Utterly Meaningless

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of October, 2021. It is Halloween.

Day 23,243 (the number of days since I was born)

Seven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back . . . you can’t say you weren’t warned!)

There are a number of reasons that today is significant. As already mentioned, it is Halloween. I really enjoy this “holiday” (I don’t really consider it a holiday, because we don’t get the day off from work, if it falls on a work day.), and the celebrations have been going on for a few days, already. I saw some very cool costumes at the library yesterday, as we had a family event yesterday afternoon. My favorite was the son of one of the other library aides (who, next week, will no longer be an aide, but a part time assistant librarian!) who came dressed as a dalek from Dr. Who.

That’s not his costume, of course . . . that’s just an image to show you what a dalek looks like.

Another reason this day is significant is that, 504 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, today is deemed “Reformation Day.”

But, for us, today is the most special because, twelve years ago, today, our oldest daughter, R, got married to J. So we wish them a “Happy Hallowversary” every year on this day!

I think I already mentioned that our church group is not gathering this morning. At this point, I don’t have any plans to attend elsewhere. We will also not be home to hand out candy, this evening, which is probably a good thing, because it means we did not buy any candy, and the last thing we need is overflow Halloween candy laying around our house. Those bite-sized candy bars find a way of always falling in my mouth, you know. Yesterday, at the library, I “accidentally” ate three giant Lemonheads.

We will be going to a friend’s house for “Halloween chili” tonight. That’s one of our favorite events of the year. I think S might even be planning to dress up as a kitten. I might wear my “wizard costume,” which consists of a black trench coat, a felt hat, and a walking stick. Impressive, eh?

There are no other plans for today. And my next shift at the library is Tuesday evening. Did I mention that I got my Covid booster last Thursday? I can’t remember if I did. But I was really tired all day yesterday, and felt a little icky Friday night. But at one point Friday night, I finally got up and took some Advil, so I felt pretty normal yesterday, but just really tired. My left arm is still marginally sore, but not too bad.

The Braves won again, last night, to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros, in the World Series. I’m hoping they can put it away tonight. I suppose I should be more interested in it, if I’m truly a fan of baseball. But I’m not, and it is what it is, right?

I may have forgotten this, yesterday, but I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. I’m close to finishing and should finish it this afternoon.

On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Finding Light, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

October ending
seasons come and go,
the River winds on
 
Selah (Psalm 19:8)
©2021 S. Michaels
Strong Tower(Haiku/5-5-5 & Psalms/Proverbs Faith Notes)

I will give thanks to you,
O LORD,
among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, though seasons come and go, Your love remains steadfast and sure
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You are my God and will be my guide, "even to the end" (Psalm 48:14)
4. that the earth is filled with Your love; remind me to look for it every day
5. that I'm not stuck living in the past, but am freely moving forward with You; all praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY ONE

INVITATION

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:14 NIV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on my life. It is filled with love, both Yours, and that of family and friends. When I forget about that love, and focus on self and negativity, please remind me of the love.

BIBLE SONG

You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalms 119:57-64 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-5 NIV)

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart. I either silently, or possibly out loud, repeat them, meditating, forming prayers in my spirit.

I do love Psalm 119, as long as I am not expected to read the entire chapter (176 verses!) in one sitting. Almost every verse in the psalm mentions, in some form or fashion, the Word of God. It is a symphony of praise, and epic poem, to God’s Word. If you have a version in which the chapter is broken up into groups of eight verses, you see a Hebrew letter designated at the beginning of each group.

If you could read Hebrew (I can’t), you would notice that each verse of that group of eight verses begins with that Hebrew letter that is at the top of the section or stanza. Oddly, we do not know who wrote this psalm.

In the section I’m reading today, although the NIV does not feature this, the Hebrew letter is Heth. The KJV shows it as CHETH, which may be more accurate, because each of the verses begins with a word that starts with ch.

I love the thought of God as my “portion” (v. 57). To me, this indicates that God is enough. He is all I need.

