Like A Child

Today is Tuesday, the sixteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,532

THREE DAYS until S turns 29!!

Surprisingly, we had another day when it didn’t hit 100 degrees! That’s six in a row, and we may be close to the end of the heat wave. It hit 99 again, yesterday, in spite of the predicted 100. Keep in mind that I’m tracking temperatures from Meacham Field Airport, rather than DFW, because it is closer to my house. DFW might be hotter. The record for yesterday’s date is 105.

For the ten-day forecast, today and tomorrow are predicted to be over 100, followed by eight days of below-100 temperatures, half of those possibly below 90! Bring it on! There is potential for rain on Thursday of this week, and several days next week.

We experienced something new, last night. While I was trying to get S’s cookie cake ordered from the “Great American Cookie Company” yesterday, I looked into the cookie company known as Crumbl. I had heard of them, but I don’t believe I had ever had any. I did, after much inconvenience, manage to get a cookie cake ordered online, for C to pick up on her way home from work Thursday evening.

But later in the evening, I decided I really wanted to try those Crumbl cookies. So I ordered a dozen. And they were delivered in about an hour.

I didn’t get a point of reference for size, there, but those cookies are at least four inches in diameter, maybe larger. So far, we’ve each had half a cookie. I had the raspberry cheesecake, last night. What we have there is milk chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, raspberry cheesecake, peanut butter blossom, french silk pie, and caramel popcorn. There are four of us in the house, and we agreed that we would cut them all in half, so that everyone could try each kind. I’m going to try to trade my caramel popcorn for a lemon poppy. I might trade my peanut butter blossom for something, as well. I’m sure S would like to have that one.

Oh. I almost forgot. My half of the raspberry cheesecake was pretty amazing.

The Texas Rangers fired their manager, yesterday. In my opinion, this needed to happen a long time ago. Chris Woodward is out. Tony Beasley, who had been (I think) third base coach (?), will take over as interim manager, for now. And they won his first game, beating the Oakland Athletics 2-1. Granted, it’s just Oakland, but they always struggle with Oakland. They have now won three in a row, and are 52-63 for the season. They’re still in third place in the AL West, but are now 1.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 22 games out of first, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 7:05, in Arlington. They have 47 games remaining.

The Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and begin a series in Pittsburgh tonight.

The Dodgers won again, and now have become the first team to win 80 games, this season. At 80-34, they have the best record in MLB. The Washington Nationals won a game, but remain the worst team, with a 39-78 record. The Atlanta Braves still have the longest winning streak, at seven games. The Oakland Athletics continue to have the longest losing streak, at nine games, and hopefully the Rangers can help them make it longer. The Dodgers, with a run differential of +251, are almost sixty runs ahead of the next team in that category. They are the only team with higher than 200 (in the plus, that is). The Nationals are the only team with higher than 200 in the minus, with -209. The Rangers are now at -1, and the Sox remained at -32.

It’s Tuesday, so I will be at the Hurst Public Library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving whatever there is to shelve.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

I was struggling, a bit, this morning, before I got around to this. I’ve been in the process of changing my email address, for several reasons, and was experiencing some difficulties, this morning, with various websites. Then I read this, from Lightwriters:

All of Your Times,” by S. Michaels

Seek My beautiful places
let all else fall away, let
all your times rest in My Care

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

The timing was perfect, and such great advice. Seek the beautiful places of the Lord, and let everything else fall away. That is so difficult, especially in these days of high technology and social media. But, upon reading this, I virtually felt weight rolling off of my shoulders like a cool, refreshing, summer rain. (Not that I know what that feels like!) “Let all your times rest in My care,” says the Lord.

Thank you, Susan!


Dear Father in heaven, we come before you to receive what we need as your children who cannot find help and guidance on our own, but only through your Spirit. Enlighten us by your Word, which you alone can give. You will give us your Word so that we can know with absolute certainty and clarity how to serve you. Your Word will show us the truth that is to be revealed on earth in Jesus Christ. Shelter us in your hands. Strengthen us especially during suffering, and free us from fear and trembling. Fill our hearts with patience and joy. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Believe God, and he will recover thee: 
and direct thy way, and trust in him. 
Keep his fear, and grow old therein. 
Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy: 
and go not aside from him, lest ye fall. 
Ye that fear the Lord, believe him: 
and your reward shall not be made void. 
Sirach 2:6-8 Douay-Rheims

Today I am grateful:

1. that I can daily come before the Lord to receive what I need
2. for grace, which is God acting in His power to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves
3. for Jesus's teachings on humility; may I learn to be more humble
4. for the progression of asking, seeking, and knocking, that leads to a deep abiding in the presence of the Lord
5. that, above all, God's purposes will stand and be accomplished

The verses quoted above are from an apocryphal book that is included in the Catholic Church canon.

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
(John 2:16 ESV)

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:18-22 ESV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
(Matthew 18:3-6 NIV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)


Humility is something we all struggle with. And if you don’t think you’re struggling with it, then you need it worse than anyone else. Jesus tells us that we must enter the Kingdom like children.

Obviously, we cannot become young again, as hard as some marketers want us to believe we can. So what does Jesus mean? It’s a position of lowliness, for starters. Over and over, Jesus tells us that, if we want to be first (and who doesn’t?) that we have to be last.

But there’s a catch, here. Kind of like Catch 22. You know . . . you have to be certified crazy to get out of the Army, but if you want out of the Army, you’re not crazy. This catch is a little different. In order to be first, we must be last. But if we try to be last, just so we can be first, we’re missing the point.

We might be able to fool (we can, in fact, fool) our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we cannot fool God. He knows the heart, so if you’re working real hard to be last because you really want to be first, He knows the motivation behind your actions.

John the Baptizer nailed it when he said, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Children are honest and authentic. They are, to a degree, naive, innocent. Until they learn otherwise from a nearby adult.

So we have to learn humility. I’ve found several ways to learn this. One is on the freeway. I have adopted the philosophy that it doesn’t matter if someone gets ahead of me on the freeway. I always drive with at least enough room for a couple of cars in front of me. In fact, my car has this cool feature that uses some kind of radar to determine the distance between me and the car in front of me. I have it set for the maximum possible distance, when my cruise control is activated.

I have to resist the temptation, when someone is driving like a jerk, to retaliate and refuse to let them in. But that is neither Christlike nor humble. It doesn’t matter if someone gets in front of me.

Now. When we read that passage about asking, seeking, and knocking, it threatens our humility. How do we reconcile Jesus’s promise and teaching in that passage with the need for humility. I have seen pride swell up when people quote that verse.

The requirement is that we must ask, knowing our status before God, knowing that we are not entitled to what we are asking for, and that, if we do receive it, it is not because we deserved it, but because of mercy and grace. It is strictly because of the generosity of the Giver.

There is a progression of events, here, as well, and I have Andrew Murray to thank for this. Asking, refers to the gifts for which I am praying. But I can ask for gifts with the Giver. So I have to seek the Giver. The word “seek” is used in Scripture to refer to looking for God. We are encouraged to seek Him while He may be found. “But,” says Murray, it is not enough to find God in a time of need without also coming into an abiding fellowship with Him.” And here is where “knock” comes into play. When we knock, we are “admitted to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift thus leads to seeking and finding the Giver. This again leads to the knocking and opening of the door to the Father’s home and to His love.”

But there is one thing that is certain. Jesus wants us to know for sure that our asking, seeking, and knocking will not be in vain. But He also wants to be sure that we are asking, seeking, and knocking in humility.

