The Keeper

Today is Thursday, the thirteenth of October, 2022, in the 28th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,590

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come before you as your children, longing to be assured through your Spirit that we are and may remain your children. We long to live to the glory of your name under the shelter and guidance of the Lord Jesus in expectation of the great day which shall fulfill all promises made to us. Strengthen us, especially in dark and troubled days. Help us when danger threatens and when evil tries to make headway among us. Deliver us from all evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir. 
Galatians 4:6–7, RSV

Today I am grateful:

  1. that I am a son and an heir of God
  2. for whatever God is going to show me, today
  3. that the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)
  4. that Jesus “breaks the power of canceled sin” (Charles Wesley)
  5. for God’s power to keep us

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
(John 3:17-18 ESV)

This makes me wonder . . . if God didn’t send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, then why are there so many “Christians” who feel it is their duty to do so??


Praise the LORD! 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
 for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, 
or declare all his praise? 
Blessed are they who observe justice, 
who do righteousness at all times!
(Psalms 106:1-3 ESV)

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 ESV)


O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing, stanzas 9-12

Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health, and peace!

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

He speaks, and listening to his voice
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf, his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)


“O God, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)


“The keeper of our souls is watching over us; our Father delights to reveal himself to us. He has the power to let the sunshine of His love guide us throughout the day.” (Andrew Murray)

“The keeper of our souls . . .” This is the lesson for today. It winds itself through passages of Scripture shared from unrelated sources. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord goes before me; He will not leave or forsake me. I need not fear. He keeps me; He keeps my inheritance in heaven. If I embrace these truths, I literally have nothing to fear. Every fear that I have is unfounded, baseless.

The “sunrise” has visited us from on high, the “sunshine of His love” has shined upon us, able to guide us through every day.

And, o, the words of that hymn by Wesley! Words that I didn’t know existed until a few days ago, and words that I am quite familiar with, as well. The ninth stanza I am well familiar with.

Jesus! The name that charms our fears, 
that bids our sorrows cease; 
'tis music in the sinner's ears, 
'tis life and health, and peace! 

I find it interesting that the word is “charms” in Wesley’s original. I remember singing “calms,” back in my youth. And for some reason, “our” was changed to “my” in both of the first two lines. I rather like “charms,” as it has more of a meaning of controlling. The snake charmer doesn’t just “calm” the snake; he controls it. If I allow it, Jesus will control my fears.

His name is powerful; it charms my fears; it ceases my sorrows; it is music in my ears, the name of Jesus; and it is “life and health, and peace!”

The work of the Holy Trinity is keeping me.

And, to top it off, here are some words of Jesus, regarding that “keeping.”

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)


Father, I thank You for your ability to keep me. I also thank You for the inheritance that is kept in heaven for me, where it cannot perish or fade or be corrupted.

I believe that I am secure in You; that “no one is able to snatch” me out of Your hands, including myself. I’ve done some stupid things in my life, things that, if any of us humans were running things, would have disqualified me.

But we are not running things, You are. You are God, we are not. And that is a good thing; that is a beautiful and wonderful thing. The truth of Jesus’s words do not free me to do whatever I please; rather they comfort me when I do stray from Your path, because I know that You will bring me back; You will never leave me or forsake me; I have nothing to fear.

You are my Keeper.

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

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


My God, my Keeper
You are my light and my life
Whom, then, shall I fear?

Grace and peace, friends.

Opportunity Knocks Constantly

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,513

22 days until S turns 29!

My weather chart for yesterday looks a lot like the day before. The high temp was 103 again. That’s three straight days of 103 for a high. Keep in mind that I am getting my information from the nearest airport which is not DFW Airport, but Meacham Field in Fort Worth. I saw other information, yesterday, which had one more day of 100+ temps than I am showing. I have 32 days total, with a current streak of twelve. Today’s high is predicted to be 102.

We have now had no rain for 54 days. The ten-day forecast promises no relief.

The Texas Rangers kept Jon Gray in the game one inning too long, yesterday, and they lost 4-2 to complete the sweep by the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers are now 43-54, eleven games below .500, somehow still in third place in the AL West. They are still twenty games out of first place (the cheaters lost again), and 9.5 out of the Wild Card race. They begin four-game series in LA with the Angels today.

The Red Sox, after going ahead 6-5, couldn’t hold the lead, and lost to the Cleveland Guardians, 7-6. They are now 49-50, and remain in last place in the AL East, seventeen games out of first place and 4.5 out of the Wild Card race. They have another game with Cleveland today.

The Dodgers have overtaken the Evil Empire (I have been waiting to be able to say that!) by .003 percentage points, with a 65-32 record. While the Yanks have won one more game, they have also lost one more, which accounts for the percentage difference. The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 34-66. The Chicago Cubs now own the longest win streak, at six games, and the Giants continue to have the longest losing streak, now at seven. The Yankees maintain the highest run differential, at +196, and the Nationals keep the lowest, at -160. The Rangers are now at +3, and the Red Sox are at -16.

Today being Thursday, I will be working from 11:15 to 8:15 in the computer center at the library.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we come into your presence, pleading with you to bring the world what it needs, so that people may be freed from all their pain and enabled to serve you. Let the power of Jesus Christ be revealed in our time. For he has taken on our sin that justice might arise on earth, that all might have life and might see your salvation, which you will bring when the time is fulfilled. Let your power be revealed in the world, and let your will be done, your name be kept holy, and all wrongs be righted in this turbulent and difficult age. O Lord our God, you alone can help. You alone are the Savior of all peoples. In your great mercy you can bring peace. We look to you. And when we consider your Word, we remember the mighty promises you have given, promises which are to be fulfilled in our time. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Now we find that the Law keeps slipping into the picture to point the vast extent of sin. Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still! 
(Romans 5:20 Phillips)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the senses, which allow me to have enjoyment in things in this life
2. for poetry . . . there are many poets who inspire me in this world
3. for the many opportunities that will come my way, to serve the Lord, today; may I be faithful and keep my eyes open for them
4. for the intricate connection between prayer and God's Word
5. that our Father will always be accessible to those who walk in Christ

On This Day, by S. Michaels, LightWriters

Let there be a change
the north west wind speaks
the willows drink deep

©2022 S. Michaels
A Season of Singing
(Haiku 5-5-5)

That’s an example of one of the poets who inspires me. Please check out her website for more beautiful imagery and poetry.


So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
(1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 KJV)

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)

Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
(Psalms 55:17 ESV)

And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
(Numbers 7:89 ESV)

Opportunity is the word of the day. Opportunity is defined as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”

In the Scripture passages above, there are opportunities galore. Opportunity is something my day is full of. It has been said by someone that “Opportunity knocks but once.” That may be true in some cases, because some great opportunities may only come to us one time. But opportunity, in general, happens constantly. Everywhere I look, if I’m paying attention, opportunity presents itself.

For example, in the Isaiah 55 passage, we are told to “seek the LORD while he may be found.” It’s not like He is hiding from us. He is available for us to find Him. For a season, at least. Seeking the Lord is one way of “making the most of every opportunity.”

Another way of making the most of those opportunities is in prayer. Now, we must be careful to note that that passage in 2 Chronicles, the one that well-meaning Christians love to quote when things are going bad in the nation, is directed to a specific people for a specific time. “My people,” in this case, is Israel. It is fair, as well, to say that “My people,” in this day and age, is the Church (capital C). What is not accurate or true is to think that “My people” represents a particular country, today.

