Overflowing Gratitude

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-first of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time. It is the Summer Solstice, the official beginning of Summer, the day with the most daylight hours.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,476

There was no Rangers game, yesterday, so they stayed at 31-35 for the season. They are in a virtual tie for second place, with a percentage difference of .001 between the Angels and the Rangers. The Rangers play the Phillies in Arlington tonight at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 5-2, improving their record to 37-31. They have overtaken Tampa and are now in third place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first, and back in a Wild Card spot, having bumped Tampa out. They play the Tigers again, today.

The Yankees still have the best record (50-17), and the best run differential (+145). The Athletics have the worst record, at 23-45. The Nationals have the worst run differential, at -109. The Rangers are at -4, and the Red Sox are at +50. The Milwaukee Brewers have the longest current win streak, at four games, and the Reds still have the longest losing streak, also at four games.

After all the qualifying rounds and match play, the top five bowlers in the PWBA U.S. Women’s Open are: 5. Erin McCarthy, from Elkhorn, Nebraska; 4. Shayna Ng, from Singapore; 3. Shannon O’Keefe, from Shiloh, Illinois; 2. Jordan Richard, from Maumee, Ohio; 1. Danielle McEwan, from Stony Point, NY. The final is airing tonight at 6:00 PM CDT. Since I will be at work during that time, I have set the program to record.

Since it is Tuesday, I will be at the library, working my shelving shift, from 4:15-8:15 tonight. This is my “heavy” week, so I’ll be working eight hours tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday, as well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have revealed your glory in your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you that today we can still see and feel the glorious grace which streams out from Jesus Christ in his victory over the world, the powerful help which benefits all those who find faith. Grant that a further glory may be revealed, faith dwelling in the hearts of all people, faith that can conquer all the need and suffering on earth, faith that is the power to look to you, to become inwardly quiet in you, and to hope in you at all times. Then your help will come quickly, more quickly than we can imagine. It will come on us unawares, for the Savior has said, “See, I shall come quickly.” We want to hope and believe and trust till the end. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
(John 17:24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the amazing love shared among the Holy Trinity and how that love is passed on to us
2. for the glorious grace, streaming out from Jesus Christ in His victory over the world; may all need and suffering on earth be conquered!
3. for the grateful heart that God has cultivated within me
4. for the amazing, sometimes overwhelming presence of God, always with me, always surrounding me
5. for the sweet, sweet love of my wife of almost 37 years
6. for times of worship together, when we practice the truth that God is both center and circumference in our lives

The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is gratitude.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

As you are aware (if you’re not, I don’t know what to tell you), gratitude is something that I am really big on. My devotions, every day, begin with a list of things for which I am grateful. I started doing this in November, at least two years ago, as a response to all the people who only display gratitude during the “Thanksgiving” month. At that point, I purposed to show gratitude 365 days a year.

As I have previously stated here and elsewhere, I don’t put this list in public to seem more spiritual than anyone else. Goodness knows, I’m as much a sinner as the next person. At least. It is, however, to inspire; to show people that, no matter how difficult things get or how bad things look, there should always be something we can be thankful for. Somedays, it is simple things, like coffee, grapes, and cantaloupe. Other days, the list is more complex and deep, more thoughtful.

Some days, I struggle to come up with five things. That’s on me, of course. Other days, it is all I can do to stop at seven or eight. Actually, I think seven is the longest list I have published.

Gratitude, while it may not be “everything,” is certainly important. And, while we know (or at least I hope we know; we should know) that we can never pay God back for the great things He has done for us (nor does He expect or desire us to), we can express our gratitude, and we can most certainly (which He does expect, even demand) pay it forward!

Thank You, Father, for gratitude. That might sound weird to some people. I’m grateful for gratitude. But what I am truly grateful for is that YOu have cultivated this heart of gratitude within me. You have shown me how important it is to be thankful. Verse after verse of Your Word tells me this. So help me continue to be grateful every day, displaying this gratitude for all to see, to inspire them to also be grateful, even if it’s just for the next breath of air. And, yes, I’m grateful for that, too, because the next breath is not promised me. What is promised is Your amazing presence in my life, and I am certainly grateful for that, too!


“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Matthew 19:6 NIV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalms 37:4 NLT)

I would unequivocally state that C and I are most definitely “one flesh.” We are like two parts of one unit. And, while I might joke that she is my “better half” (we’re supposed to do that, right?), I don’t believe that there is a “better half” between us. We are as equal as it is possible for two people to be, in this marriage. And when we met, even though she had a boyfriend, it was obvious that there was something special between us.

