Fret Not!

Good morning. It is Sunday, July 12, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from, is cachinnate. (It’s truly amazing how many of these words my spell-checker doesn’t recognize!) Cachinnate is a verb, meaning, “to laugh loudly or immoderately.” This is a perfect word to describe a woman where I work. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Today is Etch A Sketch Day. I remember those. I had hours of fun, moving those knobs, which moved the drawing points around, removing the somehow magnetic dust from the underside of that screen, drawing some kind of picture. Of course, that was before the Internet. Or computers. And maybe even color TV. Yeah. I’m that old. 😀

Last night, I may have heard part one of the best sermon I have ever heard. Jacob preached from Psalm 37:1-7, and only got through verse 4. The gist of the message is how we should respond to our world/culture, and the seeming prevalence of “evil.” The overall message is represented by the first two words in the Psalm. “Fret not!” We have seen a lot of fretting since that historic Supreme Court decision, an awful lot of fretting among people who call themselves Christians. And all of this fretting indicates that they are failing miserably in one of the most basic tenets of Christianity, which is “Trust in the LORD!” (Psalm 37:3) When we fret, we are not trusting, and that is all there is to it. Basically, the Psalmist’s message is, “STOP IT!” Stop fretting, and trust! Verse 3 continues, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” If we follow this advice, then there is no need for fretting over anything.

Jacob’s second point was from verse 4, an oft misused verse in this Psalm, and a memory verse for me from way back. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Many people have tried to use this verse to say that if we “delight” in the Lord, he will give us that new job, that new car, that huge house, or that spouse that we want. The problem is, we aren’t really delighting in God when we expect those things, are we?? If we truly delight in the Lord, which means that we find him more desirable than anything/anyone in the entire universe, he will give us the desire of our heart, which is . . . HIM!

Okay . . . I apologize for sermonizing above the double line. I don’t usually do that, but this sermon was so good, I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, after church, we stopped by O.C. Burger for some dinner, and headed home to watch three recorded episodes of Wayward Pines. What a strange show.

This morning, as reported for a couple day, some friends are coming by to pick up Stephanie, at around 10:30, and take her to see some horses. Stephanie loves the “horse outings,” and these friends are very gracious to take Stephanie out there. At around 11:00, we have a plumber coming over (yes, on Sunday morning!) to look at our shower. I really haven’t mentioned this at all, but, for more than a month, our shower has been virtually dribbling. The water flow is very low, to the point that we have to keep the shower head on the setting that is supposed to almost hurt you, it’s so hard. We are relatively sure we don’t have a leak, because the water bill has not skyrocketed, and the pressure in the rest of the house is fine. Christi will probably go do the grocery shopping while the plumber is here, and I will will stay here with him. After that, I think our day is free from plans, so we can rest up for another work week.

On this date in 1543, King Henry VIII married his sixth wife, Catherine Parr. You’d think the women would have figured this out by number six. In 1804, Alexander Hamilton died from the gunshot wound received in yesterday’s duel with Aaron Burr. And in 1962, the Rolling Stones performed their first concert at the Marquee Club in London.

Today’s birthdays include Henry David Thoreau (American writer/philosopher), George Eastman (American inventor), George Washington Carver (American botanist), Oscar Hammerstein II (American lyricist), Kirsten Flagstad (Norwegian soprano), Milton Berle (American comedian), “Curly Joe” DeRita (American actor and comedian, Three Stooges), Andrew Wyeth (American artist), Van Cliburn (American pianist), Bill Cosby (American actor/comedian), Christine McVie (British singer/musician, Fleetwood Mac), Jay Thomas (American actor), Richard Simmons (American fitness trainer)(and I typed that with a straight face)(almost), Phoebe Snow (American singer/songwriter), Cheryl Ladd (American actress), Philip Taylor Kramer (American musician, Iron Butterfly), Sandy Patti (American singer), Kristi Yamaguchi (American figure skater), Topher Grace (American actor), and Phoebe Tonkin (Australian actress/model).

