Surely Goodness and Mercy

Good morning (it will be afternoon before I am finished). Today is Saturday, the first of January, 2022. The eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be upon you today!

Day 23,305

Twenty-two days until we finally get to see Hamilton. Hoping that the current surge of Covid Omicron variant doesn’t wind up canceling this one.

It’s a new year, and with the new year come new devotional materials. So things will begin looking a little different from last year. Some things will stay the same, but others will change. I will continue to try to make note of where we are in the Church calendar, hence the mention of the eighth day of Christmas, above. I have a couple of sources to help me keep up with that.

Yesterday was another great day at the library. It was somewhat slower than usual, for the whole library, as well as the computer center. There were only a handful of staff people there, so it was very quiet. I had an unusual experience as I helped a gentleman scan and attach documents to an HOA website, so he could try to get permission to add solar panels to his home. It was very complicated, and reinforces my opinion that I will NEVER live in an HOA.

C wasn’t feeling well, yesterday, so I picked up Subway for dinner for last night. We did wind up staying up until the end of 2021, though. Actually, I think C had to, to make sure that their systems came back online at midnight, as scheduled. She and I counted down the new year together, watching the last minute or so from a New Orleans broadcast.

At any rate, 2022 is here. So far, I don’t feel any different. That’s not one hundred percent true, but it has nothing to do with what day it is. Yesterday, as I was listening to “The Blessing” (I posted the video at the end of yesterday’s blog), something “flipped” inside. I can’t really put a finger on it, or put it in words, but some attitudes changed. As 2022 gets into gear, I don’t have any “resolutions.” I don’t do those any more , haven’t for at least a decade. I don’t really have any “goals,” either, as goals are supposed to be measurable. Well, I take that back. My Goodreads reading goal for 2022 will be fifty-two books, just like it was in 2021. I’m going to try to share my Year in Books from Goodreads. Hopefully that link will work. There is one error in it, though. I actually only read 48 books. For some reason, it has The Hobbit in there twice. I only listened to the audio version. I did not read a physical book again.

I do have some “aspirations,” I suppose. I want to read more, pray more consistently, love better, make more music, and spend a little less time playing video games.

To begin the year, I will focus on the following resources:
Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson (sixty days)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Pray a Word a Day, a new Guideposts resource

I may or may not choose to add another resource. There is one that I will use after the sixty-day Peterson book. On Living Well: Brief Reflections on Wisdom for Walking in the Way of Jesus, also by Eugene H. Peterson. I’m not sure how many days it will take, but I’m confident that there aren’t 365 readings in it.

Actually, I believe I have just decided to also include Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, a Renovare resource edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. It is a different format than I’m used to, having a weekly reading for fifty-two weeks. Not sure how that will play out in my daily readings, but it will be fun to explore.

So there it is. Oh, and Happy New Year to all who make it over here, either on purpose or by serendipity.


"Eternal Father, 
You gave to Your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to of our salvation:
Plant in every heart,
we pray,
the love of Him who is the Savior of the world,
our Lord Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
in glory everlasting.
(Collect for January 1, The Holy Name, The Book of Common Prayer)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things! 
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; 
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
(Psalms 98:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new beginnings
2. for God, for His very existence and who He is
3. for the marvelous things that God has done
4. that God is always doing "new things"
5. that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us, pursuing us

My verse for 2022 will be Psalm 145:18. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

My word for 2022 (I don’t remember if I had one for 2021) will be “pray.” Because that’s what I need to do more of.

“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”

Thus begins the first reading in Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation.

And, if we look at the first verse of Genesis in The Message, the first three words are, “First this: God.”

God looked over everything he had made; 
it was so good, 
so very good! 
(Genesis 1:31 MSG)
See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 
(Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
(Job 8:7 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These are great verses to begin a new year. Especially a new year that has been preceded by two really sketchy years. Things have not been great. Understatement of the century. But we, we who are followers of Jesus Christ, have a hope for our future, most especially the future that we will have beyond this world, beyond this mortal coil.

Things keep happening. People are losing loved ones. Beloved celebrities (ones that we thought would live forever) are leaving us. But we followers of Jesus cannot afford to fix our eyes on these things. We must keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Our God is always doing a “new thing.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s word for prayer is “goodness.”

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:6 ESV)

It is worth noting that the Hebrew word that is translated “follow,” can also mean “chase” or “pursue.” So we consider that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us or pursuing us, and that kind of implies that we might be actually, sometimes, running away?

Just food for thought there.

