Remember That You Are Dust

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fourth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent. I have it on good authority that Lent is halfway through. Easter is on April 17, so that seems about right.

May the peace of Christ flood your soul today!

Day 23,387

Yesterday was a fantastic day, for the most part. C worked from home, so we were all here. Our new stand-alone pantry was delivered, mid-day, and C and I assembled it, yesterday evening. It looks very nice and fits exactly where we wanted to put it. My stock of Crazy Water fits nicely on the bottom shelf, and we cleaned out several of the shelves in the kitchen pantry, making room for cans and whatnot that we brought from Mama’s house, last week.

Today, I am driving Mama back to Mineral Wells to take care of a couple of tasks that must be done right away. Well one of them has to be done right away, and the other is somewhat pressing. C successfully got her Suddenlink Internet and cable canceled last week, so we need to retrieve the boxes from Mama’s house and send them back to Suddenlink. That’s the main reason for this trip. In addition, Mama needs to stop by her accountant’s office and pay some tax money to finish that process for the year. She also has a few more things at the house that were forgotten last Saturday.

C’s company is doing something special for the directors today. She doesn’t know what, other than they will be having lunch “outside.” The last time I remember something like this, they were all taken to see the latest Star Trek movie. So I’m thinking it will be something fun, at least.

That’s pretty much all I have, so I’ll get into the devotional for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)
Cast your bread upon the waters,
 for you will find it after many days.
 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, 
for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing; seriously, I'm just happy to be alive today
2. that, in spite of everything around us, as I walk in the Kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be (that's a Dallas Willard-ism)
3. that I am perfectly comfortable with remembering that I am dust, and to dust I shall return
4. for my sense of humor, and the fact that laughter exists
5. for the life that I have, and for God's admonition to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 8:15, "eat . . . drink, and . . . be merry")

Today’s prayer word is “humor.” I’m sure there are people out there who think that there is no place for humor in prayer. I’m not so sure I agree with that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.

While I acknowledge that prayer is serious business, I also know (or at least strongly believe, I guess) that God has a sense of humor. Once again, just look at the platypus or giraffe.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” I love that quote. And this is why, as a general rule, I have never been that fond of crass humor. I like humor that makes me think. I even like when I have to examine a joke (or Facebook meme) for a few seconds before I laugh.

Oh, and I seriously love puns. So much.

So how can humor fit into prayer? I don’t, for example, think I need to be telling jokes to God. But who knows? The problem is, you can’t tell Him one that He hasn’t heard, right?

Me: Hey, God, stop me if You've heard this one!
God: Stop.

Or maybe, just maybe, He might say, “I’ve heard it, but go ahead, anyway.” That’s the kind of Father I picture Him as.

No, I think that, while there are times when we should agonize in prayer, maybe even sweat drops of blood (I’ve never done that), there are also times when our spiritus should be lighter than air when we come before the Father, and there might even be a tinge of humor in our lightheartedness. It’s never to say that we don’t take it seriously. But maybe we need to not take ourselves so seriously?

(From Pray a Word a Day)

For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastes 12:7 NLT)

The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
(Psalms 22:26 NLT)

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
(1 Corinthians 15:43-44 NLT)

People make up a lot of stuff about what “heaven” will look like and what our bodies (there seems to be some indication that there will be bodies) will look like. But it’s all speculation, because we really don’t have a lot of information about it. There’s probably a reason for that. As much as I long for Home, can you imagine what that longing would look like if I knew what kind of body I’m going to have, or what that “mansion” will look like?

Or maybe it’s not going to be quite what we imagine, and we might be disappointed, and our longing for it would diminish.

Back to the idea of not taking ourselves to seriously, I love the thing that the minister says when he or she rubs ashes in the shape of a cross on someone’s forehead (I’ve never done this, but hope to next year). “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That’s what that verse in Ecclesiastes says.

This is not to produce a sense of hopelessness in us. I can see how it might. “Oh, I’m just dust, and there is no hope for me to improve on that.” No. I don’t believe we are supposed to think like this. I think it is to force us to remember that we are not the center of the universe. I am stuck, for now, in this “mortal coil,” this body. While I don’t go along with Gnosticism that says all flesh is evil (and, yes, there is still a remnant of that thinking, even in today’s evangelical church), I do know (or at least believe strongly) that this flesh is yet to be redeemed. It will be, though, someday, and Scripture seems to indicate that I will have some kind of “glorified body.”

