Let Them Know . . .

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of September, 2021. ‘Tis the first day of Autumn, my favorite season of the year!

Day 23,204

Twenty days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, a wonderful Romanian photographer. My gratitude to Paul for allowing me to use his photos.

Fall has finally arrived, and has arrived in great style, as it is currently below sixty degrees in DFW, and the projected high is only 82 today. Tomorrow should be similar. There’s a little rain in the forecast, in about a week, but things could always change between now and then.

Yesterday was a great work day. I spent the first four hours in shelving, putting away some new books and DVDs, then pulled some large print books that are slated for probable “deaccession.” That means they will be pulled from library stock and placed in the next Friends of the Library sale. The second half was spent in the computer center, where my role is basically to sit there are wait for people to have questions or problems. There are occasional tasks with which I can assist, as well. I am also thinking about signing up to help with the library’s subscription service, a brain child of one of the media/tech people during the pandemic, while the library was closed to inside service. Each month, three books are chosen by library staff for subscribers, based on a survey they fill out, along with their check-out history (only made available for this service), then the patrons get to rate the books that they are given by the staff. I’ve not only considered signing up to help pick books, but I’ve also considered signing up for the service, itself. Sounds like fun.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and then I’m off for the next four days. Next week will be the “tough” week, tough only because of the number of hours I will be working during the calendar week, as my schedule changes to the new schedule I will have, going forward from October 1.

I’ve got a grocery order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning, with some needed things, mostly watermelon and bananas. Can’t keep a banana in this house! It’s crazy.

At some point, I may have to break down and mow the yard. Maybe tomorrow. Also, in regards tomorrow, C received a text message on Monday, confirming that the Social Security folks will be calling her Thursday morning, in regards to to S’s benefit from my record. That should be interesting.

Today is Hobbit Day, as, apparently, it is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The word for today is muliebrity, a noun, which means “womanly nature or qualities.” This is appropriate, as today is also Business Women’s Day.

The quote for today, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on September 22:

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, 1290 (did he ever die?)
Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, 1515-1557
Michael Faraday, English scientist, 1791-1867
Charlotte Cooper, British tennis player, 1st female Wimbledon champion, 1870-1966
Tommy Lasorda, American baseball manager, 1927-2021
Toni Basil, American singer (Mickey), 1943 (78)
David Coverdale, British rock singer (Deep Purple, Whitesnake), 1949 (Wikipedia says 1951, making him 70)
Andrea Bocelli, Italian tenor, 1958 (63)
Scott Baio, American actor (Happy Days), 1960 (61)
Catherine Oxenberg, American actress (Dynasty), mother of India Oxenberg, victim of Keith Ranier's NXIVM cult, 1961 (60)
Bonnie Hunt, American actress (Cheaper By the Dozen, Rain Man), 1961 (60)
Tom Felton, English actor (Draco Malfoy), 1987 (34)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Beginning of Fall is here;
Cooler air outside;
Refreshing and renewing.

In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 29:18-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn, and the cooler temperatures it brings
2. for the grace that floods my soul, this morning, even though I am undeserving of it
3. for the coming day when all people, all over the world, will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You are Most High over all the earth
4. for the promise of rest and strength as we return to You in repentance
5. for my life in You, in the truth of Your Gospel, and the strength to share it with others

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
(Psalms 139:14 MSG)

As I pause here, in the quietness, I consider that You are, indeed, breathtaking! This body, this soul, so marvelously and wonderfully made! I watch my fingers move. I pay attention to my breathing. What marvel; what wonder!

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof,
O God.
See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you,
whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:1-4, 17-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
(1 Samuel 5:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct my meditations and prayers, and teach me something for my life today.

I do like the prayer at the beginning of Psalm 83. We should always be praying, I think, for God to not be silent, to not stand aloof, to not turn a deaf ear to us. It’s one of those prayers that seems superfluous, because God has already promised to not do any of those things.

