God Is With You!

Today is Saturday, December 28, 2019. The Commemoration of the Holy Innocents. Peace be with you!

Day 22,570

Four days until New Year’s Day, 2020.

Today is Card Playing Day. “The holiday season has come and gone, and the end of the year is in sight. You know what you need to do now? That’s right, you need to sit back and play out a few rounds of solitaire, or maybe get the family together for a night of Texas Hold’em, Slap Jack, or War. Whatever your pleasure, Card Playing Day is a chance to wind down from all the kerfluffle of the season by engaging in a card game or three.”

As mentioned, yesterday, I’m running late today with this blog, because we had a meeting of our “scattered” church leadership at 8:30 this morning. That went very well, I think. We had a good time recapping our Christmas experience, then got down to business, discussing previous scattered meetings and what to expect going forward. After we got done, I grabbed the obligatory Sonic drinks on the way home, then C and I got our Kroger pick-up order placed, which will be picked up between 4:00 and 5:00 PM, this evening. So, now I have time to get into my “morning” devotional.

Work, yesterday, was nice. There were a lot of people on PTO, and our client pretty much shuts down between Christmas and the New Year, so there were no phone calls or emails. It was a stress-free day, which is nice, for a change.

My knee is feeling much better. I hope it keeps that up. It still hurts a little and is a bit stiff, at times, but I can walk around without a cane, right now. I still carry it with me, though, because you never know.

There aren’t any other plans for today. I need to make sure I take a good look at the Bible passages for tomorrow’s Church time. And I have to pick up the groceries, later. But that’s about it. Should be a nice, relaxing afternoon.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Psalm 95.1

Today I am grateful:
1. For the fellowship and discussion with my brothers in Christ, this morning.
2. For the hope of new beginnings that a new year brings.
3. That I am able to sing praises to the Lord.
4. That God is with me, and will never forget me or forsake me.
5. For times of reflection on Scripture.

Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Psalm 144.5
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
Psalm 71.23
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
Psalm 89.47
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 
and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2.13-18
Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! 
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 
Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 90.13-17

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.
(The Gloria)

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, 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)

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. 
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Isaiah 49.13-16

I have the strong sense that someone needs this today.

When I read this passage in today’s Our Daily Bread devotional, it struck a chord within me.

You see, there have been times in my life when I said exactly what Zion says in verse 14 above. “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Or perhaps it was more like, “God has abandoned me.”

But he had not. And he never will. There is promise after promise after promise, all throughout Scripture, that proclaims the truth that God will not ever leave or forsake us. The above passage in Isaiah is just one of those.

Here’s another one. Deuteronomy 31.6. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

I don’t need to be reminded that these Scriptures were written specifically to Israel. I know this. But why would they not be applicable to the Church of today, the Body of Christ?

Are you in a place today where you think God has forsaken you? I promise you, he has not. If you are in Christ today, God is with you. Consider Psalm 139, a Psalm of David. It is one of my favorites, and was one of my father’s favorites.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

And finally, the promise of our Lord Jesus, from Matthew 28.20. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

So take heart. Be encouraged. You may be experiencing what St. John of the Cross called the “Dark Night of the Soul.” The Father may be, in a sense, hiding his face from you. But he has not forsaken you and there is something to learn from the experience. There is always something to learn.

God has not forgotten; he has not forsaken.

He is with us, always and forever.

Father, thank you for these promises, especially when we get into circumstances or times in our lives when your presence seems far away. Remind us, in these times, that you don’t leave us; you don’t forget us; you don’t forsake us. Remind us of the promise of Jesus, when he said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

I Trust In You, O Lord

Today is Thursday, December 28, 2017. Day 21,840. Fourth day of Christmas.

Four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Only four days until 2018!

Edgar Winter, born on this date in 1946, said, “The most profound, tangible influence in my life has been my wife, Monique. I don’t know that I would even be alive were it not for her, and I certainly would not be the person that I am today.”

The word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is discrutator, a noun, meaning, “A person who disputes or doubts to an extreme or excessive degree; a caviller.”

Today is Card Playing Day. Who knows . . . if you play your cards right . . .

