Meditations

Good morning. Today is Friday, the fourteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,318

Only nine more days until Hamilton, and, as of this morning, there is still now word of it being postponed or cancelled.

The shower is fixed. It didn’t take them very long at all. It wasn’t cheap, but plumbing seldom is, right? And the invoice showed the whole charge on one line, so I don’t know how much was parts and how much was labor. The thing is, I really don’t care. The shower is fixed. And they showed up early.

That’s right. I said early. About two hours early, in fact. I got a call at around noon asking if it was okay if they come on over. Of course, I said, “Sure!”

The service I used was ABC Plumbing, from Watauga. They are very close to where we live.

I didn’t get much else done, yesterday, as I didn’t feel great. I did fold/put away some laundry, and got the dishwasher loaded and the trash taken out. As for how I felt, it was weird. My nose seems to have settled down from the allergies/mountain cedar from the past couple of weeks. But I had a very mild bit of chest . . . I wouldn’t even really call it “congestion.” Felt more like asthma, which I have not had trouble with in years. And of course, just like anyone else, I worry about Covid, so I was constantly taking my temperature all day. It never got above 97.9, so that allayed my fears about that. (Worldometer shows that the U.S. had 806,493 new cases, yesterday.) Then, later in the evening, my stomach felt weird, slightly nauseated. I had some peppermint tea before going to bed, took some NyQuil, and this morning I feel pretty good.

Tomorrow, we are planning a trip to Mineral Wells, at least for a couple hours. I need some Crazy Water, and we always need to visit Mama, so we plan to have some lunch with her. I’m off work tomorrow, so it’s a perfect day for it. Other than the fact that it will be cold (high of 37 and low Sunday morning off 27).

I work today, from 9:15-6:15, in the computer center.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Being Something Beautiful, by Daryl Madden

Being something beautiful
Beginning with a prayer
To feel His love surrounding
And know that truth so clear

Being something beautiful
An easy thing to do
Surrendering to God
And let Him transform you

Being something beautiful
Let us each proclaim
For we are in God’s eyes
All one in the same

Being something beautiful
Can be found right here
Through blessing of His presence
Grace is everywhere

Being something beautiful
Our message, let it be
The Word to every soul
In them is what we see

Being something beautiful
Our joy this day to share
With our unique own giftings
With a heart to care

May we all “be something beautiful” today. Please check out Daryl’s other inspiration poetry on the link provided above.

Blessed are you, O LORD;
 teach me your statutes! 
With my lips I declare 
all the rules of your mouth. 
In the way of your testimonies I delight 
as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts 
and fix my eyes on your ways. 
I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word.
(Psalms 119:12-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the beauty I see all around me, both in physical surroundings and in the people I meet; let us all strive to be something beautiful today
2. for the gifts/talents/blessings that we all have to share with one another
3. for Psalm 119 and how it teaches me to meditate on God's Word
4. that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
5. that the Word of God is in my heart

Blessed are you, O LORD; 
teach me your statutes! 
With my lips I declare 
all the rules of your mouth.
 In the way of your testimonies I delight 
as much as in all riches. 
I will meditate on your precepts 
and fix my eyes on your ways. 
I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word. 

Even though princes sit plotting against me, 
your servant will meditate on your statutes. 
Your testimonies are my delight; 
they are my counselors. 

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; 
and I will keep it to the end. 
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law 
and observe it with my whole heart.

 I entreat your favor with all my heart; 
be gracious to me according to your promise. 
(Psalms 119:12-16, 23-24, 33-34, 58 ESV)

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:13-14 NIV)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. 

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? 
How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? 
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 
Look on me and answer, LORD my God. 
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 
and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," 
and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 
But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
I will sing the LORD's praise, 
for he has been good to me. 
(Psalms 13:1-6 NIV)
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. 

I waited patiently for the LORD; 
he turned to me and heard my cry. 
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock 
and gave me a firm place to stand. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear the LORD 
and put their trust in him. 
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, 
who does not look to the proud, 
to those who turn aside to false gods. 

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, 
the things you planned for us. 
None can compare with you; 
were I to speak and tell of your deeds, 
they would be too many to declare. 
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— 
but my ears you have opened— 
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come— 
it is written about me in the scroll. 
I desire to do your will, my God;
 your law is within my heart."

 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
 I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. 
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; 
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. 
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness 
from the great assembly. 

Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
 may your love and faithfulness always protect me. 
For troubles without number surround me;
 my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. 
They are more than the hairs of my head, 
and my heart fails within me. 
Be pleased to save me, LORD; 
come quickly, LORD, to help me. 
May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; 
may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" 
be appalled at their own shame. 
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
 may those who long for your saving help always say, 
"The LORD is great!" 
But as for me, I am poor and needy; 
may the Lord think of me. 
You are my help and my deliverer; 
you are my God, do not delay.
(Psalms 40:1-17 NIV)

Father, this morning has been all about simply reading and meditating on Your Word. I have no pithy words of wisdom or insight to share. I share only Your Word, allowing anyone who comes across this an opportunity to just read Your Word and meditate on it, themselves. Sometimes, that is the best thing for us.

I do, as the Psalmist repeatedly states, delight in Your Word and in Your precepts, pondering them, meditating on them, sometimes many times in a day. I bless You as You continuously teach me Your paths. Your Word is worth more to me than many riches, sweeter than the richest honey. I pray, as the Psalmist, for understanding, that I might keep Your Word and walk in Your paths.

Also, like the Psalmist, I praise You that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I marvel at all of creation, Father, but especially at the workings of the human body and mind. But, like the Psalmist, I also “wrestle with my thoughts.” I recognize the benefit that we have, as humans, that we have total control over what we allow our minds to dwell on. This does not stop, however, unwholesome or unhelpful thoughts from running through my brain. Most of the time, I do pretty good at letting them just run right on through, but, sadly, there are times when I allow them to stop and visit for a while. Help me to be better at not allowing that. Help me maintain thoughts of love, peace, and helpfulness in my mind, and allow only positive, godly thoughts in my spirit. I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation! I will sing Your praise, for You have been good to me!

The truth that my days, my life, are already written in Your book, is too much for me to fathom. Help me to be what You have called me to be; teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. And help me to heed Your most often repeated command to “be not afraid,” for there truly is nothing that man can do to me, ultimately, to harm me. This world, because of You and my place in Your Kingdom, is a perfectly safe place for me to be. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Generosity Begets Generosity

Good morning. Today is Friday, the seventh of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas.

May God’s peace flood your soul, today.

Day 23,311

Sixteen days until Hamilton, assuming it doesn’t get cancelled.

I remain concerned that it will, still, as the new cases of Covid continue to break previous records. The U.S. had 751,000 new cases, yesterday.

Regarding the Church calendar, I will mostly be following whatever Pray As You Go says, this year. I’ve already noticed that they begin counting “Ordinary Time” next week. The resource I used last year counted the entire time between yesterday and Ash Wednesday as the season of Epiphany, and didn’t begin counting Ordinary Time until after Easter. If you’re confused, join the club. I will say that Pray As You Go is a ministry of Jesuit Ministries in Great Britain.

I’ve already done better with my “aspirations” for the new year. I’ve definitely done more reading, and am already just over sixty pages away from finishing my second book of the year (A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins), and we are still in the first week! Several nights, this week, after we have finished dinner and our TV watching, rather than crank up a video game, I have simply sat on the coach and read a while.

I feel like I’m doing a little better with the praying. That can always improve, but I’m finding myself stopping and whispering a quiet prayer any time I receive a prayer request on FB (or Tik Tok, but I haven’t gotten very many there, yet).

However, I have yet to make any music, this year. It will come, I am confident.

I had a great four hours, yesterday, at the library, but it is really messing up my “what day is this” bit on this week. I had to ask C if this was Friday. Of course, I always get to work on Fridays, in the computer center. This is also my week to work Saturday, which has not happened since before Christmas. In fact, I have not worked a Saturday since December 18th, and that was an “extra” shift for me.

I don’t really have much else, so on with the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Father, I ask You to be present in this time. I know that You are here, but I am asking for something deeper, more of an awareness of that presence. As I read various portions of Your Word, this morning, I pray for wisdom and insight into what lies ahead for me today and in my life.

