And the Glory of the Lord . . .

Today is Saturday, the eleventh of December, 2021, the second Saturday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,284

Fourteen days until Christmas!

It currently doesn’t look or feel like Christmas around here (DFW, TX), but it definitely looks and feels better than last February. It’s unseasonable warm, for the most part, around here. I hear that the reason for it is that the jet stream is stuck in Canada. That’s the easy, oversimplified version, because that’s the version I understand.

We are expecting a low of right at or just below freezing tomorrow morning, but it’s supposed to get up to 61 tomorrow, so it should be a beautiful day.

Speaking of tomorrow, we are going back to Mineral Wells, tomorrow, to attend FBC’s Christmas music presentation. S wants to do that, so we can do that for her. Hopefully, Mama will be able to attend with us. We will probably have lunch from Natty Flats BBQ afterward. That seems to be our new “go to” place for lunch in Mineral Wells.

This is my Saturday to work, so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15, today. Several of us are bringing food to share today. I’m not sure what the others are bringing, so I will also bring something for lunch, just in case. I’m bringing this:

Crescent Christmas Tree Pull Apart

It has a whopping four ingredients. Pillsbury crescent rolls, Boursin Gournay Garlic & Herb cheese, butter, and parsley flakes (that’s the green stuff on top). Easy to make, and comes out very pretty. Also delicious.

I have also agreed to work in place of one of my associates, next Saturday. He has something he needs to do, so I agreed to work his shift next Saturday. Not that I care that much, but it will help to make up for the sixteen hours I will miss on Christmas weekend. We are closed Friday and Saturday, for Christmas, both days on which I was scheduled to work. We are also closed New Year’s Day, but I would have already been off that Saturday, anyway.

There has been a flurry of Christmas present buying, lately. We are almost finished. We still have a few things to come up with, though.

Please continue to pray for Benjamin’s wife, over at Brother’s Campfire. They could use some miracles.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other lovely photographs at the link provided.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Awaiting, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

Believe…
miracles
happen…

 
©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Indeed, miracles happen, sometimes whether we believe or not. Please check out her other poetry in the link provided above. You will also see some lovely images for each poem.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 
The Lord is at hand; 
do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable, 
whatever is just, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is commendable, 
if there is any excellence,
 if there is anything worthy of praise, 
think about these things. 
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, 
and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:5-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the glorious truth of these verses
2. that every good and perfect gift comes from You
3. for Your peace, which, when I allow it, floods my soul like a river
4. that Your glory shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together
5. that Your mouth has spoken these things

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 NIV)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

It is good to note that rest isn’t necessarily related to activity or the lack thereof. Rest can be a state of mind, as we allow ourselves to be immersed in and embraced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. I could be running a marathon (actually, no, I could not be running a marathon, but this is just for illustration) and be “resting” at the same time. Likewise, I could be sitting on my rump in an easy chair and not be resting at all.

The best rest comes when we walk in the easy yoke with Jesus, who bears the brunt of the labor in our lives, willingly and easily.

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

ADVENT – DAY FOURTEEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is my light and my salvation. 
Whom shall I fear? 
(Psalms 27:1 WEB)

I pause during the quietness of this morning to reflect on the peace of God, the theme of this second week of Advent. I allow His peace to move over me, covering me like a fleece blanket.

BIBLE SONG

I will praise the LORD all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
the sea, and everything in them— 
he remains faithful forever. 
He upholds the cause of the oppressed 
and gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets prisoners free,
 the LORD gives sight to the blind, 
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, 
the LORD loves the righteous.
 The LORD watches over the foreigner 
and sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

Praise the LORD. 
(Psalms 146:2, 6-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Comfort, comfort my people, 
says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, 
and proclaim to her 
that her hard service has been completed, 
that her sin has been paid for, 
that she has received from the LORD's hand 
double for all her sins.

