Impossible Becomes Possible

Today is Saturday, the seventeenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign within you today!

Day 23,564

It’s going to be a busy day, today. First, I am scheduled to work my eight-hour shift in Circulation at the library. Then, immediately after, I will be driving to a friend’s house to help celebrate her birthday, which was Thursday. The event begins at 5:00 PM, so I will be driving straight there, and meeting C and S at the house.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day in the Computer Center. It wasn’t very busy, but there were a handful of patron interactions. I have no idea if it was very busy at the circ desk.

For the last four days, now, the high temperature has consistently been two degrees below the predicted high. Yesterday, it was predicted to be 91, and we topped out at 89. This is one degree above the average temp for the day. Today’s high is forecast at 93, and we have mid-nineties predicted for nine of the next ten days, which is disappointing. Fall-like weather will come, soon enough, but, since this is north central Texas, it will be gone too soon. Yesterday, the director of our library said that it would be convertible weather soon (top-down), and I said, “for about a week, right?”

The record high for today’s date is 98 again, in 1997.

The Texas Rangers managed to get a win against the Tampa Bay Rays, last night, 4-3. Nathaniel Lowe got his 24th home run of the year. Martin Perez got his 12th win. This puts the Rangers at 63-81 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, 31.5 games out of first and 17 out of the Wild Card race. With only 18 games left, their WCE# is 2. I feel quite confident that they will lose at least 2 of those last 18. They play Tampa again, today, in the Juice Box, at 7:10 PM CDT.

The Boston Red Sox barely beat the KC Royals (but barely is enough, for a W is a W), 2-1. This puts them at 70-74 for the season. They are in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place (E# 2), and 10 games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 9). They also have 18 games remaining. I suppose they still have a slim chance, but it would require them to win most of their last 18 and the at least one team ahead of them to lose most of theirs. Not likely. They play KC again today, in Boston, at 4:10 PM EDT.

And this happened, last night.

With only two more left to reach 700, I really hope he does it at home.

The Dodgers won, yesterday, which puts them at 99-44. They need to win 18 of their last 19 to beat the win record. They are still the only team to clinch their division, but the Astros clinched a playoff berth, last night. Seattle could mathematically still win the division, but the Astros would really have to tank. I can hope, right? All of the other divisions are still way too close to call.

The Nationals won a game, but still have the worst MLB record, at 50-94. They are 1.5 behind the Athletics. The Astros now have the current longest win streak, at six games. The Royals and Angels both have four-game losing streaks going. The Dodgers are at +323 for run differential, and the Nationals are at -210 (with the Pirates only four runs ahead of them).

There are now seven teams eliminated from any playoff contention.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you fill heaven and earth with your Spirit and allow us to share in your gifts. We thank you for all you have given us, for all you are giving and will give. We are poor and needy; all people are poor and needy in spite of their striving, longing, and seeking. Only you, through your Spirit, can awaken something in us to help us go toward your goal. Keep us from being caught up in what men do. The greatest help for our hearts is what you do, and each of us can tell something about it. Each of us has received help beyond anything we had hoped or thought of. How much you have done for us! How much you are doing for the nations! Yes, we thank you for this present time. Although our lives often seem hopeless and full of sorrow, your powers are still living among men, working for their good and awaking them to new life. The time will surely come when our hearts will be released from their hunger and we can be filled with the life from above, which you give us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

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

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin
  2. that by the Holy Spirit, God awakens something within us to help us reach His goals for us
  3. that we are allowed to share in God’s gifts
  4. that my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God (Psalm 84)
  5. that what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18)

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
(John 18:25-27 ESV)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; 
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
(Psalms 84:1-2 ESV)
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. 
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 
the LORD bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
(Psalms 84:10-12 ESV)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 ESV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
 and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)
"For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 
Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" 
But he said, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."
(Luke 18:25-27 ESV)

Simon Peter denied that he knew Jesus, three times. He gets a pretty bad rap for this. As if any of us would have been different.

But let’s consider something else. We tend to look somewhat judgmentally upon the disciples in some of the accounts of their actions and attitudes. They bicker among themselves. Who is the greatest? Can we sit at your right hand? What about this guy??

Here’s the thing. These guys may have been as young as twelve years old when Jesus chose them as disciples. We don’t know how old they were; we only know the practices of rabbis and their apprentices, and it was not uncommon for them to select their apprentices at a relatively young age.

So Simon Peter could have been as young as fifteen or sixteen when he denied Jesus three times. How many teenagers do you know that would be more responsible? Hmm??

But that’s just a side topic for today. That’s not my “big idea,” if you will. It’s actually something I thought of yesterday when I read the account of the first denial, but then forgot to include in my writing.

You see, Jesus restored Peter, later, and then the Holy Spirit made him a powerhouse of a preacher, with confidence through the roof. And this is one of those things that, while seemingly “impossible with men,” is “possible with God.”

How does God accomplish these things? Well, for starters, He’s God, and we’re not. But, besides that, there is this thing called “grace.” “God can do for us what appears to be beyond our reach,” says Andrew Murray. Dallas Willard defined grace as God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Remember yesterday, when I wrote that we cannot make ourselves whole-hearted? Right. God has to do that, and that is part of grace, when He does something for us that we cannot do ourselves.

One way that this all comes about is through the concept of abiding, which I have also been writing about, this week. Remember a couple days ago, I quoted Andrew Murray as saying, “The Christian life is not a struggle to live rightly but rather resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.”

That statement really resonated with me, and has stuck with me. In our lives, it all depends on the relationship that is maintained with the Lord. “God must be working and we must be receiving from God through trust and obedience.” (Murray) If we are not understanding this, we begin to “try harder” with our own efforts, and we usurp God’s role in our lives.