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

Today I am grateful:

1. that God is with me, and there is no reason for me to be afraid of anything (unless I wander off the path)
2. that God is my refuge and my strength, my fortress and my hiding place
3. that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
4. that God doesn't need perfect people to do His good work (he manages to use me, after all)(for proof of this, read Judges)
5. that every good and perfect gift comes from God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
(1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

“How do I know my words and actions are bringing me closer to God? What things make me turn away from God?”

These are good questions for reflection. These days, I’m seeing a lot of videos on social media about “deconstruction” of faith. It is a disturbing, yet understandable trend. A lot of it stems from, unfortunately, the political climate of the past four-plus years, and the rabid association of the “white evangelical church” with the “extreme right.” Some of the people who are deconstructing seem to have abandoned faith altogether, while some continue to seek Jesus, but outside the confines of the traditional “church.”

It is my opinion that one cannot leave the “Church” (capital C), while it is totally possible to leave the “church.” The reason I say that is because the Church is the Body of Christ. And if one is truly a member of the Church, one cannot leave it.

For these people, their words and actions may or may not be bringing them closer to God. For some, it is obvious that they are drifting further from God. So how, indeed, do I know? And note that the questions are not in regard to anyone else but me. This is a personal reflection. It is not for me to reflect on whether your words and actions are bringing you closer to God.

If my words and actions are bringing me closer to God, I believe that my words and actions will, in turn, reflect that. It is somewhat cyclical. If I am being drawn to love others (yes, here we go again), then I think that I am drawing closer to God. If my heart is full of compassion, I believe I am growing closer to God. If we keep reading in the fourth chapter of 1 John, I think we see this to be clear. If I am growing closer to God, then I am growing in love.

If my words and actions indicate bigotry and hatred, I am most definitely not growing closer to God. And, I am learning, I cannot afford to watch or listen to too many of these deconstruction videos, because they can cloud my thinking. I don’t have good answer for these people, nor do I intend to debate them. That is not my place; not my “ministry,” if you will. I am not a “Christian apologist.” My job is to love God and worship Him, and to love and pray for other people. I will say this, though. If you are a person who feels that “Christianity” has hurt you, one of two things is true, in my opinion. Either what you encountered is not “true” Christianity, or what you were looking for was not real Christianity, but some kind of personal validation. Real Christianity, true followers of Christ, is not in the business of hurting people.

Jesus, I ask You to help me recognize both the things that draw me closer to You and the things that tend to draw me away from You. Help me to be faithful to love and pray for others, and to love and worship You. Remind me to allow others, who are more gifted in that area, to debate with the deconstructionists. Also, please remind me of the truth of the words, “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

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.


In Symphony of Salvation, in the piece about the book of Judges, Eugene H. Peterson makes this statement: “God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.”

I’m going to let that sit there for a minute.

“God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.”

This may shock some people, but, if you read the book of Judges, it is hard to disagree. I have made mention of this fact, in previous entries, but possibly the most often-repeated phrase in the book is, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

“It is always something of a shock to enter the pages of the book of Judges and find ourselves immersed in nearly unrelieved mayhem.”

I’m sorry (no I’m not), but did anyone else just see this?

The beauty of the story is that God works with us “in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us. God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people.”

Lift your hearts high, O Israel, with abandon, 
volunteering yourselves with the people—
bless GOD!
(Judges 5:9 MSG)

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 
See, I am doing a new thing!
 Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)


Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “giving.”

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
(James 1:17 NIV)

“Giving” can mean a lot of things. Or at least it can be seen in a lot of different ways. I don’t really want to talk about how much C and I give to others, because I never want to appear to be boastful about it. But know this. When you give to someone, out of the kindness of your heart, or, honestly, even if it is out of a sense of obligation (but remember, “God loves a cheerful giver”), that gift comes from God. It may have come out of my heart or my bank account or my pocket, but if it is a “good and perfect gift,” it originated from God.

And yes, I believe that gifts that we give to people can, indeed, be “good and perfect.” Because I believe that the opposite of the statement is also true. (“Opposite” is probably not the right word.) If every good and perfect gift comes from God, then it can also be said that every gift that comes from God is good and perfect. So if I give a gift, and it comes from the heart of God, and I am simply the channel, then that gift is “good and perfect.”

How does this apply to prayer? I can pray to be more giving. I can pray that God opens my eyes to needs today, as I interact with people, that I might give something to help that need. That could be time, money, attention, or anything else that I might have. It might just be a friendly smile or greeting, a notion of love.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs love.


Father, I am grateful that You are able to use people who are not necessarily “good,” nor are we perfect, to do Your good work. Thank You for the examples of people in the Bible, people who are jerks, people who are sinful, people who just aren’t very nice or good, sometimes, yet You used them in Your plan to bring salvation to the world. This means that You can use me, even me, and You have, and You continue to, so I am blessed and honored and humbled by this.

I thank You that You have placed a generous, giving heart within me, but I do not rest on that. I believe I can do better, and You can help me do so. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
(Luke 6:38 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Is For You

Good morning. Today is Friday, December 31, 2021. New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2021, and the seventh day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,304

I wonder if there are “reverse friggatriskaphobics” who are afraid of Friday the 31st . . .

One more day until 2022! Which is slightly redundant, given my statement in the first paragraph. And, technically, not even a full day. Seventeen hours and twenty-nine minutes, as of the exact time I am typing this paragraph.

Will we be staying up to welcome 2022? I might still be up, but it won’t be for that specific reason. In the grand scheme of things, this is just another day. Nevertheless, I do wish everyone who reads this a blessed, peaceful, and prosperous 2022.

Either later today, or tomorrow, I will share a complete list of my reading accomplishments for 2021. That may actually happen in my other blog, as well. I’m up early, this morning, because I have get to work today. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get my blog done and not be rushing out the door at 9:00.

Today is my day in the computer center, so it should be a pretty good day. Who am I kidding? It would take a major catastrophe to not have a good day, working at the library.

Oh! I almost forgot to say something about our sushi experience, last night. As previously mentioned, we met with some church friends for dinner last night, at Goldfish Sushi, next door to the Hoffbrau Steakhouse in Haltom City. It was amazing! We all go the $22.99 all you can eat deal, so we were all able to share all of the appetizers and sushi. We got an appetizer called “Honeymoon,” which was, essentially, stuffed jalapenos, tempura-fried. They were delicious. Then, we had a variety of sushi rolls, including Crunch Orleans Roll (Crispy crabmeat, Avocado, Crawfish with 4 season sauce), Rainbow Roll (California roll over tuna, salmon, w/tuna, shrimp and Redsnapper, raw fish), Crunch Roll (Crabmeat, Cream cheese, Avocado Crispy crunch with spicy mayo, Eel sauce), Hawaiian Roll (California roll topped Fresh Tuna, raw fish), Spicy Tuna Roll, Watauga Roll (Shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado roll over crab stake spicy mayo, wasabi, eel sauce and crunch), Volcano Roll (California roll topped w/ scallop, crabmeat baked special volcano sauce), and I swear there was one called King Tiger Roll, but I can’t find that on their menu online. There is one called White Tiger that is “Spicy crab, cucumber, avocado roll, top seared white tuna, scallion masago, spicy ponzu sauce.” I’m not sure if that is it or not. Then there was a dessert that was very simple, a small orange (maybe a “cutie” or “clementine”) cut into four pieces with chocolate sauce drizzled on top.

It was all quite delicious. My favorite was the Crunch Orleans Roll and the Honeymoon appetizer, which may only be available on the all you can eat menu, as I do not see that listed as an appetizer on the online menu. The service was also wonderful and friendly. Our friends are regular customers, so that probably helped. Hahaha. I feel pretty certain that we will be back.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Who will roll away
the stone from the entrance of
the tomb of our lives?
(based on Mark 16:3)
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, 
who does not turn to the proud, 
to those who go astray after a lie! 
(Psalms 40:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the "new song" that God has put in my heart and in my mouth
2. that He has caused me to put my trust in Him
3. that the steadfast love and mercies of the Lord, which are "new every morning," actually no nothing of boundaries such as days, hours, weeks, and years
4. for twenty-three thousand three hundred and four days of life (so far)
5. for the hope of wisdom
6. for the hope of the love of God and loving my neighbor as myself

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
(Revelation 22:13 ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Good verses with which to end a year. And while I realize, contextually, that Jeremiah 29:11 is specifically a prophecy to Israel, how can it not be applicable to us who are the “new Israel?” God certainly does not have plans for evil for us. He has a future and a hope planned for all of us who are in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah!