It does not take a genius to see that humility is in short supply in this world, right now.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day (Scripture verse only)
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, humility is something that I struggle with, greatly. Some days, the struggle is harder than others. And there are some days where I probably don’t even bother to struggle with it. I pray for Your grace and guidance in this. And I know full well that praying for humility is about as safe as praying for patience, knowing that the only way to grow in humility is to have it tested.

But I am willing, Father, because I want to walk in humility; I want to decrease, so that You/Jesus/the Holy Spirit can be seen to increase.

I pray for Your Church, Lord, that we might all see the need for a deeper humility in these times. We must learn to be last, rather than struggling to be first. We must allow ourselves to decrease, that You might increase. There are many ways in which we can do this, and they differ with each individual. So show us all, Lord; teach us humility.

And teach, us, too, Lord, that it is Your purposes that will stand. When our own purposes butt up against Yours, it is we who will lose; we who will suffer. Your purposes will stand, so I pray that mine line up with Yours.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Humbled or Exalted

Today is Sunday, the seventh of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,523

Only twelve days until S turns 29!

We didn’t hit 100 for a high temp, yesterday. I knew that, when we were leaving the library, yesterday, one of my friends there commented that it had only hit 99 there. The official report closest to my house says it only got up to 98. Today’s predicted high is 100. Beginning next Tuesday, we might see four straight days of below-100 temps, and a possible high on Wednesday of only 94, along with some possible thunderstorms that evening.

Dane Dunning had a tremendous outing, last night, as the Texas Rangers defeated the Other Sox 8-0. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. Adolis Garcia had five RBIs in the game. I started to say they won the series, but they have one more game with them this afternoon, at 1:35 CDT, in Arlington. They are now 48-59 on the season, still in third place in the AL West, 21 games behind first place, and nine out of a Wild Card spot.

Boston lost another game to the KC Royals, 5-4 on a walk-off home run. They are now 54-55 on the season, still in last place in the AL East. They are 16.5 games out of first place, and now four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play KC again, this afternoon, at 1:10 CDT in KC.

The LA Dodgers are now decisively the best MLB team, with a 74-33 record. The Washington Nationals continue to be firmly entrenched in the cellar, with 36-73. The Dodgers also have the longest current winning streak, at seven games. The Nationals and the (hahahahaha!!!) YANKEES are tied for the longest current losing streak, at four consecutive games. The Dodgers also have the best run differential, at +222, while the Nats have the worst at -184. After last night, the Rangers are back in the positive column with +5, and the Red Sox continue to go backwards, now with -22.

The big news of the day, which I have avoided mentioning, is that I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow at noon. My diet has been moderately restricted since Friday (no raw fruits or vegetables, no high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, no nuts or legumes of any kind), and, as of noon today, I can have no solid foods at all. Oddly, Jell-o counts as a “clear liquid” (scratching my head over that one), but I don’t have any anyway, so I will be drinking lots of water today. I also have to start drinking the prep this evening at 6 PM. One dose then, and another dose tomorrow morning, at 6 AM (five hours before my 11 AM arrival time). After 8 AM tomorrow morning, I can have nothing even to drink.

Good times.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we come into your presence so that you may lead us with the light that streams out from you. We come to your light seeking an inner birth to make us what your children ought to be. Bless us as we thank you for all your goodness and for the powerful help you have given many among us. Accept the thanks we offer you, and grant that we never forget the good you are doing for us. Help us to go forward, always forward, until your kingdom is completed. May it not be in vain that we live in the Lord Jesus and in love to you, the God and Father of all. May it not be in vain that we bring you our requests and prayers for your kingdom to come soon. Yes, Lord Jesus, come! Come soon to this earth so that all people may acknowledge the true God and may love you. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
(John 12:36 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the light, streaming out from God, that leads us into His Kingdom
2. that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed
3. that "if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all"
4. that "everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened"
5. for the Holy Spirit, and His many ministries in the lives of the saints

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 ESV)

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
(Mark 9:33-37 ESV)

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 ESV)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

These are statements, truths, that would lead us to humility, if we are paying attention. If the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, we would do well to pay more attention to the oppressed and come to their aid. The words of Jesus scream in our ears about this.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

The body of Christ is in much need of humility, these days. Even when directed to ask, that we might receive, seek, that we might find, and knock, that the door might be opened, we need to do those things with great humility.

And it is far better to humble oneself willingly than for it to be forced upon one.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12 ESV)

Today’s source was Daily Guideposts 2022


Father, I pray for more humility in my life. I realize the dangers of this prayer, as it is akin to praying for more faith, which brings about more testing. But I know that I need to be more humble in all things, so please make it so.

Help me also to have the faith (in humility) to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, that I might find You and be more intimately connected to You. May Your Spirit reign in my heart and in my life, that I might know You more.

I pray for this procedure coming up and for the preparations that come with it. I confess that I am dreading this, and pray that everything goes well for it. I also pray for good results from the procedure, itself.

But more than that, I pray for the body of Christ, that all we do in Your name will draw people toward You, rather than push people away.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


"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

Grace and peace, friends.

Abide

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Today is Monday, the sixteenth of May, 2022, in the fifth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ find you today.

Day 23,440

C is home today, as she hasn’t been feeling well for a couple days. In fact, she is currently at Care Now, getting checked out. We believe it is nothing more than the usual sinu-bronchitis that rolls through every year. No fever, so far, just sinus pressure and chest congestion.

I’m taking Mama to a podiatrist, this morning, to deal with an ingrown toenail that flared up late last week. Otherwise, things are pretty good around here.

As noted below, I visited Living Word Lutheran Church, yesterday morning, and had a wonderful time of worship and communion with them.

The Texas Rangers won the last game of the series with the Red Sox, 7-1, behind the solid pitching of Martin Perez, who is now 2-2 for the season. He gave up one run in the top of the fifth, and the Rangers answered with a Cole Calhoun solo homer in the bottom. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the score was still tied 1-1. The Rangers had two men on base when I said to my mother, “They need to get a run, here, so Perez can get a win.” El Bombe must have heard me, because he promptly hit a three-run homer, to put them ahead 4-1. Cole Calhoun, not to be outdone, followed up with another solo shot, to make it 5-1. Later in the game Garcia (the aforementioned “El Bombe”) hit another homer, this one for two runs. So all seven Rangers runs were the result of four home runs by two batters. Quite a day for Calhoun and Garcia. And Perez, who I believe I heard the announcers say has a 0.86 ERA over his last few starts. That’s pretty amazing.

The Rangers are now 14-19 for the season, back in fourth place, one game ahead of the Athletics. Their next game is today, as LA Angels roll into town for a series. Gametime is 7:05 CDT.

That loss put the Sox at 13-21 for the season, still in last place in the AL East, a half game behind Baltimore. Their next game is tonight, against the Astros, who have been winning a lot, lately. Gametime is 7:10 EDT, in Boston.

The Yankees (25-9) continue to dominate MLB, still having lost only nine games. The Cincinnati Reds (9-26) still haven’t won ten games, and to add insult to injury, pitched a combined no-hitter against the Pirates, yesterday . . . and lost 1-0. The struggling Detroit Tigers have the longest current win streak, at three games, and Baltimore has the longest current losing streak, also three games. The Dodgers still have the largest positive run differential, at +70, but are only one run ahead of the Yankees, who have +69. The Reds have a run differential of -65.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we thank you that you have revealed life in Jesus Christ. Grant that we may enter this life through the grace you have given us to recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord, to believe in him, and to hope for all the good still to come as the fruit of his suffering and resurrection. May the glory of the Living One be revealed to the dead throughout the whole world so that even the dead and the unbelieving may be awakened and see his life. Keep us true to what you have given us. Strengthen our faith and endurance in all our trials. Let your name soon be honored among all people so that hatred may cease and the coming of your great day may be foretold in changed hearts and changed thoughts. Protect us this night. Bless us and help us again and again as you have promised. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
(John 17:3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that through Jesus, we know the way to eternal life
2. that there is hope for all good things still to come as the fruit of Jesus's suffering and resurrection
3. that I am able to abide with Jesus, and He with me, and that, no matter what circumstances may befall me, I have the confidence that God is with me
4. for the call to humility, and the command to slander no one and avoid quarreling (Titus 3:2); Father please help me in this
5. that words like "abide" and "humility" are realities in which we are to walk, not just vague concepts to ponder

Today’s prayer word is “abide.” I love this word, and perhaps I can explain why.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
(John 15:1-8 ESV)

The reading only featured part of verse 4, but I felt the need to post eight verses, for context.