God joined us together almost 37 years ago, and, in spite of a few stupid things on my part, we remain together today, as committed and in love as ever. When she is away from me, I feel like half a person. And I think we do a pretty good job of living by a verse that gets mistakenly separated from many peoples’ favorite verses to quote about marriage.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 NIV)

People, especially men and preachers (that should tell you something), love to quote verse 22. But I’m a firm believe that, since all verses and other divisions of these letters are “man-made,” verse 21 is supposed to be part of that paragraph and supersedes verse 22. And, yes, I will fight you on that. I believe that our marriage is quite a good example of mutual submission.

Father, I am so very grateful for C and the relationship that we have. We fit together so well, and much of that has come through growth over these years, growth that You have provided and nurtured. I thank You that You worked in both our hearts to grow us closer and closer together, and that You kept us together all these years. I pray that we might be an inspiration to other marriages.


“The more I am persuaded of the importance of seeking God’s will for oneself, the more skeptical I become about the possibility of saying what is his will for others. That is the source of all kinds of intolerance and abuse. People who claim to know what is God’s will try to impose it upon others with the arrogance which comes from the conviction that they are the repositories of divine truth. I avoid that at all costs. I can never know what is God’s will for someone else.” ~ Paul Tournier

(From Spiritual Classics by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

Father, may I never be guilty of displaying this kind of “intolerance and abuse” toward others, and forgive me for times past when I have been guilty of it. Help me to display love and acceptance toward people, not condoning sinful behavior, but also not condemning, as that is Your job, not mine.


According to French philosopher Jacque Maritain, what our modern world needs most is “New fire, the essential renewal . . . an inner renewal. . . . It consists of a change of attitude, or a displacement of values that takes place in the deepest recesses of the soul, and has to do, first of all and essentially, not with any way of acting or externally behaving . . . but with a way of seeing them before God, and a way of loving them better.”

According to Eugene H. Peterson, we participate in this “when we choose to worship with the people of God, . . . As we sing and pray, give and listen.”

“The act of worship builds our inner foundations and nurtures the eternal relationships we practice all the hours and days of the week.”

(From On Living Well by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, You are, indeed, as Peterson says, both “center and circumference” in our lives. You are the middle, You are the exterior, You are the internal. You are everything. And when we worship You together, we participate in this belief, because our attention must be focused on something/someone other. Not simply someone other than ourselves, but someone/something that is other from what we are. We need this worship, Father, and we need, desperately, this outward focus on You. Society is proving this more and more as time goes by.

Lord, our culture is way too self-focused. Even when we may not be self-centered (focusing entirely on the self), we still tend to be human-focused, and not taking the time to focus or center on You, the Almighty God and Creator of the universe. Change our values, Father, and help us to see and love others before You, in a better and more compassionate way.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Today is Thursday, the seventh of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,219

Only five more days until our 36th anniversary. The gift arrived yesterday, and since it was too big to hide, it has already been unveiled.

A pair of “zero-gravity” lounge chairs with matching table. If our house didn’t face west (the back yard is on the east side), I would be sitting in one, right now, drinking my coffee. But the sun is shining out there, right now, and he and I are not friends. So perhaps I will sit out there and read some, this evening.

I got everything accomplished that I intended, yesterday. The laundry got folded, the groceries got bought, and the chicken stir-fry got cooked for dinner. Today, there is absolutely nothing on the agenda. I’m off work today.

C and I went for a walk, yesterday evening, right before dinner time. As we walked, we discussed the fact that I was retired, and I realized that I still haven’t quite “wrapped my head around” that fact. What does that even mean? I can’t wrap my head around anything!

Once my library work schedule settles down, I need to come up with some kind of . . . hang on a minute. Do I really, though?? Maybe it’s better to just “wing it.”

Let’s see. Baseball. The Dodgers won last night, 2-1, on a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth. I suppose it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. I’m disappointed, though, that the Dodgers won. I don’t care that much, but I’m just not a fan. And now the Dodgers play the Giants in the ALDS. To me, that is terribly boring. But they were the two top teams in MLB for the season.

Today, the Other Sox and Astros play 3PM, CDT, and the Red Sox and Rays play at 7:00 CDT. I might watch the Red Sox game tonight.

Today is Frappe Day. I don’t know much about this, but it’s some kind of coffee drink, somehow related to the Frappuccino.

The word for today is pariah, a noun meaning, “any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.”

Today’s quote is from Frederick Douglas, American author. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

Significant birthdays on October 7:

Al Martino, American singer (Speak Softly Love), 1927-2009
Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop of South Africa and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1931 (90)
Dave Hope, American rock bassist (Kansas, A.D.), 1949 (72)
John Mellencamp, American rock singer/songwriter (Jack & Diane, Little Pink Houses), 1951 (70)
Yo-Yo Ma, Chinese-American cellist, 1955 (66)
Simon Cowell, English record executive and TV producer, 1959 (62)
Thom York, British musician (Radiohead), 1968 (53)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Lord is faithful;
He will establish and guard;
We have confidence.
(2 Thessalonians 3)
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ, His Son

And now, let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done
For us
(Henry Smith, © 1978)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have given me a thankful heart
2. for music; songs that I can sing to thank You and praise You
3. that I am rich because of what You have done for me; blessed beyond all imagination
4. for Your holiness
5. for the depths of Your splendor and majesty and beauty; indescribable!