This is where meditating on a passage such as Psalm 23 can be very helpful. “He makes me lie down . . .” “. . . still waters.” “He restores my soul.” All of these things sound very restful and peaceful to me. It sounds like abiding. It sounds like “resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.”

By grace, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. When we try to do it ourselves, things don’t go well. But what is impossible for us is possible for God.


Father, I thank You for the truths You have been revealing (or, should I say, “re-revealing,” because I’ve seen them all before) to me, this week. I pray for consistency in living them out. Help me to rest in Christ and receive my life and righteousness from Him, realizing that I can do nothing on my own, and that, by grace, You will do for me what I cannot do for myself.

May my prayers reflect this attitude, as well. Help me to pray with expectation; expectation that You will do the impossible for the people for whom I am praying (including myself). May Your blessings fall on us, Lord, and may Your love be channeled through me onto everyone I come in contact with. Let them see Your love, Lord. Help us have a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Teach me your way, O LORD, 
that I may walk in your truth; 
unite my heart to fear your name. 
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, 
with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Pattern for Abiding

Today is Tuesday, the thirteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ unite us all in harmony and love!

Day 23,560

There are only nine more days until my favorite season begins. The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22, this year. And soon, it will be my favorite month, the month of October. Our wedding anniversary falls in October, and C and I have a weekend planned, back in Glen Rose at our favorite cabin on the Paluxy River. We will be there, October 7-10.

The temperature reached 85, yesterday afternoon, a degree shy of the predicted 86. There was no rain, and there is none predicted over the next ten days. The highs are all 90 or above (none higher than 93), until September 22, when the predicted high is only 87. The record high for today’s date is 105, back in 2011.

The Texas Rangers split the double-header with Miami, yesterday. They won the first game 3-2, but lost the second 10-6. That makes them 61-80 on the season, and it got them in a tie with LA for third place. They are 30 games out of first place (eliminated from division contention), and 18 out of the Wild Card race (WCE# is 5). Today, they are back home to play the Athletics, at 7:05 CDT. Cole Ragans, who threw three innings of no-hit ball last time, will start. The Rangers have 21 games remaining.

The Boston Red Sox did not play, yesterday, and will begin a series with the Yankees tonight, in Boston, at 7:10 PM EDT. The Red Sox are 69-72 on the season, 16 games out of first place (E# 6), and ten games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 13). They also have 21 games remaining.

The Dodgers, at 97-43 (MLB leading), are still the only team to have mathematically clinched a playoff berth. They have not clinched the division, yet, but the E# for San Diego, the second place team, is only 2. The Nationals are at 49-92, trailing MLB, but only two games behind the Athletics. The Cleveland Guardians have a four-game win streak going, while the Nationals, Braves (uh-oh), Rays (YAY!), Twins, and Reds all have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers lead the run differential column, with +316, while the Pirates still have the bottom, with -211. The Rangers dropped to -17 with that second game, yesterday, and the Red Sox remain at -33.

Today being Tuesday, I will be at the library, shelving, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. This is also my “busy” week, so I will be working eight hours in circulation both tomorrow and Saturday. My Computer Center day is now Friday, every week.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we know that we are your children, and in this certainty we gather in your presence as a community. Grant us your Spirit, the Spirit who works in us and frees us from the many evils that still torment us. Be with us and let the power of your great grace and mercy be in our hearts so that we may gain the victory and lead joyful lives on earth in spite of our many shortcomings, blunders, and sins. For your grace is great, much greater than all our failings. You are our God and Father, and we want to keep our consciences clear today and always through your grace. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
For it is by his grace you are saved, through trusting him; it is not your own doing. It is God's gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of. 
(Ephesians 2:8–9 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the power of God’s great grace and mercy in my life, that I might lead a joyful life here on earth, in spite of my imperfections
  2. for God’s gift of grace, by which I am saved
  3. for the unspeakable love that invites me to come and converse freely with God
  4. for the privilege of abiding in Christ
  5. that His power is made perfect in my weakness, about which I will gladly boast

"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. 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."
(John 15:4-14 ESV)

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

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalms 37:4 ESV)

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 ESV)


“Abide in me,” says Jesus. I’ve discussed what “abide” means, in previous entries. It means to dwell, or live, in something, usually for an extended period of time. The NIV translates it “remain,” which isn’t a bad rendering of the word, either. The idea is to stay, to remain, to dwell, for a long time, in this case, preferably, permanently.

What joy it is to abide! What a privilege to be invited to do so! “As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.” (Andrew Murray)

What I am attempting to do, every morning, here, is exactly that; to abide. My ritual remains relatively constant, although the appearance in this forum may change, from time to time. I begin with a prayer. Then I enter into a time of Bible reading/study. I seldom do any literal “study,” these days, as I have come to believe that that isn’t as important as I used to think. I realize that may sound like heresy to some . . . “study to show thyself approved,” and so on.

I rather enjoy the closing words of Ecclesiastes:

Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 ESV)

I will also point out that the word translated “study” in 2 Timothy 2:15, is only rendered so in the KJV. Both the NIV and the ESV say “Do your best.” The NLT says “work hard,” and the MSG says “concentrate.” All of these are acceptable translations, based on what I can tell from the Greek word in the text.

What I believe is that meditation and contemplation are as good as or better than literal “study,” whatever that means. Most people, when they speak of “study,” think it means to sit down and look at a passage of Scripture and read tons of commentaries about it and try to learn everything about it that they can. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this. However, I know one person who has studied very hard and probably knows the Bible better than anyone that I know. His heart, however, does not reflect intimate knowledge of the Trinity. He is not a very nice person. That, to me, is tragic, and it is why I believe that meditating on the Scriptures is at least as helpful, if not more so, than “study.” And you can work hard at meditation and contemplation, too.

