Grace By Which I Stand

Today is Saturday, January 9, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,948

Either I’ve got a serious case of allergies going on, or I have a mild cold. Since the only thing seemingly affected is my nose and face, I’m thinking it is allergies. My nose was running like a sieve, yesterday. And I sneezed quite a bit. No coughing or respiratory issues, though. And, most importantly, no fever. Plus I can still smell and taste, so I think I’m okay. My coffee tastes wonderful, this morning.

I slept with some essential oil called “Breathe” on a cotton puff behind my CPAP machine, last night. Believe it or not, the stuff smells a lot like Vicks VapoRub. Boy, does THAT bring back some memories!! My mother used to rub that on my chest when I was sick. And we had one of those vaporizer thingies. Good times.

We have our WW Workshop, this morning, at 10:30. For reasons, I cannot ascertain at this moment, I’m not losing weight, right now. It’s weird. I know it will turn around, though. It is doubtful that I will make my 100 pound mark, this morning. At this point, I’m just hoping I don’t gain again! Whatever happens, I will not allow it to ruin my day. I know I’m still doing the right things, so it will turn around.


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(The Prayer of St. Francis)

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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For Your grace that has appeared, offering salvation to all people
  • That You did not discriminate between peoples when You offered that salvation
  • That it is by grace that I am saved, and by grace that I am able to stand
  • For the story of the Gospel, which I can “preach” to myself over and over, in order to bring encouragement to my faith
  • That You have been working in me to remove attachments to the physical world

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



For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. . . . The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:11, 13 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 7:1-5, 8, 17 (NIV)

LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
LORD my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands—
if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe—
then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.

Let the LORD judge the peoples. Vindicate me, LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. 


Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”


The phrase that speaks loudly to me, this morning, is “He did not discriminate between us and them.”

There is a deep lesson to be seen here. The opening verse, the “invitation” into these meditations, corroborates this thought. Paul, in his letter to Titus, said that the grace of God has appeared, offering “salvation to all people.”

When God sent Peter to speak to Cornelius, the floodgates opened up. Suddenly, the message of the Gospel was open to everyone, not just the Jews!

Do you remember Simeon’s prayer in the Gospel of Luke?

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 NIV)

Before Jesus had taken a step or even been able to stand up on His own, it was prophesied that He would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” And now, here in the book of Acts, this is coming to fruition.

I think it is safe to say that the majority of us who are believers, followers of Christ, in the United States of America, are probably Gentiles. There are some Jewish Christians among us, as well, but most of us are probably Gentiles.

Were it not for the fact that God allowed Peter to go talk to Cornelius, were it not for God showing Peter that vision of the sheet and the unclean animals, where would we be today?

It is the fact that “He did not discriminate between us and them” that has given us salvation!

The last verse of our reading from Acts sums it up perfectly.

We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
(Acts 15:11 NIV)

So, where am I going with this? I’ll tell you. In light of these truths, these indisputable facts, how dare we act in any way that is discriminatory in our day and age!

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, as those who claim to follow in His steps, have no room for discrimination of any kind. By grace we have been saved, and by grace we must live. If we act with hatred toward any group of people, if we act as though we are superior to any group of people, we are walking in a way that says we have forgotten the grace that was shown to us.

And believe me when I say I am preaching to myself as much as anyone else. I struggle with this, perhaps as much as anyone. Not so much in the realm of race, mind you, but there are other areas where I sink into the pit of thinking I’m better than another group of people because of this, that, or the other. It is simply not true; a lie from the devil, himself.

The title of my blog has been, from day one, “Reveling in the Overflowing Grace of God.” (At one point, I did change the spelling of “reveling.”) It is by that grace that I am saved. It is by that grace the the Gospel came to us Gentiles, in the first place. And it is utterly and completely by His grace that I was born into a country and into a family where it was possible for that Gospel message to reach my soul.

I have done nothing, and continue to do nothing to deserve this.





There’s an old song by the late Keith Green, called “Grace By Which I Stand.” The chorus goes like this:

Nothing lasts
Except the grace of God
by which I stand in Jesus
I'm sure that my whole life would waste away
Except for grace
By which I'm saved

Father, I praise You for the grace by which I stand. I thank You that You sent Peter to talk to Cornelius, and that those leaders had those meetings, and agreed that it was okay for the Gospel to reach the Gentiles, and that the burdens of the Law would not be placed upon them. Thank You for Peter, Lord. Now, may I walk through my life in the same way, leaning so heavily on this grace that I dare not treat any other group of people with disdain or hatred. We are all, when it comes to sin, indeed “in the same boat.” And none of us has a way out, other than the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ. So, whenever I begin to feel superior to that coworker who is so obnoxious and rude, please let Your Spirit remind me, whether by nudge, shove, or smack up side the head, that we are all the same, and all in need of Your great, overflowing grace!

