Lost In the Shuffle

Today is Thursday, December 26, The Feast of St. Stephen. Peace be with you!

Day 22,568

Six days until New Years Day, 2020.

Today is <em>Candy Cane Day. “A lot of things have their own day dedicated to them; one you may not have known about is the candy cane. Yes, this veritable symbol of tasty festivity has a dedicated day, so if you ever needed an excuse to stockpile them or indulge, now you have one. So let the deliciousness begin!” I believe I got one of those for Christmas.

Yesterday was a truly wonderful day. We had a great trip to Mineral Wells and a lovely visit with Mama, along with R & J. Lunch at Mama’s was pretty much the same as dinner the night before (not leftovers, though). Ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole, and rolls. What was different was that we had seven different desserts! There was sopapilla cheesecake, Kahlua fudge, teacake cookies, caramel apple dump cake (that was amazing!), banana bread, peanut butter pie, and Cherry-O Cream Cheese pie. I managed to have some of four of them, I think, before the proverbial gate came down.

Today feels like Monday, though. We’ve been off for two days, and now we’re going back to work. So it’s Monday. Only it’s not. Holidays in the middle of the week are always weird. Plus, we will probably have piles of gifts sitting around until Saturday before they get put away somewhere.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 
I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Psalm 146.1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. That we had a wonderful Christmas with our family.
2. For the sense of joy that remains after the gifts are opened and the food is eaten.
3. That the Lord is my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me (Psalm 31).
4. That I don’t have to work to get God’s attention.
5. That I have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8-9).

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.

Psalm 141.3-5
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115.1
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
Psalm 19.7
Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 
so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 
Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Matthew 23.34-36
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 31.1-5

“Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 
not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2.4-10

In today’s reading of Our Daily Bread, Sheridan Voysey writes of reading stories of people and their reasons for serving. In one tragic story, an older woman, who drove a school bus, shared that her reason for serving/working for God was because of something an aunt had said to her. It seems that this aunt told her that she had to do something that God would notice, “or else we’d get lost in the big shuffle!” What a tragic misunderstanding of the grace of God! This woman had lived her life devising ways to get God’s attention; loyally attending church and working hard to serve others so that “God might ‘hear from other what I was doing.'”

The wonderful truth is that we already have God’s attention! Jesus tells us in Matthew 10 that the very hairs of our head are numbered and that “you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10.31) We also have no fear of being lost in any kind of “big shuffle” (where on earth that aunt got that idea, I will never know), as, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1) And, in the verses above, we see that salvation can’t be bought with “good deeds.” It is a free gift from God. In face, the very faith that we employ to be saved by grace is a gift from God!

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, because it is truth that many folks need to hear. There is nothing that you can do to make God love you more than he does at this moment. And, conversely, there is also nothing you can do that will cause him to love you any less than he does at this moment. If you are in Christ, his love for you is, and will remain, faithful and constant, for all eternity.

I praise you, Father, for this truth. Thank you for your great love, that is never-changing, for all of your children. I pray that my “good deeds” in this life will be to reflect that love, rather than an attempt to earn it.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15.13

Grace and peace, friends.

Disasters and Mercy

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”~~Aesop

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is bonhomie, “frank and simple good-heartedness; a good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality.” We could all do with a bit more bonhomie in our lives.

Today is Candy Cane Day. Isn’t that the fake CB name that the kids in Joyride came up with, that caused the truck driver to terrorize them?

We had a wonderful Christmas Day! After finishing up everything yesterday morning, we got packed and headed to Mineral Wells. We unloaded all the food and gifts into Mama’s house, and had lunch soon after. When we were all full from the delicious food, we moved over to the living area to exchange our gifts. Mama was very happy with the Keurig that we got for her, along with three boxes of coffee, and a carousel pod holder for the K-cups. We also got her an 8X10 of the photo of her and Uncle Buddy, from her trip to Marshall last week. CVS did a great job of copying and printing that picture, and it was quite inexpensive.

