Power In the Blood

Today is Friday, the 25th of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,633

30 days until Christmas!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Give me understanding, 
that I may keep your law 
and observe it with my whole heart.
(Psalms 119:34 ESV)

Lord our God, we turn to you, for you are our help. Hear our prayer, we beseech you; let our cry rise to you so that you may send your mighty help in our generation. Continue to protect us from all evil, from death and destruction. Protect us because we are your children. As your children we turn to you, the almighty God, who can make everything work together for good. Be merciful to us, O Lord God. Help us for your name’s sake. Help, Lord, for you alone can bring everything to a good end. So we stand before you in Jesus Christ, holding to every word you have given us and knowing for certain that you hear us. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; 
let the distant shores rejoice... 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, 
and all peoples see his glory. 
Psalm 97:1, 6, NIV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the wonderful day we had yesterday, celebrating Thanksgiving with family
  2. for the joy we experience as we observe the heavens declaring the righteousness of God
  3. for the blood of Christ, sacrificed for the cleansing of our sins and the creating of new life within us
  4. for the participation in that blood when we receive Communion at His table
  5. for the patience of the Lord

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
(2 Peter 3:8-10 ESV)

A Psalm of David. 

O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! 
Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, 
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; 
keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, 
to busy myself with wicked deeds 
in company with men who work iniquity, 
and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; 
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; 
let my head not refuse it. 
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, 
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant. 
As when one plows and breaks up the earth, 
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol. 

But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; 
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 
Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me 
and from the snares of evildoers! 
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, 
while I pass by safely.
(Psalms 141:1-10 ESV)

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)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 NIV)


“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
(Matthew 26:27-28 NIV)

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
(Leviticus 17:11 NIV)


Every Sunday morning, the pastor that leads the Communion at Living Word Lutheran Church opens their arms and says, “You are all invited to this Table of Grace.” Then, for the next few minutes, the congregation, in orderly fashion, proceeds to the kneeling benches around the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus.

For at least five years (maybe longer), Communion (or, as we came to call it, the Supper) has been the central piece of the worship time for me. Everything leads up to the climax of that moment, in my opinion. And in the Lutheran service, it all begins with the declaration of the forgiveness of sins. First we confess, then we worship in various ways, and we end it by receiving the body and blood of Jesus.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us!” Observe the great blessing that He has given us, the truth that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Also observe His great patience in holding off the end of times, because He is not willing that any should perish.

“When I partake of that blood, I have a part in the atonement that it established, the forgiveness it secured. I have a part in the life of Jesus, surrendered on the cross, raised from the grave, and now glorified in heaven. The spirit of Jesus’ life is the spirit of my life. How powerful, how heavenly must that life be that is nourished by the new wine of the kingdom and communion with the Son. May I ever be thankful that Jesus shed His blood for me.” (Andrew Murray, in The Lord’s Table, quoted in Power in Prayer)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)


Father, once again I am thankful for the cross, for the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that brings me into participation into the divine presence. I thank You for the mystery that is the body and blood of Jesus, present in the bread and wine of Communion. I pray that, as we receive this each week, we would realize more strongly the connectivity between us all, provided by and enabled by Your Holy Spirit.

As we take Communion each week, we are participating in something that is so much bigger than the congregation with whom we are worshiping. We are participating in something that spans the globe, and that also spans all time. When I consume the body and blood of Christ, I am consuming the same body and blood that John and Peter and James consumed. I am partaking in the same presence in which Polycarp and Ignatius and Clement and Augustine partook.

And I am connected, as well, with every believer who will walk the face of the earth in years to come. This mystery is similar to the mystery that is spoken of in Psalm 139; it is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

But I will, nevertheless, embrace it. So, this coming Sunday, Father, when I receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus, may I not take it lightheartedly or be aloof about it. May it carry with it the weight of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and may it empower me to live another week under the grace, and in His strength.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

For All People

Today is Tuesday, the 22nd of November, 2022, in the 34th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today!