I don’t know that I could ever honestly say that I have actually sought the face of the Lord “with all my heart” (v. 58). It is most definitely something to which I aspire, though.

Verses 63 and 64 also speak to me. I consider anyone who fears the Lord and follows His precepts to be my friend. That does not mean that everyone who claims to be “Christian” will be my friend. There are many who use that label who obviously do not either fear God or follow His precepts. And the statement that the earth is filled with God’s love is something that we all need to be reminded of, frequently. I make mention of this in the prayer following today’s invitation.

I always love getting into Ecclesiastes. It’s a fun book to read, even if it is a bit confusing, sometimes. While its authorship is commonly attributed to Solomon, I am not 100% convinced that this is the case. To me, it is not clear who wrote it, and I have no guesses at all as to who else it might have been, other than Solomon.

And you know what? I really don’t care who wrote it. “The Teacher” wrote it. Some (the respectable Matthew Henry included) would argue that the fact that it says “Son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” prove that it is Solomon, as he fits both of those descriptions. However, the words “king in Jerusalem,” may describe David, not “the Teacher.”

If read in the wrong spirit, one might immediately find Ecclesiastes to be an exercise in futility, and somewhat depressing. I mean, the thought that “everything is meaningless” can be somewhat discouraging, right?

Some translations, such as KJV and ESV, use the word “vanity,” rather than “meaningless.” The Message uses the word “smoke.” I rather like that. The Hebrew word literally means “emptiness” or “vanity,” so those translations are pretty much correct. But another word could be “unsatisfactory.” I like that, too. It could even be said to mean “transitory.”

Why does the Preacher/Teacher say this? He gives examples. We go to work every day. What gain do we get from this? In our modern day, we get paid with the currency of the land. What do we do with that? We pay bills, we buy things. But, ultimately, it is nothing. In fact, in these days, it’s all pretty much pretend money, anyway. I hardly ever see cash, and the only think I use it for, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop when I’m at one of the few Sonics that won’t turn on mobile tipping.

We have reached an era that, for many of us, cash is “meaningless” or “vanity.” That scares a lot of people who take Revelation way more literally than they should.

The Teacher looks at generations that come and go, while the earth just keeps on turning. I am alive today. I have lived twenty-three thousand, two hundred and forty-three days (it looks a lot longer when I type it). That’s a lot of days. Or is it?

If you take the creation story literally (which I both do and do not . . . don’t hurt yourself trying to figure that out), the earth has been in existence for somewhere between six and eight thousand years. If you believe some scientists, it has been in existence for billions of years.

I’m just going to go with the six thousand number. If that is correct, and it would be the minimum time that the earth and universe have been in existence, that is more than two million days.

That kind of makes my 23,243 pretty petty, doesn’t it?

So I’m alive today. I might live another twenty or thirty years. Or less or more. Only God knows. But then I will be gone. No one knew me before 1958. And very few will remember me after I’m gone. A handful, likely. And when they’re gone, no one will remember me.

Meaningless. Vanity. Everything is utterly meaningless.

The sun comes up; the sun goes down, and then it runs back around so it can come up again. It’s a meaningless cycle.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.”

And then, the Teacher nails the coffin shut by telling us that there is, quite literally, “nothing new under the sun.”

Hah! He never got to see iPhones, right?

See?? Are you depressed yet??

I’m not, actually. Because I kind of understand where he is coming from and where he is going. But you have to read it all in context, and, frankly, it’s rather unhealthy, mentally, to read only the few verses that are highlighted today, and just stop. That really does leave us in a dark, dark place.

If I look only at these things, then, yes, it can be very depressing. But I do not only look at these things. I can honestly, and happily, in fact, look at all the devices of this world, both physical and not, and proclaim, along with this Teacher, that they are “utterly meaningless,” nothing but “smoke” and mirrors.

In the grand scheme of things, in the broad picture of eternity, everything in this room, where I am sitting, that I can see with my eyes . . . all meaningless. “It’s all gonna burn!” Perhaps these words that I am typing are even meaningless.