Here’s what Murray says:

“Prepare yourself for prayer by Bible study. Read a few verses. Take what you readily understand and apply it. Then ask the Father to enlighten all of the passage to your heart and make it applicable.” (Emphasis added)

What he calls “Bible study” sounds a lot like meditation and contemplation to me.

And that’s what I try to do, here. After reading the Scripture passages that I quote above, I then spend a few moments sussing them out, generally typing while I’m thinking. Sometimes I use material from the various devotional books, but, lately, outside of those quote from Murray, it’s my own thinking emerging from my fingertips.

That may or may not be a good thing. But I tend to look at it as a form of meditation.

Then, I turn to prayer. The prayers that I type in here are generally related to what I have contemplated. There are also prayers from individuals that I lift up, as they have requested. I should probably do more of the bit where Murray suggests that we “Remember His greatness, holiness, and love.” He also recommends that prayers be specific. I try to do that, as well. “Let your prayer be specific, originating either from the Word you have just read or from spiritual needs that you are sensing at the time.”

One thing that is important, though. This prayer that begins in the private place should be carried out into the world. This does not, in my opinion, contradict the words of Jesus. Remember, in context, Jesus is warning His disciples against praying for show, as “the hypocrites” do. When we take the spirit of prayer out into the world, we are doing what Paul tells us at the end of 1 Thessalonians, praying “without ceasing.” We begin here, in the private room. But we don’t leave it there; we don’t stop there.


Father, it is truly a joy to be able to do this; to abide (help me to be more consistent at this), to pray (help me, there, also), to meditate on Your Word and to consider the greatness of Your mercy, love, and grace. When I consider all of these things, along with the moon, the stars, the magnificent heavens, along with the mountains and oceans that dwarf us on earth, I sing, along with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”

It is truly amazing that You, the Creator of all things, condescend to fellowship with us, Your creation. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high; I cannot attain it.

I thank You that You have placed it in my heart to desire to delight in You. And this desire for delight is not totally driven by the desire to get whatever I want. Sure, I would love for my prayers to be effective, to be answered the way I pray them, so that everyone who gives me a prayer request gets what they want.

But that is not the driving force behind my abiding. You are. Christ is. The Holy Spirit is. It is a sincere desire to know You as fully as I can. Help me to abide better. Help me to pray better, to pray without ceasing, and to take this spirit of prayer out of this room with me. Let that color and influence everything that I do in my life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


"Have the patience and courage to begin again anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to the greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome."
(Eberhard Arnold, Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Hating My Life in this World

Today is Wednesday, September 7, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,554

Yesterday’s temperature reached 93, at around 3:00 PM, which is a tad higher than expected. It was still fairly warm when we left the library, shortly after 8:00 PM, but not so hard to breathe. We did not get any rain, yesterday. Today’s high is also expected to be 93. The record high for today’s date was in 2012, at 103. It is still showing that we got .88 inch of rain over the last 72 hours.

I’m off work today, as I am every other Wednesday. I will work tomorrow, 8 hours in the computer center, but I will also work 8 hours in the computer center on Friday, this week, as my schedule change is effective on Friday. Going forward, I will not be working Thursdays anymore (after tomorrow).

I have an appointment at a dermatologist, this afternoon, to check on getting a couple of cysts removed from my head. They are right on top of my head, and there is no hair there, so they are quite obvious. So I’m going to try to get them removed. It shouldn’t be an issue, as I have had this done in the past. The only question is if one of them is too large for them to do it, in which case, they will likely refer me to a plastic surgeon, which has also happened one time in the past, when I had a very large cyst right at the top of my forehead.

For dinner, tonight, I am planning to make Beef Enchilada Pasta Skillet, from my favorite cooking website, Emily Bites.

The Texas Rangers broke their losing streak, last night, winning a rare one-run game against the Astros, 4-3. This makes them 59-76 for the season, but they remain in fourth place in the AL West, a half game behind the Angels. They are eliminated from any shot at the division, but still have a slim (very slim) chance at a Wild Card spot. Their WCE# is 12, with 27 games remaining in the season.

The Red Sox fell further behind by losing to the Rays 8-4. They are now 67-70 for the season, and, even though they are 15 games out of first place, are, miraculously, not mathematically eliminated. Their E# is 12. They are nine games out of a Wild Card spot, and their WCE# is 18. They have 25 games left.

There is now a tie for the lead in the NL East division, between Atlanta and the Mets. No one has clinched a division or playoff berth, just yet.

The Dodgers won, making their MLB leading record 93-42. With 27 games remaining, they still have a slim, but unlikely chance, to beat the win record. The Nationals lost, keeping them at the bottom with 48-88. To make matters worse for them, the Pirates won. But the A’s lost, and are now only two games ahead of the Nats. At this point, being the worst is anyone’s game. The Dodgers, of course, are not guaranteed to wind up the best, but the next team is 6.5 games behind them.

The Braves have the best current win streak (which is why they are now tied for first place), at six straight games. The Marlins now have the longest losing streak, at eight games. The Dodgers improved their leading run differential to +294, and the Pirates and Nationals are now tied for the worst, with -203. The Rangers have -11, and the Red Sox are down to -45.

