God Will Do What He Says He Will Do

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twentieth of December, 2021, the fourth Monday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,293

Only five days until Christmas!

There will be a flurry of Christmas wrapping today, as I work on getting C’s presents wrapped. They’ve been in a pile in my study for a couple weeks, and today is the day to get them wrapped. Hopefully. Heh. If I don’t get them done today, I also have tomorrow. I’m working Wednesday, this week, so I’ll need to get that done by then. On the other hand, I’m not working Thursday, so there’s that.

Procrastination 101.

I have some help, this morning.

Cleopatra wants that cursor

Oh. I’ll be right back. I need to start some laundry.

It’s going to be a slightly busy day, for a Monday. There’s the aforementioned laundry. Then I need to make a side trip to the grocery store, to pick up a few things that we either didn’t decide we needed yet, or weren’t available from Alberton’s, yesterday. Tonight, I’m going out to eat with C, courtesy of USBC. I believe we are going to the Winewood Grill, in Grapevine. C has her yearly checkup with her doctor, this afternoon, so she’s coming straight home after that, and we will be able to drive over there together.

I also, apparently, have yet another package to pick up at the hub locker.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

On the Path, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

All of
our footsteps
lead home 

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

I admire this poet’s ability to express things so simply, yet beautifully, in so few words. For many of us, “Home” is the ultimate goal, and we certainly hope that we are walking in the right direction. Please check out her website for more poetic imagery.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, 
"Which commandment is the most important of all?" 
Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, 
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself:
 I am the LORD. 
(Leviticus 19:18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of God in my heart, which drives me (and enables me) to love others
2. for my weaknesses, which allow God to display His power in me
3. that the Lord has searched me, and knows me, inside and out
4. that God's Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent
5. for the blessing that comes from believing that God will fulfill His promises to us

But he said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
But the LORD said to Samuel, 
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, 
for I have rejected him. 
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, 
but the LORD looks at the heart." 
(1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
You have searched me, 
LORD, 
and you know me.
(Psalms 139:1 NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-THREE

INVITATION

Turn us again to yourself, O God. 
Make your face shine down upon us. 
Only then will we be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NLT)

As I pause during this quiet moment (the cat is currently not on the desk), I consider that the Lord’s face is assuredly shining down on us. I acknowledge the truth that I cannot begin to comprehend my life from the middle. God is working His plan, and all will be clear when it is completed. I must trust Him and not lean on my own “understanding,” which is truly no understanding at all.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice. 
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, 
the hills the fruit of righteousness. 
May he defend the afflicted among the people 
and save the children of the needy; 
may he crush the oppressor. 
May he endure as long as the sun, 
as long as the moon, through all generations. 
May he be like rain falling on a mown field, 
like showers watering the earth.
 In his days may the righteous flourish 
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. 
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 
where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, 
the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 
But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
(Luke 1:39-45 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I seek the guidance of His Spirit as I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

My Father, I rejoice, along with Paul’s writing, in my weaknesses, knowing that it is in them that You are made strong, or that Your strength is made evident. Your grace is, indeed, sufficient for anything we might be going through. I also take joy in the fact that You do not regard outward appearances, but are concerned with what is in the heart. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go around looking like a slob, but it also means that I don’t need to “dress to impress,” at least not for You. It is apparent that I cannot impress You with anything. For You have searched me, and You know me, inside and out. You know things about me that I do not know. As that psalmist said, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it.

Help me to lay aside all hindrances, any sin that entangles me, and run the race set before me. Help me to know that I cannot understand my life, my circumstances, by looking at them from the middle. I will only be able to fully comprehend my life when I can see it from beginning to end, as we can see Your Word. Of course, I cannot fully comprehend Your Word, yet, either. Help me to know what I need to know, to comprehend what I need to comprehend, and to trust that You have given me everything that I need for life and godliness.

As I read through the psalm again, that speaks of defending the afflicted, saving the needy, and crushing the oppressor, I am drawn, instead, to the words of Elizabeth at the end of the Luke passage. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” I believe that I can appropriate this blessing for myself, as I believe that we can all do so. If we believe that You will fulfill Your promises, we are, indeed, blessed. And I do believe. I believe that You will do what You say You will do.

"Son of Man and Son of God,
in real time,
You were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary.
Deity and humanity were inseparably joined together in You.
Thank You for the way Christmas reminds me that faith is both material and mystical.
No confusion,
but lots of wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(Based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Two Roads Before You

Today is Saturday, the first of May, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.