 A voice of one calling: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; 
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be raised up, 
every mountain and hill made low; 
the rough ground shall become level, 
the rugged places a plain. 
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, 
and all people will see it together. 
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 
(Isaiah 40:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words and ideas that stir within me. I linger over them and give them my attention. Is there something I need to ask God about, to pray to Him? I pray my life to the Lord, resting in His presence.

Because You have ordained it, and made it possible, my God, my Father, I will praise Your Name for as long as I live, which will be for eternity in Your presence. “I can only imagine,” as the song says, “what it will be like” to be in Your presence for eternity. I know what Your presence feels like now. The very thought of how powerful it will be when I am Home nearly makes my heart burst.

You, the creator of heaven and earth, have condescended to interact with us. You care for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, and the fatherless. Over and over, throughout Scripture, You tell us these things. And then that bit where Jesus talks about “the least of these,” and how that applies directly back to Him . . . it would do us well to heed these words and act accordingly. When we are blind, Father, please restore our sight. We become “blind” when we look too long at the wrong things. Return our sight to the things that matter to You. Help us to take up the cause of the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner, while somehow managing to avoid the traps of the wicked.

Make the desert road straight;
raise up the valleys;
make low the mountains and hills;
level out the rough ground;
make plains out of the rugged lands.
Reveal Your glory to us, O Lord!
For Your mouth has spoken it!

I pray, Father, for servant leadership in Your Church. Give us “kingdom vision, godly stewardship, and effective organization.” May we have a deep identity with the mission You have given us. I pray for unity in the midst of the chaos.

"Satisfying God,
it sometimes hurts to hope,
and so I settle for less.
I confess that I've often given my heart to impostors and counterfeits that can never deliver.
Nurture in me a desire for Your generous reward -
a glory I can hardly begin to imagine -
and a longing for that great day when I will fully enjoy Your promises in Jesus Christ,
our Lord.
Amen."

BLESSING

Wait for Yahweh. 
Be strong, 
and let your heart take courage. 
Yes, wait for Yahweh. 
(Psalms 27:14 WEB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Reigns

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the sixth of May, 2021, in the fifth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,065

Three days until Mother’s Day. We’ve got cards and gifts.

I have neglected (fancy for “forgotten”) to mention that May is a bit of a special month in my family. It has two somewhat easy to remember birthdays. My grandmother’s (maternal) birthday was May 1. My grandmama’s (paternal) birthday was may 31. In addition, my parents’ wedding anniversary is May 25.

So May is one of those “mixed blessing” months. Good memories, but bittersweet to think about, as all of my grandparents, as well as my father, have passed on to their eternal home.

Not jealous at all. Nope.

Speaking of singing . . . oh, wait, I wasn’t, was I? But I was, yesterday. So go back and read yesterday’s, if you haven’t.

For once, I followed my own advice. I sang. Quite a bit. Not loudly, mind you, and a good bit “under my breath,” as they say. But I sang. Mostly, I sang “What A Beautiful Name.” A James Taylor song might have wormed its way in there, too.

I want to let you know that it made a difference in my day. A huge difference. I skated through yesterday with a great attitude. I don’t even remember getting annoyed at anyone. Not much, anyway. I figure it was mostly the Jesus song that helped, but who knows? Just the act of singing helps. So I’m going to try that again today.

But first I have to get through the morning devotion, and as usual, I’m already behind. So roll on . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

In the turmoil of the sea, I find safety on my rock.
In the winds of the storm, I find shelter by my rock.
In the heat of the fire, I climb upon my rock.
In the threat of the enemy, I hide under my rock.
In the dark of the night, I find comfort in my rock.