Day 23,630

Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; 
let me not be put to shame!
(Psalms 119:31 ESV)

Lord Jesus, hear our prayer and reveal your hand in our days. May those things be done that bring your future nearer and that let the world see you as the Savior who can lead us to our Father. Bless your Word within us. May our hearts be strengthened, and may we always live in your presence. We draw our life from your Word, from your promise, and we set our hope on you, our Lord and Savior. Show your might, Lord Jesus, and carry out the will of God over all the world, so that we may rejoice when we see God’s glory appear and his will being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Daily Prayer from Plough.com

Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 
James 5:7, TEV

Today I am grateful:

  1. for this time of year, when many people’s thoughts turn toward thanksgiving; may they continue giving thanks, going forward
  2. for the strengthening of my heart through God’s Word and presence in my life
  3. that we draw life from His Word, and His promises
  4. for the challenge in 1 Timothy to pray for all people
  5. for the confidence that the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me, whatever that may be

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
(1 Peter 5:5-9 ESV)
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
 before the gods I sing your praise; 
I bow down toward your holy temple 
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, 
for you have exalted above all things
 your name and your word. 
On the day I called, you answered me; 
my strength of soul you increased. 
(Psalms 138:1-3 ESV)
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
(Psalms 138:8 ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV emphasis added)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:13-16 ESV)


“Most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences–things altogether of the mind.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin


As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV)


Paul and James give various and multiple admonitions to pray. And both of them are challenging to us.

First is Paul’s instruction (urging) to pray (supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings) “for all people.” Not just the people you like; not just your family; not just your brothers and sisters in Christ.

All people.

As I’ve seen it said many times, “All means all.”

Paul goes on, though, and includes (even though he has already said “all”) “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.”

Has anyone noticed that things in this country (I live in the United States) have been anything but “peaceful and quiet” for a number of years? Could it be that we, the “faithful” (I use that term loosely) have not been obeying this “urging” from Paul? I dare say that at least half of the “Christian” community has NOT been praying for our President, over the past couple of years. And, just to be clear, praying for him to die or be removed from office doesn’t count.

I’ll confess. I have not been diligent to pray consistently for our public servants, our elected officials. I’ll admit that. I have, from time to time, when reminded, lifted up our President and everyone surrounding him. But I don’t do it enough, and Paul’s admonition, here, convicts me. I need to spend more time praying for him, for the governor of the state in which I live, for those who serve in our city.

But along with that, looms that three word phrase, “for all people.” That’s a lot. I recently heard that the world finally passed eight billion in population.

No wonder Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.”

But, in all seriousness, we have to, at some point, acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to pray “for all people.” And, frankly, I don’t think saying, “Dear God, I pray for all people” quite cuts it. I mean, it can’t hurt, but still . . .

So how do we do this?

I was moved by Daily Guideposts 2022 writer Rick Hamlin, today. My initial reaction was that what he was about to say was silly. But the more I read it, the more it made sense. Before he goes to sleep each night, he starts at the beginning of the alphabet and works his way, all the way through Z, naming someone for each letter. Sometimes, it’s the same person for some letters, each night. Sometimes, they change. Yes, he struggles with X, sometimes, but manages to come up with something. And, when he gets to Y, he is reminded to pray for himself. Because, as much as I hesitate to do so, at times, it is acceptable to pray for yourself.

I may or may not begin to employ that practice, but it makes me think . . . what better way to fall asleep, than at least trying to follow Paul’s urging to pray “for all people.”

We are also admonished to be sure and pray “for all the saints.” Again, an impossible task, but I can pray for all the ones I know, can’t I? And, finally, James has some things to say about the effects of prayer. Prayer will save the one who is sick; prayer will bring about forgiveness. He tells us to confess our sins and pray, that we may be healed. And then comes that wonderful, popular phrase, in verse 16.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

Or, as many of us once learned it in KJV,

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 

So let us pray. Pray, as much as we can, “for all people.” Pray for kings, princes, presidents, governors, mayors, chiefs of police . . . pray for pastors, for Sunday School teachers, missionaries, and music leaders. Pray for one another, and don’t forget to pray for yourself.

