My Refuge and Fortress

“Never find fault with the absent.” – Alexander Pope

The word of the day, from, is velleity, which means, “a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.”

This was really tough. Today is Global Forgiveness Day. Why was it tough? Because today is also Chocolate Day! And as much as I love chocolate and anything to do with it, I have to believe that to forgive is better than chocolate. I know . . . the words “better than chocolate” just don’t look right together.

It’s Thursday, already. That’s not a complaint, either. Gotta love these four-day work weeks! C is having dinner with a few ladies tonight, as they are having their semi-regular gathering for confession. It’s a thing they do. I know some of the guys gather on a regular basis for this, as well, but I’m not part of a group like that, at least not yet. I would want to be very picky about who I gather with for something as deeply personal as confession. It would have to be someone I trust fully.

The Red Sox managed to win a series against the Rangers, beating them 11-6 last night. They started off hot and stayed ahead the whole game. Unfortunately, the Boo Jays won again, too, so the Sox are still in third by a half game. The Rangers are 6.5 up on the Astros in the West. In other news, the San Francisco Giants have overtaken the Cubs as the best team in baseball, by two percentage points. The Cubs continue to be three points ahead of the Rangers, so they are now the third best team in MLB.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Psalm 91:1-6

This is one of my favorite Psalms. In it, we get a variety of the forms that the protection of God takes. He is refuge and fortress. He will cover us with his pinions. What are pinions? I had to look that up. It’s the outer part of a bird’s wing. Under his wings, we will find refuge. The faithfulness of God is a “shield and buckler.” What’s a buckler? Besides being the last name of one of my best friends in high school, it is a small, round shield, worn on the arm. All of these forms of God’s protection deliver us from the “snare of the fowler,” “the deadly pestilence,” “the terror of the night,” “the arrow that flies by day,” and “the destruction that wastes at noonday.” God is our refuge and fortress; what do we have to fear? “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” said Jesus, in John 16:33.

“I need your protective help, Almighty God: be to me a refuge and a fortress. Grant that I may be more expectant of your protective care than fearful of the dangers of evil. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Father, you are my refuge and fortress! You are my protection and my deliverance. Whom shall I fear? But, yet, I do manage to fear! How stupid of me! How could I possibly find anything to fear when you are my deliverance, and you will give me refuge under your “wings?” This Psalm says, “You will not fear the terror of the night!” It doesn’t say “you shouldn’t fear!” It says “will not.” Father, I need your Spirit to embed this truth in my being, so that I will not fear anything that comes against me. Fill me with the trust that comes from being a true disciple, as I walk in your kingdom. Make me aware of your presence throughout this day.

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.

Tuning Our Hearts To God

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is ear-tickler. An ear-tickler is “a person who pleases or gratifies others with flattering, agreeable, or pleasant words or music. Also: something, esp. a piece of music, which is lively and pleasant to listen to.”

It was tough choosing the “holiday” to highlight, today. After all, we have “Global Forgiveness Day,” and “Tell the Truth Day.” But today is also Chocolate Day, and forgive me, but, to tell the truth, chocolate trumps all those warm and fuzzy feel-good holidays, any time. By they way, did you see what I did, there? In all seriousness, forgiveness is a great thing. Where would we be without it? If you have an opportunity, please forgive someone today. The world would be a much better place, if we would all do that. Then eat some chocolate. Better yet, share some chocolate with whoever you forgave!

Yesterday turned out to not be nearly as bad as I was fearing it would be. In fact, we got a pretty average amount of freight to receive, so it was a pretty normal work load. That was a tremendous blessing, as we are still a person short (at least) on our team. Christi and I got home at about the same time, and we made broccoli-cheese soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Christi is feeling a little better, this morning, but still not right. Her right leg is still giving her a lot of pain, and her stomach is still messed up a bit. Energy-wise, she struggled quite a bit, yesterday, but she says it is better, this morning. We sent to bed really early last night, so she could get some extra rest.

Tonight, I have my Huddle. Christi won’t be bowling tonight, because of her leg.


In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.

Psalm 81:7-9

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In a section called “The Richness of Prayer,” Timothy Keller shares a poem, written by seventeenth century poet, George Herbert. In the next section of the book, Keller will work at defining prayer. However, he says, “there is a danger in doing that. A definition seeks to reduce things to the essence.” He says that this poem by Herbert does the opposite of that. “He wants to explore the richness of prayer with all its infinites and immensities.” I will share that poem here.

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

Herbert refers to prayer as “Gods breath in man returning to his birth.” There are many times when skeptical or completely non-religious people find themselves praying, even though they have no formal belief in God. In Hebrew, the word for “Spirit” and “breath” is the same. In this poem, Herbert seems to indicate that there is something within all of us, placed there by God, “that knows we are not alone in the universe, and that we were not meant to go it alone. Prayer is a natural human instinct.”

In prayer, we can find the “deep rest of the soul that we need,” described by Herbert as “softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse.” We get strength and vitality from prayer. And consider that brief phrase, “man well drest.” Through prayer, we become “spiritually fit for the presence of the king,” so that we can sit down with God at “the Churches banquet.” “Feasts were never mere feedings but a sign and means of acceptance and fellowship with the Host. Prayer is a nourishing friendship.”

Prayer tunes our hearts to God. When we sing, we engage our whole being, “the heart through the music as well as the mind through the words.” When we are faithful in prayer, tuning our hearts to God, it influences those around us, just as our bad moods and negativity influence those around us. Walk in the midst of people, filled with joy, and see if it doesn’t have an impact on them!

I will pick back up where I left off, tomorrow.
(pp 28-29)

Father, help all of us, your people, to find this richness of prayer. May we know your Spirit within us, and the benefit of our connection with you through that Spirit. May we find that “deep rest of the souls that we need,” as we come to you daily in our prayers. May we also experience the joy that comes from constant fellowship with you, fully dressed in the garments of prayer, fit to sit at your table and know your bounty. I rejoice in the acceptance that I have in your presence!

I pray for this day, Lord, that we might not only experience the joy of your presence, but show it to others, as well. May we display your kingdom in our lives, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. I pray for safe travel to and from work today. I pray for Christi to continue to feel better today. May your healing hand of mercy be all over her today, Lord, covering her in your healing presence! I pray for a good day at work for both of us. May you show your great love to Stephanie today, and may she feel your acceptance. I pray for Rachel ans she continues working on getting through with her thesis and related projects. Give her strength to get through everything. Draw her and Justin to your heart. Protect and provide for my mother as she draws her strength from you. I pray for her Bible study group that meets this morning.

Your grace is sufficient.

May our hearts be tuned to God, today, as we pray to him, bringing everything that comes to our minds into his presence.

Grace and peace, friends.