"Jesus Christ,
light of the world,
as the Magi came from far away
to bow down and worship,
gather your church from every place.
Never let your church be bound,
or limited to certain places or persons,
but always ready to receive
those who seek to worship you,
and whom you are seeking.
(Belgic Confession 27)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
(Hebrews 12:3 MSG)

So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe.
(Hebrews 3:1 MSG)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
(Hebrews 12:2 MSG)

I confess that I may have briefly taken my eyes off of Jesus, earlier this week, but only for a moment. He IS the centerpiece, the cornerstone.

I’ve been learning quite a bit from this book, which my mother gave me for Christmas, last year. In today’s reading, I learn the Hebrew word for heaven, which is shamayim, and the Hebrew word for earth, which is aretz.

It is noted that any Hebrew word that ends with “im” is plural. Therefore, the word for “heaven” is plural, while the word for “earth” is not.

“That which is earthly is singular. That which belongs to the physical realm is finite. Everything that is physical is limited. That’s why, no matter how much of the earthly realm you get, no matter how many earthly possessions you possess, it can never fill you or bring you completion.”

In short, a life focused on the physical is a life of limitation.

While we cannot escape living in the earthly realm, we don’t have to live of it. “You must deal with earthly things, but you don’t have to fill your heart with them. Set your heart on that which is heavenly. Fill up your heart with that which is spiritual. For heaven is shamayim, and shamayim has no limitation. And, therefore, a heart filled up with that which is spiritual and that which is heavenly . . . becomes unlimited.”

The Mission: What are your possessions? Today, let go. Free up your heart of its earthly possessions. And fill it up with the spiritual and heavenly.”

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

Father, You have worked in me, over the past decade or so, to lessen my attachments to the physical things. I am not one who is typically caught up in material goods. There are aspects of the physical life that still hold on to me, though, from time to time. Help me to truly be “in the world, not of it,” however cliché that sounds. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You and on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith.

Father, I pray for all communities, throughout our land. May those of us who are believers rise up in those communities and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, thereby bringing the Gospel to them. Today, per the suggestion from my devotional book, I lift up the continent of Australia, and ask that Your Gospel would be fruitful in that place, that it would be freely preached, and that You would open the ears of the people to hear it. I also lift up all military personnel and peacekeepers, especially right now, during this time of political turmoil, such as I have not seen for at least five decades. I also pray for the family of the Capitol police officer who was killed in Wednesday’s violence. May You bring them peace.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas – Hope

Today is Monday, January 4, 2021, the eleventh day of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,943

Today, we are finally back to a “normal” work schedule. And, while I have most certainly enjoyed the time off, I find myself a little glad to be back on schedule. The challenge is going to be found as I continue to work with my new devotional materials for the new year. I’m still working to nail down the timing.

I’m still mentally dealing with yesterday’s challenge from The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn. He calls them “missions.” It was to step out of old ways, old habits in this new year. I haven’t quite done that, yet. Perhaps an actual plan might be in order.


I want to begin today’s prayers by sharing a poem from fellow blogger Daryl Madden. I have been following his blog for a bit, and find his poems to be quite deep and inspiring. This one, from yesterday morning, is called “Settle Now.” It is my opening prayer for this morning. Shared with permission.

Settle now in stilling
Focus be of here
Emptiness outpouring
In silence, be aware

Settle now in Presence
Focus of the light
Covering so precious
Grace of Your insight

Settle now in dwelling
Focus of the deep
Savor the sweet fragrance
Letting Spirit seep

Rooted now in love
Enwrapped in sacred prayer
Holiness of being
One of soul to share

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



Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)


A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.


But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.


There are a number of words that hit me in this brief passage. “Kindness,” “love,” “mercy,” “grace.” All characteristics of God and/or things He lavishes upon us. And the, at the end, “hope.”

It is very clear here, as well as plenty other places in Scripture, that our salvation is not because of anything we have done. It might even be implied that it is in spite of unrighteous things that we have done.

The Holy Trinity is represented quite sell in this passage. The Father saved us, through the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Through all of this, we are justified by His grace, becoming heirs (remember, we read about being heirs a couple days ago), and we have hope!

“Hope” is not just wishful thinking. We use the word differently, in our language. We “hope” we get to go on a trip this year, somewhere. We “hope” for that raise from our employer. But in this case, “hope” is more of an assurance that something is going to happen. One of the definitions of hope is “grounds for believing that something good may happen.” I would replace “may” with “will.”

We have it on good authority, solid ground for believing, that we will experience and possess our inheritance of eternal life. This is true hope!