And, to quote Andrew Murray (who didn’t see this coming?), “Let us ask Him to show us what holiness is: first His, and then ours; to show us how He has set His heart upon it as the one thing He wants to see in us: His own image and likeness.” (From The Path to Holiness, quoted in Power in Prayer)


Father, I confess that I have not been faithful enough in prayer. Sure, I pray for people, and especially when they give me a prayer request in my daily post asking for those. But I confess that I do not do enough spontaneous prayer, and certainly not enough praying “for all people.” Remind me, Father, throughout this day, and especially before I fall asleep, tonight, to pray for as many people as I can. Let the prayers be genuine, though, not just a list of “bless so-and-so” for a half an hour. Maybe, if that is all I can think of, then it’s okay. Nothing wrong with praying for someone to be blessed. But what I am asking for is to be able to remember specifics. And, perhaps, bring a person to mind, someone of whom I have not thought in a while.

I pray for the community of saints, today, that we would collectively remember these injunctions to pray for all people, and especially those who are in high positions in whatever land we find ourselves in, so that, as Paul said, we might live peaceful and quiet lives.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"We got to pray
just to make it today."
M.C. Hammer

Grace and peace, friends.

Embrace the Mysteries

Today is Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Day 22,321

Sixteen days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author, 1874-1936
The Quotations Page

Word of the Day

Inexorable ~ not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped : relentless (Merriam-Webster)

It appears that Mike Minor didn’t pitch badly, last night, but the Rangers’ bats were not quite there. Minor gave up four runs on four hits and the Rangers were only able to plate one. Final score, Oakland 6, Texas 1. This puts the Rangers at 12-9 for the season, and in third place in the AL West, two games behind Seattle. They play again tonight at 9:07 CDT, with Lance Lynn taking the mound.

The Red Sox were postponed last night, and plan a double-header today. The makeup game begins at 12:10, with Chris Sale taking the mound. The regularly scheduled game will begin at 6:10, with Hector Velazquez getting the call. They are playing the Detroit Tigers.

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

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah.

Psalm 24:7-10

Today I am grateful:
1. That God does not deal with us according to our sins (Psalm 103:10)
2. That the Holy Spirit resides within me
3. That God’s purposes for me will be fulfilled
4. That are mysteries that I cannot understand
5. For the humility to admit number four

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus
Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to
light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may
abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the
and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and
ever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Tuesday in Easter Week)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “Make Room for Mystery.”

How many of us have encountered Christian leaders, especially preachers, who can somehow manage to answer every question that is thrown at them? The thing is, everyone who has seriously read the Bible has, at some point, come across passages that either don’t make sense at all, or seem to contradict other passages. There are several potential responses to this. One is for the reader to “quit in despair and conclude that he can never understand the Bible and that there is no use to try.” Or the reader might worry over the passage until getting himself into a “dangerous state of mind.” Or, and Tozer says that this is the worst choice, “he may consult some of the rationalistic-orthodox theologians who in fancied near-omniscience presume to resolve all biblical difficulties with a wave of their typewriter.”

For our younger readers, a type writer was a twentieth century device that might be compared to a word processor that goes direct to hard copy. Keep in mind that these readings were written in the nineteen-fifties.

The reason that third choice is considered to be the worst is that the heart of the so-called expositors is wrong. Cicero, as quoted by Tozer, says that these people “fear nothing so much as to appear to be in doubt about anything.” The believe that everything can be explained. I have known men like this. The phrase “I don’t know” is not in their vocabulary. They believe it makes them weak. “And nothing could be more glaringly false than this,” says Tozer.

“Far better than the attempt to understand is the humility that admits its ignorance and waits quietly on God for His own light to appear in His own time.” There are things on earth and in heaven that we simply will never understand, and the sooner we admit this, the better. And we have to believe that this does not make God’s Word any less credible. In fact, the truth is, when someone asks for an explanation of such things (an unbeliever, for example), our response should simply be to ask them to explain this world. They will not be any more able to answer that than we are to explain the mysteries of God.

“The pitiable attempt of churchmen to explain everything for the smiling unbeliever has had an effect exactly the opposite to that which was intended. It has reduced worship to the level of the intellect and introduced the rationalistic spirit into the wonders of religion. No one should be ashamed to admit that he does not know, and no Christian should fear the effect of such a confession in the realm of things spiritual.”

And finally, I love this quote from the last paragraph. “Probably David lying on his back on the green meadow at night, brooding over the mystery of the moon and the stars and the littleness of man in the total scheme of things, worshiping the God who had made him only a little lower than the angels, was a truer man than the astronomer who in his high pride weights and measures the heavenly bodies.”