(Scripture also tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ, and I have no idea what that is going to look like “when we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.” What if we are all joined together, spiritually, into one “physical body,” of which Jesus Christ is the “head?” What if we are all joined into one body that is the Bride? But that’s not a topic I’m prepared to tackle today.)

We are beloved of God. We cannot possibly overemphasize this. But we are also dust, and to dust we shall return. If I die today, and fifty years later, someone digs up my casket, they will not find this body. They will find nothing but bones (and I’m not even totally sure about that) and dust. My body will be “buried in brokenness,” but it will, one day, be raised in glory. For now, it is just dust, and I need to remember that.

And, I need to, as the writer of Ecclesiastes has so eloquently told us, enjoy my time on this earth, in this sack of dust, jar of clay, meat-suit, or whatever you want to call it, and do whatever my hands find to do with all my might, and “eat, drink, and be merry.”

And, to cement these ideas, even further, here is what I read from Eugene Peterson, today, in a reading called “To Be, to Do.”

“Just to be, just to do – these are the two great gifts of God, the foundations of every other gift. We need to return to these two great capacities again and again and cultivate them.

“The events of daily life need to be placed in perspective by a deep sense of prayer, by learning how to be before God. Then, as reality closes in on us, we will perceive each event as the working of the Holy Spirit, carefully designed for our particular needs. Every event is a touch of the living finger of God, which is sketching in us – body, soul, and spirit – the true image of his Son, which the Father originally gave to us and is restoring.”

“Events of daily life need to be placed in perspective . . .” What better statement can be made for this day and this hour in our world? Our culture, these days, tends to look at every event as world-ending. Gas prices went up, so everything is over, it’s all terrible. But that’s because we Americans tend to think it’s all about “me.”

Guess what.

It’s not.

We all need to stop, breathe, and head for that “deep sense of prayer,” and learn “how to be before God.”

And remember that we are dust.

Father, I am happy, this morning. I am happy to be reminded that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. I am comfortable with my dustiness. I do not take myself too seriously (ask me again when the Internet breaks, though). I know that I am deeply flawed, and that this body will be buried in its brokenness, some day. I rejoice in the promise (I fully embrace this promise with my whole imagination) that that broken body will be raised again in glory, someday! Hallelujah!

And because of this, I do try to look at live events, and world events, in the perspective of one who has entered in the depths of prayer, and is still learning how to be before You. I don’t have it down, yet, and acknowledge that I never will, not until I stand (or probably fall on my face) before You. Father, I thank You for this perspective that You have given me. I praise You that You have molded my heart and arranged the events of my life so that I have come to this place on this day, and that my mind and spirit take in this information and believe it and embrace it.

I am astounded that every event is a touch of Your living finger on both my life and on the fabric of this world. Don’t ever let me go, Lord. I will stray again, I’m sure. My feet will chase after something that is not on the path, and You will gently (or maybe not-so-gently) bring me back to it. I trust in You implicitly, Father, for You will always do (or allow) whatever is best for me and You.

So help me, Father, to display this knowledge and to reflect it in my daily life. Help me, the next time the Internet breaks (that’s my best example of when I tend to freak out), to put that event in perspective, to look at the “big picture,” and to see that things like that (like most things) are simply “footstool problems.”

All glory to You, Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wisdom and Forgiveness

Good morning! Today is Friday, the fourth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,367

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photography at the link provided.

We had a successful and uneventful trip to get Mama, yesterday, and she is safely back here in Fort Worth, with us, for a little while. We dropped off a mail hold form at the Post Office, and left her tax documents with her CPA, and I also grabbed a couple cases of Crazy Water while in town.

The only “incident” that occurred was that my tire pressure light came on, in the car, before I got out of Fort Worth. Everything felt okay, so I didn’t stop to check it until I got to Mama’s house in Mineral Wells. The lowest tire had 30.5 (after driving that distance), so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. I just checked it, this morning, and it has 26, which is about seven pounds low. I’ll keep an eye on it, and, unless it drops drastically more between now and then, I will put some air in it Sunday afternoon.

Today is a normal work day for me, at the Hurst Public Library, in the computer center. Tomorrow is my Saturday to work the circulation desk. Sunday, our house church is not meeting, so I am going to take the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in Grapevine, with my friend and former pastor. I’ve never been to a Lutheran service before, so this should be interesting.

The Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. As expected, keeping critical comments out of my vocabulary has been much more challenging than not eating candy. I have not been 100% successful, but am being more aware of when they occur, and able to stop them in their tracks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Nothing Called My Own,” by Daryl Madden

I know I’m in danger
But need not of fearing
If I remember
That I am nothing

I’ll know that danger
Can take nothing from me
When I feel afraid
I forget, nothing I be

And If I remember
I’ve nothing called my own
That will not be lost
At the end of life shown

That only what’s not mine
But God’s will ever live
And free me from false fears
With a heart to give

(based upon words by Thomas Merton)

This poem really spoke to me, this morning, as I recall words from a little book by Horatius Bonar, called How Shall I Go To God? It opens with the line, “It is with our sins that we go to God–for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the WordPress community; I am constantly encouraged and uplifted by my blogging friends
2. for the safe trip to Mineral Wells and back, yesterday
3. for the wisdom taught in the book of James, difficult as it is
4. for the lineage of faith that is in my ancestry
5. for the strength of God that is helping me in my Lenten journey

The book of James is a tough book to swallow. Every time I have to read it, I cringe, because it doesn’t just step on my toes. It crushes them.

But one thing we learn from this difficult book is that “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.” The outside world looks at that statement and gives out a hearty “Ya think??”

Part of the problem, though, is that 1) the outside world seems to have the mistaken idea that the Christian church should be a model community of good behavior; and 2) the Christian church often tries to deceive the outside world into believing that it is a model community of good behavior.

James would have us believe otherwise. And, as Eugene H. Peterson points out, “Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential.” This does not necessarily involve knowing truth, although that is helpful, because “what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?”

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(James 3:17-18 MSG)

James was traditionally known as a man of prayer, spending much time on his knees. He lived what he wrote:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1:5-6 MSG)

“The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
(James 1:17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22 ESV)

Or, if you prefer:

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
(Matthew 18:22 NLT)

Speaking of wisdom, in this passage of Scripture, we see the wisdom of forgiveness. And we see Peter, thinking himself extremely righteous by offering to forgive someone seven whole times, having his toes crushed by Jesus’s James-like wisdom, telling him, essentially, don’t count how many times you forgive someone.

“God – on Whose repeated forgiveness I depend – requires that I do the same for others and that they do the same for me. Not grudgingly, but from a sincere heart. . . . Forgiveness is a wisdom near to the heart of God.” (Carol Knapp)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s prayer word is “link.” I almost passed over this one, but I got to thinking about it. Laurence Overmire, an American poet who is also a genealogist, is quoted as saying, “All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life.”

There is not a word of Scripture in this reading, nor is there any reference to it. It is entirely about someone’s lineage.

And when I think about my lineage, I am blessed. God didn’t have to birth me into this family. But He chose to place me in it. (Remember yesterday’s prayer word?)

My family has a long history of God-loving people in it, and I am very grateful for this. My spiritual life would likely have been much different otherwise.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You and thank You for placing me where You did. What a blessing to have been born into this family. Random luck, some would say, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “coincidences.” It was part of Your plan, and I am very grateful for this. And You kept it going, even when I tried to leave (or at least wander off) the path. You always kept me on the path, sometimes nudging me, other times outright shoving. There may have even been a few times You had to tie me up and carry me over Your “shoulder.”

Father, as Your Church continues trying to survive these years, I pray that You help us in several things. Help us to forgive the way Jesus told us to forgive, not the way Peter tried to. It is unlimited. Jesus didn’t mean seventy-seven times or four hundred and ninety times, at least that is what we believe. He seems to have been indicating that the amount of forgiveness is as unlimited as Your love. And praises be that You don’t stop forgiving us at seventy times seven times!!

I also pray that You help us, as a Church, to get along in wisdom, the way James is trying to teach us. We are strongly divided, these days, and we need Your help. There are factions that are focusing on the wrong things. We need to be focusing on Your love, the love of Jesus, and our love for each other. Maybe it really is “all about love.” And, while I wouldn’t go quite as far as the Beatles, we definitely do need love and more of it. Help us to remember that our jobs are to love You and love people, not to judge people and condemn people. That is actually Your job, and Yours alone. But You also have promised that, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Thank You for that, as well.

