The Pretender

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-seventh of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

May the peace of God be with you today!

Day 23,421

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Ordinary Day Becomes,” by Daryl Madden

An ordinary morning
As light comes to this day
A breath of fresh air
Clouds drift on their way

Flowers come to blossom
Branches of trees sway
Colors here awaken
Of vision to portray

Between the birdsong calling
Of silence to convey
Listen here dear soul
What Spirit has to say

And through our connection
Of binding here to pray
This journey now becomes
An extraordinary way

Father, I pray that this “ordinary morning” helps my journey to become an “extraordinary way.” Help me to listen to what the Spirit has to say to me, today.

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

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: 
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” 
And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: 
“Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” 
And the four living beings said,
 “Amen!” 
And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
(Revelation 5:11-14 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this ordinary morning, and hopes that it will become extraordinary
2. for the vision of worship in Revelation 5
3. for the belief that God has placed in my heart; may I embrace it fully
4. for the command to really love others, and to not just pretend (Romans 12:9)
5. for the ability to embrace change in my life
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. 

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! 
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. 
The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. 
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. 
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 121:1-8 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “believe.” The opening quote is from positive thinker Norman Vincent Peale: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

I almost stopped typing in the middle of that and erased it. Because why? Because, here’s the thing: Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded or called upon to believe in ourselves. That is simply not a biblical concept.

There are, however, plenty of Scriptures to tell us that we are loved by God. And we are called upon and commanded to believe in Him. So, in obeying the command to believe in God, we must believe that we are beloved of God. The danger is that somehow we have to do that without becoming prideful.

So, yes. Believe. But not in yourself; not in your own ability. Believe in God. Believe that He loves you. Believe that He who watches over you never slumbers or sleeps. Believe that He watches over your life.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I am constantly praying the prayer that that father prayed in the New Testament. You know the one. “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” Yes, that one. Help me to believe. Help me to believe in Your constant, never-fading love for me. Help me to believe in Your mercy and grace and forgiveness, because every time I sin, that belief wavers. How could you possibly still be forgiving me for that same sin?? But You do, because You already have, and that is a mystery that I still cannot fully fathom.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
(Romans 12:9 NLT)

I don’t believe I’ve ever read that version of that verse before. The ESV is more succinct, saying, “Let love be genuine.” But I like the idea presented in the NLT. It takes more words, but I think it says it better. The KJV uses the word “dissimulation.” I’m 64 years old, and I’m pretty sure I have never heard that word before. I guess I have read it, because I grew up with the King James Version. But I sure don’t remember it, and I’ve never heard it in conversation.

The Greek word could also be translated “hypocrisy.” The dictionary says it means “pretense.” So, it looks like the NLT nails it. And, oddly enough, the human-added subheading at the beginning of that paragraph says, “Marks of the True Christian.

Indeed . . .

One way to love someone is to care for them or care about them. And the way we care about or for others is to get to know them. What makes them click? What “floats their boat?” What do they like? What do they dislike? What do they need?

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, help me. I’ve not done a good job at this. I’ve certainly pretended to love some people. But have I truly loved them in my heart? Have I loved them with my actions? I’ve heard the cliché, “Love’s not a feeling; it’s a verb.” But how do I do that? Please show me how to love, really love, my brothers and sisters in Christ. And then show me how to love my co-workers. Maybe first, please show me how to best love my family. I wear the shirt, “Love one another.” But I need to do more than wear a shirt.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; 
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; 
his name is the LORD; 
exult before him! 
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
 is God in his holy habitation.
(Psalms 68:4-5 ESV)

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 NLT)

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
(James 1:27 NLT)

There are times when living in both of the above thoughts will require change. In order to fully believe in God and to believe that He loves us and has forgiven us might require change. It might require (gasp) repentance!

When I use that word, though, I am not using it in the typical “evangelical” sense of “being sorry for my sins.” I’m using it in the purest form, which simply means to turn around, to change my way of thinking, to think differently about something. That is literally what repentance means. So, in essence, “change” and “repent” are kind of the same word.

In order to truly love someone without hypocrisy or pretense, change might be required, as well.

We don’t like change. We’re all familiar with the series of jokes that ask the question, “How many ___________ does it take to change a light bulb?” You can insert whatever you want in the blank and come up with a humorous answer. I once heard, “How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer was, simply, “CHANGE?????”

I grew up Southern Baptist so I can make fun of them all I want. There’s an old saying . . . “We’ve never done it that way before!”

But sometimes, we have to. Sometimes we have to change the way we do things, and that takes work and adjustments and variations.

There are also times when we want change. We are tired of the “status quo.” “Life isn’t quite what we had hoped for, and we look for something new.”

But what makes the difference is how we involve God in that change. How do we approach the work? “God is shaping. His hand is molding. We can discover his ways in the changes of our own lives.”

“Change will probably always be uncomfortable. But we can begin to see it as desirable because the One who knows us best is carefully orchestrating the transitions of our lives.”

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

Father, the thoughts that are presented above require change in my heart. Maybe not so much the act of believing, although there is always room for improvement in my “belief department.” But most assuredly the “love department.” I do not feel that I have done a good job following that command, and I need You to help me change. I know that You have already been at work in that area; You have been working there, building and shaping, for close to a decade, now. There is nothing that You cannot accomplish in me, I do believe that. But I also know that I am, at times, stubborn and resistant to change. (Someone who knows me might read that and laugh. “At times?? Hah!”)