Embrace the mysteries.

Father, I’m glad there are mysteries that I cannot explain. If we could explain or understand everything, we would not need you. And we definitely need you. Teach us, Lord, that we don’t need to have all the answers about all the things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

Psalm 8

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Vs. “Justice”

Today is Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Day 222,44

EIGHT days until Spring Training starts!

“The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author and novelist, 1874-1936
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is hoggery. It means, “slovenly or greedy behavior.”

Not much going on, this morning. I practiced the wedding music some more, last night, and the bride-to-be is coming over Thursday evening to listen to me play. I’m slightly terrified. I’ll be practicing some more tonight and tomorrow night, as well. I have nine days (including today) until the rehearsal and eleven until the wedding. I need to get these songs to the point where I can play them without thinking.

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the piano-playing talent with which God blessed me.
2. That I still have to rely upon God for strength in my life.
3. That He will never leave me or forsake me.
4. For Psalm 23.
5. That God has drawn me away from “justice” toward mercy and love.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God:
   Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised 
   by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

(The Book of Common Prayer, O Gracious Light)

(From Every Step An Arrival, Eugene H. Peterson)

Today’s reading is “Love Involves a Commitment to Others.”

Then the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The whole army heard what the king commanded the three captains regarding Absalom.
2 Samuel 18:5 (The Message)

This conversation is carried on between David and his leading commanders as he sent them out to battle. Against Absalom. David had fled his family, his home, his rule, and the throne. “The years of struggle to put the kingdom together on a sound administrative and military basis were smashed.” David and his men were preparing to do battle with the rebels. After agreeing on their strategy, David had this final word for his commanders. “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” But anyone who is familiar with this story knows what Joab did. Joab allowed his desire for justice override the king’s command.

“I must tell you, however, that David’s way is best. However tragic, however sad, however painful, it is nevertheless authentically human and full of love. And it is the gospel. It is the same kind of humanity that Jesus fulfilled and displayed when he stood over Jerusalem and wept. David began something that Jesus completed and we must share; a commitment to others defined by love. And yes, this love exposes us to the pain of rejection and the grief of loss. This love is not easy. But to live another way is to live less than human.” (Eugene Peterson)

Even though Absalom had set out to kill his father, David tried his best to protect his son. “God’s love is persistent in his commitment to us, his rebellious people.”

And here are David’s words upon learning of the final fate of his son: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)

It pains my soul to see how the majority (and I do believe it is a majority) of our modern “Christian” culture would rather see “justice” than mercy and love. The problem is, the “justice” being demanded is human in nature, not divine. The teachings of Jesus to love others and show mercy are being abandoned for the concept of human justice and self-protection. I pray daily that this will turn around and that the eyes of their hearts would be open to be reminded of the compassion that our God showed us in the midst of our rebelliousness.

It is as though people who claim to follow Christ have forgotten whence they came.

Father, I thank You that You have drawn my heart more toward love, mercy, and compassion than “justice.” I realize that Your words tell us to do justice, love mercy (or kindness), and to walk humbly before You. But the justice is Your justice not our justice. Two very different things. I pray for Your Church on this earth to come back to love and mercy and to be less self-centered. Have mercy on us, Lord. Forgive us and bring us more toward the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom we claim to follow.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“I hope you see the faithfulness of God in everything He has made. I hope you learn to trust that all of this is His care sworn to you. But mostly, I hope you know Jesus through whom God has wildly and ferociously loved us. I hope you know and that you become sacramental to your neighbor who God also loves passionately. I hope you leave them little doubt about His love and the victory Jesus won over hate and death.”—Rich Mullins

Soli Deo Gloria!

Faith Expressed In Love

Today is Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Day 22,225

26 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
G.K. Chesterton, English author, 1874-1936
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is quiddity. It means, “The inherent nature or essence of a person or thing; what makes a thing what it is.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

We exercised again, last night. spending about thirty minutes on the elliptical at the Y. C had put our taco soup in the crockpot before leaving for work, yesterday morning, so it was ready to eat when we got home from exercising. We finished season one of Silicon Valley while we ate dinner. The sad thing about HBO series is that they typically only have eight to ten episodes, unlike commercial broadcast shows, which could have as many as twenty-two episodes in a season.