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

CHRISTMAS – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands! 
Serve Yahweh with gladness. 
Come before his presence with singing. 
(Psalms 100:1-2 WEB)

I pause, at this moment, to reflect on the grace of God throughout the past year, as well as the promise of hope and His grace into the next. Truly, December 31 is just a day, and January 1 is just another day. The grace and steadfast love of the Lord knows no boundaries such as days, hours, weeks, and years. I am grateful for this.

BIBLE SONG

A prayer of Moses the man of God.

 Lord, you have been our dwelling place 
throughout all generations. 
Before the mountains were born 
or you brought forth the whole world, 
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 

You turn people back to dust, 
saying, "Return to dust, you mortals." 
A thousand years in your sight 
are like a day that has just gone by, 
or like a watch in the night. 
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— 
they are like the new grass of the morning: 
In the morning it springs up new, 
but by evening it is dry and withered.

 Teach us to number our days, 
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; 
establish the work of our hands for us— 
yes, establish the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:1-6, 12, 17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 
"'"The LORD bless you and keep you; 
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."' 
"So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
(Numbers 6:22-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I mull over these passages, reading them again. I pray the prayer of Moses back to God, verbatim, reflecting on its appropriateness for the last day of a year, humanly speaking.

I also take note of that bit about a thousand years being like a day to Him. See the comments in my earlier reflection between the invitation and the bible song. “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” From eternity past to eternity future, God is the Lord; His majesty is never-ending and His rule will remain, while we will turn to dust. However, it is only our bodies that will return to dust while our souls live on, with those new, glorified bodies that we have yet to even imagine.

Verse 12 is literally the reason that every blog entry begins with how many days I have been alive. Trivial? Perhaps. And, while I confess that I began that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I still take it somewhat seriously. I have been around a lot of days, but those twenty-three thousand three hundred and four days (it seems larger when it’s typed out) have gone by in a flash. It seems like only yesterday that my family was moving from a rental house to the house where my mother still lives. But it wasn’t yesterday. Ironically, it was November 22, 1963.

Yes, that’s right. The day that C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died.

I’ll bet that’s not what you expected to see. Of course, we all know what date that is. And those two deaths were overshadowed by the more famous death of JFK.

But I digress.

What is the point, here? Sometimes, I’m not sure. But I think, for me, today, it’s this: God is God from everlasting to everlasting. We are dust; from dust we came, to dust we shall return, and our puny little existence is nothing more than a mote of dust in comparison to eternity. We would do well to consider this. Not so that we feel badly about ourselves, but maybe, just maybe, so we don’t get so cocky. Because mankind has gotten quite cocky, especially in the USA.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I also think it highly appropriate to end the year with the Aaronic blessing from Numbers.

Father, I pray for wisdom for us. I pray that as we all “number our days,” that we may truly “gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom seems to be in short supply in our land, these days. And lest I point any unnecessary fingers, may it start with me. Give me wisdom. Give me the wisdom to know what opinions matter and what opinions don’t. Give me wisdom, today, tomorrow, and for 2022, to know how to love You and love my neighbor as myself. Give me wisdom to know how to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, just as He loved us, and gave His life for us!

I pray for the blessing to be on all who read this blog today (or whenever they read it . . . even if it’s way into next year, may all who read this be blessed with Your richest blessings).

Father, I pray for spiritual renewal for all of Your children. May we know You as never before. May we realize that knowing You is the absolute most important thing we can do; more important than any human-invented “cause,” and infinitely more important than my opinion about anything! May You lead us into repentance as we look back on the past year. May we fully know the knowledge and experience of Your forgiveness.

"Covenant-keeping God,
at the end of another year I thank You for keeping me connected and at home in You through the Holy Spirit by Your free,
unchanging love and by the strong intercession of Jesus.
In Your faithfulness,
continue to preserve and keep me and all Your people from the power of evil throughout the coming year.
In Jesus's name,
amen."

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"May His presence go before you
and behind you,
and beside you,
all around you,
and within you,
He is with you,
He is with you,
In the morning, 
in the evening,
in your coming,
and your going,
in your weeping,
and rejoicing,
He is for you!"

Grace and peace, friends.

The Gift; The Wonder

Good morning! Today is Friday, the twenty-fourth of December, 2021. It is Christmas Eve!

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,297

One day until Christmas!

C is already busy cooking. She has cut up the fudge that was made last night. It is delicious! She is currently putting together a couple of crescent roll pull-apart Christmas trees. One has garlic and herb soft cheese inside, and the other will have cream cheese, powdered sugar, and chocolate chips inside. We have never tried the chocolate chip one before.

C’s sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend will be coming over, this evening. I believe they plan to bring a deep-fried turkey, something we have yet to try. We will be preparing our usual fare for holidays. Ham, green bean casserole, corn casserole, and mashed potatoes. And some of those “Parker House” style rolls. We also still have most of the bundt cake that I bought at Nothing Bundt Cakes. C gave in and cut into that a couple days ago. I’m not sure how much is left.

Tomorrow, after we have our Christmas celebrating, we will load up more food and gifts and head to Mineral Wells, where we will celebrate some more, along with some Facetiming with R & J, up in Indy.

I wish everyone who reads this a joyous Christmas, if that is what you celebrate. For the rest, I will say, gladly, “Happy Holidays,” in whatever your celebration of choice is. I’m not one of those grumpy folks who insist that everyone say “Merry Christmas.” That’s just silly. And quite disrespectful, in my opinion.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All Is Calm, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

All peace,
all joy, what
great love

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

I pray for peace and joy for all people. Please check out this poet’s site at the link provided above.

"But I say to you who hear,
 Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, 
pray for those who abuse you. . . .  
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. . . .  
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:27-28, 31, 36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the gift of Christmas, the love of God coming down to mankind in the Christ-child
2. that our Father is merciful, even to those who are "ungrateful and evil" (Luke 6:35)
3. that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His sheep
4. that I am one of those sheep, and my salvation is secure (John 10:28-30)
5. for the wonder and miracle of Jesus, God's ultimate gift

Neglect not the gift that is in thee . . .
(1 Timothy 4:14)
If you then, who are evil, 
know how to give good gifts to your children, 
how much more will your Father who is in heaven 
give good things to those who ask him! 
(Matthew 7:11 ESV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 
(James 1:17 ESV)

Okay, so right off the bat, I will acknowledge that some of this is taken out of context. So sue me.

Nevertheless, here is my takeaway from these, this morning. The older I have gotten, the more joy I get from giving gifts than receiving them. When we are children (and sometimes beyond), we love to receive gifts. Countless Christmas Eve nights are spent in sleepless suspense (see what I did there?), waiting for parents to get up and indicate that it is finally time to see what Santa has put under the tree. Or, if we have grown beyond the Santa phase, what the parents have put under the tree.

But now, for me, at least, the joy is in the giving. Our Father in heaven takes great joy in giving. Jesus Christ gave His life “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). “Every good and every perfect gift is from above.” So, to me, that means that, if my gift to you is “good” and “perfect,” then it came from God. Because any gift that I could possibly give is flawed.

And look at that verse from Matthew. I am, as human, inherently “evil.” That’s not a topic for today’s discussion, just go with it. And if I, being “evil,” can give “good” gifts to my children, my family, my friends, “HOW MUCH MORE” is our Father able to give REALLY GOOD gifts to us??

So, over the next day or so, take a look at the gifts you receive (hopefully you are receiving some), and if you really like them . . . if they seem “perfect,” consider how much better God’s gifts are!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful 
Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)
"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? 
Who is like you, 
majestic in holiness, 
awesome in glorious deeds, 
doing wonders?"
(Exodus 15:11 ESV)
And awe came upon every soul, 
and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 
(Acts 2:43 ESV)

An interesting thing that I have learned, this morning. The word translated “wonderful” in Isaiah 9:6 is the same as the word translated “wonders” in Exodus 15:11. The Hebrew word is pele (pronounced “peh’-leh”) and means “a miracle, a marvelous thing.” Taking that into consideration, we see that the gift of Jesus, the son that is given, is the ultimate wonder of God, the ultimate miracle. In Jesus, the miracle and wonder of God’s love is displayed, and the miracle and wonder of our salvation is accomplished.