What does it mean to “abide?” The Greek word in this verse is menō, which means “to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” In fact, the NLT uses the word “remain,” rather than “abide,” which is also true of the NIV. However, I really like the way Peterson puts it in The Message.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
(John 15:4 MSG)

So, to abide with Jesus, and to have Him abide with me, means that I dwell with Him, in Him, set up house in Him.

In 1847, Henry Lyte wrote a hymn, known as “Abide With Me.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Such comforting words for all possible circumstances, up to, and including, our eventual passing from this life. “Help of the helpless;” “O Thou who changest not;” “I triumph still if Thou abide with me;” and “In life, in death.”

Here is a beautiful arrangement of that hymn, one of my favorites, by Salt of the Sound.

Oh, my Father, You are, indeed, the “help of the helpless,” for that is truly what we are, in most cases. We think ourselves so strong, sometimes, and so “on top of things,” when in reality, we are largely clueless. But You, God! You have all things in Your hands and all things under Your control, no matter how chaotic things appear on the surface. Things seem to be “progressing” exactly how You said they would, and why would we be surprised about that? The sad thing is, there are different groups of people who will think different things when they read what I just typed. No matter. You know what is in my head and my heart, and You know that I am trying my best to promote love in this world.

So, I pray, along with my musical friends and Henry Lyte, “abide me!” I do need Your presence, “every passing hour!” Sometimes I am aware of Your presence, sometimes I am not. Life is much more sweet when I am aware of it, but I know that You are there, all the time. I believe that You are abiding with me, and I pray that You help me to also be always abiding in You, as well.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
(James 4:10 NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
(Psalms 95:6 NLT)

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
(Matthew 5:5 NLT)

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”
(Romans 14:11 NLT)

I visited a Lutheran church, yesterday morning. Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine, TX. My good friend and former pastor has been attending there since the Christmas season, last year. He was also there, yesterday, so I sat with him. There were two significant things that happened. The first was when one pastor led the prayer of confession at the beginning. Here are the words that she read, at one point: “By the mercy of God we are united with Jesus Christ, and in him we are forgiven. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At that moment, not only did I get serious chill bumps, but I also wept a little bit.

But the other thing is more in line with the Scriptures I have shared above. When this (and I’m sure others as well) church observes Communion, which has, in recent years, become the central piece of the worship experience for me, the people go up to the altar and kneel to receive it. The pastors come around on the inside of the circle and hand out the bread and the wine. It is a tremendous experience for me. The first time I visited there, I was weeping as the pastor handed me the wafer.

It takes humility to kneel. We don’t like that, in general, especially in Western culture. But Jesus commands it. God desires it. All throughout Scripture we are commanded to humble ourselves, worship, and bow down.

Father, I pray for more humility in my life. Once again, I realize what a dangerous prayer this is, but only dangerous to my pride. I recognize the facts; I am nothing without You. I believe in the words of John the Baptizer when he said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” This should be the “mantra” for every single Christian on the face of the earth. It should be the chant of the saints everywhere. “He must increase; I must decrease.” As we abide more and more in You, in Christ, we know this truth, we are humbled.

Father, I also pray that we understand that words like “abide” and “humility” are not just words, but realities in which we are to live. The same is true for words like “love,” and “sin,” and even words like “Jesus,” and “Holy Spirit,” and “grace.” Too often, Lord, these become nothing more than words or hazy, vague concepts in which we claim to believe. But when we see these as realities in life, things become much more concrete. Jesus is real; He walks beside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, every day. As St. Patrick prayed, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise . . .” This is reality, Lord! it is reality that I need to dwell, to abide, to remain in You and You in me. This is something that I desperately need to know, deeply within my soul.

So, today, Lord, help me to abide in You; help me to have humility, as I abide; humility that, when I see someone post something on social media that I don’t agree with, to simply pray and move on. Humility that gives me the capacity to not speak evil of anyone, no matter what they say the believe. And, above all else, the humility to truly love my neighbor as myself and love the community of saints in the way that Jesus loved us. Reality, Father.

(Above prayer inspired by words from On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)

Grace and peace, friends.

Worship Him

Today is Monday, the eighth of November, 2021.

May God’s peace reign in your heart today.

Day 23,251

Four days until C’s birthday!

Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please check out his photo blog.

We had a mostly nice day, yesterday. The worship time at FBC Mineral Wells was pretty awesome. We had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ (although slightly delayed, as they were shorthanded).

This brings up an important point. I know from experience, it is quite easy to get impatient when I have to wait longer than usual for a food or drink order. But please keep in mind . . . it is not the fault of the person/persons serving you and they are most definitely not deserving of our wrath. Many people have left the restaurant/serving industry because of how rudely they have been treated during the past eighteen months or so.

Most especially, if you call Jesus your Savior, you must be patient and kind with people.

After lunch, we had a nice time of conversation with my mother, during which many topics were discussed. Our trip home was safe, but had a few tense moments. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m off work today, and only have a few chores planned. I’ve already been to the grocery store, which is why I’m running a tad behind with the blog, this morning. We have a pool tech coming, sometime this afternoon, to check on why our indoor control panel won’t connect with the outside panel. That’s about it.

There have been some big changes made to WW (Weight Watchers), beginning today. My plan has changed quite a bit, based on some answers I gave to questions upon opening the app, this morning. The biggest thing for me is, based on my ongoing bout with type 2 diabetes, fruits are no longer zero points. That means I have to count grapes!! Egad! But, as a trade-off, I can now have avocados/guacamole for zero points! And, when I eat a cup of non-starchy veggies, I get to add a point back. So that’s cool. Just some adaptation to be made, but I plan to carry on and keep moving forward.

Today is World Orphans Day.

The word for today is angakok, “a shaman in Inuit society.” “Inuit” is what we used to call “Eskimo.”