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD loves what is righteous and just; his constant love fills the earth.
(Psalms 33:5 GNB)

As I pause to reflect on Your constant love, I seek Your presence in this place. I know You are here, but I need to focus on Your presence and know it; I need to feel that You are here. As I sit with eyes closed, I sense Your presence in the room. It calms me; it strengthens my resolve and desire to know You more.

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.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
(Psalms 96:1-6 NIV)

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 96:11-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
(2 Samuel 11:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that He might lead me in meditation and prayer, seeking truth in the words of Scripture.

Psalm 96 is a beautiful hymn of worship. It is the favorite psalm of one of our leaders. In fact, he wrote a song based on it, which we have sung at many nights of worship and Sunday morning worship services.

This another in the series of “orphan” psalms, so called because no author is attributed at the beginning. We don’t know who wrote them.

As Matthew Henry points out, we are called upon, three times in the first two verses, to sing. Not just to sing, but to “sing to the LORD!” Sing to Him; praise Him; proclaim His salvation; declare His glory and His marvelous deeds.

Why? Because He is great and worthy of praise! And He “is to be feared above all gods.” There’s that “gods” thing again. But, at least we have a bit of an explanation in this psalm. “The gods of the nations are idols” (verse 5). In other words, they are fake. Our God made the heavens; “splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”

Where is His sanctuary? I suppose there could be several answers. In one sense, His “sanctuary” is within me; within you, because He resides or dwells within us, in our spirits and souls. In another sense, though, His sanctuary is all creation. And I think the last three verses show this.

In a symphony of praise, the psalmist calls out for the heavens to rejoice, the earth be glad, the sea redound, the fields be jubilant, the trees of the forests sing for joy.

“Let all creation rejoice.”

Lord of heaven and earth, I join with all creation in singing Your praises, this morning. I pray for more new songs to be written, songs that proclaim Your goodness in all creation. You are holy, holy, holy! The universe declares Your majesty! Splendor and majesty go before You; strength and glory are in Your sanctuary! You are beautiful, so beautiful! There are not enough words to describe You. Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth!

I pray for spiritual renewal, this morning. I pray that our spirits would be renewed every day, every time we think of You. Give us deep repentance, daily. Precious Lord, reveal Your heart to me! You are holy, holy, holy!

BLESSING

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
(Matthew 5:6 GNB)

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:12 NIV)

I’m going to do something, here, that I don’t think I’ve ever done. I’m going to quote an entire Daily Guideposts reading, this one by Jon M. Sweeney, author and editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press.

“I went to church the other day for a noontime service that’s designed for people on lunch hour. My church is in downtown Milwaukee, near many office buildings. There are usually twenty to thirty people there at noon.

“On this day, the service had begun and the gospel was being read, when a man carrying two large overstuffed bags of possessions burst in the door. He wasn’t trying to be quiet as he walked the center aisle toward the front of the church. At one point, he turned and gesticulated wildly with his arms, scowling at a few people, in a way that made it pretty clear he was drunk. But he kept walking toward the front. When he reached the first pew, he loudly tossed the bags down and took off his coat, tossing that down rather dramatically, too. Then he turned around and looked at everyone, saying something that was inarticulate but angrily expressed. We didn’t know what he would do next.

“He then entered the pew, pulled out the kneeler (we have those in our church), and got down on his knees. He began to pray. That’s all I have to say about him.

“About me, I’ll say this: I judged him way too easily.

“Forgive me, God, for how I judge everyone around me all the time. Change my heart, mind, and soul.”

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
(Matthew 7:1-3 NIV)

Confession time: I can identify with brother Sweeney, there. I struggle so much with this. I know, in my heart, that I am no better than anyone else. Yet I catch myself judging people, right and left, daily. May God forgive me, and change my heart as Jon has prayed.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

“The rich in spirit devote considerable time to thinking
about what they don’t have; the poor to enjoying and
celebrating what they do have.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, February 15, 2014. We will now return to our regularly scheduled program of blogs. Pitchers and catchers report today. Opening Day is now 44 days away!

Today is Gumdrop Day! MmmHmm! If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops; oh, what a rain that would be. Yeah! It would HURT, that’s what!! I mean, can you even imagine?? There would be none of this, “Standing outside with my mouth open wide; Ah ahahah ahahah ahahah!” It would be more like, “Running for cover with my hands o’er my head! Ow owowow owowow owowow!”

