Of Courage and Contemplation

Today is Saturday, the first of October, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,578


Lord our God, we thank you for your gospel, the great, good tidings we may carry in our hearts to give us joy in this present time, even though on all sides people are in anguish and agony. We thank you that your gospel fills our hearts with compassion, enabling us to help carry what many have to suffer. Show us our need of you so that we can receive your help. If we must be the first to suffer all kinds of pain and distress, may we do so joyfully because we have been promised blessing in the midst of all the pain. May we continually honor your name, praising you for the good news of your kingdom, for the promise that everything must work together for good through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
(Romans 12:12, 15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the compassion with which it fills my heart
  2. that all things work together for good through Jesus Christ
  3. for the privilege and ability to simply sit and contemplate our God
  4. that all of humanity is created in the image of God
  5. for the strength that God gives, the courage to go on when we are afraid

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
(Romans 14:8-9 ESV)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
(Revelation 1:3 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 
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! 
Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:1-13 ESV)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 31:24 ESV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
(Matthew 14:27 ESV)

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.
(Frederick William Faber)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

What is courage? The word is mentioned a few times in Scripture. First, I will tell you what it is not. It is not the absence of fear. That is a false belief that comes from toxic masculinity. There are a lot of guys out there who think that doing something “manly” (aka, “stupid”) makes them courageous.

Courage, though, is the ability to do something that frightens you. It is also “strength in the face of pain or grief.” It is not the absence of these things. It is the ability to move forward in spite of them.

It takes courage to follow Jesus, especially in these times. But Jesus speaks peace to us, just as He did to His disciples when He met them on the water. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

We’ve noted, multiple times, that the command “fear not,” along with its variations, is the most often repeated command in the Bible. My opinion is that, if I weren’t already afraid, Jesus wouldn’t have to say that to me. To me, it’s more of an encouragement than a command. I don’t think He is saying “fear not” as a directive, as much as He is saying, “Hey. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

One of the best ways to embrace this idea is through meditation and contemplation. Now, those are two entirely different things (and those who are more of the “fundamentalist” persuasion really detest those words, for reasons I will never quite understand). Meditation involves a sort of “chewing” on passages of Scripture, while contemplation is pretty much what that little poem up there says. “Sit and think of God;” “To think the thought, to breathe the Name.”

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is simply sit and breathe the name, “Jesus,” over and over. I can tell you from experience (scoff if you want) that it helps; it is good for the soul. Faber isn’t far off when he says, “Earth has no higher bliss.”

Here’s the rest of that poem:

I love Thee so, I know not how

My transports to control;

Thy love is like a burning fire

Within my very soul.

Father of Jesus, love’s reward!

What rapture will it be,

Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,

And gaze and gaze on Thee!

O Spirit, beautiful and dread!

My heart is fit to break

With love of all Thy tenderness

For us poor sinners’ sake

Father, I know the joy, the bliss, of simply sitting and thinking of You, thinking thoughts of You and breathing the Name of Jesus. What strength, what courage, can be supplied by doing so. I thank You for this privilege, this ability. I praise You that, in Your divine omniscience, You ordained that I should be introduced to these things in my life.

I thank You, also, for the confidence that comes from knowing that we have been created in Your image. I don’t fully understand what that means, since You don’t have an “image,” exactly. Perhaps “likeness” would be a better word. I pray that, as I grow in You, I would become more like You. And, as I become more like You, may I more and more heed the common words in Scripture, “do not be afraid.”

I am moved, this morning, by the words from Romans 14, Lord. Whatever I do, be it living or dying, I belong to You. I am Yours, Father, to do with as You will. I simply pray for the courage to walk in the way in which You direct me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Things We Know, by Daryl Madden

Let’s make a list
Of the things we know
Starting with how much
Our God loves us so

We have a purpose
There’s nothing to fear
We always belong
And God always here

His mercy never ends
Forgiveness of our sins
He prepares our way
Before each day begins

No matter of the form
When we say a prayer
Something of beyond
Is happening right here

Just how we are blessed
Showered by His grace
To receive and share
Our joy to embrace

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Just “Something to Get Through”

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the twenty-ninth of April, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,058

Ten days until Mother’s Day

We were threatened by a storm, last night, but the threat turned into nothing but some noise and a little rain. The worst part, including the alleged tornado rotation, passed by us to the north.

