Let Them Know . . .

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-second of September, 2021. ‘Tis the first day of Autumn, my favorite season of the year!

Day 23,204

Twenty days until our 36th wedding anniversary!

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, a wonderful Romanian photographer. My gratitude to Paul for allowing me to use his photos.

Fall has finally arrived, and has arrived in great style, as it is currently below sixty degrees in DFW, and the projected high is only 82 today. Tomorrow should be similar. There’s a little rain in the forecast, in about a week, but things could always change between now and then.

Yesterday was a great work day. I spent the first four hours in shelving, putting away some new books and DVDs, then pulled some large print books that are slated for probable “deaccession.” That means they will be pulled from library stock and placed in the next Friends of the Library sale. The second half was spent in the computer center, where my role is basically to sit there are wait for people to have questions or problems. There are occasional tasks with which I can assist, as well. I am also thinking about signing up to help with the library’s subscription service, a brain child of one of the media/tech people during the pandemic, while the library was closed to inside service. Each month, three books are chosen by library staff for subscribers, based on a survey they fill out, along with their check-out history (only made available for this service), then the patrons get to rate the books that they are given by the staff. I’ve not only considered signing up to help pick books, but I’ve also considered signing up for the service, itself. Sounds like fun.

Today, I work from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and then I’m off for the next four days. Next week will be the “tough” week, tough only because of the number of hours I will be working during the calendar week, as my schedule changes to the new schedule I will have, going forward from October 1.

I’ve got a grocery order being delivered from Albertson’s, this morning, with some needed things, mostly watermelon and bananas. Can’t keep a banana in this house! It’s crazy.

At some point, I may have to break down and mow the yard. Maybe tomorrow. Also, in regards tomorrow, C received a text message on Monday, confirming that the Social Security folks will be calling her Thursday morning, in regards to to S’s benefit from my record. That should be interesting.

Today is Hobbit Day, as, apparently, it is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The word for today is muliebrity, a noun, which means “womanly nature or qualities.” This is appropriate, as today is also Business Women’s Day.

The quote for today, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

Significant birthdays on September 22:

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, 1290 (did he ever die?)
Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, 1515-1557
Michael Faraday, English scientist, 1791-1867
Charlotte Cooper, British tennis player, 1st female Wimbledon champion, 1870-1966
Tommy Lasorda, American baseball manager, 1927-2021
Toni Basil, American singer (Mickey), 1943 (78)
David Coverdale, British rock singer (Deep Purple, Whitesnake), 1949 (Wikipedia says 1951, making him 70)
Andrea Bocelli, Italian tenor, 1958 (63)
Scott Baio, American actor (Happy Days), 1960 (61)
Catherine Oxenberg, American actress (Dynasty), mother of India Oxenberg, victim of Keith Ranier's NXIVM cult, 1961 (60)
Bonnie Hunt, American actress (Cheaper By the Dozen, Rain Man), 1961 (60)
Tom Felton, English actor (Draco Malfoy), 1987 (34)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Beginning of Fall is here;
Cooler air outside;
Refreshing and renewing.

In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 29:18-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Autumn, and the cooler temperatures it brings
2. for the grace that floods my soul, this morning, even though I am undeserving of it
3. for the coming day when all people, all over the world, will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You are Most High over all the earth
4. for the promise of rest and strength as we return to You in repentance
5. for my life in You, in the truth of Your Gospel, and the strength to share it with others

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK EIGHTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
(Psalms 139:14 MSG)

As I pause here, in the quietness, I consider that You are, indeed, breathtaking! This body, this soul, so marvelously and wonderfully made! I watch my fingers move. I pay attention to my breathing. What marvel; what wonder!

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof,
O God.
See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you,
whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:1-4, 17-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
(1 Samuel 5:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct my meditations and prayers, and teach me something for my life today.

I do like the prayer at the beginning of Psalm 83. We should always be praying, I think, for God to not be silent, to not stand aloof, to not turn a deaf ear to us. It’s one of those prayers that seems superfluous, because God has already promised to not do any of those things.