It is we who are fickle, and I believe that praying prayers like this can center our souls, cause us to focus better on the Almighty. If we are asking Him to pay attention, it means we are speaking to Him. It’s a simple though, really, but it is similar to the idea that prayer, in itself, is an exercise in faith. If I had no faith, I would not be bothering to pray. But the fact that I pray indicates that there is at least a grain of sand worth of faith in there somewhere.

It is also interesting that Asaph phrases this psalm in such a way to indicate that it is GOD’S enemies that he is praying against, not his own. “These people are Your enemies, because they are trying to wipe out Your people.” In our day and time, the enemies of God have a different tactic. Mostly, I think, they simply ignore Him or try to prove that He doesn’t exist. All to their own destruction, eventually.

The last verse of the psalm is one of those great prayers that we can always pray, kind of like “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 NIV)

The Lord let the Philistines know that He was Most High in this mildly amusing story from 1 Samuel. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They thought they had won, right?

Silly Philistines.

Even their idol, their false God Dagon, bowed before the ark! That piece of stone or wood was found face down before the ark, the morning after they set the ark next to the idol. They even set it back up, but found it face down again, the next morning, with the head and hands broken off. Interestingly, their superstitions continued to rule them, as the head and hands were laying on the threshold, which caused the worshipers of Dagon to never step on the threshold of the temple again.

What does it say to us when a “god” that isn’t even real bows down to the Most High God? One also wonders why the Philistines continued to worship Dagon.

And then the “bad stuff” started happening. We don’t know the exact nature of it, other than “devastation” and “tumors.” Some wise people among them figured out that all of this was happening because they had the ark.

Ya think?

So they decided to move it. To Gath, another Philistine city. If you keep reading, the people of Gath dumped it on the city of Ekron, who immediately cried out, “”They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” Word gets around.

The amazing thing to me is that there is never any indication that any of these people thought to cry out to the God of Israel for mercy! They just kind of “shooed” Him off, dumped Him on the next town. Actually, today’s reading, in the devotional book, stops before any of the moving around, with the question, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

A similar question looms, today. This God, the Most High God over all the earth, has revealed Himself in many ways. Paul, in the book of Romans declares that He has revealed Himself sufficiently in nature, to the point that no one on earth has any excuse for not believing in Him.

I lean toward agreeing with that thought. I do not, for the life of me, understand how anyone can look around at the beauty of this world (even the dry, arid, desolate places are beautiful in their own way) and not believe in a creator! Personally, I think it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that all of this is just serendipity.

The looming question is “What are you going to do with the God of Israel? What are you going to do with Jesus Christ?” You only have two choices. You can believe in Him, or you can not believe in Him. You can’t just ignore Him. You can try, but it has the same effect as not believing.

C.S. Lewis, I believe, was the first person to propose the idea, concerning Jesus, that you have three choices about Him. Either 1)He is who He says He is, which is God incarnate, the Savior of the world, 2) He is a bald-faced liar, making claims that simply aren’t true, or 3) He is a raving lunatic, a mad-man.

You simply do not have the choice to think that He was a “good teacher.”

He claimed to be God.

He was crucified, He was buried, and He rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. There are eye witnesses to all of those!

I will proclaim these truths until my dying day.

Father, I pray that someone who does not believe in You will read this blog today. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will surround them as they read, and that they will be drawn into a believing relationship with You, by the power of the blood of Christ. I praise You that You drew me in so many years ago, that You caused me to be born into a believing family, and that You chose me to be one of Your children, before the foundations of the earth. I pray that You will, indeed, let them know that You, whose Name is Yahweh, that You alone are Most High over all the earth!