Our weather sirens went off somewhere around 7:15, as we were watching an episode of Kim’s Convenience on Netflix. We paused, and switched to regular TV, looking for weather interruptions. At first, there was only President Biden’s speech, but it was shortly interrupted by the weather.

I swear, the weather people must live for moments like this. Pete Delkus was so excited I thought he was going to pee his pants. Never been a fan, so we switched to another channel, and that guy wasn’t much better. He informed us that sixty-five mile an hour winds could blow windows out of our house.


Dude. I sat through 110 mph straight-line winds one night, back when we lived west of White Settlement (yes, that is really still the name of a Texas town) and no windows were blown out.

Anyway, Delkus was advising us all to take shelter, and the guy on the other channel was telling us to put on bike helmets, and all the while, C and I were watching the radar map thinking, “this thing is going to totally miss us.” Sure enough, it did. I’m not sure how close it was, but it most definitely went north of us. I can’t really celebrate too much, because other people were still in its path. I don’t know if there was every a real tornado on the ground.

It’s raining like crazy, here, this morning, though, and looks like it may rain all day. This means I should strive a little harder to get done with my devotional on time. Which never happens. So here we go.


Purpose of A Song, by Daryl Madden

The purpose of a song
Music to us bringing
Isn’t to get it done
But the joy the singing

Nor swaying to a beat
A movement of romance
Is not to finish it
But the love of dance

Same be true of prayer
Not something to complete
Our treasure found within
With our God, we meet

And what about each day
Not something to get through
With Gods’ love and joy
Our life has true value

The main reason I chose to share this one, this morning, is that last stanza. All too often, I look at the day, especially the work part . . . okay, exclusively the work part . . . as “something to get through.” I’m convicted by Daryl’s words, here. Looking at the day as something to get through, I believe, dishonors God and His handiwork. If I walk in the truth of Ephesians 2:10, then I need to see that day filled with opportunities to walk in good works that God has prepared beforehand for me.

That could be the entire devotion for the day.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that I am Your workmanship, and this day, only just begun, will be full of opportunities; open my eyes to them and help me to not see it as “something to get through”
  • that we were spared from the worst part of the storm, last night; praying that no one experienced storm damage or injury
  • that the day is not just something to get through, but will be full of opportunities; open my eyes, Lord
  • that by Your stripes I have been healed
  • that real transformation is possible

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



“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)

I pause, briefly to reflect on my attitude about the coming day.


A prayer of Moses the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:1-6 NIV)

If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:11-12 NIV)


For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:19-25 NIV)


As I try to rest in God’s presence, this morning, with distractions hitting me from many directions, I linger over these words, inviting the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts and meditations toward any word or phrase that He wants to teach me.

God is eternal; the prayer of Moses uses good descriptive language in the first two verses, I believe. Before there were mountains, before the world was “brought forth,” “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”


Not “were” or “have been.” Present tense. From eternity past to eternity future, You ARE God! Just as Jesus said, before Abraham or Moses, “I AM.” Our Father exists outside of time; He exists at all times at once. This is why it can say in following verses, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

And the, ironically, it turns around and tells us, in verse 12, to “number our days.” This is something worth pondering, I believe. By the way, that verse is why I give the number of days I have been on this earth, back up there at the beginning. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, mind you . . . I don’t really believe that this verse literally means that we should count our days.

What I do believe (and am certainly open to correction on this) is that it could have something to do with not taking our life for granted or taking it lightly. I don’t think we should be overly serious about everything, either, but our days are most assuredly numbered. Look at verses 5-6.

Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
(Psalms 90:5-6 NIV)

Father, I celebrate Your being, this morning, as You “are” in existence, before all things and after all things. Help me to take better stock of my days as I live through them. Help me to look at each day, not as something to get through, but as a field of opportunities to serve You and people. Help me look for the blessings, rather than the curses. My brain, for some reason, seems programed to find negative things. Transform me, Father, helping my brain to look for the beauty and the positive. Not that I want to be blissfully ignorant of the negative; I just don’t want to dwell on it. So help me to shut out the sources of negativity in my life, be they people or events. And please transform me, as I do not wish to be one of those sources of negativity.

