“Remember That You Are Dust”

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the second of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,365

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the forty-day season leading up to the celebration of Easter, or, as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday. The Fat Tuesday parties are over, the revelry is complete. Today, the fasts begin. Many people will give up meat for Lent. I understand that is a common practice, especially among Catholics.

If you recall yesterday’s blog, I discussed a few things I might be looking at “giving up” for Lent. The thing is, I don’t believe it to be a coincidence that I read the selection on fasting that I read yesterday, of all days. And while I realize that the purpose of that specific selection was not necessarily driven by the idea of being critical, it certainly struck home for me.

This year, for Lent (which I do not always technically “observe”), I have two goals in mind. One is physical. I am giving up candy for Lent. Laugh or chuckle if you want, but candy has been a serious downfall for me, in recent weeks. M&Ms, Heath bars, Hershey “Nuggets,” and other forms of chocolate, mainly. Those will be eliminated from my diet for at least forty days.

I also have a spiritual or mental goal. I plan to fast from being critical for at least forty days. That’s right. I’m going to try to not criticize anything or anybody for at least forty days. If you know me, you know that the only way I can accomplish this is by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t promise that I won’t have any critical thoughts, mind you. Sometimes, those thoughts can’t be prevented. However, as Dallas Willard reminds us, we humans have a unique ability. We are the only creatures on the planet who have the ability to control what we allow our minds to dwell on. So that means that, when a critical thought pops into my brain (and I say “when” not “if”), it will be my duty to stop it in its tracks, “nip it in the bud,” as it were.

We got our new bed, yesterday, and got it assembled before I went to work at the library. It’s very nice, and works just like S’s bed and the one we got for Mama’s room (I wonder . . . will we still call it R’s room?). Head and feet raise and lower, and it has vibrator massages on both ends. Plus each side has four USB ports for device charging! I didn’t sleep real great, last night, sadly, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the new bed. Hopefully, tonight will be better.

We also made the decision, yesterday, after conversing with the A/C tech, to go ahead and replace our systems. We will be getting a 5-ton A/C unit that provides, I believe, 18 seer (I have no idea what that means), and is variable speed instead of single speed. That means it should be more efficient and save us somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-35% on our electricity in the summertime. The work will be done next Wednesday. Total cost for the whole shebang is roughly $12,500. Yikes.

Before I head into today’s devotional, I want to share an article by one of my long-time favorite singer/songwriters, Carolyn Arends. I remember her from years ago, when she broke into the CCM arena after having been a staff songwriter for a label. She had a number of successful albums and singles and then kind of faded (or so I thought) for a bit. Or maybe I just lost track, I don’t know. She resurfaced a decade or so ago as a major player in one of my favorite Christian organizations, Renovare. And by “major player,” I mean leader. I’m not talking about musically, I’m talking spiritually. And Carolyn has really shined (shone?) in this role. Well, what I want to share, today, is a recent article she wrote about Ash Wednesday. It’s called “I Was An Ash Wednesday Rookie.” It really resonates with me because our backgrounds are similar, at least church-wise.

I probably won’t be attending an Ash Wednesday service today. I wish I could, but it’s my Wednesday to work at the Hurst Public Library (circulation desk), and we don’t leave the library until 6:15. All of the services I can find start at 6:30, and I don’t think I could make it in time. Maybe next year, because I would really like to attend one, someday.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


"Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we,
worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you,
the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.
(Collect for Ash Wednesday, The Book of Common Prayer)
Jesus said to them again, 
"Peace be with you. 
As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." 
And when he had said this, 
he breathed on them 
and said to them,
 "Receive the Holy Spirit. 
(John 20:21-22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the season of Lent, as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday
2. for the many saints in my life that have inspired me and brought me to the spiritual place I am today
3. for the life and peace that Jesus breathes into us
4. for the reminder that I am dust
5. that life doesn't end here
'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. 
Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? 
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'  
(Isaiah 58:3-9 ESV)

This is the scripture passage that is brought forth in Spiritual Classics, after presenting the selection by Catherine Marshall that I summarized yesterday. The people question the fact that they fast, but it seems to get no results. God answers by questioning the validity of their fast.

The purpose of the reading, again, was not so much to highlight the critical nature (although that is what spoke so loudly to me), but to center on the discipline of fasting. And what better time to arrive at this place than the beginning of the Lenten season?