My hopes of having a team in the playoffs grow slimmer with each passing day. As previously mentioned, I’m pulling for the Orioles to get one of those Wild Card spots away from either Toronto or Tampa. I’m also pulling for Cleveland, who is currently leading the AL Central. Why Cleveland? Because Terry Francona, that’s why Cleveland! I really, really wish Texas could lure him away from Cleveland.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, remind us again and again of what you have done in our hearts and lives to make us certain of the resurrection. Help us to live in this certainty and to hold fast to everything good and great which you bring into our lives. Grant us the assurance that we are gaining ground in the battle for the redemption of those who are still in darkness and in the shadow of death. May we find joy in what we have here and now. Give us patience in our struggles. Give us hope for all that has gone wrong, because even what is in darkness is still in your hands. In the end everything must be brought to the light so that all humankind may glorify your great name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
(1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for all things good and great that God brings into our lives
  2. that, in spite of what we might see around us, God is working His plan, and it will come to pass
  3. for the inheritance that is kept for us in heaven
  4. for memories
  5. that Jesus, because of His sacrifice, and He did not hold onto His life in this world, has made intercession for sinners

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
(John 12:25-26 ESV)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
 yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 
Your way, O God, is holy. 
What god is great like our God? 
You are the God who works wonders; 
you have made known your might among the peoples.
(Psalms 77:11-14 ESV)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
(Philippians 1:3 ESV)

The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.
(Proverbs 10:7 ESV)


Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV)


“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life,” said Jesus. But He also said that we are to love our neighbor as ourself. How do I do that if I’m supposed to hate my life?

I believe there is a difference between “hating” my “life in this world,” and hating myself. We are never told to hate ourselves. The Greek word that is translated “life” in John 12:25 is psuche or psyche, which can also be translated as “breath” or “spirit.”

So this is not talking about wishing we would die, that our physical life would cease to be. Rather, it is speaking of the way in which we engage in this life, in this world. I believe it is a call to be somewhat detached from this life, almost aloof. Not to be careless, mind you, or irresponsible, because being careless and irresponsible can have negative impact on other people.

For a long time, now, I have had this mindset of, and this is also biblical, what can man do to me? It’s kind of like saying, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Certainly, there are things in this life that I enjoy. I like reading my books; I like playing my games; I like listening to and playing music. But I am less and less attached to those things (you might not know that if you see how much time I spend in front of the PS4), as I long more and more for Home.

And this longing for Home is not a wish to die, either. I have no interest in dying. There are people around me with whom I enjoy spending time. There are people around me who depend on me for things. I don’t desire to leave them just yet.

But I have less and less regard for my “life in this world.”

Jesus, according to that passage in Isaiah 53, had little regard for His life in this world. He “poured out His soul to death.” In doing so, He “bore the sin of many,” and made intercession for all sinners.

That word “intercession” gets thrown around a lot, usually in regard to prayer. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. However, that is not the meaning of “intercession” in Isaiah 53:12.

“Intercede,” simply means, “intervene on behalf of another.” That can take many forms. In Isaiah 53:12, Jesus intervened on our behalf by giving up His life.

And in Philippians 2, we see a similar message about Jesus.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:8 ESV)

Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who “hated” His “life in this world.” He did not hate Himself. But He did not love His life to the point of trying to preserve it. And look at the results.

One result is the salvation of sinners. But another result is this:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)

The one who wished to exalt himself in this life has all the reward he is going to get. If someone does acts of charity simply to be recognized by men, that will be the extent of his reward.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
(Matthew 6:2 ESV)

That is an example of loving a life in this world.

Jesus’s “power in intercession was established by His sacrifice; intercession claims what the sacrifice has already won.” (Andrew Murray)

So if we feel like we don’t have the power to pray or don’t know how, perhaps we need to examine how much we love our lives in this world. How much do we complain about things that don’t go our way? I struggle so much with this, personally. The more I understand these truths, the less that is an issue, but it still an issue. I’m dealing with something along those lines, right now, but God is helping me to understand; He is helping me to “hate” my “life in this world.”

I don’t hate myself, and I won’t do that. No worries there. I mean, sure, sometimes I don’t like myself very much, especially when I get unrealistically angry over something petty. But in general, I try to look at myself the way God looks at me (as best as I can tell), which is through the perspective of Jesus Christ, who died for me and interceded for my sin and placed His righteousness upon me.


Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, Your Son, who has interceded for all sinners by not loving His life and by being obedient to the point of death. I acknowledge that You have exalted Him, because of this, and have given Him the name that is above every name. I humbly and willingly bow to His name and confess with my tongue (and my fingertips) that Jesus is Lord!

I praise You for His intercession on our behalf, and for the righteousness that He has placed upon us. I have no righteousness of my own, no inherent goodness. I do not hate myself, but, according to Your Word, have a healthy hatred of my life in this world, that I might, then, keep it for eternal life in Your presence, after the resurrection.

Help me to do this more and more; help me to not love my life in this world, to set aside my desires that are not in line with Your desires. Help me to not express anger over petty things, things that do not matter, things that are only “footstool” problems. Help me to learn these things and not just repeat the same things over and over.

I am grateful for all the saints, Father, and the relationships that we have with them. I am thankful for the ones who went before us, that we might learn from them. And I am thankful for the ones that will come after us, and hope that we might do something of value that they would learn from us.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Conscience

Today is Sunday, September 4, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,551

Tomorrow is Labor Day, a holiday in the US. C will be off all day and has promised that she doesn’t plan to open her work computer. I don’t work on Mondays, anyway, so it’s just another day for me, except that we won’t get any mail.

Yesterday was a warm one, getting up to 94 in our area. I swear I opened my weather app, while I was at the library, and it said 97, but the official history for the closest airport says it reached 94. There was no rain, yesterday, which is not surprising. There is some chance of rain today, with possible afternoon thunderstorms, with an expected high of 95. The record high for today’s date was, once again, in 2000, and was 110 degrees! We have had 1.1 inches of rain in the past 72 hours, at our house. The ten-day forecast shows five days of 90+, and five days in the upper eighties. Summer will not go quietly, it seems.

There was a steady stream of patrons at the library, yesterday, which made it go by fairly quickly. The book drops were quite busy, as we filled up about six carts of books that were returned. There were two carts of youth (that means children’s in library lingo) books and two carts of adult fiction/non-fiction. One cart is DVDs and “talking books,” and the other cart is books that go on the new book display in front of the circ desk.