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)
Thursday–Fourth Week of Advent

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;
Psalm 101:6
If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 
John 5:31-36
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:13-22

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 31:14

Using a story about rock climbing, Karen Valentin defines trust in God. The rock climber trusts the one who holds the rope, and knows that that one will not let him fall. In the same way, I trust in God implicitly. I know that God will not let me fall, ultimately. He certainly lets me stray off of the path, as he has not created a robot that has no will of its own. And he will, if I stray far enough, allow me to stumble. But he always picks me back up and sets me back on the path.

The Psalmist said, simply, “I trust in you, O Lord. You are my God.” In the next verse, he said, “My times are in your hand.”

All the days of my life are in the hands of my God, whom I trust. I get up and drive to work in the morning because I trust God to keep me. And if he allows something “bad” to happen, he is still my God, and there is nothing that can happen to me that can take that away from me.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. 
Psalm 9:10
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Psalm 25:2

Father, I thank you for the trust that you have inspired in me. For most of my life, I have trusted you, as long as I can remember. That doesn’t mean my actions have been perfect, because they certainly have not. Nor is it to say that I have never doubted you. But, for decades, my trust in you has been firm. I trust in you, O Lord. You are my God. My times are in your hands.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray Without Ceasing

Today is Wednesday, December 28, 2016. Three more days of 2016.

Quote of the Day

“I have two moods. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs… Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.” – Carrie Fisher

Word of the Day

Sockeroo – a notable success.

Today is Card Playing Day. The idea is to chill out from all of the “kerfluffle” of the holidays by just playing a few games of cards. Unfortunately, some of us have to keep working.

As 2016 continues to kick us in the gut, we lost two more greats yesterday. The first report was that author Richard Adams had died, at age 96. At least no one could say they didn’t see that coming. Frankly, I was surprised that he was still alive. The second was probably inevitable, considering the massive heart attack suffered over the weekend, and the fact that she stopped breathing, by some reports, for as long as ten minutes. But that didn’t make the report that Carrie Fisher had died any easier to deal with. She was only two years older than me, for goodness sake. She lived a hard life, I understand, and struggled with mental illness. In fact, from what I understand, she was a champion in the field of mental illnesses.

There is a video clip of her roasting George Lucas. In it, she says, “I’m an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life.” I met her once, at one of those Sci-Fi conventions, and heard her say those exact words to those of us waiting at her table for an autograph. She was one of the more memorable of my celebrity meetings at those conventions, mostly because I never figured I would get to meet someone of her status. Last night, I went to my autograph folder and found this.

Here’s the roast clip from AFI.

59 days until the first Spring Training game.
96 days until Opening Day.


Psa 95:1  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psa 144:5  Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Psa 71:23  My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

Psa 89:47  Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 148:1-6  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

All of creation participates in the praise. “The reasons for praise are so manifold and the possibilities of praise are so multiform, that every voice is put to work.” There is not a single part of creation that is exempt.

“With everyone else singing so heartily, Lord, let not my voice be silent. Assign me my part in the music, so that with my joy, my life a song, will harmonize with the soaring melody of creation to your praise. Amen.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2016)

1Th 5:17  pray without ceasing,

Roberta Messner writes of a a four-year-old great-nephew and his habits of prayer. He seemed to be constantly uttering short breaths of prayer, such as, “Bless those sick people” when an ambulance would pass by their car. He once prayed for God to keep trick-or-treaters dry when it was raining on Halloween morning.

On Christmas day, when he smelled something burning, he cried out, “Lord, help the food!” And then, when he heard of a neighboring family who had lost a loved one, his simple prayer was, “Be with them, Jesus.”

Roberta writes, “After dinner, I sat at the end of the table and applied pressure to my eyes. ‘The medicine hasn’t touched my headache,’ I remarked to my brother. I noticed Braxton on the sofa, looking up from his computer game. He didn’t say a word, just lowered his head and moved his lips to the One Who hears every request from every believer, young or old.
“Somehow I wasn’t surprised when the pain behind my eyes disappeared.”

Just a simple reminder of the necessity and importance of prayer in our lives.

