Grace Cannot Be Earned Or Won

“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it.”

Today is Monday, November 28, 2016. Twenty-seven days until Christmas.

Quote of the Day

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” – André Gide

Word of the Day

Vicissitude – the quality or state of being changeable.

Today is French Toast Day. Some people really like French Toast. I’ve never been crazy about it, myself. I would just as soon have pancakes or waffles.

Yesterday was a mixed bag. We had a good worship gathering in the morning, then stopped by Slim Chickens for lunch, a place we had never tried before. It was pretty good, basically, just chicken tenders and “wings.” (Ever since I discovered that “boneless wings” are just chicken nuggets, I have seriously believed that they should not be allowed to call them “wings.”) They serve up dinner boxes with three to five tenders, a side of your choice (they have mac and cheese, which is good for S), two dipping sauces, and a drink. It was pretty good; better than Chicken Express. I don’t think it’s a place we will go very often, though, as we are not frequently in the mood for chicken tenders.

After finishing season 2 of iZombie on Netflix, we started looking at some of those genealogical DNA tests that you can get. After doing some research, I think I’ve decided that they may just not be worth the money. They can’t really pinpoint what country your ancestors are from, just “European” or “Asian” or “African,” basically just what continent. We are already pretty confident that my father’s ancestors are European, so what’s the point in paying $60-200 to find that out? Also, we read that the Ancestry DNA test is frequently wrong. And since I’m almost 60 years old, I don’t really care to know what diseases I might get. By this time, if I’m going to get them, I’m going to get them. “Que sera sera,” as it were.

We closed out the weekend with an unexpected hospital visit, as C got a call from her step-dad’s daughter. It seems that her step-dad dreamed he could walk and tried to get up out of bed, which resulted in him falling (he had a leg amputated a couple years ago). In mid-fall, he realized what was happening and tried to catch himself, which resulted in two broken elbows and a broken knee. We visited with him for a bit, and he is in fairly good spirits, all things considered. There will be surgeries, but when and how many at one time is yet to be determined.

89 days until the first Spring Training Game
126 days until Opening Day


My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Psalm 71:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. Psalm 71:17

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  Psalm 118:23

(From Praying With the Psalms)

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, 
  and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. 
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
Psalm 138:4-6

Our praise should not be kept private; it is not a hobby to only be indulged in at home. Praise is “a public affirmation, a powerful witness to God’s ways and a celebration of his goodness.”

“‘Mighty God, while angels bless Thee, may a mortal sing Thy name? Lord of men as well as angels, Thou art every creature’s theme. Lord of every land and nation, ancient of eternal days, sounded through the wide creation be Thy just and endless praise’ (Robert Robinson, ‘Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee’). Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

. . . and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . Romans 3:24

“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it.” Until we arrive at a point where we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we are destitute, God can do nothing with us. If we believe that we are, within ourselves, sufficient, we will receive nothing from God. We must realize our spiritual poverty, and only then can we receive God’s gift of grace. It cannot be earned; it cannot be won.

Father, I praise you for this truth. I am nothing without you. In the words of Horatius Bonar, in How Shall I Go to God, “It is with our sins that we go to God, for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” You have taught me this over the past couple of decades, and to this, at least, I have listened and learned. I am supremely grateful to you, Father, for your salvation, and all that you have given me. I still have much to surrender in my life, so I beg you to keep working in and with me, teaching me to walk in the Kingdom, joining in the easy yoke of Christ.

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.

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.


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.