All Is Grace

Good morning. It is Saturday, June 20, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is hobbit. Who doesn’t know what a hobbit is, right? It is “a member of a fictitious peaceful and genial race of small humanlike creatures that dwell underground.” As far as I know, hobbits were invented by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Today is World Juggling Day. I used to have a set of those vinyl juggling balls, but seem to have misplaced them. I got fairly decent at juggling three of them, but will never be as good as this guy!

The trip to work yesterday was interesting. My GPS sent me down the freeway, instead of across the side roads, and, initially, the trip was extremely quick and smooth. I encountered very little traffic until I got to Grapevine. Then, suddenly, everything stopped. It took me about twice as long as usual to get through Grapevine to Coppell, and on to the 121 access roads going on up to I-35E. Later, I found out what the problem was/is. Lake Grapevine is overflowing into Denton Creek (which I have never heard of), and has caused the closing of at least one major road in the area. 2499, a major thoroughfare, was closed at Grapevine Mills Pkwy and Lakeside Lane, causing backups for miles, which also affected the traffic the main highway, SH121, which is where I was. Fortunately, the first half of my trip went fast enough that this did not make me late for work. The scary thing is that it hadn’t even rained since Wednesday. Of course, it rained a lot on Wednesday. And reports still say that the Trinity River in Dallas is at 37+ feet, and the flood stage is 30 feet! So, even though we have not had any rain in three days, we are still under flood warnings. All that water has to go somewhere!


Today, we will probably try to get the groceries done, as tomorrow is Fathers Day, and we will be in Mineral Wells for most of the day. That means I need to get moving with this here blog and get it finished in a reasonable time.

Today is two months since my father passed away.

On this date in 1214, the University of Oxford received its charter. In 1840, Samuel Morse got the patent for the telegraph. In 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother. In 1948, Ed Sullivan debuted with his show, originally called Toast of the Town.

Today’s birthdays include Jacques Offenbach (French composer), Errol Flynn (Australian actor), Audie Murphy (American Medal of Honor recipient and actor), Chet Atkins (American guitar player), Martin Landau (American actor), Olympia Dukakis (American actress), Danny Aiello (American actor), Len Dawson (American football player), Brian Wilson (American musician, The Beach Boys), Anne Murray (Canadian singer), Bob Vila (American TV host), Lionel Richie (American musician), John Goodman (American actor), Nicole Kidman (Australian actress), and Mike Birbiglia (comedian).

Brian Wilson is 73 years old today, born on this date in 1942. He is best known, of course, as being one of the leaders and co-founders of The Beach Boys. This clip is not Brian Wilson, but it’s about him.


A Maskil of Asaph. O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.
Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Psalm 74

(From Solid Joys)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

Today’s reading is “Grace is Pardon–and Power!”

“Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Paul describes, 1 Corinthians 15:10, grace as the power that enables him to worker “harder than any of them.” When we make effort to obey God, it is not “an effort done in our own strength.” It is, according to 1 Peter 4:11, the strength that is supplied by God. Whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Paul confirms this way of thinking in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Note that the works are works “of faith by his power,” and they are done, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith.” This is the same grace through faith that gives us salvation. Grace saves; grace sanctifies. All is by grace.

Father, thank you for this grace, that first saves me, then enables me to live. Why do I not always avail myself of this grace in my life? I cannot answer this question. I can only pray that I would. May this grace that gives me the power for obedience shape everything in my life. May the desires of my heart become the desires of your heart. Show me the scope of my “mission” in life. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day. As we go to the store and do our errands, I pray for safe travel, and that all things will work out smoothly. May our time together this evening, in prayer and worship, bring glory to you. I pray for safe travel to Mineral Wells tomorrow, to visit my mother. I also pray for safe travel for Rachel and Justin, as they come down from Denton. May our time together be blessed by your presence.

Your grace is sufficient.

Grace is the power for life. Everything we need is wrapped up in the grace of God in Christ Jesus.


Grace and peace, friends.

Devoted to Service

Good morning. Today is Saturday, April 27, 2013.

I’m sure almost everyone knows by now that George Jones died yesterday at the age of 81. If you are a young person, entrenched in the mediocrity that is the modern pop music scene, and don’t know who George Jones was, I pity you. Now, I will admit, I’m not the biggest country music fan in the world. When I was growing up, it was my parents’ favorite genre of music. Therefore, I didn’t like it. I grew up listening to George Jones, seldom by choice. (Also Jim Reeves, Glen Campbell, and others.) However, as I grew older, I grew to appreciate it more. Jones was an icon in country music, kind of like Conway Twitty. He was what one might call “pure country.” So on the way home yesterday, I listened to this song a couple of times.

It brought tears to my eyes. I played it for Christi. It brought a grimace to her face. She doesn’t like country music. Unless it’s this guy.