We are broken, Lord, all of us. So we need Your “fixing.” Give us wisdom, give us love, give us one another. And help us, as brother Daryl reminds us way back at the beginning, that we really have nothing that we can call our own.

All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Was Job Patient?

Today is Saturday, the fifteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

By the way . . . that is not just a filler that I put in here. While it may seem somewhat “automatic,” I really do wish for the peace of Christ to be with everyone who reads this.

Day 23,319 (the number of days since I was born)

Only eight days until Hamilton, if the show goes on as scheduled.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. There was a flurry of activity around one point, and while I was unsuccessfully attempting to help one patron send a document to our printers from her phone (more on that in a minute), there was one person using the fax, and another waiting to use it.

The reason I was unsuccessful in helping the first patron was that she didn’t seem to know what to do on her phone, and was not patient enough to keep trying. She seemed really jittery, as well, and finally just gave up and said she would go home and do it. I don’t think there was any frustration with me, or at least I didn’t sense that.

In the meantime, the person using the fax finished, and actually helped the next person fax her documents. I thanked her profusely for this after I got done with the patron I was trying to help.

I also spent some time helping with the shelving again. I sorted several carts while sitting at my desk in the computer center, and then, from about 4:00-5:40, I shelved two carts of books in the stacks. The librarian that was on duty in the computer center was fine with me doing that. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I said it really didn’t matter, that I wanted to do whatever they needed me to do. That was the truth, too.

So today is my Saturday off, and we are planning to head to Mineral Wells in a little while to visit Mama and get me a couple cases of Crazy Water #4.

Oh, and C has been given permission to work from home over the next two weeks. As of right now, there were 827,132 new cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., yesterday. That number seems to change, though, as I’m looking at two days ago, which now shows 869,783.

While I have had various allergy symptoms over the past couple of weeks, I have exhibited none of the common symptoms of any of the Covid variants.

It’s cold today. Currently 33 degrees, and the high is only projected to be 36. Tonight’s low is predicted to be just below 30, but tomorrow’s high is 57. There is little-to-no precipitation predicted. In fact, I saw something yesterday that indicated that north Texas is experiencing a drought. But that seems to be rather normal for this time of year.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a call about my new CPAP yesterday, finally. I have an appointment Tuesday morning to pick it up. The total cost is going to be close to $1000. The good news is that all of that will go toward our deductible for the year. I won’t have to pay it all at once, either. There is an up-front charge, a couple months of “rental,” and then a final charge, after which I will own it.

And now, on to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is our Father's "good pleasure" to give us the Kingdom
2. that my treasure is in heaven
3. for the capacity God gives us to be kind to one another
4. that God has patience with us and can handle our questions of frustration
5. for the opportunity to look back on the week and assess any growth (or lack thereof)

Have you ever heard someone say something about the “patience of Job?” I have decided, over the years, that that phrase is incorrect. Job was anything but “patient.” He suffered, and he endured the suffering, true. He was faithful, never giving in to the temptations (and advice) to give up. But he was far from patient.

“Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stand before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily.”

"All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored: 
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good. 
I'd at least have the satisfaction of not having blasphemed the Holy God, before being pressed past the limits. 
Where's the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? 
Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I'm made of iron? 
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don't even have any boots!"
(Job 6:8-13 MSG)

And Job’s suffering was not unlike our suffering, in this life. He suffered “in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things.” But Job stayed faithful, having this firm conviction:

Because even if he killed me, I'd keep on hoping. 
I'd defend my innocence to the very end. 
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation! 
(Job 13:15-16 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

Pray As You Go does a thing on Saturday that they call the “Saturday Examen.” What is examen? “A devotional exercise involving reflection on and moral evaluation of one’s thoughts and conduct, typically performed on a daily basis.” In the Catholic tradition, it is something that is done at the end of the day. I like PAYG’s idea of doing it on Saturday, at the end of the week. There is encouragement to look back on the week, reflecting on things that God has done, or, perhaps, on events that created tension or disharmony, or attitudes that could have been better. What went well? What didn’t go so well?

In the past week, I gained a fresher perspective on the purpose of God’s Word in my life; that it is not so much a moral code to try to live by, but stories told, with an invitation for me to live in them. It is God’s story, and I am invited to see my own story in the context of His story (and no, I am not trying to be clever with the word “history”). One of the keys in this is to never be satisfied with where I am, to never stop learning.

