What Do I Think About God?

Today is Monday, January 7, 2019.

Day 22,215

37 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

“There are three things you can do in a baseball game. You can win, or you can lose, or it can rain.”
Casey Stengel, American baseball player and manager, 1890-1975
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is salvific. It means, “of or relating to redemptive power.” (Dictionary.com)

We had a great worship gathering, yesterday. I think the music went quite well, and Jacob’s message was great.

After church, we had Lone Star BBQ for lunch, and then C went out table shopping. We are replacing the table in our breakfast nook. She went all the way to Nebraska Furniture Mart. Not in Nebraska, but almost. I think it’s in The Colony, which is almost in Nebraska. Or McKinney. One of those. Anyway, she picked out four different table sets and sent me pictures. Then we had a phone conversation about which one would work best, and agreed on one. It’s supposed to be delivered Thursday, I think she said. And, thankfully, she paid the extra $50 to have them assemble it.

It’s Monday, and also the first full work week since before Christmas. At least I won’t be getting my days mixed up. We might go to the YMCA tonight and start exercising again. More on that later.

Oh. The Ravens did not play like a playoff team, yesterday. I was not at all impressed by their quarterback. He didn’t seem to have much of a clue. They played like rookies, making sloppy mistakes. They lost much worse than the 23-17 score indicated. So, next Saturday, the Colts will play the Chiefs and the Cowboys will play the Rams. On Sunday, the Chargers will play the Patriots, and the Eagles will play the Saints. I don’t have any real predictions, other than to say I will be super-surprised if the Cowboys beat the Rams. Okay, yes I do. I think the NFC championship will be between the Rams and the Saints. I think the AFC championship will be between the Chiefs and the Chargers.

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

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Romans 14:6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the salvific power of Jesus Christ.
2. That God saw fit to choose me to be a part of His kingdom.
3. That He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in the struggles of this world.
4. For the forecast of some pretty days this week.
5. For worship songs that inspire me.

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:
We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us
by your Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life
we may not forget you,
but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Guidance)

(From Faith That Matters
Who Is God to You? by A.W. Tozer)

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

Just a few verses away from my “life verse” (Psalm 86:11), resides this gem of a verse. My reading for today springs from it, opening with this statement: “The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” That’s a statement that should make us all step back and examine the worship gatherings of our various churches. The quality of worship depends on the whether “the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”

What is the church’s idea of God, what does she say about God, what is her message? I see signs on my drive to work; we get flyers in our mailbox. Many of the sermon series that I see really don’t have much to do with God. They have a lot to do with worldly things, like relationships and money, but little to do with God.

“What comes into your mind when you think about God?” The answer to that question might very well predict our spiritual future. The answer to that question, especially for our “religious leaders,” might also “foretell where the church will stand tomorrow.”

When I think about God, my thoughts typically line up with the above verse from Psalms. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (mercy) and faithfulness. He is here. He is there. He is wherever I am and wherever you are. He is always. God is present with me now, and will be present with me all day. He is other.

Father, I pray that You maintain right ideas about Yourself in my spirit and mind today. Show me what You are doing, that I might “rightly worship You in fullness.” Keep me firmly entrenched in Your mercy and grace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

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I Have No Right to Judge

“All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.” – Casey Stengel
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is tohubohu. Isn’t that a fun word? It means, “chaos; disorder; confusion.” I work in a place that, at times, seems to be overrun with tohubohu.

Tough choice today. Today is Onion Rings Day, but it’s also Chocolate Eclair Day. I present both, today, so you can make your own choice. Normally, I would choose anything with chocolate in it. But, for some reason, today, the onion rings sound better. Yes, even at 6:00 AM.

Not much to mention about yesterday. Work was fine, I felt pretty good, most of the day. We made soup in the crock pot for dinner. The Rangers lost to the Reds, ending their consecutive series win streak (this was a two game series, so they would have had to sweep to keep the streak going . . . #schedulemakerssmokingcrack)

Today is Wednesday. It’s the fourth Wednesday of June, so we have our Anchor prayer gathering tonight, at 7:00 PM. This means we pick something up on the way home, because we don’t have time to cook.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah.
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.

Psalm 85:1-7

Time has an effect on “religion. The skeletal structure of obedience becomes arthritic, and the circulatory system of praise becomes sluggish.” The psalmist’s prayer, “Restore us again . . . revive us again,” moves toward keeping the body of Christ “youthful and responsive to every new mercy and grace in God.”