Day 23,060

Eight days until Mother’s Day

It seems like this past week was longer than usual. Which, of course, is silly, because it was the same length as any other week. But perception is everything, isn’t it? The stress and anxiety levels seemed higher, and I may have been, to a degree, piggy-backing off of C’s incredible stress levels, as well. Hers was much more than mine, and continues this morning.

In fact, she will not be accompanying me to our WW workshop, as she needs to be available for work. Hopefully, they won’t need her.

She stopped by the grocery store on the way home, yesterday, and picked up most of our groceries for the coming week. I’m taking a truncated list of things that she wasn’t able to get, and will stop by Albertson’s on the way home from WW. Why Albertson’s? Because they carry Nick’s ice cream, that because why. On a possible discouraging note, C noted that all of the Halo Top ice cream was on clearance at the WM Neighborhood Market, yesterday evening. I hope that doesn’t mean it is going away. It’s one of our favorite treats (second to Nick’s, of course).

Nothing much else is planned today, especially since C has to remain available for work. So I will spend my time, this afternoon and evening, playing games and/or music and/or reading. I’m very close to finishing Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. In fact, I’m done with the actual text of the book and into an Appendix. I have no idea what I’m reading next.

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)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:3-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the promises and hope in the above passage
  • for the weekend to rest and refresh for the upcoming week
  • that You are making everything new
  • for the making of music to proclaim Your great love
  • that You chose me and put me on the path of life

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

EASTER – DAY 28

INVITATION

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)

I’m pausing for a moment to reflect on the hope of future grace, as we look toward the day when we will be Home.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

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.
For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!
(Psalms 92:1-5 NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
(Psalms 92:12-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”
(Ezekiel 34:11-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I linger over these passages, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak truth into my soul.

It is, indeed, good to sing and make music, proclaiming the praises of the Lord. I confess that I have missed this aspect of traditional “church” life. While I do like the model we are using for our gatherings, there are some aspects of the traditional church gathering that I do miss, and the singing of worship songs together is one of those. I think I just said the same thing twice. Oh, well.

But the unidentified psalmist goes beyond that, even. He (or she?) may be speaking of solo worship, right? There is no mention of a congregation joining in. He simply speaks of making music, proclaiming God’s love in the morning and at night, using different types of instruments. I have no “ten-stringed lyre” or a “harp.” But I have a guitar, a piano (not exactly working very well), and an electronic keyboard. There is nothing preventing me from making music to the Lord in the morning and the night. I can come up with excuses, but that is truly all they are.

I want to flourish like the palm tree, abiding in the presence of the Lord. Oh, Lord, let me be planted in Your “house.”

The Ezekiel passage, of which I am not as familiar as some other passages, speaks hope and promise into my soul. These are comforting words as the Lord lets us know of His great love for His sheep, and what He will do to rescue them, gather them, and protect them with His justice. What great rest is promised!

Father, I thank You for these comforting words, this morning. My soul has been troubled, during this past week. It has been agitated. These words calm my spirit. They speak peace to my soul. Thank You for being our Shepherd and making us lie down. Praise to You for searching for the lost, bringing back the strays, binding up the injured, and strengthening the weak. Thank You for shepherding Your flock with justice.

Thank You for the music, Lord. My gratitude for Your putting this music into my soul cannot be adequately expressed. I confess that I have lost touch with it, recently, and I’m endeavoring to regain it. Help me to remember; help me to remember the value of praising You, proclaiming Your great love in the morning and at night. Intensify the desire of my heart to worship You with music, Lord. “O Thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Sovereign God,
we need true leaders,
not pompous windbags or self-appointed religious experts.
We need human leaders who have your heart and know your ways,
called servants in whom I see your wisdom,
justice,
and compassion.
For these shepherds I pray.
Amen.
(Belgic Confession 31)

BLESSING

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)


“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.'”
(Jeremiah 21:8 ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
(John 5:24 ESV)

There are two paths in front of each of us, every day. There is a path of life, and there is a path of death. Those of us who are believers in Jesus have already chosen the path of life, and, while we may make wrong decisions along the way, we are secure in that path. There are others who still travel the path of death. However, in the words of Led Zeppelin (I bet you never expected to see that name in a Gospel message), “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Choose the path of life today.