And, as I read the passage from Isaiah, one of my initial reactions tends to lean toward being critical toward the church of today, but I am stopping those thoughts and not going there. Rather, I will focus on what I can do to accomplish this “fast” of which the Lord speaks. What can I do to help loose the bonds of wickedness, to break every chain, and free the oppressed? What can I do to share my bread with the hungry and my home with the homeless (there’s a scary thought, right there), and to cover the naked? The passage indicates that, when we are successfully doing these things, our cries will be heard.

As the week progresses, there will be questions and suggested activities, and a final thought from one of the writers of the book.

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

There is a common misconception that our “religion” is a “private matter.” And while much of what goes on in “religion” concerns matters of the heart, it cannot help but spill out into real life.

“Every movement we make in response to God has a ripple effect, touching family, neighbors, friends, community. Belief in God alters our language. Love of God affects our relationships. Hope in God enters into our work. Also their opposites – unbelief, indifference, and despair. None of these movements and responses, beliefs and prayers, gestures and searches, can be confined to the soul. They spill out and make history. If they don’t, they are under suspicion of being fantasies at best, hypocrisies at worst.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

The book of Philemon is a perfect picture of the truth of this. One of the single chapter books of the New Testament, it involves a letter from Paul to a slave owner named Philemon, who is a brother in Christ. It turns out Paul has come in contact with a runaway slave of Philemon’s, named Onesimus, who has, apparently because of Paul’s ministry, also become a Christian! As Paul writes to Philemon, it is apparent that this relationship between Philemon and Onesimus has to change, because they are now brothers in Christ. And Paul is sending Onesimus back to him, with instructions on how this has to change!

It is in situations like this that Christianity is proved to be real or, as Peterson said, “fantasies . . . hypocrisies.”

Does our belief in Christ spill out into our lives? It is my belief that the separation of “sacred” and “secular” is a myth. I cannot compartmentalize my life. If I can be “Christian” on Sunday, at “church,” but can act like a heathen at work, or treat my family terribly at home, my “Christianity” is not real.

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; 
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 
Against you, you only, 
have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; 
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 
Surely I was sinful at birth, 
sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; 
you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 
(Psalms 51:1-6 NIV)

The prayer word for today is “life.” What a powerful word, full of meaning!

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:14 NIV)

“Life” is fragile. As we have observed, so many times in our past, a loved one is “here today, gone tomorrow.” We are described, in Scripture, as a breath, a mist, as grass, that is here one minute and burned in the fire the next.

We don’t really notice this, as children. When we are children, life is forever, and the main goal is fun. As young adults, we think ourselves indestructible. But as we grow older, the frailty becomes reality. Death is imminent. We think about it more.

May God help us to treasure this thing called “life.” The good news is that it doesn’t end here. But the time here is, by comparison, short, just a breath, a wisp of smoke.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Father, what beautiful reminders, this morning, of the beauty of life with You! Yes, I am dust, and to dust shall I return, assuming Jesus does not return before my physical life on this planet ends. But “life” as we know, does not end at that point. We will carry on, in some form which we know not, for eternity, in our lives with You.

I pray for all who are embarking on a Lenten journey today. As we “celebrate” Ash Wednesday, whether we get cross-shaped smudges of ash on our foreheads or not, may we remember the truth that we are only dust. Help us all to accomplish whatever “fast” You have put on our hearts today. For me, I ask that You strengthen me, more for the elimination of judgment and criticism than candy, although I desire success in both realms. But, to me, the criticism is the more important aspect. Help me to “take captive” those thoughts as soon as they enter my brain, and not to entertain them, and especially not to let them escape through my mouth or fingertips.

So, Lord, I just realized that I’m focusing on what goes in my mouth and what comes out my mouth. That’s rather ironic.

I also pray that my faith always works itself out in reality, and is not something hidden, that no one else can see. It must be, in order to be authentic. It is not private, and I cannot separate “sacred” and “secular.” My life is in You. All of it, every aspect of it. Christ must be all and in all.

Glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of November, 2021. The first Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,271

Twenty-seven days until Christmas!

It was a rainy, chilly evening, yesterday. We still haven’t put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, yet, but we may do that tonight. That depends, to some degree, on how S feels, later today. She is a bit “under the weather” (whatever that means) because she got a flu shot AND a Covid-19 booster on Friday. I probably would not have chosen to do both of those on the same day, myself. But she had a little fever during the night last night.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. It was busy enough, but nowhere close to a typical Saturday. However, several other library staff folks opined that it was pretty busy for a Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Today, our church gathering will be via Zoom. I anticipate that, afterward, we will resume our traditional Sunday lunch from Applebee’s.