Nevertheless, the encouragement to pray goes out to all people, to everyone who calls the name of Jesus. One of the ways that we seek the Lord (while He may be found) is through prayer. Side note: God will always be found by His own people. The Psalmist recognized that opportunities to pray were constant. In Psalm 55, he speaks of praying “evening, morning, and noon,” which is a way of saying “all the time.”

In Psalm 119:164, the psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” That information led the Church, through history, to implement “fixed hour prayer.” By the sixth century, the monastic orders had implemented seven fixed times of prayer. Benedict added an eighth time in the sixth century. So they had Matins at midnight, Lauds at 3 AM, Prime at 6 AM, Terce at 9 AM, Sext at noon, None at 3 PM, Vespers at 6 PM, and Compline at 9 PM. Consequently, there was “opportunity” to pray every three hours.

Needless to say, the average Christian who works for a living cannot follow such a rigid schedule. However, it gives us the realization that we can truly, as Paul admonished us, “pray without ceasing.”

And we are not restricted, as Moses was, to a specific place to speak to God. Isn’t that wonderful? We can meet with God whenever and wherever we want, as well as whenever and wherever He wants.

Prayer and God’s word are inseparable. Attempting to experience one without the other will diminish both.

“A prayerful spirit is the spirit to which God will speak. A prayerful spirit will be a listening spirit waiting to hear what God will say.”

“The Word gives you a subject for prayer. It shows you the path of prayer, telling you how God would have you come. it gives yu the power for prayer – courage in the assurance that you will be heard. And it brings you the answer to prayer as it teaches what God will do for you.”

But prayer also prepares our hearts to hear God through His Word.

God should be the aim of my heart, the one object of my desires. Through prayer and His Word, He abides in me, and I in Him.

"Lord, make me willing to be used by Thee. May my knowledge of my unworthiness never make me resist being used by Thee. May the need of others always be remembered by me, so that I may ever be willing to be used by Thee.
"And open my eyes and my heart that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."
(Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country)
Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I praise You that You are always right there, ready for me to find, and waiting for me to both speak and listen to You. While there will come a time when those who do not believe will no longer be able to find You, You will always be found by us who call the name of Christ.

I thank You for the many, many opportunities that will come my way today. I pray for the readiness to utilize them, and pray for the willingness, as Alan Paton prayed, to be used by You. Every day that I walk into that library, I will be faced with dozens of opportunities to serve You by loving someone. May I be faithful to fulfill that responsibility.

I thank You for Your Word and for prayer, and the way that they are inextricably linked. It is true that prayer prepares me to receive Your Word and all of its benefits, but Your Word also prepares me to pray and gives me subjects for prayer, as well as answers my prayers. I really praise You for the book of Psalms, as it constantly gives me material for prayer, as well as a source of praise to You.

I pray for Your healing in the Church, Father. I pray that You would heal the division that has been brought on by people seeking peace in men rather than You. I pray that we would stop aligning ourselves with politicians and start loving You with all our being and loving one another the way Christ has loved us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“When opportunity knocks a pessimist dials 911;
when opportunity knocks an optimist sets the table.”
Matshona Dhliwayo

Grace and peace, friends.

Little Is Much When God Is In It

Today is Wednesday, the eighteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,442

I had a pretty average evening at the library, last night. I had plenty of work, and shelved a pretty full cart of youth books, along with a partial cart of DVDs. That kept me busy for a little over three hours, and then I did my walk through the library, picking up stray books and marking them “used” in our system. We do that simply to indicate that someone at least showed some interest in the item, even if they didn’t wind up checking it out.

The Texas Rangers surprised the Angels in an eighth inning similar to what the Boston Red Sox are kind of famous for. The Rangers scored first in the bottom of the first. But the Angels answered with three in the top of the third. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, right after I got home. It was tied until the top of the seventh when the Angels scored on a Mike Trout solo homer. But then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rangers erupted for seven runs! They held on and wound up winning 10-5. Danny Santana got the win in relief.

The Rangers are now 16-19 for the season, all alone in third place in the AL West. They are one game ahead of Seattle, two games ahead of Oakland, and seven games behind the first place Astros. The Rangers and Angels will play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT, facing the fearsome Shohei Ohtani. Dane Dunning will take the mound for the Rangers.

The Red Sox lost to the aforementioned Astros, 13-4. Egad. They are 14-22 for the season, still in fourth place in the AL East, a half game ahead of the Orioles. They have another game against the ‘stros, tonight at 6:10 EDT.

The NY Yankees still have the best MLB record, 27-9, and still have not lost that tenth game. The Cincinatti Reds still have the worst record, 10-26, but finally won their tenth game. They are only one game below the Washington Nationals, though. The longest win streak is now a tie between the LA Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, both with a four-game win streak. The Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are tied for the longest losing streak, both at five games. The Dodgers are back on top of the run differential chart, with +81. The Pittsburgh Pirates overtook the Reds for the worst differential, now with -72. The Rangers’ run differential, after last night, is down to -5.

I’m off work today, as this is my “light week.” I’m about to head to the store to grab a few things. The lawn guy is coming around noon, and I’m planning to cook Pecan-Crusted Chicken for dinner tonight. I’ll be at work tomorrow, 11-8, so we will likely have some crock pot soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, Father of us all, grant that we may know something of you in our hearts. Each one of us is different, with his own particular needs, but we are all your children and should all become children of your Spirit. Then even in the difficulties of life, in the many struggles, temptations, and sorrows, we can keep up our courage and remain in the Spirit, who is victorious in every aspect of life. Protect and strengthen us on all our ways. We praise you for all you have done and for all the help you have given us. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(Romans 8:15b-17 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ
3. that all I really need to be willing to do is small acts of daily kindness
4. that all of our small acts of daily kindness can add up in the community of saints
5. for the priesthood of all believers
6. for the availability of God's Word in my language (something many of us take for granted)
Sing praises to God, sing praises; 
sing praises to our King, sing praises! 
For God is the King over all the earth. 
Praise him with a psalm. 
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
(Psalms 47:6-8 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “morsel.”

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
(Proverbs 17:1 ESV)

I can attest to the truth of this Proverb. Not that I have ever been reduced to only being able to eat a “dry morsel.” But I have certainly feasted in a house full of strife, and the meal leaves much to be desired.

But, truthfully, that is not really the thrust of this word, today. The idea in today’s reading coincides with a song I have heard that says, “Little is much when God is in it.”

We all have this desire to do “big things” for God, right? I used to want to be a rock star, then I wanted to be a “Christian rock star.” I wanted to do great things for God. There is also a possibility that I really just wanted to be noticed and famous.

At this point in my life, having never been famous or a rock star, I simply want to be willing to do small things for God. “Little acts . . . in the Lord’s faith hands become precious morsels that go down sweet.” Simple acts of kindness are sometimes all that is needed in this world, today. Other people can handle the big stuff. I just want to be one who shows love and kindness in my own little corner of this world.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I pray that You would allow me to be a “precious morsel” in Your kingdom, showing small acts of kindness to people with whom I come in contact. Let me be willing to provide the simplest of acts, maybe nothing more than a friendly smile, a cup of water, or a generous tip to a server. You have given me this desire, so I pray for opportunities to live it out.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.
(Romans 16:1-4 NLT)

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT)

What happens when you have a bunch of morsels all together? You get a meal! Even Paul, that “giant” of faith, didn’t do things by himself. His work could hardly be called a “morsel,” but he collaborated with others, and he always was sure to give them credit in his greetings.