“O God, when my faith gets overladen with dust, blow it clean with the wind of your Spirit. When my habits of obedience get stiff and rusty, anoint them with the oil of your Spirit. Restore the enthusiasm of my first love for you and the alacrity of my first obedience to you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Undeviating Test

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:2

This is not a popular verse of Scripture. And many people try to twist it to fit their own ideology, so they can cast judgment on groups that they hate. But this statement of Jesus is brutally honest and “an eternal law of God.” It is not retaliation, it is retribution. “If you have been shrewd in finding out the defects in others, remember that will be exactly the measure given to you. Life serves back in the coin you pay.”

Paul takes it even further in Romans 2 when he says that “the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing.” But here, God is not necessarily looking at the act, he is looking at the possibility within us. I am well aware of what kinds of sins and crimes I am capable of. Much worse than what I have actually committed.

Do we truly believe the statements of the Bible? Do we believe that the things we criticize in others, we are guilty of ourselves? “The reason we see hypocrisy and fraud and unreality in others is because they are all in our own hearts.” Yes, they are there. Does it mean I have been guilty of them in actions? Not necessarily, but probably, at some point in my life. But the grace of God has worked in me to hold my flesh back from sin. “Therefore I have no right to judge.”

The real test . . . the “undeviating test . . .” Who among us would stand before God and say, “‘My God, judge me as I have judged my fellow men?’ We have judged our fellow men as sinners; if God should judge us like that we would be in hell.”

Thanks be to God for his marvelous gift!

O, my Father, how I still struggle with this sin! Not as much as I used to, but it still plagues me. While I don’t tend to “hate” groups of people any more, I still struggle with casting judgment on individuals. Father, strike this plague from my heart! Give me the love of Christ for all people. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth! Help me to put the words of Jesus into practice in my life.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Living Out Of the Center

Good morning. It is Saturday, August 30, 2014. First day of a three-day weekend!

Today is Slinky Day. Don’t lie. You’re wishing you had one, right now, aren’t you?

Christi’s first day of work went very well. After she got there, she was escorted to her office, which is quite large and very nice. They already had a nameplate on the wall next to the door! She said they made her feel very welcome, and everything went very smoothly.

On a down side, Christi should have gotten what we assume to be her last paycheck from Mindtree yesterday, and it did not appear in our checking account. Her boss got hers, so we are a little concerned about what is going on. More details on that, as they become available. We’re sure it has something to do with her last day being the day before the paycheck was due, but not sure how that has affected it.

We have no plans, whatsoever, for this long weekend. We’re just going to take it as it comes and be somewhat spontaneous, or completely predictable. Which means we’ll sit around and watch TV all day. Or maybe hit up the Red Box. Or we might invite some friends from church over for a swim.

Tonight, we have our worship service and prayer gathering, starting at 4:45. If you’re in the area, come visit us. We are The Exchange.

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1965 that the great and mighty Casey Stengel retired from Major League Baseball. He was the manager of the New York Mets at the time of his retirement, and had broken his hip the month before. His doctor warned him that returning to his duties as a manager would be too much for him. He was 75 years old at the time. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966. Casey passed away in 1975.

Today’s birthdays include Cameron Diaz, Warren Buffett, Ted Williams, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Kitty Wells, Michael Chiklis, Shirley Booth, Fred MacMurray, Geoffrey Beene, Lewis Black, Joan Blondell, Jean Claude Killy, John Phillips, Ernest Rutherford, Bill Daily, Ruth Westerheimer, Robert Crumb, Molly Ivins, Tug McGraw, Peggy Lipton, Timothy Bottoms, and Marlon Byrd.

John Phillips was a member of The Mamas and The Papas. He was also a promoter for the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival. He was born on this date in 1935, and passed away in 2001. Among his children are Mackenzie Phillips, Bijou Phillips, and Chynna Phillips, of the pop group, Wilson Phillips.