Father, I want to fully love people, but first I want to fully love You with every fiber of my being. Back to those two commands, aren’t we? Love You; love people. But do it according to Scripture. Help me to not just pretend, but to really love, both You and the people. I do know that when I pretend to love You, I am only fooling myself, though.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Beautiful One

Today is Saturday, the fifth of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,340

It’s still rather cold, here in DFW, but better. It’s currently 20 degrees with a projected high of 49, today. I don’t think it quite made it to 40, yesterday, but it did get above freezing, and the street in front of our house seems to be dry. I’ll probably try to leave a little early for work, this morning, just in case there is any difficulty. I’m not expecting any, but you never know.

Here’s my Wordle score for today.

Wordle 231 3/6*

⬜⬜🟨⬜🟩
🟩⬜🟩⬜🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

There’s another similar game that someone came up with, that involves math. It’s called “Nerdlegame.” It has eight spaces and involves equations. No thank you. I choose to not do math for fun. I avoid math whenever possible, and am most certainly not entertained by it.

I don’t want to risk running out of time, this morning, so I’m going to move on to my devotional content. I will say that Mama is still here, and is immensely enjoying her time here. At this point, there is no definite plan as to when she will return home, and for how long. We haven’t talked all that through, just yet.

I have forgotten to mention a couple things. Wednesday night, I think, it was, we all watched Hamilton on Disney+. Mama really enjoyed it. Last night, we watched The Greatest Showman, and we all enjoyed that, as well. It was a lot of fun. I have no idea how accurate it was, as I know virtually nothing about P.T. Barnum and his life. But the movie was good.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, 
your faithfulness to the clouds. 
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; 
your judgments are like the great deep; 
man and beast you save, O LORD. 
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! 
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
They feast on the abundance of your house,
 and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life; 
in your light do we see light. 
(Psalms 36:5-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the steadfast love of the Lord
2. that I have drunk from the river of His delights
3. that the Lord has said to my heart, "Do not fear!"
4. for the beauty of God
5. for beauty in creation, that reflects the Beautiful One
"I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; 
you heard my plea, 'Do not close your ear to my cry for help!' 
You came near when I called on you; you said, 'Do not fear!'"
(Lamentations 3:55-57 ESV)
Come, let us worship and bow down.
 Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. 
We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. 
If only you would listen to his voice today! 
The LORD says, 
“Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, 
as they did at Massah in the wilderness. 
For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
 even though they saw everything I did."
(Psalms 95:6-9 NLT)

We are called upon to love the Lord through the hard times, just as much as we love Him through the pleasant times. This seems challenging to some. There are types of people who simply lose their minds when things don’t go the way they think they should. And I’m not talking about how it can ruin my day if the Internet doesn’t work right. That’s just me being petty and silly.

I’m talking about folks who believe the world is ending in Revelation-style proportions if the “wrong” guy gets elected. This hearkens back to where we put our trust. If our hope and trust is in the Lord, and we listen to His voice that has said to us, “Do not fear!” then there is no place for this dismay.

“Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for HE is our God.” Let us love Him just as much when things are going great, when things seem like they are catastrophic or disastrous, as we love Him when things are just dandy. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that this creates a calmness in life that is unequaled. It helps one to live life on more of an even keel, as it were. In case you don’t know what that means, to be “even-keeled” means to be characterized by stability or consistency.

And there is nothing more stable than the love of God. I promise you this is true. Because His love reaches to the heavens and stretches to the clouds. It is like the mighty mountains, and His justice flows like the ocean’s tide.

Go back up there and listen to that Third Day song again (or for the first time, if you skipped it). Read the Psalm right under it while you listen. Dwell in that for a few minutes, meditating on the mighty love of God, the unchanging, steadfast love of God. There is nothing better.

The prayer word for today is “beauty.” John Keats is quoted as saying, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

This idea of beauty can be taken several ways. The author today’s reading in Pray a Word a Day comes from the perspective of a walk through a botanical garden in New York. I can only imagine the kind of beauty that she sees there.

But I believe that we can also take that word and apply it to our God. He is beautiful beyond all imagination. He is more beautiful than anything this person saw in that botanical garden. But the thing is, His beauty is reflected in that garden, because He is, ultimately, the Creator of all of that beauty. And God, the Beautiful One, creates things that reflect His beauty.

Father, I praise You, this morning, as You are the Beautiful One. I thank You for the word You spoke to my heart when You said, “Do not fear.” I thank You that this word continues to be true for me and for anyone who chooses to believe that You are Truth.

Lord, please help us to love You the same during hard times as we do during the good times. It is easy to love You during the easy times. Oddly enough, though, we tend to only pray during the hard, challenging times. Why is that, Lord? You must think us really strange people!

Help me to see beauty today. There is a chance that there will be may children at the library today. Help me see beauty in their faces, as well as the faces of their parents. Give me grace to be patient with all circumstances that arise today, and to remember my love for You through all things. Help me to love others, as well, even, and especially, when they are failing to love You through their difficult times. Help me be one who shows them what an “even-keeled” life looks like. That, of course, requires me to live life on an even keel, so help me to do that.