"Living God,
You are the one true God,
eternal,
almighty,
everywhere present,
filled with compassion,
knowing all things,
most wise,
perfectly holy,
always patient,
overflowing with goodness and truth.
All my idols are reflections of my broken self,
and only as I fall down and worship You do I find myself whole again.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
(Matthew 5:4 MSG)

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

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.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

My Heart Is Stirred

Today is Sunday, the fifteenth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,166

Only four more days until S’s birthday! Might be time to start wrapping presents. Or bagging them, as the case may be.

Not much happened, to speak of, yesterday. We got all the groceries, and C and S got their platelets donated, which took a really long time. One slight hiccup in the day was that Walmart gave us one bag of seeded grapes, in place of one of the six bags of seedless grapes I ordered. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth the trouble to return them.

We will be zooming today, for our church gathering, for which I am grateful. C and I had decided that we would not attend in person, as we do not believe it has been long enough. Plus, I believe there needs to be a conversation about gathering in the future, which two of the families having chosen to not receive the vaccine.

I’m sure there will be Applebee’s for lunch today, and I will, no doubt, make the traditional burgers for S and me, tonight, for dinner.

There might be a walk today, at some point, as the outside temp is only supposed to get to 89 degrees today.

Today is Relaxation Day, and I am totally cool with that. I plan to do a lot of that today.

The word for today is saltigrade, “moving by leaping.” My guess is that this came about because of the second definition, which is also an adjective, “belonging or pertaining to the family Salticidae, comprising the jumping spiders.”

Today’s quote, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is another about happiness: “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

And now for the birthdays.

1717 Blind Jack [John Metcalf], English 1st professional roadbuilder, born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England (d. 1810)
1769 Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader and Emperor of the French (1804-14, 1815), born in Ajaccio, Corsica, France (d. 1821)
1771 Walter Scott, Scottish historical novelist and poet (The Lady of the Lake, Rob Roy), born in College Wynd, Edinburgh Scotland (d. 1832)
1879 Ethel Barrymore [Blythe], American classic film & stage actress (Constant Wife, Corn is Green), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1959)
1885 Edna Ferber, American author and playwright (American Beauty, Cimarron), born in Kalamazoo, Michigan (d. 1968)
1890 Elizabeth Bolden, American Supercentenarian (oldest verified person in the world at the time of her death), born in Somerville, Tennessee (d. 2006)
1898 Lillian Carter, US President Jimmy Carter's (1977-1981) mom, born in Richland, Georgia (d. 1983)
1904 Bill Baird, American puppeteer (Kukla Fran & Ollie, Muppet Show), born in Grand Island, Nebraska (d. 1987)
1912 Julia Child, American chef, author and television personality (The French Chef), born in Pasadena, California (d. 2004)
1923 Rose Marie [Mazzetta], American actress, comedienne and singer (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Doris Day Show), born in NYC, New York (d. 2017)
1933 Bobby Helms [Robert Lee Helms], American country music singer (Jingle Bell Rock), born in Bloomington, Indiana (d. 1997)
1941 Don Rich, American guitarist and country singer (Hee Haw), born in Olympia, Washington (d. 1974)
1946 Jimmy Webb, American singer and songwriter ("MacArthur Park"; "Up Up & Away"), born in Elk City, Oklahoma
1948 Tom Johnston, American guitarist and vocalist (The Doobie Brothers, 1970-77 & 1987-present - "Listen To The Music"; "China Grove"), born in Visalia, California
1949 Kate Taylor, American singer and songwriter ("It's In His Kiss"), born in Boston, Massachusetts (James Taylor's sister)
1950 Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise Windsor, second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, born in Clarence House, London
1950 Tess Harper, American actress (Amityville 3D, Tender Mercies), born in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas
1954 Stieg Larsson [Karl Stig-Erland Larsson], Swedish author (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), born in Skelleftehamn, Sweden (d. 2004)
1955 Larry Mathews, actor (Ritchie-Dick Van Dyke Show), born in Burbank, California
1956 Peter-John Vettese, Scottish keyboardist (Jethro Tull, 1982-89), songwriter, arranger, and producer born in Scotland, United Kingdom
1964 Melinda Gates, American philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, born in Dallas, Texas
1968 Debra Messing, American actress (Will & Grace), born in Brooklyn, New York
1972 Ben Affleck, American Academy Award winning screenwriter (Good Will Huntng), actor (Armageddon; Pearl Harbor), and BAFTA Award winning director (Argo),born in Berkeley, California
1974 Natasha Henstridge, Canadian actress (Species)
1978 Tim Foreman, American bassist (Switchfoot - "The Beautiful Letdown"), born in Lake Arrowhead, California
1978 Kerri Walsh, American beach volleyball player (Olympic gold 2004, 08, 12), born in Santa Clara, California
1989 Joe Jonas, American pop singer (Jonas Brothers), born in Casa Grande, Arizona
1990 Jennifer Lawrence, American actress (Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook), born in Louisville, Kentucky

