Refuge

It’s Monday again. Monday, May 15, 2017. Six days until the family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Lost Princess of Oz

Word of the Day

Luddite ~ someone who is opposed or resistant to new technologies or technological change.

Today is Chocolate Chip Day. Seriously, do I even need to say anything else about it?

No breaks for the weary band players, yet. We’re back at rehearsals tonight, preparing for our next gig, which will be on July 3, for the Southlake Stars & Stripes event. Then, after that, we’ll get a month off. This year, July 3 is on a Monday, so I have taken the day off from work in order to avoid hassles of getting to the Southlake Town Square early enough to get a parking place.

As already mentioned, this coming weekend will be our “family reunion” in east Texas. I’ll be picking up my mother Friday after work, bringing her back home with me, where she will spend Friday night. Saturday morning, we will load up and head to east Texas (Henderson area) to my uncle’s house (my mother’s twin brother). My cousins will, hopefully, all be there, so the “four Js” will be together again! Maybe even some of their kids, as well. One of them is smoking a brisket for us. Yum! We’ll come back home on Sunday, but C and I have Monday off, too.

Then we get the following Monday off for Memorial Day, and the following Saturday, we will take to the skies to travel to Oregon, where we will spend a week at Rockaway Beach. We are looking forward to some rest and relaxation in the Pacific Northwest, as well as some beautiful scenery. It looks like we will even be in the vicinity of Astoria on “Goonies Day.” Look it up.

The Texas Rangers have won six games in a row, boosting them into second place in the AL Worst West. I think it’s premature to get all excited about this development, though, as two consecutive wins of those six were on walk-off home runs, and the starting pitcher only won one of those six. Still, a “W” is a “W,” no matter how it happens. They are still under .500, though, and 7.5 games out of first place, behind the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox are one game above .500, still in third place, 4 games out of first.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scripture references are English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 103:1-2
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2
I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
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 18:1-2
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Father, as I go out into this new work day, may your Spirit go with me, before me, behind me, and beside me. May I find myself walking with you, in your Kingdom, consistently today. When I am tempted to be angry or frustrated, give me the presence of mind to think first, to visualize Jesus standing between me and whatever circumstance or person that is frustrating me. May I take refuge in you today; may you be “my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Even so, 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.

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Spiritual Pluck

“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is gaucherie, which means, “lack of social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkwardness; crudeness; tactlessness.” I know a few people like that.

Well! Today is Chocolate Chip Day. As usual, any “holiday” that has “chocolate” in it has my support.

There’s not a lot to report about yesterday. It was a very normal day, with nothing really happening. The Red Sox beat the Astros in extra innings, as David Ortiz hit a walk-off double to drive in the winning run. This was the 600th double of his career, which put him in an extremely elite category of baseball players. He also has 513 career home runs. Only two other players in MLB history have 500 home runs and 600 doubles. Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, two home runs kings. Big Bapi is certainly having an epic final season.

The Texas Rangers also won in extra innings, last night, against the Boo Jays, as Drew Stubbs hit a walk-off home run. Baltimore won their seventh consecutive game, so the standings didn’t change for Boston. However, the Mariners lost a second game in a row to the Angels, so the Rangers moved to within a half game of first place. Both teams finish their series this afternoon.

As always, we are getting ready for church. We worship with The Exchange, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, 9100 N. Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering is at 10:15 this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah.
Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

Psalm 68:15-20

The victories of God are not just exhibitions of his power or his righteousness. “The are what is experienced in history by his people. The God who is raised up raises us up with him.”

“Dear God, when my shoulders droop and my steps drag, speak your encouraging word. It is not, I know, your will that I carry burdens of anxiety: lift them from my shoulders so that I may lift my eyes to you in glad faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Habit of Rising to the Occasion”

. . . that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you . . .
Ephesians 1:18

We spoke, in yesterday’s reading, of what we are saved for being that we might manifest the life of the Son of God in our “mortal flesh.” We must expend all of our energy to this task; we must “rise to the occasion every time.”

We cannot do anything for our salvation, but we have to do something to manifest it. We must “work out what God has worked in.” If we are still the same miserable people we were before, then we have very little grounds to claim salvation.

God will allow difficulties to come into our lives as tests, to see if we handle them properly. “Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.”

“May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings.”

Father, both yesterday’s and today’s readings have pricked my soul. I realize how much I have failed in this area. I pray for the “spiritual pluck and athleticism” to rise to the occasion and do the right thing whenever difficulties and disagreeable moments arise in my life. May your Holy Spirit empower me in this, and may I learn from the words and life of Jesus Christ. May I truly manifest his life and walk in your Kingdom.

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.
Numbers 6:24-26

Grace and peace, friends.