Father, I praise You for the “new things” that You are constantly doing. I thank You that Your goodness and mercy are chasing and pursuing us . . . much more actively than simply “following,” which kind of implies a passive nature. You are chasing us down with Your goodness and mercy! Help me to stop running from them and let them catch me! I praise You that You are You, that You exist, from before eternity past beyond eternity future. And I praise You that You have made a way for us to exist with You, through the work of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and our salvation. Help me to embrace this salvation, more than ever, this coming year.

I continue to pray for this pandemic to end, Lord. Please wipe this virus off the earth, that we may return to some kind of normalcy. I also pray, though, for the compassion of human beings to be restored. There is so much meanness and hatred in our world, today. I pray for Your followers, Your children, to rise up and insist on LOVE! Again, I start a campaign for a love revolution! Make it so, Father!

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.

From Beautiful Tirzah to Media Manipulation

Today is Monday, June 26, 2017. Day 21,655. Seven days until our July 4 holiday.

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” ― Pearl S. Buck

The word of the day is beatinest, an adjective meaning, “most remarkable or unusual.”

Today is Please Take My Children to Work Day. I just like that because it’s funny. And certainly makes sense!

For what it was, it was an okay weekend. After church, yesterday, we stopped by Los Molcajetes for lunch, then Sonic for drinks. After we got home, we put together a grocery list, then I went to the store. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon playing Fallout: New Vegas, which helped me to relax, both physically and mentally. Playing a video game, for me, is a lot like watching a good movie. I am able to totally lose myself in the world of the game, and pretty much forget about anything else.

Back to work today, and band practice tonight, so it’s a long day. It’s our last practice until August, though, as our Independence Day shindig is next Monday night, and we have the rest of July off.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. 
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Psalm 71:8-9
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

Psalm 88:1-2
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
Psalm 3:8
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”

John 16:12-16
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

Psalm 97:1-6

(From Practice Resurrection)

As Eugene Peterson was growing up, his understanding of church was that of “a badly constructed house that had been lived in by renters who didn’t keep up with repairs.” When he became a pastor, he assumed that his job “was to do major repair work, renovating it from top to bottom.” This understanding was acquired from years of listening to pastors that served at his childhood church. Unfortunately, they never lasted very long.

One of his favorite texts, that was preached by virtually every pastor he can remember, was from the Song of Solomon, chapter 6, verse 4. You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners. “This was a favorite text in that long-ago Montana culture to refer to church.” The image of the church was that she was this “beautiful Tirzah,” and that she was an awesome army with banners. His pastors filled this metaphor out with “glorious imagery.” Says Peterson, “For at least thirty or forty minutes our shabby fixer-upper church with its rotting front porch was tansformed into something almost as good as the Second Coming.”

He compares those sermons with the picture on the front of a jigsaw puzzle box. You see the pictures, you have a thousand pieces spread out before you, and know that, if you keep at it long enough, those pieces will finally fit together to make that beautiful picture. Turns out his pastors weren’t that patient. Perhaps they decided that some of the pieces were missing. Maybe they finally decided that this particular church was “too far gone in disrepair to spend any more time on it.” But it seemed like they bounced from church to church, never spending much time at any single one.

Peterson never forgot that metaphor though, and when he became a pastor, at first, he was unable to abandon this romantic vision of church. Eventually, the illusion became delusion, but it didn’t last long. He soon found out that the popular imagery had changed into a “new and fresh imagery . . . provided by American business.” There was a new generation of pastors that were reimagining the church. Tirzah had been scrapped. The replacement was an “imagery of an ecclesiastical business with a mission to market spirituality to consumers to make them happy. Simultaneously, campaigns targeted outsiders to get them to buy whatever it was that was making us happy.”

The church was no longer considered to be something that needed repair, but, rather, “a business opportunity that would cater to the consumer tastes of spiritually minded sinners both within and without the congregation.” There was no longer a need for “fantasy sermons,” based on what the church should look like. “Media manipulation” became the tool to get people “to do something they were already pretty good at doing: being consumers.” The pictures of Sodom and Gomorrah and Golgotha were removed from the walls. God was depersonalized and “repackaged as a principle or formula,” and “people could shop at their convenience for whatever sounded or looked as if it would make their lives more interesting and satisfying on their own terms.”

Yes, this all sounds kind of harsh. But there is truth to it, and I have observed the same truth over the decades that I have been in church, and I have been in church since I was an infant. I don’t remember much about those days. But I have to confess that I fell into the consumerism trap, right along with many others. But I embrace Eugene Peterson’s vision at this point, which is why I’m re-reading this book. And it’s not all so harsh, because he soon gets into the teaching of Paul on what we should see, and how God works in and through the Church.

