days until Christmas!

“Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet, 1792-1822
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is mayhem, “willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person’s fighting ability,” or, “willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body.” Also, “needless or willful damage or violence.” Or, it could just be that guy on the Allstate commercials.

I was out of work by 5:30 PM, yesterday! It was amazing! We watched an episode of True Detective on HBO, a show we had never seen before, but I was interested in. I like it, but it’s a little hard to follow, as they keep jumping back and forth in time. I started playing a Playstation game, but was falling asleep in my chair. We wound up in bed before 10:00, which is early on a Friday night.

After I finish my blog, this morning, I’m going to have coffee with our pastor. I just wanted to have some conversation with him, about a book we read as part of the Renovare Book Club, as well as some other things that have been on my mind, lately.

We plan to put our Christmas ornaments up, this evening. We got everything else up last week, but didn’t get the ornaments hung, yet. We finally ordered our new ornament for 2018 this morning. With the exception of one or two that may have broken along the way, we have a dated ornament for every year we’ve been together. With those, along with ten ornaments for our daughters’ first five Christmases, and others that have been given to us along the way (some of which our daughters made), we haven’t had room for standard Christmas ornaments in years. I rather like that. We feel like our tree is unique in that respect. It is entirely personal and meaningful to us.

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

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
Psalm 54:6

Today I am grateful:
1. For a brother/friend to have conversation with
2. For the work of the Holy Spirit in my life
3. For books that share the lives of the “saints” of old
4. For the colored leaves of Autumn (even though it’s remarkably short in Texas)
5. Family, both blood and spiritual

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1 John 1:8-9

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 
and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Joel 2:12-13

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 
I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”

Luke 15:18-19

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 
and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

Daniel 9:9-10

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, butting up an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
A Perfect Priesthood

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

I’ll confess. Growing up Southern Baptist, this “priesthood” stuff always confused me a little bit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve understood it more.

“The blood of Jesus carries with it His victory over sin and death. It, in turn, inspires us with a consciousness of His power to conquer sin and every enemy.” Jesus is our “priestly King,” and He manifests His power in us from within. It does not come “from above or from the outside.” It comes from within us, because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, making us “kings and priests.”

The reason, says Andrew Murray, that Jesus is “seated as a priest on the throne of heaven,” is “so that man may be blessed and that God may be glorified in him.” Jesus lives “for others, to bring them near to God.” He reveals the “kingdom of God in us and through us.” And, in addition, “He makes us priests that we might serve the living God as well, that we might be filled with His Spirit so as to be a blessing to others.”

“As priests through the blood of Christ we live to pray for others, to work among them, to teach them, and to bring them to God. To be a priest is not an idle, self-seeking occupation. it is a compelling power to enter into God’s presence on behalf of those in and out of the kingdom.”

When we yield ourselves to God and allow Him to make us kings and priests, we live in the “joyous certainty” that we are one with Christ, who has won the victory, and that in Christ, we are more than conquerors.

Father, thank You for helping me grow to understand the concept of priesthood in Your kingdom. I thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, and pray that I might be filled with the Spirit daily. Grant me the understanding that comes with this filling, and help me to live a life worthy of the calling that I have received in this life. May I be faithful to enter into Your presence “on behalf of those in and out of the kingdom.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility

Today is Thursday, November 29, 2018.

Day 22,176

26 days until Christmas!

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
C.S. Lewis, Irish author, 1898-1963 Today is the 120th anniversary of his birth.
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is keek, “Scot. and North England. to peep; look furtively.”

There are not enough words to tell you how wonderful last night was. The Michael W. Smith Christmas show was spectacular. He is an excellent entertainer, as well as being a phenomenal musician, songwriter, and arranger. It was fun. We laughed. It was inspiring. We wept. It was worship. We sang. It was all I imagined it would be and more. He sang “old school” Christmas music, in the style of Andy Williams, Perry Como, and Bing Crosby. He and his absolutely amazing band of musicians played some stunning instrumental works. He sang some of his own Christmas creations. And he took us to church, sharing several of the songs from his Surrounded album, released earlier this year. In what was probably the highest moment of the show for C and me, he said that this song was his favorite song that he has ever written.