Two Truths of Advent, by Dayl Madden

Come listen beloved
Two truths be aware
The birth of our Lord and
His return drawing near

The first is the answer
For the second, prepare
His incarnate dwelling
Be within you here

A time of waiting
Of joy to share
Of anticipating
The Word to appear

In this Advent season
Let our way be clear
Not to the store
But one body in prayer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my faith, which is Your gift to me
2. for the peace in my soul, this morning
3. for the joy that is in my soul, as well
4. for Your very great and precious promises, and the anticipation of their fulfillments
5. for hope, without which we no reason to live

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

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

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.”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. I used to think that this was solely looking forward to the celebration of the coming of Jesus, as a baby, which we, of course, celebrate on December 25 each year. But there’s more to it. We are also, in celebrating Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. At His second coming, He will “return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)

The LORD is God,
and he has made his
to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



I wait for the LORD,
my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I reflect upon the promises of God and anticipate their fulfillment. I remember, and I rejoice.


Of David.

In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)


“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'”
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 NIV)


As I slowly read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord, enjoying the presence of my Lord and Savior.

I see several words in Psalm 25, and most of them are related. In verses 4 and 5, I see the words “show,” “teach,” “guide,” and then “teach,” again. Those verbs all point to the words “ways,” “paths,” and “truth,” which are also related, in this context. The Lord’s ways, paths, and truth all mean, essentially, the same thing. And because of all of these, the psalmist finds that his “hope” is in the Lord, “all day long.”

My life verse, Psalm 86:11, makes a similar request of God.

Teach me your way,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart
to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

As I meditate and ponder these verses, it occurs to me that these prayers, from Psalms, may also apply to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So if I am asking God to show me His Way, or teach me His Path, and guide me in His Truth, Jesus is the answer to all of those.

And He is the “righteous Branch” of which Jeremiah speaks. He will, as stated, “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This, I believe, leads us toward hope in the second coming.

Father, as we enter into this Advent season, may we ponder all truth as it relates to our hope in Christ, both as we remember and celebrate His coming as Your Son, and as we anticipate the fulfillment of the promises regarding His return to set everything right. I pray that our varying opinions on what that means, “setting everything right,” will be unified, eventually. For myself, I am ready for whatever it means, because it means I will be with Him for eternity. It also means that all the things about which I am wrong (because I’m sure there are many) will be made clear and plain. I echo the psalmist’s prayers, though: Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth. Unite my divided heart that I might fear Your name, and increase my hope in You.

May we all experience true fellowship with our coming Savior, as well as spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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.

"Living God,
I confess the slant of my heart to hate You and my neighbor.
But that sounds so harsh -
I'm not that bad, am I God?
Yet if I am brutally honest I see that I'm in deeper than I dare admit,
unless I am born again by Your Spirit.
Fill me with the greater hope this Advent season that in Christ's love I am on my way to new life.
In the Savior's name,


He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”

Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

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 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Plug Into the Current

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-ninth of September, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your heart today!

Day 23,211

Thirteen days until our 36th wedding anniversary (y’all pray for me! I need a gift idea, stat!)

It’s hard to believe there’s only one more day in September. I’m quite happy about that, though. Not that I have any dislike for September (I’m not a fan of Greenday, though). I mean, it’s not like it’s February or anything. But I love October. It’s by far my favorite month of the year, and not just because it’s the month I got married in. As my new friend at the library has said several times, October should be everyone’s favorite month.

Yesterday was a good day (as pretty much all of them have been). I did get some validation from one of the assistant librarians who said that I handled the situation Monday evening very well. My four hours of shelving were quite uneventful, as they normally would be. I really like that I’m dividing my time between three different departments at the library. For one thing, it gives me diversity of activities. And for another, it gets me more educated about more facets of the library. And since, while shelving, I will frequently get into the children’s (or “Youth” as they call it there) section, I am even getting some knowledge about that section, as well. I always figure that the more you know, the more valuable you are.