The idea of the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men was reinforced, something we all need to be reminded of, occasionally. I was also reminded that the people God used in the Bible were pretty ordinary, for the most part, and not always the most exemplary of characters.

The concept of doing good things for people that don’t like us was also reinforced, another thing that we need to be constantly reminded of.

One of the things that I need to do better at, going forward, is listening for the “voice” of God. Whether that be an audible voice, or the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, I need to be attuned to what He is saying to me. And I need to be aware of the fact that Jesus is willing to do good things for us, as He was willing to touch the leper and heal him.

Father, as this week draws to a close, I am thankful for the things You have taught me. I am always glad to have a reminder of Your sovereignty in this world, because the world constantly tries to make me think otherwise. The world loves chaos, and seems to thrive on that. But I know that You are in control of all things. I am grateful for the reminder of Job’s persistence before You. I’m not concerned at all with whether Job was a real person or not. The story has value, either way. It shows us that, while You are sovereign, You can take questioning. We cannot offend You or hurt Your feelings. And You will, eventually, answer.

I thank You for the many stories that have been presented to us in Your Word, stories into which we can enter and live. I thank You for imagination, that allows me to consider my own place in Your story by considering how I would have reacted in any of those Bible stories. And I thank You for the prayers of various people recorded in Your Word, that can give me inspiration for my own prayers.

Help me to be a better listener, next week. Let me focus on improving that skill. Increase my faith in You, as well, believing that You are always ready and willing to do “good things” for me. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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. Alleluia. Amen.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

Meditations

Good morning. Today is Friday, the fourteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,318

Only nine more days until Hamilton, and, as of this morning, there is still now word of it being postponed or cancelled.

The shower is fixed. It didn’t take them very long at all. It wasn’t cheap, but plumbing seldom is, right? And the invoice showed the whole charge on one line, so I don’t know how much was parts and how much was labor. The thing is, I really don’t care. The shower is fixed. And they showed up early.

That’s right. I said early. About two hours early, in fact. I got a call at around noon asking if it was okay if they come on over. Of course, I said, “Sure!”

The service I used was ABC Plumbing, from Watauga. They are very close to where we live.

I didn’t get much else done, yesterday, as I didn’t feel great. I did fold/put away some laundry, and got the dishwasher loaded and the trash taken out. As for how I felt, it was weird. My nose seems to have settled down from the allergies/mountain cedar from the past couple of weeks. But I had a very mild bit of chest . . . I wouldn’t even really call it “congestion.” Felt more like asthma, which I have not had trouble with in years. And of course, just like anyone else, I worry about Covid, so I was constantly taking my temperature all day. It never got above 97.9, so that allayed my fears about that. (Worldometer shows that the U.S. had 806,493 new cases, yesterday.) Then, later in the evening, my stomach felt weird, slightly nauseated. I had some peppermint tea before going to bed, took some NyQuil, and this morning I feel pretty good.

Tomorrow, we are planning a trip to Mineral Wells, at least for a couple hours. I need some Crazy Water, and we always need to visit Mama, so we plan to have some lunch with her. I’m off work tomorrow, so it’s a perfect day for it. Other than the fact that it will be cold (high of 37 and low Sunday morning off 27).

I work today, from 9:15-6:15, in the computer center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Being Something Beautiful, by Daryl Madden

Being something beautiful
Beginning with a prayer
To feel His love surrounding
And know that truth so clear

Being something beautiful
An easy thing to do
Surrendering to God
And let Him transform you

Being something beautiful
Let us each proclaim
For we are in God’s eyes
All one in the same

Being something beautiful
Can be found right here
Through blessing of His presence
Grace is everywhere

Being something beautiful
Our message, let it be
The Word to every soul
In them is what we see

Being something beautiful
Our joy this day to share
With our unique own giftings
With a heart to care

May we all “be something beautiful” today. Please check out Daryl’s other inspiration poetry on the link provided above.

Blessed are you, O LORD;
 teach me your statutes! 
With my lips I declare 
all the rules of your mouth. 
In the way of your testimonies I delight 
as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts 
and fix my eyes on your ways. 
I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:12-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the beauty I see all around me, both in physical surroundings and in the people I meet; let us all strive to be something beautiful today
2. for the gifts/talents/blessings that we all have to share with one another
3. for Psalm 119 and how it teaches me to meditate on God's Word
4. that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
5. that the Word of God is in my heart
Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes! 
With my lips I declare 
all the rules of your mouth.
 In the way of your testimonies I delight 
as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts 
and fix my eyes on your ways. 
I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word. 