I cling to my rock.
Letting go, I realize my rock is clinging to me.
And having persevered, I am able to share my rock.
(Daryl Madden, in On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
(Psalms 92:1-3 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for my Twisted Pine Mocha Mint coffee; it tastes especially good, this morning
  • for my Rock, upon which I find safety, shelter, protection, and comfort
  • for singing
  • that You reign
  • that there are blessings and harvests that I have yet to realize, and I will thank You and celebrate those before they appear

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

EASTER – DAY 33

INVITATION

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. . . . The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:2-3 NIV)

I pause briefly to contemplate the joy that filled my soul, yesterday, and encourage the same behavior today.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.
(Psalms 97:1-6 NIV)

Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.
(Psalms 97:10-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, this morning, I strive to enjoy the presence of God. Sometimes, this means simply sitting for a moment, doing nothing else but acknowledging His presence. Breathing slowly. Centering myself on Him. Allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell and point my thoughts in the right direction.

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.”

This hearkens back to yesterday morning, as I envisioned the trees and fields rejoicing, yesterday, on my drive to work. I really did that. I plan to try that again, this morning.

I truly believe that God reigns. I believe that all creation sings over this truth, and rejoices in it. I wish that I could hear it. I would believe it would be the most “beautiful noise” I have ever heard in my life.

One thing I am looking forward to, in my longing for Home, is that scene in Revelation 7:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
(Revelation 7:9-12 NIV)

I know it says that they “cried out.” But is it too much of a stretch to think that they are singing? In fact, in the NLT, Revelation 5:12 does use the word “sang.”

And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
(Revelation 5:12 NLT)

I am fully persuaded that it will sound even better than this, and this gives me the biggest chill bumps ever. Go ahead . . . take ten minutes to listen to this. You won’t be disappointed.

This is a far as I’m getting, this morning. I realize there is much more Scripture to look at, but I am stuck on singing and the Lord reigning. So sing I will, celebrating the reign of our Lord and Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Trinity, One and Three at the same time. More love between the three in one than any one of us has ever experienced in our lives. May He share that love in us today!

Father, praises be to Your Name, this morning. I will sing more. I will sing now, and I will sing again. I will celebrate Your reign; Your blessing and honor, glory and power be unto You, for ever and ever. Amen!

Lord, give me more of a yearning to know You and help me seek Your face more consistently, each day. May I and all around me know the joy of Your great salvation, today! I pray for any of my friends and family who have not yet found faith in You. May I be a channel of blessing in their lives today.

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)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 NIV)

One quick thing before I go. Jonathan Cahn, in The Book of Mysteries, reminds us that we should celebrate our blessings before they come. So, remember that today. As you sing about the Lord reigning, consider the blessings that have yet to appear, the harvests that you have not realized, yet, and give thanks for them.

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!

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Light

Today is Sunday, December 6, 2020, the Second Sunday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,914

Nineteen days until Christmas

Probably time to get started with Christmas shopping. We have lists from everyone, mostly, I think. I also think that we will likely use one of the many available drop box locations that are close to us, as the “porch pirates” tend to come out at Christmas-time.

My WW report for this week is not great, but not bad, either. I neither gained nor lost, when I weighed in yesterday. I am only mildly disappointed, as not gaining is always good. It’s a weird pendulum swing, though, because there have not been alternating weeks, four in a row, where one week saw a large loss, and the next week saw either a miniscule loss or no loss at all. Nothing really changed during any of those weeks, either. I rarely go over my point allowance for the day, and usually end the day getting rollover points moved to my “weekly” points (those are what it takes from if you do go over your daily points). We can roll over up to four points, daily.

We tried a new recipe, last night. We got a new appliance, last week. Early Christmas present, or maybe C spending her birthday gift from Mama. I think that’s how we decided to consider it, finally. We had been interested in an air fryer, having heard from various people what they can do. For example, you can make healthier things like onion rings and “french fries” (not really “fried”). And the one C wound up getting has the name of Emeril Lagasse on it. It is, essentially, a glorified toaster oven that air fries, toasts, broils, and bakes.

