Exit to Enter; End to Begin

Today is Sunday, the twenty-eight of February, 2021, the second Sunday of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,998

35 days until Resurrection Sunday

Are you observing Lent? How is it going for you? How does it look different, this year?

I registered a loss of 4.8 pounds at the WW Workshop, yesterday! That’s awesome, even for a two-week stretch. Perhaps I have managed to get off of that plateau upon which I seemed stuck for a couple months. The topic of discussion, yesterday was “non-scale victories,” otherwise known as “NSVs.” #nsv on social media.

A non-scale victory can be anything that is not related to numbers on a scale. It can be changing clothing sizes, being able to physically do something that one couldn’t do before losing a significant amount of weight, or reducing medication dosage, like I have, recently. So I’m going to try to focus on those, during the coming week. C will need to work on that, as well, as she is now three weeks into her quest for lifetime membership.

As previously mentioned, I plan to be “going to church,” this morning, as Jacob and I will be attending St. Barnabas Anglican Church for their 10:00 AM service. Should be interesting.

I’m looking forward to a restful afternoon. C may go out and do something. I know she is restless because she is having to go back to the office starting tomorrow. She has really enjoyed her time at home, and is having to come up with a different exercise schedule. That is probably the most difficult part, besides spending sixty to ninety minutes driving every day.


"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.
(Psalms 133:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That today is the last day of February
  • For an opportunity to experience something new in worship, this morning
  • That my heart will sing your praises and not be silent (Psalm 30)
  • That death is not the end, but the beginning of something new
  • For Your kingdom, in which I am currently dwelling in my “home” away from Home

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

Second Sunday in Lent


Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 NIV)

Meditate for a moment on the everlasting kingdom of God.


A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
(Psalms 30:1 NIV)

When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:6-12 NIV)


The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
(Genesis 12:1-4 NIV)


These are some pretty incredible promises made by God to Abram. But we know from the rest of the story that they all came true. Most people in the world today know who Abraham was. And he was actually made into more than one great nation. Some say that the nations of Islam are descended from Ishmael. This may or may not be true. But we do know that the descendants of Ishmael, as well as the descendants of Esau (also a descendent of Abraham) are not considered part of Israel. We have to consult non-biblical history sources to trace all of that.

But the most important of those promises, in my opinion, is “all peoples on earth will be blessed by you.” This was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is, also in my opinion, the primary reason for the existence of Israel.

Note Abram’s age when this all began. He was seventy-five years old!!

Father, I thank You for blessing all peoples of the earth through Abraham and his obedience to you. Will I get to meet him someday? I’m not sure how all of this post-resurrection stuff will work, honestly. It’s also not really a primary concern. But it would be nice to get to chat with Abraham. I’m sure there will be a waiting list. Hahaha! As I sit here and ponder eternal life, I am almost overwhelmed, though. It will be such a shift from what we are used to, here. Everything here is finite. Everything here has a beginning and an end. Eternal life will, at least, have no end. You have no beginning, another thing which my mind cannot comprehend at all.

But my prayer is rambling, and I think there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe that’s the best kind of prayer. I thank You for consistently lifting me out of the depths, throughout my life, because I always manage to find myself in some kind of pit or another. I have, like David, felt secure and boasted that I would never be shaken. Usually, in minutes, I have been shaken, and no longer feel secure. But You always draw me back in to Yourself. All praise and glory to You for that! My heart will sing Your praises and not be silent.

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.

"Good God,
you didn't turn you back on a world
plunged up to its neck in physical and spiritual death
but set out to rescue it.
I worship you for your resolute goodness
and wisdom that sought and found me;
I thank you for the blessing
that has comet o me in Jesus,
and pray that my life may be a blessing
to others.
(Belgic Confession 17)


I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalms 130:5 NIV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 NIV)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV)

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:20 NIV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:10 NIV)

What is the best thing to say to someone who is suffering? “What is the true thing to say?” One of the most awkward situations to be in is being in the presence of someone who is suffering, for whatever reason. You feel like you have to say something. But then, that is a human characteristic, isn’t it? Especially a Western human characteristic. (These are my words, not Peterson’s.) We always feel like we have to be talking!

But in the presence of one who is suffering, when I am not suffering, it is a great challenge. What do I say? They might respond by saying, “It is well enough for you to talk like that, but it is not you who are suffering.” Also, there is the danger of saying the absolute wrong, worst thing. You don’t want to give false hope; you don’t want to cause disillusionment. You don’t want to completely miss the mark and cause hindrance in the person’s journey.

In John’s letter to the Smyrna Church, Jesus first describes Himself as “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again” (verse 8). In saying the words “first and last,” Jesus “includes everything within himself. He is at the beginning and at the end; all that occurs between occurs in the context of his presence.” Peterson believes, and I agree, that this is important for the church that is suffering.

Christ is at the beginning, and He is here with us until the finish. He will not go off and leave us in the midst of our suffering.

Consider also the order of the words, “who died and came to life again.” We humans don’t think of existence in that direction. We are born and then we die. Life is the beginning; death is the end. One of the things that makes suffering so frightening is that it “threatens to bring the end closer.”

Ponder that last statement for a bit, as it is a key point in this discussion. We fear suffering because it threatens to bring our lives to an end.

But in describing Himself as He “who died and came to life again,” Christ calls out death as a beginning! “Instead of disaster, it became resurrection.” This person speaks living words of life to us!

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)

On that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt like an army.
(Exodus 12:51 NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
(Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT)

In a rare moment of congruence, my last resource echoes my first one, this morning, as it speaks of Abraham leaving his home in order to eventually find the Promised Land.

Israel is called “Ivrim” in Hebrew, which means, “Those who cross over.” The point is made that, not only did they cross over the Jordan to get to the Promised Land, but they also crossed over the Red Sea to leave Egypt. Before they could enter the Land, they had to exit another land.

“You can’t enter unless you leave.” This most simple of statements is a deep truth. Every time you enter a room, you leave another room. When you exit your house, you enter the outdoors.

When we enter the break room at work, there is a button we must press to unlock the magnetic security lock going in. But it says “Push to exit.” I always thought it was wrong. I’m not exiting! I’m entering! But, when this truth is considered, I am also exiting!

This goes for our spiritual lives, as well. “If you want to get to the place where you aren’t, you must first leave the place where you are. Leave the old, and you will enter the new. Cross the Red Sea out of your Egypt, and you will also cross the Jordan River into your promised land.”

The Mission: Where do you need to go? What promised land has God called you to enter? What must you first leave? Begin your exodus today.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, these are things worthy of pondering, this day. How do we approach suffering and the ministry to those who are in the midst of it? How do we consider this idea of exiting and entering? For, in order to enter eternal life, we must leave something else. Death is the beginning; eternal life is the end that never ends. Give me wisdom as I ponder these things today. I pray for Your Church all around the world. Help us to get it right. And by “it” I mean everything that relates to You, eternal life, Your Kingdom, and the Holy Trinity. All praise and glory to You, Father!

Lord, may You give us all hope and joy in the resurrection, both in that of Jesus Christ, and the one we will eventually experience in Him. Give us all confidence and encouragement to share the testimony of the living Christ in the world in which we live.

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!

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
(Revelation 2:8 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Word, the World, and Sacrifice

Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh day of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,997

36 days until Resurrection Sunday

I will start out by reporting on my vaccine experience, yesterday. I arrived at the Baylor Scott & White location (they are my health care provider organization) right about 12:00 PM. My appointment was for 12:15.

As I was approaching the parking garage, I was initially panicked by the number of cars parked in a grassy field across the driveway from the building. These turned out to be not related at all. But, since I was in a mild state of anxiety, when I found a parking place on level 2, I grabbed it, and headed for the elevator to go to the sixth floor, where the vaccines were administered.

The good people with BS&W have this down to a well-oiled system! There must have been at least a hundred staff people (I wonder how many were volunteers) on site. There were at least three in the hall, as soon as we stepped off the elevator, directing us in the right direction immediately. Just around the corner, a gentleman was scanning people for temperature.

As I approached the first area of a large room (this appeared to be happening on the top floor, in an area that was yet undeveloped), a friendly person directed me to one of many tables set up in the area. Within seconds of when I sat down, a young lady was in front of me, handing me a form to fill out, along with a fact sheet about the vaccine. I would be getting the Pfizer version.

After filling out the form, I was directed to the next area, where another friendly staff person directed me to another table, at which was sitting a lady at a computer. She quickly registered me, explained the vaccine card to me, and provided me with my next appointment, exactly three weeks in the future, same bat-time, same bat-place (I know . . . I’m showing my age with that, but I’ve never tried to hide it, anyway). She then pointed the way to an exit door and told me they were waiting for me, as she handed me my vaccine card and form. I thanked her as I stood, barely able to hold back tears.

I found that I was way more emotional than I expected to be, as this process progressed.

I went through the door, into yet another large room, where another friendly staff person directed me to a table staffed by a couple of health care professionals. I sat down, and the lady courteously spoke with me about the shot, asked a few questions (have I ever had a reaction to a vaccine; which arm, and so on), and explained that I would be asked to sit and wait for fifteen minutes after the shot, to insure that I did not have any serious, immediate reaction. And just like that, it was done. I never even felt the needle.