The Texas Rangers lost again to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, and all three of those were scored in the top of the eighth inning. One of the bullpen pitchers started the game, and it was one who has not done well of late, so I’m scratching my head over that one. The Rangers are now at 58-74, still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. They are 26.5 out of first place, with a division E number of four, and 14.5 out of a Wild Card spot, with a WCE of 17.

The Red Sox improved to 66-68, but remain in last place in the AL East, still six games behind the Orioles. They are 13.5 out of first place, with an E number of 16, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot with a WCE of 23. The Rangers and Red Sox play one more time today, at 12:35 CDT.

Not much has changed in the playoff picture. New York, Houston, and Cleveland lead their divisions. Tampa and Seattle are in a virtual tie for the first two Wild Cards, and Toronto has the third spot. In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards lead their divisions, and the Braves, Padres, and Phillies currently have the WC spots.

The Dodgers won, improving their MLB leading record to 91-41. The Nationals won, as well, but still have the worst record at 46-84. They are only 2.5 behind the Athletics, though, who have lost four in a row. The Mariners continue to streak, having won six in a row, now (the Rays have won five), and our Texas Rangers continue to lose, now having lost seven in a row. The Dodgers will likely lead the run differential for the remainder of the season, now at +289. The Nationals, though, do have a chance to not have the worst differential, currently at -212, but the Pirates are at -208. The Rangers, after losing 9-1 to the Red Sox a couple days ago, are now at -8, and the Red Sox have improved to -43.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, let your light shine in our hearts, the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled. May the higher nature born in us become ever stronger so that the lower and perishable nature does not rule over us. Grant that we may overcome and that our hearts may rejoice in being allowed to strive for the highest good because we are your children who can share in what is eternal. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:5-7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light that shines in our hearts, “the light that can gladden us and lead us until all our longing is stilled” (Plough.com)
  2. for His great and infinite mercy, by which He has saved us
  3. for the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through jesus Christ
  4. that God desires to be gracious to us and bless us
  5. for the conscience; a gift from God that helps me determine right from wrong

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18 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.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)


Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
(Isaiah 48:17-19 ESV)

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’
(Jeremiah 7:23 ESV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
(Luke 6:46-49 ESV)

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:25 ESV)


I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
(Romans 9:1 ESV)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
(Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV)


“God waits to be gracious” (Isaiah 30:18). The Hebrew word for “gracious,” in that verse, is chanan. The literal meaning of the word is “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, to bestow.” The NIV says, “the LORD longs to be gracious . . .”

The words “waits” and “longs” imply that there is a reason, though, that He is prevented from being gracious. Something is delaying God’s graciousness to His people. Now, in the Old Testament, this is speaking to a nation that is God’s people, the nation of Israel.

We no longer have a nation that is considered “God’s people.” God’s people is no longer a nation, but is now the Church, the Body of Christ. I think it is fair to read verses like Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11 and apply them to the individual within that body.

God seriously and sincerely desires, longs, waits, to be gracious to us and to shower us with blessings.

But something delays this blessing, sometimes. Isaiah 48 sheds some light on this. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!” There it is. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, because He says, multiple times, that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments, or that if we abide in Him and abide in His Word, we can ask for whatever we desire, and He will give it to us.

“Abide” means “to dwell, to live within,” and if we are dwelling in Christ and in His Word, we will obey His commands.

And what are His commands? If you have read this blog before, you know the answer.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(Romans 13:8 ESV)

So, if I believe, or find, that God is not, in fact, being gracious to me (which is absurd, because the very fact that I just took another breath is grace . . . everything that allows my life to continue is grace), it is because there is some point in my life where I have not been obedient.

This is not to induce guilt or shame. Especially not shame, because I am a firm believer that shame is a terrible thing, a tool of our enemy.

However, it is to force us to take a look at ourselves and be honest with ourselves.

I know no person who is 100% obedient to those commands, 24/7. I know a person or two that are close. But we are all human, and we all fail.

And this is where that gift of conscience comes into play. Look at that verse from Romans 9 up there, where Paul talks about his conscience bearing witness. What is “conscience?”

“An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”

Here’s what Andrew Murray has to say about conscience: “If the voice of conscience tells you of a course of action that is nobler or better, and you choose something else because it is easier or pleasing to self, you ill-equip yourself for the teaching of the Spirit by disobeying the voice of God.”

Keep in mind that Brother Murray is writing to Christians, here. Not to say that the unbeliever doesn’t have a conscience; of course they do (unless they are a psychopath), and I find that some of them do a better job of obeying that conscience than some believers.

I have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within me. Therefore, my “conscience,” as it were, as Murray implies, is equal to the voice of God. It tells me if something I am considering is right or wrong. Or, perhaps, it also tells me if there is something that I should be doing that I am not doing.

“You really ought to help that person. Give them something.”

“You shouldn’t do that thing you’re thinking about doing.”

You should do that thing you’re thinking about not doing.”

Murray then gives us that verse from Deuteronomy 30 about God circumcising the heart. He advises us to “claim this promise.” If we allow God to “circumcise” our heart, then we will, it says, love Him with our entire being, “and live.”

And we will experience the full extent of the graciousness with which God longs and waits to bless us.

“Believe in the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust the Spirit that is in you, enabling you to love and so cause you to walk in God’s statutes. In the strength of this faith, and in the assurance of sufficient grace, which is made perfect in weakness, enter into God’s love and the life of living obedience it enables.”

It is only the continual presence of Jesus and His love that can enable this continual obedience in us.