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

CHRISTMAS EVE

INVITATION

Restore us, O God; 
make your face shine on us, 
that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NIV)

As I pause, this morning, I continue to ponder the wonder of the Gift.

BIBLE SONG

Sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth. 
Sing to the LORD, praise his name; 
proclaim his salvation day after day. 
Declare his glory among the nations,
 his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; 
let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; 
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. 
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, 
he comes to judge the earth. 
He will judge the world in righteousness 
and the peoples in his faithfulness. 
(Psalms 96:1-3, 11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). 
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. 
(Matthew 1:18-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I pray my thoughts and desires and needs and feelings to God, reflecting on things that I have already read, this morning, as well, enjoying His presence.

Father, I praise You for this gift, this miracle, this wonder of Jesus Christ. I pray that, today and tomorrow, and days after, that people all around the world will know the peace and joy that comes from participating in this life, this wonder, this miracle. He has saved us from our sins, indeed. Because of this, I will sing to You a new song, and I cannot wait until that day when I sing a brand new song in Your presence, along with everyone else from every tribe and nation and tongue and people on this planet. What a day, glorious day, that will be! In the meantime, let the fields be jubilant; let the rocks cry out; let the rivers clap their hands; let the heavens rejoice; let the earth be glad; let the sea resound; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy!

Thank You for Your perfect Gift!

"God with us,
quiet me before the Christ-child,
filled with wonder that in this tiny child,
You have come near.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV).

Grace and peace, friends.

The Mediator

Good morning. Today is Friday, the seventeenth of December, 2021, the third Friday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,290

Only eight more days until Christmas!

I successfully obtained a new fan, yesterday. It seems louder than the old one, which is odd, because it is virtually the same fan, but a different color. We may have to set this one on medium speed, rather than high speed. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with me waking up before 5:30, this morning. I did go to bed a little earlier than usual, last night, but that was because today is a workday for me. I’m working my normal Friday shift, today, 9:15AM to 6:15 PM, in the computer/media center.

Tomorrow, I’ll be working an extra shift, filling in for an associate who needed the day off. I don’t have to adjust anywhere else, because I’m losing sixteen hours out of next week, due to the Christmas holidays. We are closed both Friday and Saturday for Christmas, and I would have been scheduled to work both days.

I made Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner, last night, so there will be leftovers to take for lunch today. Yum!

I just stumbled across this on the page that opens when I open a new tab in MS Edge. Someone is confused.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A View of the Unseen, by Daryl Madden

Awake this day
A gift to see
The light arise
One of beauty

To pause this day
Upon a view
To still the soul
Of more pursue

To pray this day
Of vision cast
Of way beyond
One that will last

To know this day
Of the unseen
To let the Spirit
Intervene

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


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, 
so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my joy is based on You and Your faithfulness, rather than on my circumstances
2. for the strength obtained from meditating on Your Word
3. that You have done great things for us
4. that, no matter how far I may stray, You always bring me back, and have never allowed me to completely lose sight of You
5. that Jesus Christ is the one mediator between You and us, and that He game Himself as a ransom for us

for we walk by faith, not by sight.
(2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)


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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY

INVITATION

What a beautiful sight! 
On the mountains a messenger announces to Jerusalem,
 "Good news! 
You're saved. 
There will be peace. 
Your God is now King." 
(Isaiah 52:7 CEV)

I pause, briefly, to consider the joy of knowing Jesus, and the strength and endurance obtained by this.

BIBLE SONG

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev. 
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 
(1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any words or phrases that jump out at me, allowing my heart to respond in prayer. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, I confess, this morning, that it seems like this “race” has been long, the road, long and winding, kind of like that Beatles song. You have given me endurance, and my joy remains intact, even thought there have been many times it has been threatened. But You have kept me looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, the source of both my faith and my joy. He is the center of my being, and, in Him, I dwell in the center of Your holiness.

I confess, too, that I do not always remain in that center. I frequently stray. Yet You are patient and kind, bearing with me through all of my foolish wanderings. And You have never allowed my feet to stray too far, so far that I lose sight of You completely. I am grateful for this.

I thank You for Jesus, the one true mediator between You and us, and that He has given Himself as a ransom for us, purchasing us with His blood. This, too, gives me great joy, because I know that this purchase was permanent and cannot be reversed.

Help me to be faithful to pray for all people, especially those mentioned in that passage from 1 Timothy, “kings and all those in authority,” so that we may, as Paul said, “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It truly is Your desire that all people be saved, so I pray to this end, and ask that You help me to be a channel of blessing and grace to everyone with whom I come in contact.

I also specifically pray for those who are living in poverty and injustice on this day. I pray that You would raise up the right people to rescue them. Give us, too, the capacity and willingness to suffer with others. And give extra strength to all who are being persecuted for their faith.

"Lord God,
You defy all my tidy categories for understanding You,
especially at Christmas.
What a paradox the incarnation is -
true God and authentic humanity knit into one person,
Your Son,
Jesus Christ.
I worship You for this marvelous mystery -
as true God You conquered death by Your power,
and as a real human You died for me in the weakness of Your flesh.
Amen."

BLESSING

Praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel!
He has come to save his people.
(Luke 1:68 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Songs of Joy

Today is (hang on, let me look) Friday. Yes, Friday, the tenth of December, 2021, the second Friday in Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,283

Fifteen days until Christmas.

You might recall my struggles, yesterday morning. It got better in the afternoon, but not before I had an unfortunate encounter at the Albertson’s store. I was putting multiple bags of grapes in the shopping cart, when I heard someone speaking sharply in my direction and saw a store associate looking at me. When we made eye contact, she repeated, “You can only have two bags,” again much more sharply than necessary. She pointed at the sign in front of the grapes, which I had neglected to see.

When I asked why, the answer was vague, and, again, more sharply delivered than socially acceptable, especially when in the business of “customer service” (does anyone remember what that is, any more?). The answer ended with “I have a right to do that.” To which I responded, “and I have a right to shop at a different store” and stormed off, leaving my basket where I was standing.

I eventually went back and got my two bags, informing the associate that I thought she was rude, which she, of course, denied and offered nothing even remotely resembling an apology. She once again asserted her right to limit people to how many bags of grapes they could buy. As I approached the bananas, I came very close to asking her if I could have more than two bananas.

Here’s the thing. Two bags of grapes will last less than twenty-four hours in this house. Nevertheless, I felt very badly about the way I responded, and it added to what was already a ponderous morning, emotionally. If I had seen her again, I would have apologized for my behavior. Here’s the other thing. Never mind if she was rude, and I still believe that her behavior is completely unbecoming for one who is employed in any kind of customer service role. That does not excuse my response which was completely unbecoming for one who is supposed to be walking in the kingdom of Christ.

Later, I discovered that the store was completely out of our favorite flavor of Nick’s ice cream. If I had seen that to begin with, I would not have gone back and gotten two bags of grapes and continued my shopping. I would have gone across the street to Kroger.

Life is weird, sometimes. And the lessons we learn (hopefully) can be quite painful. After I had my lunch (I stopped at Subway and got lunch for S and me), I got up and swept the house and took out the garbage and recycling. Suddenly, my life seemed to have more purpose. More than just doing housework, mind you, but an attitude of service and sacrifice, as well. That relates totally back to the way I responded to the store associate.

Our people are so caught up in so-called “rights,” these days. But if we are disciples of Christ, we have surrendered (or at least we are supposed to have done so) those rights to the Lord. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross, daily. I failed at that, yesterday morning. And I’m not afraid to admit it and confess it. I failed. Hopefully, the next chance I get, I will remember.

Today, I work a full day in the computer center at the library. One thing is certain. The interactions that will come my way are unpredictable. It could be like last Friday, when the fax machine was the busiest I have ever seen it, or it could be a day where hardly anyone needs my assistance. Either way, I’m there to serve and assist anyone with their needs, as far as I can.