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
(Psalms 46:4-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that river that brings joy to Your city, Your sacred Home;
2. that, though the nations are in chaos, You dwell here among, and are our fortress;
3. that the center of Your Model Prayer for us is forgiveness;
4. that I only have two jobs to do . . . love You and love people;
5. that You are working Your plan, and I don't have to.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK THIRTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(Psalms 106:1 NIV)

I pause to meditate on Your presence among us, this morning; to consider that, even though outside appears chaotic and crumbling, You are in total control of everything, and Your plan is working out, moving to glory.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
(Psalms 45:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.
At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
(Exodus 12:21-30 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, reading them again, I attempt to “dwell,” to rest in the presence of the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to move around me, within me. I have tried something different this morning. All other tabs on my Internet browser are closed as I go through this. No Facebook, no email, to distract me. Just this window, God’s Word, and the devotional books.

I confess that I have never quite known how to take this passage from Psalms. This particular one seems to be directed to the human king, at the time. It is also noted to be a wedding song.

Matthew Henry, however, seems to have no problem applying this psalm to King Jesus. And I suppose, upon reading it more closely, that this is reasonable. He is, after all, “the most excellent of men,” and His lips have been anointed with grace. In the book of Revelation, our King is seen with a sword coming out from between those lips.

There will be a time, in the future, when He will, indeed gird Himself with His sword by His side, riding out on that white horse, in victory, in majesty, in the cause of Truth. And His throne will last forever and ever.

So, in reading it like this, my heart is, indeed stirred by this noble theme, as the first verse declares.

In the Exodus passage, we see the Lord striking down every firstborn child in the land of Egypt, as the Passover occurs. There was loud wailing, “for there was not a house without someone dead.”

And that was the final straw, as it were. Pharaoh threw them out of his country, which is what the Lord wanted all along. In fact, they were told to hurry and leave, “for otherwise, we will all die!”

I’m not sure what I am supposed to take away from all of this, though.

Perhaps it hearkens back to the psalm that I chose for the beginning, before my gratitude list. As chaotic as the world around me seems to be, with everything seeming to crumble around us, I know that God is working His plan. I am not wringing my hands over circumstances, as a lot of people seem to be, even people who claim to believe that God is in control . . . their actions and words are not lining up with that “belief.”

God will act on His own behalf whenever necessary. He has a timeline, and we are not privy to it. As Jesus seemed to indicate, HE doesn’t even know, and He is part of the Trinity!

So great faith is required. Faith and patience; hope and trust. And love. Let us remember that we have two jobs to do: Love God and love people. Thank the heavens that neither one of those jobs has anything to do with making sure the world doesn’t cave in around us! In addition, neither job requires us to cleanse the world of evil, which some of Christ’s “followers” seem to think is their exclusive job.

Love God.

Love people.

And pray. And in that famous Model Prayer that we so often call “The Lord’s Prayer,” the center of it all is forgiveness.

We really need to let that all sink in.