What was the first thing in creation about which God said it was “not good?”

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 NLT)

As much as I enjoy being alone, we are not expected to be alone in our work for God. We need each other. We need community. There are some things that I can do alone, sure. Some of those “morsels” I mentioned above can be done by myself. But I could never have donated 1700 pairs of socks to a homeless ministry by myself.

Just something to ponder, this morning.

Father, I thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ; the ones I know personally, and gather with regularly, as well as all the ones that I have never met and will never meet until the day we all stand in glory together. Together, we can do great things. May we spread Your love, mercy, and grace around the world!

One of the beautiful things about this community of saints is this thing that we call “the priesthood of all believers.” I have heard that phrase for most of my life, having grown up Southern Baptist. One of the things that this means, and probably the most important in Baptist life, is that we don’t need a priest (as in Catholic) to read and interpret Scripture for us. This was one of the big tenets of the Reformation, because, before Martin Luther came on the scene, the average parishioner did not have their own copy of the Bible. And it wasn’t available in their language, anyway, as all the copies were in Latin. So only the priest could read it.

One thing this does not mean, however, is that everyone’s interpretation is valid. That would be pure chaos. We still need people who are educated in biblical history and context. But, more importantly, we need the Holy Spirit. And it is my contention that no one can truly understand the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. And no one who is not in Christ has the Holy Spirit.

The other piece of the priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, in this community of saints, to be priests to one another, ‘with each of us mediating grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and with each of us capable of connecting with another in a way that brings God’s love home with personal force.” Eugene Peterson even goes so far as to word it “the leadership of all believers.”

“Leadership is that capacity everyone has for taking the first step, making it possible for others to follow–the capacity to connect with another so that others can get in on what we are in on. What we are ‘in on’ is Christ.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

My desire and hope in this is that I am taking those “first steps” by promoting the love of God through any forum I can access. If I can get just one or two people to follow in that, then maybe they can also be leaders in their own community, as well, and maybe we can have this “love revolution” that I’m praying for.

Father, I thank You for this idea of the priesthood of all believers. I thank You that, first of all, I have the access to read and understand Scripture in my own language. I also thank You that, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to be priests and leaders to one another, showing Your love, mercy, and grace to not only all other believers, but the rest of the world, as well. I pray that there would be more of a spirit of unity in Your Church, and that we would focus on the things that really matter, like walking in Your kingdom, and displaying the love of Christ in our world.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Think . . . Thank

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,420

It’s a normal Tuesday around here, which means that everyone is home, this morning. C is in her easy chair with her work laptop, working from home. I’m back here in the study churning out words on the keyboard, and Mama is in her room reading her Bible readings for the day.

In a little while, I’ll be making a trip to the grocery store, and, hopefully, picking up Subway for lunch for us. Then I will go to “work” at 4:15, this evening.

The Texas Rangers rallied late, last night, to beat the rival Astros 6-2. Initially, the game was a pitcher’s battle, marred only by a second inning home run for Houston, a second inning error that allowed a Texas run, and a fluke pop single for Houston in the sixth. But Texas scored 2 in the bottom of the seventh (which got Dunning off the hook that he shouldn’t have been on to begin with) and another three in the bottom the eighth to seal the deal. Willie Calhoun was stellar as a pinch hitter and DH, going 2 for 2, and Adolis Garcia had a bases-clearing double for 3 RBIs in the bottom of the eighth. It was, at the end, quite exciting.

This makes the Rangers 6-10 for the season, only one game behind the Astros (7-9) in the AL West. They play again, this evening, at 7:05 CDT. Taylor Hearn (0-1) will take the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox dropped another game to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-2. How weird is that . . . the same score? They are now 7-10 for the season, only a half game better than Texas. But they aren’t in last place, because they are in the AL East, with Baltimore. But Baltimore has the same record as Texas. The Red Sox play the Blue Jays again today, at 7:07 EDT.

The LA Dodgers continue to hold the top spot in MLB, at 12-4. The NY Mets, at 13-5, are in a virtual tie, mere percentage points between them. The Giants are 12-5, a half game behind. The Cincinnati Reds must not have played yesterday, as they are still 3-13, bringing up the rear of MLB. The Rangers and Orioles are fifth from the bottom, now, with Royals, Diamondbacks, and Nationals between them and the Reds. The Tigers and White Sox are a half game above them. It’s so early in the season that everything could change in the space of one game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Today is the day
The Lord created for us;
Rejoice and be glad!
(Inspired by Psalm 118:24)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
(1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing
2. for the great expectation of that priceless inheritance
3. for the constant presence of God in my life
4. for the promise of hope and a future in God's plans for me, which make it possible for me to persevere in "doing good" (Galatians 6:9)
5. for the relationship between thinking and thanking
"God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. 
He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. 
He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. 
He created the horizon when he separated the waters; he set the boundary between day and night. 
The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. 
By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. 
His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. 
These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” 
(Job 26:7-14 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “presence.” You have to be sure to read that word correctly, and not just say it. The word is “presence,” not “presents.” I am, of course, being mildly facetious, but there are people out there who believe that God’s sole purpose is to give His children “presents.”

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
(1 John 4:16 NLT)

You may notice that our prayer word is not in that verse. The actual word may not be, but the idea is.

I’m one of those people who grew up in church. I’m a “lifer.” I was on the “cradle roll.” I’ve said this before, but I’m sure my parents had me at church, as an infant, as soon as it was safe to take me out of the house. And, back in 1958, I would dare to venture that it was safer sooner than it is in 2022.

For those of you who have attended some kind of church for most of your lives, do you remember “that person” who was always there? There is a word for that – ubiquitous. “Ever-present.” “Present, appearing, or found everywhere.”

Mr. Crump was one such person. I have fond memories of Mr. Crump. At various points in my life he was my bus driver, my Sunday School teacher, and the church custodian. But he was always there; he was there before we got there, and he was still there when we left. For all I know, he lived there.

There is a certain comfort in life when you see people like that. And God is exactly like that. The fifty-dollar word we like to use for Him is “omnipresent.” That basically means the same thing as “ubiquitous.” He is always there, everywhere. He is there before you get there, and He is still there when you leave. He is there when you wake up from surgery or some medical procedure. He is there when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. He is there when you are celebrating a promotion or some other significant life event.

And here’s the thing. Sometimes, His presence is known in the presence of other human beings. Like Mr. Crump.

He is present. And we can know and feel that presence if we open ourselves up to it.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, thank You for being here, and thank You for making Your presence known to me every day. I praise You that You have created within me that longing for Your presence, and the fact that I can feel it and know that You are here. My heart’s desire is that all people, all around the world, would know Your presence and acknowledge it. To me, knowing and feeling Your presence is even better than knowing my own salvation. Yes, that salvation is amazing and wonderful, but it pales in the knowledge of Your presence, right here, right now.

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)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Initially, there might not seem to be much in common between these three passages of Scripture. But it is the last word of the 1 Corinthians passage that ties them all together for me.

“. . . always perseveres.”

Because of the promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11 (I know that statement was made specifically to Israel, but how could it not be true for all of God’s children??), that He has plans to give us a hope and a future, we have the ability to “always persevere,” which is also part of the definition (or one of the characteristics) of love.

It might also be noted that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is, to a degree, a description of our Father.