Father, teach us to step away from the consumerism mentality in your Church. There should never have been any place for this, and I pray for forgiveness for all who drove her into that mentality. Show us what the true Church should look like, as we interact with one another in Trinitarian community. Teach us your was, that we may walk in your truth and in your kingdom.
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.

Dependent Upon His Spirit

Today is Sunday, August 7, 2016. 12 more days until S turns 23!

Quote of the Day

“One reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life….” ― Garrison Keillor

Word of the Day

Enervate – 1. To weaken or destroy the strength or vitality. 2. Lacking physical, mental, or moral vigor. “Prolonged exposure to the sun and dehydration enervated the desert racing team.”

Today is Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day. That’s a mouthful, huh? This is a day to encourage you to speak up when manufacturers’ packaging causes you stress and anxiety. Those plastic packages, for example, that things like electronic device headphones come in. You know the ones. They’re next to impossible to open. You eventually have to take a pair of scissors to them, which can’t possibly be good for the scissors!

I’m a little blurry this morning, as I was up late with some stomach issues. I think I’m okay, this morning, but I’m not having my cup of coffee, and really don’t feel hungry yet. I’m going to church, in spite of the fact that I would much rather stay home and sleep.

I’m also really behind, so I need to move on to the devotional portion.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
Psalm 104:27-30

“The pulsing creation in all its interrelated parts is as dependent upon the Creator Spirit as the human body is upon its respiratory system. The Spirit of God ‘moving over the face of the waters’ in creation (Genesis 1:2) also supports and renews daily life.”

“Send your Spirit, Father. My inner life disintegrates without daily infusions of your Spirit. My energy for love dissipates without fresh visitations of your love. My faith atrophies without exercise in your grace. I receive, gratefully, what you give in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, how true those statements are in my own life! If I am not consciously with you throughout my day, my “inner life disintegrates, my energy for love dissipates, my faith atrophies!” I find myself acting and reacting in most un-Christlike ways! Infuse my life with your Holy Spirit every day, healing me both physically and spiritually. Make me be aware of your presence in and around me at all times.

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.

Clouds Are the Dust of His Feet

Today is Friday, July 29, 2016. The trade deadline is Sunday.

Quote of the Day

“I love the way that each book—any book—is its own journey. You open it, and off you go….” ― Sharon Creech

Word of the Day

Skylark – to frolic; sport: The children were skylarking on the beach. There once was a Buick called “Skylark.”


Today is Talk In An Elevator Day. I probably won’t be in an elevator today, so someone talk for me, okay?

Friday is here! The weekend is just around the corner. I have a few things that need to get done. For example, I need to put together music for band rehearsal, which kicks back off Monday night. But wait . . . I don’t know what part I’m going to be playing on this round. I’ll have to get with our section leader and find out. If I’m not playing first, I’ll have to get new music.

The gate is finally finished. So our fence is done. Now, we just wait for the replacement part on our pool heater, and all of this will be done. The guys did a great job on the fence and gate, in my opinion.

Nothing much going on this weekend, I think, other than a PAT meeting after church on Sunday. I do have a little “work” to do before the meeting, as we are supposed to do an analysis on how we think the church is doing since we moved to the Y location. I’ve been thinking about it, I just don’t have anything written down.

The Rangers pulled off a win, last night, over KC, 3-2, while the Red Sox managed to lose to the Angels in the bottom of the 9th, 2-1. Needless to say, I’m concerned about them, as they have now lost four in a row, and six of their last ten. But as “they” say, there’s still a lot of baseball left.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.
“O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!”
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.

The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.
Psalm 102:23-28

“All life is unfinished.” At face value, a rather depressing sentence. It seems like nothing in our lives is ever complete. But when we join the work of God, “we find a proper beginning and a satisfying ending to our existence.” Only then do our lives make sense.

“Take, Lord, all my parts–whatever years and whatever acts you can salvage out of my sin–and build a new life. Lay foundations of eternity in me; construct spacious stretches of salvation around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

What Do You See in Your Clouds?

Behold, he is coming with the clouds. . . Revelation 1:7

“In the Bible clouds are always connected with God.” However, clouds also seem to symbolize sorrows, sufferings, or other troubles that make us doubt God’s very existence. “It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith.” That reminds me of a false statement that became very popular a few years ago, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Poppycock! If God did not give me more than I could handle, I would never need him, would I? It’s the same with the clouds. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)

Now, Chambers makes an interesting statement. God does not want to teach us something in our trials. Rather, “He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child.” Other people in our lives will become shadows in our clouds. If we are relying on anyone but Jesus, our cloud will get darker.