It is we who are fickle, and I believe that praying prayers like this can center our souls, cause us to focus better on the Almighty. If we are asking Him to pay attention, it means we are speaking to Him. It’s a simple though, really, but it is similar to the idea that prayer, in itself, is an exercise in faith. If I had no faith, I would not be bothering to pray. But the fact that I pray indicates that there is at least a grain of sand worth of faith in there somewhere.

It is also interesting that Asaph phrases this psalm in such a way to indicate that it is GOD’S enemies that he is praying against, not his own. “These people are Your enemies, because they are trying to wipe out Your people.” In our day and time, the enemies of God have a different tactic. Mostly, I think, they simply ignore Him or try to prove that He doesn’t exist. All to their own destruction, eventually.

The last verse of the psalm is one of those great prayers that we can always pray, kind of like “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 NIV)

The Lord let the Philistines know that He was Most High in this mildly amusing story from 1 Samuel. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They thought they had won, right?

Silly Philistines.

Even their idol, their false God Dagon, bowed before the ark! That piece of stone or wood was found face down before the ark, the morning after they set the ark next to the idol. They even set it back up, but found it face down again, the next morning, with the head and hands broken off. Interestingly, their superstitions continued to rule them, as the head and hands were laying on the threshold, which caused the worshipers of Dagon to never step on the threshold of the temple again.

What does it say to us when a “god” that isn’t even real bows down to the Most High God? One also wonders why the Philistines continued to worship Dagon.

And then the “bad stuff” started happening. We don’t know the exact nature of it, other than “devastation” and “tumors.” Some wise people among them figured out that all of this was happening because they had the ark.

Ya think?

So they decided to move it. To Gath, another Philistine city. If you keep reading, the people of Gath dumped it on the city of Ekron, who immediately cried out, “”They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” Word gets around.

The amazing thing to me is that there is never any indication that any of these people thought to cry out to the God of Israel for mercy! They just kind of “shooed” Him off, dumped Him on the next town. Actually, today’s reading, in the devotional book, stops before any of the moving around, with the question, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

A similar question looms, today. This God, the Most High God over all the earth, has revealed Himself in many ways. Paul, in the book of Romans declares that He has revealed Himself sufficiently in nature, to the point that no one on earth has any excuse for not believing in Him.

I lean toward agreeing with that thought. I do not, for the life of me, understand how anyone can look around at the beauty of this world (even the dry, arid, desolate places are beautiful in their own way) and not believe in a creator! Personally, I think it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that all of this is just serendipity.

The looming question is “What are you going to do with the God of Israel? What are you going to do with Jesus Christ?” You only have two choices. You can believe in Him, or you can not believe in Him. You can’t just ignore Him. You can try, but it has the same effect as not believing.

C.S. Lewis, I believe, was the first person to propose the idea, concerning Jesus, that you have three choices about Him. Either 1)He is who He says He is, which is God incarnate, the Savior of the world, 2) He is a bald-faced liar, making claims that simply aren’t true, or 3) He is a raving lunatic, a mad-man.

You simply do not have the choice to think that He was a “good teacher.”

He claimed to be God.

He was crucified, He was buried, and He rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. There are eye witnesses to all of those!

I will proclaim these truths until my dying day.

Father, I pray that someone who does not believe in You will read this blog today. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will surround them as they read, and that they will be drawn into a believing relationship with You, by the power of the blood of Christ. I praise You that You drew me in so many years ago, that You caused me to be born into a believing family, and that You chose me to be one of Your children, before the foundations of the earth. I pray that You will, indeed, let them know that You, whose Name is Yahweh, that You alone are Most High over all the earth!

"Living God,
You are the one true God,
eternal,
almighty,
everywhere present,
filled with compassion,
knowing all things,
most wise,
perfectly holy,
always patient,
overflowing with goodness and truth.
All my idols are reflections of my broken self,
and only as I fall down and worship You do I find myself whole again.
Amen."

BLESSING

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
(Matthew 5:4 MSG)

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)

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!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Honesty in Prayer

Good morning. It is Tuesday, September 22, 2015. Last day of Summer.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is penitent. This adjective means, “feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing and disposed to atonement and amendment; repentant; contrite.”