The time in the computer center was quiet, for the most part. We had to assist a few people who needed to print things, and there was one patron who had trouble getting the PC attachment to read his USB drive. I say “we” because, as has been the case thus far, a veteran aide was in there with me. That’s the “new friend” referenced above. Beginning this Friday I will be the only part timer in the computer center for the whole day. Of course, the manager will be in there with me on Friday. We are thinking it will probably be kind of slow, this first Friday. Partially because it is the first Friday open since pre-pandemic days, and there is a chance of rain/thunderstorms on Friday, as well.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, in shelving. I like shelving. While it is the most physically demanding portion of my responsibilities (lots of bending and stretching . . . you would be amazed at the number of books that get checked out from the top or bottom shelves! Also more walking, as you can imagine), it is very quiet and I am normally alone, which I also like. Just imagine . . . alone with all those books! Needless to say, my TBR (To Be Read) list on Goodreads is growing by leaps and bounds. Yesterday, I just kind of looked around and thought, “I want to read ALL the books. All of them.” Which is, of course, silly. There are many of them that I have no interest in whatsoever.

Except for the fact that they are books.

C is feeling a little better this morning. I don’t remember if I wrote anything about that yesterday, but she had a rough night Monday night and was feeling pretty awful all day, yesterday. We think she overdid on Monday when she went out for her walk. Too far and too fast, probably. Bless her heart, she things she is Superwoman. And while my opinion of her probably equates with that, she is not, in fact, immortal or invincible. She am woman, and she am strong, but she am not invicible.

Bonus points if you got that.

Today is World Heart Day. Be educated about heart disease. But also spread the “hearts” (love).

The word for today is cordial, an adjective that means what this world needs a lot more of, these days, “courteous and gracious.”

Today’s quote is from Kin Hubbard, an American journalist: “The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”

Significant birthdays on September 29:

Pompey the Great, Roman political and military leader, 106-48 BC
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author (Don Quixote), 1547-1616
Enrico Fermi, Italian-American nuclear physicist, 1901-1954
Gene Autry, American cowboy singer, 1907-1998
Bum Phillips, American football coach (Houston Oilers), 1923-2013
Stan Berenstain, American children's author (some books about some bears), 1923-2005
Jerry Lee Lewis, American rock and roll piano player and singer (Great Balls of Fire), 1935 (86)
Tommy Boyce, American songwriter (Last Train to Clarksville, The Monkees), 1939-1994
Jean-Luc Ponty, French jazz-fusion electric violinist, 1942 (79)
Madeline Kahn, American actress (Young Frankenstein), 1942-1999
Mark Farner, American musician (Grand Funk Railroad), 1948 (73)
Steve Busby, American MLB pitcher (KC Royals) and play by play broadcaster (Texas Rangers), 1949 (71)


Power of Spirit.
Live I an empowered life?
O, Wild Goose, chase me!
(Inspired by a blog by Carolyn Arends)

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the unpredictable, disruptive power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; may we avail ourselves more readily to You
2. for Your Word that has come to us through the writers of Scripture; not the "word of men," but Your Word, at work in us
3. that You have given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1)
4. for songs sung to the tune of Your glory, to the rhythms of Your praise
5. for power of Your "arm" and "right hand"

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year



All together now—applause for God!
Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise.
(Psalms 66:1-2 MSG)

During this quiet time, I pause to reflect on the Holy Spirit, supplier of all the power I need to live this life. Why do I lack? I have all that I need. If I lack, it is because I do not seek it (the power); I do not allow it to fill me. Fill me, Lord Jesus!


Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.
For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.
Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
(Psalms 89:13-18 NIV)


After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.
(1 Samuel 18:1-9 NIV)


As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which Your Spirit has moved me, through Your Word. I ask Your Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

There is nothing negative in today’s passage from Psalms. The power comes from the “arm” of God, from His “right hand.” These are, of course, anthropomorphisms, as God is fully Spirit and has no arms and hands. But we find, in Scripture, that God even uses such terms about Himself, as we would not be able to even begin to comprehend Him otherwise.

Verse 14 paints a beautiful picture. The foundations of the throne of God are righteousness and justice. Therefore, they should also be the foundation of our lives. They should be the foundation of any earthly government. What goes before Him, or proceeds out of Him are love and faithfulness.

This, to me, is beautiful. One might think that, from a foundation of righteousness and justice, legalism and strictness might come forth; worked out in acts of violent authoritarianism. But this is not the case. Out of the foundation of righteousness and justice flow love and faithfulness.

And those who are walking in the light of these things, in the light of the presence of God, are blessed; they rejoice in His name “all day long,” and celebrate His righteousness.

Have you ever known anyone like this? I have. At least one person comes to mind, and I’m sure that if I sat and pondered it a while, some others might as well. Another one just popped up. The first one is our favorite teacher from R’s days at Glenview Christian School, Julie Brancadora. C and I have both agreed, numerous times, that we have never known anyone who exhibited the Spirit of God the way she does. Another that I thought of was a favorite Sunday School teacher from my childhood days. Miss Juanita, we called her. My memory is fuzzy, of course, but from what I remember, she lived and walked in the Spirit of Jesus.

