Little Is Much When God Is In It

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,442

I had a pretty average evening at the library, last night. I had plenty of work, and shelved a pretty full cart of youth books, along with a partial cart of DVDs. That kept me busy for a little over three hours, and then I did my walk through the library, picking up stray books and marking them “used” in our system. We do that simply to indicate that someone at least showed some interest in the item, even if they didn’t wind up checking it out.

The Texas Rangers surprised the Angels in an eighth inning similar to what the Boston Red Sox are kind of famous for. The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the first. But the Angels answered with three in the top of the third. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, right after I got home. It was tied until the top of the seventh when the Angels scored on a Mike Trout solo homer. But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rangers erupted for seven runs! They held on and wound up winning 10-5. Danny Santana got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 16-19 for the season, all alone in third place in the AL West. They are one game ahead of Seattle, two games ahead of Oakland, and seven games behind the first place Astros. The Rangers and Angels will play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, facing the fearsome Shohei Ohtani. Dane Dunning will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Red Sox lost to the aforementioned Astros, 13-4. Egad. They are 14-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of the Orioles. They have another game against the ‘stros, tonight at 6:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees still have the best MLB record, 27-9, and still have not lost that tenth game. The Cincinatti Reds still have the worst record, 10-26, but finally won their tenth game. They are only one game below the Washington Nationals, though. The longest win streak is now a tie between the LA Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, both with a four-game win streak. The Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the longest losing streak, both at five games. The Dodgers are back on top of the run differential chart, with +81. The Pittsburgh Pirates overtook the Reds for the worst differential, now with -72. The Rangers’ run differential, after last night, is down to -5.

I’m off work today, as this is my “light week.” I’m about to head to the store to grab a few things. The lawn guy is coming around noon, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Chicken for dinner tonight. I’ll be at work tomorrow, 11-8, so we will likely have some crock pot soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Father of us all, grant that we may know something of you in our hearts. Each one of us is different, with his own particular needs, but we are all your children and should all become children of your Spirit. Then even in the difficulties of life, in the many struggles, temptations, and sorrows, we can keep up our courage and remain in the Spirit, who is victorious in every aspect of life. Protect and strengthen us on all our ways. We praise you for all you have done and for all the help you have given us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:15b-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ
3. that all I really need to be willing to do is small acts of daily kindness
4. that all of our small acts of daily kindness can add up in the community of saints
5. for the priesthood of all believers
6. for the availability of God's Word in my language (something many of us take for granted)
Sing praises to God, sing praises; 
sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King over all the earth. 
Praise him with a psalm. 
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:6-8 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “morsel.”

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
(Proverbs 17:1 ESV)

I can attest to the truth of this Proverb. Not that I have ever been reduced to only being able to eat a “dry morsel.” But I have certainly feasted in a house full of strife, and the meal leaves much to be desired.

But, truthfully, that is not really the thrust of this word, today. The idea in today’s reading coincides with a song I have heard that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”

We all have this desire to do “big things” for God, right? I used to want to be a rock star, then I wanted to be a “Christian rock star.” I wanted to do great things for God. There is also a possibility that I really just wanted to be noticed and famous.

At this point in my life, having never been famous or a rock star, I simply want to be willing to do small things for God. “Little acts . . . in the Lord’s faith hands become precious morsels that go down sweet.” Simple acts of kindness are sometimes all that is needed in this world, today. Other people can handle the big stuff. I just want to be one who shows love and kindness in my own little corner of this world.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray that You would allow me to be a “precious morsel” in Your kingdom, showing small acts of kindness to people with whom I come in contact. Let me be willing to provide the simplest of acts, maybe nothing more than a friendly smile, a cup of water, or a generous tip to a server. You have given me this desire, so I pray for opportunities to live it out.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.
(Romans 16:1-4 NLT)

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT)

What happens when you have a bunch of morsels all together? You get a meal! Even Paul, that “giant” of faith, didn’t do things by himself. His work could hardly be called a “morsel,” but he collaborated with others, and he always was sure to give them credit in his greetings.

What was the first thing in creation about which God said it was “not good?”

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 NLT)

As much as I enjoy being alone, we are not expected to be alone in our work for God. We need each other. We need community. There are some things that I can do alone, sure. Some of those “morsels” I mentioned above can be done by myself. But I could never have donated 1700 pairs of socks to a homeless ministry by myself.

Just something to ponder, this morning.

Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ; the ones I know personally, and gather with regularly, as well as all the ones that I have never met and will never meet until the day we all stand in glory together. Together, we can do great things. May we spread Your love, mercy, and grace around the world!

One of the beautiful things about this community of saints is this thing that we call “the priesthood of all believers.” I have heard that phrase for most of my life, having grown up Southern Baptist. One of the things that this means, and probably the most important in Baptist life, is that we don’t need a priest (as in Catholic) to read and interpret Scripture for us. This was one of the big tenets of the Reformation, because, before Martin Luther came on the scene, the average parishioner did not have their own copy of the Bible. And it wasn’t available in their language, anyway, as all the copies were in Latin. So only the priest could read it.