I learned something this morning. I have not spoken much (if any) of this, here, but I have been slowly learning Spanish from an app on my phone, Duo Lingo. But I learned something in Spanish, this morning, that I have yet to see on the app. I learned that the Spanish word for “handcuffs” is esposas. Do you know what the Spanish word for “spouse” is? You might guess where I’m going, here. It is either esposo (husband) or esposa (wife).

Now, the first thing that hit my brain was that this was the cruel joke of a cynic. But, upon further reflection, and thanks to my blogging friend Benjamin, over at Brother’s Campfire, it becomes a metaphor of being bound to one’s spouse. This is in the context of his wife having a pretty bad stroke, a short while ago. She is still in the hospital, recovering. And it was one of the nurses on duty that shared this with him. So, while it might be a bad thing to be in handcuffs (depending on the kinkiness of your lifestyle), and, while some people feel negatively bound in a spousal relationship, to people like me and Benjamin, it is a beautiful metaphor of the nature of our relationships with our wives.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I ran across two great poems, this morning, and can’t decide, so I will share them both. One is very short, a haiku. I will share it first.

A Light Within, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Let your
light so shine,
do good…

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

The Core of Our Faith, by Daryl Madden

The core of our faith
The bible speaks of
To know in our soul
That God is love

Father as the lover
The Trinity, declared
The Son is the beloved
The Spirit, is love shared

That God is seeking us
Fall into His embrace
Nothing that is earned
For everything is grace

And we are invited
Not just to sit and wait
But sharing in His love
To participate

The fruit of our faith
When Jesus we meet
That we know His joy
And our joy is complete

I love the message in the haiku, so simple and plain . . . and I especially love the middle stanza of Daryl’s poem, falling into the embrace of the Almighty, and learning that “nothing is earned,” because “everything is grace.” Please check out their other poems, at the links provided.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 
but only such as is good for building up, 
as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
 along with all malice. 
Be kind to one another, 
tenderhearted, 
forgiving one another, 
as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the cross of Christ, which unites us in peace
2. for increasing measures of humility, gentleness, patience, and love, no matter how painful it is to acquire these
3. for the dwelling of the message of Christ among us, in "psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit"
4. that those who sow with tears shall reap with songs of joy
5. for Your "refiner's fire"

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
(Colossians 3:16 NIV)

I cried out to God for help;
 I cried out to God to hear me.
 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; 
at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. 
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
 I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. 
You kept my eyes from closing; 
I was too troubled to speak. 
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 
I remembered my songs in the night. 
(Psalms 77:1-6a NIV)

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

ADVENT – DAY THIRTEEN

INVITATION

You, 
LORD, 
are the light that keeps me safe. 
I am not afraid of anyone. 
You protect me, 
and I have no fears.
(Psalms 27:1 CEV)

I pause, briefly, in this quiet moment, to consider Your presence in my life, and the lessons of humility, gentleness, patience, and love that You are teaching me.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev.
 Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. 
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
(Malachi 3:1-4 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. As I slowly repeat them, meditating on them, I pray my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to God, enjoying His presence.

Could it be, Father, than when all is restored to the way it should be, when our Savior returns to make everything right, that it will be like a dream? I can easily see that our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues filled with songs of joy. My heart leaps at this thought; my soul can scarcely wait for the day.

You have, indeed, done great things for us. When we “sow with tears,” we eventually will “reap with songs of joy.” How long will it be before this takes place? We do not know, only You know, and it is different for each of Your children. We do not all have the same experience. Our weeping will be turned to rejoicing, and that rejoicing will last for all eternity. I believe that, when Your Word tells us that You will wipe every tear from our eyes, that You will also wipe away the memories that caused those tears. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain it.

It is said that the Day of the Lord, His returning, will be sudden. We will both be ready and not ready at the same time. Some will not be ready at all and be totally surprised. Many of us may be prepared, but it will still surprise us, I believe. But let us not be overly eagerly for this day. While I am eager to be Home, I am also aware of what a terrible day it will be. Oh, yes, I sing with joy songs like “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see.” But it will be a horrible day for many; the worst in history. Dare I be eager to see this? Would I not rather see you delay so that all can be saved? I confess . . . I waffle between those two perspectives. I am selfish, sometimes, and want to be rid of this earth and its mortal coil.

So, I can easily pray, “even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus,” while praying, as well, for the salvation of all people. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Father, give us all the ability to deny ourselves, forsake those “rights,” and serve others. Give us all the commitment to do justice and love mercy. And I pray for mercy for the refugees, those seeking asylum from oppression.

"Coming Jesus,
how can I face Your refining fire?
I know I am broken and confess that I have sinned.
Thank You for the rich comfort and confidence that You, 
my judge,
have already stood trial in my place;
You have removed from me the whole curse and court is adjourned.
How can I thank You enough?
Amen."

BLESSING

Trust the LORD! 
Be brave and strong and trust the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Therefore, 
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance 
the race that is set before us,
 looking to Jesus, 
the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him 
endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A City Yet to Come

Today is Friday, the third of December, 2021. First Friday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,276

Twenty-two days until Christmas

Yesterday, of course, was a bittersweet day. I was fine, emotionally, until it came time to sing the two songs at the service. I made it through “The Old Rugged Cross,” pretty well, only stumbling at the line, “then He’ll call me, someday, to my home far away.” But the second song I decided to sing was “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. It’s a great song for a setting like that. I was blindsided by emotions when I got to the chorus.

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

I recovered, though, and made it through the song, with only one more “glitch” in the bridge. As I walked back to where C and S were sitting, in the family section of the room, I dared not look up to make eye contact with any of my cousins. And, of course, the emotions were driven by memories of my own father, as well.

We had a good trip home, but it seemed to take a lot longer than the trip out there. Of course, we hit Dallas at rush hour, and we stopped along the way to refuel and take a restroom break.

C is at the office today, rather than working from home, and I’ll be heading in to work my Friday shift at the library, in the computer/media center. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in there. I hope I remember how everything works.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll have a few more days to recuperate from this week.

I’m currently reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. It’s his first novel, from 1992. I had seen quite a few of his books during my shelving nights at the library. We have a large number of his, in both regular and large print. It wasn’t until I realized that he was the author responsible for Harry Bosch that I became interested in reading them. I am really enjoying this one, so I will, no doubt, continue in the series. I haven’t given up on The Divine Embrace. It’s still in the wings, and I will continue reading it, when I take the time to sit and take notes as I read it.

Be right back . . . I need a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Becoming Who We Are, by Daryl Madden

The journey of our life
Of inner and afar
That all paths lead unto
Becoming who you are

Acknowledging the truth
A pride-filled sinner be
Blessed be the finding
Of the One who saves me

That we find emptiness
When this world, we purse
That only gifts beyond
Are treasures of value

In telling of our story
With humility
In sharing of our gifts
Our true purpose, be

We are made complete
Even though we’re flawed
Because we’re a beloved
Child of our God

“We are made complete, even though we’re flawed, because we’re a beloved Child of our God.” This reminds me of a Mercy Me song that I really like.

"No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless"

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

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
 that God sent his only Son into the world,
 so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, 
not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, because of Your grace, and the cross of Christ, I am made complete, in spite of my flaws
2. for Your great love, that never fails and never ceases
3. for a safe trip home, last night
4. for loving memories of family
5. for "the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14)

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, 
and the young men and the old shall be merry. 
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, 
and give them gladness for sorrow. 
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)
But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, 
nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, 
even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
For here we have no lasting city, 
but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

What beautiful words are in these Scriptures, and how appropriate for them to come up today. God will turn our mourning into joy, and we will rejoice in Him with dancing and singing. Truly, no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard (not among the living, at least) the things that God has prepared for us who love Him. And this place in which we live? It is, truly, “no lasting city.” I, along with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “seek the city that is to come.”


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 
(John 15:14-16 ESV)
. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday 
and today 
and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SIX

INVITATION

With all my heart, 
I am waiting, 
LORD, for you! 
I trust your promises. 
(Psalms 130:5 CEV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to meditate on these truths that have already been presented. I am waiting on You, Lord! I am waiting on and looking forward to that city that is yet to come.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev. 
Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something within about which I wish to ask God? I pray my life to Him, resting in His presence.