After sitting for a while, we went to the hotel to check in. Unfortunately, the elevator is broken and we are on the second floor. The had a room on the first floor, but it did not have a sofa bed for Stephanie. We took a short nap and then went back over to Mama’s for dessert and more visiting. Around 9:00PM, we headed back to the hotel, trying to stop at Jack in the Box for something to take back with us, but the drive-thru line wrapped all the way around the building. It was that way when we went back to Mama’s, as well, since they were almost the only place open. We had noticed, earlier, that Burger King was open, so we gave up on Jack and headed to the King, which was in the same direction as the hotel, anyway. We got some small burgers and fries and brought them back with us.

We got a good night’s sleep, and got up just in time to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast. After I finish this and take a shower, we will be heading back over to the house, and then, eventually, downtown, where we will visit Jitterbeans Coffee Shop, where I will have another delicious cup of Aztec Spice Hot Chocolate. We have nothing else planned for today.

On this date in:

1776–The British were defeated at the Battle of Trenton. Remember George Washington crossing the Delaware yesterday?
1799–4000 people attended George Washington’s funeral
1846–“Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevadas and without food, members of the Donner Party resort to cannibalism.”
1871–Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated for the first time in an opera called Thespis. It would be four years before they would work together again.
1898–Marie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium
1919–Harry Frazee, owner of the Boston Red Sox, sold Babe Ruth to the Evil Empire
1933–FM radio was patented
1941–President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day
1986–The soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, aired its final episode, after being on the air 35 years
1996–JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home

Today’s birthdays include:

1791–Charles Babbage, English mathematician and inventor
1891–Henry Miller, American writer
1914–Richard Widmark, American actor
1921–Steve Allen, American comedian
1947–Carlton Fisk, American baseball player
1954–Ozzie Smith, American baseball player
1963–Lars Ulrich, Danish drummer and Napster-killer, Metallica
1979–Chris Daughtry, American singer

Carlton Fisk is a retired MLB catcher who played for the Boston Red Sox. In the 1975 World Series, Game Six, he hit this walkoff home run to win the game and force Game Seven. Even though the Sox lost the series, I still believe this to be the best World Series ever, at least in my lifetime. Game Six is definitely regarded to be one of the most exciting World Series games in history.

Melvil Dewey, Harry S. Truman, Jack Benny, Dian Fossey, Curtis Mayfield, Jason Robards, Armand Zildjian, and Gerald Ford are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is a difficult one, called, “How to Contemplate Calamity.”

John Piper begins with the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2005. As I looked at historical events on this date, I was somewhat taken aback at the number of calamities that occurred on December 26. The Donner Party, the discovery of JonBenet Ramsey’s body (even though she probably died on Christmas Day), multiple earthquakes, Babe Ruth being sold to the Yankees . . . Okay, that last one might not really count as a calamity, and I certainly am not comparing it to cannibalism, murder, and earthquake/tsunamis.

But what is the point of all of this? When Job learned of the deaths of all of his children, due to a natural disaster, his response, recorded in Job 1:21, was “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” As he contemplates the earthquake/tsunami from 2005, Piper offers several points.

1. “Satan is not ultimate, God is.”

In the case of Job, Satan only had as much authority as God would allow. “God gave Satan permission to afflict Job.” But God is seen as the decisive cause. Many people struggle with this thought and completely reject the idea that God could ever cause affliction. I believe that these people don’t truly understand Scripture. I know that’s a bold statement, but I believe that Scripture is pretty clear about this. The writer of Job, at the end, says, And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. (42:11) “Satan is real. Satan brings misery. But Satan is not ultimate or decisive. He is on a leash. He goes no farther than God decisively permits.”

2. “Even if Satan caused the earthquake in the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas, he is not the decisive cause of over 200,000 deaths; God is.”

In Job 38:8-11, God proclaims that he has authority over the seas (including tsunamis) when he says, “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” We saw Jesus, in Luke 8:24, rebuke the wind and the waves in the sea, showing ultimate control over nature. ” In other words, even if Satan caused the earthquake, God could have stopped the waves.”

3. “Destructive calamities in this world mingle judgment and mercy.”

There is nothing simple about thinking about natural disasters. There is no easy answer. But we know from Scripture that God was not punishing Job. What came upon him was meant to be purifying. However, we do not know the spiritual condition of Job’s children. Job had his own doubts about them, even offering sacrifices on their behalf in case they had committed some sins. It is possible that the calamity that struck them was judgment. If that is the case, then the same calamity that brought judgment on Job’s children was mingled with mercy for Job. This, Piper says, is true of all calamities. They mingle both judgment and mercy.