As I got up and moved to the next area, filled with chairs for the fifteen minute wait, I was greeted by gentlemen handing out stickers declaring that I had been vaccinated against COVID-19. I found an empty chair and sat down to wait, fighting back (not necessarily successfully) tears the whole time. The time went quickly, as I watched, in a bit of amazement, the buzz of activity around me.

As I left, I thanked every staff person/volunteer I could see, thanked them for being there. I do believe that a few of them were quite surprised by that. I hope it made their day.

As to any reactions or side effects, the only thing that I can say for certain is that my arm hurts like a son-of-a-gun! Up until about four hours after the shot, I was wondering if I even really got a shot! After that four hours, though, there was no doubt, and it still hurts pretty bad, this morning. Otherwise, I have had no other effects that I can say for certain are related to the vaccine. I had a very mild headache for a little bit, yesterday evening, and, at one point, my fingertips on the arm where I received the shot were a little tingly, but who knows if either one of those were related.

It was a fantastic experience. My thanks go out to the good people at BS&W for how efficiently they worked this. There was literally never any time where I was standing and waiting, except for when I was waiting for an elevator. And that’s not their fault, is it?

My appointment for the second shot is at 12:15 PM on March 19.

We have our WW Workshop, this morning, at 10:30. We didn’t get a weigh-in last week, because of our week of winter, so I should definitely lose a little. At this point, I’m not sure how much, but it should be at least a couple pounds. Looking at my weight from two weeks ago, I suppose it might even be as much as four pounds.

Tomorrow morning, our little church will be taking a break, as the other two leaders and their wives are on a hunting trip. They tried to act like they weren’t going to be together, but some of us knew better. So, I’m going to take this opportunity and do something completely different. Our form pastor, Jacob, and I will be attending St. Barnabas Anglican Church tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM. I am really looking forward to this. I’m not sure what to expect, other than a lot of liturgy/ritual, and a bit of responsive recitation back and forth with the priests. It should be quite interesting, especially considering that this will be the second Sunday of Lent.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the Anglican Church is Protestant, born out of the Reformation. But a lot of what happens in their service still resembles Catholicism.


This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
(Psalms 121:7-8 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I successfully got my first COVID-19 shot
  • That I have had no adverse effects, other than my arm hurts pretty bad
  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for another work week
  • That the Word precedes the world
  • For the example of hundreds of years of Christian martyrs

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



The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

As this first full week of Lent comes to a close, take a moment to reflect on your closeness to the Father, and His great salvation in Christ Jesus.


A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
(Psalms 29:1-5 NIV)

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:9-11 NIV)


For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
(1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV)


“Ascribe . . .” what does that mean?

It means “to attribute” something to someone. So when we ascribe to God glory and strength, the “glory due his name,” we attribute these characteristics to him. In other words, we acknowledge His glory and strength.

His holiness is indeed full of splendor, and worthy to be worshiped. The rest of that psalm proclaims the power of His voice over creation. And if His voice thunders over the waters, how incredible must be the strength He gives His people?

Considering this, it is not unbelievable that He brought Jesus Christ back to life, following His great sacrifice for us on the Cross. He was raised, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, with all things in submission to Him.

Also important is the word “once” in verse 18 of the 1 Peter passage. In contrast to the Hebrew sacrificial system, which had to be performed on a daily basis, Jesus died once. He “suffered once for sins.” The NLT says “once for all time,” nailing it down even more explicitly.

So when Jesus said, “It is finished,” on the Cross, He meant it.

The reason is also made clear. “To bring you to God.” And contrary to what many people seem to believe, that is the only way to get to God. There are not “many roads” to the Father. There is one. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Father, I praise You, this morning, for Your great glory and strength. I lift up Your Name because of Your great holiness, the splendor of Your majesty. Thank You for the strength and the peace You give Your people. I also thank You for the sacrifice made for sin, once for all time, by Jesus on the Cross. I thank You that, in this sacrifice, I have been brought into Your presence, so that I can truly worship You in spirit and in truth. I long for the day when Jesus will return to lead us into our Home forever.

"Persuasive God,
I know it sounds odd,
but sometimes my sin seems
too big and ugly even for you.
Keep me from adding to my sin
by thinking that your power can't forgive me now.
Convince my unbelieving heart that
through Christ's sufferings
I'm forgiven and forever right with you.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
(Heidelberg Catechism 21)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalms 139:11-12 NIV)

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
(Deuteronomy 28:7 NIV)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
(Revelation 2:10 NIV)

In contrast to Ephesus, who got a warning about abandoning their first love, Smyrna got a promise. But it’s not the kind of promise that we like to hear. “Things are going to get worse,” they were told.

One wonders if Jesus’s words to the church at Smyrna were echoing in Polycarp’s mind as he burned to death. And, then, one wonders what lead a group of early American to name their Delaware town after Smyrna. “Perhaps to keep before them the example of the person who was faithful to death and fearless in the face opposition. To remind them that the sequence is not life to death but death to life.”

Says Peterson, “I live in a culture and a society where hardly anyone knows the meaning of the word sacrifice, where suffering is something to be avoided at all costs and complained of when it can’t be avoided, and where it is unthinkable that there is anything more important than preserving and extending my life.”

In contrast to our modern culture, for three hundred years, the church’s “most important model of the Christian life was that of a martyr – the person whose witness was authentic to the point of death.”

This is the great paradox of the Christian life. In order to truly live, we must die. Not physically, of course, not literally. But we must die, as Paul repeatedly says, to ourselves. If we use all our energy trying to preserve our lives, the opposite will happen. “But if we live at risk, giving up all in witness and commitment and love, we are released form death to live in the power of the Resurrection.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
(Psalms 33:6-9 NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
(John 1:1-4 NLT)

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
(Hebrews 11:3 NLT)

The Word preceded the world. In fact, it was the Word which created the world. God spoke, and everything came into existence. By His Word, the universe was created ex nihilo, out of nothing.

According to Jonathan Cahn, the world, the creation, is the olam. The Word is the Davar. The Davar came before the olam.

God’s Word stands forever, and never changes. It will accomplish all that it is set forth to accomplish. Even more importantly, that Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

We must stand on the Word, regardless of what we see in the world.

The Mission: Choose the Word over the world, over your circumstances, your problems, and everything else. Let the Davar rule your olam.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the truths presented this morning. I thank You for Your Word, both spoken by You and the Word become flesh, that we might be drawn to You and Your kingdom. Help me to stand on Your Word each day as I walk in this world. May Your Word guide me over my circumstances; may Your Word rule over my problems. And may I be willing to sacrifice for Your sake and the sake of the Gospel in this world.

Lord, I pray for the mission-mindedness of the Church, these days. There seems to be a bit of an identity crisis in recent years. Help us to remember what we are about. I also pray for “servant leadership, kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization” in the local church. Especially that “servant leadership” part. It is way past time for our pastors to stop acting like authority figures and start acting like servants, mimicking the life of Jesus. Likewise, I pray for deacons and other servants in the local churches, that they, too, would transition from thinking that they are a governmental body, into realizing that their original purpose was to “wait tables.”

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!

Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us.

Grace and peace, friends.

Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fifth of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,995

38 days until Resurrection Sunday!

A couple of news items, and then on to the morning devotional.

I received a somewhat unexpected message from my health care provider, yesterday afternoon. “It’s your turn! Schedule your COVID vaccine,” it said. So I did. I’m getting round 1 tomorrow afternoon (Friday), at a Baylor Scott & White clinic in Frisco, TX. I chose that one for two reasons. One, it is close to where I work (within ten miles), and, two, they had appointments on Friday, which works well, in case the shot makes me feel ill. I will leave work early, get the shot, and take the rest of the day off.

The second news item is that my new glasses arrived yesterday. The eyecare place is open until 7:00 PM on Wednesdays, so I stopped by to pick them up. After a couple of adjustments, I went on home. However, I may need to stop by Saturday for one more adjustment, as I think they still might be riding a little high on my nose. These new ones are trifocals, so they will take a little getting used to. However, I’m sitting here typing with them on, and I can see the computer screen perfectly! So I will no longer need two pair of glasses! Huzzah!

Have I mentioned that C has to return to the office next week? We are pretty bummed about that. But, as they say, “it is what it is.” On March 1, they are returning to the office. To sit in their offices with their doors closed. And still have virtual meetings. Oh, well.


Prayer to the Most Holy Name of Jesus
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus’ name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.

I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
(Psalms 77:5-9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am getting my COVID vaccine tomorrow
  • That You have NOT forgotten Your unfailing love and compassion!
  • For the confidence that I have in You, no matter what my circumstances throw at me
  • That Your Word tells us it’s okay to have fun (read Ecclesiastes!)
  • That the plurality of God’s mercies is more than enough for the singularity of my sinful condition

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



The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Sit in silence for a moment, pondering the unfailing love of the Lord.


Of David.

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?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
(Psalms 27:1-3 NIV)

Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
(Psalms 27:9-10 NIV)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:13-14 NIV)


If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10:9-13 NIV)


There’s a word that captures my attention in the psalm, this morning. It appears twice. That word is “confident.” David declares that, even if an army wages war against him, he will be confident. Confident of what? Verse 1 appears to be the answer.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?”