Thank You, Father, that You are in control of all things. It is true that it appears that chaos reigns in the world around me; not just in this country, but all over the world. Things just seem to get worse and worse, and when has there been a generation that did not feel the same way?? So we just need to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that You are in control; You are in charge, not us! I am also grateful for that truth. We have already shown what a terrible job we do when we think we are in charge. You, however, are perfect in all of Your ways, and You are our “good, good Father.” All glory to You, my God and my King!

Lord, please give us resurrection hope and joy today, as we gather together in whatever form and fashion that Your Church meets. I pray that the worship that is lifted up to You in all churches will be glorious, this morning. Give us grace, strength, and opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel of the risen King Jesus!

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.

"Saving God,
in the Passover lamb you reveal a sketch of the gospel.
Thank you that in Jesus I have a fully developed picture and proclamation of the gospel.
As I read through the Bible,
open my heart and mind to know that the center of the whole story is Jesus,
that all the patriarchs and prophets,
the sacrifices and ceremonies,
point to him.
Amen."

BLESSING

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

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
(Hebrews 13:15 NIV)

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
(Ephesians 5:19 NIV)

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.'”
(Jonah 2:9 NIV)

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(Revelation 4:8-11 NIV)

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.

Open Our Eyes

Today is Friday, December 22, 2017. Day 21,834.

Only THREE days until Christmas!!!

Abigail Adams, born on this date in 1744 (died 1818), said, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is abubble, an adjective, meaning, “characterized by intense enthusiasm or activity.” Children are all abubble, this time of year.

C is off today, for her Christmas Eve holiday. I have to work. I was supposed to be off Tuesday, but we are being asked to work. Since C will be working anyway, and we will get double-time-and-a-half for working on our holiday, I’ll be there. Unfortunately, I will also be working Saturday and Sunday of the following weekend. Only four hours each day, but our customer wants coverage for those days to get as much material received as possible. Since I work the “problem shelf,” they want me there to help get as many of those problems resolved as possible. I’m a little concerned about the weather for that weekend, though. Forecasts project below freezing lows for Saturday and Sunday, with slight chances of precip.

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

(From The Divine Hours)
Friday – Third Week of Advent

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.
Psalm 55:16-19
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 
Psalm 70:1
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Psalm 65:4
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:20
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:31-35
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.
Psalm 62:5-12

(From The President’s Devotional)

Today’s reading is called “Eleanor’s Prayer.”

“Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of the world made new.”
(Eleanor Roosevelt, in The Treasury of American Prayers

Father, this is a beautiful prayer, and I can easily echo it. Forbid me to be satisfied with anything in this life, for that would mean that my satisfaction is coming from something other than you. Draw my attention away from things that are not deserving of my praise. And that bit about difficult tasks. Yes. Don’t let me fall into expecting easy. Keep me depending on you and your strength. Finally, show me that vision, Father, and keep it alive in me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Am I? Where Am I?

Today is Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Day 21,762. One day until our 32nd anniversary and Glen Rose Weekend! 169 days until Opening Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who was born on this date in 1884 (died 1962), said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pauciloquent, which means, “That uses few words in speech or conversation; laconic.” I am definitely not pauciloquent.

Today is Pet Obesity Awareness Day. I swear I am not making that up.

The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs Monday afternoon. The Yankees tied the Indians in their series on Monday evening, as well. They will play game five of their series today, weather permitting. There has been a lot of rain affecting these playoffs. The Cubs and Nats were rained out last night, and will play today. The Dodgers swept their series against the D-backs.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will head out to Glen Rose for our long anniversary weekend. We are, of course, quite excited about this, and looking forward to a lot of rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, this time. While our temperatures are low yesterday and today, highs in the seventies, tomorrow through Saturday will be back in the upper eighties to low nineties. Disappointing, but we will still have a wonderful time, I am confident. We have books to read, and we also are planning a trip to Fossil Rim, the wildlife park, probably on Friday. C wants to see the giraffes.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 
God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.

