The Incomprehensible

Today is Tuesday, the 7th of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.

May the peace of Christ enfold you today!

Day 23,707

Our weather continues to display signs of drunkenness. After a high of 73, yesterday, I awoke to a temperature of 61 degrees, and falling (the temperature, not me). That will be the highest temperature of the day. It should get down to around 45 degrees during the night, tonight. There is an 87% chance of rain today, and 85% chance tomorrow. This is fine, as we need the rain, and it’s not supposed to freeze this week. The next ten days are predicted to be anywhere from the low fifties to the low seventies. The average temps for this time of year are upper fifties for highs and mid-thirties for lows. We aren’t setting any records, though, as the record high for today is 77, in 1974, and the record low is 22, in 2014. I should think we should be getting close to the time when the record lows will be from 2021.

It’s my night at the library, tonight, so I’ll be working from 4:15 to 8:15, this evening. It’s also our Subway day, so I’ll be trekking over to Subway around noon today, to pick up lunch and dinner for the family. We missed it last week, because of the winter “storm.”

That’s about all I have today. Got a few chores to do, and should probably practice a little bit. Need to keep my trombone chops going (or keep improving them), and have a new vocal song to learn for February 26.


You are my hiding place and my shield; 
I hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 NRSV)

May this ever be true in my life.

Daily Prayer from

Dear Father in heaven, living source of all that is eternal in us, we come to you and plead with you to strengthen the gifts you have given us. Grant us the light of life in which we can walk in spite of the many burdens and uncertainties of our earthly life. Protect us from deception and disappointment. Strengthen our hope for your steadfast, firm, and eternal rule in us, in many others, and finally in all people. Amen.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God is my hiding place and my shield (Psalm 119:114)
  • for the gifts that God has given me; may He strengthen those within me
  • for the Word of God, lamp to my feet, light to my path (Psalm 119:105)
  • for freedom in Christ
  • that the Lord delivers me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)
  • for the Psalms

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
I put my hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 NRSV)
I sought the LORD, 
and he answered me, 
and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NRSV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 NRSV)
So if the Son makes you free, 
you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NRSV)
So thank GOD for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
(Psalms 107:31 MSG)

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, this morning, as I consider the Scripture verses that have spoken to me.

I like Eugene H. Peterson’s words, in Answering God, quoted in today’s reading of God’s Message for Each Day. “It is not possible to comprehend God. Merely to utter the name ‘God’ is to be plunged into mystery.”

I agree. We cannot comprehend God, and as soon as someone claims that they have, they lose all credibility. However, we are not roaming around in the dark, “where all cats are gray.” While we cannot comprehend God, there are things about Him that are knowable. We tend to call these things “doctrine.” Even so, there is a rather large amount of disagreement over those doctrines.

One of the great things about C.S. Lewis’s book, Mere Christianity, which I am currently reading again, along with a group of people from my church, is that what he is trying to describe fits the title perfectly. He is not interested in “denominational” differences. He says, right off the bat, that he is not going to present one communion over another. He happened to be of the Church of England, but I believe that is only mentioned once in the book, and that at the beginning.

He describes “mere Christianity,” or, in a sense, the basic beliefs which most denominations agree upon, as a large hall. The important thing is to get into that hallway. The various denominations or “communions,” as he calls them, are represented by doors that come off of that hallway. He advises us to be kind to people who have either landed in different rooms than we, or people who have made it into the hallway, but not yet found which door they need to go through.

Evelyn Underhill defines worship as simply “the response of the creature to the Eternal.” This response comes almost naturally (most definitely naturally to non-human creatures), and is, perhaps, enhanced by the fact that we do not and cannot comprehend God, as Peterson notes.

So we seek Him, and we cry out to Him, as we worship Him. We do not comprehend, and perhaps we should not attempt to. Part of the act of worship is simply doing nothing more than contemplating His beauty. Any attempt to understand or comprehend Him detracts from this, and could result in what Underhill called “egotistic piety.”

So we thank Him for His marvelous love, that “miracle mercy,” as Peterson paraphrases in Psalm 107:31.

Jesus declared that if we continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would make us free. Jesus also declared that He was the Truth (the Way, the Truth, and the Life). Therefore, it is Him that we will know, and He who will set us free. And if He has set us free, then we are “free indeed.” The Greek word that is translated “indeed,” is ontos, which can be translated as “indeed, certainly, of a truth, verily, really.”

There seems to be some disagreement as to what “free” means, in this case. I will give my opinion, noting that it is nothing more than that. However, as Paul once said, I believe that I, too, have the Holy Spirit.

I believe that, in Christ, I have been made free, indeed, and that I am free from trying to comprehend something that is incomprehensible. There is a contingent of society that refuses to believe something that it cannot understand. I find this laughable, as those same people get in their car and drive to work every day, and I guarantee you that many of them don’t really understand how that works. Or maybe they get on an airplane and fly to a particular destination. And I guarantee you that they breathe, and don’t understand how that works, either!

As C.S. Lewis points out, I don’t have to understand how my dinner nourishes me in order to enjoy it.

So I don’t have to comprehend God to enjoy Him. And there are certainly times when I thoroughly enjoy simply contemplating His beauty.