But yeah. Gumdrop Day. I love gumdrops. I may see if I can find some today. I haven’t had gumdrops in a long time. I just really don’t want to see any falling out of the sky, you know. . .


So, this morning, we are heading to Austin, probably in a little over an hour. We are staying about 30-40 miles away from Austin in a little place called “Lago Vista.” It’s right in a bend around Lake Travis. You can take a look at it HERE, if you so desire. We don’t have a lot of plans, but we do plan on trying to catch the infamous bats flying out from under Congress Bridge, as well as partaking in an Austin Adventure Quest. We will probably take a stroll down the legendary 6th Street. We may stop by the “Dueling Pianos Bar.” We hear there is a great time to be had there. We will also be taking a more scenic route down to the rental property, avoiding I-35. It just so happens that this route will take us right through our favorite town in Texas, Glen Rose! So, naturally, we will stop off and have a piece of pie at the Pie Peddlers! We will also be going through a little town that I’ve never heard of before yesterday, called “Leander.” Supposedly, the cemetery used in the filming of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is there. We’ll also go through Hico and Hamilton. Hico is, unfortunately, known for still being quite racist. From what I hear, the KKK is alive an well in Hico, as evidenced by one of the “downtown” eateries, the Koffee Kup Kafe. Actually, it appears that they have now changed the name of it to the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant. But the history is still there, and is well known. Hamilton, TX claims to have a burial place of Billy the Kid. At least it’s the grave of “Brushy” Bill Roberts. Whether or not he was Billy the Kid will probably never be known. More than likely, he’s buried in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where William H. Bonney died.

There will not be a blog tomorrow or Monday. The house we are staying in does not have Wi-fi, so we will not be taking any computers. I’ll have my tablet for reading, but I don’t like typing on it. Rest assured, I will have my morning devotional and coffee. You just won’t see it here. I know. Approximately ten people will be gravely disappointed. 😀 Don’t worry. I’ll be back Tuesday morning, if the Lord says so, too.


(Source: History.com)

It was on this date in 1965 that Canada officially adopted the maple leaf flag as her national flag. This was “in accordance with a formal proclamation by Queen Elizabeth II of England.” From 1870 (or thereabouts), until that time, the flag had been the Canadian Red Ensign, which was “a solid red flag with the Union Jack occupying the upper-left corner and a crest situated in the right portion of the flag.” It took roughly 40 years to come up with a new design. “Today, Canada’s red maple leaf flag is one of the most recognizable national flags in the world.”


There are 262 birthdays listed for today on HistoryOrb.com. Among those are Philipp Melanchthon, German Protestant, 1497, Galileo Galilei, astronomer/physicist, 1564, Michael Praetorius, composer, 1571, Henry Engelhard Steinway, piano maker, 1797, Susan Brownell Anthony, suffragette, 1820, John Barrymore, actor, 1882, Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, 1899, Cesar Romero, actor, 1907, Kevin McCarthy, actor, 1914, Ian Ballantine, publisher, 1916, Harvey Korman, actor, 1927, Jane Seymour, actress, 1951, Matt Groening, cartoonist, 1954, Chris Farley, comedian, 1964, Jane Child, musician, 1967, Conor Oberst, singer/songwriter, 1980, and Matt Hoopes, musician (Relient K), 1981.

I can’t not recognize Harvey Korman’s birthday without showing a clip from the Carol Burnett show, one with him and Tim Conway. They were so good together.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
Psalm 79:8
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psalm 130:4
…but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147:11
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
1 John 3: 18-19
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12


Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
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.
1 Peter 5:6-7


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Inside and Out.”

This one is worthy of quoting in its entirety.

“The rich in spirit devote considerable time to thinking
about what they don’t have; the poor to enjoying and
celebrating what they do have. In the last century the
atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzche reproached a group of
Christians with words to this effect: ‘Yuk, you make me sick!’
When their spokesman asked why, Nietzche replied, ‘Because
you redeemed don’t look like you’re redeemed!’ the rich are
often as downcast, guilt ridden, anxious, and dissatisfied as
their unbelieving neighbors. The poor cry, ‘It is right to give
him thanks and praise.'”

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Father, I continue to pray that you make me poor in spirit. Help me to “look like I’m redeemed!” May I never cause an unbeliever to doubt your existence by my behavior. Forgive me for the times when I have. Help me to celebrate what I do have rather than moan about what I don’t have. I find that I pretty much have everything I need, and then some, for which I am grateful beyond measure. Keep my heart grateful and keep me always giving thanks to you for the blessings you have poured out on me.

I pray that you give us safe travel for our weekend, and give us a good, relaxing time as we get away. Keep Rachel, Justin, and Stephanie safe here at home.

Your grace is sufficient.


Let us all be more thankful for what we have, believers and unbelievers alike.

Grace and peace, friends.