Strength Under Control

Good morning. It is Friday, May 15, 2015. B.B. King has died. The thrill is gone.

Today’s word of the day from Merriam-Webster is bowdlerize. This is a verb, meaning, “to expurgate by omitting or modifying parts considered vulgar,” or, “to modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content.”

Tough choice today, but I’m going with Chocolate Chip Day, because chocolate! However, if you would prefer Pizza Party Day or Straw Hat Day, have at it!

As already stated above, the great blues legend, B.B. King, has died. He passed peacefully in his sleep during the night, last night. We had received news a little over a week ago that he had entered hospice care, so this really comes as no surprise. It is still, nevertheless, a sad day. He was 89 years old. Here is a clip I found on You tube when he was a little bit younger.

I actually practiced the trombone last night again. And the guitar, too! The reunion is exactly three weeks from today, so I don’t have much time. There’s no doubt that I will be nowhere near as good as I was back in the day, but I should be able at least make a few nice sounds. I’m more interested in catching up with some old friends, as it will, more than likely be the last time I will ever see many of them.

It’s Friday, so bring on the weekend!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

Psalm 52:8-9

(From Solid Joys)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

Today’s reading is “What Is Meekness?”

“Meekness begins when we put our trust in God.” When we trust him, we “commit our way to him.” Then we give him our anxieties, frustrations, relationships, jobs, health, and so on. All of these things, we commit to God.

Then we wait patiently. “We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good.”

The result of all of this is that “we don’t give way to quick and fretful anger.” We give our cause to God, and, if he chooses, he will vindicate us. This makes us, as James 1:19 tells us, to be “slow to speak and quick to listen. We become reasonable and open to correction.”

Meekness is teachable. It considers the correction from a friend to be a blessing. “And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God.”

Meekness, when successfully played out to its fullness, is a beautiful thing. But it goes against every grain of our sinful being. “It requires supernatural help.”

“If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, if you trust him and commit your way to him and wait patiently for him, God has already begun to help you and will help you more.”

One major way that he helps us is to give us the assurance that our hearts belong to him.

Father, I pray for meekness. I realize that this is just as dangerous as praying for patience, but I do it, anyway, because I know it is what you desire from me. I have long needed more meekness in my life, and I pray that you would cause it to indwell deeply within me, making me wait patiently for you in all things. Let me not be vindictive toward anyone, or hateful, either, but let me be peaceful toward everyone, in all circumstances.

I pray for today, that your grace and mercy would be enough for us. Make our trip to work and back safe and smooth, Lord, and give us grace for the work day ahead, that we might handle any stress that comes our way with meekness and faith. I pray that you show your great love to Stephanie, Rachel, and Justin, and that you continue to hold my mother up. Let your grace shine through us, and help us to display your kingdom in all areas of life.

Your grace is enough.

Let us not confuse meekness with weakness. In fact, meekness is more like strength under control.

Grace and peace, friends.

Nothing Can Separate Us!

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, May 15, 2014.

Today is Chocolate Chip Day. What else needs to be said? This should be a national holiday!


Yet another 7am day for me, and I’m already behind! Gah!!

Christi got some activity on her resume yesterday, including a call from one recruiter about a job in Irving. Nothing more from BNSF, though. This gets aggravating after a while.

Christi also spent most of yesterday with her mother, looking at apartments, again. This time, it looks like they might be moving to one not far from us, which, upon serious reflection, is probably not a bad idea. I must be out of my mind.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Psalm 62:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118:26
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:17-22


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “What Are You Afraid Of?”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” the Gospel asks. Hence the title. “What are you afraid of?” My weakness cannot separate me from the love of Christ. My inadequacies cannot separate me from the love of Christ. “Difficult marriages, loneliness, anxiety over the children’s future” cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Your negative self-image cannot separate you from the love of Christ. “Economic hardship, racial hatred, street crime” cannot separate us from the love of Christ! Rejection by or the suffering of loved ones cannot separate us from the love of Christ! Persecution or being arrested cannot separate us from the love of Christ! This is the Gospel of grace. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Of this, we must be absolutely convinced. We must trust this truth, and never forget it. “Everything else will pass away . . . Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love of Jesus Christ that is stronger than death endures forever.”

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:35


Father, I praise you for this truth! This is a truth that I have been clinging to with all my might for many years, now. I still celebrate it every time I read it. The most beautiful thing about it is that, once I have been united with you in Christ, not even my SIN can separate me from you! While it may affect my current relationship with you, it cannot separate me from you! This is a glorious truth, my Father, and I pray that all Christians will understand it. Once we understand and fully embrace this truth, there is nothing to be afraid of! Hallelujah!