In the words of the Emperor Joseph, in the movie Amadeus, “Well . . . there it is.”

If verse 1 of Psalm 27 is true, the rest follows. Of whom shall I be afraid? What can man do to me? What is the worst thing that could happen to me? Death? That sends me Home!

But even in the face of all the bad things that may happen to him, in verses 9 and 10, David again uses that word and says, “I remain confident.” He believes with all his heart that he will see God’s goodness, still, in this life.

I share David’s confidence, this morning. In spite of everything that 2020 and 2021 have thrown at us (and we are still barely in 2021), I believe that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I saw it last week. In the middle of the frozen crisis in Texas, last week, I saw the goodness of the Lord. And if you didn’t . . . you’re doin’ it wrong!

One quick note about the Romans passage. All that is required to be saved is to call upon the name of the Lord. It does not say “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord and gives up drinking, dancing, fornicating, and smoking will be saved.” It does not say “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord and votes pro-life will be saved.” There are NO conditions other than believing in your heart and declaring that Jesus is Lord!

Another thing I am confident of: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Period.

Father, I praise You for this great salvation which requires nothing other than believing with our hearts and declaring that Jesus is Lord! I thank You for the confidence that You have placed in my heart, confidence not in myself or any “good” works that I might do, but confidence in YOU and You alone! I have seen, and believe that I will continue to see, Your goodness in the “land of the living.” I am also confident in my eternal inheritance. The further You draw me in, the more confident I am of that inheritance which resides where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal. All glory to You, Father!

"God of truth,
I don't like to face the sin in me -
it's ugly and frightening.
But avoiding it only gets me
tangled deeper in deception.
So give me the courage
to take an honest look at myself,
and may that honesty make me
long more and more for your salvation that
sets me free from this body of death.
In Christ's name,
(Belgic Confession 15)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT)

So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
(Ecclesiastes 3:12 NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

Did you ever know that the Bible says it is okay to have FUN?? There is something to be said for spontaneity. I’m not very good at that, myself. The spontaneous part. I love having fun. Perhaps too much. But I like to plan things. But the older I get, the more I like for vacation trips to be unplanned. I start feeling tired before it begins, if there is something planned for every day.

I bet you did know that the Bible commands us to love each other. But guess what! Loving people, truly loving them and not pretending, as the Romans verse warns us against, is also fun! Loving people is fun.

So have some fun today! Be spontaneous! Love someone and do something unexpected for them!

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.
(Daniel 9:9 NLT)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

Jonathan Cahn points out, in The Book of Mysteries, that the Hebrew word for mercy, “rachamim,” is actually plural. Mercies. It is interesting. In the Lamentations passage, the word for “mercies” is “chesed.” But in Daniel, it is “racham.” But both times, it is translated “mercies” or “merciful.” The KJV says “mercies” in Daniel 9, as well.

The point, though, is that God’s mercy is plural. It is infinite. As opposed to our sin, which is singular. Yes, we have plural “sins,” but those are actions, occurrences. “Sin,” singular, is our condition. And the mercies of God are more than enough for our sinful condition, regardless of the plurality of sins.

The Mission: Open your heart today to receive the rachamim God has for you, not only for your sins, but the overflowing rivers of His compassions and love.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the plurality of Your mercies, which is more than enough for my sinful condition. I thank You that You have placed within my heart the confidence and belief that is required for me to call upon Your name, that I may be saved. Your mercies . . . Your compassions . . . will never fail. Praise to You, Father!

Lord, I pray that You would keep giving me more and more yearning to know You more and also give me the diligence to continue seeking You, day by day. I pray for the fullness of the Spirit of Christ within my soul, as well as all other believers, this day. And I pray for any family members and friends who may not share my faith in You, or perhaps their faith wanes. I pray that You draw them in to Yourself by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and may I be an acceptable witness to Your grace and goodness.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Speaking of fun . . .

Grace and peace, friends . . . and FUN!

Rivers of Living Water From the Wells of Yeshua

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Day 22,994

39 days until Resurrection Sunday!

I woke up to a message from my doctor’s office, this morning. I had gotten test results throughout the day, yesterday, all of which were good. Finally, at the end of the day, they sent comments and instructions for going forward. The best part is that my A1C is 5.4, which is normal. It’s not even in “pre-diabetic” range. This is great news. Of course, I have been taking 1000 mg of Metformin twice a day for a while, now. The plan is to reduce that in half. As soon as I get my new prescription, I will begin taking 500 mg twice a day. No doubt, the glucose readings will be a bit elevated, at first. But hopefully, as I continue my healthy journey, they will also continue to trend downward.

It is 6:00 AM, time for the daily devotional.


Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes the arrogant.
(Psalms 31:23 NLT)

The people will play flutes and sing, “The source of my life springs from Jerusalem!”
(Psalms 87:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That I am alive and breathing
  • For another new day, and this time of prayer and meditation
  • For Your covenants with mankind and creation
  • For the stories of people like Polycarp
  • For the living water of Your Holy Spirit, drawn from the wells of Yeshua

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



The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Take a moment to meditate on the Lord’s closeness. Is He close to you, this morning?


Of David.

Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
(Psalms 26:1-3 NIV)

Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
(Psalms 26:9-12 NIV)


Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
(Genesis 9:8-17 NIV)


I confess that, when I read the above psalm, my initial reaction is skepticism. My thought is, “Oh, really?? You’ve led a blameless life, have you?” I know I could never pray that prayer with any amount of sincerity, and I’ve got the salvific work of Christ behind me.

But here’s the thing. As far as we know, David was honest about all of his sins and confessed them all to God. As far us, this “salvific work” of Jesus has removed all of our sins from us. So, technically, yes, I can pray that prayer, because of Jesus!

It’s a bold prayer, but it also speaks confidence; confidence that our Father is just, and that He will not punish us along with the “sinners,” with “those who are bloodthirsty.” The older I get, the more my confidence in my Father grows. That’s a correlation, not a causation. My confidence is not growing because I’m getting older. It’s growing because, as I age, I am seeking God more diligently. And even this is because of His grace in drawing me closer to Him.

We see in the Genesis passage, God making a covenant. And this covenant He made was with all living creatures, not just man. Perhaps I have noticed that before, but it seems fresh, today.

The covenant has been confused, over the years. God did not promise to never allow a flood again. Nor did He promise that the earth would never be destroyed again. He only promised that it would not be destroyed by a flood.

We get twisted around, sometimes, in proclaiming God’s “promises.” A big one in recent years has been “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

Balderdash! Fol-de-rol and fiddledy-dee fiddledy faddledy foddle.

The Bible most certainly never says that! The opposite is true. If God never gave you more than you can handle, you would never need God, would you?

We must be careful in declaring these “promises;” careful to be sure that they really are promises.

In my most recent favorite book, Prayer In the Night, Tish Harrison Warren wrote that God cannot be trusted to keep bad things from happening to us. This would make some peoples’ heads spin, because they would stop reading after “God cannot be trusted.” But the statement is true, because God never promised to keep bad things from happening to us. God didn’t keep bad things from happening to God!!

But God did make promises! And one of my favorites is in Isaiah 41.

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

Father, I thank You for Your promises, most especially that one in Isaiah 41:10. Over and over in Scripture, You tell us to fear not; You promise protection; You promise deliverance from the bad things. You don’t promise to keep the bad things away, and that’s okay, because that’s where we learn to trust You. If we never went through the darkness and the cold, we would not appreciate the light and the heat. Help us to know Your truths and Your promises, and teach us to trust You through all things.

"Forgiving God,
the world is bent over with brokenness,
weight down with sin that spreads
through the human race
and sprouts up misery everywhere.
It's a wonder you don't uproot
the whole tangled mess and end it all - 
but you promised not to do that.
I praise you for your bow of mercy
that is now bent over the world,
for the freedom from sin I can know
in the grace of Jesus Christ.
(Belgic Confession 15)

(Note the reference of misunderstanding the Genesis covenant in that prayer.)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
(Psalms 4:3 NIV)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 NIV)

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
(Matthew 21:22 NIV)

That last one is tricky. But one thing I have learned is this, and Carol Kuykendall points this out in today’s Daily Guideposts reading. God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we are expecting. He will answer. That He does promise. But it may not quite be what we wanted or expected. And we need to be okay with that.

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . . . But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLT)

We left off, yesterday, with Polycarp, in Smyrna. Polycarp is not mentioned in the Bible, but history tells us that he was one of John the Revelator’s disciples, and was part of the church in Smyrna when John wrote his letters.

Polycarp was eventually arrested and “was taken to an arena where great crowds gathered to see Christians burned.” He was placed in the middle and commanded to curse Christ.

His reply: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

The proconsul continued by demanding that Polycarp swear by Caesar. Again, he refused, proclaiming his Christianity. The proconsul threated to release wild beasts upon Polycarp, to which Polycarp replied, “Call them. For repentance from the better to the worse is not permitted to us; but it is noble to change from what is evil to what is righteous.”