Because of that promise of hope, because of that characteristic of love that “always perseveres,” then we can “not become weary in doing good;” we can “not give up.” And I will proclaim with my dying breath that it is the presence of God that makes all of that possible.

I thank You, Father, that Your plans for us are not plans for disaster and harm, but, rather, plans for hope and a future. Our problem is that we get caught up in what’s happening right now, and forget about that hope. Or we get caught up worrying about that future, instead of hoping and trusting in what You are already providing for us. Help us to focus on what we are doing now, while at the same time looking forward (not worrying, big difference) to what You have planned for us.

I praise You that I am able to not grow weary in doing good because of the promise of a hope and a future, and because You are constantly with me, reminding me of these things. Help me to always be aware of Your presence with me, so that I may also always be aware of that hope that I have for the future, that great expectation of a priceless inheritance that is waiting for me/us.

“Think.”

“Thank.”

Two totally different words with only a vowel different between them. “The change of a single vowel triggers a quantum leap in meaning.”

To think is to employ the intellect. To thank “is an expression of the whole person. Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

I’m going to type that last sentence again, because I perceive that it is extremely profound (as is par for Eugene Peterson, right?).

“Thanking that is not preceded by thinking is shallow and inadequate, but thinking that does not transform to thanking is arid and sterile.”

Says Peterson, “It is our acts of gratitude that complete our processes of worship and remembrance. We recollect all that has happened among us by Christ’s design. We praise the Lord, who makes our lives, like all things, work together for good. Is there any other place in our society where so much is remembered and praised as here among Christians in worship, where there is such a concentration of memory and such exuberance in gratitude? I think not.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I read these words, and I am grateful that You have given me a brain with which to think. We humans, these days, are quick to accuse others of not thinking. But if the truth be known, we all think. It is only when we combine that thinking with thanking that we are complete. And I praise You that You have led me down this path of constant gratitude for the past few years. That gratitude, that “thanking,” is most certainly preceded and accompanied by thinking, and I am grateful for this. Help me to continue to use my mind, and to always include thinking with my thanking, that my worship of You can be complete.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

Today is Thursday, the fourteenth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week. Maundy Thursday.

May the peace of Christ be with you and within you.

Day 23,408

According to a couple of sources, “Maundy” comes from the latin word for “command,” and Maundy Thursday commemorates the command that Jesus gave His disciples, at the Last Supper, to love and serve each other. I did not know this until today. Or at least if I did, I had forgotten, which is entirely possible.

I’m pretty sure my brain is full, so that now, whenever I learn something new, I forget something old. I wonder what I just forgot?

Today will be my second Thursday in the computer center at the library. If it is anything like last Thursday, it will go by fairly quickly, as it was pretty busy, at least busier than my normal Fridays were.

I’ve started another chicken soup (not Italian, but that one was very delicious) in the crock pot for tonight’s dinner. I will have my bowl after I get home, around 8:30.

The library is closed tomorrow, for Good Friday, which, from what I hear, is normal. So I suppose it is a good thing that I switched to Thursdays, so I won’t miss any hours. C is also off tomorrow, but it will be somewhat busy. We are attending a funeral tomorrow afternoon, of the father of one of her coworkers. And then, tomorrow evening, I plan on attending a Good Friday service at the Lutheran church that we went to a few weeks ago. As for Sunday, I’m still not sure what is happening with our house church.

The Texas Rangers had yesterday off. The Boston Red Sox evened up their record, beating the Detroit Tigers 9-7. At 3-3 for the season, they are in third place in the AL East, tied with the Yankees. Today, the Rangers will face Ohtani and the Angels. Dunning will start for the Rangers.

While most of us haven’t been paying attention, the Cleveland Guardians have scored 45 runs, 44 of those in the last four games. In one game, they beat the KC Royals 17-3. They play the Giants tomorrow, so we’ll find out, then, if they are “for real.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I have two poems to share, this morning, both really good.

Going Before You,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

I AM
levelling
mountains

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

This is so true. God goes before us, sometimes levelling mountains we can’t even see before we get to them.

Where God Lives,” by Daryl Madden

And where God lives
We find beauty
His Word of peace
Flows joyfully

And where God dwells
A binding be
So intimate
Of unity

And where God grows
So peacefully
In nourishing
Community

And where God shares
His grace for free
His gift of love
Abundantly

We enter through
Humility
My prayer this day
Come live in me

Yes, Lord, please come live and dwell in me, today. Please show your support to both of these artists by visiting their websites at the links provided.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the prospect of a beautiful day, based on the weather forecast
2. that wherever God lives, I find beauty
3. that God shares His grace with us, freely and abundantly
4. for God's grace and forgiveness that completely erase our past sins
5. for the ability to repent (say goodbye) and follow in the steps of Jesus (say hello)

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:31 ESV)

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
(Acts 4:32-35 ESV)

The prayer word for today is “goodbye.” At first glance, I thought it was speaking of saying “goodbye” to a person. But this is not the case.

I won’t share the opening quote for multiple reasons, but it says something about the difficulty of saying “goodbye,” especially succinctly.

There are times in our lives when we need to say “goodbye,” not to people, but to either circumstances or parts of our lives, from which we have moved on, or need to move on. And I think therein lies the crux. There are times when we truly need to move on, but we hesitate, not unlike Lot’s wife, as they fled Sodom and Gomorrah. We look back longingly at something, and, oddly, sometimes that something might even be an illness or condition we have suffered from for a long time. It’s like we get attached to that, even though it may have caused us much pain.

For myself, it’s usually more the need to move on and say goodbye to attitudes or ways of responding to certain life situations. My biggest struggle, which I have, I believe, been fairly open about, here, is moving on from being judgmental toward people. And I think more people struggle with that than are willing to admit.

So, perhaps I will spend some time, today, thinking about what I need to say “goodbye” to.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

There is another word for this concept. It is “repent.” I used to think that “repent” meant to turn away from sin with great sorrow. That’s not what it means (even though the dictionary indicates that). The word literally means, in Hebrew, to turn back or turn around; retreat. In the New Testament Greek, it means to think differently or reconsider. So, essentially, “repent” means to change the way one thinks about something. Sorrow and regret may or may not be involved.

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
(John 13:9 NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

When we “repent,” or say “goodbye” to certain things in our lives, and truly let them go, as previously stated, it is like turning around and changing direction. And then, if we were to turn back and look at where we had been, by the grace of God, we can no longer see those tracks.

It’s like walking through a patch of snow and then turning around to see your tracks erased by newly fallen snow. That’s what the grace of God and His forgiveness are like. When we repent, when we change our way of thinking, our past sins are erased. They are not just covered, but it is as though they never happened. And in some, almost “magical” way, it is absolutely true that they never happened. I believe that, while consequences for some actions may always be with us, God can change our past. That is what the blood of Christ does for us, as it washes us “whiter than snow.”

(Gratitude to Logan Eliasen, in Daily Guideposts 2022)

In a reading called “On Religion and Faith,” Eugene H. Peterson addresses the difference between religion and faith. And I find this to be relevant to the discussion on repentance and saying “goodbye.”

“But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
(Luke 18:8 NLT)

“Surely he will find religion (institutions, creeds, documents, artifacts, and the like), but he may not find faith. Faith is deeply personal, dynamic, and ultimate. Religion, however, is faith’s expression. For example, religion is concerned about institutions (churches), documents, statements of belief (Bible and theology), and our convictions and moral codes. Religion is important but not ultimately important.