Even though princes sit plotting against me, 
your servant will meditate on your statutes. 
Your testimonies are my delight; 
they are my counselors. 

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; 
and I will keep it to the end. 
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law 
and observe it with my whole heart.

 I entreat your favor with all my heart; 
be gracious to me according to your promise. 
(Psalms 119:12-16, 23-24, 33-34, 58 ESV)
For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:13-14 NIV)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. 

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? 
How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? 
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 
Look on me and answer, LORD my God. 
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 
and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," 
and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 
But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
I will sing the LORD's praise, 
for he has been good to me. 
(Psalms 13:1-6 NIV)
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. 

I waited patiently for the LORD; 
he turned to me and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock 
and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear the LORD 
and put their trust in him. 
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, 
who does not look to the proud, 
to those who turn aside to false gods. 

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, 
the things you planned for us. 
None can compare with you; 
were I to speak and tell of your deeds, 
they would be too many to declare. 
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— 
but my ears you have opened— 
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come— 
it is written about me in the scroll. 
I desire to do your will, my God;
 your law is within my heart."

 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
 I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. 
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; 
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. 
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness 
from the great assembly. 

Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
 may your love and faithfulness always protect me. 
For troubles without number surround me;
 my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. 
They are more than the hairs of my head, 
and my heart fails within me. 
Be pleased to save me, LORD; 
come quickly, LORD, to help me. 
May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; 
may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" 
be appalled at their own shame. 
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
 may those who long for your saving help always say, 
"The LORD is great!" 
But as for me, I am poor and needy; 
may the Lord think of me. 
You are my help and my deliverer; 
you are my God, do not delay.
(Psalms 40:1-17 NIV)

Father, this morning has been all about simply reading and meditating on Your Word. I have no pithy words of wisdom or insight to share. I share only Your Word, allowing anyone who comes across this an opportunity to just read Your Word and meditate on it, themselves. Sometimes, that is the best thing for us.

I do, as the Psalmist repeatedly states, delight in Your Word and in Your precepts, pondering them, meditating on them, sometimes many times in a day. I bless You as You continuously teach me Your paths. Your Word is worth more to me than many riches, sweeter than the richest honey. I pray, as the Psalmist, for understanding, that I might keep Your Word and walk in Your paths.

Also, like the Psalmist, I praise You that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I marvel at all of creation, Father, but especially at the workings of the human body and mind. But, like the Psalmist, I also “wrestle with my thoughts.” I recognize the benefit that we have, as humans, that we have total control over what we allow our minds to dwell on. This does not stop, however, unwholesome or unhelpful thoughts from running through my brain. Most of the time, I do pretty good at letting them just run right on through, but, sadly, there are times when I allow them to stop and visit for a while. Help me to be better at not allowing that. Help me maintain thoughts of love, peace, and helpfulness in my mind, and allow only positive, godly thoughts in my spirit. I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation! I will sing Your praise, for You have been good to me!

The truth that my days, my life, are already written in Your book, is too much for me to fathom. Help me to be what You have called me to be; teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. And help me to heed Your most often repeated command to “be not afraid,” for there truly is nothing that man can do to me, ultimately, to harm me. This world, because of You and my place in Your Kingdom, is a perfectly safe place for me to be. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

You make known to me the path of life; 
you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 
(Psalms 16:11 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Why My Soul Was Created

Today is Friday, August 7, 2020. Peace be with you!

22,793

Twelve days until S’s birthday!

It looks as though we are going to go visit my mother tomorrow. She and C had a phone conversation yesterday, not originally about that, but it culminated in a plan to go visit, which I’m perfectly okay with. We will likely grab Subway for lunch, and spend a few hours just chatting and whatnot. It will be nice. We will, of course, try to be as “safe” as possible.

The Texas Rangers dropped another game to the Athletics, which made it a sweep for the A’s. I’m secretly (I guess it’s not much of a secret) wishing that the season just gets cancelled. Neither one of my favorite teams is playing worth a plug nickel. And, to be honest, I’m really not that into it, anyway. I’ve really struggled with being excited about baseball, this year.