Father, there are so many words in this passage that thrill me and fill my soul. I will walk away from this session today with that hope, solid in my soul, of eternal life, and the inheritance that awaits me in my eternal Home. I long for that Home, Father, that place where there will never again be pain, tears, loneliness, or sorrow. That place where “evil” will not be allowed to dwell, in any of its forms. I thank You for Your kindness and love, Your grace, Your mercy, and for providing us with this hope.

"God of mercy,
whenever I lose sight of you and my faith falters,
whenever I'm tempted to doubt your heart
or misconstrue your motives,
turn me again to the clearest sign of your generous mercy:
your only Son, Jesus.
Remind me, too, of the sign of my baptism into Jesus,
that I am washed clean and reborn through Christ;
grow me up into all of its promises and blessings.
(Westminster Larger Catechism 167)


“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 NIV)

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
(Luke 11:5-8 NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

While [Peter] was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”
(Matthew 17:5 MSG)

One of the ways that Holy Spirit is described in Scripture is with the word “wind.” There is a Hebrew word for that, Ruach. As a simple illustration, if you go outside and walk against a strong wind, it is difficult to make progress, and you get weary faster.

But if you turn around and walk with the wind, progress is much easier, and the wind actually helps you move.

So it is with walking in the Spirit. If we walk in the same direction the Spirit is moving, we will find it much easier to make progress, and we will not get weary. In a way of speaking, when we walk in the Spirit, or with the Spirit, we have the wind at our back.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:8 ESV)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
(Acts 2:2 ESV)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
(Galatians 5:16-17 ESV)

The Mission: “What part of your life is against the direction of the Spirit? Today, turn it around and start walking with the Wind at your back.”

Father, help me to walk in and with the Holy Spirit today. The Spirit is Holy, so the direction He is moving is toward holiness. Mold my heart and spirit today toward holiness.

Father, I pray for humanity’s role as caretaker of Your creation. May we see You in our world around us, as we go about, doing whatever it is that You have given us to do. Give us eyes to see You and to see Your beauty everywhere we look. I also pray that we would be better stewards of the creation that You have given us.

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!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(Psalms 100:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the first work day of a new year
  2. For the hope that I have within me, which is the result of Your kindness, love, grace, and mercy
  3. Once again, that You have made me an heir, with an assured inheritance which includes eternal life
  4. For consistency in prayer
  5. For the Wind of the Holy Spirit
May your joys be as bright as the morning,
And your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
May you have…
Enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow to keep you human,
And enough hope to keep you happy.
(An Irish New Year's Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

Yet I Am Always With You

Today is Friday, June 19, 2020, in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you.

Today is Juneteenth, the date that commemorates when slaves were declared free, under the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

Day 22,744

Two days until Father’s Day!

As is our custom, the company is providing lunch today. This time, I chose a “Keto Southwestern Chicken with Mexican Vegetables Powerbowl.” Not that I’m really into Keto . . . it just sounded really good. I can’t remember all the ingredients, though.

R & J are planning to come down tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that. I’m not sure what we will do, other than have some lunch together. Whatever may come, it will be nice to be together.

C and I finished watching the first season of Broadchurch, last night. It’s a British mystery series, and was copied by an American version called Grace Point, which we saw a number of years ago. Broadchurch was much, much better. There are two more seasons, so we will watch those next.


Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I have tasted and seen . . .
  2. That You are a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11)
  3. That You are my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing
  4. That I am always with You
  5. For Your amazing grace

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
(Psalms 71:3 ESV)

But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 ESV)

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
(Psalms 7:11 ESV)

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.
“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”
(Luke 6:46-49 MSG)

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah. The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah.
(Psalms 9:15-20 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:7-11 ESV)

A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 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 23:1-6 ESV)

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 ESV)

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
(Psalms 73:21-23 NIV)

Says Timothy Keller, “The antitoxin for envy and self-pity is humility.” Right away, in verse 2, the psalmist acknowledged that his sin was hurtful to himself. later, he acknowledged that it also hurt others.

This is an important thing to know. Even though what David said in Psalm 51, “Against You and You only have I sinned,” is technically true, it is also true that our sin has far-reaching implications and ramifications (that’s one of those “preacher” words), far beyond harming our self only.

But then, the psalmist realizes that he has also been arrogant toward God! Our sin cannot harm God, as He cannot be harmed. But see in verse 22, the psalmist describes his behavior toward God as that of a “brute beast.”

Augustine acknowledged that he once stole some pears because it was “forbidden fruit.” That was the only reason he did it. “Deep in us something snarls, ‘No one tells me what to do.'” And isn’t that the basis of the whole rebellion against the current pandemic regulations? I have never seen such a clamor over something as simple as wearing a face mask. Yet we happily don shoes and shirts so we can visit our favorite restaurant.

But I digress.

“No one tells me what to do” seems to be the Western mantra. But when we admit this darkness in our souls, the work of grace can begin. That beautiful word “yet” at the beginning of verse 23 . . . almost as beautiful as the two most glorious words in all of Scripture (this is my opinion), “But God . . .”