Today’s quote is from Winston Churchill, British statesman. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Birthdays for November 8:

Julian of Norwich, English saint, 1342-1416
Vlad the Impaler (really!), Wallachian prince, the inspiration for Dracula, 1431-1476 (It should be noted that most sources do not provide a day of the year for Vlad's birth. My guess is that it has been put on this date because it is also Bram Stoker's birthday.)
Edmund Halley, English mathematician and astronomer (Halley's Comet), 1656-1742
Bram Stoker, Irish author (Dracula ), 1847-1912
Hermann Rorschach, Swiss psychiatrist (inkblot test), 1884-1922
Margaret Mitchell, American author (Gone with the Wind), 1900-1949
Joe Flynn, American actor (McHale's Navy), 1924-1974
Patti Page, American singer (Tennessee Waltz), 1927-2013
Bert Berns, American songwriter (Twist and Shout, Piece of My Heart, Hang on Sloopy), 1929-1967
Darla Hood, American child actress (Little Rascals), 1931-1979
Ben Bova, American sci-fi author (Exiled from Earth), 1932-2020
Bonnie Bramlett, American blues-rock vocalist (Delaney and Bonnie), 1944 (77)
Bonnie Raitt, American blues singer/songwriter/guitar player (Something to Talk About), 1949 (72)
Jerry Remy, American baseball player and broadcaster (Boston Red Sox), 1952-2021
Gordon Ramsay, British chef (Hell's Kitchen), 1966 (55)
Bonnie Bramlett
Another Bonnie

I really wanted to post a video of Gordon Ramsay freaking out over raw food, but there were too many bad words.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

All your works
shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints
shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all the saints, who are constantly giving You thanks and praising Your Name
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for our good visit with Mama yesterday
4. for the rest You give when we step into the easy yoke of Christ
5. that my help and salvation is from You, in the Name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Then Jesus said,
“Come to me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NLT)

I pause, now, during this very quiet moment, peacefully sleeping kitten nearby, and consider the rest that Jesus gives to those who are weary. If our burdens are heavy, we need only step into His “easy yoke,” and allow Him to carry the bulk of the load. It doesn’t mean we don’t work . . . but it does mean our work is much easier.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:1-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, in order to force myself to pay more attention to the words. How has the Word of God moved me? I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and my mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my every thought to Him and quietly enjoying His presence.

Along with Israel, I can firmly say, “my help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth!” Through Him, in His power, by the power of His Holy Spirit, I have escaped the “fowler’s snare.” The binding traps of the enemy have been broken.

As the Church, the new Israel, I do believe that we can confidently believe that the Lord is on our side. That means the Church, capital C, world-wide, and does not at all apply to any single country. However, lest we get too big-headed about it, we should remember that, in the big picture, the Lord is on HIS side. We should, therefore, be careful to be found on His side, as well. Let us not champion ourselves and hope that the Lord joins in. Rather, let us champion Him and His purpose, joining in His “cause,” the only cause worthy of defending.

Isaiah 6 is, indeed, a beautiful passage. When I was in music school at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was presented as the biblical model of a worship service. I do believe there is something to be said for that, however, I don’t feel that it needs to be adhered to, rigidly.

There are certainly characteristics of the chapter that should be found in any worship service, regardless if it is in a huge cathedral or an intimate living room in a house.

First, God is central. Worship is all about God. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this. Worship is not, and never has been, about us. When we make it about us, it is not “worship.” It is idolatry. Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, seated on His throne. We have no other description of what the Lord looked like, other than the fact that the train of His robe was really, really big.

Second, it is worth noting that the attending “living creatures” (these seem to be the same beings that Ezekiel saw), covered their faces and their feet with four of their six wings. I’m not sure what that means for us, to be honest, other than that we had best be careful how we conduct ourselves in worship. If the seraphim, these terrifyingly majestic beings, felt the need to cover their faces and feet, I believe we would do well to exercise a bit of humility in the holy presence of God.

Side note . . . maybe they aren’t the same creatures Ezekiel saw . . . they are only described as having four wings. He saw four of them. We do not know how many seraphim Isaiah saw, and it really doesn’t matter.

Third, the seraphim “sang” a hymn to the Lord. Maybe they weren’t singing. Whatever they were doing shook the very foundations of the temple, their voices were so powerful. This tells me that, when we praise the Lord, it needs to be

loud.

Now, this doesn’t mean the musical instruments need to be blasting through the speakers. What it does mean is that the sound of our voices should not be timid, but strong. How beautiful is it to hear the sounds of many voices, singing in unison, the praises of our God?

Side note . . . I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who preferred unison singing when congregations sang together. While harmony is pretty, unison is more powerful.

Fourth, back to humility. Note Isaiah’s response to this vision. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” While the narrative doesn’t specify this, I have a vision of Isaiah falling on his face while he cried out those things. He recognized his own impurity, his own uncleanness, his SIN! Isaiah! The called prophet of God! When we come into the powerful presence of God, there is no room for pride and arrogance! I am not calling for shame. That is a tool of our enemy, the devil. Not shame, but recognition of, acknowledgment of, our condition before Him. He is HOLY! We are most definitely NOT holy!

He is “Other.”

Fifth, there is cleansing. Now, I don’t know how literally to take this passage. I know people who are way smarter than me when it comes to theology. But could it be that Isaiah’s sins were atoned before Christ’s blood was shed? This puts Isaiah in a rather special place, does it not? But that’s what one of the seraphim told him, the one who touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal. I know . . . vision. Not reality. Nevertheless, before we can be sent out on mission, naturally, we must be cleansed. Our cleansing comes from the shed blood of Christ, but there must be confession, just as Isaiah did.

Finally, there is an invitation and an acceptance. The invitation comes from the Lord. It’s more of a challenge, actually. “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah responded. “Here am I! Send me!”

I do not see this as an argument for the traditional evangelical invitation at the end of every service. I personally am not in favor of those, and feel they are largely unbiblical and manipulative. But that’s just my opinion, arrived at after years of observation and Scripture-searching.

There’s a twist, here, though. If you keep reading beyond the selected passage for the day, you will see that Isaiah’s message was anything but the traditional, evangelistic message.

He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
(Isaiah 6:9-13 NIV)

Father, I am grateful that I can proclaim, along with David, that You have rescued me from the “fowler’s snare,” that I have escaped from the traps of our enemy. Why do I manage, though, to find myself back in them, after having escaped?? That is a question that I will have to wait to have answered. Until that day, I will strive to keep my feet out of those snares. They are broken (the traps, I mean). . . they cannot hold me. So if I find myself back in one of them, it is my own doing, even though I am free to walk away at any time. I thank You that I am part of Your Church, a small piece of “all the saints,” who praise Your Name and give You thanks, daily. I pray for the times of worship that we have, that they will be You-centered; that our attention will be on Your glory and majesty, and that we, like the seraphim, will practice humility as we cry out praises at the top of our lungs, praises to You, who are completely and utterly “Other,” and “Holy, holy, holy!” And then, just like Isaiah, when we acknowledge our sinfulness and our unworthiness to be in Your presence, cleanse us from our impurities, and send us to proclaim whatever message You give us to proclaim. Most importantly, may we listen to You for that message, for we will not all have the same message. All praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit!

"High and exalted God,
Your holiness crushes my pride and pretense,
and I cry, 
'Woe is me.'
Thank You for Jesus,
the cleansing fire from Your heavenly altar who takes away my guilt so I may hear Your call.
Amen."

BLESSING

LORD,
give me your unfailing love,
the salvation that you promised me.
(Psalms 119:41 NLT)

Father, take us through this day, make us humble, and make us kind to one another.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the Lord make your love
increase and overflow
for each other and for everyone else,
just as ours does for you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

To Know You Is to Love You and Trust You

Today is . . . um . . . Thursday. Right. Thursday, the eighth of July, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,128

42 days until S’s birthday!