The proconsul threatened fire. Said Polycarp, “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little. . . . Why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

The flames were lit; “Polycarp burned while the world watched.”

Who are your heroes? “The self-indulgent or the self-sacrificing?”

Here’s the thing. “We don’t get the Christ-life without the self–death.” Based on historical evidence, the faithful in Smyrna were exactly that; faithful through suffering, faithful to the death.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
(Isaiah 12:1-3 NLT)

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
(John 7:37-39 NLT)

Here’s something I just learned today. In that passage from Isaiah, the last word is “salvation.” The Hebrew word there is “yeshuah!” That is also our name for Jesus. The passage from John takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles, during which a water drawing ceremony took place each day. Fascinating.

The Mission: Today, come to the wells of Yeshua, and in joy, draw forth and partake of the rivers of living waters of the Spirit of God.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for the living water of Your Spirit, drawn from the wells of Yeshuah, wells that are infinitely producing. I praise You for Your covenants with us, and that Your promises never fail. Help me to walk in those promises, and may those rivers of living water flow from me to all around me, today. All glory to You!

Lord, I lift up prayers for governments and leaders all over the world. May Your Holy Spirit be present in every form of government, and may You be in total control of all things. Please give the resources to Your people, world wide, to meet needs in their communities and cities. I pray specifically for the Asian continent, this morning. May Your presence be known in their countries, states, cities, and communities. I also pray for areas of hunger and disease throughout the world, Lord. Please be Provider for all who hunger, this day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

No Short Cuts

Today is Tuesday? Yes. Tuesday, the twenty-third of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,993

Forty days until Resurrection Sunday!

Yesterday didn’t seem like a day off from work, really. But I got a lot accomplished. The doctor’s visit was good. She was pleased, naturally, with my continued weight loss progress, and spoke positively about the potential to reduce medications, pending, of course, blood work results. I have already seen several test results, but not the one we are all waiting for, yet, which is the glucose level. Hopefully, that one will appear today.

I had a nice visit with my mother, in Mineral Wells. We were not able to have Subway for lunch, because the store was closed when I arrived, due to the boil order still in force in MW. They had several water mains break over the past week. However, Mesquite Pit was open, so I stopped there and got some take out food. I had their grilled catfish, which was good, and low in WW Smartpoints.

After lunch, I was able to successfully get my driver’s license renewed at the DPS station in MW. It was much less stressful and crowded than the local ones around where we live. In fact, there were never more than four customers in the building while I was there, and, with a 1:00 PM appointment, I was out of there before 2:00 PM. My new license will not expire until 2030, so apparently, I did not lose the year that was left on the current one, which pleasantly surprises me! And it will have that silly Real ID star on it, so I will be able to board an airplane, should we elect to fly somewhere later this year.

I was also able to stock up on Crazy Water #4, picking up two cases of liter bottles at the Famous Water Company store.

It was a lot of driving for one day, and I was ready to hit the sack before 8:00 PM. But it was a good and productive day. I was also able to help my mother (hopefully) with some technical issues she was having.

Back to work, and, hopefully, back to whatever passes for “normal” these days. It’s really bad when your abnormal becomes abnormal, and you’re happy just to get back to “normal abnormal.”


Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!
(Psalms 30:11-12 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the good, productive day I had yesterday
  • For Your constant presence in my life
  • That there are no shortcuts to true spiritual transformation
  • For Your peace
  • That You chose to include Gentiles in the company of faith

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



The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Take a moment to meditate on the Lord’s closeness to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. Embrace that closeness if you fall into one of those categories.


Of David.

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:1-11 NIV)


Verse 4 of the Psalms passage is one that I have memorized in the past. In the ESV, it says, “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” This is a worthy prayer to pray on a regular basis. I always need God to reveal to me His ways and teach me His paths.

Most of us are familiar with the Matthew passage, which, by the way, contains the whole logic behind the Lent season. Even though the concept of Lent, itself, is not exactly biblical, it is taken from the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before His temptations.

We are also familiar with the fact that Jesus uses Scripture to answer every temptation, which speaks of the value of Scripture memorization.

But what stands out to me, today, is the idea of shortcuts. Every temptation offered to Jesus by the tempter is a shortcut. “Turn these rocks into bread; because You can!” “Jump off of the roof and show everyone how much God loves You; because You can!” “Bow down to me and gain the kingdoms of the world, so You don’t have to go through all of that suffering (and death) to get them!”

We are often tempted to take shortcuts. It happens as early as elementary school when we are offered a way to cheat on a test or project. And it continues throughout life. How often does a shortcut pan out the way we hope, though? I’ve seen many a vehicle get stuck in the mud on the median between the backed up freeway and the service road.

Shortcuts rarely work, and, even if they do, the work is not as complete as it would have been, had the complete process been followed.

And, regarding spiritual growth, there ARE no shortcuts! The only way to achieve true spiritual formation is through rigorous discipline. There are not “spiritual steroids,” no “holy PEDs.” We must do the work to enjoy the benefits.

And Jesus showed us that in this great testimony, when He declined the devil’s offers.

Father, thank You for showing us Your ways and teaching us Your paths. Thank You for showing us the truth that there are no shortcuts to true spiritual formation and transformation. If we are to follow in the footsteps and ways of Christ, there are not shortcuts. Help me to be more faithful to practice the disciplines required to reach the goal.

"Suffering Savior,
thank you for the confidence I have
to come to you when I stumble in sin.
You're not shocked by my sin,
and you don't turn away from me
because of my weakness.
You know the lure of sin because
you were tempted in all things,
so you can help me in my struggle against sin.
I turn to you,
compassionate Savior:
help me today.
(Belgic Confession 26)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
“I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.”
(Revelation 2:8-11 NLT)

The chapter on the letter to Smyrna is called “The Test of Our Suffering.”

Eugene Peterson writes about being surprised when he moved from the western US to the East coast. In the west, the towns were named after Native American things and places. But when he arrived in the east, the names of the towns followed “the map of faith.” There were places like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Salem, and so on. And there was a town in Delaware names Smyrna. Why is there a Smyrna in Delaware? “Smyrna is where Christians suffered and went to their death rather than deny Christ.”

John told them, in his letter to them, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. . . . Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

One of the martyrs in Smyrna was a man named Polycarp.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, my gratitude this morning, that You chose to include us Gentiles in Your family of faith, cannot be adequately expressed. You could have easily blessed only Israel and left the rest of the world to be damned and doomed. But You gave Jesus to us, as well, and granted faith to us, that we might also believe and possess eternal life in You. Thank you, Lord! All glory to You!

I thank You, Lord, for the calling on my life to serve and follow You in my home, neighborhood, and workplace. Help me, by Your Spirit to fulfill that calling. I pray for our capacity to serve the common good, as we follow You. Help us to love our neighbors. I pray especially, today, for all involved in medical practice, especially those involved in the fight against COVID-19.

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!

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.

Walk In the Light

Today is Monday, the twenty-second of February, 2021, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,992

41 days until Resurrection Sunday!

I have scheduled PTO today, but I’m up early, as I have a 9:00 AM doctor’s appointment, followed by a trip to Mineral Wells to, hopefully, get my driver’s license renewed. I think I have all of the documents required to do that, now.

It is currently 35 degrees outside, quite a bit warmer than predicted. I’m hoping it didn’t get below freezing again, as we are trying to get all of our pool stuff thawed and running again. The pool, itself is thawed, but it wouldn’t circulate water, yesterday, which makes us think that there is still some ice somewhere between the pump and the pool. But it got up to 72 degrees yesterday (yes, it went from 3 degrees to over 70 in less than a week), and the projected high for today is 69 and 78 tomorrow! As we roll toward March, the temps seem much milder than last week, which is good. Hopefully, we have had all the “winter” we’re going to have for this year.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him.
(Psalms 4:3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For an extra day off from work, even though it will be busy with tasks
  • For above-freezing temperatures
  • For the book, Prayer in the Night, by Tish Harrison Warren
  • For the forgiveness of sin; the purification of my heart
  • For the Light of the world

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



The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Spend a quiet moment meditation on the Lord’s closeness to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. Embrace His closeness if you are one of those today.


Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.
(Psalms 24:1-10 NIV)


This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:5-10 NIV)


If we have clean hands and a pure heart, we may ascend the mountain of the Lord, says the psalmist. How do we accomplish this? By walking in the light, as He is in the light. As we walk in the light, we also have fellowship with one another, and we are purified from “all sin.” If we are purified from all sin, then we have clean hands and a pure heart.

Let us not, however, claim that we are without sin. I am not without sin. But my record of sin has been expunged; wiped clean. My past has been changed; God is making all things new.

1 John 1:9 is a favorite memory verse, and with good reason. It proclaims forgiveness and purification. But we must confess our sinfulness; we must “own it,” as they say, acknowledging that we are sinners in need of purification.

Father, I praise You for the truth of this passage. I thank You for forgiveness and purification, which has already taken place in my life. I thank You that You are still making things new, in present tense, and that I do not have to worry about the effects of past sin on my life. All glory to You, Lord. Now, give me strength to not sin more, in the future. I will, of course. It is my human nature. But my spirit can be stronger than my flesh, through prayer and meditation on Your Word, and by ascending Your mountain to fellowship with You in Christ.