“Yet I am always with You!”

“God never let him go. Only when we see the depth of our sin will we be electrified by the wonder of grace.”

“Lord, the deeper the darkness, the more visible and beautiful the stars. And the more I admit my sin, the more Your grace becomes a reality rather than an abstract idea. Only then does Your grace humble me and affirm me, cleanse me and shape me. Make Your grace amazing to my heart. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, I am almost speechless at this, today. Almost. I am so very thankful that You have made me taste and see that You are good! I praise You for bringing my sin to light and helping me to see the darkness in my own soul, but then shining the light of Your “electrifying grace” in my soul. May I walk in that light today. May my countenance be as electrifying as Your grace, regardless of the challenges that come my way today.

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!

Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost,
But now am found
Was blind,
But now I see!
(John Newton)

Grace and peace, friends!

All Is Grace

Today is Friday, January 31, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,604

Eleven days until Spring Training!

And just like that, January is over.

My first day back to work, post-flu, was pretty good. I was pretty tired, by the end of it, and hit the hay pretty early last night, but it went well. Fortunately, after today, I get a couple more days of rest.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
(Psa 95:1, 3)

Today I am grateful:
1. That the joy of the Lord is my strength
2. That, in his presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16.11)
3. That, at his right hand, there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16.11)
4. That he gives me confidence (Hebrews 10.35, Joshua 1.9)
5. That our great salvation is complete . . . the work is done

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
(Psa 17:6)

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
(Psa 119:130)

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
(Joh 7:37-39)

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
(Psa 73:21-28)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

“Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
(Pro 23:1-5)

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
(Heb 10:35)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
(Jos 1:9)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jer 17:7-8)

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.
(Psa 18:46-50)

Earlier in the psalm, David seems to indicate that it was he who defeated his enemies, but in this passage, he declares that God delivered him from his enemies. Which is it? Do we defeat our enemies? Or does God do it? This is a paradox, indeed, as it seems to be both. We even have this strange statement in Philippians 2:12 that tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That has been misconstrued for ages, but we know that it does not mean that we work for our salvation.

Whatever David did to defeat his enemies, he knew that “God accomplished it all through his grace, despite David’s imperfect efforts.” But David still had efforts; he was not passive. We do not always sit around and wait for God to do something. However, “work done in the belief it is all up to us becomes a joyless, deadly grind. Only those who know that salvation comes by sheer grace, not our efforts, have the inner dynamic of grateful joy (Colossians 3:15-17) that empowers the greatest efforts.” Truly, the joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8.10)

Prayer: “Lord, help me remember that my salvation in Christ is complete–so the great work is already done, the great debt already paid, the great disease already healed. That enables me to take on all lesser tasks and challenges with confidence and joy. I put myself in your hands–work through me. Amen.”

Father, truly, as I walk through this day, still weak from my previous affliction, may I remember the it is your joy that is my strength. Remind me of the truth of Psalm 16.11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” I have forgotten the truth of this. I have briefly neglected this fullness of joy that exists in your presence, and the pleasures forevermore at your right hand. Help me to walk in those today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3.17

Grace and peace, friends.

Extravagant Grace

Today is Wednesday, November 6, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,518

Six days until C’s birthday!!!

Today is Saxophone Day. I’m not a huge fan, myself, but I have some friends who play or played saxophone. They get their own holiday! I do like it when Dan Michaels of The Choir plays it, though.

No real news around here, other than I only have two more days to work this week, then I’ll be off for a five-day weekend!

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Psalm 98:5-6

Today I am grateful:
1. For the ability to play instruments with which to praise the Lord.
2. That my heart rejoices in the Lord, and I put my trust in him.
3. For the gift of faith.
4. For the extravagant grace of God.
5. That grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift (Ephesians 4:7).

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17-18
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. 
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 
A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. 
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

Psalm 101:1-5

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:1-7

Ephesians 4 is the turning point of Ephesians. In the first three chapters, Paul has been talking about our calling in Christ. Now, he turns to the topic of our walk with Christ. And, according to Eugene Peterson, the turning point is the word “worthy” in verse 1. The Greek word for “worthy” is “axios.” The picture is that of a balancing scale, with the arm placed on a fulcrum or axis. When the two opposite measures are balanced, they are said to be “worthy.”