I think we may be planning to exercise again tonight, and maybe pick up Subway on the way home.

Oh, and I have a doctor’s appointment at 2:00 PM Friday, so I’ll be taking a half day off. So far, I have managed to avoid working a complete 40-hour week, this year. I wonder how long I can keep that going. Hahaha!

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

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Today I am grateful:
1. That I finally have an appointment for my yearly checkup.
2. That so far, my job has been much less stressful, this year.
3. For the joy of the Lord.
4. For the Word of God and all of the promises and encouragement within.
5. For the peace that passes all understanding.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
   then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
   "The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
   and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
   like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears
   will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
   will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
   as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. 
Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 126)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “God’s Whole Law: Love,” by James Bryan Smith.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

First of all, let me point out that this is not Jesus speaking, rather a lawyer answering Jesus’s question, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” When Jesus was asked what the most important command was, he also grouped those two Old Testament commands together. The first part is from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18.

Why does Jesus combine these two commands? “Because he knew that they were essentially one law. Love comes from one source: God.” In 1 John 4:19, John writes, “We love because he first loved us.”

“In the face of God’s magnificent love for us, we cannot but love in return.”

When we know God’s love, truly know it, it must have an effect on how we view ourselves and others. “God’s love for us results in a proper love for ourselves, and then extends to love for our neighbors.”

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, He writes this: “What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (The Message) Join me today in examining how my faith measures up to this. Is my faith a faith that loves?

Father, as I consider these words today, help me to be honest with myself in checking the measure of my faith. Does it express itself in love towards other people? If I find that it does not, may Your Holy Spirit guide me toward that result. Then help me develop the discipline of listening to the words of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!

Like A Weaned Child with Its Mother

Today is Saturday, August 4, 2018. Day 22,059.

Only fifteen days until S turns 25!!!

“Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, The Quotations Page

The word for today is squiz, “to peer at quickly and closely.”

It was Friday, so I had to work late. It wasn’t too bad, though, and I maintained a pretty good attitude throughout. We worked until about 6:00 PM.

Today, there are a few things that need to be done. After finishing this, I need to go get my oil changed. I have elected to not return to the Lexus dealership for this, as the cost is prohibitive (even though I usually get a really nice loaner while the work is being done). Then, as usual, I will pick up our Kroger Click List order between 1:00 and 2:00 PM. Later this afternoon, I will need to practice for tomorrow’s worship gathering at FBC Smithfield. That’s about it, I think.

The Red Sox beat the Yankees again, last night, but by a much more reasonable score, 4-1. Impressive, still, as it was against the Yankees’ “ace,” Severino. The Sox are now 77-34, 43 games above .500, and 7.5 up in the AL East. The Astros finally reached 70 wins, last night, so there are two teams with 70+ wins. The series continues this afternoon, with newly acquired Nathan Eovaldi (Boston), facing off against Chance Adams (New York).

The Rangers had another good night against the Orioles (but who doesn’t?), beating them 11-3, four of those runs being provided by a grand slam from Rougned Odor. Ariel Jurado got his second MLB win for the Rangers. The Rangers are now 48-63, and didn’t gain any ground, as the Astros won, as well. The series continues tonight, as Mike Minor (Texas) faces off against Dylan Bundy (Baltimore).

The longest current winning streak in MLB is Atlanta with five consecutive wins.

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

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 131

This is a very peaceful Psalm. The Psalmist does not worry himself with straining toward matters that are “too great and too marvelous.” Rather, he calms and quiets his soul, “like a weaned child with its mother.” Being sixty years old, it’s difficult to remember times of peace and calm, resting on my mother. But somewhere back there, in my distant memory, I know that, as a child, the most peaceful times were in my mother’s lap. Regardless of the sex of the child, there is something about being with mother that cannot be duplicated or replaced. I’m sure it has to do with spending nine months or so in the womb, potentially the safest place on earth.

So we, like the Psalmist, have the ability to calm ourselves in the Lord, resting in his grace and mercy, knowing that we need not concern ourselves with things that are “too great and too marvelous.”