"Bright God,
shine your light into my darkness;
although I'm home,
the lights are out.
I'm scared in the dark, 
and yet I avoid your demanding light - 
who knows what it might reveal in me?
Who knows what you might ask me to change?
And so I choose darkness over your light.
Only the light of your love can change me.
Jesus, shine in me.
(Belgic Confession 14)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
(Isaiah 40:29 NIV)

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:11 NIV)

Yet [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
(Romans 4:20 NIV)

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
(Revelation 2:4-5 NIV)

We are called by Christ to remember; we are called to repent; we are called to return to our loving ways. But remembering is pointless if the result is “indifference or rebellion.” “The days of our history may rust and corrode the best realities of our lives, and we need to get cleaned up once in a while. Some changes have to be made. We have to return to what Christ first meant to us.”

Being examined is more important than passing the exam. By subjecting ourselves to the examination of Jesus, we acknowledge that this is the standard by which we are willing to be judged. “By taking it, we grasp the God of love openly, receiving him and sharing him as if nothing else in the whole world matters, for in truth nothing else does.”

As will be the case in all of the letters, there is a promise at the close of the exam.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
(Revelation 2:7 NLT)

And what a glorious promise this is! To eat from the tree of life! Adam and Eve never got a chance to eat from that tree, because they disobeyed God’s command and ate from the other one. This tree bears fruit which “enables us to live eternally with God . . . By returning to the first love, we are rewarded with the first food.” I like that!

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray for myself, as well as all of Your children, that we would daily return to that “first love” that we initially had when we first discovered Jesus. Show us this love again; help us to love You and love one another with the love that Jesus has loved us. Help us to walk in the light, as You are in the light.

Lord, I praise You, this morning, for the wonders of creation. Even through the horrors of the previous week, there was still beauty in the ice and snow of creation. But through the beauty, I also see brokenness in creation, and I pray for it to be redeemed, as You continue making all things new. May we have the capacity to see You in all things, “every creature a word or book from” You!

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!

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.

Good or Best?

Today is Sunday, the twenty-first of February, the first Sunday in Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,991

42 days until Resurrection Sunday.

For the first time in a week, it is above freezing, this morning. It won’t be tomorrow morning, but the high today is supposed to be in the low sixties, and same tomorrow.

C was actually able to get groceries, yesterday. It was unplanned, but she had gone out to pick up S’s laptop, which had been in service at Best Buy (it’s not fixed, but that’s long story). She texted me that she was at Winco, and they had stuff, so she went ahead and got our groceries. I had tried an order from Amazon Fresh, but there were no delivery times available through tomorrow. Really, the only thing Winco didn’t have was the kind of bread we like, or milk. She found some suitable bread, and we can live without milk for a bit. We are not big consumers of milk in this house, not even for cooking.

We have our 10:15 Zoom church gathering, this morning, during which we will continue reading and discussing Psalms. We should be starting with Psalm 7 today, and will probably get through three or four chapters.

If I had gotten up a little earlier, this morning, I might have been at a local Anglican Church right now. I’m reading a book by an Anglican priest, Tish Harrison-Warren. The book is called Prayer in the Night, and is all about one of the prayers that is used for daily Compline, which is a part of the “fixed-hour” prayer liturgy. Compline is the prayer to be prayed before going to bed every night. There is a rather long order for it in the Book of Common Prayer, but the one piece that the book focuses on is as follows:

"Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work,
or watch,
or weep this night,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary,
bless the dying,
soothe the suffering,
pity the afflicted,
shield the joyous;
and all for your love's sake.

It’s a beautiful prayer, and I am quite captivated by it, as well as Ms. Harrison-Warren’s treatment of it in this book. I have also developed an interest in the Anglican Church, through reading it.


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)

You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.
(Psalms 81:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For so much that I am almost literally overwhelmed.
  • That I am alive and breathing
  • That we have electricity, lights, heat, and water
  • That we have food
  • That we have resources to share, should there be a need
  • For Your love in my life, which enables me to love others
  • That there is still time for people to seek You

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

First Sunday in Lent


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Take a moment to meditate on this truth. Say a prayer for those who are brokenhearted or crushed in spirit. If you are one of those, embrace the love of the Lord, this morning. Also, let me know, so that I can pray for you.


A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
(Psalms 30:1-5 NIV)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
(Genesis 3:1-7 NIV)


The psalm expresses something that is appropriate for the season. The anger of the Lord is temporary. In fact, I believe that (and this is difficult for me to embrace) that God does not get angry at us who are in Christ. His anger was/is placated by Christ, and His favor is eternal. I love the last phrase, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

We will weep. That much is certain. But that doesn’t have to affect our joy. This is one thing that makes that Compline prayer so powerful. We ask God to dwell with those who are weeping, who are watching, during the night, and those who are working during the night. We ask for His comfort over those who are suffering, struggling, and dying. And we ask Him to shield our joy, to protect it.

One of the big statements of the book, Prayer in the Night, is that we cannot trust God to keep bad things from happening to us. I’m sure that the statement would anger some people, but only because they haven’t really stopped to consider what it really says. The reason we cannot trust God to keep bad things from happening to us is that God never promised to keep bad things from happening to us. God did not even keep bad things from happening to Himself!

What He does promise, though, is deliverance out of those bad things, and protection during them.

One thing I notice, this morning, in the ever-familiar story from Genesis 3 is the word “good” in verse 6. It has oft been pointed out that the way our enemy gets to us is through questions lies. And he does this in Genesis 3. He starts out by getting Eve to question God. “Did God really say . . .?” Then Eve quotes, pretty much verbatim, what God said. Then the lie comes. “You will not certainly die.” And, like a lot of lies, there is a shred of truth in the statement, just enough to be fatal.

Because she didn’t die. Not for a while, at least. It was not instant. But she did, eventually. And the “spiritual” death that occurred has plagued humanity ever since.

Now, back to that word in verse 6. “Good.” She saw that the fruit of the tree was “good.” It was, apparently, also quite lovely to look at. But here’s the thing. There are many things that we fall into that are “good.” And what happens, so often, is that we sacrifice the best for what is “good.” There are things that might be sinful for you or me that are not inherently bad things. They might be “good.” Sometimes, they might not even be sin, really. But they are also not the best for us.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you are starving, you think you’re starving to death. You come upon a table that has a cheeseburger and fries on it. Someone reliable has told you that there is another table in the next room with a big juicy steak, with your choice of potato and/or vegetable. But you can’t see that steak (it may even be prime rib). And there is a person next to the hamburger table who tells you that the other person is lying, and that there is no steak. (“The cake is a lie! The cake is a lie!”)

Do you eat the cheeseburger? Oh, by the way, you can’t have both. Because if you eat the cheeseburger, your hunger will be satisfied, and you won’t need the steak.

If you eat the cheeseburger, you have settled for “good,” and sacrificed the best. It was not a sin to eat the cheeseburger, but it was not the best thing available.

Now, in Eve’s case, it was sin, because God had specifically told them not to eat the fruit of that tree.

And before we go all blaming on Eve, keep reading that next verse, because it said that she gave some to her husband, “who was with her!” My brothers and sisters, Adam was right there the whole time, and never said a word! So stop blaming Eve for everything!

Father, help us to be able to discern “good” from “best” in our lives. Of course, I pray that we will hear Your voice when You speak to us, and that we will obey what we hear when we listen to You. But if we are faced with choices, give us wisdom and discernment to know which is best and that we not settle for what is simply “good.” Help us to trust You when You tell us there is “steak” waiting for us, nearby. And thank You for prayers that are available for us to read and pray; prayers that strengthen our faith and give us assistance, especially when we have no words of our own to pray.

"God of grace,
I can't go very long without sin
showing up somewhere again in my life.
It's tiring to think
that I carry this sin around with me,
in me.
It's a family curse 
that I've inherited,
like a genetic deficiency
that plagues my life
and infects my living.
Lord, be my help and my health.
(Belgic Confession 15)


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith. May God our Father and our Lord Jesus bring us to you very soon. And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.
(1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 NLT)

Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
(1 Timothy 5:1-2 NLT)

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”
(Matthew 25:21 NLT)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
(Revelation 2:1-7 NLT)

Ephesus, in a sense, was “the love capital of the ancient world.” Tourists were drawn to the great shrine to the goddess Artemis, who was a fertility goddess. But this wasn’t truly “love.” It was lust. “It was the manipulation of appetite and the exploitation of bodies. Artemis was false advertising. Love packaged as a commodity was the biggest business in Ephesus.”

But the Christians in Ephesus understood real love: “Love that gave. Love that accepted. Love that was sacrificial and redemptive. Love that paid its promises. Love that wasn’t out to get but out to give. Love that didn’t leave you wasted and cheapened but fulfilled and enriches.”

But, for some reason, they simply quit. It was too much. It demanded too much from them. They could still do their important church jobs, live their moral lives, and fight against evil. But Jesus calls them out in this letter from John.

“Love is what Christ still requires of us. It is what he won’t do without.” He will not lower Himself to our standards, but desires to raise us to His.