It was a tough choice, what with it being White Chocolate Day, and Ice Cream Cone Day. I mean, any holiday with “chocolate” in it is definitely worthy of recognition, right? But, September 22 happens to be the shared birthday of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins. So today is Hobbit Day!

Band practice was fun last night. We played a lot of music. Our director was out of town, so we had a guest director, one of the other Southlake school band directors. I don’t remember his name, but he was also guest directing the first night I was there. We basically just played through about ten pieces, with little rehearsing, as he didn’t know how our regular director would rehearse the parts. In essence, it was a gigantic sight-reading session. These Christmas concerts are going to be fun, for the most part. We are playing some fun pieces.

I’m going to give it another shot at getting to Huddle tonight. The down side tonight is that we are having it at the co-leader’s house, which is a bit farther north than the regular place.

The Red Sox are statistically eliminated from any chance of winning the division, as the Blue Jays won last night. However, they are not in last place today! They are playing a series with Tampa Bay, and the Sox beat them last night, which put the Rays into last place. The elimination for any Wild Card possibilities is 6. The Rangers did not play, but Houston played and won, narrowing the gap between them to one game. It’s gonna be a nail-biter, folks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Psalm 105:1-3

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The last section of prayer touchstones is, “Where Prayer Takes Us.” The first in this list is, “Self-Knowledge–Prayer Requires and Creates Honesty and Self-Knowledge.”

One thing that has already been pointed out is that we cannot begin true prayer without humility. Oh, sure, you can “pray” without humility. People do every Sunday morning, in church, out loud. But true prayer must include humility, because we cannot truly come before a holy and omniscient God without it. However, prayer must take us even deeper than this. We must go “beyond a mere sense of insufficiency into deep honesty with ourselves.” If you think about it, honesty before God who knows everything (omniscience) is superfluous. But how often do we find ourselves trying to hide behind “prayerful platitudes without taking the time or making the effort to expose to God and ourselves our deepest fears, hurts flaws, and sins.” In essence, when we try to hide these things from God, we wind up deceiving ourselves more than God, who cannot be deceived.

It’s more than just sins that we need to confess, though. We need to “uncover the inward postures, attitudes, perspectives, and inordinate desires that lead us to sins small and large.” The closer we get to this divine beauty, intelligence, and purity, the more we know our own “unsightliness, dullness, and impurity.” This makes us uncomfortable, which is why we try so hard to cover it up.

The bottom line is this: “We cannot truly know God better without coming at the same time to know ourselves better.” This, of course, works both ways. If we deny the truth about ourselves, we will be largely blind to the greatness of God. A great example for us is Isaiah. In Isaiah 6, he receives a vision of God in his temple. His reaction is proper and classic. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” “If we are not open to the recognition of our smallness and sinfulness, we will never take in his greatness and holiness.”

Edmund Clowney, whom Keller has quoted previously, notes that “prayer involves an honesty that has no real parallel in human relationships, because every human relation necessarily involves only a part of your personality. Each of our relationships is different. We have spouses (some of us), friends, strangers we meet in passing . . . all with whom we relate differently. We don’t even reveal our whole selves to our spouses. Yet when we encounter our Father in heaven, “Our masks are gone, pretense is useless: the relationship is not partial, but total. All that we are stand related to our Maker and Redeemer.”

Father, keep me honest before you, in prayer. I confess, I have caught myself spiraling into “prayerful platitudes,” spouting out cliches in prayer that are so often heard in “churchy prayers” on Sundays. May we not seek to impress with our prayers. I have been guilty of that. Yes, trying to pray prayers that would impress people around me with my depth, knowledge, or understanding. It is difficult, this praying in groups out loud. It’s hard to tread that fine line between honesty and openness, and artificial piety. But even in private prayers, it is sometimes difficult to keep from trying to pray in words that I think might impress you. This is silly. There is nothing I can do that will impress you, and it is pointless to try. Instead, teach me to be completely open and honest before you, praying from my heart, revealing the worst and best of my nature before you. You have created me and know everything there is to know about me, so trying to cover any of that up is more detrimental to me. Reveal myself to me.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe travel to and from work. May our work day go smoothly, and give us the ability to display your kingdom today, in all circumstances. May your grace rain down on the rest of our family today, in whatever we find ourselves doing. I pray for your protection, blessing, and provision for all of our family. Give us this day our daily bread.