But that’s not really what I’m focusing on, this morning. What has caught my attention is the verse that comes after all of this talk of unity; “one body and one Spirit,” “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Verse 7: “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Greek scholar. All that bit up there about “axios” came from Eugene Peterson. And I had to go look that up, this morning, because I couldn’t remember what the Greek word was. I remembered that “worthy” was the turning point of the book of Ephesians, though. Anyway, what catches my attention in verse 7 is the part I emphasized. “According to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

Most of the commentaries that I looked at said something to the effect that the gifts are given out as Christ determines or desires. In other words, Jesus gives us gifts as he sees fit. And that seems reasonable. But I see something else in there. To me, the key word in the verse is “grace.” Grace was given to each one of us. And it was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

What “gift” is he referring to? I’m not sure I can answer that, exactly. If you keep reading, Paul talks about Jesus ascending on high, giving gifts to men. Then later, Paul talks about him giving us apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers.

I do believe that Jesus has given everyone in his Church a gift, and I’m speaking above and beyond the gift of eternal life. People tend to get caught up in Paul’s lists, especially when it comes to spiritual gifts. But if you read Paul carefully, you will notice that no two of his lists are exactly the same, which leads us to believe that he is just giving examples of characteristics that the Spirit gives us through Christ.

Once again, though, this is not a treatise on spiritual gifts.

I’ve rambled around a bunch to get to this point. “According to the measure of Christ’s gifts.” The “measure” of Christ’s gift is limitless! Infinite. There is no limit to the grace that is given us “according to the measure of Christ’s gift!” That’s what I’m getting at.

Again, I’m no Greek scholar. I’m just a simple (yet somewhat educated) man reading the Bible in my own language, and this is what I see in it. The grace of God has no limit. It is extravagant; it is boundless; it is unending. You can’t use it up.

You can ignore it, though, which would be tragic.

Find that grace today. Let it fill your life. Let it soak your soul. Let it wash over you like rain.

Father, I thank you for this grace. Maybe I don’t quite properly understand what Paul is saying in those verses. Or maybe I do. But I do believe that your grace, given by Jesus, is extravagant, infinite, and permanent. I praise you for that. Help me to find it today, as I walk through this day in your kingdom.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Grace and peace, friends.

Grace Is the Smell of Rain

Today is Friday, October 25. Peace be with you.

Day 22,506

18 days until C’s birthday.

We made it to Friday of our first week back from vacation. It’s been a tough week, but we made it. We have a few things over the weekend. S has an eye doctor appointment. C and S have lunch with the ladies after church Sunday. And I believe I will have to take Tessie (dog) to the pet doctor for her regular checkup Sunday afternoon. Yes, Sunday. We use the Banfield people at PetSmart, and they have someone there seven days a week. Very convenient, and we have never had any issues with them at all. And Tessie loves to go to PetSmart.

No baseball last night, but the World Series continues tonight, with game three in Washington. Game time is 7:07 CDT.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!
Psalm 99:9

Today I am grateful:
1. That the weekend is even closer than it was yesterday! 🙂
2. For the rain we got yesterday, and the cooler temperatures that came with it.
3. For the holiness of the Lord our God.
4. That the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8)
5. That the Lord is near to all who call on him (Psalm 145:18).

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 
Psalm 40:14
But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! 
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me.

Psalm 109:21-22
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Psalm 103:8
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Psalm 145:18-20

I really need to leave on time today, as the weather is yucky, and traffic will make me late if I don’t. But I’ll leave you with this verse from Romans 5:15, along with a couple of thoughts from Frederick Buechner.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Grace is a gift. “Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

“A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?”

I have. It’s impossible without grace.

When it comes to our salvation, it is all grace. Here is how Buechner words it: “There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.” I love the emphasis on each word.

Here’s his final thought, as though God is speaking to us. “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”

Beautiful words.

God loves you. Don’t be afraid. “This world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” (Dallas Willard)

Father, I love you. Thank you. Thank you for grace. Thank you for the smell of rain. And thank you for the beautiful and terrible things that happen that make me what I am. Thank you for grace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Big Dog Versus Pluto

Today is Thursday, October 17, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,498

26 days until C’s birthday

We have three more days in our vacation (four, I guess, if you count Sunday). Three more days in Galveston.

Yesterday was an odd day. It was somewhat dreary, as the weather never really cleared up. The temperature never rose above 70, I don’t believe, and it was quite windy out here on the west end. C and I sat out on the deck for as long as we could take it, but it was just too chilly. Well, too chilly for the kind of clothes we packed. 🙂 We wound up not driving into town at all. We had already planned to cook breakfast at the house, which we did. But when it came time for the evening meal, C didn’t feel like going in to Miller’s or the Gumbo Diner. So we called in an order to the Way Out West Grill and Pizzaria, which S and I got food from a couple nights ago. S and C had the patty melt, which was reported to be delicious. I got this dish they call “Old McDonald’s Fries.” It had crinkle-cut french fries, loaded with spicy ground beef, spicy shredded chicken, pulled pork, queso, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Talk about delicious!! Oh, man!

The rest of the time was spent sitting around reading, or whatever. C watched some TV. We listened to the wind whistle outside. At one point, I watched as it knocked over a large wooden rocking chair on the deck!