One thing this does not mean, however, is that everyone’s interpretation is valid. That would be pure chaos. We still need people who are educated in biblical history and context. But, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit. And it is my contention that no one can truly understand the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. And no one who is not in Christ has the Holy Spirit.

The other piece of the priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, in this community of saints, to be priests to one another, ‘with each of us mediating grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and with each of us capable of connecting with another in a way that brings God’s love home with personal force.” Eugene Peterson even goes so far as to word it “the leadership of all believers.”

“Leadership is that capacity everyone has for taking the first step, making it possible for others to follow–the capacity to connect with another so that others can get in on what we are in on. What we are ‘in on’ is Christ.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

My desire and hope in this is that I am taking those “first steps” by promoting the love of God through any forum I can access. If I can get just one or two people to follow in that, then maybe they can also be leaders in their own community, as well, and maybe we can have this “love revolution” that I’m praying for.

Father, I thank You for this idea of the priesthood of all believers. I thank You that, first of all, I have the access to read and understand Scripture in my own language. I also thank You that, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to be priests and leaders to one another, showing Your love, mercy, and grace to not only all other believers, but the rest of the world, as well. I pray that there would be more of a spirit of unity in Your Church, and that we would focus on the things that really matter, like walking in Your kingdom, and displaying the love of Christ in our world.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Born as Individuals; Growing in Community

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 27, 2013.

Today is Walk on Stilts Day. There are a few things that would be difficult while walking on stilts. For example, the grocery shopping. The “Lucky Charms” snack bars are on the bottom shelf. Also, how would you push the cart? With your knees? Anyway, I don’t even own any stilts.

Today is also “National Dance Day,” presented by the Dizzy Feet Foundation. This has been featured on one of our favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance. There will be gatherings in many major cities today, as thousands of people dance together as one. All of this was created to “encourage Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health and combat obesity.” We have not taken part in this, but I still think it’s cool.


Yesterday turned out to be a marvelous day! If you remember, I was struggling with the way Thursday turned out. There was great potential for that to trickle down to Friday. And Friday did start out rough. It was raining, so we were unable to load trucks outside at first, which means we can only load two at a time. We had eleven trucks to load yesterday, so loading two at a time was going to take a long time. But a few things happened. Our manager jumped in and got things moving a little better, and then it quit raining. We had all eleven trucks loaded by 3:30pm! I was constantly busy for most of the day, but it was a very good day, and I felt really good about things at the end.

We received some very sad news last night. We have been praying, over the last couple of years, for a precious little girl named Phoebe Fair. She is either three or four years old, and when she was two, she had a large malignant tumor in her brain. After a couple of years of intensive chemotherapy, she had several clear MRI tests. But yesterday, they discovered that the tumor is back, and she has one growing on her spine, as well. There is really nothing that can be done for her at this time. They expect to have two to eight weeks left with her. All you prayer warriors, please send up your mightiest prayers for this family.

We also just had a jarring experience about ten minutes ago. I had gotten up to get my second cup of coffee (Green Mountain Mocha Nut Fudge, if you care), when there came a furious knocking at our front door, along with the doorbell ringing repeatedly. It was about 8:40am. I ran to to the door, and there was a young lady, frantically motioning for me to call 9-1-1 and shouting that someone was having a seizure, she couldn’t call, please call 9-1-1, help, help, help!! Christi grabbed her phone, while I followed the lady two doors down, joined by another neighbor who happened to be outside and heard the commotion. The person having the seizure was, apparently, her husband (there were three small children present, as well), although I never actually saw him. He was on the floor in the master bedroom, and she kept saying that she couldn’t move him because “he’s a big guy.” The neighbor moved things around in the bedroom, and Christi got there with her phone and just handed it over to the neighbor so he could converse with the 9-1-1 operator. Then Christi and I had to chase Tessie down because she got out while we were running around. Actually, she was intent on following the lady back to her house. We moved things out of the hallway, preparing for the arrival of the emergency vehicles, then stayed around until the firetruck got there, so we could make sure they went to the right house. Then the ambulance came. By that time, there were several other people there, helping, so Christi and I came back to the house. The man was awake, by then, according to the other neighbor, just seeming a bit dazed. It seems as though all will be well. As I’m sitting here typing, I realize that we didn’t even get their names. But we can still pray for them, and for his recovery, and that they will be okay.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, was born to “the highest French aristocracy in 1611,” and by the time he was nineteen, had been given command of an infantry regiment. He served Louis XIII and Louis XIV. XIII’s widow, Anne of Austria, made him a marshall at the age of 31. In 1675, under the rule of Louis XIV, the French and Austrian armies clashed at Sasbach, and on this date, Turenne was killed by a stray cannonball. Allegedly, his last words were, “I did not mean to be killed today.” Voltaire said of Turenne, “The virtues and abilities that he alone had made people forget the faults and weaknesses he shared with so many others.” He was buried among France’s kings at St. Denis. But when that cathedral was desecrated during the Revolution, his remains were taken to the Musee de Monuments. In 1800 Napoleon, who considered Turenne to be “the greatest military leader in history,” had him re-interred in the Invalides in Paris.