Eph 6:18  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Php 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Col 4:2  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Father, thank you for this reminder, this morning, that I need to not shirk my duty/responsibility/privilege to pray without ceasing. Let this little, simply story of a four-year-old be an inspiration to me, as I go about my work day. While it is true that I am still not feeling well, that doesn’t stop me from praying. Let me be part of the symphony of praise in your creation, and may your Holy Spirit prompt me to pray at a moment’s notice, throughout this day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Treasure the Glory of God

“Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.”~~Victor Hugo

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is kinesics, “a systematic study of the relationship between nonlinguistic body motions (as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement) and communication.” Otherwise known as the study of body language.

Today is Card Playing Day, a day that falls a few days after Christmas, with the idea that people just need some time to unwind by doing something like playing cards.

We wound up not going to church yesterday morning. I know. The horror! But there were circumstances. For one, I wasn’t feeling great. And because I wasn’t feeling great, my emotional state was kind of off. When we got to my mother’s house, we discussed it, and finally decided to just stay home. She didn’t mind at all, because it gave us that much more time to just sit around and visit. It also got us to The Mesquite Pit before the church lunch crowds. 🙂 We had a nice lunch there, and then finally got to get some hot chocolate at Jitterbeans. We had a lovely time there. I had the Aztec Spice hot chocolate again, as did Justin. Christi and Mama both had the Ghirardelli hot chocolate, Stephanie had the Ghirardelli white hot chocolate, and Rachel had a cup of hot apple cider. We sat and visited for a while, there, as well as visiting with the owners of the coffee shop/video store. Good times.

We went back to the house, where I sat down to complete some unpleasant business. After talking to my mother, we had decided, before Thanksgiving, that it would be best to simply deactivate my father’s Facebook page and email account. So I did that, yesterday afternoon. It was difficult. It was one of those things that just felt, well, final. We also got my mother’s Amazon account updated to her new email address that I had set up for her, and I showed her how to get some books for her Kindle. I also got her hooked up with one of the many free/discount ebook sites that I use.

We got back home at around, oh, I don’t know, maybe 6:00-ish? It might have been earlier. I’m really not sure. We got the suitcases unpacked, after which I finally sat down to start playing my new Fallout 4 game on the PS4 I got for Christmas. While I was playing, Christi went to get groceries for her mother and step-dad. That turned out to be a very unpleasant experience, as her mother is back on the drugs, and had, once again, managed to drain her step-dad’s bank account. He wasn’t aware of it (at least he says he wasn’t), but what happens is that Christ gets to the checkout line and his debit card doesn’t work, so she winds up having to pay for all the groceries out of our account. She was furious. At this point, we aren’t sure what the result of this will be.

We are both on PTO (Paid Time Off) for the next three days, then we will go back to work on Thursday for one day, and have New Year’s Day off.

On this date in:

1065–Westminster Abbey was consecrated
1612–Galileo first observed Neptune, but mistakenly categorized it as a star
1832–John C. Calhoun became the first U.S. Vice President to resign
1836–Spain recognized the independence of Mexico
1846–Iowa became the 29th U.S. State. “Oh, there’s nothing quite like the way an Iowa person treats you, if he treats you, which he may not do at all.”
1895–Wilhelm Rontgen published a paper outlining his discovery of what will eventually be known as X-rays
1895–The Lumiere brothers debuted their first cinema
1912–The first city streetcars operated in San Francisco
1945–The U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance
1973–The Endangered Species Act was passed in the U.S.
2000–Montgomery Wards went out of business after 128 years

Today’s birthdays include:

1856–Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the U.S.
1902–Mortimer Adler, American philosopher
1915–Pops Staples, American musician, The Staple Singers
1922–Stan Lee, American comic book writer
1934–Dame Maggie Smith, British actress
1946–Edgar Winter, American musician
1950–Alex Chilton, American musician, The Box Tops
1954–Denzel Washington, American actor
1958–Twila Paris, American singer
1970–Elaine Hendrix, American actress
1973–Seth Meyers, American actor
1978–John Legend, American musician
1979–Noomi Rapace, Swedish actress
1980–Vanessa Ferlito, American actress, CSI: NY
1981–Sienna Miller, British actress
1990–David Archuleta, American singer

Dame Maggie Smith is a British actress who has been around a while. Well, 81 years, to be exact! She might be best known as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. It is my opinion that she gets the best lines of anyone in that show. Here are some examples of those lines.