The clearest illustration of this is Christ and the cross. The cross of Jesus was both judgment and mercy. It was judgment on Jesus because he bore our sins. It was mercy on us, because someone else was bearing the punishment of our sins on our behalf. As another example, Piper cites the curse on the earth. It is seen as judgment to those who do not believe in Christ, but for us who believe, it is considered “merciful, though painful, preparation for glory.”

4. “The heart that Christ gives to his people feels compassion for those who suffer, no matter what their faith.”

This is where we tend to fail on a magnificent level. The Bible tells us, in Romans 12:15, to “Weep with those who weep.” Note that it does not say, “Unless God caused the weeping.” Piper astutely says, “Job’s comforters would have done better to weep with Job than talk so much.” Unfortunately, we are way too much like Job’s “comforters.” We tend to try to explain to people why these bad things are happening to them, instead of simply weeping for them over their misfortune, pain, loss, or sickness. “Pain is pain, no matter who causes it.” All have sinned; we are all in this together.

5. “Finally, Christ calls us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it.”

This is a much-needed message in the political climate of our nation today. We have Christians refusing to consider offering aid and refuge to people of certain races because they might be terrorists. I thank God that He does not operate this way! If he did, none of us would be saved, because we are all sinners. . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God did not wait for us to stop sinning or prove that we could maybe sin just a bit less before showing love and mercy to us. The meaning of mercy is “undeserved help.” We are told by our Savior to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Father, teach us mercy. When we experience calamity, teach us empathy and compassion, even toward those whom we might feel don’t deserve it. Make us more like Christ. Teach us mercy.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Kneeling At the Manger

Good morning. It is Friday, December 26, 2014. Day after Christmas. Five more wake-ups left in 2014.

Today’s Word of the Day is “rechauffe.” Rechauffe means to be reheated, warmed up again, or made from leftovers. Pretty appropriate word for the day after Christmas, no?

Today is Candy Cane Day. We actually did not have any of those this year. But if you did, enjoy them on their special day.

Christmas Day was very nice. Rachel and Justin had spent the night on Christmas Eve, so, after everyone got up, we had exchanged our gifts, and Christi finished preparations for the Christmas lunch. We took that over to Mineral Wells, and had a very nice afternoon with my parents. Christi was really wiped out, as she worked very hard on both days, so she pretty much went straight to bed as soon as we got home from there. It was a very nice day, though, and I think everyone was happy.

I got an Amazon Fire TV, which I really like, so far, and several books, including the latest Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher, Prayer, by Timothy Keller, and Brennan Manning’s autobiography, All Is Grace. Looks like my first-of-the-year reading is all set!

What did you get for Christmas?


(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.
Agnus Dei
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:6-8
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”~~Luciano De Crescenzo

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Four Shepherds’ Visit.”

Brennan relates a French story that is told in “the forests of Provence in southern France.” It tells of four shepherds who traveled to Bethlehem to visit the newborn baby in the manger. Three of them brought gifts of eggs, bread, cheese, and wine. But the fourth brought no gift. He was called “L’Enchante.” As the first three talked with Mary and Joseph, they talked about “how well Mary looked, how cozy the cave was and how handsomely Joseph had appointed it, what a beautiful starlit night it was.” They told Mary and Joseph that, if anything else was needed, they only need ask. Someone then asked, “Where is L’Enchante?” They looked all around for him. “Finally, someone peeked through the blanket hung against the draft, into the creche. There, kneeling at the crib, was L’Enchante–the Enchanted One. Like a flag or a flame taking the direction of the wind, he had taken the direction of love. Through the entire night, he stayed in adoration, whispering, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu–Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.'”

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
Isaiah 40:18

Father, may I be more like L’Enchante today, kneeling in my heart, at the foot of the manger, whispering, “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu!” May my heart be filled with adoration for my Savior today, letting all other things take a back seat to his love for me.

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe. I pray for safe travel for all who will be returning to their homes after the holiday. I pray for peace as we continue to celebrate the birth of our Savior. May you show your steadfast love to Stephanie, Rachel, and Justin.

Thank you for Christmas!

May we all find ourselves kneeling by the manger, along with L’Enchante.

Grace and peace, friends.