Today’s birthday is Nick Reynolds, born on this date in 1933. Many of you will not know who this is. Reynolds, a guitar player, was one of the founding members of The Kingston Trio, an American folk music trio, whose “material captured international attention during the late fifties and early sixties.” (So says Wikipedia.) I remember listening to Kingston Trio records when I was a young lad (nobody says that!), as my father would play them on his our record player. To this day, I am still fond of the folk music performed by such artists as The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here is a clip of one of their most popular songs, “Tom Dooley.”

I even found a clip of them performing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” with Mary Travers, from the above-mentioned Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Ah, the memories!

Honorable mentions go to Julian McMahon, 45, Jerry Van Dyke, 82, Peggy Fleming, 65, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 36, Bobbie Gentry, 69, Norman Lear, 91, Maureen McGovern, 64, Johann Bernoulli, 1667-1748, Seamus Dever, 37, and Sasha Mitchell, 46.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.”
Psalm 66:1-4
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:4
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Father, I give praise to your holy name this morning. In the midst of all the sadness and panic, I lift your name up in praise this morning. You have gripped us with your steadfast love, and your grip is permanent; it cannot be stripped away. Your steadfast love never fails, and will be lavished on us for the rest of our days on earth, and then for all eternity. “At the works of your hands I sing for joy.” Teach me your ways as I read and meditate on your words this morning.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Growing Together.” The scripture reading is Micah 4:6-7.

In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore.

This concept of “remnant” is a central theme to Micah’s prophecy. “The covenant-keeping King will gather out of the world a remnant of believing people for his praise.” The people within this community “need each other in order to grow spiritually and minister effectively.” It is an important concept to realize that while we are born anew as individuals, we can only grow together. “The royal road to knowing God runs through human community.”

Jean Vanier, founder of the worldwide L’Arche community, said, “Without community our hearts close up and die.” One of the ways in which our Western culture has gotten it wrong is in this overbearing sense of “rugged individualism” that we possess. There is too much of a concept of self-reliance in our culture. We need each other, and we need to find a way to exchange these individualistic ideas for the “powerful sense of community that existed in the early Church.” Scripture describes the people of God as “a family, a household, a body, a flock, a holy nation.” We are a community.


Father, as I ponder these words, and the fact that you have been driving home in me this strong love for your Church over the past few years, may I sense an even stronger need for the community of your people to abide together, to be unified. We struggle with individuality, we struggle with isolation. As your Church, as your body, we need each other desperately, probably more than we realize. May you drive home this truth to us as we work together and minister together. Teach us how to be community; teach us how to be unified. Teach us how to be the Church, and how to exist in communion with each other and with you.

Lord, I lift up the family that we helped this morning, two doors down from our house. We don’t know their names, but you know everything there is to know about them. May you protect their children from any adverse effect from this morning’s events. I pray that their father is okay, and that he will fully recover from whatever happened this morning. I pray for comfort and peace for the mother. I also pray that there might be an opportunity for further ministry to this family.

I lift up the family and friends of Phoebe, Father. We have prayed for healing, and will continue to do so. I know that there are feelings of being let down that must be existing this morning. One of our own dear friends has even stated that she didn’t know her body was capable of making so many tears. People are devastated at the news, Lord. But you are not. Nothing takes you by surprise, and we pray for the faith to understand; no, we don’t have to understand. I don’t ask to understand, because understanding is not necessary to have faith. You are in control of all things, Father, and we know that your will will be done, and your plan will be worked out, no matter what, and no matter how it makes us feel. Nevertheless, I pray for a miracle. I pray for healing. I pray for comfort and peace for this family who has already been through so much, yet received this devastating news last night. I want to shout, Lord, I want to shout, “How much is enough??” But I dare not, for you are God, and I most certainly am not. But I confess the feelings of frustration as I watch a young family have to face such terrible trials. I pray that you will be their rock and their fortress as they endure this. I pray for a miracle of healing. But if you choose not to do so, I pray that these next few weeks can be so very special to them. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and heartbreak that they are experiencing right now. Be their firm foundation. Be their hope; be their peace. May they trust implicitly in you and your grace.


I cannot stress enough the importance of community in the Church of God. We need each other to grow and to survive. We cannot survive alone.

Please pray for Phoebe.

Grace and peace, friends.

P.S. As I was preparing to close this out, I saw on Facebook that blues man J.J. Cale has passed away. He wrote songs like “After Midnight,” and “The Call Me the Breeze.” He will be missed.