I want to show love to people, Father. I want to show them Your love, and I want to show them that I love them, as well. Help us to have a love revolution in our world. I pray for Your Church to remember who is in control, here.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Leaves of sound are shed they fall
On this murmuring mind
Where the lullabies call
And from these words I sink and fall
To the beautiful one

Behold this dreamer
In the arms of the beautiful one

Deep waters sound, who loves that deep?
I make my way
Up the toilsome steep
In green meadows now I sleep
In the beautiful one

Behold this dreamer
In the arms of the beautiful one

And in the wind a song
And moonlight on the lawn
Draws me on, and on
And thru the day a sigh
For dreamers such as I
Who steal away
To watch and pray"
(Words and music by Terry Scott Taylor and Tim Chandler, copyright 1986 Broken Songs)
I challenge you to
find some beauty in your world
on your way, today

Grace and peace, friends.

Elohim

Today is Friday, January 22, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,961

Yesterday, I noticed a problem with WordPress. Some of my “reusable blocks” had been corrupted, or something. I was able to edit the ones that were affected, last night, but I had to delete one of them. The problem with that is that it deletes that block in every past blog in which it was used. This is a definite flaw in their system.

I also just noticed that some of the text was gone from my “footstool” entry a couple days ago. That’s sad, because I won’t be able to recreate that. If I continue to notice issues like this, I may be forced to go back to the old “classic” editor for the blog, which will mean more actual html coding. Or I may just stop using reusable blocks, altogether. We shall see.

Friday has arrived, our last day of work for the week. So far, there are no unusual plans for the weekend. We have been collecting socks for homeless people, and I think tomorrow is the day we are supposed to gather all of those up, but at this point, I have no idea how that is supposed to happen. We may all need to drop ours off at one person’s house.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
(2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the miracle of my heartbeat
  • For the food I am eating for breakfast
  • For the true fear of God, which is driven by reverence and awe, rather than guilt or punishment
  • That every breath I take is a gift from You; may I breathe deep Your grace and mercy
  • For You, Elohim, and that all that I know about You is infinitesimal, compared to what there is to know.

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 17

INVITATION

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:3 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:7-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

For many years, I have loved the words used to describe God’s Word in the second half of Psalm 19. But this morning, for perhaps the first, I noticed that verse that says the fear of the Lord is “pure.” This helps us understand what it means to fear the Lord, in the right way.

Fear that comes from guilt, that is, fear of punishment, is not “pure.” It is driven by sin. If I am afraid of God in the same way I was “afraid” of my parents after I had disobeyed them, that is not “pure” fear.

The true and correct fear of God is driven by reverence and awe, mostly awe, I would think. For example, if we are smart, we fear the amazing power of a lion or tiger. We may feel safe when viewing them at the zoo or other wildlife preserve setting, but we know their terrible strength, and that they would just as soon eat us. This example, of course, fails just as any earthly example that attempts to define an infinite God . . . I’ve referenced Daniel Amos’s song, “Darn Floor Big Bite” here before. The idea behind the title is a gorilla attempting to describe an earthquake. Terry Scott Taylor’s idea is that man attempting to describe God is pretty much the same.

“You are beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight,” says the song of God.

So, if I am fearing God properly, purely, it is not a fear driven by guilt. And why should it be? Several days ago, I wrote about my past being erased . . . the sins that I have committed, forgiven and erased. Not just covered up; not just pretending they never happened; truly and eternally erased!

Father, I thank You for these truths, and for the psalmist’s descriptions of Your Word, and his demonstration of what true, proper fear looks like. Help my fear of You to be like this fear, pure and everlasting. Help me to remember that You have erased my past sins, like chalk from a chalkboard, gone forever. There is no guilt, there is no more need for shame. There is no need for the kind of fear that Adam felt when he hid from You in the garden. Thank You Jesus! And I thank You that I am, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, born from above, by the Spirit. Now let the Spirit’s wind blow in me as Jesus described!

"Faithful God,
I confess that I'm hopelessly lost trying 
to justify my life,
a posture of heart that leads me
to all sorts of evil,
unable to do good.
But thank you for the joy of new birth
through your Holy Spirit.
Empower me to live as your beloved child today.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 8)

BLESSING

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
(Psalms 73:26 NLT)

Some words to ponder, from Daily Guideposts 2021:

“I was arrogant before the phone call. I had forgotten that I am powerless and God is limitless. I had forgotten that every breath I take is provided by the One who designed and formed me. I do nothing on my own.” (Logan Eliasen)

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”
(Matthew 6:26 NLT)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 NLT)

“In a world defined by anger, our lives are narrowed into bitterness and violence. In a world defined by fear, our lives become anemic and timid. In a world defined by God’s love, the result is eternal life.” (Eugene Peterson, A Month of Sundays)

Today’s wisdom from Jonathan Cahn goes hand in hand with my discussion about God from the Psalms passage.

“The reality of God is so transcendent, so awesome, and so beyond, that there’s no word in any language that can express it. Not even the word God can express the reality of God. The word Elohim is letting you know that whatever you think God is, He’s more than that. No matter how good you think He is, He’s better. No matter how beautiful, majestic, and amazing, He’s more beautiful, He’s more majestic, and He’s more amazing. No matter how awesome you think He is, He’s more awesome than that. And no matter how beyond you think He is, He’s even beyond that. What does Elohim reveal? It reveals that no matter how much you think you know of God, there’s always more to know, so much more . . . and so much more than so much more. So never stop seeking Him. For His Name is Elohim, and of His awesomeness, there will be no end.”