Father, I am always grateful for the words of the Psalmists. Words like these today, that encourage me to be calm and trust in Your ability to take care of me. I am so unfaithful, when it comes to this. I tend to worry too much, and most often, about things that I have absolutely not control over. Keep teaching me, please, to not be concerned with matters that are too great and too marvelous for me. You are God, You are in heaven, You do whatever You please, and You hold me in Your hands, along with everything else in this vast universe. Calm and quiet my soul, as though I am a child, resting in the arms of my mother.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

No Man Knows the Hour Or the Day

Today is Friday, May 11, 2018. Day 21,974.

Two days until Mother’s Day!

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” ~ G.K. Chesterton (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is otiose, an adjective which means, “producing no useful fruit.” Also, “being at leisure,” or, “lacking use or effort.”

I’m a little later than usual, this morning, because, as previously mentioned, we are off work today. C has been preparing for her colonoscopy, which will be . . . well, I’m not sure exactly when. I just know I’m supposed to have her at the facility by 9:00 this morning. Beyond that, I’m kind of clueless. We are hoping for unremarkable results. I’m not sure what we will eat afterwards, but I know she will be quite hungry.

I could have used an entire bottle of Tums last night, as I stayed up and watched the whole game between the Red Sox and Yankees. Finally, the Red Sox won a game, beating them 5-4, in a game marked by a rain delay of close to an hour. Up to the rain delay, the Sox were leading 4-0. E-Rod came back in and pitched the fifth inning so he would be eligible for the win, but sadly, the bullpen once again made sure that he would not get credit for that. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Heath Hembree gave up three runs, and then Joe Kelly gave up the tying run on a wild pitch. Fortunately, our hero, J.D. Martinez popped a solo home run in the top of the eighth, and that was, as they say, “all she wrote.” Kimbrel got the save, as he struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth. It was most definitely a nail-biter. I’m sad for Eduardo Rodriguez, though, as he pitched brilliantly for five innings, except for one bit of trouble before the rain delay. But he only gave up one hit and no runs.

This puts the Red Sox and Yankees back into a tie for the AL East, as well as best record in MLB.

Tonight, the Sox play in Toronto. The Rangers, who had a night off after winning a series against the Tigers, play in Houston.

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

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 
What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. 
Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 
with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 
Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

Psalm 89:46-52

Even after all of the negative passages in this Psalm, the writer finishes with “Blessed by the LORD forever!” Even when things seem as bad as they could get, true children of the Lord remember; they will not forsake their love for God.

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Predictions of the Second Coming

“Many people find it difficult to believe in this great event without trying to guess its date, or even without accepting as a certainty the date that any quack or hysteric offers them.”

We know that Paul even had to deal with such folly, as he wrote in 2 Thessalonians, Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2:1-2) Lewis cites one William Miller, who, in 1843, apparently made a prediction down to the “very minute” as to when the Lord would return. “Thousands waited for the Lord at midnight on March 21, and went home to a late breakfast on the 22nd followed by the jeers of a drunkard.”

Lewis admonishes us that we should not speak to people about the Second Coming “without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that that impossibility is an essential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe Our Lord’s words, why do you believe in His return at all? And if you do believe them must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return? His teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions: (1) That He will certainly return; (2) That we cannot possibly find out when; (3) And that therefore we must always be ready for Him.”

Jesus said, in Luke 12:40, You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. There are similar passages elsewhere in the Gospels. Lewis is right. If we believe the words of Jesus, why on earth would we waste time trying to figure out when he is returning?

Father, thank you for the promise of the return of Jesus, and for all that it means for those of us who follow him and his words. Forgive us for the stupidity of trying to figure out when that’s going to happen. While it is certainly okay to watch the “signs of the times,” help us to not become obsessed with them. Remind us, too, Father, that “the day of the Lord,” will not be a happy day for this planet. Mostly, help us to simply follow Christ and his teachings as we interact with the world around us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

The Giver

Today is Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Day 21,684. Twenty-five days until S’s birthday!

“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is litotes, a noun meaning, “understatement, especially that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in ‘not bad at all.'”

Today is Hot Fudge Sundae Day.

I probably won’t be having a hot fudge sundae today, even as much as I love them. The main reason is that, yesterday, we managed to acquire some Blue Bell Peaches and Homemade Vanilla ice cream! Yes! They have brought back this most delicious of ice cream flavors, at least for a limited time. They say it’s one of their “rotational” flavors. Whatever. C stopped by a store on the way home, yesterday, and bought two cartons of it.