I can’t think of anything really pressing that I need to blog about, this morning, so I’m going to move on into the devotional time. I will say that C is feeling better, this morning, and is going to work at the office today. But, since she was asked yesterday to nail down her two work-from-home days, she has chosen Friday as her second day to work from home, so she will be working from home again, tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Morning Dew, by Daryl Madden

To start the day in prayer
Relationship pursue
Thirsting of the quenching
Sweet the morning dew

In the heat of day
With challenges so tough
Let these drops of water
Here now be enough

When it’s parched and dry
Hope this day to keep
Grounded in the soul
Of the roots grown deep

When the rain pours down
Let living water flow
Grateful for the blessings
If our Lord to know

I love that third stanza. It’s why I’m here, every morning, hoping to keep this day grounded, and grow my roots deep, like that Psalm 1 man.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
(Psalms 34:4-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the daily rain of Living Water that flows into my soul.
2. for the confidence that, whenever I call out to the Lord, He hears me.
3. that I can say that I know You and know Your Name, therefore, I trust You and love You.
4. that You oppose the proud, and show favor to the humble; help me to be humble, not proud.
5. that I can cast all my anxiety upon You, because You care for me.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
(Nahum 1:7 NIV)

As I pause in quiet reflection, I consider that You are here, very near to me. When I call out to You, I have confidence that You hear me. You don’t always answer in the way that I want, or as quickly as I would like, because Your timing is far better than mine. But You do hear. I also have confidence that You care about those for whom I pray each day.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished.
(Psalms 9:1-6 NIV)

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalms 9:9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(1 Peter 5:5b-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Father, as I read these passages again, and linger within, may Your Spirit guide me to truth, to meditations that will send me into my work day with deeply-grounded faith.

What better way to approach the day than to be glad in the Lord, and to sing His praises? (Psalm 9:2?) The psalmist had much to be glad about, based on the next few verses. I, too, have much to be glad about. For one thing, I don’t have the kind of “enemies” about which the psalmist sings. Sure, I have annoying people in my daily life, but they aren’t trying to attack and kill me. As far as I know.

I have good work that helps keep the bills paid. We have been blessed to the point that those bills are gradually shrinking away, and we have more resources to share with others. And, our hearts are growing more generous with the blessings that we have received. We are, for the most part, healthy. Yes, C is having some back and stress issues. Speaking of which, she is scheduled for more injections today, to see if surgery can be avoided.

So I have much about which to sing and rejoice.

I believe that I know the Name of the Lord, therefore I trust in Him. (verse 10) And this is a key element in life. “Those who know your name trust in you,” says the psalmist. And it’s true. Of the people I know, those who do not trust in the Lord don’t know Him. It’s that simple. Some of us who are older remember a song: “To know, know, know him, is to love, love, love him.” Sure, that’s a song about a girl and a boy. But it’s true of our God, as well. If you really know Him, you can’t help but love Him and trust Him.

The passage in 1 Peter 5 has more good stuff than I have time to reflect on, this morning, so my plan is to keep that open at work, either in a browser or on my phone, so that I can continue to reflect on it, throughout the day. Maybe I will actually remember this plan after I get there.

It begins with the mass call for humility, to the whole body of Christ. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” He even gives us a reason. We are to humble ourselves so that God will, in His time, lift us up.

1 Peter 5:7 is a popular memory verse, and rightfully so. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” This is a challenging thing, too. We love our anxiety. In some cases, it may even be an “idol.” I know that sounds crazy, but think about it. Do you know people who seem to thrive on anxiety? I’m a worrier. My mother is a worrier. Must be where I got it, right? I catch myself worrying about things that will likely never happen.

It’s not as bad as it used to be, thanks to the Lord and His work in my life. But I still catch myself creating my own anxiety, putting pressure on myself that, when I step back and take a look at it, is coming from no one else but me.

“Nobody’s fault but mine,” the old blues singer, Blind Willie Johnson sang.

Father, I rejoice in You, and sing Your praises. I have much to be thankful for, much to praise You about. Let me never stop. As long as I have breath, I will praise You. In fact, based one what I believe and know, I will continue to praise You beyond the time that I have “breath,” for all eternity! Oh, how I look forward to that! I long for Home, Lord, truly long for it. Yet, I know that I still have work to do in my temporary home. I must, because I’m still here, right?

Help me to be humble today, especially with other brothers and sisters in Christ, but also with all others. Keep my “enemies” at bay. Help me to cast my anxiety upon You, because You care for me. Help me to humble myself, that You might lift me up, because You oppose the proud, but favor the humble.

God of truth and light,
my sworn enemies--
the world,
my own flesh,
and the devil--
are not always obvious opponents.
They are shifty prowlers,
usually hidden and wickedly crafty.
So make me wise to their schemes but mostly alert to your grace.
In Jesus' name,
amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 127)

BLESSING

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(1 Peter 5:10 NIV)

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
(Psalms 10:17 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
(Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)

Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.
(Esther 9:26-28 ESV)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)

Father, I don’t believe in luck, nor am I what might be called a “fatalist.” I believe that everything happens for a reason; that there are no “random” or “chance” happenings. Yet, I also believe that I have a small amount of control over my own little “kingdom.” Help me to exercise wisdom in those things over which I have control, as well as the wisdom to know what things I cannot control. And in all things, help me to trust Your hand of mercy and love, and to know that Your care over us is greater than anything else. All glory and honor to You, Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

Lord, please give me a deeper understanding of the Gospel, today, and how it can work itself into my life. May I truly experience the benefits of being Your adopted child, today. I pray that the gifts and fruit of the Spirit will manifest themselves in my life 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!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Here’s that song, just for kicks.

Who Are You Trying to Please?

Today is Sunday, the thirteenth of June, 2021

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,103

Seven days until Father’s Day

It turns out that we didn’t do much of anything yesterday. C did some yard work, and spent some time in the pool. She said the water felt great. According to the panel on the wall, it was 83 degrees in there. Seems about perfect. Otherwise, the only time we left the house was to go to our WW workshop.

Speaking of that, I posted an eight tenths of a pound loss, yesterday, for which I was ecstatic. I’m another .2 down, this morning, so that’s good. I seem to be back on the right track. C said her weight was exactly what it was last month, which is perfect, because she is on the maintaining track, now, not the losing track.

I reported blood pressure readings to my doctor’s office, yesterday morning, but have not heard a response. I don’t expect anything else to change, for now, as readings have leveled off in a good zone. I’m also going back to only checking it ever couple of weeks, unless I start feeling weird.

This morning, in my spam comments, nestled in there with all of the “extra proxies” and cbd oil spams, there was a breast milk pump ad and a food vacuum sealer ad. Something different, at least. Hahaha!

We have our church gathering, this morning at 10:15, and will be meeting at the host home today. I think we will be starting with Psalm 31, today, unless whoever is leading decides to do something different. I just know it’s not my turn. Mostly, I am looking forward to taking the Supper with brothers and sisters.

I’m confident that we will stop by Applebee’s and Sonic on the way home from there. I also think that a pool party might be happening at some point in the not-too-distant-future.

Regarding yesterday’s blog . . . my thoughts are still deep as I reflect on what the Spirit taught me, yesterday. I’m being tested, of course, already, as I see Facebook posts from some of my friends, almost daring me to unfriend or unfollow them. Not me, personally, but, hopefully you understand. But, as I firmly stated yesterday, and am fully persuaded is true, I cannot allow political (or any other) opinions to affect my love for brothers and sisters in Christ. If we have Him in common, that is all we need.

Let’s see where the Spirit takes me, today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have given us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Amen."
(The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)

O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right.
(Psalms 31:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You can be trusted to always do what is just and right, even (and especially) when we do not
2. for the opportunity to take the Supper with my brothers and sisters in Christ this morning
3. for the many treasures that we find in Your Word
4. that I am beloved by God and can rest securely in Him
5. for the promise that You will teach me and lead me in the way I should go; humble me and teach me, Father!

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK 4 – DAY 1

INVITATION

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
(Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV)

As I pause, briefly, for reflection, I am drawn to the thought of resting securely in the Lord. While it is true that this verse is specifically said about Benjamin (one of the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel), that does not change its truth for you and me.

I praise You, Lord, that am resting securely in You, in Your grace and mercy, and that that truth, that fact, is in no way, shape, or form, dependent upon me.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 134:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:6-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy God’s presence, this morning, I read these passages, hoping and praying for the Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers. I seek His face in HIs Word.