The recipe we tried last night did not use the new appliance, though. C made “tuna croquettes,” and they were good. 1 point each serving, due to them having a third of a cup of uncooked oats in them. But then I used the toaster function of the new oven to make cinnamon toast, using our Sara Lee “Delightful” bread (1 point per slice), “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray (zero points), and Favor God’s “Buttery Cinnamon Roll” topper (zero points). The toaster oven in this oven toasts both sides of the bread, just like a stand up toaster. And, with the settings, there is no guessing, like there is in a regular oven. I actually burned some a few nights ago.

It was perfect! Maybe the best cinnamon toast I have ever had, and only 1 point per slice!

There are some other recipes we want to try, such as “fried” chicken, fish, onion rings, and zucchini chips (why is “zucchini” so hard to remember how to spell?).

Today, we have our Zoom church gathering at 10:15, followed by lunch, which will likely be from Applebee’s, and then rest for the remainder of the day. There may be some walking (there was none, yesterday; C got her activity by cleaning out the pantry while making room for the new air fryer on the kitchen counter).

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.
(Psalms 101:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your steadfast love and justice, of which I will sing
  2. For another day of life and breathing, both physical and spiritual
  3. That Your decrees (Your Word) are trustworthy and sure
  4. For the ministry of John the Baptizer
  5. For the Light of the world

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

Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalms 93:5 ESV)

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalms 118:23 ESV)

“What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
“I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(Luke 7:25-28 ESV)

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 149:1-9 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:1-5 ESV)

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
(Isaiah 40:9-11 ESV)

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
(2 Peter 3:8-14 ESV)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(Mark 1:1-8 ESV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
(1 John 5:1-6 ESV)

How do we know we love God? If we keep His commandments. And “his commandments are not burdensome” (verse 3).

But let’s consider what those commands are, once again. Most people, if asked what God’s commandments are, would start quoting the Ten. But let’s move forward a few centuries. Jesus “summarized” (if you will allow me to use that word) the Ten Commandments, along with the rest of the Law, as well as the prophets, with only two commands!

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

John, I believe, speaks truthfully, when he says that these commandments are not, in fact, burdensome.

This does not mean that they are “easy.” But the truth is, if we would consistently walk in the “easy yoke” of Jesus, they would be easy, wouldn’t they? It’s when we step out of that, that things become difficult.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 ESV)

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

Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
(Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV)

What is light?

Is it the opposite of darkness?

It is not the absence of darkness. Rather, it drives the darkness away. In a room completely consumed with darkness, a light as small as a match can dispel that darkness.

Darkness is the absence of light.

But the word, “light,” has other meanings. For example, in Psalm 119:130, above, it is said that God’s Word gives light. We all know that’s not literally true. I have never opened up my Bible and used it to light my way when the power goes out.

In this sense, light means something similar to “understanding” (the word in the second half of that verse).

When someone has a new idea, or suddenly understands something, we think of a light bulb going on above their heads.

I just had a slightly humorous conversation with C because all of this made me wonder, why do we always put the light fixtures in the ceiling? Light is directional, certainly, but it has no weight, so gravity does not affect it. So, theoretically, a room would get just as much light from a fixture on the wall or even the floor.

The answer we came up with is that, since you don’t put anything else on the ceiling, there is nothing to obstruct the light source, to keep it from illuminating the whole room. We don’t put furniture on the ceiling.

If the light fixture was on the floor, there would be no light on the other side of the bed. If it was on the wall, it would be better, but it might be blinding, because, too often, you would be looking right into it.

Sorry. This got way too philosophical.

Where is your light? Where is my light? When I open up God’s Word, my soul gets light. I get understanding. And, if you consider that the word “light” also means “not heavy,” then my spirit is made less heavy when I consult God’s Word, as well.

Jesus is the Light of the world. When He was “lifted up,” all men were drawn to Him, as a moth to a candle flame. And His light ultimately defeats the darkness in our world.