It’s worth noting that the word Elohim, the first word for God used in the first book of the Bible, in Genesis 1:1, is plural.

“The Mission: Today, seek to know God as one who doesn’t know the half of Him. Seek to know Him more, and afresh, as if for the first time.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 NLT)

For more reference, read Job chapter 38. I won’t quote the whole chapter here.

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I thank You for these mysteries that continue to have such an impact on my life. Whatever I know of You, compared to what there is to know, is infinitesimal. So, today, I ask that I might know You a little bit more, that I might know more of Your beauty, Your majesty, Your amazingness, and Your awesomeness. May I know You as beyond as You are, as Other as You are, and may I feel comfortable in this. While my fear of You will be driven by awe, let my love for You be just as powerful. And then let that love for You drive my love for others and my service to them.

Lord, I thank You for the call on my life to serve You. May I be faithful to do so in all aspects of my life; in my home, in my community, and at my workplace. Help me, along with all of Your children, work harder to serve the “common good.” I also lift up, today, anyone who might be starting a new career, a new life of some kind. May You show them Your face and kindness in their new venture.

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Take Care Lest You Forget the Lord

Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

Day 22,125

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.” ~ E.B. White, 1899-1985, The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ineluctable, “incapable of being evaded; inescapable.” Example, an ineluctable destiny.

C cooked up a nice breakfast, yesterday morning, of eggs, sausage, and biscuits. After we ate breakfast, C and I headed to The Strand to embark upon a sort of scavenger hunt. Put on by Island Treasure Hunts, it was an “adventure” in which we, using our mobile phones (other devices could also be used), walked around the area of The Strand, looking for placques, signs, and other things. Each step would have a series of directions and landmarks for which to look. Then, a question would have to be answered to continue. The “prizes” were discount coupons for merchants that we either passed by or stopped at to find further clues. A couple of times, math was involved, but nothing worse than simple counting. Although, it turned out to be not so simple a couple times. For example, we stopped outside a placed called Star Drug Store. We had to count the stars, both words and symbols. We finally found them all, but it was tricky. There was only one question that I think we missed, but the instructions were slightly vague.

We learned a lot about the history of the area, as well as discovering many buildings that were survivors of the 1900 hurricane. We had a great time, in spite of it being rather hot and sunny for most of the walk. We walked at least three miles and it took right about three hours. Fortunately, we had parked right in front of La Kings Confectionery, a throw-back to the old-time candy/ice cream store. C and I got some ice cream to cool us off, and then bought a bunch of chocolaty candy to take back to the house.

We had planned to go to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner, but we decided to order some burgers from a local place, and C and Mama went to pick them up.

The rest of the evening, I spent listening to the Red Sox totally embarrass the New York Yankees. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything quite like it. It started slowly, as the Sox scored one run in the top of the second, to start the scoring. Nathan Eovaldi pitched brilliantly, only giving up one run, which would be the only run the Yankees scored. They threatened a couple more times, but that was it. The Sox batted around (eleven batters) in the top of the fourth, scoring seven runs! That made the score 10-0 before the Yankees finally scored in the bottom of the fourth. There were a couple of scoreless innings, but then the Sox scored one in the seventh, three in the eighth, and two more in the ninth. The icing on the cake was Brock Holt hitting for the cycle, the first time it has ever been done in postseason! Final score, 16-1, Red Sox!

That, of course, puts the Sox up 2-1 in the series. Tonight, Rick Porcello will face off against C.C. Sabathia. I feel pretty good about that match-up. I just hope the Sox don’t get overconfident after last night. I also hope they bunt a lot against Sabathia. Haha!

Sadly, the Sox and Yanks will be the only teams playing for the remainder of the week (until Friday), as the Astros swept the Indians, winning 11-3 yesterday, and the Dodgers beat the Braves, as well, to get their spot on the NLCS. It figures that the Sox and Yankees would still be fighting it out.

We have no plans for today. We might ride the ferry across to Bolivar. If we do, I imagine we will walk on, as previous trips have showed us that there is absolutely nothing of interest on the Bolivar peninsula, other than an old fort, which we have already seen. We will also take bread to feed the seagulls, and we will watch for dolphins.

I was made aware, yesterday, of some very sad news. One of my favorite musicians passed away yesterday. Most of the people who might read this would not recognize the name, but it is Tim Chandler, a bass player. He has played with Daniel Amos and The Choir, and I know that he has also played with Mike Roe, if not with the Seventy Sevens, as well. It came as a complete shock to me, as I had not been aware of his declining health. I have met this man, and enjoyed his music for many years. He will be greatly missed.

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

then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Deuteronomy 6:12

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:2-5

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
Psalm 105:5

In the past few months, I have become more aware of something, concerning God. His presence.

Wait. But haven’t I always been aware of the presence of God?

In some ways, yes. But recently, it has become more intense. It was brought to my attention, a few months ago, that the “heavens” actually begin right after the ground stops. The “heavens” stretch from the ground, into, well, infinity, as far as we know.

And God is in the heavens (Psalm 115:3). That means that He is here with me, right now. As I sit in this chair, at this table, with the ocean view in front of me, typing this blog, God is here with me! He is in front of me. He is in the water. He is in the air that I am breathing. He is behind me, above me, beside me, below me. Psalm 139 reminds us that there is nowhere that we can go where God is not.