I am more excited about it being Friday. Weekend is nigh, and even with a Saturday trip to Mineral Wells, it will be restful. Oh, and while we are in Mineral Wells, I’m sure I will visit the Famous Water Company to get a case or two of Crazy Water #4. I still have a case and a half, but it’s better to get some while I’m there, and not have to wind up paying more for shipping than the actual water costs!

God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.


(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
(Psalms 68:34-35 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the face of God that shines down on us
  2. That we who trust in You are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved by stands fast forever (Psalm 125:1)
  3. For the promise of being in Your presence forever
  4. That the death of Your saints is precious in Your sight
  5. For the promise that, even though we “die,” yet shall we live

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.
(Psalms 139:23-24 MSG)

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:3 ESV)

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
(Psalms 119:15 ESV)

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:33-37 ESV)

A Song of Ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.
(Psalms 125:1-3 ESV)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22:20 ESV)

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.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
(Psalms 116:15 ESV)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
(John 11:21-36 ESV)

I’ve always been intrigued by that verse in Psalm 116. It is difficult, as a human, to consider death as “precious,” but this psalm makes the bold claim that the death of a saint is “precious” to God.

The words of Jesus add a little clarity to this, I think, even though the unnamed psalmist wrote long before Jesus’s day.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

This is the only way death could considered to be “precious.” We believe that, upon death, a soul is ushered into God’s presence. While I believe that I am always in God’s presence, as He is omnipresent, this, I believe, is . . . I can’t even come up with the right words to describe it! To be directly in God’s presence, I can only imagine. This is one of those mysteries that we won’t, I believe, understand until it happens. The saints who have gone on before us understand it. And I believe that my soul understands it, even if it can’t translate it to my brain. Because that is what my soul was created for.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:38 ESV)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
(Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

Father, my soul was created for fellowship with You. My soul was created to be with You for eternity. I praise You for this. I believe that I am among those chosen before the foundations of the world. Not because I’m special, no. But because it was Your good pleasure to do so. And then You worked it out and made it happen by engineering the circumstances surrounding my life. You have sustained this, over time, because, at my present age, I am still following Christ, maybe even more so than ever. I pray that You sustain this until my physical life on this planet is over, that I might eventually rest in Your presence and worship You for all eternity.

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!

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
(Luke 23:43 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

That I May Not Sin With My Tongue

Today is Friday (we made it), February 16, 2018. Day 21,890.

22 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

Sonny Bono, born on this date in 1935 (died 1998), said, “People have said to me, You can’t write songs. You can’t play an instrument. But I’ve got 10 gold records.”
BrainyQuote

The word for today, from Merriam-Webster, is yuppify, a verb which means, “to make appealing to yuppies; also : to infuse with the qualities or values of yuppies.” I wasn’t aware that “yuppy” was still a thing. Isn’t “hipster” the new “yuppy?”

I think C is feeling a bit better. She was in much better spirits after work, yesterday. Apparently, there are quite a few folks who are suffering from this bout of the flu for two weeks or longer.

I have been wondering how I managed to escape getting the flu (at least so far). I had something last week, but I don’t believe it was flu because I never got fever, and it only lasted a few days. There appears to be some evidence that (you may call me crazy, but I don’t care) my daily consumption of Crazy Water (alkaline water from Mineral Wells) has helped boost my immune system and helped me fight off the flu.

Nothing on the agenda for the weekend, other than getting a new tire for C’s car. It seems that she has a bubble on her tire.

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

To the choirmaster: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 
I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 
My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah. 
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 
Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 
I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 
Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 
When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah. 
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 
Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!” 

Psalm 39

Verse 1 is a challenge, isn’t it? Guarding my ways, “that I may not sin with my tongue.” I’m pretty sure I “sin with my tongue” multiple times a day.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
Jeremiah 31:25
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24:3-4

Jon Sweeney, in Daily Guidposts 2018 reminds us, today, of the need to take frequent times throughout the day to center our thoughts and pray. “I pray, and I walk, and sometimes I pray and walk at the same time.”

I find that I do a lot of that, as well. There are many times that I walk from my workstation in the warehouse to the break room, and I pray as I walk. It helps, when I remember. It breaks up the day’s stress and centers my spirit in His Spirit.

Father, I pray for two things today (at least in this prayer). Help me to guard my ways, that I might not sin with my tongue. Then remind me to pray throughout the day, to center my spirit within your Spirit, that I might be protected from the stress and anxiety of the normal day. May you reign strong in my work day today, Father.
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.