Father, thank You for light. In the poetic opening of our Bible, we are told that the first thing You created after creating the heavens and the earth, was light. I thank You that “light” also means understanding, and that, through Your Word, the Holy Spirit gives me light. I am also grateful that “light” means “not heavy,” and that through walking in the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ, my burden is made lighter and easier. Your commands, as John told us, are not at all burdensome, if we would be walk with Jesus daily. I pray for Your light to shine more brightly on this world, and especially on Your people, that we might live together in harmony and unity as we face the darkness in this world. May we also not be deceived into believing that the darkness comes from people who believe differently than we do. The darkness comes from our enemy. And our enemy is not flesh and blood. Please, God, help us to remember this.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Riding On A Merry-Go-Round

“In the struggle with self-hatred, we obviously do not like what we see. It is uncomfortable, if not intolerable, to confront our true selves, and so, like runaway slaves, we either flee our own reality or manufacture a false self, which is mostly admirable, mildly prepossessing, and superficially happy.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Sunday, September 14, 2014. It is 64 degrees, and there is only one day over the next ten that has a projected temperature of at least 90 degrees. I think I’m going to cry.

Today is Eat A Hoagie Day. That actually sounds kind of good. Maybe I’ll do that.

Christi wound up having vertigo yesterday afternoon, so she didn’t make it to church. I’m thinking it was a combination of exhaustion from running around all morning, plus mama drama, as well, as her mother has been “misbehaving” this week. Hopefully, we will have a good day of rest today. There are a few things that Christi wants to get done today, but otherwise, it should be a nice day, with what has become sort of a tradition of steaks and baked potatoes for dinner, to close out the weekend.

I had a nice conversation yesterday evening with the younger brother of the young man who passed away on Thursday evening. Jordan had posted a few things on Facebook, and I simply responded by telling him that we had a lot of people praying for them. He responded by asking me to call him, so I did. Mostly, I just let him talk. I think he’s going to be fine. Most of the words he said were spot on, right in line with the grieving process, and he spoke quite seriously about being strong for his mother. I pretty much just affirmed and encouraged him. While Christi was finishing up her stuff, Stephanie and I went to Fogata’s for lunch (Christi told us to go without her). Jared, the young man who passed, worked a brief stint at Fogata’s as a waiter. When we told Mike the news, he was almost overwhelmed, as was another one of the waiters who remembered Jared. Mike was so upset and moved, that he offered to send a fajita dinner to the family last night. I contacted the lady who has been setting up the dinners, and we were able to make that happen. So, if you’re in the area, be sure and give Fogata’s some business! They are good people.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1741 that George Frederick Handel completed the oratorio, The Messiah, which he had only begun working on 28 days before. “The manuscript is remarkably free of errors considering its length, the speed with which it is composed, and his own infirmity—he has already suffered a stroke.” Here is the ending of the oratorio.

Today’s birthdays include Andrew Lincoln (who happens to be married to the daughter of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson), Amy Winehouse, Sam Neill, Clayton Moore, Joey Heatherton, Ivan Pavlov, Faith Ford, Walter Koenig, Mark Hall, Morten Harket, Jessica Brown Findlay, Margaret Sanger, Bowzer, Mary Crosby, and Steve Gaines.

Two actors I would feature today. Walter Koenig turns 78 today. He is most famous for playing Chekov in classic Star Trek, alongside Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. I once met Mr. Koenig at a Comic-Con. He is a tiny man, and most gracious. A very friendly man.

The other is Sam Neill, who turns 67 today. My favorite role of his is, of course, Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. Here is my favorite clip from that movie, which still ranks in my top five favorite movies of all time.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

(From The Divine Hours)

. . . and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
Psalm 29:9
Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”

Psalm 35:1, 3
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!