Father, strengthen this conscience within me, that I might hear Your voice more readily, and be more obedient to Your commands. Help me to truly live, letting that life come to me because I have loved You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, in doing this, help me to love my neighbor as myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

Let the love of Christ be continually fueling my own love, as I allow it to channel through me, driving my every behavior. This is a tall order, Lord. I am not asking for perfection; well, maybe I am, knowing Your desire for me is to be “perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect.” Yet, I know that I cannot be, at least not as long as I dwell in this mortal coil.

But my desire is to strive for this perfection. Not so that I can boast; for I want to have no part in boasting of anything that I have done. Rather, I desire to boast only in You and what Christ has done in my own weakness. Let my weakness be seen, that You might be seen to be strong. Let my foolishness be known, that You might seen to be wise.

I pray for the Body of Christ, that we might do a better job of heeding the conscience that is the voice of Your Holy Spirit, that we might follow the commands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and might feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoners, and stop oppression in His name.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Specific Prayer

Today is Saturday, September 3, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,550

It is officially the Labor Day weekend, so a lot of people are enjoying a long weekend. C will be one of those. It makes not a lot of difference to me, because I am always off Mondays, and I am scheduled to work today. I find myself wondering if the library will be slow today. I know it will be closed on Monday.

As for my schedule, it is changing next week. And because of the way the city’s pay schedule works, I will be working next Thursday and next Friday. But I would rather do that next week than the following week, because next week is my “light week,” meaning that, were it not for this schedule change, I would only work two days. With the new schedule taking effect, I will work three. If it had been delayed until the following week, I would have wound up working five days in a row. Oh, the horror! Hahaha!

This morning, I am due in at 9:30, and will work until 6:15 PM. I do plan on making burgers for dinner tonight. That reminds me . . . I have to put meat out to thaw. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Yesterday’s high only reached 84, but it’s supposed to hit 93 today. There is little chance of rain, today, but we had a little bit yesterday, to make three consecutive days where we had at least a small amount of rain. According to one website, we have had a little over an inch of rain in the last 72 hours. The record high for today’s date was, once again, 108, back in 2000. You would think that I would remember that year, being that hot, this late. On the other hand, that was 22 years ago, wasn’t it? Egad.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers 9-1, last night. Can we go ahead and say that the Dallas Kuechel experiment is a miserable failure?? The Rangers are now 58-73, still in third place (still by a game and a half) in the AL West, 26.5 out of first place, and 13.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is now 5, and the WCE number is 19.

The Red Sox are 65-68, still in last place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is 16, and their WCE number is 24. The two teams play again this afternoon at 3:10 CDT, in Boston. Texas has 31 games left, and Boston has 29.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row, now, diminishing their chances of breaking the win record. They are at 90-41, still leading MLB. The Nationals still trail the pack with 45-87, but only 3.5 games behind the Athletics. The Seattle Mariners now hold the leading win streak with five wins in a row. The Texas Rangers are at least leading in something, right? They now have the longest losing streak in MLB, at six consecutive games. The Dodgers’ run differential went down, but they are still almost 100 runs better than the next team, with a differential of +278. The Nats remain at the bottom, at -218.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you come to help us with your power and might. We thank you that you come to us in our suffering and strengthen us in all we must endure on earth. You help us so that what is good and full of light comes more and more to us and to all people. We thank you and pray that your power, coming from the invisible world into the visible, may continue its quiet working in us until the day when everyone can see Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and into all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God sends His strength and power to us, coming from the invisible world into the visible
  2. that He helps us to see what is good and full of light in this world of trouble and distress
  3. that these “light and momentary troubles” are nothing compared to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
  4. for the constant presence of Jesus in my life, and that He will never leave me
  5. for the question that Jesus asks in Mark 10:51, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:9-18 ESV)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; 
you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:23-26 ESV)

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)

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NIV)


And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
(Mark 10:51 ESV)


Jesus is clear. He is the door. He has already called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. He is not a door; He is the door. He then says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”

But doors serve more functions than just entryway. They also serve as protection. When the door is closed, nothing can get in to harm us. And there is also a great mystery, here. While Jesus is the door, He also goes before us, to lead the way. He can be our access point, while at the same time, never leaving us. Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid.

Once we accept these truths, then we can dig a little deeper and look at this question that Jesus asked the blind man. “What do you want me to do for you?”

I can easily see Jesus asking the same question of us, today?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What is your answer to that question? I believe that Jesus truly wants to know the specifics, here. “He wants to hear from the man’s lips not only the general petition for mercy but also the distinct expression of his desire. Until he declares it, he is not healed.” (Andrew Murray, emphasis added)


Father, help us to answer this question. Help us to be specific with Jesus when we answer it. It truly helps us to put our specific desires into words. I can speak from experience to say that there have been times when I expressed my desire out loud, it began to sound trivial and selfish. While I certainly believe the truth that You know what we need or desire before we express it, I also believe that You desire to hear us pray specifically.

Thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and that You will never leave me. This brings me great comfort. Would that the Psalm were true, that I truly desire nothing on earth besides You. I find that I have not quite made it to that point, yet, but it is my desire to do so. Help me get there, Father. Decrease my desires for earthly things, that I might only desire You and Your presence.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus in Gethsemane

Today is Friday, the 26th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,542

I’m getting closer to going back to working Fridays at the library, rather than Thursdays. The new computer center person has been hired and is going through the HR processing. She could possibly begin next week. In spite of the fact that I will lose my alternating four-day weekends, I am okay with this. I would rather not be working two evenings a week. If it starts next week, however, I could possibly wind up working five days in a row, next week, since Thursday and Friday fall in different pay weeks for the city. It’s all good, though.

The Texas Rangers didn’t play yesterday, and begin a home series with the Detroit Tigers tonight. They have 38 games left.

The Red Sox lost again to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-5, completing a sweep and increasing their losing streak to four games. And, to make matters worse, they face the streaking Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The Sox are now 60-65 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and eight out of a Wild Card Spot. They have 37 games left.