She likes him for some reason. 😀

So, anyway, the music world is all teary-eyed over George Jones. Then I get home, and I read this, written on Facebook by a good friend of ours.
Maybe I’m wrong,but I think it’s weird that people get so sad about a celebrity dying that has had a good long life and a career,and they will miss them?,how can they miss him if they weren’t part of their life in the first place! I am not saying its not sad,but people die when their old.[sic]
You see, our good friend was just about to attend the funeral of a 14-year-old girl, the daughter of some good friends of her and her family; a girl who had lived her life in a wheel chair, and whose life was tragically cut short by a bout with pneumonia last week. The funeral was standing room only. They carried her off to the grave site in a horse-drawn carriage. I’m happy to say that this gives me more tears than the death of George Jones. Thank you, my friend, for those words of wisdom. Sometimes, we need to have things put into perspective for us.

By the way, please continue praying for the Canfield family and all those friends affected by the death of this young lady.

Today, we are going to Scarborough Renaissance Festival. We hope to find Cale the Juggler while we are there, as well as some of those “Scottish eggs.” I hope to hear lots of good music, and maybe a story by Zilch, the Torysteller, that surreptitious soliloquous sayer of spoonerisms.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

I’ve learned something new today. I’ve always heard that it was Magellan who completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth. However, I did not know (or at least forgot since my last World History class, which was probably *mumble* years ago) that Magellan, himself, did not complete the journey. You see, it was on this date in 1521, after he and his starving crew landed on the Philippines in March, that Magellan and company were caught up in a “minor skirmish” with a local tribe on the tiny island of Mactan. They were overwhelmed by the local natives, and, as he attempted to cover the retreat of his men, Magellan was “cut down by spears and poison arrows” (not to be confused with “spear and magic helmet”). Magellan died that day, at the age of 41. His men completed the voyage, returning to Spain in September, 1522, thus proving that the world is, in fact, round. Ish. It was also on this voyage that ocean called “Pacific” got its name, due to the fact that they spent almost four months on it, and experienced no storms whatsoever.

Today’s birthday is Rogers Hornsby, born on this date in 1896. Hornsby was a baseball player, nicknamed “The Rajah.” He played infield, catcher, and managed professional baseball, playing for 23 seasons. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, the Chicago Cubs, and the St. Louis Browns. Over his career, he had 2930 hits, 301 home runs, and a lifetime batting average of .358. Not too shabby. Hornsby was born and raised in Winters, Texas. He died in 1963. He is credited with my current email signature quote, which says, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I can certainly identify with that.

Honorable mentions go to Nicolas Slonimsky, 1894, Enos Slaughter, 1916, John Stott, 1921, Casey Kasem, 1932, Earl Anthony, 1938, Lee Roy Jordan, 1941, and Kate Pierson, 1948.


Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 57:9-10
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! Psalm 79:9

Father, I pray for your grace this morning, as I look into your Word. I pray that, as I sing your praises and lift up your name, many will exalt you with me. Teach me your way, this morning, that I may walk in your truth.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “I Devoted Myself to the Work.” The scripture reading is Nehemiah 5:14-19.

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Nehemiah, in his efforts to serve his people and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, has rejected the norm of seeking to build his own wealth and influence. He did not even acquire land during this process. This was a combination of his relationship with God and concern for his people. “Nehemiah, the man of action, practiced what he preached.” He would not profit at the expense of those less fortunate than him. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus was also “both radically obedient to God and selfless in his love for others. Theology and ethics are inseparable.” That last statement is very bold, because we would love to separate the two. We want to keep things neatly packaged, so that they don’t touch each other. In Romans 12:3, Paul cautions us against thinking too highly of ourselves, the very state of mind that causes people to embrace the very philosophy that Nehemiah rejected. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

We are servants. We are called to be servants. I am challenged to seek ways to serve others, even asking God for opportunities. I did this yesterday, and he answered. I was halfway to annoyed at what I was being asked to do by someone when it dawned on me that God had answered my prayer, and that I was offering service to this person. We should constantly be on the lookout for ways to serve others. Instead, it seems that we are constantly on the lookout for ways to let our opinions be known on Facebook and Twitter.

Father, I pray for humility. I pray for an attitude of service. Keep teaching me your ways. Keep teaching me the truths of grace. And make me a dispenser of grace. As I journey through the rest of this life, I pray that you would help me empty myself. I pray by your Spirit, that I would empty myself and be obedient to what Paul teaches, that I should not think more highly of myself than I ought. Take away any sense of judgment or entitlement (what on earth could I possibly be entitled to??) or rights. I surrender my rights to you. Again. I’m sure I’ll pick them back up again and have to surrender them again. That may even happen multiple times today. But I pray as sincerely as I know how . . . every time I do so, please, by your Spirit, remind me! Show me! Point it out. Smack me up side the head. Whatever you have to do! I desire to be your servant, and I desire to be empty of me and full of you.

I pray for this day ahead, that we might have a good, fun time at the Renaissance Festival today. Let it be carefree and joyful. Keep us save as we travel. I pray for tomorrow’s worship time. Let it be full of you and all about you.

Reject the world’s ways. Serve someone today.

Grace and peace, friends.