Here is a You Tube clip of my favorite Mamas and Papas song, “I Call Your Name,” taken live from the Monterrey Pop Festival.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Psalm 96:7-9
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Psalm 62:5
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
Psalm 84:4
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

The Concluding Prayer of the Church
O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon all of us who
watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship
may give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:13-16

Still a part of the Sermon on the Mount, this passage is sobering, yet encouraging. By comparing us to salt, Jesus was probably not speaking of flavoring, which is the way our modern culture uses salt. Rather, salt in those days was used as a preservative, since refrigeration was not yet a gleam in any inventor’s eyes. So, we might see our comparison to salt as Jesus saying that we are to hinder or prevent corruption in the world. I don’t see this as an admonition to go out and try to stop all sin in the world. Rather, I see it as an admonition to make sure that it stops with me. In other words, I am not to be a part of corruption or sin, but to halt it in its tracks. We are also, to carry this even further, to do good. This kind of segues into the thought of the next paragraph. By doing good, and by insinuating ourselves into others’ lives, we are being light, and letting our light shine before others. When we refuse to participate in workplace gossip, for example, we are accomplishing two things. We are acting as the preservative of salt (resisting corruption), and we are letting our light shine before others. When we drive in a gracious and courteous manner, the people around us will not know that we are doing this because we are letting the light of Christ shine, but they will, at least, know that we are not jerks. 🙂

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “My Real Self.”

Brennan Manning relates an interesting story in today’s reading. He was four months away from being ordained as a priest, when he developed a “bad case of hay fever.” Every morning, at around 5:30, just when the leading of the prayer for sixty students was to occur, he would break out in a horrendous bout of coughing and sneezing. The cleric master called Brennan into his office and “accused me of insubordination, claiming that I was deliberately disrupting morning prayer with my antics. He warned me that my future actions would be monitored and that my ordination to the priesthood, just four months away, was in jeopardy.” Needless to say, Brennan was both devastated and angered by this. As he prayed, silently whispering the name of Jesus over and over, he had a breakthrough moment. “I realized that ordination to the priesthood was not so almighty important. It pleased Jesus more to have me as my real self–hay fever allergies and all–than to have a cowed and intimidated priest.” He got up from those prayers and never looked back. He was ordained the following May, “still sneezing.”

While this story may not rank up there with the heroism of ancient martyrs and saints, it still presents us with a good picture of “living out of the center and experiencing the freedom of the sons of God.”

I will make with them an everlasting covenant,
that I will not turn away from doing good to them.
And I will put the fear of me in their hearts,
that they may not turn from me.

Jeremiah 32:40

Father, may we all experience the kind of freedom that Brother Manning experienced on that day, refusing to be intimidated by the words and actions of mere men. Rather, let us live “out of the center” of your grace and mercy, in the center of your holiness, knowing your freedom and giving you our real selves, imperfections and all. Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day, that you will be glorified in our worship service this evening. Guide me as I lead the prayer service this afternoon, that we might pray for the things that are closer to your heart.

Give us rest during the remainder of this weekend.

Grace and peace, friends.

Rightly Related

Good morning. It’s Thursday, August 30, 2012. It really needs to be Friday. Can I get an “Amen?”

Today is “Frankenstein Day.” I guess that’s because it is the birthday of Mary Shelley, author of the story.

On this date in 30 B.C., Cleopatra committed suicide. Legend has it that she took the bite of an asp.
On this date in 1918, Vladimir Lenin was shot twice in an assassination attempt. He survived the attempt.
On this date in 2003, actor Charles Bronson died. I met him once. My high school band was in Colorado while he was there, filming The White Buffalo. I got his autograph. I have no idea where it is.
On this date in 1965, Casey Stengel retired from being manager of the New York Mets. He had a 56 year career in professional baseball.


Last night, I experienced something a little strange. It was like I crashed, spiritually. Of course, it goes along with the things that the Lord has been teaching me, now that I think about it. For most of the day, I was on pretty much a “spiritual high,” feeling pretty good. Not just spiritually, either. Emotionally, it was a great day. On the way home, I talked to Christi (it’s not her fault, mind you), and her mother had fallen while out at Albertson’s, and was taken to the hospital (she was released soon after…she is, apparently, okay), and Christi’s back was hurting her really bad. (“Badly?” No, I don’t think so…her back was doing a pretty good job of hurting her.) Anyway…what happened was this. I started having a pity-party. All this praying I’ve been doing, and Christi still hurts. The prayers aren’t working. I started sinking. By the time I got home, I was in a total funk. But I realized it by the end of the evening. Stephanie and I went to work out at the gym. I left the gym feeling better, but recognizing what had happened. This, I believe, is a definite improvement over a few months ago, which is, to me, a sure sign of the work of the Spirit. There was a time in the not so distant past that I would have carried on in this funk and made everyone around me miserable. I never lost sight of that “unutterable trust” that I spoke of yesterday. I never doubted that God was standing by me, perhaps even carrying me. Yes, I crashed. I came off of that…no, I FELL off of that “mountaintop” that I’ve been on for the last two days. Into the “demon-possessed valley” where “the facts laugh ironically” at my beliefs. And this morning, I got up and here I go again. Right back into God’s Word for some more nourishment.