Maurice Ravel, Paul Hindemith, Freddie King, Dennis Wilson, William Demarest, Sam Peckinpah, Sal Maglie, William L. Shirer, and Jerry Orbach are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Glory is the Goal.”

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:2

“Seeing the glory of God is our ultimate hope.” There are many Scriptures that bear this out. The above quoted text is one of them. Jude 24 tells us that God will present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.

in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
Romans 9:23
we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:12
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Titus 2:13

Jesus is the ultimate representation of the glory of God. Hebrews 1:3 says, He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Jesus, in John 17:24, says, Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Seeing and sharing in God’s glory is our ultimate hope through the gospel of Christ.” This is a hope that we truly know and treasure, and this kind of hope has a “decisive effect on our present values and choices and actions.”

We should study this glory, get to know this glory through studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most importantly, we should treasure the glory of God above all things.

We should also know our own souls and know what seduces them away from this glory; why we treasure “glories” that are not God’s glory.

Father, I pray that I would know and treasure your glory above all things, in the coming year, and for the remainder of my life. Help me to know myself, to know what kinds of things draw me away from your glory, that which I should treasure and prize above all other things.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Abba of Jesus

Good afternoon. It is Sunday, December 28, 2014. Only three more days in 2014.

Today’s Word of the Day is “Childermas.” This has a couple of meanings. 1. “The festival of the Holy Innocents (28 December), commemorating the massacre of the male children of Bethlehem by Herod (Matthew 2:16).” 2. “The day of the week corresponding to the day on which the festival of the Holy Innocents falls, considered to be unlucky throughout the following year.”

Today is Card Playing Day. The idea behind this is that, a few days after Christmas, people need a break, and some time to simply relax. Sitting around playing card games is a great way to do that.

There’s not a lot going on around here, this weekend. We had a good time at church last night, and had Christmas leftovers for dinner. Christi and I finished watching the SyFy miniseries Ascension, which left me totally confused at the end. It’s like it didn’t end, but just stopped. Otherwise, it was a pretty good show.

Today, we plan to get the house straightened up from Christmas. It still kind of looks like we just opened presents. We might take down decorations . . . I’m not sure when that’s happening. Christi wants to get some things together to take to Goodwill, to get donations in before the end of the year. I’m not sure if we will go bowling or not, today. Mostly, we want to get rested for the week.

At this point, we don’t have any plans for New Year’s Eve. We both have to work that day, so we’ll be a little tired. We’ll probably stay up, but I don’t imagine we will go anywhere.

(Source: This Day In History

It was on this date in 1869 that the “Knights of Labor,” a tailors’ union in Philadelphia, held the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. It wasn’t until 1884 that the American Federation of Labor organized an annual observance, setting aside the first Monday in September as a holiday for laborers. Oregon would be the first state to designate the day as a holiday, in 1887, and in 1894, Congress made it an official legal holiday “for all federal employees and the residents of the District of Columbia.”

Today’s birthdays include Denzel Washington, Stan Lee, John Legend, Maggie Smith, David Archuleta, Sienna Miller, Woodrow Wilson, Martin Milner, Noomi Rapace, Mortimer Adler, Pops Staples, Johnny Otis, Edgar Winter (Beaumont, TX), Alex Chilton, Twila Paris (Fort Worth, TX), and Elaine Hendrix.

Edgar Winter is an American musician, most known for his work with The Edgar Winter Group. He is the younger brother of blues guitarist/singer, Johnny Winter, who passed away earlier this year, at the age of 70. Edgar was born on this date in 1946, making him 68 today. Both Edgar and Johnny were albino. His most popular single, released in 1973, was the instrumental, “Frankenstein.” That same year, he had a lesser hit with “Free Ride.” Here is a clip of the album version of “Free Ride.”


(From The Divine Hours)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Psalm 17:6
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

Psalm 31:11-16
The Gloria
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.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to
be born 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.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”‘ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:1-14

The first part of this parable is very similar to the parable of the vineyard and tenants. God has invited the Jews to the wedding feast, but they are refusing to attend. Not only are they refusing to attend, they have also violently reacted to the messengers that God has sent their way. The King in the parable, representing God, has now sent his servants out to the rest of the world, inviting them to the wedding feast.