I pray for this day. I pray that you make your presence known to Christi as she struggles through another day. I pray that there will be some advancement in her job search today. Continue to give us the hope and faith that you are in control of this situation. I pray for Stephanie today, that you will give her hope and peace, and draw her closer in your love. Give me safe travel to and from work, and keep me in a mindset of prayer throughout this day, as people respond with their heart-felt, desperate prayer needs.

Your grace is sufficient.


Nothing can separate us. Yes. It’s that simple.

Grace and peace, friends.

Gathering In His Name

Good morning. It is Sunday, August 4, 2013.

Today is “Friendship Day.” I’ve been seeing advertisements about this for about a week, so I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Well, it’s here. The thing is, today is also “Chocolate Chip Day.” Double plus!! Today, celebrate a friendship by sharing some chocolate chip cookies!! Yes!!


Life lesson: “Ignore it and it will go away” does not apply to cats at 630 am.


Yesterday’s practice session was great fun! It’s been years since I’ve done something like that. We worked on songs that we will be playing this morning at The Exchange, and then we worked on a new song that a couple of the band members have written. After working on structure and arrangement, we made a scratch recording. I can’t wait for the next session. I just wish we didn’t have to drive all the way to Denton to do it.

While I was doing that, Christi was cleaning out the garage and putting things on Craig’s List for sale. She worked really hard and, if we manage to get rid of all the things on Craig’s List, we might even be able to. . . wait for it . . .

PUT A CAR IN THE GARAGE!!!!!

I know, right?


As usual, I do not have time for history and birthdays on Sunday morning. Back with more trivia tomorrow.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Psalm 47:1
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life. Psalm 119:149
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36:7-9
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Psalm 105:3

Father, the thought of feasting “on the abundance of your house,” and drinking “from the river of your delights” is so thrilling and encouraging this morning! May I truly do this, from day to day, as I “take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” I praise you, Father, and ask that you give me some inspiration this morning as I look into your words for my daily grace.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Where Two or Three Are Gathered.” The scripture reading, of course, is Matthew 18:19-20.

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus gives us assurance that his presence is with us even in a group as small as two or three. Now, I have always insisted that this passage should be taken in the context of church discipline, as that is what the over-all passage is about. However, I do believe that it is a principle that can be applied to any prayers offered up by the church. We are, in effect, directed by this passage to gather together in his name. We are, in a sense, commanded by this promise, to fellowship together. So we must not assume that we have to be in large groups for our prayers to be effective. Nay, the letter of James says that, The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. But Jesus seems to promise even more power and effectiveness when we pray in groups.

This ten-day challenge is to invited a small group of friends to gather for fellowship and prayer. Include a time of enjoyment, games, activities, and so on, but make the central purpose for the gathering to be prayer. Make a list of things that need to prayed over, including things that might even be a little personal, depending on how well you know these people.

We have experienced this kind of intimate fellowship with our “lifehouse” group that used to meet together before we embarked on this “huddle” thing. We had prayer sessions like this, and there were, at times, entire evenings that consisted of ministering to one or another family’s immediate crisis. I remember leaving one of those nights energized with the feeling of, “This is what the Church is supposed to look like!” Those were some powerful times, and the presence of the Lord was truly realized.

It helps, I think, to be cognizant of the Spirit’s presence while participating in such a fellowship/prayer gathering. Many times, we just recite our prayers without thinking about the Lord’s presence. But we are promised that he is always here, and must not take this for granted. I can tell you from experience that there have been times during my personal prayers that I have felt his presence so strongly that I could not continue to stand. And “where two or three are gathered,” this sense of his presence can be multiplied greatly.


Father, I pray for more gatherings like this, where we will be fellowshipping and praying together as brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray for groups to gather and sense the power of your presence in their midst, especially as we begin to work out the details of this Intercessory Prayer Ministry. May we always be looking for the sense of your presence when we gather together. I pray that, as we gather for our worship celebration this morning, we will focus on knowing that you are there with us, not just going through the motions of singing the songs and hearing the preacher. Let us know your presence this morning. I’m not saying that feelings are the only thing that is important. I’m just asking that we might focus on your presence, knowing that you are there with us, as we worship you. I pray for Jeremy this morning as he preaches. I pray that the words he speaks will be only your words, and that you will open our minds and hearts to hear what you have to say to us through him.

I pray for our fellowship gathering after church today, as the worship team members gather for our once-a-month meeting. Give us good fellowship and interaction as we discuss the future of things at The Exchange.

I also pray for the rest of this day, that Christi and I will be able to get our other tasks accomplished and have time to rest up for the coming work week.

Your grace us sufficient for all things. May we revel in that grace today, Lord.


Fellowship, prayer, gathering together in his name. Jesus promises his presence. May we know his presence in our gatherings!

Grace and peace, friends.