The psalm is interesting. It specifically mentions those who “minister by night in the house of the LORD.” This is a somewhat foreign concept to us, as we don’t have people ministering in our churches 24/7. Nevertheless, I see here a call to pray for our ministers, challenging them to lift their hands in praise to God, and asking God to bless them.

As I move into the Galatians passage, I see it dove-tailing perfectly with yesterday’s thoughts and meditations.

How so, you might ask? I see the constant proclamations of political affiliations and beliefs, and the idea that they are equal to (or, to our shame, even more important than) belief in Christ, as a perversion of the Gospel of Christ. Just this morning, I saw the Facebook post of a dear friend and sister. Sadly, it proclaimed all of her political opinions, and then, at the bottom, said, “and I also believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.”

I would have several questions for this one. First of all, why is belief in Christ at the bottom, below all of the political beliefs and opinions? Second, why are any of the others even necessary?? The only thing that matters is the last one. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!

This, my friends, is seeking the approval of human beings above God’s approval. And it is “preaching” a “gospel” that is, in fact, as Paul said, no gospel at all. When we tout our opinions, especially over and above our faith, we are first, perverting the Gospel, second, seeking the approval (or, perhaps even worse, daring others to disapprove) of men, and third, actually seeking division.

We are all entitled to our opinions, I suppose. We will all have them. It’s pretty much impossible to not have opinions about things. But we too often forget that this is all they are. And we get into this self-delusional mode where we believe that our opinions are the most important ones. And, more importantly, we are not entitled to always have our way with things.

Remember those two jobs?

Love God. Love people. There is a subset to that second one, from when Jesus told His disciples to love one another (other disciples) as He has loved them.

That’s it. None of those political opinions are included in the job descriptions for either of those jobs. In fact, when you so proudly display those opinions, you just might be disobeying that second command. Remember Romans 12:10?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 NIV)

I like the way Peterson words this in The Message:

Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
(Romans 12:10 MSG)

Father, help me practice playing “second fiddle.” I pray that Your Spirit move mightily within me, and within the rest of Your Church, that we might begin to learn how to honor one another above ourselves. I pray that we would follow only the genuine, pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and embrace our two jobs: loving You and loving people, and that we would set aside all other things that simply don’t matter in the “big picture.” I pray that You would move in mighty ways within Your Church, in these times. I pray for a “love revolution,” and I pray that it begin in my heart.

God,
when I count on my pious actions to make me right with you,
I get the gospel confused.
I'm flattering myself,
relying on my capacity to gain your approval.
Today,
 help me first to trust only in Jesus,
transferring my heart's confidence to him and so making mine all of his satisfaction, 
righteousness, 
and holiness.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 61)

BLESSING

[May you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11 NIV)

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
(Psalms 25:9 NIV)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
(Psalms 98:3 NLT)

Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
(Isaiah 49:14-15 NLT)

Father, humble me today, and teach me, by Your Spirit. I realize this is always a dangerous prayer, praying for humility, but it is what I truly desire. I believe it is the only way to truly follow Your commands and succeed in the two jobs that You have given us. I must be humble, and honor others over and above myself. I pray that, whenever I turn to the right or the left, I truly have Your voice within me, directing my path. Please instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. I praise You for Your faithfulness, even when, and especially when, I have not been faithful to You. You have not forgotten us; You will never leave nor forsake us. Hallelujah! All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit!

Lord, today, please give us resurrection hope and joy. Give us confidence in sharing the good news of the Gospel of the living Jesus Christ. I specifically pray for peace and deliverance for all of those who are suffering from oppression and war in this world.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends!

Fear, Holiness and His Presence

Today is Thursday (pre-Friday), the fifteenth of April, 2021, in the second week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,044

35 days until our Glen Rose weekend

Under normal circumstances, today would be “Tax Day,” in the US, the deadline for filing one’s income tax return. Not this year, though. The deadline has been extended to, I believe, May 17.

I had a large plate of “humble pie” handed to me, yesterday. In the spirit of transparency, vulnerability, and what I mean for this blog to be, I will share my experience.

I was dealing with a difficult person who works for our client. He’s not mean-spirited or rude, it just seems that he struggles with understanding, at times. We were both getting frustrated, and, unfortunately, wound up in a phone conversation about the issue.

I would rather get a root canal than talk on the phone.

That may be a slight exaggeration. But we have Skype and email, and usually, problems can be resolved through those avenues.

At the end of it all, we had both made mistakes. The supplier started the mess. The person to whom I was talking made an error. But guess what! So did I! My error was in not catching his error, and, in continuing the process, received some material on the wrong line item, which actually caused it to be received, inspected, and almost stocked as the wrong material.

I was not only humbled, but embarrassed.

It was a good lesson for me.

The Texas Rangers won their game with the Rays, last night, 5-1, improving their record to 5-7. Kohei Arihara (1-1) got the win, with 5.2 solid innings pitched. That is two consecutive wins for them, and they are tied with Oakland for last place in the AL West, but at this stage of the season, only two games behind first place. They will play again tonight, in the Juice Box, at 6:10 CDT, with Jordan Lyles (1-0) taking the mound for Texas.

The Boston Red Sox continue to make their own little bit of history. They won both games of a double header with the Twins, yesterday, no doubt making things even worse for the good people of Minneapolis. The first game was 3-2 with Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) getting the win, and the second was 7-1, with Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0) getting the win. The Sox have now won nine consecutive games. They sit alone at the top of the AL East, three games ahead of the second place Blue Jays. The Yankees, with the same record as Texas, are tied for the bottom, with Tampa Bay. Hah! My two least favorite teams, tied for last place. How fun is that?

The Sox will play the Twins again today, at 12:10 EDT, in Minneapolis. Garrett Richards (0-1) will take the mound for Boston.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 75:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • that You grabbed my attention, yesterday afternoon, humbling me; putting me in my place
  • for the peace I feel this morning
  • that You, alone, are to be feared . . . there is nothing on this earth that I should fear, when I am walking with You
  • for Your Church, which consists of people and souls, not buildings
  • for the great hope to be revealed at Christ’s return

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

EASTER – DAY 12

INVITATION

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

I pause briefly to reflect on the nearness of God to His people.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
(Psalms 76:1-3 NIV)

It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
(Psalms 76:7-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:10-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence (why must I always be having to remind myself of this truth?), I read these passages again. I invite the Holy Spirit to point me toward words or phrases that speak what I need to hear today.

Seriously, though . . . I’m drawn back to this idea that I have to remind myself that I am in God’s presence. Why? Why am I not aware of this glorious truth every minute of every day? This is definitely something to ponder, and something to work on. It reminds me of Frank Laubach’s “The Game with Minutes,” wherein he teaches the idea of consciously directing our thoughts toward God at least once, every minute.

It is God, alone, who is to be feared. Truly, when I am walking with Him (I wasn’t walking very well, yesterday), I have nothing at all to fear. Once again, I point to the words of Dallas Willard, who opined that “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” God, Himself, told us, in Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” I have also heard it said (I have not counted it myself) that some form of “fear not” is the most-commanded thing in Scripture.

Only God is to be feared. I have nothing else to fear, and I certainly should not be afraid of death. More truth to ponder, and, perhaps, to act upon.

Instead of fear, my stance should be hope. “Hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming,” says Peter. In that hope, we should not conform to our evil desires, but, rather, “be holy, because [God is] holy.” “Holy” is from the Greek hagios, which means, “sacred (physically pure, morally blameless, or religious, ceremonially consecrated),” “holy,” or “saint.”