“Religion is a means, not an end. Faith is the only end.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

And repentance happens by faith, not by religion. You can quote creeds and attend institutions and proclaim moral codes all day long, but until you follow Jesus Christ by faith, you accomplish nothing at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. You make life more difficult and miserable for people around you.

Father, we need a fresh revelation on the difference between religion and faith. There is a lot of religion in our world, right now, and many people are running away from the “church” (institution) because of it, in an attempt to actually find faith. Help us to focus more on deeply personal and dynamic faith, and follow in the steps of Jesus. Help us to say “goodbye” to bigotry and prejudice and judgment, and to turn around, repent, and say “hello” to grace and forgiveness.

Thank You for the grace and forgiveness that washes us clean, like freshly fallen snow, and makes it appear that our past sins have been erased. Truly it is said that You cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, which, if considered in a straight line, is infinity. Perhaps we do not consider that enough. Perhaps Resurrection Sunday is a good time for that.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

Ordinary People; Extraordinary Jesus

Today is Monday, the eleventh of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent, Holy Week.

May the peace of Christ fill your soul today!

Day 23,405

We had another wonderful day, yesterday. The trip to Mineral Wells and back went very well, with no delays or incidents on the road. We made it to FBC just in time to get seated for the worship service, which was a wonderful time of celebrating Jesus, and looking forward to Resurrection Sunday. The music included several choir soloists, as well as the handbell choir which played during the Lord’s Supper. I was also glad to get to take the Supper with the saints at FBC.

We picked up burgers and sundaes at Braum’s and took them to Mama’s house for lunch. Then we grabbed as much as we could squeeze into the car and headed back home, listening to the Texas Rangers trounce all over the Blue Jays, 12-6. That was good fun.

The Red Sox also managed to get their first win, beating the Yankees 4-3. In other scores, the Cleveland Guardians (now that’s going to take some getting used to . . . doesn’t sound like a baseball team name at all) jumped all over the KC Royals, 17-3.

After one weekend of play, one team remains undefeated, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers are in third place in the AL West, and the Red Sox are in fourth in the AL East. Houston leads the West, Tampa the East, and the Other Sox lead the Central. Mets, Cubs, and Padres lead the NL divisions. Chicago has two first place teams.

Today will mostly be a resting day as I get ready for one of my alternating “heavier” weeks at the library (working 3.5 shifts, this week). Couple loads of laundry to fold, and dinner to cook. Later, this afternoon, there will be groceries to put away. And I will probably do some practicing, as we are getting ready to have another Night of Worship on April 23. Oh, and I almost forgot, we have the Texas Rangers’ home opener this afternoon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Days of Wonder,” by S. Michaels, LightWriters

I Am
remaking
all things

©2022 S. Michaels
Into the Light
(Prophetic Promises Haiku 2-3-2)

The hope of this promise is one of the things that keeps me going through this life. Please check out the beautiful poetry and lovely images that accompany it, at the link provided above.

For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
(Psalms 149:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the most wonderful day we had yesterday
2. for the truth that the Lord takes pleasure in His people
3. for the knowledge of God's presence
4. that God works in the "ordinary"
5. that God expects us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in His presence (Micah 6:8)

You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
(Deuteronomy 16:19-20 ESV)

“The most extraordinary feature of the gospel is its ordinariness. The fact that the Word that created the heavens and arranges the seasons enters ordinary lives and fashions eternal life in them is truly extraordinary.”

There is so much truth to this proclamation. Even when the miracle of new birth occurs in someone, to all external appearances, they are the same, ordinary people as they were the day before. Yet Scriptures says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 MSG)

What does all this mean? Is there a “secret ingredient?”

“One of the extraordinary things about Jesus was that he unassumingly took his place among the ordinary men and women around him.” Consider this scene after the resurrection:

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" 
She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" 
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 
Jesus said to her, "Mary." 
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.
(John 20:11-18 ESV)

The resurrected Christ appeared so ordinary that Mary thought He was a gardener.

Then we have the account of the two disciples on the Emmaus road.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
(Luke 24:28-32 ESV)

These two travelers just thought Jesus was another pilgrim on the road.

Even the disciples, having gone fishing after the resurrection, didn’t recognize Jesus when He called out to them from the shore.

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
(John 21:1-4 ESV)

Until, of course, He did that thing where He told them where to cast their nets and they couldn’t pull the net in, as it was so heavy with fish.

Is Jesus trying to hide Himself from us? “He didn’t make it easy for us to see God in him.” Except, of course, when He was baptized, and then, again, at the Transfiguration.

I have to confess that this puzzles me a little bit. Because I don’t see it as Jesus intentionally making it difficult for us to see God in Him. Rather, I think He tries to make us feel comfortable in His presence.

There is something about the Transfiguration which I had not considered until a few weeks ago, when I heard what was probably the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject. The pastor who was preaching that morning, at Living Word Lutheran Church, in Grapevine, TX, wondered if maybe what the three disciples saw when Jesus was transfigured, that which caused them to be “terrified” (Mark 9:6), was the same vision of Christ that John the Revelator saw.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
(Revelation 1:12-16 ESV)

Here were these three ordinary fishermen, who had been walking with this “ordinary” guy for a little while, and suddenly, they see this?

Yeah, I’d be terrified, too. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus appeared to Mary as looking like an ordinary gardener, and He appeared to those two travelers as just another person on a journey. If we saw Jesus in all of His glory, the way John the Revelator did, we, too, I’m sure, would fall “at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).

So, in between the appearances of Jesus in the New Testament, and His appearance that “every eye will see,” at the end of days (I’m not including the “Rapture” because I do not believe in that as a separate event from the Second Coming), we see Jesus walking in around in you and me. Ordinary people carrying around a miracle in our “jars of clay,” so that, hopefully, other ordinary people will see Him and take note of this great salvation that we have.

But there’s a catch. It’s that pesky bit about “love.” Unfortunately, people aren’t seeing a lot of Jesus in those who are supposed to be carrying Him around, because the hate that they are spewing is louder than the Gospel.

That just needs to stop. Period.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I thank You for all of the “ordinary” that we see in Scripture, especially surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus. Certainly, He did many extraordinary things, things that drew attention to Him and showed Your might power in this world. But He also appeared so very ordinary, as evidenced by the Scripture passages above. So ordinary that people didn’t realize who He was until He spoke or acted.

I pray for Your children today. We are walking around in our world, supposedly carrying the truth of the Gospel in our “jars of clay,” so that it is evident that we are nothing special, but the message we are carrying is so very special. But that message is getting obscured by a lack of love and compassion in those who are making the most noise.

I pray for them to be either silenced or have a severe, drastic change of heart. And, lest I be misunderstood, by “silenced” I am not praying for You to smite anyone. I’m simply praying for their voices to be drowned out by the prevalent voice of Your love and compassion and mercy coming from the rest of us.

I pray for Your truth to be known. I don’t claim to understand all of Your ways, and know that I will not understand them until the day that I stand in Your presence (or fall on my face, which is more likely). So, in that case, I choose to err on the side of love and mercy, rather than on the side of legalism and judgment. Hopefully, I am not erring at all.

May Your grace and mercy be known in all the world, and may the earth be filled with the knowledge of You as the waters fill the seas. I think that’s a hymn somewhere.