Psalm 72:18-19
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.
Psalm 41:13
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 91:1-10

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your
Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule my heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16-18

This is a concept that is not so common among modern-day Christians. We don’t fast very much. There are certainly some who do, but it is not a widespread practice. It seems to have been a legalistic thing in Jesus’s day. I have read reports that said that Jews fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. I don’t know how accurate those reports are. But it was certainly more common, and it was expected of a good Jew. In addition, a habit seems to have developed that a person would purposefully not anoint their head on a day when they were fasting, so as to appear more pious than others. Anointing of the head was, according to the Reformation Study Bible notes, a symbol of rejoicing. Well, one can hardly expect to be “rejoicing” when one is walking around hungry all day, can one?? Actually, yes, says Jesus. One can be expected to rejoice, because of the true purpose and nature of real fasting. It is not to draw attention to yourself. It is for the purpose of prayer and devotion, and should be a private thing, just like helping the poor and praying. Interestingly, Jesus uses the exact same phrase for the third time, at the end of this passage. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. The message is clear. If we do anything at all with the purpose of being noticed and applauded by men, that will be our only reward.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Wearing Masks.”

“In the struggle with self-hatred, we obviously do not like what we see. It is uncomfortable, if not intolerable, to confront our true selves, and so, like runaway slaves, we either flee our own reality or manufacture a false self, which is mostly admirable, mildly prepossessing, and superficially happy.” We inevitably employ defense mechanisms in this maneuver. Those defense mechanisms distort our perception of reality, while protecting us from “fear, loss, and emotional pain. Through the smoke screen of rationalization, projection, displacement, insulation, intellectualization, and generalization, we remain on the merry-go-round of denial and dishonesty.” I love that last sentence. Read it again.

“Through the smoke screen of rationalization, projection, displacement, insulation, intellectualization, and generalization, we remain on the merry-go-round of denial and dishonesty.”

We who ride this merry-go-round wear a thousand different masks “to disguise the face of fear.”

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

Father, I don’t want to wear masks. I want to be transparent, and I believe that I pretty much am, most of the time. Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I can’t hide what I am feeling. Not one bit. If I don’t agree with something, it is all over my face. If I’m upset over something, it is visible. I pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in all situations, that I might not be guilty of manufacturing a false self in order to protect myself from fear, loss, or emotional pain. I have no desire to ride on this “merry-go-round of denial and dishonesty.” This also means that I don’t want to be guilty of pretending to go along with something when I don’t believe or agree with it. Give me wisdom, Lord, as I struggle with my own faults and “self-hatred.” Help me to confront my true self with honesty and the grace that you have shown me in Christ. Then, help me to turn around and direct that same grace to others.

I pray for this day. Christi has a couple things to do this afternoon, involving her mom and step-dad, and I pray that she would have grace and strength throughout. I pray for good rest this evening, as we prepare for another work week. I am grateful that my cellulitis seems to be pretty much gone. Help me to take better care of myself in the future, in order to, hopefully, avoid this condition.

I continue to lift up the Knight/Hogan family, as they grieve the loss of Jared, who was close to all of them. May your comfort and peace overwhelm them in this time of overwhelming loss. May they truly find that your grace is sufficient.

leisure-land-merry-go-round

Let’s get off of the dismal “merry-go-round of denial and dishonesty,” and throw off the masks. May Christ shine through in all we do, as we struggle with ourselves.

Grace and peace, friends.

He Will Stand Upon the Earth

It’s Wednesday morning, December 7, 2011. It’s the anniversary of our first date! 27 years ago today, my life began again! Happy first date anniversary, my love!

It’s 24 degrees outside this morning! Clear, though. And, apparently, no wind. Which is good. It’s still going to be cold when I have to go out and do my yard check this morning. But it’s that time of year. And I’m not going to complain, because there are way colder places than this. Like Boston, for instance. What?? It’s 49 in Boston?? Okay. Now, I’m complaining!

Stephanie is feeling much better. We are hoping for a good meeting with her homebound teacher today. Also work went much better yesterday, for both Christi and me. That’s always a blessing.