Thank You for the example and work of Jesus Christ, who teach us how to react to those people and events, not retaliating when insulted or threatened, but trusting “him who judges justly,” which would be, of course, You. Help me to die to sins and live for righteousness, as I have been healed by His wounds.

grace is what drew me to you and saved me.
Don't let me become a graceless moralist or a master of spiritual self-help;
and complete this work of grace in me.
Remind me that my job is to stay fully engaged in grace,
dwelling in the gospel,
meditating on its words,
and promises,
and feeding on its comfort in the sacraments.
(Canon of Dort 5.14)


Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)

Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”
(1 Chronicles 28:20 ESV)

For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
(Deuteronomy 4:31 ESV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

At the risk of sounding cliché, these passages remind us that, no matter what the problem, God is bigger. He will not leave us without solutions, and will always turn something that looks “bad” to us into something good for us (if, of course, we are walking in His truth and love Him and are called according to His purpose). And remember, courage is not the absence of fear . . . it is rising up and doing something anyway, in the face of that fear.

Father, these passages above seem to go in line with the other teachings, this morning, teaching me about courage and fear, and how You will never leave me or forsake me. This helps me in the quest to view the day as opportunity rather than drudgery. Keep my eyes open today, both physically and spiritually, for opportunities to serve You and others. This day is not just something to get through.

Lord, I pray that You grant me (as well as all of Your Church) spiritual renewal today. In Your grace, grant me deep repentance, and please, Father, make Your people willing to work for racial reconciliation.

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!

Grace and peace, friends.

What Is Courage?

Good morning! Today is Sunday, October 25, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,872

32 days until Thanksgiving

C and I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon rearranging the study/studio to set up the new PC (on which I am now typing). She also cleaned up the room a good bit, in the process.

I then set about to begin the tedious process of downloading various software programs that I use. I also had to retrieve backed up files from the old PC, which took longer than it should have. I literally had to do it manually from the back up drive that I have. Something about a software update . . . I don’t fully understand it. That took some time, and then I had to delete all of the old files from the back up drive, so it would have room to back them up from the new computer.

Then I had to download and install the Bible program that I use on my computers. It’s called E-Sword, and I like it a lot. It is a free program, but some of the Bible versions cost extra. If you happen to be interested, it can be found at this link.

I also had to download and install Dropbox, where I keep files that I need to access from various devices. And finally, I downloaded the Blizzard app that is used to launch World of Warcraft, and downloaded that game, as well.

Later today, I will be downloading and installing ProTools, as well as a couple other music software programs that I have on my laptop.

Here’s picture of the computer, the keyboard, and the mouse. It turns out that the “innards” of this iBuyPower PC is made by MSI, which I’m really pumped about. My laptop is MSI, and I love it.

The colors that you see on those devices are all changing constantly.

Today we have our worship gathering of The Church at Brandon and Kristin’s, at 10:15. We will likely order lunch from Applebee’s afterward.


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Scriptures and Prayers 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!
(Psa 96:7-9)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For another opportunity to devote ourselves to the Apostles’ teachings, the prayers, the fellowship, and the breaking of bread together
  2. For Your light and Your truth that lead me to Your dwelling (Psalm 43:3)
  3. That there is no one like You
  4. For courage
  5. For singing

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
(Psalms 43:3-4 ESV)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
(Psalms 42:1-2 ESV)

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 ESV)

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
(Deuteronomy 32:1-4 ESV)

O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 116:16-19 ESV)

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:1-9 ESV)

Three times in this passage, Joshua is told to be “strong and courageous.” It is said that when something is repeated three times, it means that it is really important.

What is “courage?”

Many people seem to think that it is the absence of fear. John Wayne is alleged to have said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” I’ve always like that quote, regardless of who said it.