Deuteronomy 6:12 reminds me not to forget this God, who brought me out of the slavery of sin. Psalm 103 reminds me of the benefits of this God, who forgives all my iniquity, who heals my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit, who crowns me with steadfast love and mercy, and who satisfies me with good things. Good things. Right now, this ocean view is a “good thing,” and I am very satisfied. But I need to remember, when I get back to the “normal” life, to be satisfied with the good things that God has given me, and not chase after things that I perceive to be “good.”

Finally, Psalm 105 reminds me to remember His wondrous works.

God is here, he is everywhere. He is with you, wherever you are reading this. That truth is a great comfort to me.

Father, thank You for Your presence, not just in my life, but in all lives. I pray that more people would acknowledge Your presence, and that You would make more people aware of Your presence, since You are, indeed, in all places, all the time. Help me to have a deeper sense of Your presence for the rest of this week in Galveston, as I look out at Your glorious creation and draw peace from it. Thank You for the ocean.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

How He Loves

Good morning. It is Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, November 28, 2014.

Did you know that, in 2010, a Canadian man rescued a baby from a dumpster, only to find out that he was the father?

Haha!! Today is Buy Nothing Day! And, yes, it always falls on Black Friday. Just take a look at our culture and what happens on this day every year. Personally, I think it’s shameful. Some of the videos I saw from last year were horrifying. While I may not succeed in “buying nothing” today, I certainly do not participate in the horror that is “Black Friday.”

We had a most excellent Thanksgiving Day yesterday!! Christi’s family all showed up, along with Rachel and Justin, as well. The food was delicious, thanks to Christi and Karen (Karen is Christi’s sister, and she brought a corn casserole that everyone loves, and some oogy green jello salad stuff). I had made the dump cake Wednesday night, and baked the frozen pumpkin pie yesterday morning. We also had a pecan pie that was fully cooked, and only had to be thawed. Everything was delicious, and I ate too much. We watched some football for a while, and I was delighted that the Eagles gave a sound trouncing to the Cowboys, beating them 33-10. After everyone else left, Rachel and Justin stayed behind for awhile, and we played Cards Against Humanity. I won’t link the website, because there is currently a “bad word” on their front page. This game is awful and hilarious, and you should never play it. Unless you can turn off every single one of your offense filters. That’s pretty much what you have to do. We laugh so hard, and then feel so guilty about it.

This morning, Christi is back at it, cooking more stuff, which we will take over to Mineral Wells in a couple of hours. Rachel and Justin went home last night, but plan on meeting us in Mineral Wells, later. I think they might be spending the night here, tonight.

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1925 that The Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting. Originally named The Barn Dance, after a broadcast in Chicago, it was started on WSM radio in Nashville. The four-and-a-half-hour program (wow!!) became “one of the most popular broadcasts in the South.”

Today’s birthdays include Jon Stewart, Judd Nelson, Berry Gordy, Ed Harris, Randy Newman, Ryan Kwanten, William Blake, Hope Lange, Aimee Garcia, Paul Shaffer, Margaret Tudor, John Bunyan, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jeff Fahey, Dave Righetti, and John Burkett.

William Blake was was an English painter and poet, born on this date in 1757. One of his most famous poems (or at least best known by me) is probably “The Tyger.”

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Here is a song by my favorite group, Daniel Amos, that pays tribute to Blake, who had a tremendous influence on their main songwriter, Terry Scott Taylor.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Psalm 96:8
Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:135
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
Psalm 86:8
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:7-8
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.

Psalm 77:11-14
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
Matthew 15:32-39

For years, I guess I didn’t realize that there were two separate miraculous crowd feedings, even though they are both recorded in Matthew. This one, there were about 4000 men, in the first one, there were 5000. I guess the thing that sticks out most in this account is that the disciples have obviously forgotten about the first one. Again, they ask the question about where they are going to get enough food for this many people. I mean, shouldn’t they just have been bringing what they found up to Jesus, and saying, “Here you go! Do that thing you did again!” Unfortunately, it appears that the disciples were too much like me, basically pessimists.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “A Personal Encounter with God’s Love.”

Brennan speaks of a “silent retreat” that he directed for “six women in Virginia Beach.” As the retreat began, he met with each woman and asked them to write down “the one grace that she would most like to receive from the Lord.” One particular woman, a married woman around 45 years old, who was well known for prayer and service to others, said that “she wanted more than anything to actually experience just one time the love of God.”

I will quote in its entirety the next paragraph.

“The following morning this woman (whom I’ll call Winky) arose before dawn and went for a walk on the beach. She noticed a teenage boy and a woman walking in her direction. In less than a minute the boy had passed by to her left, but the woman made an abrupt ninety-degree turn, walked straight toward Winky, embraced her deeply, kissed her on the cheek, whispered ‘I Love you,’ and continued on her way. Winky had never seen the woman before. Winky wandered along the beach for another hour before returning to the house. She knocked on my door. When I opened it, she was smiling. ‘Our prayer was answered,’ she said simply.”

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you.
He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground,
your grain and your wine and your oil,
the increase of your herds and the young of your flock,
in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 7:13

Father, I thank you for this testimony of your love. We can never be too sure about how you are going to display your love to us, and that is one of the things that I love most about you. Yes, I love your grace and mercy and all the blessings that you have thrown into my life, but this thing . . . this love that you show us, and the oftentimes weird ways that you display it, I love that part about you the most, I think. I pray, Lord, that everyone who stumbles across this blog entry today will experience that love from you. I pray that they will sense it in whatever expression you choose to show them, whether it be in the actions of a total stranger, or in the beauty of creation, such as a sunrise or sunset that is more brilliant than anything they have ever seen before. I simply pray that you show your love to them and fill their hearts with wonder.