He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
(Psalms 1:3 ESV)

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
(Proverbs 12:12 ESV)


Father, strengthen my roots today. I want to grow in You; I want to yield fruit in season; I want my leaf to not wither. I’m not so concerned with prospering, at least not physically. I do desire to prosper, spiritually, though, in Your eyes. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name. Help me to stay on the path of life.

Lord, please unify Your Church and make her holy; may we know Your holiness in our lives and seek righteousness in Your Kingdom. I lift up the people in our little church community; Brandon and Kristen and Ava; Terry and Summer; Colby, Jayden, Caylee, and Brent; Lori; Lydia and Elisha; Bliss and Jared (and Charlie, scheduled to be born three days from now!); Jacob; Brandy, Lee, Jacob, John, Alison, and Melvin; S and C. May Your grace and peace rain down on all of these beautiful people today. I lift up a special prayer for all who are either newly married or about to be married. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen their unions.

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!

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Home

“I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before. Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. I will bring them home.” (Zechariah 10:8-10a)

Today is Wednesday (Hump Day), November 11, 2020. 11/11/2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,889

Tomorrow is C’s birthday!! I do have some gifts coming, hopefully arriving today.

The U.S. had another record-high day of Coronavirus cases, yesterday, with 135,653. That’s more than three times the second highest country, which was India. As previously noted, we are on a pace to have over three million new cases a month, which will easily push us over the three percent mark by the end of the year. Texas had 12,212, second to Illinois, with 12,623. Oh, and Texas was the first state to have one million total cases.

We are still planning to embark on a geocaching adventure on Saturday. There is a forty percent chance of rain in the forecast, but that is also a sixty percent chance that it won’t rain.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
(Psalms 57:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For my wife and daughters and son-in-law
  2. For my mother and the years that I had with my father
  3. The promise and anticipation of Home
  4. The firm foundation that is Your Word
  5. The country of resurrection

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
(Psalms 71:23 ESV)

Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
(Psalms 68:28 ESV)

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
(Luke 6:45 ESV)

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!
(Psalms 144:11-15 ESV)

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

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

"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)

“I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them. Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD.
“I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before. Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them. He shall pass through the sea of troubles and strike down the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up. The pride of Assyria shall be laid low, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. I will make them strong in the LORD, and they shall walk in his name,” declares the LORD.
(Zechariah 10:6-12 ESV)

This is a prophecy about Israel and Judah. That is the first thing to understand about this passage.

However, I believe that it is not unreasonable to apply some of it to modern believers.

How many of you have ever felt distant from God? And what about during this pandemic? Something that many of us never expected to see in our lifetime. For those of us who lean toward following the safety guidelines and mandates, it has separated us from our brothers and sisters in Christ, to a degree.

There is a vast sense of loneliness in our world, right now.

Even beyond that, I have been longing for “Home” for at least a decade, now. And, to me, that is a beautiful feeling that God has placed in my heart. Yes, it means that I am, to a large degree, “over” this world. I’ve mentioned before that I am weary of it. Tired of the struggle; especially tired of the fighting and division among our own people. I long for that day when God calls us Home, from our various countries all over the world.

I try to stay in the “country of resurrection.” But, since we still have these mortal coils, it is easy to slip back into the “country of death.”

Verses 8-10a are beautiful verses.

“I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before.  Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. I will bring them home.”

“Our sense of exile may come because of our bad decisions or because of hardships beyond our control. Either way, God hasn’t forgotten us. He knows our desire and will call to us. And if we’ll answer, we’ll find ourselves returning to Him – returning home.” (Winn Collier, Our Daily Bread)


Lamedh.
Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
(Psalms 119:89-96 ESV)

The same “Word” that is “firmly fixed in the heavens,” which holds the universe together, is the same “Word” that I have held in my hands in book form. “The same mind running the universe expresses itself in the Bible,” says Tim Keller.

This Word is the “only solid foundation on which to build a life.” Through all generations, “it stands fast” (verse 90).

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


Father, while my longing for Home grows stronger every day, I am committed to living out my days in this strange land, surround by the country of death and unforgiveness. But, cliché as it sounds, I am a stranger in this world. As Larry Norman sang, “I’m only visiting this planet.” I am, with great anticipation and excitement, looking forward to that day when You call all of Your children Home. Some of us have gone ahead, at Your bidding, and I celebrate that, even though I miss their physical bodies on this planet. But however this works, we will all, someday, be united in our permanent Home. Until then, give us the grace to live in this “foreign” country.