Father, I praise You, even though I do not fully understand You. And I thank You that I don’t have to. Well, I can’t, that’s the truth, but I don’t have to try to. I am free from that, as well as free from other things, because of Jesus Christ. So I praise You for the Son, who has set us free, indeed, because He is the Truth, and He has shown us truth, that we may become free in Him.

I praise You for Your inexpressible beauty. This beauty is made known to us in so many ways, not the least of which is Your Creation. How I love to sit and watch the ocean, and even better, catch a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. How I love to watch a waterfall, one, perhaps that is not so readily visible without a bit of a journey. The reward is worth it. In these things, as well as in the majestic mountain ranges, I see Your beauty. I celebrate that beauty in worship.

Thank You for Your Word, which is a lamp for my feet, which lights up my path. Help me to always continue in that Word, and never forsake it. I have truly loved Your Word since before I was able to read it. I praise You for being that kind of Presence in my life for that long, Lord.

You are glorious and beautiful, and I long to be in Your Presence for eternity.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart

Today is Tuesday, the fourth of October, 2022, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be within your soul today

Day 23,581


Father in heaven, we people on earth are poor and needy. We are deaf and dumb, but you rouse us every day and call to us, "Ephphatha." We thank you for this, in gladness for all you do for our sake. Help us to become united in expectation for the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ will come, when before all people he will be proved your Son, the Savior in whom you, the Almighty, come to meet us. Through him you say again, "Let there be light! Let there be life! Let life break free from the darkness of death so that Jesus may come as the Savior of all, the Savior even of those who are still in deepest darkness." Praise to your name, O Father in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from

He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mark 7:34-35 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the “living and active” Word of God, and the many resources that I have to help keep me connected
  2. for that word, “Ephphatha,” that Jesus spoke, and how God continues to open my heart, my ears, and my mouth
  3. for the visions of worship around the throne in John’s Revelation
  4. for His drawing/leading toward humility
  5. for the confidence that God hears me when I pray
  6. for the patience and long-suffering of God, who, in steadfast love, understands that we are simply dust

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. 
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, 
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, 
who was and is and is to come!" 
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, 
to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created."
(Revelation 4:4-11 ESV)

Exalt the LORD our God; 
worship at his footstool! 
Holy is he! 

Exalt the LORD our God, 
and worship at his holy mountain; 
for the LORD our God is holy! 
(Psalms 99:5, 9 ESV)

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
(Psalms 25:9 ESV)

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:10 ESV)

"Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul;" (and here is the catch) "though we are never to enter on it for this, or any other reason which is tainted by self-regard." 
(Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Spiritual Classics by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Let’s start way up at the top, with that verse from Hebrews. This has long been a memory verse of mine, probably as far back as my college days. But I noticed something today, and this, in itself, is proof of the first phrase that “the word of God is living and active.” Check the last phrase of the verse. ” . . . and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God can discern my thoughts and intentions.

Am I to believe that a book can do this? Words on a page? As I contemplate this, I don’t think that it is so much the physical book, the ink on dead tree shavings, but rather the spirit behind those words. And, I suppose, we can even go so far as to include Jesus in this, as He is the “Word made flesh.” The Greek word logos is used in all of those instances, whether referring to Scripture or Jesus Christ.

It takes no great imagination to believe that Jesus can discern my thoughts and intentions. But it is a much heavier thought to consider that God’s Word, i.e. the Bible, can do so.

Definitely something to ponder.

Next I want to focus on that quote from Evelyn Underhill. Worship, true worship, leads us away from “self-occupation.” This ties in with Scriptures immediately preceding that quote, that deal with humility. We are told to do nothing from selfish ambition, and to consider others as more significant than ourselves. The first Other which we should consider, of course, is our Father in heaven. If we cannot even succeed in thinking that He is more significant than ourselves, we have a long row to hoe.

And this is pretty much what humility is all about. If we come to “worship” solely for the idea of what we can get from God, then we are not worshiping. This also ties in with my critique of modern worship music, which I have mentioned multiple times in this format.

But Ms. Underhill even brings a tricky catch into the equation. If we go to worship for the reason of getting away from our self-occupation, we are still entrenched in self-occupation. Do we understand this? If we go to worship for any other reason than God, we are missing the point.

And this is much harder than it sounds. I believe that is why God is patient with us. He understands our frame, our weaknesses.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:14 ESV)

What a comforting verse this is! Yes. I am dust. I am cynical; I am selfish; I do come to worship with self-occupations, desiring to “get something out of it.” But at the same time I want to get away from these characteristics, and become fully embraced in the Holy Spirit, and the Son, and the Father, and for my heart’s desires to be His desires!

I want to go to worship just to worship Him, to contemplate His greatness, His majesty, His glory, and to walk away knowing nothing other than Him.

And, in doing that, when I emerge, I am more concerned with others than I am myself, and more inclined to do nothing out of selfish ambition.

Father, You have given me much food for thought, meditation, and contemplation, today. If I understand that Your Word can discern my thoughts and intentions, I will read it differently. And I do want to read it with that thought in mind, because I want my thoughts, and, above all, intentions to be pure. I don’t want to have mixed messages coming from my soul. I desire for my heart to be completely united, that I might fear Your name, that I might learn Your ways and walk in Your truth.