Psalm 55:16-19
The Request for Presence
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
The Greeting
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 
Psalm 31:1
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Psalm 118:22
A Reading
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27
The Morning Psalm
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 
The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 
Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110:1-4
The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me!
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Living the Message)

“Prayer is an orienting act. We begin to discover who we are when we realize where we are. Disorientation is a terrible experience. If we cannot locate our place, we are in confusion and anxiety. We are also in danger, for we are apt to act inappropriately. If we are among enemies and don’t know it, we may lose our life. If we are among friends and don’t know it, we may miss good relationships. If we are alongside a cliff and don’t know it, we may lose our footing. While praying Psalm 8, we find out where we are and some important aspects of who we are.” (Eugene Peterson)

I have learned, recently, where I am, and it has had a drastic impact on who I am. Where I am is in the midst of God, who is all around me. He is in the air that I breathe. When I stand up, I am standing in the middle of God. When I sleep, I am sleeping in God. When I walk around, I am walking in and with God. This realization has had an amazing impact on who I am. It has also had an impact on my praying. To be sure, I still fail to live in a manner worthy of his grace, but I am more constantly reminded that he is with me and that I am in him, which makes those failures fewer. What a blessed feeling to know that I am constantly in the presence of the Almighty.

A David psalm. GOD, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. 
Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble. 
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. 
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? 
Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light. 
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, 
Made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, 
Birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps. 
GOD, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.

Psalm 8 (The Message)

Father, please don’t stop teaching me where I am and who I am. Show me your presence today. Make me constantly aware of you around me, as well as your Spirit within me.
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.

“Alleluia From Head To Foot”

Today is Thursday, November 17, 2016. Seven days until Thanksgiving!

Quote of the Day

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (I do . . . I drive to work.)

Word of the Day

Sycophant – a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.

Today is Use Less Stuff Day. The older I get, the less stuff I need. And, I find that I care less about the stuff that I already have. It is, after all, just stuff.

100 days until the first Spring Training game, and 137 days until Opening Day. Yes, the countdown has begun.

Rick Porcello won the Cy Young award for the American League. And he should have. He won 22 games on the season, and his team won a division championship. Kate Upton is made because Justin Verlander didn’t win it. I’m surprised that he was even in the running. He only won 16 games, and his team didn’t make the playoffs. Just because he’s your boyfriend doesn’t mean he should get the Cy Young award, Kate. Max Scherzer won for the National League.

I don’t know much else, this morning, so on to the devotions.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me. Psalm 101:6

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD,
who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.
Psalm 135:1-4

Our biblical faith should have praise as its bedrock, firmly and deeply embedded. St. Augustine said, “The Christian is an Alleluia from head to foot!”

“‘Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, help us to adore Thee, till, with all the angel host, low we fall before Thee; till, throughout our early days guided, loved, forgiven, we can blend our songs of praise with the song of heaven!’ (Cyril Argentine Alington, ‘Come, Ye People, Rise and Sing’). Amen.”

Father, direct my spirit to unceasing praise, as I live through this day. No matter what comes my way, today, let my lips bring forth praise and adoration to you, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Glory be!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Deep Humility, A Well-Guided Zeal, A Burning Love, and A Single Eye

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”~~Eleanor Roosevelt

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is Panglossian, “characterized by or given to extreme optimism, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity.” I am most definitely not Panglossian.

Today is Unfriend Day. It’s the “official” day to scroll through your Facebook list and “unfriend” anyone you really don’t know (or, if you dare, those “friends” who are constantly posting annoying political memes).

I was about halfway to work, yesterday morning, when I suddenly realized I had forgotten my trombone. All was not lost, however, as I do have time to drive back home, pick it up, and drive back to Southlake for band practice. Just barely. I got to the middle school, where we practice, at 6:30, which is exactly when I like to arrive. I just didn’t have time to eat dinner beforehand. This actually worked in my favor, I think. I seemed to play much better in a state of hunger. Very interesting. I wound up going through the McDonald’s drive-thru after practice. It’s on the right side of the road, right on my way home, so it’s very convenient. And, they are now serving some breakfast items all day, now! So I had two Sausage McMuffins and a medium order of fries for dinner.