Van Cliburn was a world-renowned piano player, born on this date in 1934. He passed away in 2013, in Fort Worth, TX. Here is a recording of him playing the infamous Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, known in the piano world as, simply, the Rach 3. This is the piece of music that allegedly drove pianist David Helfgott a bit crazy, featured in the movie Shine. If you have 47 minutes to spare, this is an amazing piece of music, performed by one of the world’s greatest pianists.


Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 82:3-4

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Faith Expels Guilt, Greed and Fear.”

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5

“Faith in God’s grace expels from the heart the sinful powers that hinder love.”

What happens when we feel guilt? We tend to “wallow in self-centered depression and self-pity.” We find ourselves unable to see anyone else’s need. Either that, or we find ourselves focusing on other people’s faults, to take our attention off of our own guilt.

What happens when we feel fear? It causes us to not approach a visitor at our church service, a person who might need a word of encouragement. We might struggle against a call from God to go into frontier missions, because it sounds dangerous. Perhaps we spend too much money on unnecessary insurance, “or get swallowed up in all manner of little phobias that make us preoccupied with ourselves and blind us to the needs of others.”

What happens if we are greedy? We might spend too much money on luxuries, things that we really do not need at all, money that could be used to spread the gospel. We don’t try anything risky, lest our possessions or financial future be jeopardized. “We focus on things instead of people, or see people as resources for our material advantage.” (Emphasis mine.)

“Faith in future grace produces love by pushing guilt and fear and greed out of the heart.”

How does it push out guilt? “It holds fast to the hope that the death of Christ is sufficient to secure acquittal and righteousness now and forever.” For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

How does it push out fear? It banks on the promise of Isaiah 41:10. 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.

How does it push out greed? It is “confident that Christ is greater wealth than all the world can offer.” Matthew 13:44 says, The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“In every case the glory of Christ is magnified when we are more satisfied with his future grace than we are with the promises of sin.”

Father, I definitely need your grace in all of these areas. Perhaps fear is the biggest problem for me. I tend to believe that my guilt is taken care of by Christ, and firmly believe in the promise of Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. “No condemnation” means that I need not focus on guilt. But fear is a big one for me, Lord. I struggle with approaching total strangers, even in the comfortable surroundings of the church I attend. I’m not sure what I’m afraid of, but I ask for increased faith in your grace, that says you will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me with your almighty arms. I don’t struggle with greed nearly as much as I used to, but it is still a struggle. I don’t seek to acquire as much stuff as I used to. I tend to be more satisfied with what I have. But I need to be more satisfied with you, Father, and your grace. As Piper frequently says, you are most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in you.

I pray for this day. I pray that the plumber will be able to fix our water pressure issues in the shower at a minimal cost. I pray that Christi will be safe during her errands, and that Stephanie will be safe and have a good time during her horse visit. I pray for some good rest this evening. May we have a good work week, free from anxiety and stress. I pray that Rachel and Justin have been able to get some rest this weekend, and that their week will be a good week, full of good things from you. Finally, I pray that my mother is having a good time at church this morning, worshiping you with her church family. I pray that, if she makes it to the Supper service this evening, she will experience your grace in a special way, in the unity of her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Your grace is sufficient, Father. Help me to trust in you.

We battle guilt, fear, and greed with faith in God’s future grace. God will do what he says he will do. “Fret not,” says the Psalmist, “trust in the LORD.”

Grace and peace, friends.


“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 12, 2014.

Today is Different Colored Eyes Day. If you are one of those rare people who have different colored eyes, this day is all yours! Mine are both green. We once had a cat that had different colored eyes.

Christi’s job seems to have taken a couple of steps backward. It seems they keep throwing more responsibility on her. She’s got a ton of work (not literally, but then who knows how much work weighs?) to do this weekend. I’m telling her she needs to get away from that place (along with the person who hired her). Bless her heart, she hates to give up. “I’m not a quitter,” she says. But I’m afraid the situation cannot be “won.” We shall see, though. I keep praying for God to intervene and bring some peace, calm, and sense into the situation. Perhaps that will happen before it’s all said and done. Or before “the end of the day.” Or any other relatively meaningless cliche I can think of. On top of everything else, she apparently tore a calf muscle while hurrying between meetings yesterday. So, once again, she is in great pain.