It’s still cloudy, this morning, but not quite as windy. It’s supposed to reach 70 degrees today. I do believe we will drive in and go to either Miller’s or Gumbo for “brunch.”

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Psalm 71:14-19

Today I am grateful:
1. For the beauty of creation that surrounds me.
2. For all of the people around me, not just in my immediate are, but throughout my life.
3. That I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 116:9)
4. That the boundless grace of God stands ready to meet whatever need I find myself in.
5. That God’s grace is infinitely bigger than my need.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Psalm 43:3
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Psalm 89:8, 14
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:9

(From Faith That Matters)

The Infinite Grace of God, by A.W. Tozer

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8

I decided to check this verse in The Message.

Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!

“No one was ever saved other than by grace, from Abel to the present moment. And wherever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ. Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ, but it did not wait for his birth in the manger or his death on the cross before it became operative. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Perhaps we need to rediscover this truth. We are all too familiar with grace, right? And we frequently visit that verse in Ephesians, but it seems that we often go there for the purpose of showing that we can’t work for our salvation. This is true, of course, so there is nothing wrong with that.

But if we keep reading, we come to verse 10, which is never part of the quotation (we always stop at verse 9, don’t we?).

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

So we see that works are involved, after all. Just not to gain our salvation. And these works, God prepared beforehand for us. Which means he has a plan. He has a plan for me. Little ol’ me. In this humongous cosmos, really big, big picture, God has plans for me. That makes me echo the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 139, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

But it is all still grace, and it all still comes through Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

“In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gazed back upon it, but always they came and they come by grace, through faith.

“Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.”

Wait, what?

Let’s read that line again.

“Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.”

We do a lot of straining to comprehend theological truths, especially those that, as Psalm 139 so aptly points out, are too high for us to attain.

Tozer continues, “We can never know the enormity of our sin, neither is it necessary that we should.”

That is another “wait, what??” moment, right? I mean, how much time to we spend in our “evangelism” trying to get people to know the enormity of their sin??

“What we can know is that ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.'”

So let’s go back to that bit about comparing God’s grace with our need. And let’s don’t just take that to mean our sin, either. What need do you have in your life right now? I mean, we’ve all got sin, right? But we have other needs. Someone’s mother is ill and needs to go to the doctor. Someone is having issues with work and health. Someone has “unspoken” prayer needs. Someone needs a kidney transplant, but has a rare blood type.

I tried to find a picture that illustrated the difference between God’s grace and our need. All I could find was scripture verses on pretty pictures. However, what did finally come up with, I think, illustrates it perfectly. Well, not “perfectly,” because even this illustration falls short, because God’s grace is infinitely bigger than my need, right? And that is the point that we really need to grasp here. So here’s the image.

The big star on the left is Canis Majoris. I call it the “Big Dog Star.” It is the largest star known to man. That itty-bitty dot on the right? That’s our sun. We call it “The Sun.” Are we imaginative or what? So let’s say that God’s grace is represented by the Big Dog. And let’s say that our need is represented by . . .

I bet you think I’m going to say The Sun.

I’m not. I’m going to say Pluto. Because, you see, our Sun compared to Pluto is just about the same as the Big Dog compared to our Sun.

So God’s grace is Big Dog, and our need is Pluto in comparison.

If that doesn’t make you feel better about whatever is bugging you, I’m not sure I can help you.

But I know, without a doubt, that God can.

Father, thank you for these words, this morning, from Mr. Tozer. I really needed them. Your grace is greater than my sin, greater than my need, greater than anything I could possibly face today, tomorrow, for the rest of my life. Help me to keep my faith focused on that grace and walk in your Kingdom in its power and strength.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.

All Is Grace

Good morning. It is Saturday, June 20, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is hobbit. Who doesn’t know what a hobbit is, right? It is “a member of a fictitious peaceful and genial race of small humanlike creatures that dwell underground.” As far as I know, hobbits were invented by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Today is World Juggling Day. I used to have a set of those vinyl juggling balls, but seem to have misplaced them. I got fairly decent at juggling three of them, but will never be as good as this guy!

The trip to work yesterday was interesting. My GPS sent me down the freeway, instead of across the side roads, and, initially, the trip was extremely quick and smooth. I encountered very little traffic until I got to Grapevine. Then, suddenly, everything stopped. It took me about twice as long as usual to get through Grapevine to Coppell, and on to the 121 access roads going on up to I-35E. Later, I found out what the problem was/is. Lake Grapevine is overflowing into Denton Creek (which I have never heard of), and has caused the closing of at least one major road in the area. 2499, a major thoroughfare, was closed at Grapevine Mills Pkwy and Lakeside Lane, causing backups for miles, which also affected the traffic the main highway, SH121, which is where I was. Fortunately, the first half of my trip went fast enough that this did not make me late for work. The scary thing is that it hadn’t even rained since Wednesday. Of course, it rained a lot on Wednesday. And reports still say that the Trinity River in Dallas is at 37+ feet, and the flood stage is 30 feet! So, even though we have not had any rain in three days, we are still under flood warnings. All that water has to go somewhere!