I pray for this day, that we will have safe travel to and from Mineral Wells. I also pray for safe travel for Rachel and Justin. I pray that our time together with my parents will be a blessing to them, and to us as well. May we always be thankful for the blessings you have granted, and for our time with each other. Let us not take these days for granted.

While I’ve never had a stranger kiss me on the cheek and say, “I love you,” I have most definitely experienced the incredible, overwhelming, crazy love of God. There is nothing like it. I pray you can experience that love today.

“And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Thank You, Lord

“Almighty and gracious Father, I give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make me, I pray, a faithful steward of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.”

Good morning! It is Thursday, November 28, 2013. Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.!

Today is also “French Toast Day.” Never been overly fond of the stuff, myself. I would just as soon have pancakes or waffles. Better yet, just give me good old fashioned eggs and bacon.


Thanksgiving Day is a pretty big deal here. Lots of people start out in early November, putting up something (on Facebook) that they are thankful for each day, numbering the days. I get that. It’s fine. But what about the rest of the months? Are we only thankful in November, or do we just not say anything about it the rest of the year? Is it that much of a chore to come up with something to be thankful for each day? It’s kind of funny when they get behind. Then you get a post that goes something like, “Days 5, 6, 7, and 8 . . .” Fortunately for us, I believe God to be extremely gracious and merciful. I think that he is just glad to be getting some indication that we are thankful, whether it be one day a year, thirty days of the year, or all 365 days. I don’t join in the Facebook Thanksgivingpalooza. But I do try to be thankful the year round. I try to thank God for something every day. I may not be successful (i.e., I forget some days), but most days, I at least give him thanks for a beautiful day. Even on this past Monday morning, when the temperature was 35 degrees and it was cloudy and drizzly, I told God, “Thank you for a beautiful day.” Because I believe that any day that I am up, breathing, and driving to work, is a beautiful day.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers. I hope that you can find something in your life to be thankful for today. I am thankful for Christi, my wonderfully awesome wife. I am so thankful that God put us together over 28 years ago. In a few days, we will note the 29th anniversary of our first date. I am thankful that we’ve been married over 28 years, and still going strong. One other thing that I am extremely thankful for is our church family at The Exchange. Two and a half years ago, we walked into Tidwell Middle School in Roanoke for a Sunday morning worship celebration that changed our lives. The next couple of years would see us getting involved in tech team ministry, load-in/load-out ministry, worship ministry, and prayer ministry. Stephanie is involved in the children’s ministry. And my spiritual growth over those two years has been phenomenal. I am very thankful for this season of my life.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1290, Eleanor, wife of King Edward I of England, died after having fallen prey to a “persistent fever.” She was originally Spanish (her father being the King of Castile), and married Edward while he was still a prince, and living in Spain. Now, get this. They got married when she was only eight! What?? When she was ten, they moved to England. At the age of 26, she became Queen of England when her husband ascended to the throne. There is a legend that she saved his life on a crusade when he was stabbed with a poisoned knife in an assassination attempt. “Tradition has it that Eleanor saved his life by sucking the poison from the wound.” True or not, “Edward was more devoted to her than ever” to her when they returned. Sshe died on this date, while on a trip to Harby in Nottinghamshire. Her body was brought back to London for burial, and Edward then “ordered built a beautiful stone cross at each place along the way where her body had rested for a night.” There were eleven “Eleanor Crosses” carved. Only a few remain standing. “The last was placed at a town near London called Charing. The town is no more, nor is its cross, but the place where it stood is still known as Charing Cross.”

Charing Cross
Charing Cross
This is a replica of the original cross at Charing. One of the Eleanor Crosses still remaining is at Waltham.
Waltham Cross
Waltham Cross


Today’s birthdays are John Bunyan, 1628, Jean-Baptiste Lully, 1632, William Blake, 1757, Berry Gordy, 1929, Hope Lange, 1931, Randy Newman, 1943, Paul Shaffer, 1949, Ed Harris, 1950, Jeff Fahey, 1952, Jon Stewart, 1962, and John Burkett, 1964.

William Blake was a lot of things. He was a poet, a painter, and a printmaker. Perhaps his most famous poem is “Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in deep forests of the night. . .” Here is a song tribute to him by my favorite band of all time, Daniel Amos.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob.
Psalm 81:1-4
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11 (This is my “life verse.”)
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. Psalm 71:15
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! Psalm 147:7
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:25-30

“Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.” The Gloria

“Almighty and gracious Father, I give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make me, I pray, a faithful steward of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.” The Divine Hours


Today’s reading in A Year With God is “Teach Me, and I will Be Silent.” The scripture reading is Job 6:24.

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.”

In yesterday’s reading, we saw that Job’s friends came and sat with him for seven days and seven nights, in complete silence. No one said a word the whole time! Then Job starts speaking, pretty much railing against God for the unfairness of his plight. And, in all honesty, Job had a good argument. Except that he was dealing with the Almighty, who “is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) At the point of today’s passage, though, he shows that he is willing to listen and learn about where he may have “gone astray.”