Father, my family has experienced sorrow, this past week, yet we have also known Your joy. The truth of these promises, that those who go out weeping will return with songs of joy, has been realized, in real time, in our lives. There will still be sorrow, yes, but as was so aptly pointed out in yesterday’s funeral message, we have hope because of Jesus and His work in our lives. It is because of Him, whom we both celebrate, during this season, and for whom we await as we look forward to His return, that we have this joy.

I also find hope in these words as I ponder the potential of restoration for everything that is broken or flawed, in this creation. The poem and song, earlier on in this blog, have reminded me of the truth that everything that is flawed or broken will be fixed, made whole, and restored. And it is when these things become reality that our true joy will be made manifest. The joy we experience today, as great as it is, is still incomplete. It is incomplete because we are still dwelling in “jars of clay,” bodies of sin, this “mortal coil.” We long to shed this mortal coil and be done with it. We long to be done with this body of sin, with these temptations and sorrows. Oh, come, Lord Jesus and restore everything to its true reality!

Awaken us from our slumber! Make us aware that the time of our “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Oh, praise, that the “night is nearly over.” Help us to put aside all deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” May we fully clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His righteousness!

I pray, Father, for relief and justice for all who are living in poverty and injustice. Give us, O Lord, both the willingness and the capacity to suffer with others, and give relief to the refugees, Lord!

"Sovereign God,
on the coming judgment day the book on my life will be opened and a verdict will be given.
Knowing that every idle work,
every well-guarded secret and shadowed hypocrisy will be uncovered makes me want to run for cover.
Remind me that just as You gave Adam and Eve garments to cover their shame,
You dress me up in Christ-clothes that I might stand before You.
Amen."

BLESSING

The one who has spoken these things says,
 "I am coming soon!" 
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
 I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!

Singing, Drumming, and Dancing

Good morning. Today is Friday, the twenty-sixth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,269

Twenty-nine days until Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, this coming Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday of Advent.

We had a most lovely day, yesterday. All of the preparations went very well, and we had a nice, safe trip to Grandma’s house in Mineral Wells. We had a great lunch together, and a nice visit, just sitting around talking (several of us may or may not have fallen asleep). After divvying up the leftovers, we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping for sodas just outside of MW at a convenience store that happened to be open.

This morning, C is back in the kitchen, prepping for today’s lunch with her sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend. They are, I believe, supposed to be arriving around 1:00 PM. Ish.

The library is closed today, so I have a second day off for the holiday.

We took some pictures, yesterday.

Mama, me, S, and C
Mama and me

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for every good and perfect gift
2. for a great Thanksgiving holiday
3. that You are the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change"
4. for the things that I can learn from Jesus
5. for the ability to praise You with music, singing, and dancing

. . . whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord . . .
(Ephesians 6:8 ESV)

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
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 11:28-30 ESV)(emphasis mine)

As I look at this Matthew passage, this morning, one that is so very familiar, I’m seeing something “new.” Notice the italics that I added. All of them are pronouns, which Jesus used to refer to Himself.

Jesus is the key to so much in life. It’s cliché and easy to say, “Jesus is the answer to everything.” That’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to live out. But just look at His words. “Come to me,” He says. “I will give you rest.” Who doesn’t labor? Who isn’t weary? Jesus promises rest, if we only come to Him. And only Him.

He tells us to take His yoke and learn from Him. So what is so new and different about this, that I’m seeing today, for the first time? It is this: Jesus tells us to learn from HIM. He does not tell us to learn from anyone else.

While there may be great value (and most certainly is) in learning from other humans, it is from Jesus, Himself, that we are to learn. I can surely learn from reading and studying great writers and great Christian minds, such as C.S. Lewis and Eugene Peterson. But I should be spending the most time and energy learning from Jesus.

He is the one who will give me rest. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

No one else can say that.


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

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Our God says,
“Calm down,
and learn that I am God!
All nations on earth will honor me.”
(Psalms 46:10 CEV)

As I pause on this quite morning, I reflect on all the good and perfect gifts in my life, which have come down from the “Father of lights.” There is no shadow or variation in Him; He is constant and consistent. He does not change.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 149:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.”
(Micah 6:3-4 NIV)

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate upon what has moved my heart or mind. I pray these things to God, including any questions that I might have. I turn my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

Part of Psalm 149 does, indeed, cause me to have questions. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to focus on the music. We are commanded/encouraged/admonished (I can’t say for sure which word is applicable when we are dealing with poetry/songs) to sing and make music in praise to God.

First, we are told to sing His praise “in the assembly of His faithful people.” So we are to sing praises together. Whenever I see this, I am reminded of the opinion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that all congregational singing should be in unison. That’s only an opinion, of course, and only one man’s opinion. But he has a good point. Here is the quote from Life Together:

“There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in the singing. There is, first, the improvised second part which one hears almost everywhere. It attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone, and thus kills both the words and the tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody’s attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ. There are the less dangerous foes of congregational singing, the ‘unmusical,’ who cannot sing, of whom there are far fewer than we are led to believe, and finally, there are often those also who because of some mood will not join in the singing and thus disturb the fellowship.”

I don’t necessarily agree with brother Bonhoeffer, here, but, as I said, he makes some good points. When we sing “in the assembly of His faithful people,” there really is no place for calling attention to ourselves, and I can’t think of any other reason to sing harmony in that setting. Of course, this makes me wonder, as well, how loudly I should sing in a congregational setting. I have a tendency to “belt it out,” which also tends to call attention to me.

I guess the key element in all of this is motive. Why am I singing harmony? Why am I singing loudly? If the song is a Chris Tomlin song (he has an unnaturally high voice for a man), most people can’t sing in that octave, and may need to sing it an octave lower. I once knew a man who believed his singing voice to be inferior, so he whistled the hymns.

We are then told, in Psalm 149, to praise Him with (gasp) DANCING! Oh, dear. I grew up Baptist. With a preacher who declared, from the pulpit, mind you, that “a dancing foot never grew off of a praying knee.” Well, the Bible tells us to dance, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Except to say that context is very important in these matters.

We are also told to praise Him with the timbrel and harp. What’s a “timbrel?” All educated guesses seem to indicate something akin to a tambourine. So, a percussion instrument. A harp is a stringed instrument. It stands to reason, then, at least to me, that it’s okay to praise the Lord with a guitar and some drums. And dancing.

But then, in verse 5, we are even told to sing for joy on our beds! The last thing we should do every night is praise Him!

Why all this vigorous praising, singing, and dancing? Verse 4: “For the LORD takes delight in His people.” Simple answer.

I think it’s pretty awesome to think about God taking delight in us. The definition of delight is “great pleasure.” The Lord takes great pleasure in us, and I believe that Scripture tells us that this pleasure, this delight, is magnified when we are praising Him, whether it be by singing, dancing, playing a drum, or even whistling.

I did mention questions, and those come into play in the second half of this psalm, in all those bits about “double-edged swords,” “fetters,” and “shackles of irons.” It is not my intention to delve into those meanings, this morning. Today, I’m all about the praise and the great delight.

The only thing I want to say about the Micah passage involves the somewhat rhetorical questions issued in verses 6-8. Do we come before Him with offerings, calves, thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil? Do we need to be so extreme as to offer our firstborn children to Him?

I love to quote Micah 6:8, because it is major truth. God has shown us what He desires, even demands, from us. “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s it.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I have praised You with guitars, pianos, keyboards, trombones, and singing. I may have even praised You with a tambourine, occasionally. I don’t know about dancing. I’m not very good at that, but I know I have “moved to the music,” sometimes. My heart’s desire is to know You more and to praise You more, so I pray that You will always put it in my heart to continue to praise You. I also pray that I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before and with You. I praise You and thank You for Your presence with me, this morning, and every morning, and every minute of every day. I celebrate Your presence, and I rest and draw refreshment from Your presence.

I pray that You will increase our wonder when we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray that You will increase our capacity to suffer with others, at least to have empathy with those who suffer through either poverty or injustice. And may You give strength to all who suffer persecution for their faith.

"Father,
I expend so much energy wondering what Your will is for my life.
Could You make it any clearer?
Give me a gospel-motivated resolve to carry out Your clear and good purposes -
living justly,
loving mercy,
and walking humbly with You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God will bless you,
if you don’t give up
when your faith is being tested.
He will reward you
with a glorious life,
just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
(James 1:12 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Great, Glorious, and Majestic Works (and maybe Dragons)

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,234

Sixteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

The weekend is nigh, for whom weekends are a thing, any more. I’m still struggling to keep up with what day it is. I keep having to look at my “When 2 Work” app to double check what days I’m supposed to be working. I have also added work days to my computer calendar, and written them on our wall calendar in the kitchen. That actually helps C to know what days I’m working, as well.