Verse 11 is where it gets tricky. The king comes in to view the guests, and a man is there with no wedding garments. The man is bound and cast out “into the outer darkness,” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then comes that chilling statement, “For many are called but few are frozen.”

This is a difficult passage for many people, and even the commentary in The Reformation Study Bible is open to interpretation. I do agree with the RSB, but not all will. Everyone who hears the gospel is invited, but that does not guarantee inclusion. No one will enter the Kingdom of heaven without being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In spite of what many well-meaning people will tell you, there are NOT “many roads to God.” The only way to the Kingdom is through the righteousness of Christ, which is a gift to those who have been chosen. There is also a clear reference to the fact that there is no middle ground between heaven and hell. All who attempt to enter the Kingdom without being clothed in the righteousness of Christ will be cast into “outer darkness.” Hell is real. Jesus speaks frequently about it, and quite clearly.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Intimacy with His Father.”

“A central theme in the personal life of Jesus Christ, which lies at the very heart of the revelation that he is, is his growing intimacy with, trust in, and love of his Abba.”

Jesus, being raised in Nazareth by Mary and Joseph, was surely brought up in the strict teachings of the monotheistic traditions of their community. There should be no doubt that he prayed the Shema three times a day. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (see Deuteronomy 6:4). “Jesus was surrounded with the Absolute, dominated by the One, the Eternal, the ‘I Am Who I Am.'”

During his time on earth, “Jesus experienced God in a way that no prophet of Israel had ever dreamed or dared.” He was inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and he “gave a name for god that would scandalize both the theology and public opinion of Israel. The name that escaped the mouth of the Nazarene Carpenter: Abba.”

Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

Philippians 2:9

Father, may I know you even a fraction as intimately as Jesus knew you during his time on earth. May I know you as Abba, the way Jesus knew you. As 2015 approaches, may I continue to seek intimacy with you through Jesus. Give me the ability to be deliberate as I go through the year. I have found that I frequently forget to do this. This is compounded by the thing that I asked for prayer for in yesterday’s prayer gathering, the fact that I allow circumstances and people to control my emotions and state of mind so much.

I pray for this day. Give Christi strength as she heads out to do the grocery shopping for us and for her mom and step-dad. May she find your grace as she spends the time by herself. I pray that you would draw her spirit closer to yours during this time, and that your grace would rain down on her. As we spend the afternoon relaxing, prepare us for the work week ahead, that we might work from our rest.

I pray for the family of Tammy, Stephanie’s friend across the street, as she has apparently lost her father this past week. May you bring comfort to them, Lord.

What would our lives be like if we could experience God the same way Jesus did while on earth? May we know his Abba as our Abba!

Grace and peace, friends.

If the House Is A-Rockin’. . .

Good morning. It is. . . um. . . what day is this?? Oh, yeah. Saturday! Saturday, December 28, 2013. Three more days left in 2013.

Today is “Card Playing Day,” a day to relax and wind down after the hubbub of the Christmas rush.

Christi’s appointments went well yesterday. She loves her foot doctor, so that one is always good. The inserts seem to be working well, and the doctor is going to keep giving her Mobic to help with joint pains. The neurologist said that, based on the description of the symptoms, Christi is having migraines. Who knew?? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what they feel like, but I know from others who have that they can be pretty much disabling. They wanted to schedule a sleep study for tomorrow night, but the insurance company said they couldn’t do a pre-certification on the same day as the study. This is another way of saying, “No, we aren’t going to do this until after January when the patient has a new zero-balance of ‘out of pocket maximum.'” Christi hit her maximum back when she had her foot surgery. They did supposedly fax in a medication, but it wasn’t there yet when we went by CVS. The bad thing is that, according to the doctor’s office, migraine meds are very expensive, and insurance doesn’t cover them very well.

Yesterday afternoon, after having lunch, Christi and I decided to get out of the house and see a movie. I had been wanting to see American Hustle, as it has a pretty good cast in it. It’s rated R for bad language, mostly. There’s no nudity, although Amy Adams continuously wears tops that barely cover. But the cast is great. Amy, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner are all excellent in this film. It’s a film about some con artists in the seventies (yes, there are leisure suits, and there is disco) who get busted, but then are forced into helping the FBI bring down some corrupt politicians and mob people in a sting operation. It was a fun movie, with a nice twist at the end. Also, there was movie popcorn, which is always awesome!