Father, I offer up a special prayer for friend and sister in Christ, Samantha Alexander, who is currently undergoing back surgery. I pray that the surgeon’s hands will be sure and steady, and that this surgery will fix the back pain she has been suffering from. May her recovery be quick.

I pray, this morning, that you will send the Holy Spirit to me through your Word, and reveal your Word to me, enlightening my mind.


Today, I’m reading Psalm Psalm 91. This is one of my favorites! There is no indication of who wrote this one.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (1)
What a wonderful place to be, abiding in the shadow of the Almighty!

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (2)
My God is my refuge and my fortress. I trust in him with an Unuterrable Trust! I will not doubt that he is right beside me, holding me up. In fact,

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
(9-10)
I’ve loved those two verses for years. I memorized them many years ago. As long as the Lord is my dwelling place, I am protected. Does this mean nothing will ever hurt me? I don’t think so. We all undergo pain. But this provides a state of mind that is impenetrable by fear.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
(14-16)
This is what God says about those who love him. And so far, in my life, this has proven to be true. He has delivered me; he has protected me; he has answered my prayers (not always the way I wanted, but he knows better than me); he has rescued me; yes, he has honored me, multiple times; I have been satisfied with long life (so far); and he has shown me his salvation. What more could one ask for?

Just had another goosebump moment…


My Utmost For His Highest
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:19-20

I think a lot of people in “Christendom” missed verse 20. They got so excited about that “power,” that they never read the following verse. Jesus tells us that we should not rejoice in “successful service,” but that we should rejoice that we are rightly related to him. It is a dangerous snare to begin rejoicing because God has used you. I’ve struggled with that, even recently. Yes, it is exciting to see prayers answered, and it is tempting to think, “I did that!” But I most certainly did NOT do that! I did nothing, outside of obey what my Father told me to do! “You can never measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ.” That is actually a rather huge statement. If I stay rightly related to him, throughout the circumstances that come, day by day, he will pour “rivers of living water” through me, and I may not even know it. In fact, I’m better off if I don’t know it! Do you get that? It is better to be used of God and never realize it. If we realize it, our meekness goes out the window. We are human. If we know that God is using us, we get puffed up. But if I am rightly related to Christ, there is almost no limit to what he can do through me. Wherever I am, I am there because God put me there (another huge statement), and it is by my reaction to those circumstances (OUCH!) that I fulfill (or fail to fulfill) God’s purpose for me.

“The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived.” (Emphasis mine) Yes, he just said that. The test of the saint is God, not “estimated usefulness.” It is what God does through us that matters, not what we do for him, and, once again, he can work through me without me even knowing it! All I need to do is to be right in my relationship with him.


Father, I thank you for the protection that you have been for me in my life. Yes, there have been trials. Yes, there have been disappointments, major disappointments. But you have not been a disappointment to me. If anything, I have disappointed myself. But that’s not why I’m here this morning. I give you thanks for the fact that you are my refuge and my fortress. You have kept me and my family for all these years. We dwell in the shadow of your wings, Father. You have shown me your salvation, and for that I will eternally praise you.

I thank you that you have used me. I thank you that you use me at times that I’m not even aware. I pray that this will always be true, even more so, going forward. I desire to be useful to you, but I desire more to know you. My heart’s desire is to be rightly related to you in such a way that, no matter where I am, I will react in the right way to all circumstances, and, thereby, demonstrate your grace, love, and mercy to all who are around me. At this point, I’m kind of at a loss for words. I depend on your Spirit to intercede for me. I love you, Lord, and I thank you for making yourself known to me.

I pray for this day. Again, I pray for Samantha Alexander, who is in surgery as I’m typing this. I pray for successful surgery with quick recovery.
I pray for Christi’s doctor visit this afternoon, that they may have some kind of solution for her, or at least have gotten the MRI through the red tape of insurance bureaucracy. I pray for her day at work, and that her pain would be less today. I pray for my day at work, that it would be smooth today, without issues. I pray for Stephanie’s day at home, that you would show yourself to her, and show your love to her today.
I also pray for Rachel and Justin, as they begin a new semester (started yesterday). I pray for strength and wisdom for them, as well as endurance as things get tough. I pray for relief of stress. I have prayed for them every day, but simply putting it in here today.

Give me focus and clarity as I continue praying this morning.


Focus not on the works that you do; rather, focus and rejoice in being rightly related to Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.