Since it is Friday, that means I’m working. Since the new schedule change on October 1, I will always be working a full day on Friday. This means, of course, that I won’t ever have a Friday and Saturday off together, unless I request it, which I have done for the weekend in November when we will travel to Indianapolis to visit R & J.

I am not working tomorrow, though. Next week is my four-day week.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished yesterday. Did some laundry, swept the floors, did some cleaning in S’s bathroom (aka the “guest bathroom”) because C has a friend coming over to visit on Saturday, a friend from back in her high school days. And I cooked dinner! I’m just a regular “house-husband,” right?? Dinner was Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, by the way. So there are leftovers for lunch. It may have been the best batch I’ve ever made, too..

The Red Sox play the Astros tonight, back in Houston, Game Six. Astros lead 3-2. The Dodgers whooped up on the Braves, last night, to avoid elimination in their NLCS. The Braves lead 3-2. Their Game Six will be tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love You Here, by Daryl Madden

The church door is locked
I can’t get in there
A voice whispers, still
I can love you here

If I am honest
And acknowledge my fears
A voice of comfort
I can love you here

With our deepest wounds
Of sorrow to share
A voice of compassion
I can love you here

When I’m feeling lonely
And burdens to bear
A voice of love speaks
I can love you here

Wherever I am
Let’s be fully aware
To listen to the One
Who always loves us here

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Your love for us transcends place and time
2. for times when I am able to express gratitude "with my whole heart"
3. that You are always kind (Psalm 66:20 CEV)
4. for Your great, glorious, and majestic works
5. for the daily reminders You send me of those works, that I might ponder them in humility

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.
(Psalms 66:20 CEV)

During this quiet moment, I ponder the kindness of the Lord, and that He always loves me “here,” wherever “here” happens to be.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
(Psalms 111:1-5 NIV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
(Job 38:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to words and thoughts that would teach me and move me into a more intense and intimate walk with God.

The psalm is extolling the great works of the Lord. “Extol” means “praise enthusiastically.” It could be said to be a synonym of “praise,” but with added emphasis. I like what the psalmist says in verse 2, regarding God’s works. “They are pondered by all who delight in them.” I dare say that it is safe to assume that people who claim to be believers, who do not ponder His works, do not, in fact, delight in His works. And if one does not delight in the works of the Lord, His great, glorious, and majestic works, how can one be said to be a “believer??”

Yet, He is gracious and compassionate, and He causes His wonders to be remembered. If we are paying attention, nearly everywhere we look we can see reminders of the glorious and majestic works of the Lord, even if we live in the midst of a bustling city.

Verse 10 brings it all together, in my thoughts. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That is not the only place this is stated in Scripture. We find it most in Proverbs. And here, the Word flat-out states that, if we follow His commands, His precepts, His Word, we have “good understanding.” What are His commands? We always come back to this. They are summed up in the two greatest commands, as stated by Jesus. Love the Lord with all your being, and love people as you love yourself.

We’ve skipped over the bulk of Job, right into the time when God speaks. He has remained silent through all of the posturing by Job’s friends, and now He responds, mostly to Job. Did you ever think you would see God being sarcastic? If anyone has a right to be that way, it is Him.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 2. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Truly, all of our words are “ignorant” when compared with the Him! Then God tells Job to brace himself. It’s time for God to ask questions. And He does!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? Surely you know!!”

This continues on for several chapters. I wish I could see Job’s face during all of this.

We will see Job’s response tomorrow.

Side note: It is in the middle of this lengthy monologue by the Lord where I find the wonderful possibility that dragons, in fact, actually existed. I jest, in part, of course, but am somewhat serious. If dragons did exist, they were far from “wonderful,” but, rather, the most terrifying creature to ever grace the planet. Bear with me, if you will. It is named “Leviathan.”

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
(Job 41:12-34 NIV)

Tell me that’s not a dragon!! Or at least something very much like our modern day representation of such.

But I digress.

To me, the point of this speech from God is that we know nothing, when it comes to Him. We do have, of course, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the things that He revealed to us about His Father, our Father. But do we know enough to speak boldly? Job’s “friends” made some pretty ignorant statements about Him. We, if we are not careful, will do the same. How often have you heard someone proclaim, “God does not _____ (fill in the blank)” or “God does _______”?

If Scripture does not explicitly say it, we had best couch those expressions in humility, and, at best, as opinions. We can only say, with certainty, the things that the Bible explicitly tells us.

And one of those things, hearkening back to the psalm, is that His works are great, glorious, and majestic. And we would do well to remember those works, ponder them, and extol them.

Father, I praise You for Your mighty works. I thank You for daily reminders of those works, both as I travel to and fro, and as I see photographs that others present, of Your marvelous creation, around the world. We need those reminders, lest we get so caught up in our own sense of “importance” that we forget to praise You and forget to ponder those works. It is for our own benefit that we consider Your creation of the world in which we live; that we ponder how it was that You marked out its dimensions and laid out the boundaries of the seas; that we consider how You laid the foundations of our world (and the universe in which it exists). Give us humility when we speak about You, Lord, and help us to never make statements about You out of ignorance, the way Job and his friends did.

Give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Christ, Your Son. Help us have the capacity to deny ourselves and suffer alongside others.

"Infinite God,
Your power and goodness are terribly great,
above and beyond my capacity to grasp.
What You do transcends my understanding;
so much is hidden from me.
I bow in humility and reverence before You,
content to be Christ's disciple,
trusting Your Word and resting in Your promises.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
(Matthew 5:8 CEV)


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7 NIV)

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.
(Psalms 18:2 ESV)

Father, You are my God. You are the God of Jeff. You are the God of my existence, my life; You are the God of my past, the God of my needs, the God of my wounds, the God of my heart, and the God of my entire future, into eternity. You are the God of me and all that I am. In these ways, I know You in ways that no one else can know You (this is also true of everyone who calls Your Name). Help me to grasp this truth today, as I ponder Your great works and mighty deeds.

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!

You are light and truth;
In You is no darkness at all;
I will walk in Light.

Grace and peace, friends.

Reminding God What He Said

Today is Friday, the third of September, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,185

Three days until Labor Day!

C’s surgery went well, yesterday. It took roughly the expected amount of time, and the doctor said everything went as planned. After about another hour and a half, I finally got to visit her in the room. Currently, we are not allowed in recovery.

She was in pain, but the initial blockers were still working, plus she was trying to “stay ahead of the pain” with the push-button pain relief in her IV. She was groggy and falling in and out of sleep, which is to be expected.

Around 3:00 PM, the PT person arrived, with the goal of simply getting C to stand up, assisted by a walker. C, being the habitual over-achiever that she is, wound up walking around the nurses’ station twice! She used the walker, but had no assistance (that I could see) from the therapist. Last night, around 9:00, she texted me to tell me that she walked around three times, the second time, and that the attending nurse (the PT will be back this morning) was certain that she would be released today.

This morning, she has noted on Facebook that the blocker has worn off, and that the pain is a little more intense. She still has the IV pain meds, though. I’m not sure what all they have prescribed her for home, but she already has most, if not all of it, here at the house. I know that Hydrocodone is one of them. She is slightly afraid of that particular medication, but I feel relatively sure that she will take at least some of them.

In about fifteen minutes, I’m due to take Cleopatra to the vet clinic for her spaying. I hid all of the food and water in R’s old bedroom, last night, and put the toilet lids down, because I have observed Cleo drinking from the toilet. This morning, when I got up at 6:00, all the cats were looking at me, like, “Well???” I told them I would feed them after I got back from the vet clinic, but I don’t think they understood me. As a matter of fact, Rocky (Russian Blue, short for Rachmaninoff) is, at this exact moment, attempting to lift the toilet lid in the master bathroom. Or it might have been Luna (tuxedo kitty).

I also told Cleo to not be discouraged, that we were not, in fact, abandoning her, even though it might seem that way. I don’t think she understood me, either. But perhaps reassuring tones of voice help.