“How willing are we to receive teaching that points out our mistakes and misconceptions?” Do we make excuses or do we listen? There’s a guy that I work with that always has some kind of excuse when he is confronted with an issue that he may have caused. Do I do that? I like to think that I’ve always been a person who will accept responsibility for my mistakes. But we don’t like to have them pointed out, do we? I do realize that some people are better at graciously pointing out mistakes than others. But either way, I need to be willing to be silent and listen when something is pointed out to me. I need to have the attitude that Job had is this verse above. “Teach me, and I will be silent.” Not, “Point out my mistake, and I will tell you why it’s not really my fault.” I used to have a t-shirt that said, “I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you.” It’s meant to be funny, but all too often, it is truth. We ought not be that way. When confronted with error, we should invoke silence and listen. We might actually learn something.


Father, I thank you for challenges. I thank you that you are never satisfied to just leave us alone where we are. I cannot rest for very long in a particular place in my life, because you continuously challenge me to move further and deeper with you. These teachings on silence have been seriously challenging me, and I am grateful for that, as it draws me deeper into your heart. I desire to be ever growing closer to the center of your holiness. Teach me to listen when someone is critical. Teach me to be silent when someone points out my mistakes. “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” That is an honest plea from my heart. “Make me understand!”

Father, on this date when the thankfulness is in full swing, I pray that we would have thankful hearts all year round. I know many of your people who do that. Even the ones who only put it out there for all to see during November, truly have thankful hearts the year round. Make us more thankful for the things that we have. Help us to not focus on our “first world problems” when things don’t go quite the way we want them to. In truth, so many of the things that we see as “problems” are not at all. They are simply inconveniences caused by the excess of our lifestyle. I am so very thankful for everything that you have placed in my life. Your blessings abound, and I can’t be thankful enough! I believe that I could not count all of my blessings in the days that I have left on this earth.

I pray for this day. Keep us safe as we travel to Mineral Wells, later, to visit and celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents. Give us rest over the remainder of the weekend, as we have extra days off. Most of all, keep making us thankful.


Grace and peace, friends.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

Good morning. Today is Friday, May 24, 2013. Normally, I would be excited, but I have to work tomorrow, because our client is a retailer, and since they won’t be getting deliveries on Monday, they want deliveries on Saturday. 😛 On the positive side, I will be off Monday, and Tuesday should be more relaxed. After this weekend, we have 19 more days on this account.

We took a night off to just chill at the house last night. I was very tired, and Stephanie has worked out some new challenge ideas with the new club manager at 24 Hour Fitness, something a little more reasonable.

We have at least three friends who are currently in Moore, Oklahoma, helping with the relief efforts. One of them has posted pictures on Facebook. It has an eerie resemblance to New Orleans after Katrina. Just piles of rubble everywhere.
Moore, OK damage
Please keep praying for these people, as well as those in Granbury, Texas, from the week before. We tend to forget about the one that happened earlier, focusing on the most recent tragedy. I know there is enough room for both in my prayers.


Today appears to be National Escargot Day. Really?? Snails??


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1626, a Dutch-speaking German man named Peter Minuit, a “director of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony,” made a trade with a local Native American tribe. He traded approximately “60 guilders’ worth of pots, pans, fish hooks, tools and cloth” for “a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River.” The island was named Manhattan Island, derived from the Algonquin name for “island of the hills.” Settlers were moved to the southern tip and the new town called New Amsterdam. American dollars did not exist at that time, so “the traditional tale that Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 is an anachronism.” In 1631, Minuit drowned in a hurrican on his way back to Holland, but New Amsterdam continued to flourish. However, in 1664, it was ceded to the British in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British renamed it New York.


Today’s birthday is Terry Scott Taylor, born on this date in 1950. Terry is the brains an front man behind my favorite group in the history of music, Daniel Amos. He also is part of a “Christian Supergroup” called The Lost Dogs, as well as another incarnation of Daniel Amos called The Swirling Eddies. He has been my very favorite songwriter since the early eighties, and I frequently refer to him as my “Christian music hero.” Here is a clip of my favorite Daniel Amos song, “I Love You #19.”

Honorable mentions go to Queen Victoria, 1819, H.B. Reese, 1879 (“Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”), Roger Peterson, 1937 (Who is Roger Peterson? The pilot who flew the plane on “the day the music died” in 1959), Bob Dylan, 1941, and Patti LaBelle, 1944.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Psalm 65:3
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Psalm 25:4-8, 11

Father, your goodness and mercy are amazing to me. I thank you that you have atoned for my transgressions, and that you have blotted them out. I seek your presence this morning as I look into your word for a while. Teach me your paths, lead me in your truth.


In Touch Magazine presents a very thought-provoking question today.

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The question is, “Which interests you more–who Jesus is or what He can do for you?” So today, I stop and think, am I more concerned with knowing God or just receiving his blessings? How much of my prayer time revolves around physical needs? Much of it, I confess, and I’m probably not very different from anyone else. I will say this, in my own defense, though; the majority of my prayer time centers around the needs of others, at least. Still, there is not a lot of time spent in just communing with God. That needs to change somehow. Of course, that’s what the majority of this time right now is for, too.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is definitely something that I can identify with. The reading is called “God Notices Us.” The scripture passage is Psalm 10:1-4, 14.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

The Psalmist is frustrated over a couple of things, here. One is that the Lord appears to be hiding himself while the wicked prosper and succeed in their schemes to further cheat those already poor. The other is that those same wicked people think that God does not see them. Most people who say, “There is no God,” aren’t true atheists, but, rather, simply believe that God, in whatever form he takes, is not paying attention to them. But the Psalmist realizes in verse 14 that, yes, God does see, and not only sees, but takes note of “mischief and vexation,” and commits himself to taking care of the helpless and fatherless.