Come, Lord Jesus.

True prayer leads us to honesty and self-knowledge. Let us not try to cover up our real self before God.

Grace and peace, friends.

True Love

Good morning. It is Monday, September 22, 2014. Last partial day of summer! Fall begins at approximately 9:30 tonight, CDT. And to celebrate, the temperature is not supposed to hit 90 all week!

Today is Hobbit Day, celebrated worldwide by fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, as the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

We had a great visit with Rachel and Justin yesterday afternoon. We had steaks and baked potatoes for lunch, which were very delicious, then we played “Cards Against Humanity” for a few hours. I’ve mentioned this game before, I believe. It’s great fun, with lots of laughter. If you’re easily offended, you should never even look at it. In fact, you pretty much have to turn off your “offended” button to play this game. After R&J left, I went up to Taco Casa for some dinner, and to Braum’s for some ice cream sundaes, and we settled in to watch a few episodes of CSI:NY. We’re in season 3.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Jesus, thank you for everything.

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

Psalm 103:1-2
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:1-2
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Psalm 119:33-40

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Today’s Gospel Reading

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus never paints a rosy picture of the Christian life. He lets people know that it is not easy. Contrast this with modern “evangelistic” approaches. In some circles, there is a prevalent message that, once saved, it’s a walk in the park. But if you truly “listen” to the words of Jesus, it seems that he is almost discouraging to people who would try to follow him. I find that very interesting. We might also be aware that this wide gate with the easy road will not have a sign hanging over it that says, “This way leads to destruction.” You see, if our “enemy” desires to mislead us and have us walking on the wrong path, he will advertise it as the true path, the road to heaven. This may be what Jesus refers to as he speaks of the false prophets that will be in the passage I read tomorrow.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Learning To Love.”

Paul tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2} We sometimes get caught up in abstract theology, “impersonal ethics, and fixed formulae,” as we try to learn to love God. We think that knowing all the proper theology is the best way to love God. But the Bible tells us differently. John tells us in the first of his three little letters, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) Brennan follows this up by saying, “To love one another means that the love of God has reached full growth in us.” I don’t know that God’s love will ever reach “full growth” in me, as long as I wear this mortal coil, but I do understand that we show our love for God by loving people. You see, earlier in that same letter, John tells us, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (4:8 ) So we can spout out theology and ethics rhetoric all day long. If we do not love, we do not know God. Period.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,
and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,
for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 35:36

Father, thank you for returning to this topic in my life today. The concept of loving others has been a thread that has been running through my life and heart for several years now, and I still struggle with it, don’t I? There are still too many days when I come to the conclusion that I just don’t like people. I would rather run away and hide, being a hermit in the hills somewhere, existing in a cave. But you did not create us to do that. At least you did not create me to do that. And how can I truly be interceding for people if I do not love them? Thank you for the reminder, this morning, that if I am not able to love, then I have no true knowledge or relationship with you.

Help me to stay on the narrow path. I believe that I have walked through the narrow gate. But I believe that I sometimes manage to stumble off of the path, and, while I never get “lost,” sometimes get seriously distracted and delayed. I pray that you keep me on the path. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Such a wonderful verse, Father.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe passage to and from work. I pray for our work day, that it would be smooth and lack stress. Let us throw all of our cares on you, that we do not experience anxiety. I also pray for my parents, who will be travelling to Dallas today for my Dad’s regular doctor visit. Keep them safe as they travel, and I pray that the appointment goes well. May you bring blessing on Ann for driving them to Dallas! What a great help she has been, Father! Please bless her for her generosity. May you bring Stephanie wisdom and understanding today, and give her peace. I pray for healing for Rachel, Father, that she might be free from pain.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we do a better job of loving each other, thereby demonstrating true love for God.

Grace and peace, friends.