Anyway, in about five minutes, or so, I will be interrupting my typing to take her to the vet.

Okay. I’m back, and have made my breakfast. Thanks for waiting.

I would like to share a story; something that happened to me, yesterday afternoon, while I was driving home from the hospital. I was on Hwy 183, westbound, when I heard a horrendous, loud, “POW,” and I swear I felt vibrations, as though I had struck something. But there was nothing close that I could have hit. However, two lanes over to my left, there was an eighteen-wheeler, and I glimpsed pieces of rubber flying off of one of its rear trailer tires. I can only assume that it had a blowout! The driver never lost control, though, and, as I passed and moved on ahead, saw that the truck was gradually switching lanes and moving over to the right side.

It sounded like a shotgun had gone off next to me. I confess that I might have said a swear.

I have spoken with C, this morning, and, while still in pain, she is doing better. She said that they have taken her push-button away and have moved her to taking pills. It sounds like the coming home time will be largely up to her, if she feels that she has gotten to a point where the pain is well-regulated. We are thinking about later, this evening, after I pick up Cleopatra from the clinic.

Today is Lazy Mom’s Day. The “Mom” of our house will certainly be being somewhat “lazy” today, but not totally by choice. I, on the other hand, having somewhat assumed the role of “Mr. Mom,” will only spend part of the day being lazy. There are definitely a few chores that need to be handled, today, one of which has already been done (taking aforementioned kitty to the vet). However, I feel relatively certain that there will be some gaming time.

The word for today is moratorium, a noun, which means, “a suspension of activity.” Last night, there was a moratorium on cats getting to eat or drink. Said moratorium has been lifted, as of 7:45 this morning.

Today’s quote is from Jules Renard: “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” I remember moments when that is definitely true, most especially during adolescence. Jules Renard was a French dramatist.

And here are some folks who were born on September 3:

Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois), 1923-2018
Eileen Brennan (Laugh-In, Pvt Benjamin), 1932-2013
Freddie King (singer of the Blues), 1934-1976, born in Gilmer, TX
Don Brewer, drummer (Grand Funk Railroad), 73 years old today
Aaron "A-Train" Smith, drummer (The Temptations, The 77s, Rich Mullins), is 71 years old today. I am honored to be Facebook friends with Aaron.
Clare Kramer (Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is 47 today
Freddie King (1934-1976)
Don Brewer, drummer, 73 today. I never knew, until today, that he sang lead on this song!
Aaron “A-Train” Smith on drums.
Clare Kramer turns 47.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come Let Me, by Daryl Madden

With so much to do
Feeling so stressed
With the gift of my peace
Come let me, give you rest

Such worries and fear
Things out of control
With the gift of my grace
Come let me, heal your soul

The effects of sin
So great is your pain
With the gift of my mercy
Come let me, free the chains

In times of despair
Is hard to cope
With the gift of my joy
Come let me, give you hope

With promises of man
Each temptation flawed
With the gift of my love
Come let me, be your God

I’ve probably been feeling more stressed these last two days than I have in the last month (which is virtually not at all), so this poem came at a perfect time for me. Thank you, brother Daryl!

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! Wake up, my heart! Wake up, O lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:7-11 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the confidence that I have in You
2. that I can sing Your praises, as well as play the "lyre and harp" (guitar and piano will have to suffice)
3. that Your glory will one day shine over all the earth
4. for Your patience with me/us
5. that we, with boldness, can quote Your Word back to You

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FIFTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

I will praise you, Lord, for everyone to hear, and I will sing hymns to you in every nation. Your love reaches higher than the heavens; your loyalty extends beyond the clouds.
(Psalms 57:9-10 CEV)

During this quiet time, I stop to reflect on the praises that are due You, O Lord. I don’t praise You enough. Reflecting back on yesterday’s readings, I find that my natural bent is still toward grumbling or complaining. May Your Holy Spirit continue to change me until that natural inclination becomes praise!

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
(Psalms 64:1-8 NIV)

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, . . .
Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. . . .
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
(Numbers 14:1-2A, 10B-13, 17-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remain aware of the presence of the Lord, this morning, I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to show me something that applies to my life, during these times.

I find it ironic that, as I struggle to lean away from complaining, the passage from Psalms begins with a complaint.

David, however, is “complaining” about actual, human enemies. Any complaint that I might express usually involves some kind of inconvenience that has been thrust upon me. I rarely, if ever, have legitimate grounds for grumbling or complaining. Perhaps that is what I’m supposed to glean from this, today.

“You think you’ve got it bad? David had people shooting from ambush at him. They tried to kill him; they tried to steal his kingdom. Anybody trying to do that to you?”

Despite what many of us seem to think, we are all in pretty much the same “boat.” Therefore, our complaints are, largely, without merit.

We should keep reading, however, in Psalm 64. Verse 8 brings it all together.

The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
(Psalms 64:10 NIV)

We might also remind ourselves that, when God does act, He does it for His own glory and for the sake of His own Name.

In the Numbers passage, the Lord had had enough of the grumbling of the ungrateful, short-sighted Israelites. (Honestly, I don’t believe He really planned to strike them all down. Perhaps He was testing Moses. You know what? What do I know?? I don’t have a clue. God knows everything, so He already knew how Moses would react to His threats.) He threatened to wipe out the Israelites, altogether, and turn Moses into an even greater nation. Was this an appeal to Moses’s vanity?? As it says in the parentheses, I do not presume to know the mind of the Almighty, at this point.)

But Moses, thank God, would have none of it. He stood up, not for his own glory or sake, but for the honor of the Name of the Lord!

Today’s Church must stop and ask herself, “Are we doing that, today? Are we standing up for the honor of the name of the Lord when we bicker amongst ourselves over our “freedoms” and “rights?”

Moses even quoted God back to Him! Talk about boldness!

“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
(Numbers 14:17-19 NIV)

And the Lord hears Moses, and forgives them. One thing to learn from this passage is that we can safely remind God what He said. It would probably be best, though, if we make sure that He really said it before we try that. I hear a lot of people claiming that God said things that He never said.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“God wants you to be rich and healthy.”

I’m sure you can think of others.

I’m not sure what to think about what I have written, this morning. I’m leaving it as is, though. Sometimes, I can come across as a bit “snarky.” But these last couple of days have been more than a little bit stressful. Yesterday’s blog was full of distractions and interruptions, and was completed on an iPad at the surgery hospital, in a room that must have been around forty degrees.

Nevertheless, I think I have gleaned some lessons. First, in continuation of yesterday’s post, learn how to live life without grumbling or complaining. For one thing, I don’t have it so bad, and for another thing, it almost got the Israelites eradicated. Second, learn the Word of the Lord. I can’t quote it back to Him, like Moses did, unless I know it. And it surely won’t do anyone any good to “quote” things back to God that He never said.

Father, I am so grateful for Your Word. It gives me so much in my life. It is so precious and so valuable. From it, I can receive everything that I need for life and godly living. From it, I see Your very great and precious promises, in which I can participate in Your nature, and escape the corruption of the world. Now, just help me to do this. And help me, please, to stop whining and grumbling about minor inconveniences. Just this morning, I found myself all disgruntled because I had to wait longer at the vet clinic than I though I should have. In comparison to Saul trying to kill David (throwing spears at him and stuff), that doesn’t seem so bad. In all seriousness, I love You Father, and I want to live my life in a way that shows that. Help me to excel at my two jobs, loving You and loving people. Loving people is a lot harder than loving You, but I guess You already know that, don’t You?

Lord, please give me great wonder at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Give us all the capacity to suffer alongside other people. And I especially lift up those who are orphaned, along with those who care for them.

"Father,
I hear Moses pray,
describing Your character and bombarding You with appeals to Your promises.
Give me that same hope-filled boldness,
which flows out of an intimacy with Jesus,
my praying mediator.
And help me,
like Moses,
to pray even for those who treat You with contempt and refuse to believe.
Forgive and show them Your mercy.
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
(Luke 18:1 NIV)

“What I learn again and again . . . is that the problems that twist me up so tightly and painfully today will unwind. The mere, mundane passage of time has a softening effect, yes. But the wiping away of every tear, the bracing wind of forgiveness, and the joyful acceptance of my life as He wills it come from God.”
(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2021)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6 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!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.