Father, thank You for the lessons learned (I hope, at least) yesterday. Thank You for directing my thoughts, this morning, to Your presence, Your very precious and near to us presence. Help me to consider this presence frequently throughout this day, rather than blindly trudging through another day without noticing You. I thank You that You are all that I have to fear, and even that “fear” is not the same as, say the fear of a train derailing while I’m sitting first at the crossing. May my fear of You translate into the hope of the grace that Christ will bring when He returns. May it translate into love for all people, and my Your Spirit flow through me and out of me as I walk through this day. May peace and love be my mantra, today.

Missionary God,
thank you for sending people to speak your timely message of salvation.
I pray for all those who communicate your good news -
empower them to speak gracefully and effectively.
Raise up new messengers to bring your gospel to all people and places in clear and compelling ways.
And I ask that you send and empower me to be a timely witness of the glory of the resurrection.
In the risen Savior's name,
amen.
(Canons of Dort 1.3)

BLESSING

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 NIV)

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV)

In today’s reading from Daily Guideposts 2021, Gail Thorell Schilling reminds us of another important truth.

“It’s time to remind myself that the church is – and always has been – a community of believers, not a building. Jesus Himself taught outdoors and in homes; worship within dedicated structures came much later. And though the buildings provide shelter, often exquisitely beautiful and inspiring, the heart of a church beats in its living members’ hearts, not in the stained glass and stones. Even as I mourn the destruction of sacred spaces, I sense that God – who cannot be contained – is very near.”

However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.
(Acts 7:48 NLT)

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
(1 John 4:12 NLT)

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)

Father, this morning I have paused to seek Your face. I believe I have encountered You in this time. I pray for Your presence to be known throughout this day. Thank You for Your Church and all that it means to me. Thank You for the reminder that Jesus taught outdoors and in homes, not in expansive, exquisite structures. Thank You for the reminder that the plans You have for us are for good, and that, if we seek You with our whole hearts, we will certainly find You.

Lord, please grow me in holiness, today. May I know more fully Your forgiveness, and, in knowing this, be more willing to extend the same grace to others in my path. May the gifts of Your Holy Spirit flourish within Your Church.

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!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Anger, Wisdom, and Humility

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
(James 1:19-20 NLT)

Today is Friday, October 9, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,856

TWO DAYS until we head to Broken Bow, OK!

Three days until our 35th wedding anniversary!

And, we have begun our six days of PTO (Paid Time Off, what they call “vacation” now; actually, it also includes “sick leave,” at least in Texas).

I actually slept until almost 8:00 this morning! So I’m feeling pretty well-rested, this morning. According to my Fitbit, I got seven hours and six minutes of sleep with a sleep score of 90. The “sleep score” is “a daily snapshot of your sleep quality and duration.”

It includes “Time Asleep,” “Deep and REM,” and “Restoration.” For “Time Asleep,” I got 46/50 points. I was sleep for 7 hours, 6 minutes, awake 53 minutes over the course of the night. This measurement includes a cool graph that displays the times I was awake. The longest awake times were around the times I had to get up to use the bathroom. The others are times when I probably wouldn’t even recognize that I was awake.

For “Deep and REM,” I got 21/25 points. I had 1 hour and 36 minutes of deep sleep, and 2 hours and 16 minutes of REM sleep. The value of these, according to the Fitbit app, is that “during deep sleep your muscles relax and repair themselves, blood pressure drops and energy is restored. REM is when you’re likely dreaming, which is key for memory and mood.”

One interesting tip that is given is to avoid alcohol three hours before bedtime, as it can suppress REM sleep.

In “Restoration,” I got 23/25 points. In this category, it measures my sleeping heart rate. For 95% of the night, my sleeping heart rate was lower than my resting heart rate. My average sleeping heart rate was 63 bpm. My average resting heart rate is usually around 70 bpm. I only had 5% of the night where my sleeping heart rate was over my resting heart rate, and that bit is tagged as “restless.’

They recommend meditation or breathing exercises before going to sleep, which I did attempt last night. I fell asleep during the exercise.

All of this is courtesy of “Fitbit Premium,” which I got free for a year with my new Fitbit Inspire 2.

Don’t worry. I won’t bore you with this every morning. For one thing, during the work week, I wouldn’t have time. It is fascinating information, though. I never knew how much healing goes on during sleep. Even WW has been teaching us these facts, when the workshop weekly topic deals with sleep.

So. Today, we plan to go to Mineral Wells and have lunch with my mother. We are taking the ingredients (and a pan) for our Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken, and are going to cook that for her. Oh. That reminds me. I need to print a copy of that recipe to take with us.

Okay. Did that.

I also plan to take a quick side trip to the Crazy Water store and grab a couple cases of Crazy Water #4. I still have almost two full cases, but any time I’m in town, I’m going to buy some.

Tomorrow, we’ll be making last minute preparations for our trip to Broken Bow. A brief grocery run might be necessary. Especially if C eats all the grapes before then. Hahaha!

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
(Psalms 98:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For time off from work
  2. For the promise that, if we delight ourselves in You, You will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37)
  3. For the promise that we will find You when we seek You
  4. For the admonition to not be angry, but to be filled with humility
  5. For the book of James, which I don’t like to read

Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
(Psalms 119:76-77 ESV)

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
(Psalms 108:3-4 ESV)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”
(Luke 17:7-10 ESV)

Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.
(Psalms 37:3-9 NLT)

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.
(Isaiah 55:6 NLT)

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)

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.
(Proverbs 15:1-2 NLT)

A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.
(Proverbs 15:18 NLT)

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.
(Proverbs 15:31-33 NLT)

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
(James 1:19-20 NLT)

Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
(Romans 12:16 NLT)

How do you handle criticism?

I’ll confess right away that I do not handle it very well. Especially depending on from whom it comes.

But I have two different kinds of anger when confronted with criticism.

If I am told that I made a mistake, and it is proven to be true (I’ve never claimed to be perfect), I become angry at myself, because I loathe making mistakes. I WANT to be perfect! At least when it comes to my job responsibilities. The other day, I was shown a mistake that I had made. I was picking a part, and I went to the location, and there was a large crate. The lid was loose, so I pulled the crate, strapped the lid down, and sent it out.

Turns out there were five pieces in that crate, not one. I didn’t check the putaway label, or the inventory count. I assumed that the crate held one piece. It all worked out okay, because the reason the mistake came up was that the customer had submitted an order for the other four pieces. When the picker went to get them, the location was, of course, empty.

I was very angry with myself. My friend who pointed out the error tried to soothe me by telling me that that whoever did the putaway should have taken the top of the crate completely away, so that it was evident that there were multiple parts in there. Nevertheless, the fault is mine because I didn’t verify the stock.

But another way that I react is with anger toward the person doing the criticizing. One time, I went to a person to apologize for something I said, or at least in the manner that it was said. That person then spent the next fifteen minutes telling me why I was wrong, and so on. That didn’t set well with me. Frankly, that’s not, in my opinion, the way to accept an apology. And that person tends to think he’s right about everything.

I would say that, in both cases, the anger is out of order. I make mistakes. No, I don’t like to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that I should get so angry with myself when I make them. I should simply accept the facts, learn from them, and move on, taking whatever action is necessary to make sure that I don’t repeat that mistake.

In the second instance, people are going to be who they are. My anger in that situation didn’t help anything. And, of course, I, being who I am, did not express that anger. Well, I may have expressed it to my wife, later.

Look back up there at those verses from my least favorite book of the Bible, James. (Yes, I would rather read Leviticus than James. Why? Because Leviticus doesn’t constantly punch me in the gut. I would rather be bored than convicted.)

Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

Period.

Dallas Willard said (“there he goes again with that Dallas Willard guy”), “There is nothing that can be done in anger that cannot be done better without it.” On a related note, he also said, “The person who has the most power in your life is the person you have not forgiven.”