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 who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Home

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Today is Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,839

Nineteen days until our Broken Bow vacation; twenty days until our 35th wedding anniversary!

And, today is the first day of my favorite season of the year: Autumn!!

Full disclosure: I did not take that picture.

We had a different kind of evening, yesterday. C went over to help some friends who are getting a house ready for them to move in. So I cooked chili when I got home from work and set hers aside for her to eat when she got home. The family she was helping is a very sweet family, and has been an active part of our little church. The husband/father has ALS and is confined to a wheelchair, so the mom and kids have to do everything. The mom does a variety of things for a living, including delivering Amazon packages and making custom t-shirts, such as the new one I got Sunday afternoon.

We have a lot of love for this family, so when the mom reached out for help, yesterday, C was all over that, just as I knew she would be.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received;
 let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  
Amen. (Giver of All Good Things, Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
(Psalms 31:23 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the way You are transforming me
  2. That You have caused me to put hope and trust in Your Word
  3. That You have put it in my heart to be generous to the needy and hungry
  4. That this world is not my true “home”
  5. That someday, I will be home, where we will see Your face

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
(Psalms 119:147 ESV)

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
(Psalms 118:28 ESV)

I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:113 ESV)

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:31-35 ESV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:18-21 ESV)

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

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)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)


Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.
(Proverbs 17:8 MSG)

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
(Isaiah 58:6-12 MSG)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)


He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”
(Psalms 105:8-11 NIV)

“God’s promise to give Abraham’s descendants a homeland is central to understanding the plan of redemption. We long for home, a place of security, comfort, and love. We were made for a world without death or parting from love, a world in which we walked with God and knew Him face to face.”

This world is not that place.

As comfortable and secure as I feel in this place wherein I am typing at the moment, it is not my true “home.” And that home is what I long for, daily.

“Lord, give me the peace that comes from knowing that nothing in this world is truly home. Give me the strength that comes from visiting my future home when I know Your love and presence in prayer. I praise You that You will bring us someday to the true country we have been looking for all our lives. Amen.”

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


Oh, yes, Lord! How we long for “home!” Give us strength to endure the trials and tribulations of this world and this life as we wait for You to take us Home. And, while we are enduring, may we endure with true love, the love that Jesus Christ has for us. May we not “endure,” as some do, with whining and complaining, but with encouragement and blessing. Yes, Father, make me a blessing today.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Grace and peace, friends.

Home

“Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world. . . “~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Sunday, February 2, 2014. We’re expecting freezing rain/sleet today. I hate February. I know I’m not supposed to “hate.” But February is an inanimate thing, not even an object. In fact, it’s nothing more than an arbitrary concept. Therefore, I can hate February with no guilt.

Besides being Groundhog Day, the day when Punxsatawney Phil allegedly determines whether we will get Spring or six more weeks of winter (which is extremely silly because 1) we DO have six more weeks of winter, and 2) seriously?? A groundhog predicting weather??) it is also the day of a lesser known small animal. Yes, today is “Hedgehog Day.” Hedgehogs are similar to groundhogs, but with a body covered with spikes for a defense mechanism, not unlike the porcupine. The hedgehog advantage is that, when threatened, the little hedgehog can roll up into a ball, with spikes pointing every which way. Another note of trivia: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released in the U.S. on this date in 1994. It is also a Roman tradition that predates Groundhog Day.


Today is also Super Bowl “Big Game” day, for all of you football fans (I still don’t understand how it is “football”). In the spirit of the day, I will share with you a fellow blogger’s opinion, giving Ten Reasons Why Baseball Is Better than Football. Yes, I believe he has nailed it. Nevertheless, weather permitting, we will have another family over at our abode this evening for snacks and such. The game will be on the TV. Will anyone be watching it? Who knows? I will say this. I’ve had a difficult time deciding who I want to cheer for, should I cheer at all. Apparently, the quarterbacks for both teams are Christians. Russell Wilson, however, the QB for Seattle was acquired by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft (don’t ask me what this is, I haven’t a clue) last year. So I’m leaning toward cheering for the Seahawks.