Unless, one day, someone happens to stumble across this blog, and it miraculously leads them into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. At that point, it will mean everything in the world to one person.

And that’s kind of why I’m doing it. One of the reasons that I keep it up. That, and my mother enjoys reading it.

So, while we don’t come up with any firm purpose from today’s reading, we must know that knowing God and His wisdom is what provides the only real meaning in life. What is the meaning of life? As much as I like to say it, it is not, in fact, “42.” It is to know God, and to fear Him. To spread His love to everyone . . . to “pass it on.” It is to follow Jesus Christ into territories that make us uncomfortable, and to set aside many of these things that truly are meaningless and vanity, that we might walk in His Kingdom and follow in His steps.

Father, I praise You, even for the meaninglessness of the material world around me. I do thank You for many of these material things; things which can, in fact, be used to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. But let us not get too attached to these things, which will not survive us for very long. Some of these things may outlast me, physically, but as we live with You for eternity, they will, in fact perish. May we use them wisely and “hold on loosely” to them, always being aware that someone else may need them more than we. Keep me aware of any needs that I might be able to provide with the resources You have provided us. And let us not think to heavily on the thoughts that all is vanity or utterly meaningless, as we might truly find ourselves in a dark place, mentally and emotionally. There is really no reason for us to go there, in light of the fact that our world, our universe, is filled with Your love!

May we, Your people, be filled with resurrection hope and joy. May we all be equipped to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whenever opportunities arise.

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.

"God of heaven and earth,
what is the purpose of it all?
The endless cycle of life brings with it questions that don't find answers in the available light under the sun.
With You,
however,
I get the larger view beyond this world.
I trust You,
God in heaven,
for everything I need for life under the sun -
including intellectually satisfying answers to my biggest questions.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13 NIV)

Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:26 ESV)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
(Luke 6:37 ESV)

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
(Luke 13:12 ESV)

There’s a common word in these three verse, at least in the Greek text. The word that is translated “released,” “forgive/forgiven,” and “freed,” is all one Greek word, “apoluo.” Literally, it means, “to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss.”

So from this fact, we can get the following truth.

“If you don’t forgive, you won’t be released. You’ll stay bound and imprisoned.” But the same word speaks of healing. So forgiveness is linked to healing and the lack of forgiveness to the lack of healing. Those who cannot forgive cripple themselves. And the same word speaks of moving on and being sent forth for the purposes of God. If you don’t forgive, you won’t be able to move on or to let go of the old. Nor will you be able to be sent forth and fulfill God’s calling for your life.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I read those words, and I think of the many people that are close to my age who do nothing on social media other than moan and complain about how things used to be. They are constantly mocking younger generations, thinking themselves to be superior because they know how to write in cursive and can drive a stick shift.

These folks need to wake up! They are stuck in the past, unable to move on, to let go of things that simply don’t matter any more! And they appear so very hateful and angry all the time, with no hint of forgiveness or release. I pity them; my heart hurts for them. I am so very grateful to God that He has allowed me to not get stuck in that mode. I frequently skip over a lot of those “Who remembers _______?” posts that I see on Facebook. Yeah. I remember. But I don’t live there any more. I live in 2021, where nobody needs to know how write in cursive any more. Where the only reason to drive a stick shift is if you have a fancy sports car.

And just to prove I’m not stuck in the past, here is some really nice music that I discovered, this morning. I’m not one of the “old guys” who are constantly saying that all of today’s music is “crap.” Thanks to Derri Daugherty of The Choir, for the recommendation.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Shhhh!!!

Today is Monday, the eighteenth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,230

Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back).

We had a great time at our church gathering, yesterday morning. We spent quite a bit of time “fellowshipping” before getting into any Scripture reading, but it was well-needed, I think. It had been a a few weeks since most of us had gathered in person, due to the impact of COVID-19. But things are settling down, it seems, at least somewhat, and C’s surgery recover is progressing to the point that she felt comfortable going to the host’s home, yesterday.