What had been the strongest virtue of the Ephesians had become “the source of their failing – they worked so hard to be right and correct that they forgot who they were being good to and how their righteousness affected others.” They had lost their “first love.”

Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT)

Jeremiah wrote these words in the Old Testament:

“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.”
(Jeremiah 2:2 NLT)

Jesus has examined the Ephesians and holds against them that they have abandoned their love. Can we see the same thing in today’s church? Are we more concerned with being right than we are with loving?

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 NLT)

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
(Ephesians 5:16 NLT)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

No one knows how long they have on this earth. Only God knows our beginning and our end. I urge anyone who reads this to do what is called for in the Isaiah passage. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Get right with God while you can. Join in, enter His kingdom, where things are far better than you could ever imagine. Yes, bad things will still happen, God never promises otherwise. But what He does promise, as well as the eternal inheritance that awaits, is so worth it.

Father, there is still time for people to seek You. The days grow fewer, though. Each passing day is one less day in which someone can seek You, in which You can be found. There will come a day when all choices become final. Help me to be a channel, Father, of Your love for humanity. Help me to display truth, but to display it in love and compassion. May I be less concerned with being right (or wanting to be right) than I am with being loving and compassionate. I feel the weight of this past week, Lord, and it is heavy. Please show us where we can render grace and spiritual or physical assistance.

Lord, I pray, this morning, for true and authentic fellowship with Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. He is “best” for me. Please keep giving me spiritual renewal and refreshment, especially during these days that we are in.

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!

Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us.

Grace and peace, friends.

Always and Forever

Today is Thursday, the eighteenth of February, 2021.

Day 22,988

It is 45 days until Resurrection Sunday.

If you wonder how there are only 40 days in Lent, yet there are 45 until Easter, they don’t count Sundays as official Lent days, because we celebrate the resurrection every Sunday. So we had “Shrove Tuesday,” which is more popularly known as “Fat Tuesday,” then “Ash Wednesday,” the official first day of Lent, then it ends on Saturday, April 3, the day before Easter Sunday.

This is our fourth day of below-freezing temperatures. It might get right up to freezing today, but that’s not for sure, and even that depends on which weather app you look at. I have one that has a high of 32, and one that has a high of 30. It is currently 23.

My plan is this. I’m going to do my devotional, take a shower, and go out and drive toward work. If it’s too bad (pretty much if I slide at all), I will turn around and go home. One of my work friends, last night, said the roads weren’t too bad. But he also lives only minutes away from where we work, whereas I live thirty miles away. I have a route planned out that avoids highways. For sure, I won’t be there by 8:00 AM. If I get there at all, they should be happy with that.

As far as I know, we still have at least two families in our church whose power is still out. One house went out yesterday, but came back on later. One has been out since shortly after ours went out Monday morning. Please pray for these folks, and for all of us down here in Texas who are suffering not only the unusual weather, but the consequences of political incompetence. That’s all I’m going to say about that.


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)

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.
(Psalms 17:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That our power still has not gone off again, since it came back on Tuesday afternoon
  • For the compassion and generosity shown by Your people during this time
  • For Your chosen “fast” (Isaiah 58)
  • For the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross
  • That He is my answer, continuously, every day, always, and forever

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



The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
(Psalms 145:8 NIV)


Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
(Psalms 51:7-13 NIV)


“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
(Isaiah 58:5-7 NIV)


The prayer for cleansing coincides with the appropriate fast, chosen by God. Note that the day of fasting is not just for people humbling themselves or being somber or walking around in sackcloth and ashes.

If all we do is paint crosses on our heads with ash-paste, it is useless, it means nothing. The “fast” must include an attitude (along with appropriate actions) of compassion toward those for whom the Lord feels the most compassion. Scripture is clear about this. The ones dearest to the Lord’s heart are those to whom injustice is being done, the oppressed, the hungry, the naked, the sojourner or wanderer, as well as the frequently mentioned widows and orphans.

Father, I pray for a clean heart and a righteous spirit to be renewed within me. Continue to guide my heart into the depths of Your compassion, love, and mercy. Show me where I can help, even if all I can do is send money or other such resources. If I can give time, show me where I can give time. You have blessed us and my heart’s desire is to forward that blessing on to others, when they need it. So show me who needs it, because the blessings are piling up. I’m not real good at seeking out the needy, so You may have to smack me up side the head to get me to see where the need is. Your people seem to be handling this crazy weather streak pretty well, down here in Texas. At least the group that we are associated with. I guess I can’t speak for any other local bodies of believers, but I know ours has been stellar. Keep us joyful in our affliction and suffering, but always mindful that others suffer more than we.

"Living God,
I confess I have crossed your commandments of life;
by my sin I've willing separated myself from you,
my true life.
I'm damaged goods.
My guilt hangs like dead weight in my heart;
I can feel the sentence of death,
in my body and soul.
There is no health in me.
Lord, have mercy.
(Belgic Confession 14)

(Personal note: I do not believe that my sin separates me from God, because I am in Christ. Romans 8 proclaims that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus! “Nothing” includes my sin. After all, the work of Jesus changed my past and eradicated my sin, and that work never ceases working.)


“Redeem us from all wickedness, purify us and make us your very own, eager to do what is good.
(see Titus 2:14)”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.
(2 Samuel 24:24 NLT)

People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.
(Proverbs 21:2 NLT)

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
(Matthew 6:21 NLT)

I know that I have not revealed the content of my Lenten “fast” for this season, but it might be changing, as I write, this morning. Conviction is heavy.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. “
(Revelation 2:4-5 NLT)

It appears that John the Revelator served as pastor for these seven churches, to whom he is writing. Peterson compares them to us and our churches. Very similar, except that they spoke Greek instead of English, and had an emperor in Rome instead of a president in Washington. They also probably wore sandals instead of sneakers.

But, “they got up in the morning and went to bed at night; they ate and drank; they had jobs and lived with families, had good days and bad days, laughed some of the time and cried once in a while.”

They also believed in Jesus Christ and considered themselves saved, “freed from sin and free for God.” Through all of this, they discovered that “their quite ordinary lives had meaning, and they kept finding meaning in unexpected places. Just like we are doing.”

For some reason, one day, the powers that be decided that John was dangerous and exiled him away to this island of Patmos. “Curious, isn’t it, that the soldiers considered the old pastor a threat to their law and order. He had no sword, no army. All he did was teach his people to pray, lead them in worship, teach them songs and Scripture, and train them to live honestly with compassion and fairness.”

The thing is . . . Jesus started a revolution! Perhaps we need to revitalize that sense of revolution in our own world. Not a legal revolution, where we storm the capitol, but a love revolution (I’ve been praying for that for a while), where we love our neighbor as ourselves to the point that their heads are spinning.

These letters originate from a vision that John had one day, while on the island. It was a vision of “Jesus Christ doing his work of love and salvation in the midst of all the angry, fearful hostility.”

Through these letters, John assured his congregations that Rome was not in control. Christ is in control, and these letters describe how. “Do you think that persecution and blasphemy and death and Caesar are the last words? They are not. Worship and life and praise and the living Christ are the last words.”

More on the content of the letters, tomorrow.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, there were two lambs offered as sacrifice, each day. One at the third hour of the morning (around 9:00 AM), and another at the ninth hour (around 3:00 PM). This was the “law of the Tamid.”

The Messiah was crucified at the third hour, at about 9:00 AM. The Lamb of God was lifted up on the cross at that time. The Messiah died at about the ninth hour, or 3:00 PM, at which time the Temple veil, between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple, was torn, from top to bottom.

“So the sacrifice of Messiah began with the offering of the morning lamb and ended with the offering of the evening lamb. And it all took place during the six hours of the Temple sacrifices, in between the two lambs, from the first sacrifice to the last. The Lamb of God . . . is all in all, covering every moment, every need, every sin, every problem, and every answer. He is the Tamid.”

What does Tamid mean? “It means continual, daily, perpetual, always, and forever. And so He is your Tamid . . . the One who will be there for you always . . . and will be your answer continuously, every day, always, and forever . . . For Messiah is the Lamb, and not only the Lamb . . . but your Tamid.”

The Mission: Meditate on the fact that Messiah is your Tamid – the covering for every moment of your life – always, and forever. Live accordingly.”

“These are the sacrifices you are to offer regularly on the altar. Each day, offer two lambs that are a year old, one in the morning and the other in the evening.”
(Exodus 29:38-39 NLT)

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
(Mark 15:25-37 NLT)

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:9-17 NLT)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You for the “Talmid,” for the continual sacrifice that was completed by Jesus Christ. The wonders that I continue to learn, considering things such as the timing of the crucifixion and how it coincided with the ritual of the daily sacrifices, continue to astonish me and inspire me. I thank You for these revelations, and the impact they are having on my life. I thank You for Messiah, my “answer continuously, every day, always, and forever.”

Lord, I pray specifically for spiritual renewal during this season of Lent, for myself, as well as anyone else who is observing the season. I’ve already failed to succeed in my quest, yesterday. Help me to remember what I have purposed to do (or not do), as this day progresses. Give me deep, deep repentance for my sin, as I go, and give me genuine humility that is born out of my commitment to, and understanding of, and the power of, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I pray for travel safety, this morning, for myself, as well as everyone else. If it be Your will, I will make it to work today. If not, I will come back home. I praise You for Your grace and mercy.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us.