Stephanie came home from Megan’s last night. Without Megan. There was much rejoicing. At least between Christi and me. We’re a little weary of the sleepover that wouldn’t end.

The Red Sox won their third straight game last night, while the Rangers lost their sixth straight. The Rangers are currently the worst team in baseball by ten percentage points. The Red Sox are no longer in last place! The Tampa Bay Rays are in last place. There is no way to convey how happy that makes me. I am very close to a point where I dislike the Rays as much as or worse than I dislike the Evil Empire.

Today, we have a few chores that need to get done, then we have church this evening. I now lead the “Anchor” pray time before our service, so I need to do some preparation for that. Tomorrow will probably be the day when Christi tries to get all her work done that she needs to do.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

On this date in 1739, “As David Brainerd is walking through a dark grove to his secret place of prayer, God speaks to him and he has a glorious salvation experience. The twenty-one-year-old will live only eight more years but inspire many others through the diary he pens.” Indeed, his diary was so inspirational that Jonathan Edwards wrote a biography on his life. In fact, Brainerd died at Edwards’s house, after suffering for months from “incurable consumption” (Wikipedia).

Sharing a birthday on July 12 are Bill Cosby, George Washington Carver, Topher Grace, Richard Simmons, Cheryl Ladd, Kristi Yamaguchi, Christine Mcvie, John Petrucci, Henrey David Thoreau, Oscar Hammerstein II, Milton Berle, Andrew Wyeth, Van Cliburn, Kirsten Flagstad, and Curly Joe Derita.

Christine McVie is a singer, most famous for her time as one of the lead singers for Fleetwood Mac. She has returned to the band, and, at the age of 71, is actually touring with them this year. Here is their song, “You Make Loving Fun.”

Van Cliburn was known as one of the world’s greatest piano players for much of his life. He passed away in 2013, and would have been 80 years old today. Here is a clip of him playing some Rachmaninoff Preludes.


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD.
Psalm 135:1
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Psalm 71:2
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
Psalm 116:16
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:10-14

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.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Philippians 1:21-23
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Philippians 3:20-21
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13

Give thanks today for the hope and promise of the Resurrection!

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “A Consuming Fire.”

Most of us have been sexually aroused at many points in our lives. Otherwise, a lot of us wouldn’t be here, right? We know the intense passion of what this feels like. Well, “the Scripture and the liturgy of the Christian community say that human sexual arousal is but a pale imitation of God’s passion for his people.” Human love is the best image we have to illustrate the love of God, but it is still inadequate.

“. . . human desire with all its emotions cannot compare with the passionate yearning of Jesus Christ.” The saints “can only stutter and stammer about the reality;” Blaise Pascal had his famous “night of fire” on November 23, 1654, about which he could not speak, but wrote about it on a note, which was sewn into the lining of his clothes, and wasn’t discovered until after he died. Bede Griffiths wrote, “The love of Jesus Christ is not a mild benevolence: it is a consuming fire.”

“It is only the revelation that God is love that clarifies the happy irrationality of God’s conduct and his relentless pursuit.” Who among us has not experienced the irrationality of human love? Even in the face of infidelity, one who truly loves will continue to pursue. Even the anger of Jesus during the act of cleansing the Temple “reveals his keen interest, his frantic involvement in his brothers and sisters coming into right relationship with Abba God.”

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire,
a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24

Consuming Fire
Once again, I am drawn to the beautiful hymn, “The Love of God,” written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917. The last verse is especially powerful:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Father, may we know and acknowledge your passionate love for us, that love which can not be satisfactorily described by human words or emotions. Help us to know that which is unknowable. I pray for more and more of an understanding of your love, that I might grow closer to you, more intimate with you, as I grow older. I pray that I may know you as I am known by you.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi’s calf muscle to heal. I pray that you would relieve her pain. I pray that we can get the things done that need to be accomplished today. I also pray that this evening’s worship service would be exactly that. I pray that we would worship you and love you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Give us grace, endurance, and power to serve you in the coming week.

Your grace is sufficient.

Consider the emotion that you feel for the person in your life whom you love the most. Then consider that that feeling doesn’t even come close to the passionate love God has for us.

Grace and peace, friends.