Give us glimpses of extraordinary Jesus, our Savior, as we walk through this ordinary world in our ordinary mortal coils.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

God of Wonders

Today is Thursday, the seventh of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,401

I’ve got a thing or two that I want to get done before I go to work today, this being my first Thursday to work at the library. I’m due in at 11:15 and will work until closing time. The entire shift will be in the Computer Center, as this is replacing my previous Friday shift. I don’t work this Saturday, so my next shift will be next Tuesday evening.

I really don’t have much else to mention, this morning. I actually just got one of the things done, which was starting the soup we will have for dinner tonight. In case anyone is interested, we call it “Chicken Ranch Crockpot Soup.” All it has in it is three chicken breasts, three cans of cream of chicken soup (we usually use the 98% fat-free variety), a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix, and a can of water. It cooks in the crockpot on low all day, and we shred the chicken right before serving. Delicious and easy!

Oh, and one more thing. I haven’t mentioned it, lately, but today is Opening Day for baseball season. The Red Sox and Yankees were supposed to play today, but have been postponed until tomorrow. The Texas Rangers open their season in Toronto tomorrow. I reckon we will be watching.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for love; for the love God has for us and the love that I have for Him and the love He has placed in my heart for you
2. for the wonder of God's creation
3. for baseball, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox
4. that my treasures (and my heart) are not on this earth
5. that, when I walk in the kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be (Dallas Willard)

Today’s prayer word is “wonder.” Now, there’s a word I can be fully behind. In this case, I see the word as a noun, meaning, “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” I really like the last half of that. “Something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” That is a great way to describe the wonders of God and His creation.

You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
(Psalms 77:14 NLT)

Like the writer of today’s reading, I haven’t seen any seas parting or rivers drying up or water coming from a rock or turning into wine. But I have seen things like this:

That was beautiful and unexpected and inexplicable.

I choose to celebrate God’s wonders, and I also wonder at His beauty, love, and faithfulness. So, you see, “wonder” can be either a verb or a noun, and both ways work equally well.

And I believe this song has always said it pretty perfectly.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
(Matthew 6:19-20 ESV)

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.
(Proverbs 23:4-5 ESV)

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

In other verses in that Matthew 6 passage, Jesus points at some of the “wonders” of creation in His efforts to get people to take their eyes off of themselves and their problems. And, truthfully, once I have witnessed the grandeur and majesty of God’s creation, in “wonder,” how can I even consider laying up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal?

Father, I revel in Your many wonders. I am reminded of the hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” especially that bit about seeing the stars and hearing the rolling thunder, “Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” I thank You for the wonders that You have created and for the wonder that You placed in my heart when I gaze upon these things. I am still grateful for the opportunity that we had to visit those mountains in the photos above. You have blessed us with so many opportunities to see Your beauty, just in our country alone (and a few in Mexico, as well). How someone can gaze upon these wonders and refuse to open their hearts to Your love and grace is beyond my comprehension.

I thank You that You have led me to not place my trust in the “treasures” of this world. The older I get, the more generous I get with the resources that You have provided. This is partially because I know the truth of the old phrase, “you can’t take it with you.” But I don’t really want to take it with me, either, because I believe that my inheritance in heaven will be so much greater, beyond my wildest expectations and dreams. In fact, it too, I believe, will be wondrous. I look forward to Home, Father, wherever that will be and whatever it will look like.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

One Thing

Today is Thursday, the tenth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,373

There is a lot more than “one thing” in this post . . . that should make sense by the time it’s all over.

Our home has a complete new heating and cooling system. The good people of Air King arrived yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, and finished up somewhere around 7:00 PM. If they had any problems or issues, I don’t know about them. All of our old equipment was hauled off and we basically can’t tell they were ever here.

And so far, the new system works great. The new “smart” thermostat actually has a setting (I had only dreamed that this could be possible) that automatically switches between heat and cool. And it connects to Wi-Fi, so we can control the temps from our phones, as well. How cool is that?? Allegedly, this new system will save us up to 35% on our electricity, this summer. We shall see, right? We’re due for a new billing contract soon, so we’ll see what kind of rate we can get.

The day is wide open for me, so I don’t have any real agenda. I hope to finish the book I am currently reading, an ARC version of The Lights of Prague, by Nicole Jarvis. I have about fifty pages left. After that, I will likely work on finishing This Wicked Darkness, a selection of short stories, also an ARC version that I got in exchange for a review. I also have two library books checked out. And a stack sitting on the floor next to me. Not to mention shelves and shelves of books in the house. I should be caught up in about eight hundred years.

I have just discovered, this morning, that the time change to DST occurs this Saturday night. Since I am attempting to fast from being critical, that is all I’m going to say about that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Meanderings,” by LightWriters

Slabs of river ice
play water music
symphonies of Spring

©2022 S. Michaels
Another Springtime
(Haiku 5-5-5)

You can see more of her wonderful poems at the link provided. Also, there is always a lovely picture that accompanies the short poem, which enhances it that much more, so it’s worth clicking the link.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the heart of gratitude that God has formed within me; it makes life so much easier to bear
2. for celebrations of birth, both into physical life and spiritual life; there  are beautiful similarities between them
3. for the fact that my security in Christ gives me strength against evil spirits in this world
4. for the reminder, today, that I need to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
5. for the encouragement I've received today to practice my focus

As I conclude John Henry Newman’s selection on fasting, today, he gets into the territory of “spiritual warfare,” to a degree. He speaks of the security of being in Christ, and its effect on our spiritual life. Says Newman, ” . . . evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are affrighted at every true Christian. They know he has that in him which makes him their master, that he may, if he will, laugh them to scorn, and put them to flight.” Note the word “true” before the word “Christian.” And then consider this passage from the New Testament:

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:13-16 NIV)

But, if we are “true Christians,” the evil spirits, or demons, will attempt to frighten us and gain power over us. “Therefore, let us be, my brethren, ‘not ignorant of their devices’; and as knowing them, let us watch, fast, and pray, let us keep close under the wings of the Almighty, that He may be our shield and buckler.”

We get a bit too frivolous with the concept of spiritual warfare, in my opinion, almost as if it is a game, or a box to check off on their Sunday School envelope. The whole purpose of fasting is to bring us closer in fellowship to the Lord. It does not get Him to love us more. That is impossible. But it calls to mind that we need to pray more. The point is, whenever I find myself tempted to partake or participate in that from which I am fasting, I am supposed to, at that very moment, stop and pray. The prayer might be about the thing I’m fasting from, or it might be for someone or something else, about which I have knowledge. Or, it might be, as Newman suggests, that He might “make known to us His will – to teach us our faults – to take from us whatever may offend Him – and to lead us in the way everlasting.”

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

In a short essay called “On Birth,” Eugene Peterson compares physical birth and physical birth. The comparison, to me, is fascinating. “Our first birth thrusts us kicking and squalling into the light of day. Our second birth places us singing and believing in the light of God. By acts of love previous to us, we are launched into ways of seeing and being that become truly ours. We are launched into life.”

In both circumstances, new life is involved. And the thing that really caught my attention was that bit about “acts of love previous to us.” In the physical realm, it is the physical love of two people that results in a birth into new life. And in the spiritual realm, it is the love of God in Jesus Christ that results in a birth into new life.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)

This verse has been on my radar since the mid-eighties, during a particularly spiritually volatile time in my life. I enjoy being brought back to it, from time to time. I don’t always enjoy the way it makes me feel, because I’m usually not living by it when it comes back around.