Today’s Bible readings:
2 John; Haggai 1-2; Job 19:23-27

2 John is an interesting letter. We are unsure as to who, exactly, it is written to, but seems to be a Christian woman and her children. Again, he stresses the need for us to love one another. And, he says, this is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the very beginning. (v. 5) Love is, again, defined as walking in the commands of Jesus, the most important of which is that we love God and that we love one another. John then cautions against those who do not abide in the teachings of Christ, who might come and bring deceptive teachings. This warning is so severe that John even says this: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (vv. 10-11) I personally take a very strong stand on these two verses. I take them literally. If someone from a “cult” shows up at my front door, I do not invite them in, even thought there is a great temptation to invite them in and debate theology with them. I do not want them in my house. I do not want them influencing my family. If I meet someone out somewhere else that espouses beliefs that are different from mine, I will not hesitate to engage them in a debate. But not in my house, and especially when they are out “evangelizing” their own “church.” I know it sounds harsh, but I believe that this is what is being taught here.
At the end of this brief letter, John sends greetings from the children of the woman’s sister.
I will point out that the author of Discovering the Bible believes that the “elect lady and her children” are the church. The Reformation Study Bible says that “such usage is otherwise unknown.” Oddly, he has no comment on the last verse where the children of your elect sister are mentioned. I suppose that this could be a different church body, if we take that stand on the interpretation. Even Matthew Henry’s commentary seems to agree with the Reformation Study Bible in taking a literal interpretation of who this letter is addressed to, even stating that the lady was probably a widow.


The brief prophecy of Haggai was written during the time of Ezra, while Darius was king of Persia, and concerned the rebuilding of the temple. People were saying it was not yet time to rebuild the temple. However, the Lord said, Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. (1: 4-6) The people were instructed to get busy working on the house of the Lord.
In chapter 2, the Lord encourages them and declares that he will, once again, fill his house with his glory. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. (2: 6-7) This, of course, one of the main arias in Handel’s Messiah.

The above clip also contains “But Who May Abide,” and “And He Shall Purify.”


The words of Job in 19:23-29 are somewhat astounding, considering that, more than likely, none of the writings we currently know as The Bible were in existence yet.
“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! If you say, ‘How we will pursue him!’ and, ‘The root of the matter is found in him,’ be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment.”
Job seems to be looking forward to the resurrection, confident that he will see his Redeemer (Vindicator, Avenger) standing on the earth in the last day.


Father, today, I am thankful for the encouragement and confidence that we have in you. You are continuing to stress to me the importance of loving my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I joyfully receive this. I’m actually kind of at a loss for words this morning. Shocking, I know. I am thankful for your words, given to us by the many people who wrote what we have as The Bible, now. I pray for strength to stand strong when false teaching is brought to me. I pray that we, as your Church, will always search the Scriptures diligently to know if something that is being taught is truth. Let us not get lazy or careless in these matters. Let us be faithful to your words.
Father, I pray that I will never be guilty of comparing myself to other men. Let me compare myself only to Jesus. My sins are my sins. It matters not what other men do, in comparison. My sins damage my relationship with you, and I must deal only with them and myself. It is Jesus who is my guide and my standard, not other people.
I pray for the day when the whole earth will be filled with your glory. I believe that day will come.

I pray for this day, Father. May Christi and I have a good day at our jobs. I pray for Stephanie’s meeting with her teacher this afternoon. I pray that a good relationship will develop there, that will carry Stephanie through to the end of the school year.


May we walk in the commands of our Savior and love one another as we look forward to that day when our Redeemer will stand on the dust of the earth.

Grace and peace, friends.

Addendum: After posting this, I saw a message on Facebook from one of my FB friends. He has a cousin who tried to hang herself last night. As of last night, she was still alive, but the oxygen supply had been cut off for around 15 minutes, which could cause permanent brain damage. He is requesting prayer for her recovery. I will update when possible. Her name is Lisa.

Father, I pray for Lisa and her family. I pray for her recovery, and if this happens, I pray that you would send someone into her life to give her life meaning, so that she will not have the desire to end her life any more. We pray for a miracle, Lord.