So how do we prevent anger? Proverbs gives us answers. A gentle answer; wisdom that “makes knowledge appealing.” In these tumultuous pre-election times, anger is not going to change anyone’s mind. But gentle words might at least get someone to listen to your point of view. And the concept of “How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian vote for . . .” should just be thrown out with yesterday’s garbage.

I am easily angered, it’s true. I don’t always express it, but my wife can tell. And some days, I just wake up mad at the world, for no apparent reason.

Wisdom and fear of the Lord are two good resolutions. Another verse up there from Proverbs says, “Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.

Ooh. Humility. Another gut-punch. And not even from James!

Father, I hesitate to pray for humility, because I know what kind of trials that can bring. Tests that produce humility are, well, humiliating. But that’s the point, isn’t it? So I need more humility in my life. And I need less anger. I confess . . . I get angry over silly things. The Internet doesn’t work right; some technology doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Someone at work asks a question that I feel like they should already know the answer to, or maybe I have even already provided the answer. Humility and wisdom would not allow anger in those situations. So, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would produce more humility in me. Calm my soul and help me to always have a gentle answer.

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!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Irish Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility in Prayer

“Prayer both requires and empowers the abandonment of self-justification, blame shifting, self-pity, and spiritual pride.”~~Timothy Keller

Good morning. It is Friday, August 21, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is looky-loo. This noun means, 1. “A person who views something for sale with no genuine intention of making a purchase,” or, 2. “A person who comes or stops to look at something out of curiosity, esp. when such attention is unwelcome.” A synonym for that definition is “rubbernecker.”

Today is Poet’s Day. If you know any poets, give ’em some love today. I follow a few on WordPress, but I don’t dare start mentioning names, lest I forget some and hurt some feelings.

Once my stomach started feeling better, I had a pretty good day, yesterday. We wound up not going to Hoffbrau, as initially planned. The birthday girl changed her mind and decided she wanted to order Chinese take-out, so we did that instead. It is, of course, a mystery, what we will do tonight. There’s a good change that both Christi and I will have to work late this evening.

This weekend, we plan to go to Mineral Wells on Sunday, and attend church with my mother. I think Rachel and Justin plan to come meet us for lunch. Should be a good day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Bible reading will be Exodus 5, Matthew 26, and Psalm 41.

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 95.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

“His people are here spoken of accordingly as the people of his pastures, whom he watches over with peculiar care, and loads with blessings of every kind. The Psalmist wants to press upon the people a sense of the inestimable favour [sic] conferred upon them in their adoption, by virtue of which they were called to live under the faithful guardianship of God, and to the enjoyment of every species of blessings.” (p 234)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Yesterday, we looked at John Calvin’s principle on prayer regarding “joyful fear.” Today, we see a second principle, that of “spiritual insufficiency.” This “includes both a strong sense of our dependence on God, in general, and a readiness to recognize and repent our own faults in particular.” Calvin admonishes against the common practice of believing that, in prayer, we are adorning ourselves with our “best spiritual clothes,” as if we could impress God with our devotion. When we come before God, we have to be “ruthlessly hones about our flaws and weaknesses.” We need to be aware, when we approach God, of the fact that “our only hope is in his grace and forgiveness,” and we should be totally up front with him about doubts and fears. “We should come to God with the ‘disposition of a beggar.'”

Just as prayer both requires and produces fear, it also does the same with humility. The act of prayer brings us into the presence of God, and in his presence, our shortcomings are exposed. “Then the new awareness of insufficiency drives us to seek God even more intensely for forgiveness and help.”

“Prayer both requires and empowers the abandonment of self-justification, blame shifting, self-pity, and spiritual pride.”

Father, teach me this spiritual humility. Teach me that I cannot impress you with my devotion, with my words, with my eloquent prayers. Help me to be more aware of my faults and weaknesses, that I might pray more effectively. I am aware of the truth of these principles, yet my heart is not fully convinced. I still fall into the trap of believing that I can gain favor with you by impressing you with anything. You are God, the Creator of the universe! How could anything human impress you? Yet I believe that true humility and faith are things that do impress you. Therefore, I ask for these in greater intensity.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and back may be safe. I pray that we might have a good work day today, and that we might not have to work late. However, if we do, may we do so with pleasant attitudes, at all times displaying the grace of your Kingdom. I pray for Christi’s leg, that you might bring relief to her pain. May you grant Stephanie your grace today, and show her your love. I continue praying that Rachel is getting some good rest, and that you help her find a clear path to her future. May you grant grace to my mother today, holding her fast in your loving arms. We look forward to worshiping with her on Sunday.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we find true humility as we come before God in prayer, and may that prayer produce even more humility.

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. . .” (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

Good morning. It is Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Today is Gummi Worm Day. I prefer the sour ones, myself.

I really don’t have much to write about on a personal level. Life trudges on, without much change. Yesterday was a pretty average Monday. We did watch the series premier of “The Strain,” last night, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Christ, not so much. 😀 But that was no surprise. I have yet to catch the finale of “Penny Dreadful.” It’s on the DVR, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Psalm 96:1
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
Psalm 65:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.
Psalm 71:22-24
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Father, make me willing to love.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Eating the Crumbs.”

Peter wrote, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. . .” (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

“These words are both frightening and consoling.” God is against the proud, but give himself for the humble, for the seemingly weak. He is moved to action by those with great faith. Recall the story of the woman in Matthew 15:21-28.

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

She humbled herself; Jesus lifted her up. “Jesus could not resist the humility of this foreign woman, of the good thief, of Mary Magdalene.”

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Proverbs 29:23

Father, we seem to keep returning to this topic, don’t we? This tells me that I still need to be working on humility and faith. I have to confess that my faith was weak yesterday. I found myself both upset and worried over situations at both of our jobs. But, in truth, there is no room for worry. I must believe that you have all things in your hands and under control. But I must also have the faith and humility to accept whatever you bring my way, even if I perceive it to be “bad.” The entire life of Joseph comes to mind. Your will be done, Lord, on earth as in heaven. I say those words at least twice a day. Let me be not just saying words, vain repetitions. Rather, let me be speaking my heart to you.

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi’s calf muscle will continue to improve. I pray that her relationships at work will also continue to improve, both with her employer, as well as with the client. May she continue to bring peace and calm into the chaos of the environment, with you as her support and stronghold. I pray, as always, for safe passage to and from work today. I pray for our huddle meeting tonight, that it will be productive, and that we will get a glimpse of what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus.

I continue to pray for Jana’s comfort as her mother makes her journey toward “home.” May you give them both comfort and peace, wrapping your arms of love around them. I pray for healing and recover for Susie. It seems that her pneumonia may not be completely gone. I pray that you would heal and protect her from further harm, Lord. I lift up Krystle’s uncle to you, Father, that his recover from a heart attack and by-pass surgery would be quick and complete. Give him rest as he recovers; bring comfort and hope to the family. I pray, too, that you would reveal yourself to them in new ways. I also pray for Krystle’s comfort, as they recently had to put a beloved pet to sleep. I pray for her protection, as well, as she recently had an allergic reaction to some nuts. I pray you bring some peace and calm to her life. I pray for Kevin, Father, that you would bring some peace into his life, delivering him from anxiety issues that are affecting his family. I pray for Lin’s husband, Terry, that you would bring healing from the many issues he is experiencing, and that you would draw both him and their daughter, Sarah, to your grace and forgiveness, by the power of your Spirit.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Your grace is sufficient.

Humility. Not humiliation. Those are two entirely different things. Our Father is looking for humility.
humility

Grace and peace, friends.