Going back to that bit about spiritual warfare up there . . . too many folks are all too willing to talk about putting on that spiritual armor, the “armor of God” that Paul talks about in Ephesians. They’re all about that “belt of truth” and “breastplate of righteousness.” They’ve got that “shield of faith,” ready to extinguish those “flaming arrows of the evil one.” They’re ready to spread the gospel, although I’m not so sure they’re into that bit about “peace.”

But you will not find those same people being all that excited about putting on these elements that Paul mentions in Colossians. I truly believe that, in their minds, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience = weakness. But they are wrong. What those elements do equal is meekness, which is an entirely different thing.

I believe I find myself with more “fuel” for prayer, today.

Peter gives us a similar list:

 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

And, of course, it can all be summed up in love.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.
(1 John 3:18-19 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “focus.” I think it can go quite well with yesterday’s word, which was “ponder,” for to “ponder” something, or meditate on it, is to focus on said topic for a period of time.

I believe our culture has lost, or at least is in the process of losing, the ability to focus. The average, or standard, length of a TV commercial, these days, is fifteen seconds. I remember when they used to be a full minute. Then thirty seconds. Now fifteen. One source claims that some Internet ads are even down to only one second.

This is a reflection on the attention span of our culture. I confess that I have fallen into it, myself, as it is a struggle for me to maintain enough focus to sit and read a book for very long. We are always doing something else when we watch a TV program. We might be eating, we might be playing a game on a phone or tablet or laptop. Or we might just be scrolling through Facebook. I lose count of how many times I have to rewind a program on Prime Video or Netflix, saying, “Wait, what just happened?”

A Zen proverb is quoted at the beginning of today’s reading. It says, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” That’s all it says, but it can be applied to everything we do. There is a lot of stress put on “multitasking,” these days. Personally, I believe multitasking to be a myth. Oh, sure, I can do five things at a time. But am I doing any of them well? And, am I fully focused on any of them?

The answer, of course, is “no.” And, of course, these bad habits cannot help but effect our prayer lives. If I can’t focus enough to read for a length of time, or watch a TV program with my full concentration, I also am unable to pray for any serious amount of time.

A perfect example is what happens to me when I try to do this blog with Facebook and email tabs open in my browser. It is currently 10:47 AM. I started this blog well over two hours ago, and I’m not finished yet. Granted, I look at four different resources (not counting my Bible reading plan), but I still get much too easily distracted.

So there’s what I need to work on. Focus. One thing.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, there is much to pray over today. I give You praise for being my Father in heaven, and for the grace and mercy that You have lavished on me. I pray for Your name to be glorified in all the earth, for You to be lifted high and worshiped.

I thank You for the discipline of fasting, to help me to remember to pray more effectively. Help me to be more adept at both practices, as well as knowing my strengths that You have placed within me. Gratitude is one of those strengths, and showing this, constantly, helps keep me humble (not that I am all that humble, mind you).

Thank You for the miracle of birth, both physical and spiritual. I cannot stress one over the other, for if it were not for physical birth, there would be no spiritual birth. They are too closely tied together. May we all be better at recognizing the beauty in both events.

Please help me to keep myself clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I need all of those in equal measure, for none is more important than any other. I pray that it all be tied together in love within my heart and soul.

And in all of these things, please help me focus better. Keep me mindful of the need for “one thing.” One thing at a time.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord,
    the praises of the Lord,
according to all that the Lord has granted us,
    and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
(Isaiah 63:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Attitude Check

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 MSG)

Today is Saturday, the fifth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,368

There’s not really much to write about, this morning. Yesterday was a pretty normal day. Usual stuff at the library, and we had one of our favorite meals for dinner, the Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken. And there are leftovers for me to take for lunch today, as today is my Saturday to work in the circ department. C may bring Mama to the library today, which would be cool. I’ll probably text her with the schedule when I get there, so she knows when I’m at the desk and when I’m not.

I’m getting a new hard drive for this PC. It should arrive today, and I will likely attempt to install it tomorrow. I’ll make sure and check some YouTube videos, but I think it’s simple enough that I should be able to do it. The current hard drive (the D drive, which is mechanical) seems to be operating non-stop. At least that is what the noise I am hearing would indicate, after speaking with the computer center manager at the library. The mechanical hard drives are cheap. I’m getting a 2TB drive for less than $50. I could have gotten 4TB for less than $70, but I simply cannot fathom ever needing that much storage. The current drive is 1TB and is not even half full.

The Lenten fast continues to go okay. I still have not had any candy. The criticism is getting better. The cool thing is that I am being more aware of when I am beginning to launch into something critical, and can stop myself. What I’m looking forward to is when I get to where it’s not even a temptation. That will take a while.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD 
and to inquire in his temple. 
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
 he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 he will lift me high upon a rock.
(Psalms 27:4-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes and cantaloupe
2. for quiet mornings
3. for time to read and meditate on God's Word
4. that this world is not my Home
5. that I have the strength to do everything I need to do

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.
(1 Peter 2:11-12 MSG)

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time.
(1 Peter 5:6 MSG)

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:6 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you 
when I was made in the secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
before one of them came to be. 
(Psalms 139:13-16 NIV)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:13 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “attitude.” The referenced Scripture is Proverbs 17:22.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
(Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
(Proverbs 17:22 MSG)

Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.
(Proverbs 17:22 GNB)

There it is in several different versions.

This is appropriate for the season, for me. I’ve talked about my Lenten “fast” for this year. As I strive to eliminate the critical nature from my personality, attitude is everything. What a shift in attitude to change from judgment to praise. When I am tempted to judge someone or be critical of a situation or circumstance, my attitude needs to be adjusted to find something positive in it or about the person. I’m not talking about “toxic positivity.” Yes, there is such a thing, and I used to work around it. And I promise you, I will never be guilty of that. I most definitely not a “Rah-Rah” person, and have no intention of being so.

And, like most things, there is a time and a place for healthy, positive criticism. That’s not what I’m talking about, either. I’m talking about the constant picking at things, always being dissatisfied with things. Always trying to blame someone for something. Sadly, a lot of what I am seeing from many people that are in my generation, right now.

The thing is, there is always something that I don’t know about any given circumstance. I never know what that grouchy person might be going through. They may just be grouchy, or a mean person. That’s entirely possible. But my judgment or criticism of them is not going to change that. However, if I smile and give them a positive word, anyway? It might make a difference, and it will certainly make me feel better about the world.

Father, as I go into this day, may I live these words that I’m typing. Give me the courage to approach the day with determination; determination to not judge people, to not express negative opinions about things, to not be critical. Sometimes, it may just mean keeping my mouth shut and not saying anything. You know, the old “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all,” schtick. But I pray for my attitude to be one that reflects You, Your love, and my walk with Christ. And let my walk with Christ be such that it creates an attitude that is acceptable.

Help me to submit to You, to acknowledge You in all my ways, that my paths may be straight. Please help me to remember that I can do all of these things through Christ, who strengthens me by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remind me, today, that this world is not Home. And how glad I am of that, considering everything that is going on in it, right now. Oh, how I long for Home, but I know that I am not really ready, yet. I know that I still have work to do here; work on myself, and work ministering to others. Otherwise, I would not still be here. So help me do that work. Help me to be content with who I am, and not be trying to change things (well, other than making the aforementioned positive changes).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Oh, come to the Father,
through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory,
great things He hath done."
(Fanny Crosby, 1875)

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Much; Love Well

So here is a call: May we all, who call the name of Jesus, do our best to make “Jesus Christ attractive to all,” love much and love well, and “provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-sixth of February, 2022, in the seventh week of Ordinary Time.