I have fallen into the way of thinking, before, that my prayers and deeds are of no use to anyone; that my prayers for other people are doing no good. Especially when there are things that I have been praying for for months, and there seems to be no answer. Does God notice? Does he hear my prayers? The answer is, yes, he does. He notices. He hears. Why has he not granted my prayers? When God is ready to reveal that information to me, he will. There is where my faith must be exercised. There is where my belief in the goodness of God must take precedence.


Mercy number 14 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called (uhoh), “Washing Feet.” Brennan relates an incident when he was at a retreat center, reading the account in John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Suddenly, in the spirit, he was in that room, and he was Judas. Do we ever stop to think that Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer? As Brennan imagined knowing that his Savior was about to wash his feet when he had betrayed him, he though of all his sins, his failures, his weaknesses. What Jesus said to him, in his spirit, was astounding, and something that we must come to grips with. “Brennan, I expected more failure from you than you expected from yourself.”

You see, this goes back to what I realized a few weeks ago, and still struggle with accepting. God is not disappointed in me. He can’t be. We have this image of God that he always expects us to succeed, and then, when we fail, he is disappointed, sighing in frustration. People, this cannot possibly be a true representation of our Father! “But . . . all this “be perfect” stuff in the Bible . . .” Yes, that is there. But God, who knows all, and has written down every step that our feet will take before the every came to be, already knows what we are going to do. Therefore, that is exactly what he expects from us! He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves because he knows us perfectly and completely! So when Brennan continued to bring up his “irritating character defects, the boasting, the inflating the truth, the pretenses, the impatience, all the times [he] got drunk,” Jesus responded, “What you’re saying is true, Brennan. Yet your love for me never wavered and your heart remained pure. And besides, you’ve done one thing that makes Me forget all the rest. You’ve been kind to sinners.”

Now, just as all analogies fall apart at some point, we can’t go around thinking that anything we have done causes the Lord to forget our sins. But to focus on that one statement would be to miss the point of the whole event. The point was, again, that God is not disappointed in us. He sees the love of Christ in us. Brennan Manning says he sobbed so hard that the priest in the next room came over and knocked on the door to make sure he was okay. Then Jesus simply told him, “I just washed your feet. Do the same for others. Serve My people humbly and lovingly.”

Do I have to go around washing people’s feet. No. We don’t wash feet in our culture, because aren’t walking around with mostly bare feet, in dust, mud, and horse manure. But I do need to serve God’s people, humbly and lovingly.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

“Why have You kindled in me the flame of faith, this dark light
which lures us out of the bright security of our little huts into
Your night? And why have You made me Your priest, one whose
vocation it is to be with You on behalf of men, when my
finiteness makes me gasp for breath in your presence?”
Karl Rahner


Father, how I have long thought that you were always disappointed in me, and I confess that I continue to struggle with that. Even though I have accepted the truth that your love for me never changes, and that there is nothing I can do to increase or decrease your love for me, I still struggle with the human emotion that thinks that you surely must be disappointed in me when I sin. But I must accept that this cannot be. The idea that you expect more failure from me than I expect from myself is truly revolutionary to me, yet scripture bears this thought out. All those passages about you knowing our steps before we take them, you knowing the words before we speak them; you know it all, therefore you expect nothing less, nothing more. You have truly “washed our feet.” Therefore, I have no other choice than to humbly and lovingly serve others in return for the gracious gift that you have given me. Show me who I can serve today, and when the opportunity arises, remind me quickly that this is service to you, before my human side rises up and gets all resentful over having to do something for someone else. Give me the spirit to serve gladly, humbly, and lovingly.

I also pray today that I might be more desiring of simple, true communion with you than for the blessings that knowing you bring. There is nothing wrong with praying for needs, you tell us to do so. However, let the desire of my heart be to simply know you more.

I pray for this day, today. Continue to heal Christi, as she recuperates from her surgery. Stephanie has found her promises in Colossians 3. I pray that you help her make those personal for her own life. And give her understanding by the Holy Spirit as you draw her closer to you. And I pray that my work day will not be a struggle today. I pray ahead of time for a smooth Saturday delivery day, as well.

I continue to lift up prayers for all the people affected by tornadoes in the past week. May you give them restoration, comfort, and hope, and I thank you for the people who have responded selflessly to the need for relief help.


We don’t need to wash feet, but we do need to serve; selflessly, gladly, humbly, and lovingly. I’m reminded of an old hymn, by B.B. McKinney.

Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways.
Come before His presence with our songs of praise.
Unto Him our Maker, we would pledge anew
Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with gladness, thankful all the while
For His tender mercies, for His loving smile.
Blessed truth enduring, always just the same.
We will serve with gladness and praise His name.

Serve the Lord with gladness, this shall be our theme.
As we walk together, in His love supreme.
Listening, ever listening for the still small voice.
His sweet Will so precious, will be our choice.

Serve Him with gladness, Enter His courts with song.
To our Creator, true praises belong.
Great is His mercy, wonderful is His name.
We gladly serve Him, His great love proclaim.

Grace and peace, friends.