C is feeling a little better this morning, and got better sleep last night. She wisely decided not to do any more work on the kitchen last night. I will strongly encourage her to wait until the weekend, especially since we have bowling tomorrow night.

Both the Red Sox and Rangers lost, last night. And they both lost 4-0. How strange. The Yankees must not have played, because the Sox’s lead only decreased by a half game. The Astros won again, though, so the Rangers are now 18 games out. In related news, the LA Dodgers are about to win their seventieth game of the season. Their percentage is dangerously close to .700.

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
Psalm 85:7
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
Psalm 71:15
. . . who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
Psalm 104:33
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 
and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 
And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 
He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Luke 8:22-25
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 
the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 
who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

Psalm 65:5-8

(From Practice Resurrection)

One more change that Paul made in his quotation of Psalm 68 in Ephesians 4 was that he changed the word “received” to “give.” The Psalm says, “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.” Paul writes, “Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.'”

The Psalm depicts a victorious King, receiving gifts from his subjects. It’s what you do when a King is enthroned. Gifts are a showing of your joy of your beloved King. Or, if you aren’t so joyful, your gift is simply a symbolic “giving up of your self-sovereignty.”

Paul’s readers may have been surprised at his switching of words. But Peterson believes that Paul’s change was intentional. While Jesus does receive our gifts, just as our Father in heaven receives them, Paul “wants us to see Jesus, the ascended king at the right hand of the Father, not as the king who receives gifts (although he does that too) but as the king who gives gifts. He changes the verb from the expected ‘receive’ to the gospel ‘give.'”

Father, give us wisdom to see Jesus as our king who gives. Sure, we bring him gifts of various kinds, throughout our lives. We give him worship; we give him our lives; we bring offerings to our various places of worship, for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with people. But Jesus gives. He gives us life; he gives us peace; he gives us hope; he gives us joy; and so much more. Praise the name of Jesus!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends!

Let the Good Times Roll

“The power of his Spirit passes into my spirit, and the purpose of Pentecost is fulfilled: Christ is formed within me not just in peak moments of transcendental experience but in the nitty-gritty of daily life.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Today is World Wide Knit In Public Day. I’m not sure why I find this amusing, but I do.

Yesterday was a very strange day. It all started with a somewhat terrifying experience that a co-worker had on her way to work. As she was driving to work, someone merged in and got right on her tail. Her description of the car was just that it was a flaming red Mustang. The guy stayed right on her tail to the exit from Stemmons to Frankford, which has a long curve around to Frankford road, a place that pretty much all of us find ourselves every morning. She had to stop at the traffic light, and said that the guy got out of his car and pulled out a gun! Fortunately, the light changed, and she was able to get away before anything worse happened. Of course, she has no idea what this nut bar was so upset about. She did call the police, and they came and talked to her in the parking lot at work. She stayed at work until around the time UPS shows up, but then went on home. Needless to say, she was pretty much a basket case.

This, of course, left us severely handicapped, as she is one of our best receivers. We already had one other person out on PTO. I had gone in at 7, and when she went home, dispensed with any notion of getting off at 3:30. Unfortunately, though, around 4pm, the manager came over and said, “Hey, did y’all know we have international?” Of course, we did not. The lady who left has been showing me how to do international receiving, but I have not ever done any myself, only watched her. Until yesterday afternoon, that is. He pretty much shoved it on me, and I wound up not getting to leave until well after 5.

All in a day’s work, I suppose.

Stephanie’s friend Megan was over when I got home, so I finally got to meet her. She is very nice. I’m told that she suffers from cerebral palsy and mild autism, as well. Oddly, Stephanie’s cat, Honey, took to Megan just like she did to Stephanie. It’s very strange. Stephanie has stated that Honey must be a cat for autism. Could be true, because Honey pretty much hates everyone and everything else, including the other cats, and Tessie, the dog. They just have to get within her range of vision and she hisses ferociously.

Megan spent the night, and, as of 8:30, both of them are still asleep. So is Christi, for that matter.