C and I also went on a nice walk, yesterday evening (my idea . . . trying to get my steps in). It was nice and cool outside, rare in Texas, and we saw some fun Halloween decorations.

Love the spiders on this one
The porch has fangs
The tombstone on the far right says, “I told you I was sick.”
I hope this is a decoration!

We were also treated to a beautiful sky.

The Braves beat the Dodgers, again, in game two of the NLCS, and will be heading to Atlanta for game three tomorrow. This is tough for LA, because they are down 0-2, and now don’t have home field advantage. Meanwhile, the Red Sox play game three tonight, in Boston. Game time is 7:08 PM. I should be able to watch at least part of the game.

I’m going to Mineral Wells, today, for two reasons. One, I need some more Crazy Water. I have about a week’s worth left, but since I am off each Monday, and this week is my two day week, I decided it is a good opportunity to take care of this. In addition, Mama needs to get her new phone activated and has not had an opportunity to get that done. I’m assuming lunch may also be involved. I believe S will be coming along, as well.

Tomorrow, I will be attending the “Hurst Way” Conference all day, in lieu of actually working my shift at the library. This is something the city desires, so I’ll be there. I’m getting paid for it, and getting an extra four hours on the pay period, as well as free lunch. Free breakfast, too, if I can get there early enough. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though. I believe breakfast is served at 7:30. The conference begins at 8:30 and goes until 4:30. After that, I won’t work again until Friday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Pursue righteousness;
Fight the good fight of the faith;
Take hold of the Life.
(1 Timothy 6)

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
(Psalms 54:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have the opportunity to travel to Mineral Wells today
2. for the cooler weather we are experiencing
3. that I am alive and breathing
4. for the encouragement to tell my story
5. for the reminder to wait quietly for the Lord

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 NLT)

I spend a quiet moment focusing on Your presence, inviting Your Spirit to guide my devotional, this morning.

BIBLE SONG

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
(Psalms 107:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in His presence, I read these passages through again, meditating on the words that I see. I seek His truth and wisdom in the words of Scripture, that I might walk in His truth.

Psalm 107 is more lengthy (again, an “orphan” psalm), and seems to be divided into stanzas, each one describing a group in their troubles and distress. Each described group calls out to the Lord and is delivered. It is all predicated by the encouragement to “let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.”

There is an older, popular, worship chorus that sprang from this psalm, that said, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” There was a somewhat ridiculous practice that evolved, in which people would shout “SO!” after the first line of the chorus. I was never a fan of that one, as it adequately illustrates peoples’ tendency to misapply and misinterpret Scripture. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “stick in the mud” and not opposed to having fun with worship. But seriously. The verse does not say, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say, ‘so!'” The better translation, in my opinion, is one like the NIV, quoted above, or the NLT, which says,

Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
(Psalms 107:2 NLT)

As a matter of fact, it appears that the word “so” is not even in the original text! So there. One of the possible translations of the word that is rendered “say,” is “boast.” So it could even be said, “Let the redeemed of the LORD boast!” I like that, as long as the boasting is about God and His salvation.

Are you redeemed? Tell your story! Does your story match one of the stanzas of Psalm 107? If not, then create your own. “Some wandered in desert wastelands.” “Some sat in darkness, utter darkness.” “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction.” Some were caught in a mighty tempest at sea.

It is worth noting that some of their conditions were brought on by their own deeds. Yet, when they humbled themselves and cried out to the Lord, He rescued and delivered them.

The writer of Lamentations remembered his own affliction, and he told his story. And his conclusion has been the “mantra” of many people throughout the centuries. Because of His great love, we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

Along with this writer, I can proclaim, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” And then I take special note of one word in verse 26.

Quietly.

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

We seem to miss that word. We might be “waiting,” but we are not prone to do it quietly.