The current Wild Card standings have Tampa, Toronto, and Seattle still in the three AL Wild Card spots. Houston, New York, and Cleveland lead their divisions. In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, and Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego hold the Wild Card spots.

The Dodgers didn’t play last night, and still have the best MLB record, at 86-37. They are 7-3 in their last ten games. In order to break the all time season win record of 116, they would have to win 31 of their remaining 39 games. Certainly doable, but not likely. The Nationals, on the other end of things, are the worst MLB team, with a 42-83 record. With 37 games left, they would have to lose all of those games to tie the worst record in modern history, which is the 1962 Mets, at 40-120. At least they won’t do that, probably.

As previously mentioned, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the league with a six-game winning streak, and are heading to Boston, who currently has a four-game losing streak. They aren’t the worst, though, as the Twins and Angels are both “enjoying” a six-game losing streak. In the run differential department, the Dodgers will likely finish the season on top, with +275 currently. There will likely be no records broken, though, as the best run differential in history is by the St. Louis Maroons in 1884 (+458). It is possible, however, that the Nationals might not end on the bottom. They currently have -209, but the Pirates have -192, which isn’t that far behind (ahead?). The worst in history is the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, with -723. They also have the worst season record in history, at 20-134. As for individual games, the Texas Rangers still have the best single game run differential in modern times, when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007. The current Rangers are still at +16 for this season, while the Red Sox have fallen to +45.

There are a few tasks in the day ahead, but not much, so I’ll get on to what’s ultimately important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, be our Father and care for your children here on earth, where it is often bitterly hard and where everything seems to turn against us. Keep us faithful in our inner life, drawing all our strength from you, the eternal power of life, and from Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. For Jesus has promised to come to us, and you will send him in our time of need. Let your strong hand be with those who often do not know where to turn. Show us paths we can follow, to the glory of your name in all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s strong hand of love
  2. that the Lord will show me His ways and teach me His paths, and my hope is in Him, “all day long”
  3. that the more I soak myself in Jesus and His words, the more I can see that I, as well as all of my neighbors, are beloved
  4. for all the saints, brothers and sisters in Christ, that are in my life and have ever been in my life and ever will be in my life
  5. that Jesus, when faced with the ultimate crisis in Gethsemane, surrendered to His Father’s will, procuring the power and authority to ask anything of the Father; we, His brothers and sisters, share in that power

“Beloved,” by Daryl Madden

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
You’re the beloved one
I praise you as my Savior
For everything you’ve done

Soaking, soaking, soaking
Claim my treasure, true
Through your gracious mercy
I’m the beloved too

Seeing, seeing, seeing
In each neighbor aware
They are the beloved
In this binding share

Grateful, grateful, grateful
Let our binding be
In our belovedness
Loving joyfully

As we soak ourselves in Jesus, our Beloved, we can more easily see the “belovedness” of our neighbors, and be grateful that we are beloved, as well. Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.


"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:63-69 ESV)

I thank my God every time I remember you.
(Philippians 1:3 NIV)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:35-36 ESV)


Jesus speaks to us words of spirit and life. The flesh is of little consequence. This does not mean, however, as some would have us believe, that the flesh is totally evil and only the spirit is good. This results in heresy known as Gnosticism.

After Jesus’s teachings in John 6, some left Him. His true disciples, however, recognized that there was nowhere else left to turn. “You have the words of eternal life,” they acknowledged.

And, “Because of the entire surrender of His will in Gethsemane, the High Priest on the throne had the power to ask what He would. He also has the right to let His people share in that power and ask what they will.” (Andrew Murray)

Murray further says, “if He had to say, ‘Yet not what I will,’ how much more do we need to say it? . . . it is precisely here that we have sure ground and an open way to assurance of an answer to our prayers.”

As I pray for various saints (and for some who may not be “saints”), I keep this in mind. There are times when I admit that I do not feel quite comfortable praying exactly what someone has requested of me. There are other times when I am not sure how to verbalize their prayer request in my own prayers. Those are times when “Thy will be done” is a phrase that is very close to my heart.

I find myself echoing Jesus’s Gethsemane prayer frequently. Not that I have a “cup” that I am asking God to take away from me. Rather, though, I would prefer God’s will over my own in any given situation. I also ask Him, frequently, to let me know if my own “will” is simply wrong. I am always open (unlike a lot of folks, apparently) to the notion that any of my opinions might be wrong.


Father, when I think of the saints in my life, I thank You. I have not always been able to echo Paul’s words in that passage from Philippians, but I am closer to it today, than I have ever been. I am grateful for the presence of Your saints in my life. Help me to see Your face in all of them; help me to observe Your Holy Spirit working in all of them. And help me to love them authentically, and “on purpose.” That is a phrase that someone brought to my attention today, and I like it. When we love people, it should always be “on purpose.”

Father, I pray, in all circumstances, that Your will would be done, on earth as in heaven. Whatever is supposed to take place will take place, of that I am sure. You are working Your plan, and it will be carried out. I don’t know the details; I may not want to know some of them, to be honest. I’m not sure that I desire to be around when Your final Day arrives. I have confidence and faith that my “life” will continue on beyond that Day, though. I only pray, though, that, should true persecution arise in my country, that I will be faithful to stand with You in all circumstances.

Help me to echo the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: Not my will, by Yours be done. May that be true of all of my prayers. I thank You for the responsibility and privilege that You have give me, that of praying for others. I confess that I am not always as faithful to carry that out as I should be. But You have been impressing that upon me, more and more, of late, and for that I am also grateful. Just yesterday, I saw an earnest prayer answered for a beloved sister in Christ. All glory and honor to You, and I continue to pray for that specific situation, that Your presence would be on that family and things would go well for them.