My heart’s desire is to be like this. I don’t want to imitate Julie or Miss Juanita, though. I want to imitate Christ. People like them inspire me, but to imitate them would not be proper. I do realize Paul does encourage people to imitate him, just as he imitates Christ, so I guess that’s okay. But I would rather imitate Jesus directly, and let the other humans simply be my inspiration. Perhaps I am also simply wrestling with semantics.

This, I believe, also goes back to the question of power that is raised in my Haiku at the beginning. Do I live an empowered life? The little book of Second Peter tells us that we have everything we need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
(2 Peter 1:3 NIV)


When I fail to live an empowered life, I am without excuse. Plain and simple. This is not a beat-down. It is just simple fact. I don’t feel shame for this. Remember, shame is bad. Guilt is okay, because I am guilty. As Brené Brown has said, guilt says “I did a bad thing,” where shame says, “I’m a bad person.” While this is not Scripture, I believe that Scripture validates it. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Shame holds us back while guilt should drive us forward. We acknowledge our guilt, accept God’s forgiveness, and move forward. If we focus on shame, we wallow in it.

But I digress. Back to the idea of the empowered life. In the blog entry that I linked underneath my Haiku, Carolyn Arends cites another writer who compares the Holy Spirit to a “wild goose” rather than a dove. I don’t find this to be irreverent at all. I realize that the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove a couple of times in the Bible. But I also like that people like Rich Mullins referred to God’s love as a “reckless, raging fury.” There is also the bit from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia where it said of Aslan that he is not safe.

“Is he—quite safe?” I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” – Susan

“If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” – Mrs. Beaver

“Then he isn’t safe?” – Lucy

“Safe? . . . Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver

And, once again, I quote my alternative Christian music hero, Terry Scott Taylor, from Daniel Amos’s Darn Floor, Big Bite, “You are beautiful, a terrible, terrible sight.”

The power of God cannot be harnessed or controlled. He cannot be manipulated. We foolish humans think that we can manipulate Him with our formulaic prayers. We think we can say “In Jesus’s name” at the end of a prayer and that it will magically be answered, regardless of what kind of lives we lead. There are volumes of books written that mislead people into thinking that saying just the right words in just the right order will cause God to act in just the way we want Him to.

But here’s the thing. While that power cannot be manipulated or controlled, it can be assimilated. It can be worked in our own lives. If we surrender to it. You see, the correct perspective is surrender not control. If I surrender to the Lord of Light, and walk in the light of His presence, the power controls ME. I cannot control the power, but I can allow it to control me. And, as Carolyn opined in her blog, that is where we fall short. We like “predictability and control. The Holy Spirit – the member of the Trinity most associated with spiritual empowerment – tends to be unpredictable and disruptive.” Not chaotic, mind you. There is a difference between disruption and chaos.

She also points out that we feel safer talking about this power, rather than “plugging into the current.”

Father, help me to plug into the current of the power of Your Holy Spirit. I acknowledge the truth of Scripture that tells me that I have everything I need for “life and godliness.” Therefore, I do not need to be seeking anything outside of You. I simply need to be who You have created me to be, and surrender to the control of Your Spirit. But I don’t like to do that. Like Carolyn, I like predictability and control. Help me to surrender that control, because I cannot control You; I cannot manipulate You; please forgive me for the times when I try that. Words are important, true. But words are wind, too. What is more important is the heart, the motivation, behind the words. If I say one thing, but my heart says another, then I am not in agreement, even with myself, much less with You! My heart’s desire is to live a life that walks in the light of Your presence, rejoicing in Your name all day long, and celebrating Your righteousness!

I pray, this morning, Lord, for all of the governments and leaders in this world. May Your Holy Spirit surround them and cause them to look to You for guidance; may they follow Your will.


“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
(Matthew 5:5 MSG)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 ESV)

“The pain of our experiences can hold so much power over our lives. But the incredible power of human connection is undeniable, if we are willing to give it away and receive.”
(Karen Valentin, Daily Guideposts 2021)

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
(1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
(2 Timothy 2:8-9 ESV) (emphasis mine)

“Nothing can stop the one who walks fully in the will of God. Be that person and break every chain and obstacle to the contrary.”
(Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

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!

Nothing can stop one
who walks fully in God's will;
break every chain.

Grace and peace, friends.