What is so special about that is that one of our traditions is to play the album that song is from while we decorate our Christmas tree. And that song, “All is Well,” has been our favorite of his for years. I wasn’t expecting him to do it last night, since the vocals are by a young boy in the original recording. However, he had a special guest, last night, Melinda Doolittle, a third place finalist from a season of American Idol. She sang the vocals. It wasn’t quite as good as the original recording, but it was still awesome.

I am very grateful to C’s boss for bringing us along for this experience. It was a great way to kick off the Christmas season. And, apparently, it was Michael’s first show on this tour. That was kind of cool.

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

Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Psalm 33:2

Today I am grateful for:

1. Michael W. Smith
2. C’s boss
3. Worshiping together
4. My voice, that I can raise in praise to my God
5. Another chance to bring Him glory today

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 21:3

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
A Prayer for Humility

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

“The secret of secrets is this: Humility is the soul of true prayer.” We don’t like humility. We don’t like to think about, and we certainly don’t like to ask for it. But we must have it, especially for our prayers to be powerful. “Until the spirit of the heart is renewed, until it is emptied of all earthly desire and stands in a habitual hunger and thirst after God, which is the true spirit of prayer; until then, all our prayer will be more or less like giving lessons to students: we will mostly say them only because we dare not neglect them.”

I needed this, this morning. I need to be living in a perpetual state of hunger and thirst for God and His Word, for the filling of the Holy Spirit, and for the “easy yoke” of the Son. That will be my prayer for this day.

Father, I pray the prayer that strikes fear into the hearts of men. Make me more humble; give me humility. Give me an unquenchable thirst for You today. Let me hunger for You. Show me the way. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. And then light me up, that the world may see Your glory.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Grace and peace, friends.

Great Words from C.S. Lewis

Today is Sunday, October 21, 2018.

Day 22,137.

One more day until the World Series begins!!

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”
Jonas Salk, American Scientist, 1914-1995
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is rebuff, “to reject or criticize sharply : snub.”

Not much happened, yesterday. Well, for me, at least. C was out and about most of the day. She met up with some ladies from church, and they planned their car decoration for this coming Friday’s “Boo Bash” trunk or treat at the YMCA where our church meets. Then she and one of the other ladies went shopping for stuff for their theme. What are they doing, you ask? Sorry. I’m sworn to secrecy. But I will say that their idea blows the guys’ idea out of the water. I’m really not involved in any of this, because the event starts at 6:30 Friday evening, and I never get home from work before 6:00, and on Fridays, I typically have to work late. I will try to show up so I can see what they’ve done, though.

The Red Sox will be playing the Dodgers in the World Series. I have seen reports that the last time these two played each other in the World Series was the last year that Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox. The series begins Tuesday night, in Fenway Park, at 7:09.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15 AM.

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

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,
which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers,
and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham,
that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.

And thous, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest,
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Song of Zechariah, Benedictus Dominus Deus Luke 1:68-79)

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
The Shocking Alternative

“Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we would attribute to some of His sayings.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
(From Mere Christianity)

These are, in my opinion, among the greatest words that C.S. Lewis ever wrote. In short, either Jesus was and is who He said He was, or He was a raving lunatic, or He was an evil liar. Those are the choices. It is folly to believe that He was nothing more than a “great teacher.”

As for me, I believe He was and is who He said He is. He is the Son of God, and He is God incarnate. Therefore, I will worship Him as such.

Father, thank You for revealing these truths to me, and to us, Your children. Help us to fully believe these truths, and to live our lives on the foundations that they represent. Jesus Christ is Lord. Give us the strength and ability to walk in Your kingdom, daily.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.