We spent the rest of the evening finishing season 2 of Parenthood. There was a lot of yelling, and then a lot of crying. Several of the actresses in that show can cry very convincingly. I hate when they do that! Oh, and there’s this one character, named Jasmine, that I loathe. The brother, Crosby, is bound and determined to get back into a relationship with her, and she is the worst person on the planet! Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. But the other relationships in the show center around an older couple, played by Craig T Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia, and their four kids, who are all grown. Two of the kids are married and have kids of their own. One is a single mother (played by Lauren Graham), and is constantly struggling with the behavior of her kids. One of the couples has a young son, named Max, who has Asperger’s. There have been many moments where Christi and I have been just about bawling because we have been there and done that. It’s a gut-wrenching show.

Today should be a pretty typical Saturday. Lunch, groceries, church, then just hanging out. I should practice the music at some point. That would probably be helpful.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1895, at the Cafe de la Paix in Paris, Louis and Auguste Lumiere “demonstrated their new invention, the cinematographe.” The first film they showed was a short clip of an oncoming train (the customers were alarmed by this). Then they showed a longer film called “Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory.”

“It was the first true motion picture ever made and the birth of cinema.” Apparently, they made over 1000 movies, but stated at one point that “it is an invention without a future.”

Today’s birthdays are Woodrow Wilson, 28th president, 1856, Mortimer Adler, author, 1902, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Staple Singers, 1915, Stan Lee, comic artist, 1922, Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, 1924 (possibly 12/25), Martin Milner, actor (Adam 12), 1931, Maggie Smith, actress, 1934, Charles Neville, Neville Brothers, 1938, Edgar Winter, rock musician, 1946, Alex Chilton, the Box Tops, 1950, Denzel Washington, actor, 1954, and Sienna Miller, actress, 1981.

Here’s a clip of Edgar Winter performing “Free Ride.”


Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 67:3-5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

Psalm 30:12 O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

“O God, you have caused the holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light:
Grant that I, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him
perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God,
in glory everlasting. Amen.” (The Divine Hours)

Today’s reading in A Year With God is “Rejoicing Together.” The scripture reading is Deuteronomy 14:22-26.

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

Okay. I have never, ever, heard a “tithing” sermon based from this scripture. I wonder why. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* The first time this passage caught my eye, I was amazed. God told his people to take their tithe to a place where he would choose, and basically have a huge party! If the place was too far away for them to carry their actual tithe, they could exchange it for money, take the money to the place God chose, and buy whatever their hearts desired to have their party! “If any Bible passage turns on its ear the thought of a dour god who does not want his people to enjoy life, here it is.” So the challenge over the next ten days is to have a party! Seriously. Gather some friends and family and rejoice together! Perfect time of year for that, too, because there are lots of parties on New Year’s Eve, right? I truly believe that, when we rejoice together, in the name of the Lord, whatever form it takes, he is pleased and glorified. We can enjoy ourselves in him!

Father, keep teaching us to rejoice. We have somewhere managed to develop this image that you want us to be somber and serious all the time. While there are times that soberness is appropriate, there are also times when great rejoicing and celebration are appropriate. I truly believe that you want us to enjoy our lives. You have given us great blessing. Scriptures like the one above tell us that you want us to enjoy these blessings while honoring and glorifying your name! Help us to do that. Free our minds from these misconceptions that everything must be serious, and that we can’t dare be joyful and happy with what we have been given. I pray that you help us to find time to rejoice together with some friends and family sometime soon. Put a song of joy in our hearts. Let us celebrate you and your bounty.

I pray for this day, as it unfolds. May we get our chores done, practice accomplished, and then have a joyful worship celebration this evening. As we approach the beginning of a new year, may we look forward to a stronger, deeper devotion, as well as stronger, deeper relationships with one another.

Your grace is sufficient.

Have a “rejoicing party!” If the house is rockin’. . .

Grace and peace, friends.