Day 23,361

It is currently 34 degrees, here in Fort Worth, today. But the high is only supposed to be 33. Things that make you go “hmmm . . .” There is, allegedly, a chance of “snow showers” this afternoon. I’m not down with that. I don’t care for cold showers, so I’ll take mine hot, please.

Speaking of hot, the HVAC tech is supposed to be coming between 3-5 this afternoon, to replace the circuit board in our system. It has been working fine, since he bypassed the broken one Wednesday, but, as previously noted, the blower runs non-stop.

It was an interesting day at the Computer Center, yesterday. There was non-stop activity for about an hour, yesterday morning, and the fax machine was busier than it’s ever been, when I’ve been there. But people were incredibly patient and kind during that time. One young lady who was faxing four different documents of five pages each (this takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes for each bundle) allowed someone to break in and scan his documents to email (which is almost instant) in between a couple of her faxes.

Another young man tried to help a woman who was trying to print something that was on her phone. She didn’t have email on her phone, and didn’t remember the password needed to download our mobile print app. Those are the only ways you can transmit a document from phone to our printer station. Finally, the gentleman convinced her that he was trustworthy enough to allow her to text the document to his phone, and he printed off two copies for her. He wouldn’t even let her pay him for the prints.

In this world that seems to be so full of hatred and animosity, it is nice to see some compassion and kindness in action.

Outside of the heater guy coming and a grocery delivery from Walmart between 2-3 today, I have nothing on the agenda. Well, except that I’ll likely make cheeseburgers for S and me tonight. I’ll make one for C if she wants, but she usually doesn’t. We had pizza (not our homemade variety) last night, and have some left over for lunch, today. We haven’t gone totally off the rails, diet-wise. Or have we? Not sure. I’m committed to not gaining all of my weight back, at least.

Talk about a rambling paragraph. I guess I should move on to the devotional before I lose all sense of focus.

Oh, look!

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Do not be anxious;
Life is more than food and clothes;
Seek first the Kingdom.
(Inspired by Matthew 6:25-34)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings and privileges that I usually take for granted
2. for a heart of generosity and a leaning toward humility
3. for all the grace that I need for today
4. for the saints who focus on gratitude and goodness
5. for my imagination, spawned by the ultimate imagination of God

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.

Today, I’m examining the phrase, “give us today our daily bread.” As physical beings, “bread” is necessary. We are not speaking only of literal “bread,” of course, in the form of carbs and grains. We simply mean that our energy source must come from outside of our bodies. We must ingest food, lest we become “feeble and incapable of movement.”

Beyond physical food, we also need “incentives” (Simone Weil’s word for them) of “money, ambition, consideration, decorations, celebrity, power, our loved ones, everything that puts into us the capacity for action.” These are also like “bread” to us.

“There is a transcendent energy whose source is in heaven, and this flows into us as soon as we wish for it. It is a real energy; it performs actions through the agency of our souls and of our bodies.

“We should ask for this food. At the moment of asking, and by the very fact that we ask for it, we know that God will give it to us.”

In this case, we are asking for “bread” that is supernatural. This bread is Jesus Christ. He is, and He calls Himself this, the bread of life. So, in this case, we see that the petition in question has a double meaning. We ask God to supply our physical food, but we are also asking Him to provide Christ’s presence in our lives. But we can only have enough for today, for this moment, because this moment is all we have.

It’s like the manna that the Israelites gathered for food while in the wilderness (wasn’t that yesterday’s prayer word?). They were only given enough for the day. If they tried to gather more than they needed for the day, they would awaken the next morning to find it rotted and useless. We cannot save up grace.

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

Here are some words for today’s Christians, from the book of Philippians, Message-style.

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.
(Philippians 2:14-15 MSG)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

If you claim to follow Christ, are you doing these things on a daily basis? I don’t mean perfectly, of course. None of us is perfect.

A little over a month ago, I ventured into the dark territory that is TikTok. If you aren’t familiar with it, TikTok is a video app that allows users to produce up to three-minute videos on just about any topic they want. There are, of course, “community guidelines” which prohibit certain things, such as nudity or explicit sexuality, blatant hate speech, and other such things. A lot of time can be wasted scrolling through TikTok, just as it can be wasted scrolling through Facebook. I should know. I have wasted ample time in both places.

But I have chosen to try to live up to Paul’s words, to some degree, but posting my gratitude lists in video form every day on TikTok, just as I do on Facebook (not in video form on Facebook, but just copied and pasted from this blog). I don’t do these things to appear to be “super-spiritual.” I do these things to inspire positivity and gratitude in others. I want people to see something other than the hatred and hypocrisy that some others who claim the name of Christ are portraying. You can find my TikTok profile here, if you are interested. I hope to also, eventually, post some music, as well as my love of books, on there.

So here is a call: May we all, who call the name of Jesus, do our best to make “Jesus Christ attractive to all,” love much and love well, and “provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(Philippians 3:13-16 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “imagine.” Now there’s a word that can be of great use in our prayer lives and in our physical lives. But it can also be a great danger. An imagination running amok can create some serious problems, as we have seen in our world in recent years.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

There is another version of this quote that I found. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Here’s another, claiming to come from an original source, Einstein’s book, On Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

So, regardless of which one is actually correct, it is apparent that Einstein said something to that effect. It also illustrates that we may be too quick to attribute quotes to people without due research. I won’t hold that against the Guideposts people, today, as there does seem to be validity to at least one version of the quote.

I love imagination. Mine is fairly active, but I am mildly envious of people whose imaginations soar much higher than mine. I’m speaking of people who can write great songs and wonderful books. People like Paul McCartney and Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. You know . . . people with crazy levels of imagination.

The “imagination” of God, if it can even be called that, because His knowledge is ultimate and complete, is endless. It was the imagination of God that resulted in this universe, this planet, along with you and me. The ultimate imagination is responsible for my imagination and everything that it can conjure.

And, yes, I can use that imagination in prayer. If I can imagine it, I can most certainly pray for it. So, I imagine sick people healed; I imagine hungry people fed; I imagine homeless people with roofs over their heads; and I imagine people not having to live in fear of tyrants and their madness. Is it even possible to pray without imagination? Now that I think about it, I think not. How can you pray for something that you cannot imagine?

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, there is a lot today. I pray for my daily bread, both the real kind, the physical kind that I consume, as well as the spiritual kind, which is the presence of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, the Bread of Life. I pray for enough for this day, as I am aware that I cannot store up grace for tomorrow. Then tomorrow, I will pray for enough for that day.

I pray for the ability to make Your Son attractive to all. Help me to never do anything that makes Jesus unattractive to those around me. Help me to live my life in His service, walking in His steps, living in His “easy yoke.” Help me to love much and love well, as I have been trying to do for a number of years, now. Don’t let me lose sight of this Love Revolution, Father. May I give people a glimpse of good living, and of You, a loving and good and giving Father.

I thank You for my imagination, Father, and I also thank You for the imagination of many people in this world, people who can compose and write music and books, that both entertain and inspire. I pray for more of them who might display their faith in You in ways that inspire us to do the things that I have prayed for above. And help me to use my imagination to pray, to pray for people in other lands, people I have never met, and for people that are close to me, as well. And, should it be Your will, help me to use that imagination to compose songs of praise to Your Name. Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Your face, even if just in my imagination.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.