Some folks think courage means being ready to fight. That may be true, sometimes, but not always. I found an article on HuffPost.com by Rebecca Perkins. I like what she wrote. She said:

“We take so much of our strength and resilience for granted. Courage isn’t about being a battle-ready soldier; some days there is courage in saying, ‘tomorrow is another day’. We show courage on a daily basis because our lives and the lives of those we love matter to us. When we feel deeply passionate about something, we find courage easily — for example we find superhuman strength to protect our children. So let us find that same passion and courage for ourselves, trusting that whatever our circumstances are right now (and regardless of whether we feel courageous), we can find a valuable seam of courage if we dig just below the surface.”

She then offers this quote by Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the silent voice at the end of the day that says ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”

Then she offers this extensive list, and I’m going to go ahead and share all of it, because I really like it.

• Courage is saying sorry
• Courage is knowing when to say ‘enough’
• Courage is saying I love you
• Courage is saying yes
• Courage is saying no
• Courage is being truthful with oneself
• Courage is knowing that we screwed up
• Courage is admitting we can’t cope alone
• Courage is letting go
• Courage is reaching out
• Courage is standing up for something we believe in
• Courage is burning our boats and never going back
• Courage is doing something new
• Courage is being willing to receive
• Courage is trusting someone again
• Courage is choosing love over fear
• Courage is standing up for oneself
• Courage is choosing to truly live
• Courage is  learning to love again
• Courage is believing in oneself for the first time
• Courage is being vulnerable
• Courage is breaking with tradition
• Courage is asking for help
• Courage is stopping to rest
• Courage is letting the tears flow
• Courage is continuing through adversity
• Courage is trusting that all will be well

In light of this list, I would dare say that all of us have, at some point or another in our lives, been courageous. And I would also add that it sometimes takes courage to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Father, I thank You for courage, in whatever form it takes. I can say that You have given me the courage to keep on, throughout my whole life. It doesn’t always mean fighting; it doesn’t always mean refraining from tears. And it doesn’t always mean standing my ground. Whatever it means, in any given situation, You have provided me with courage. I thank You and praise You, and look forward to seeing what You have in store for me next.

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!

Train me, GOD, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
(Psalms 86:11-12 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Still, Small Voice

I’m not sure how to begin this morning. That’s strange. But I’m trying to get out of the habit of starting every entry declaring what day of the week it is. I noticed that I was doing that. So I’m resisting just opening with “It’s Tuesday morning…” But it is, you know. I don’t know what I’m going to face when I get to work this morning. We began a new process of data transfer last night. If it worked, everything should be fine. If it didn’t, well…no telling. My boss was pretty anxious when I left yesterday evening. It didn’t help any that it was a very heavy night, freight-wise, and back-up resources were limited. We shall see.

There were only 8 baseball games yesterday, so it was a down day for the Rangers and the Sox. Even my friend the Cardinal fan didn’t have a game to watch last night. However, the Beat the Streak games go on anyway…and Carlos Pena hit TWO home runs last night, so my total in that game is one. (I should get two, right?) Aramis Ramirez went 3-4 (also hitting two home runs!!) so my other Beat the Streak game is now at a two game streak. Movin’ on up. Hahaha… Today, the Red Sox play the Sandwiches, so I will pick David Ortiz for the home run. Adrian Gonzalez has a .700 avg against the mighty Cliff Lee, so I will pick him for the hit.

Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

And now we get to one of the more controversial passages in the Bible. There have been raging debates over spiritual gifts for decades. For some reason, “speaking in tongues” is the most popular gift of them all. My guess is because it brings the most attention to the individual, and we all love that attention, don’t we? The problem is, that’s not what a worship service is for, is it? Bringing attention to yourself? You’re certainly not worshiping God if you are bringing attention to yourself. That’s one of the reasons that I did away with any kind of “special music” (that’s what we used to call it when I was growing up Baptist) in worship services that I lead. I just don’t see much benefit in one person singing, drawing attention to themselves. There are incidences where a single person can very much glorify God and lead me to worship, though, so I don’t discount it altogether. Anyway…back to the Scriptures.
Paul starts off by bringing importance to our words. There’s no way I could ever say “Jesus is accursed” and be filled with the Spirit. Sure, I could “say” it. But I believe Paul is implying sincerity and meaning here. Likewise, no one could say (and truly mean) “Jesus is Lord” without having the Spirit. Then he gets into the gifts. There are varieties. But there is only one Spirit. We have one God who empowers all of us. And everyone is given some kind of manifestation of the Spirit, but why? “FOR THE COMMON GOOD!” (V. 7) Then Paul lists some gifts. Does he list all of the gifts? Obviously not, because there are other lists elsewhere that are not exactly like this one. I especially like verse 11, All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Now, I have a different theory on this than most people. I used to take “spiritual gift inventories.” I don’t like those any more. And here’s why. One reason is that, once someone “knows” what their “gift” is, they are less inclined to take on projects/ministries that don’t fall within that “gift.” Not to say that they should, but it becomes an excuse not to do something. But a bigger reason for me is…what if my gift(s) are not always the same? Hmmm?? Who’s to say that the Spirit doesn’t gift me differently for different situations?? There is no indication in this passage that one person has the same gift for their whole life! That’s been inferred by men throughout the years. (And everyone wants that tongues thing, too, don’t they?) I just don’t think that is necessarily the case. Sure, we all have certain gifts and talents that the Lord has blessed us with. And some of those do remain for our entire lives. But as Joel Engle said about a dozen times last Sunday morning, “DON’T PUT GOD IN A BOX!!” And that’s what we do in this spiritual gift category. The key phrase in that entire passage is, “AS HE WILLS!” We need to grasp that. We also need to grasp the purpose for the gifts. They were given for the church to function properly and effectively.

1 Kings 19-20
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (19:1-3)

What? Really, Elijah? He just bravely stood up for the Lord in front of king Ahab and 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah, witnessed the fire of God coming down from heaven to validate his courage, and slaughtered the wicked prophets afterward. And now, he’s running from a girl.

Okay, to be fair, Jezebel is probably one of the most wicked women to ever exist. Imagine the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz on steriods. But he actually went into the wilderness and ASKED TO DIE!!

After an angel fed him a couple of times, he got up and walked forty days and nights to Mount Horeb, “the mount of God.” (19:8) This is the place where he found the cave and went into the cave. The Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah said, I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away. (19:10) Can you hear the whine? Then the Lord told Elijah to go out and stand on the mount. And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. (19:11-12) What a beautiful passage! We used to call it the “still, small voice.” The point is, God doesn’t always speak in earthquakes, wind, and fire. Sometimes he speaks very quietly, and we have to be still to listen. After a repeat of the Q&A session, God gives Elijah one last mission. Part of this mission is the anointing of his successor, Elisha. (If you have trouble remembering which one comes first, the ARE in alphabetical order. That was very kind of the Lord to arrange.)
Chapter 20 describes Ahab’s battles with Syria and Ben-hadad.

Psalm 126
1 A Song of Ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

We are always glad and rejoicing when the Lord does great things for us. We should let it be known, as these people did. When the Lord does great things for us, we should sing it from the rooftops! “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” We shall not always suffer; we shall not always be sad. There will come rejoicing.

Father, let us rejoice when you act mightily on our behalf. And I pray that you will “restore our fortunes like streams in the desert!” We look to you for all that we have. You have provided for us for all these years, and we acknowledge your ownership of all that we have. We look forward to the day when there will be no more tears; when all of our tears will be turned to shouts of joy! Let us remain faithful to you for all of our lives.
I thank you, Father, for the gifts that the Spirit brings. I pray that I will be more sensitive to opportunities to use the gifts that I have been given. I also pray that my heart will be open to future gifts and future grace. I want to be more Christ-centered, Lord. This morning, I am feeling brighter in my Spirit. It is as if you suddenly touched me with a measure of joy.
I pray that I might have the courage of Elijah in the face of your enemies, should an encounter come my way. Let me be ready, always, to give a defense of the gospel and your Word. Let your grace flow through me, Father, and let me have an impact on those around me as I live my life and do whatever it is that you have given me to do.

I pray for this day, Lord. I pray that things went well last night. I also pray for Christi’s day, that it would be stress-free. All things are possible with you, Lord.

Listen for the voice of the Lord today. It might just come in a low whisper, or a still, small voice.