Father, we need to balance things better. Help me to be quiet when I’m waiting for You, rather than complaining. Perhaps “quietly” might also be meant to be “patiently.” For when we complain and moan, we are not being patient. So help me to wait quietly. On the other hand, also help me to be willing to tell my story, to boast in Your great works in my life. I am redeemed, let me not be afraid or ashamed to “say so.” There have been times in my life when I have sat in utter darkness, mostly as a result of my rebelliousness. But when I came to my senses and cried out to You, You rescued me. Thank You, Lord! Praise to You, Father, in the name of Jesus Christ my Savior!

I pray, this morning, that I might experience more enjoyment of Your creation, especially during this time of milder, cooler weather.

"Faithful Savior,
teach me what it means to have You as my portion,
finding my deepest satisfaction in You.
Show me the way to find in You my only comfort in life -
whatever it brings -
and in death.
Lead me to hope in You and know what it is for my soul to be well in all things.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 NLT)

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.
(2 Timothy 2:13 NLT)

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
(Exodus 15:2 NLT)

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)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not.
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow;
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Grace and peace, friends.

“Though He Slay Me . . .”

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

Day 22,878

Twelve days until C’s birthday. What does she want for her birthday? No one seems to know.

Today is Halloween. Today is Reformation Day (the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg). Today is the occurrence of a “blue moon” (two full moons in the same month). Tonight we will set our clocks back an hour (technically, the change is at 2:00 AM on Sunday . . . whose crazy idea was that??) to return to Standard Time. All of this in the midst of a seemingly never-ending pandemic.

Then, to top it all off, we have learned that the iconic James Bond, the best James Bond, Sir Thomas Sean Connery, has died.

And all of this before it’s even 9:00 AM!

The only thing we have to do today is go to our WW Workshop at 10:30. This, thanks to C, who decided to go do the grocery shopping yesterday, during her lunch hour. We all had prescriptions ready, and mine was at the Kroger Pharmacy, so she just decided to go ahead and knock out the groceries.

So, with great fear and trepidation (mildly exaggerated), I plan to spend some time in here, this afternoon and see if I can get ProTools working on this PC. Last Saturday (and Sunday), I got all the software I need downloaded. At least I think I did. There are still a couple of things on the laptop that I need to see if I can get on this PC, but they aren’t essential. I have yet to crank up ProTools, here, though, and get it configured. So I will try that, this afternoon. I’m not yet sure what I will try to record.

I need a planning session to make a plan as to what I want to record in the future, because right now, it’s all just a jumble in my brain.

We will not be having our church gathering tomorrow, as too many people are out of pocket. Based on a conversation with Brandon, yesterday, it appears that it might be must C, him, and me. There wouldn’t necessarily be anything bad about that, but we all tend to agree that we don’t want to read ahead with the majority of our folks not there. And the way our group is structured, we certainly have that flexibility.

The increase in Coronavirus numbers at the end of this week is terrifying, to say the least. Yesterday, we had 101,461 new cases! Roughly ten thousand more than Thursday, which was roughly ten thousand more than Wednesday! I have no idea what is going on, but I do know that the general population, based on what I don’t see, doesn’t even notice, and doesn’t care any more. Texas actually didn’t “win,” yesterday, as Illinois had 7164 new cases, higher than our 6819. To put all this in perspective, we were averaging around half of yesterday’s total when all of the stay at home orders were in place.

I will remind everyone, once again, at least my readers in the U.S., to remember to move your clocks back an hour, either tonight before bedtime, or, if you prefer, in the morning when you wake up. Truly, an extra hour of sleep doesn’t mean much to me, any more, as I rarely can sleep past 6:30 in the morning, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
(Psalms 103:20-22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend (finally here), to rest and refresh for the next work week
  2. For Martin Luther and his 95 Theses
  3. That Your plans stand firm forever, and Your intentions can never be shaken (Psalm 33:11)
  4. That God is mightier than any storm (or pandemic) that we are going through
  5. That, “though He slay me, I will hope in Him”

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:1-3 ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.
(Psalms 33:11 NLT)

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:9-17 NLT)

A Psalm of David.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
(Psalms 15:1-5 ESV)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(Isaiah 9:2 ESV)