I also pray that You will help me to approach worship with more of an attitude of simply being in Your presence and engaging with You, with no ulterior motive (thoughts and intentions?) of what I can get out of it. This is hard. But You know this about us, and You are patient with us. I am grateful for this, Father. If You were not patient with us, in steadfast love, we would have long been destroyed.

Father, I do believe that You raised Jesus from the dead. Because of that, if I do believe that, why do I struggle with believing that You would do something less powerful (if that even makes sense) like answering my little prayers? Help me, Father! I do believe! Help my unbelief! Seriously, if we believe in the resurrection of Christ, we should be praying in much greater expectation, waiting on You, looking to You, confident that You hear us, as that verse in Micah says.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Only Jesus

Today is Monday, the third of October, 2022, in the twenty-seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,580


For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)

Lord our God, our Father in heaven, we come to you as your children. Bless us, we pray. Bless us especially in days when fear tries to take hold of us. Let your help come down to us as you have promised, the great help in Jesus Christ, who shall come to redeem the whole world. Bless us through your Word. Renew us again and again to stand firm and true to you, for you are our help for redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God is reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting our sins against us
  2. for the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); O, how I long to see my Savior’s face!
  3. for the account of the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9
  4. that the Lord has made known His salvation and revealed His righteousness to the nations
  5. for the promises of Jesus regarding prayer

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
(Psalms 32:8 ESV)

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 ESV)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
(Mark 9:2-8 ESV)

"The tendency of all worship to decline from adoration to demand, and from the supernatural to the ethical, shows how strong a pull is needed to neutralize the anthropocentric trend of the human mind, its intense preoccupation with the world of succession, and its own here-and-now desires and needs." 
(Evelyn Underhill, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffen)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:12-14 ESV)

Today, I want to focus on that passage from Mark, as well as the quote from Ms. Underhill.

Evelyn nails it, in my opinion, in her quote about worship and how we humans tend to make it anthropocentric. That’s a fifty-dollar word that means we put ourselves at the center. And if anyone has been paying attention to modern worship songs, in the course of the last decade or so, they can see the truth in this. I would dare to guess that at least ninety percent of all contemporary worship songs use the pronouns “I” and “me,” rather than “we” or “us,” and the majority of those songs are also not directed to God, but, rather, address what He has done for “me” or what “I” want from Him.

Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with singing about God to each other. That is part of what corporate worship should be . . . retelling the Gospel story to one another. But there is simply too much “I” and “me” in those songs. We think too much about ourselves.

Sadly, this translates over into our daily lives, as well. Just look at the number of alleged Christians who have been screaming about their “rights” in the past few years.

When we gather to worship God, it should be all about Him.

When Jesus took His “inner circle” up on the mountain with Him, they observed His transfiguration. We are not told what they saw, but I can’t help but wonder if it resembled what John saw in Revelation.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
(Revelation 1:12-16 ESV)

We do know that verse 6 says, “they were terrified.” Terrified is probably one of, if not the, most intense words for “scared.” Quite literally, they were scared speechless. But Peter, being Peter, had to talk anyway, so he blurted out that thing about building tents. One for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus.

Moses appeared, representing the Law. Elijah appeared, representing the Prophets. After Peter spoke, a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Now, there are different ways to emphasize that statement. We could emphasize “listen.”

“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Or, we could emphasize “him.”

“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Based on what happens next, I think the emphasis should be placed on “him.” Why?

And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
(Mark 9:8 ESV)

Beloved, I believe (and trust me, I did not come up with this on my own, it comes from the best sermon on the transfiguration that I have ever heard, by Pastor Kari Malinak of Living Word Lutheran Church, in Grapevine, TX) that this event serves to tell us that Jesus supersedes the Law and the Prophets, and that, from this point forward, we should be listening to Him.

Jesus, Himself, tells us, multiple times in the New Testament, that following His commands fulfills the Law and the Prophets. I’m not saying we should not continue to read and study those. What I’m saying is that if we place more importance on the Old Testament Law than we put on the words of Jesus, we are in error. The voice that came from the cloud (presumably the Father) has told us to listen to Jesus.

So let us live our lives under the influence of Jesus Christ, and let our worship reflect this, as we focus, not on ourselves, but on the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Father, I thank You for Jesus. Those words sound so inadequate. But I don’t know how to express it better. I am thankful for everything that Jesus has done and everything He represents. I thank You for His teachings, His Words, and I thank You for the account of this transfiguration, in which You illustrated to His disciples, and through them, to us, that it is Jesus, and only Jesus to whom we should listen.

Help us to be less like Peter, simply blurting things out when we should be silent. Help us to be more like Jesus in all of our lives. Help us to stop being so self-centered about everything we do, and begin to obey the commands that Jesus gave us, to love You with all of our being, and to love others as ourselves. Help us to fully surrender our “rights,” that we might consider others as more significant than ourselves, as Your Word instructs us to do. Help us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and gentleness.

Mostly, just help us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.