Father, I pray that, when clouds come, I will recognize your presence in them. I pray that I will “unlearn” anything unhealthy that I have begun to believe about you and our relationship, while in the clouds. Let me get to a place where my life is so simplified that you are all there is, and that nothing else matters, at least spiritually. I pray for the wisdom and strength to rely solely on Jesus and no one else.

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.

A Friend Loves At All Times

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ― Abraham Sutzkever

The word of the day, from, is animadversion, which means, “an unfavorable or censorious comment: to make animadversions on someone’s conduct.”

Today is Gummi Worm Day! Yes, I like Gummi Worms. Especially, the sour ones. Well, mostly the sour ones. The non-sour ones are okay, but I really like the sour ones.

I got a little more accomplished in the study last night. I can now see the top of the file cabinet and the turntable that sits on the file cabinet. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I feel good about the progress I have made. I think that tonight, I will try to get some practice in, before it gets late, and then allow myself to chill out in front of the PS4 for a while.

Tomorrow, I’m not sure, yet, what I will do. We are having a Night of Worship at a friend’s house, at 6:00 PM, and I will definitely attend that. Not sure about the rest of the day, though.

C sent me an email last night at 10:26. That’s 9:26 our time. They had just left the bowling center, and were supposed to be back at 6:30 this morning, which was about thirty minutes ago, our time. That’s crazy! I hope she has a chance to get some rest, somewhere during the day. As well as getting something to eat. We really miss her. I did sleep better, last night, though, than I have the other two nights. I could have slept a few hours more, though.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!
O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—
the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
Psalm 94:1-11

Society generally views as cunning, those who get wealthy by playing off of other peoples’ weaknesses and troubles, or who get powerful by “propagating falsehoods.” However, the psalmist tells us what God sees in those people, “not sharpness of mind, but dullness of spirit; not mental dexterity, but more clumsiness.” God sees, even if we don’t think he does. I really like the last part of verse 10, going into verse 11 (that’s a clumsy verse break that was inserted there, I think): “He who teaches man knowledge–the LORD–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.”

“O God, act in righteous judgment now. Put down the arrogant and lift up the humble. Make me a participant in the working out of your justice among all who are hurt or despised or degraded. In the name of Jesus, who promised to bless the poor in spirit. Amen.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2016)

Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman . . . John 4:27

Daniel Schantz writes of a trip to London with his wife, as they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. As they traveled around the city, taxi drivers actually took interest in them and why they were there. One of them asked, “What brings you here?”
“We are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary.”
“Quite lovely! Not many couples make it that far. Are you religious then?”
“Yes. We live in Missouri, the heart of the Bible Belt.”
“I’ve always thought there must be a Creator,” said the driver, as he pointed to various trees along the way. “All these beautiful things . . . But then I see how people treat each other and I wonder. You know?”

After giving the driver a generous tip, Daniel found himself treating others that he met with interest, just as this driver had treated him. He had a nice conversation with a waitress at the hotel. “Fascinating people seemed to come out of the woodwork the rest of the day because I was taking an interest in them.” He recalled reading something once, in a book about manners. It said something like, “The most interesting person in the world is the person who is interested in me.”

Jesus took interest in people. Consider the passage from which the above verse is taken. He sat down and engaged in conversation with, not just a woman, but a Samaritan woman! His disciples couldn’t believe their eyes when they came back! But consider also Nicodemus and Zaccheus, the “wee little man” who “climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.” Jesus paid attention to people. And even though we don’t see it in many artists’ representations, he probably smiled a lot.

Daniel’s prayer at the end of the reading: “It gets lonely down here, Lord. Help me to be everyone’s friend today.”

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'” Luke 7:34

Father, I needed this reading today, after the day I had yesterday at work. By the end of the day, yesterday, I wasn’t very friendly toward anyone. I let things get to me. Yes, I got bombarded by a lot of stuff, much of it pointless misunderstandings by people I have to deal with, and even some of it was flat-out ignorance. But that doesn’t make it right for me to get so aggravated at the circumstances when I’m supposed to be walking in your presence. I can’t leave you behind, because I can’t escape from your presence (not that I ever want to). But I certainly allowed myself to forget that you were there, which spiraled into some pretty ugly behavior. I confess this and ask your forgiveness, and I pray for what I have read today to take root and last me the whole 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.