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

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

While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:18-22 ESV)

“On any give day, we can go from feasting to mourning, from celebrating life to processing death, or some other life challenge. Our lives can swiftly be reduced to ‘sticks and bricks’ – financially, relationally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But God is mightier than any storm. Surviving life’s trials requires faith that’s focused on Him – faith that enables us to say with Job and others, ‘May the name of the Lord be praised’ (v. 21).”
(Arthur Jackson, Our Daily Bread)

This is a great word for these times. There are many lives that have been disrupted and shattered by this pandemic. And many may be wondering why? What is God up to? What is He trying to show us?

I don’t have answers to any of those questions. I’m not that wise. But I can confidently proclaim, along with Mr. Jackson, that “God is mightier than any storm.”

So, as we pray through these days, remember this. We do not have to be defeated. These times are hard, and they are tougher than we are. But they are not tougher than our God. He will prevail. And, as Job said later, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).

Father, I praise You that You are mightier than any storm or pandemic that we are facing. We need not be defeated, because You win! I praise You that I am able to say, along with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” I love you, Lord!

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Holiness of Earth

“One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.” (Frederick Buechner)

Today is Thursday, October 31, 2019. Peace be with you.

Today is Halloween/All Hallow’s Eve. Today is also Reformation Day, commemorating the nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, by Martin Luther.

Day 22,512

12 days until C’s birthday!!

Today is also R & J’s tenth anniversary!

And Tessie’s (dog) ninth birthday!

Today is a very special day around here!

Well, history was, indeed made, last night. The kind of history that can never be exceeded. It can be tied, but never beaten. In a bizarre World Series, the home team lost every game. The Washington Nationals also won their first ever World Series Appearance. The last time that happened was in 2002 when the Angels won. I don’t know what to call them anymore. LA? Anaheim? California? Fallen? Hahaha! Anyway, the Nationals came back from an early Astros lead to take game 7 6-2. I saw the last out, because S woke us up from a very nice sleep to hurry and come see it.

So baseball is over. There are 103 days until Spring Training begins. 😀

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Psalm 99:1

Today I am grateful:
1. That the Lord reigns.
2. For baseball, and for a very entertaining World Series. And I certainly think it’s okay to be grateful for baseball.
3. For the ways that God has blessed this family over the decades.
4. That the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8)!
5. That we, in all of our flesh and earthiness, are made holy by God.

Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. 
The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 

Psalm 7:7-8
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 
Psalm 106:47
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 33:8
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.

Psalm 125:1-3
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8

(From Faith That Matters)

All Is Holy, by Frederick Buechner

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
John 1:14

This is another one I will quote in its entirety, because I can’t do it just with paraphrase.

“John 1:14 is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity, it is the way things are.

“All religions and philosophies that deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earthbound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, and and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth, but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).

“One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.”

Father, you make all things holy. You make all things beautiful in your time. Make us holy; make us beautiful. Today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

My Hope Is In You

Today is Thursday, November 1, 2018.

Day 22,148

Thirteen days until Fallout 76!!

“Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war.”
Norman Mailer, U.S. journalist and novelist, 1923-2007
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is penumbra, “a shadowy, indefinite, or marginal area.”

Yesterday turned out to be great fun all around. I minimal costume wound up winning first place for guys at work (only three guys had any kind of “costume” at all, and one of those was only a Halloween themed t-shirt).

Yep, that’s me. Always been a “hippie” at heart.

My chili turned out good, but didn’t win. I was told, however, that it was third place, out of eleven choices. I did not pick the winner. I actually did not vote for mine, either. I still haven’t found out who made the one that I liked. After all the sampling and voting was done, I got a full bowl of my favorite one. We have enough left over to have more chili for dinner tonight. So tonight’s dinner is already made, it just has to be warmed up.

After work, we went over to our pastor’s mom’s house, where we had some of her locally famous Halloween chili. It was delicious, as always, and the fellowship was great, as her house was crammed full of people, both from our church and her neighborhood, as well as friends from elsewhere. Her chili would have won the cook-off, I am certain.