Today, we will probably try to get the groceries done, as tomorrow is Fathers Day, and we will be in Mineral Wells for most of the day. That means I need to get moving with this here blog and get it finished in a reasonable time.

Today is two months since my father passed away.

On this date in 1214, the University of Oxford received its charter. In 1840, Samuel Morse got the patent for the telegraph. In 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother. In 1948, Ed Sullivan debuted with his show, originally called Toast of the Town.

Today’s birthdays include Jacques Offenbach (French composer), Errol Flynn (Australian actor), Audie Murphy (American Medal of Honor recipient and actor), Chet Atkins (American guitar player), Martin Landau (American actor), Olympia Dukakis (American actress), Danny Aiello (American actor), Len Dawson (American football player), Brian Wilson (American musician, The Beach Boys), Anne Murray (Canadian singer), Bob Vila (American TV host), Lionel Richie (American musician), John Goodman (American actor), Nicole Kidman (Australian actress), and Mike Birbiglia (comedian).

Brian Wilson is 73 years old today, born on this date in 1942. He is best known, of course, as being one of the leaders and co-founders of The Beach Boys. This clip is not Brian Wilson, but it’s about him.


A Maskil of Asaph. O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.
Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Psalm 74

(From Solid Joys)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

Today’s reading is “Grace is Pardon–and Power!”

“Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Paul describes, 1 Corinthians 15:10, grace as the power that enables him to worker “harder than any of them.” When we make effort to obey God, it is not “an effort done in our own strength.” It is, according to 1 Peter 4:11, the strength that is supplied by God. Whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Paul confirms this way of thinking in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Note that the works are works “of faith by his power,” and they are done, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith.” This is the same grace through faith that gives us salvation. Grace saves; grace sanctifies. All is by grace.

Father, thank you for this grace, that first saves me, then enables me to live. Why do I not always avail myself of this grace in my life? I cannot answer this question. I can only pray that I would. May this grace that gives me the power for obedience shape everything in my life. May the desires of my heart become the desires of your heart. Show me the scope of my “mission” in life. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day. As we go to the store and do our errands, I pray for safe travel, and that all things will work out smoothly. May our time together this evening, in prayer and worship, bring glory to you. I pray for safe travel to Mineral Wells tomorrow, to visit my mother. I also pray for safe travel for Rachel and Justin, as they come down from Denton. May our time together be blessed by your presence.

Your grace is sufficient.

Grace is the power for life. Everything we need is wrapped up in the grace of God in Christ Jesus.


Grace and peace, friends.


“The Passion nails these lies, illusions, and rationalizations to the cross of truth.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is post-Monday, April 15, 2015. Oh-oh, it’s tax day, isn’t it? We did ours months ago.

Today is Library Workers Day! I think that is awesome. We’re not just talking about librarians, although they are certainly part of that (I think they might have their own day). This is about all of those people who work at the library, some of which just might be volunteers, that keep everything running and flowing smoothly. If you get a chance, show them some appreciation today.

Yesterday went very well, I think. I couldn’t do much, other than watch the lady who was training me. The process is not difficult, but there are lots of little twists and turns that can happen, depending on what is being received. I was able to jump in and help unload a couple of trucks (no worries, I never had to lift anything that weighed more than ten pounds). Who knows what today will bring? I have to watch some training videos, and the orientation sessions have been pushed to tomorrow and Thursday.

Christi’s phone interview with Etherios went well, and they are recommending that she move forward to the next step. After a while, that isn’t so exciting, because we’ve heard this before.


(From The Divine Hours)

God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

Psalm 47:5-8
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

Psalm 36:5-10

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Greatest Sin.”

The poet, Paul Claudel, said that “the greatest sin is to lose the sense of sin.” Can we really know Christ crucified and not have a “lively sense of the horror of sin?” We delude ourselves when we believe that sin is nothing more than “an aberration or a lack of maturity;” when we believe that people, while they might be sinful, are not “sinners;” and when we believe that all of this obsession with power, security, and pleasure is the fault of “oppressive social structures and personality hang-ups.” We are not simply victims of circumstance. “The Passion nails these lies, illusions, and rationalizations to the cross of truth.”

And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it
as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,
but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together
with the skill of his hands.