The worst part, though was the rainstorm between home and Southlake. It rained so hard, I almost had to pull over at one point. That, and the sudden downpour caused standing water in multiple places on the freeway, which is always very dangerous. Of course, in conditions like that, I will not drive much more than fifty miles an hour, to prevent hydroplaning.

Then, around 3:30, this morning, we were awakened by a frightened Stephanie, letting us know that the tornado sirens were going off. So we got up, and, rather than doing the smart thing and gathering in the middle bathroom, we turned on the TV, and opened the back door to see what was going on outside. Which was pretty much nothing other than some rain. We watched the weather on TV for a few minutes, the sirens went off, and we went back to bed. The thing that aggravates me is that there was never a confirmed tornado, which tells me that “they” have changed the definition of a “tornado warning.” It used to mean that a funnel cloud had been confirmed in the area. Now it seems to just mean that a “storm capable of producing tornadoes” is in the area. That’s what we used to call a “tornado watch.” Oh, well. Better safe than sorry, I guess. It took a while to get back to sleep on a night when I already don’t get enough sleep, so today is going to be a fun day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The eighteenth-century evangelist George Whitefield was once quoted as writing, “God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!” Tim Keller says that these four ideas are a good summary of what the Christian life should look like. He then turns this short prayer into a means of daily self-examination.

In the category of deep humility, in order to examine myself, I might ask the following questions: “Have I looked down on anyone? Have I been too stung by criticism? Have I felt snubbed and ignored?” After this, I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until my disdain for others decreases, because I am a sinner too, and until my pain over criticism decreases, because my focus should be on God’s love, not what others think of me. I don’t need to hang on to the need to “keep up a good image.” This leads me to “grateful, restful joy.”

To examine myself for “a well-guided zeal,” I might ask myself: “Have I avoided people or tasks that I know I should face? Have I been anxious and worried? Have I failed to be circumspect, or have I been rash and impulsive?” Then I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until I am no longer avoiding hard things, because Jesus faced the cross for me, and until I have no “anxious or rash behavior,” because Jesus’s death shows me that God cares for me and will take care of me. I continue to reflect on this grace until “I experience calm thoughtfulness and strategic boldness.”

To examine myself for “a burning love,” I might ask myself: “Have I spoken or thought unkindly of anyone? Am I justifying myself by caricaturing someone else in my mind? Have I been impatient and irritable? Have I been self-absorbed, indifferent, and inattentive to people?” Then I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until coldness and unkindness disappear, because of the sacrificial love of Christ, until there is no impatience, because of God’s great patience with me, and until there is no indifference, because God also pays great attention to me. I continue to reflect on this great grace until I feel “warmth and affection.”

To examine myself for “a single eye,” I might ask myself: “Am I doing what I do for God’s glory and the good of others, or am I being driven by fears, need for approval, love of comfort and case, need for control, hunger for acclaim and power, or the fear of other people? Am I looking at anyone with envy? Am I giving in to even the first motions of sexual lust or gluttony? Am I spending my time on urgent things rather than important things because of these inordinate desires?” Then I “consider how the free grace of Jesus provides me what I am looking for in these other things.”

These are four very effective areas of meditation and self-examination, that seem to cover a large spectrum of our lives. May we learn to reflect on these and similar areas in our lives.

Father, teach me to participate in this kind of self-examination on a regular basis. Just in typing those questions, I found myself to be severely lacking in multiple places. I pray for the kind of reflection that would result in knowing how much you love me and allowing me to transfer that love to others, as well as find in you the graces and benefits that I might erroneously seek elsewhere.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.