We had a good service last night at our church, The Exchange. We had a small, intimate gathering, circled around the pastor as he spoke to us about “Invitation with Challenge,” the third of our core values. Using the passage in Mark where Jesus called out his first four disciples, he talked to us about the need to balance invitation and challenge in our lives. Jesus invited first, by saying “Follow me.” But then he immediately challenged the invitees to something completely new to them.


On this date in 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed. The American League was not formed until 1901. The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first established baseball club, formed in 1869. In 1871, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was formed. But the National League was formed by Chicago businessman William Hulbert, because he believed the Association was mismanaged and corrupt. The original eight members of the National League were the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves), the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs), Cincinnati Red Stockings (later shortened to simply Reds), the Hartford Dark Blues, the Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the St. Louis Brown Stockings. According to this source, the NL remained an eight-team league until as late as 1962 when the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s joined. Other sources have the league expanding earlier, but then dropping back to eight teams. (Source: History.com)


Today’s birthdays are James Joyce, author, 1882, Frank Lloyd, actor/director, 1888, Howard Johnson, hotelier, 1897, Ayn Rand, author, 1905, Clarence “Buster” Crabbe, swimmer/actor, 1908, An Wang, founder of Wang Computers, 1920, Al “Red” Schoendienst, baseball manager, 1923, Tom Smothers, comedian/yo-yo expert, 1937, Graham Nash, musician, 1942, Howard Bellamy, singer, 1946, Farrah Fawcett, actress, 1947 (Corpus Christi, TX), Peter Lucia, drummer (Tommy James & The Shondells), 1947, Ross Vallory, bass player (Journey), 1949, Tom Tripplehorn, guitarist (Gary Lewis & The Playboys), 1949, Christie Brinkley, model, 1954, Scott Erickson, pitcher, 1968, Lori Beth Denberg, actress (All That), 1976, Shakira, singer, 1977, and Data, android, 2338.

Ross Valory is one of the original members of the rock group Journey, and still performs with the band today. Here is a song from when Steve Perry was still with the group.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1, 3
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Psalm 17:6
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:13


There is good advice in the weekend reading for In Touch magazine. Using John 6:1-14 as the text, the reading emphasizes that, when faced with what appears to be an impossible situation, we must not try to engineer our own circumstances. Rather than despairing and thinking, “What will I do?” we must have faith in God and ask, “What are YOU going to do?” We must remember 1 Peter 5:6-7, which says, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Making Our Home in Jesus.” In John 14:4, Jesus says, Abide in me, and I in you. The word “abide” can be said to mean “dwell,” or “remain.” Brennan uses the Jerusalem Bible translation in the reading, which says, “Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.” “Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world. . . ”

Home is the place, the “sacred space,” whether external or internal, “where we don’t have to be afraid, where we are confident of hospitality and love.” There many people in our society who are “homeless;” they have no place to sleep, no shelter save a cardboard box under a bridge. But we also have “vagabonds who are in flight, who never come home to themselves.” They are constantly on the hunt for a “safe place,” but through alcohol, drugs, success, crime, pleasure, knowledge, or, perhaps, even religion. They are “strangers to themselves, people who have an address but are never at home, who never hear the voice of love or experience the freedom of God’s children.”

To all of us who find ourselves in flight, jesus says, “You have a home. . . I am your home. . . claim me as your home. . . you will find it to be the intimate place where I have found my home. . . it is right where you are. . . in your innermost being. . . in your heart.”

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23


Father, I praise you that you have drawn me into this safe place of home with you. While confess that there is still much work to be done on my “abiding,” I feel safe in the “home” that has been made for me in Christ. Each day, each week, I feel just a bit more safe in this “sacred space.” I know that I am accepted; I know that I am safe; I know that I will not be cast out, no matter what mistakes I might make. There have been times in the past where I have found myself in flight from this home, seeking satisfaction in things that never should have been happening. But you have always drawn me back to your safety. Lord, you are my rock and my fortress, my security. There is no place safer. And during this time of sudden uncertainty, as Christi has been laid off, we cling desperately to this security, this safety, anticipating what you will do.

I pray for this day. If we get the freezing rain/sleet that is forecast, I pray that it will be minimal and not cause travel issues for tomorrow’s drive to work. I pray for safety for everyone who is having gatherings for tonight’s big game event. I pray for both of the quarterbacks and any other players on either team who might be believers. May they be the best witness to your grace that they can be during this time.

Keep us in your safe place, Father.


Where is your home? Have you found a safe place yet?

Grace and peace, friends.