Grace and peace, friends.

Into the Deep

Today is Wednesday, the seventeenth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,987

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lent Season. It is also St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, I would try to wear green. But then, it was pointed out to me that, since I am not Catholic, I should wear orange. I’m wearing grey this morning.

I am typing on my PC in my studio, this morning! Yes, our power returned at approximately 2:30 PM, yesterday afternoon. It was slightly comical, actually. Let’s begin, though, with the firewood story.

It was 53 degrees in the house. It had gotten down to 52, but that’s as cold as it got in our house. We attribute this to the fact that our house has always leaned toward the warm side, which makes it tough to cool in the summer. However, after the last 48 hours, I will not ever complain about that again, because I know some folks who had temps in the thirties in their homes.

We had two fake fireplace logs. Yes, we were pathetically unprepared for this. I promise we won’t be caught off-guard like that again. Some good people brought us some firewood. A family in our little church, who lives across the street from the house where we meet and have nights of worship, has a large amount of wood in their back yard. Brandon and Terry, the other two leaders in our church, along with Brent, who lives across the street, loaded up the back of Brandon’s truck and brought a huge amount of wood to us.

So we were able to have a nice fire going. We rearranged the furniture so that our long couch was facing the fire (about five feet away), and C’s recliner was right there at the end of the couch. So we were enjoying the heat of the fire. We had had our lunch. C and S had sandwiches, and I had a can of tuna. We also had cold, leftover Pecan-crusted chicken. I held my two pieces of the first on a fork for a few seconds. It didn’t warm it a whole lot, but gave it a nice, smoky flavor.

All of a sudden, something beeped. Tessie (dog) barked. I turned to look toward where the beep had come from, and said, “What was that?” expecting another smoke alarm failing, or something like that. It didn’t even dawn on me. Then I saw C’s face, and I realized what had happened, just as I heard the sound of the fan from the bedroom. The power was on!

There was a brief moment where we almost wept for joy, but even that joy was tainted by not knowing if it would stay on. We sprung into action. C ran into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker. I grabbed electronic devices and got them plugged in to charge. I turned the heat thermostat down to 68, as recommended by the PTB’s. I figured we had endured 53, so 68 should be a walk in the park, you know. I went ahead an reset the clocks on the stove and the microwave.

You know what we did next? Instead of jumping on our computers or turning the TV on, we sat back down on the couch and recliner, in front of the fire and enjoyed it a little while longer.

It is now 8:00 AM on Wednesday. The power stayed on all night. I suppose, after I finish my blogging, this morning, I will bring the food in from the back porch. I know that there are still some folks who don’t have power, yet, so we will be praying hard for them, today, and seeing if there is anything we can do to help. There are horror stories on TV . . . icicles hanging from ceiling fans in homes, water raining down from the ceiling of the Fort Worth Hilton, churches completely flooded.

Most of Galveston and the Gulf Coast is without power, as well. It was 23 degrees in Galveston, yesterday, and the beach was white! The winter storm warning spanned the entire state of Texas! It’s going to take some time to recover from this. Yet another chapter in what has been the strangest twelve months of my life.

Obviously, I’m not at work, this morning. We have been told that we are expected to be there tomorrow, if at all possible. We received communication that, if we could not make it in on Thursday, we would be charged PTO. This makes me think that we will not be charged PTO for these three days. However, I’m also not sure we will be paid if we don’t use PTO. That is unclear at this point. So, tomorrow, I will get up and get ready, and see how the roads look. It is only supposed to reach 30 degrees today, according to one weather app, but another says only 27. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to clear things up. We got more snow, overnight, but not a lot in Fort Worth. Denton and northern areas got more.

I’ll move on to the more important part of my morning.


“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers.
(Psalms 20:4-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For electricity; for lights, for heat, for COFFEE
  • For wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ; we help take care of each other
  • For conveniences that we often take for granted
  • That we never had any water issues at our house
  • For the season of Lent
  • That through everything that has happened in the last twelve months, if we are truly paying attention, You are drawing us deeper

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

“For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
(Genesis 3:19 NLT)

As we enter into the Lent season, it is important to realize the purpose. It doesn’t have to be joyless, but it is an intentional entering into the suffering of Jesus, through fasting or other forms of self-denial. This is something that is growing less and less popular in our culture.

“The spare and sober nature of Lent is healthy for the heart and true to the gospel, scrubbing away frothy spirituality by calling us to say no to ourselves in order to experience a greater yes in Jesus.”



The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
(Psalms 145:8 NLT)


For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
(Psalms 51:1-6 NIV)


Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.
(Joel 2:1-2 NIV)

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 NIV)


Psalm 51 is always a great confessional psalm, and is certainly a good prayer for the Lent season. “Have mercy on me,” is always a cry worthy of the child of God. “Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Of course, the thing is, post-Jesus, our sins are always cleansed. But the major point of this comes in the next verses. We must be aware of our sin. “I know my transgression,” says David. This is an important perspective as we enter Lent. We have to be aware of our transgressions. This, again, is not a popular sentiment in our culture.

If we observe the season, even in times outside of Lent, we can learn this wisdom from God, “in that secret place.”

The passage in Joel calls us to repentance, to “fasting and weeping and mourning.” It was a common practice to tear clothes in sorrow, but Joel calls us to “rend” our hearts, rather than our clothing. But I love the reasoning for returning to the Lord. “He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

This is the perfect time to consider all of these things. I am looking forward to this Lent season. I seem to be in a better place to observe it, this year, as I feel like I have made significant spiritual progress in the last year.

I believe I have determined what I will “give up” for Lent. I won’t say, here, except to say that it is not a tangible thing; it’s an attitude, something mental/emotional.

Father, even though the season of Lent is not something specifically called for in Scripture, I am glad for the opportunity to embrace the suffering of our Savior and enter into an attitude of self-denial, even if it is for something small and seemingly insignificant. It may not be insignificant for me, though. Maybe it is a part of my life that needs to be permanently eliminated. Give me strength during this forty-day period, and remind me minute by minute of what I have purposed to do (or not do) in my spirit. I am thankful for the inspiration for the season. And I pray for everyone who has purposed in their heart to give something up for this period, whether it be tangible, such as a kind of food or drink or other activity, or something spiritual or mental. All glory to You, Lord!

"Holy God, 
corruption is everywhere.
For too long sin and disobedience has been our master,
ever since the fall of Adam and Eve.
And still today,
I look around and see this sin
that poisons our life.
We're all natural born sinners,
corrupt from conception on.
And I stand among another generation of
such born sinners.
Lord, have mercy.
(Heidelberg Catechism 7)


Redeem us from all wickedness, purify us and make us your very own, eager to do what is good.
(see Titus 2:14)”

And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled.
(Ezra 8:21 NLT)

When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes. When Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was deeply distressed. She sent clothing to him to replace the burlap, but he refused it.
(Esther 4:1-4 NLT)

Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:
“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds:
“Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”
The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”
When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
(Jonah 3:1-10 NLT)

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”
(Revelation 2:4-5 NLT)

We are now moving into the text of the actual letters to the seven churches, in Revelation. First up is Ephesus, and the book chapter is entitled, “The Test of Our Love.”

Peterson begins by pointing out the magnificent accomplishes of human beings. Unlike animals, we are not simply content to “fill our stomachs, find shelter, mate, and frolic a little in the sun on occasion.” We build large, impressive buildings, we create huge rockets, capable of traversing thousands and thousands of miles in space, we build super-computers (ironically getting smaller and smaller in size), we accomplish amazing physical feats of athleticism, we create inspirational and mind-boggling art and music, and we have accomplished amazing medical things. We have also learned how to grow food to feed a hungry world.

But, Peterson, opines, the best thing we do as humans is love. “When we are living at our best, with all our energies focused, all our abilities alert and involved, doing what we were created to do, we love.” On the other hand, no matter what else we accomplish, if we do not love, “it is not satisfactory.” Paul addressed this fact in the famous chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians.

The question remains, though . . . “Why don’t we love more? Why aren’t we better at it? Why do we settle for so much less? Why do we get diverted and distracted from a life of love?”

We will attempt to answer those questions as we continue in the book.

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

May the God of your father help you; may the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, and blessings of the watery depths below, and blessings of the breasts and womb.
(Genesis 49:25 NLT)

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said,
“Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”
For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon,
“Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”
And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
(Luke 5:4-11 NLT)

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
(1 Corinthians 2:10-13 NLT)

Jesus told Simon to cast his nets “out where it is deeper.” The fish were not located in the shallow water. When Simon did what Jesus said, they got so many fish that their nets began to tear.

“The blessings of God aren’t found in the shallow waters.”

This is something we all need to hear. Many Christians don’t ever get out of the shallow waters. I have spent way too much time there, in my own life. Recently, though, I have begun to get deeper. And it has a positive effect on my life. It also makes some things that used to be important not so important, any more.