There is nothing planned for tonight or tomorrow night. It will be good to get some rest. We also don’t have much planned for this weekend. C has a ladies’ gathering after church, but that’s about it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“O heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being:
We humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget thee,
but may remember that we are ever walking in thy sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Guidance)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
What Are You Waiting For?

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 
Deliver me from all my transgressions.

Psalm 39:7-8

We do not always know what we are waiting for, but we should know that we always need to be in His presence. There are some times when that need to be in His presence is much more intense. There are also times when we think we know what we are waiting for, but “it would better to simply wait on Him without an agenda. He is able to do for us immeasurably more than all we ask or think, and we are in danger of limiting Him when we confine our desires and prayers to our own thoughts.”

That last statement is worth reconsidering. “He is able to do for us immeasurably more than all we ask or think, and we are in danger of limiting Him when we confine our desires and prayers to our own thoughts.”

The thought that I could limit God is not one that I commonly hold. And, in a sense, we can’t limit God. But in another sense, He will wait, I believe, until we ask for something. But if we simply wait before Him, not knowing what we are waiting for, and saying, like the Psalmist, “My hope is in You,” the sky, as it were, is the limit.

Let us not question God as the Hebrew children in the wilderness. “Can God really provide meat out here?” “Can God give us bread?” Can God provide streams in the desert? Well, yes, we saw Him do that! But when faced with the idea that God can do something new, we doubt, which limits Him. We need to allow our expectations to rise above past experiences. “We may also limit God by our concept of what he has promised or what we think He is able to do. Believe that the promises of God we claim have merit beyond our imagination.”

We might grow weary in waiting when we don’t know what to expect. But we might also remember that He is teaching us “to leave everything in His hands.”

Father, once again, teach me to wait. Draw me deeper into this idea of waiting. I believe that I am slowly getting there, but I’m dense, slow-witted, when it comes to matters of faith. Thank You for Your patience with me. Let me wait on You, with no certain expectations. While I’m at it, help me to understand that things I am worrying about are things that I have not surrendered fully to You.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Beyond the Veil

“We are to draw near and dwell, that is, live our life and do our work within the sphere, the atmosphere, of the inner sanctuary. It is God’s presence that makes any place the holiest of all and it is in this presence that we are to abide.”

Today is Wednesday, October 31, 2018. Halloween.

Day 22,147

Fourteen days until Fallout 76!

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin, American author, 1903-1977
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is ghosting, “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship.” “Also called French goodbye, Irish goodbye. the act of leaving a social event or engagement suddenly without saying goodbye.”

The chili is ready for the chili cook-off. There was a bit of a mishap, this morning, however. Apparently, I filled the crock pot too full, and it overflowed a bit during the night. We certainly didn’t expect that to happen. C was cleaning it all up when I got in there to make my coffee. She thought it was too thin, but I think it will be fine. It is a little more soupy than we usually make. The thing is, I added some water to it, because I thought it might “cook down” over night in the crock pot. It didn’t. Oh, well. Lesson learned.

I’ll be dressing up a little bit, today. Not much though. I’ll be wearing my “hippie-ish” tie-dye shirt, along with the wig C wore to the Boo Bash last Friday night. I’ll make sure and get a picture at some point.

We’ll be heading out to our pastor’s mom’s tonight for some more chili. We decided to not eat chili for dinner, last night.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day;
Defend us in the same with thy mighty power;
and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger;
but that we, being ordered by thy governance, may do always what is righteous in thy sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Grace)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
The Way Into the Holy of Holies

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 
and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:19-22

Once a year, the high priest would venture into the holiest place in the tabernacle, beyond the veil. But when Jesus Christ died, that veil was torn in two, from top to bottom. “All who were serving in the holy place had free access at once into the most holy.” Jesus opened the way for us to enter in.