Today, we have a friend coming over for lunch, and then our church service later this afternoon. Tomorrow, of course, is Father’s Day. This year, I will be staying at home, and Rachel will be coming down to visit. We are going to go see my Dad, probably around July 4 weekend. Since we just got back from a long drive to Galveston, and Christi is starting her new job on Monday, we decided (with my parents’ blessing) to put off our FD celebration with them until July.

Speaking of Monday, I will be off Monday, because it will be my turn to work a Saturday on June 21. This is not unexpected, as it was explained to me when I began working there, that there is a rotation of Saturdays. Whenever it’s your turn to work Saturday, you get the previous Monday off. This achieves two objectives. One, you get a long weekend before your short one. Two, the company doesn’t have to pay overtime.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1936 that author G.K. Chesterton passed away. He would later be declared a “defender of the faith” by Pope Pius XI.

It’s the birthday of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Burl Ives, Gene Barry, John MacArthur, Donald Trump, Alan White, Harry Turtledove, Boy George, and Steffi Graf. It’s also the birthday of Rod Argent, the mastermind behind the rock groups The Zombies and Argent. He also played with Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band. He was born in St. Albans on this date in 1945. In addition to The Zombies’ hit, “She’s Not There,” and the Argent hit, “Hold Your Head Up,” Argent also performed the song, “God Gave Rock and Roll To You,” later made famous by Petra.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
Psalm 46:8
O LORD . . . he answer us when we call.
Psalm 20:9
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
Psalm 59:9
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 33:11

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “When Jesus’ Power Is Formed in Me.”

Who among us has not been “unjustly criticized, rejected, betrayed by a friend?” Let us touch the life of Christ, who endured the same. And let us will ourselves to respond as he did. “The power of his Spirit passes into my spirit, and the purpose of Pentecost is fulfilled: Christ is formed within me not just in peak moments of transcendental experience but in the nitty-gritty of daily life.”

From lying in bed sick and unable to even utter a prayer, to sleeping, to enjoying a “rollicking good time at a Cajun barbecue in New Orleans” (“Laissez les bon temps rouler!“), we are connected and united to our Savior who “multiplied the wine at Cana to keep the party going.”

Let the good times roll!
Let the good times roll!

I’m sure some will object to this idea. Especially those who continue to insist that Jesus never would have created actual alcoholic wine. 😛 I’m not here to argue that. What I will argue is that we, connected and united with our Savior, can enjoy his presence any and everywhere, no matter what the circumstances. It is up to us to acknowledge that presence and will ourselves to respond properly.

Rewind back to yesterday afternoon. I failed. I allowed myself to get angry. Sure, I did not want to stay at work until almost 5:30 and then have to endure that horrible traffic coming home (in all honesty, it was not that bad). But I failed in humility; I failed in being Christlike; I failed in service. Worst of all, I failed in being an ambassador for Christ. And that is what my life is supposed to be about.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
God making his appeal through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Father, my first order of business this morning is to confess my failure yesterday afternoon. As already admitted above, I failed you in humility, in service, and in failing to be your ambassador for Christ. This is, yet again, another reminder of how far I have to go. You have brought me so far, but then a day like yesterday keeps me humble, reminding me that I have not yet arrived. Your grace, however, continues to rain down on me in ways that I cannot begin to imagine or describe. I thank you for that grace, and for the fact that you do not give up on teaching me. Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. I ask that you would daily bring me closer to the truth of Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I know i didn’t word that right, because the truth of that verse is now. I don’t need to be brought closer to that truth, I need to live that truth and recognize it daily in my life. I pray that the life of Christ would be formed in me, allowing me to be connected and united with him daily, hourly, every second.

I pray for this day. I pray for a good visit with our friend and her husband, as we share lunch together. I pray for them as they continue to try to become parents. May you bless them with fertility, Father! I pray that Stephanie and Megan will continue to have a good time together. I also pray that our worship service this evening will be glorifying to you in every way. May all that happens during that time frame lift your name high. Please give me wisdom and discernment as I lead our prayer time this afternoon. Show me what you would have us pray about today.

I pray for Marylou in the aftermath of yesterday morning’s terrifying incident. I pray that you would bring her comfort and peace, as well as protection from further incident. I pray for justice to be brought down on the perpetrator, as well as peace for his obviously troubled soul.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we, the body of Christ, join with him and act like him as we interact with the world in which we live.

Grace and peace, friends.