Isaiah 25:11

Father, as the day grows closer, when we will celebrate the Resurrection, I pray that we remember the cause of our problems. We are sinners, not victims. All of us have sinned. We are not simply guilty of having personality disorders, and it is not the fault of any world system. We are, from the very heart of our being, sinners, bent on disobeying you. The only measure of grace we have received comes from the Cross. I lift you up and praise you for this, and for drawing me to faith in that Cross and my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I pray for this day. Again, I pray for safe travel to and from work. I pray that Christi will have a good day, and that, perhaps, something might break open in her job search. I also pray for Stephanie to be safe in your hands today.

Your grace is sufficient.

I agree with the poet. When we have lost our sense of sin, it is a tragic day. Yes, we are redeemed; yes, we are forgiven, saved by grace. But we must remember whence we came. Glory to God!

Grace and peace, friends.

Love That Issues From A Pure Heart

It’s Saturday morning, and we’ll be heading out to help set up for the worship celebration at The Exchange in about 40 minutes, so I have to hurry this morning. I don’t really like to be rushed, but it’s either that, or wait until after noon today. It’s much more peaceful in the house right now, so it’s more conducive to “devoting.”

The saga with Stephanie continues to progress. The school faxed forms to the psychiatrist’s office yesterday, for him to fill out and return, and an ARD meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, November 1. I’m impressed that they are actually trying to work this process quickly. I kind of thought that they would buck at the “homebound” idea, but they seem to be working toward it for us. Things have been better at home, too. Until Steph decided to ask for ice cream last night. Anyone who knows us knows that Stephanie, just as a lot of autistic kids, has a low tolerance for milk and ice cream. She can do cheese without major consequences, but straight milk and ice cream, for some reason that seems to baffle doctors, causes major behavioral issues with her. So we had a small meltdown last night about whether or when she could have ice cream. The good news is that this one only lasted about 30 minutes. The turning point seems to be when I came in the room and asked Christi if she wanted to go spend the night in a hotel room. It wasn’t a major one, though, not like past ones that have gone on for over an hour. And we didn’t yell at each other. Voices got a little elevated, but no yelling.

On to the Bible readings.

First, I want to revisit a couple of verses. Proverbs 3:5-6 are my verses for 2011. 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. These verses have had a serious impact on me numerous times during this year. Most recently, came the realization of the truth of the last phrase, “he will make straight your paths.” God is the one who can make my path straight. I can’t do it. This goes hand in hand with what I am reading in the Richard J. Foster book, Sanctuary of the Soul, in which Foster reminds us that only God can change our hearts. We work so hard sometimes to do something that only God can do.

Psalm 86:11 is my “life verse.” I chose this verse close to 10 years ago. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. This is a constant prayer to the Lord. And I believe that I can pair this up with the verse in 2 Thessalonians 3 that I came across yesterday, as Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (v. 5) I think this is a great verse to pray for each other, as well as for ourselves, and when paired up with the prayer in Psalm 86:11, is even better.

Today’s Bible readings:
1 Timothy 1; Jeremiah 25-26; Proverbs 22:24-29

Paul’s letters to Timothy are unique, in that they are not to specific churches, but, rather to an individual. He pretty much hits the ground running with a warning to Timothy to charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (vv. 3b-4) Immediately, Paul is warning against false teachers, which may have been not intentionally false, but had wandered off the path of truth. But it is also very important for us to note the reason for this charge in verse 5. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. I have to confess that I have said some very derogatory things about people that I believe to be “false teachers.” It wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t think my motives were pure. My reason had nothing to do with “love that issues from a pure heart.” I’m beginning to be more careful about this sort of thing.
Paul also discusses people who have gone off into teaching the law. The law is good, if handled properly. But it is, he says, for the “lawless and disobedient,” not for the just. Paul is very clear to state that the law was given to show people where they had fallen short, so they could be receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He even goes on to describe the ways in which he was a “lawbreaker.” In verse 12, he says he was a “blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” But he received mercy as “the grace of our Lord overflowed for ]him] with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ.” (v. 13) He even calls himself the “chief” of sinners (v. 15 in KJV). The ESV translates the word, “foremost.” He considered himself “number one.” Yet Christ showed him mercy. What a wonderful truth for us all!

Father, I pray that you would, indeed, teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name, and direct my heart to your love and to steadfastness in Jesus Christ. I pray that you help me obey the command in Proverbs 3:5-6. Why is it such a complicated thing to trust in you? I pray that you would make my paths straight. I also pray for grace and mercy, both in my life, in your dealings with my sin, but also in the way that I deal with people whom I perceive to be false teachers. May I approach these subjects with the same reason that Paul described to Timothy, love issuing from a pure heart. Let everything I do have this as its motive!

I pray for our setup this morning, that it would go smoothly and safely. I pray for our worship celebration tomorrow, that you would, above all else, be magnified and glorified.

I pray for this day of rest that we have from our work. Let the afternoon be restful and peaceful. Let my heart be drawn to you.

Let everything be done out of a motive for pure love. Show grace and mercy, as we have been shown grace and mercy by Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.