The lesser priests could enter the “holy place,” but were not allowed beyond that veil in to the “Holy of Holies.” This was the place of God’s presence in the Old Testament world. “The rent veil proclaimed liberty of access into that presence. It is there that believers as a royal priesthood are now to live and walk.” While it may be true that the words “let us draw near” (Hebrews 10:22) could refer to the act of prayer, Murray believes that it is something more.

“We are to draw near and dwell, that is, live our life and do our work within the sphere, the atmosphere, of the inner sanctuary. It is God’s presence that makes any place the holiest of all and it is in this presence that we are to abide.” There is nothing that could happen in our day that could prevent us from continually dwelling in the presence of the Almighty. We have the ability to “draw near with uninterrupted access.”

This falls right in line with what I have been learning from Dallas Willard over the past couple of years. The Kingdom of heaven is right here, right now. The presence of God is here. He is all around us, in the air we breathe, even. And it is in the presence that we all walk. Even those who do not acknowledge the very existence of God are walking in His presence. It is when we are aware of that presence and consciously walking in it that our lives are complete.

Father, help me to walk in Your presence today! May I truly know Your presence in my life as I go through this day. I am too easily distracted by the circumstances around me. I do remember, from time to time, that I am in Your presence and walking in the Kingdom, but it needs to be constant, never wavering. Teach me, Lord. I am grateful for Your patience and kindness in my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

The State of the Heart

Today is Tuesday (I think), October 30, 2018. Yeah. Tuesday. Tomorrow’s Halloween. Tuesday.

Day 22,146

Fifteen days until Fallout 76!!!

“Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?”
James Thurber, American author, 1894-1961
BrainyQuote

The word of the day is caterwaul, “to make a harsh cry,” or, “to protest or complain noisily.”

I don’t know what to write about today. Baseball is over for this year. I don’t follow any other sportsing. I know I was still tired last night, so we were actually asleep by around 8:30! I feel better this morning, but still struggling to wake up.

A friend asked me, Sunday night, after congratulating me on the Sox winning, how many days until Spring Training begins. Hahaha!! I said I was going to savor this for a bit before beginning that countdown.

I’ll be cooking three batches of chili tonight. One to eat for dinner, and two to take to work tomorrow for our Halloween Chili Cook-off. I hope a lot of other people participate. I know one of at least one person who should be bringing venison chili, and maybe a couple others, as well. Then, tomorrow night, we’ll be heading to our pastor’s mother’s house for her annual Halloween chili, which is one of the best chilis I have ever had. We always enjoy that. It also keeps us from having to hand out candy at home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

“O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Peace)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
With Your Whole Heart

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

“The fruit of our waiting depends on the state of our heart.” This sounds so simple, yet is so profound. And, yet, does it not seem that it should also be the other way around? But the truth is, the condition of my heart dictates how close I can be to God. “We can advance no further or deeper into the Holy Place of God’s presence than our heart is prepared for it by the Holy Spirit.”

We believe with our hearts and it is with our hearts that we come “into contact with God.” While it is true that we also believe with our minds, the deeper belief comes from the heart, and that is where God places His Holy Spirit within us. And in our heart, the Holy Spirit reveals “the presence and power of God working in us.” And here is where Murray mentions the mind. Even though we can believe things with our minds, “the mind is completely incapable of creating or maintaining the spiritual life. It is the heart that must wait on God.”

There is a sharp difference between knowing with our minds and believing with our hearts. This is where Proverbs 3:5 comes in. We must beware of “the temptation to lean on [our] natural understanding.” We must present our hearts to God and, even though we cannot see into them, know and believe that He is working “there by His Holy Spirit. Allow the heart to wait at times in perfect silence and quiet; in its hidden depths God will work.”

Father, again, here I am asking You to teach me to wait. I believe that You are working in my heart. I also believe that my heart needs a lot of work. Some days, my heart feels good; it feels kind; I feel compassion and peace. Other days, my heart feels wicked and mean-spirited. This ought not be so. Take my heart, God, and make it Yours. Mold it into what You need it to be, by the power of Your Spirit. May I yield it to You, 100%.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.