We like to stay by the “shore,” where things are more comfortable. Sure, we read the Bible, but we only see the surface, “the shallow of the Word.” We pray, but our prayers stay shallow, typically dealing only with physical problems. We even tend to stay in the shallow parts of God’s love, which, as the poet expressed so well is so deep that, if we were to write it all down with ink that filled the oceans, it would drain the oceans dry.

“But if you want the blessings of God, you must leave the shallow and launch out away from the shore, away from its distractions, away from the old and the familiar, and into the deep . . . into the deep waters of faith, the deep waters of His presence, the deep of His Word, the deep of worship, the deep of His joy, the deep of His Spirit, and the deep of His heart. That’s where your blessings are waiting to be found.”

And, “miracles so big that your net will break.”

We have spent time, in the past year, wondering why we don’t see some of the miracles that the Apostles did in the book of Acts. Of course, we know that the Apostles, themselves, did no miracles. They were simply channels. Nevertheless, why do we not see such things today. Perhaps because we have not launched into the deep.

The Mission: Launch out into the deep waters of God today. And there let down your net that it might break with His blessings.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I read this, and I think, “I want to go deeper, but I don’t know how to swim” (from a song by Delirious). Is it fear that keeps us from going deeper? It’s like venturing out into the waves of the ocean. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, but we don’t know where the ledge is, where we take a step and plummet into the depths, over our heads. Well, I think I’m ready to plummet, Father. This week has, hopefully, taught me some things. Last night, as we celebrated having power for the first time in almost 35 hours, we realized that we had made it through, and made it through well. We didn’t break down. We didn’t fight; we didn’t yell at each other; we didn’t EVER despair. We were certainly tempted to. But the whole time, we were focused, thinking, “We will get through this. We are okay.” We kind of just hummed along. It was uncomfortable, but there are others who are more uncomfortable. There are still people without power, and there are some who, just this morning, have lost power for the first time.

Draw us deeper, O Lord, deeper into Your well of the Spirit. Show us how to find the “blessings” that will break our nets. However, may we be seeking You and Your Face and Your Name, more than we seek blessing. I am certainly interested in blessings. But I am more interested in becoming who/what You desire for me to become. I believe You are more interested in what I become than in what I do. During this season of Lent, show me what I need to find in You. Draw me deeper.

Lord, I lift up communities, both local and national, and especially in the areas that are effected by this huge winter storm outbreak. Please restore power where it needs to be restored! We need Your supernatural help, because our governments are inept. I lift up the continent of Africa, today, praying for all general needs that occur in their countries. And I pray for those who work to lobby for justice and peace in our land and in our world.

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.

Pushing Forward

Today is Sunday, the fourteenth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,984

Three days until Ash Wednesday

It’s Valentine’s Day, today. C and I haven’t celebrated this “holiday” in many years. I don’t remember when we decided not to any more, but we did. We don’t get each other gifts or candy (which we certainly don’t want, at this point in our journey).

That being said, I don’t look down on anyone who does celebrate the day. I hope they have a great day and celebrate their love in unique ways.

We woke up, not unexpectedly, to snow, this morning. There’s not a lot, yet, but the street is already covered. The temperature is 18 degrees. The projected high is 19. Tonight’s low is 5. I have a Facebook friend who lives in Canada. She’s shocked that it is going to be as cold in Texas as it is in her part of Canada.

I’m definitely looking at the possibility of not going to work the whole week, as it is not projected to get above freezing until Friday, sometime.

In other news, I lost a pound at WW, yesterday morning, which puts me just under where I was week before last. I have now lost 102 pounds, and that was done in pretty much exactly a year. I believe yesterday was our one year anniversary of workshops. We “joined” WW on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, and went to our first workshop on February 8. Okay, so that would make yesterday a year and a week. Whatever.

S had a great idea yesterday. With the impending Snowmaggedon approaching, she suggested we get Applebee’s for lunch yesterday, rather than waiting for today. In retrospect, that turns out to have been a very good idea. We did that. So, today, after our Zoom-church, we plan to cook our usual Saturday brunch, which is eggs and stuff. Then, this evening, we plan to have our Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken.

We have our Zoom-church at 10:15, today, which is not that far off. So this may not be completed until after noon today. It’s my day to lead, so I probably shouldn’t be blogging during church. Heh. We are currently reading through Psalms, and will begin with chapter 4 today, probably getting through at least 6.


He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.”
(Psalms 126:1-2 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • That, so far, we are safe and warm
  • For my nice, hot coffee
  • For the beauty I see outside; it’s troublesome, yes; anxiety-causing, yes; nevertheless, it is still beautiful
  • For the Gospel account that tells me that people were “pushing forward,” aggressively, to touch Jesus; Lord, help me to be more aggressive in trying to reach Him!
  • That after pain and sorrow, doubt and guilt, comes true and honest praise

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



Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:19-20 NIV)


For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
(Psalms 42:1-6a NIV)


Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.
(Mark 3:7-12 NIV)


As I sit here, in the presence of God, this morning, there is one phrase in this Bible reading that really stands out to me, perhaps more than ever. It is in verse 10, where it says that people with diseases “were pushing forward to touch him.”

I think about the psalm, above, in relation to this. Is my soul really thirsting for God? I think it is, I say it is, and I frequently identify with Psalm 42.

But Mark 3:10 convicts me, this morning. Am I “pushing forward” to touch Jesus? Obviously, I am not in His physical presence.

But here we have crowds of people, and this happens frequently throughout the Gospels, who have heard what Jesus is capable of doing. So the sick people are aggressively trying to get to Him!

Some, no doubt are just there for the show, or out of curiosity. Which is fine, really. What matters most is the desire to see Jesus. The motivation isn’t as important as the desire.

But back to this “pushing forward” bit. This really speaks to me, this morning, and causes me to stop and think, to meditate on my own condition. I am sick, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, just all humanity is. Yes, I am “redeemed,” in spirit. I am forgiven, I am “saved.” But I am not perfect. I am not completely healed in any of those realms, nor will I be until I see my Savior face to face.

Therefore, if I believe the stories, if I believe what I have heard, I should be “pushing forward,” aggressively, to touch Him!

Many times, I find that my forward movement is much more casual. And this troubles me, this morning.

However, look at the end of the passage from Psalms.

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 

Father, I thank You for this Word from the Gospel of Mark! Thank You for the conviction that I am not exactly “pushing forward.” Oh, sure, I might be moving, and in a relatively forward direction. But am I “pushing?” I need to be more aggressive in my pursuit of holiness, in my pursuit of spiritual formation and transformation. May Your Holy Spirit guide me, Father, and spur me on, as I ponder this Gospel account!

Word of God:
your teaching is fresh with wisdom
and piercing with clarity.
If I've ever wondered about the mind of God,
if I've ever struggled to know God's heart,
I need look no further than you.
Help me listen to you as
you perfectly reveal the hidden wisdom
and will of God for my deliverance.
(Heidelberg Catechism 31)


The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
(1 John 5:3 NLT)

Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.
(Exodus 19:5 NLT)

You are my friends if you do what I command.
(John 15:14 NLT)

Here’s a little refresher as to what His commands are:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 NLT)

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
(John 13:34 NLT)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:5-7 NLT)

As Peterson continues to discuss praise and thanksgiving, he notes that there are no shortcuts to true praise and thankfulness. “We cannot praise prematurely,” he says, which ties back to the end of yesterday’s part, about being genuine, or authentic, as people like to say, these days. We get this in the Psalms, which we happen to be reading through, right now. Just today, we read a couple where David lamented, wailed, moaned, complained, and then proceeded to end in praise and hopefulness.

If you have read the book of Revelation, you know that there is a lot of scary, terrible stuff that happens before the praise and worship starts. Then there is some more hard stuff, and then there is some more praise and worship. Peterson, in fact, says that this cycle happens seven times, ending, of course, with the climax, “this hallelujah banquet.”

We need to take this pattern seriously. “Premature praise if false praise. Praise is our end but not our beginning.” Life is begun crying. “We kick and flail. We yell and weep.”

Here is the pattern: “We don’t become praising people by avoiding or skipping or denying the pain and poverty and the doubt and the guilt but by entering into them, exploring them, minding their significance, embracing the reality of these experiences.

“This is what is so distressing about the religious entertainment industry in our land. We have the popularization of a kind of religion that, instead of training people to the sacrificial life after the pattern of our Lord, seduces them into having fun on the weekends, with Jesus as the chief master of ceremonies.”

Remember . . . this message was written in 1967!!

Father, may I find ways in my life, as the psalmists did, to authenticate my laments, my groanings, and my complainings to You, that my praise might be true and honest. Help me, along with all of us in Your Church, to deal properly with the pain and sorrow, the doubt and guilt, the poverty, the sin, properly, not denying or ignoring them, but acknowledging their existence. Life is hard, as M. Scott Peck once said. But once we acknowledge this truth, it is not so hard any more. Give us hope, Father, through these desperate times. There is so much pain; so much tragedy; much hopelessness. Yet we, Your people, find hope within it all. Our hope is in You, for there is no other Name by which we may be saved!

Lord, for myself, as well as all Your children, I pray for a deeper understanding of all of the Gospel message. Help us to know the “full experience of our adoption as” Your children. Help me, at all times, to have a gentle witness, and be ready at all times to give a reason for the hope that I have.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.