May I be as surrendered to You as my Savior was in Gethsemane. May I know the power that comes in prayer from that surrender, that I might receive anything that I ask for. Just help me to not be asking for frivolous things or things that are not part of Your will for me or others.

I thank You for the words of life that come from Jesus. Truly, as His disciples said, we have nowhere else to turn, for He has the true words of spirit and life. “The flesh is no help at all.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Seen Vs Unseen

Today is Thursday, the 25th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,541

We hit 88 degrees, yesterday, for a high. It still felt rather humid out there, at one point, and the sky was looking like it might rain some more on us, but it didn’t. The record high for yesterday’s date is 105. Today’s projected high is 91. It looks like (hopefully) we have topped out at 43 total days of 100+, and the longest streak, at least in my area, was 14 days. The forecast is predicting more thunderstorms and rain (hopefully no monsoons) next week, beginning around Tuesday.

Nathaniel Lowe drove in a career-high five runs, yesterday, and Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to 21 games, as the Rangers obliterated the Colorado Rockies, 16-4. At one point, it was 9-0, as the Rangers scored two in the first and seven in the second. Martin Perez had a great game. The bullpen lost the shutout in the seventh, when the Rockies got their only four runs. But the Rangers stormed back with three in the eighth and four in the ninth. Matt Moore came in and closed it out in the bottom of the ninth with three-up-three-down. Perez gave up only four hits and had seven strikeouts, over six innings.

The Rangers are now 57-67, still in third place in the AL West, still 22.5 games out of first place and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They are off today, and will be back home tomorrow for a weekend series with the Detroit Tigers. They were 4-2 on this recent road trip.

Boston lost their third consecutive game, 3-2, against the Blue jays, in ten innings. They are now four games under .500, at 60-64, in last place in the AL East, sixteen games out of first place, and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They play Toronto again, tonight, in Boston.

The Dodgers won again, and are now at MLB-leading 86-37. The Nationals won a game, but are still at the bottom with 42-83. The Rays are at the top of the streaks with five consecutive wins, while the Twins, Angels, and Pirates are still duking it out for the longest losing streak, all at five games. The Dodgers now have a +275 run differential, while the Nats are at -209. The Rangers are now at +16 after yesterday’s romp, and the Red Sox went down to -44.

Since this is Thursday, I will be spending my eight-hour shift in the Computer Center of the Hurst Public Library, from 11:15-8:15. It’s an odd shift, especially figuring out the eating schedule. I typically get “lunch” at 4:00 PM, and then I will eat “dinner” after I get home, which makes my dinner really late. The same thing happens on Tuesdays, but I don’t go in until 4:15, so I have a normal lunch on Tuesdays.

I have Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing, from Emily Bites, in the crockpot, and it will be ready whenever C gets home from work. This is a delicious recipe, and pretty easy to make. The most “difficult” part is stirring together the sour cream and cream of chicken soup, and then stirring together the stuffing mix and the chicken broth. It’s all layered in the crock pot, and that’s all the preparation that is involved. You basically have five ingredients and three steps. Boom. And the family loves it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grant us your Spirit, Lord our God, that we may discern your good, acceptable, and perfect will. Give us joy in fighting on your side, so that what is good, acceptable, and perfect may be given to the world. Wherever we are and whatever work we do, give us zeal to serve you and be guided by you so that your will may be done and your kingdom come, so that already today we may find happiness even though only in hope. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for answered prayers
2. for cooler temperatures
3. that the "work of God" is to believe on the One whom He has sent, that is Jesus
4. that Jesus is the "bread of life" 
5. that, as we look to things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen, we are daily being renewed in our spirit
6. for Jesus's declaration that we must take up our cross and deny ourselves, die to ourselves, to follow Him

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
(John 6:27-40 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
(Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)


I struggled for a few minutes, this morning, trying to figure out where the Lord was leading me with these various Scripture readings from various sources.

Then I keyed in on this idea of looking at things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen. If we keep our eyes on things that are seen, we remain selfish. We react to things differently, focusing on “I, I, me, me, me.” We focus on “what I’ve done,” and we also seem to focus too much on “what God has done for me.”

While there is definitely value in recognizing what God has done for me, we become hyper focused on the self. This is not helped by the modern trend of worship music to sing about “I” and “me,” rather than “us” and “we.”

One of the results of this trend is, for example, what I am seeing on social media today. When the news broke that many people would have at least part of their student loans forgiven, people who claim to be following Jesus became indignant. “I worked hard and paid for my school.” “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay off other peoples’ student loans.” And so on.

In my opinion, these sentiments are extremely un-Christlike. And very selfish and self-centered. Again . . . “I, I, me, me, me.”

These are people who have their eyes on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen.

When we keep our sight on the unseen, we realize that whatever we are going through at the moment, “this light momentary affliction,” is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (Emphasis added)

Only the things that are unseen are eternal, says Paul. Everything that is seen is transient, temporary. Why focus on those things? When we keep our eyes on the unseen, we are daily being renewed from within, even though our outward bodies are dying, wasting away. There is also much effort, in this culture, to preventing that outward wasting away, which is, of course, a dubious effort.

I thought of the prayer of St. Francis, as I was reading my devotions and thinking of these things. It is very other-centered, rather than self-centered. It prays for the ability to spread love, pardon (also known as forgiveness), faith, hope, light, and joy. And it points my feelings outward, that I might console, rather than be consoled, that I might understand, rather than be understood, and that I might love, rather than be loved.

In short, the prayer is a desire to die to self and be born to eternal life. When we focus on the things that are seen, on “I, I,” and “me, me, me,” we fail to do this. And this is what Jesus calls us to do . . . to die to self.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)


Father, my heart echoes the prayer of St. Francis this morning. I have had my share of being selfish and focusing on what is seen, rather than on what is unseen. You have been working on this in my soul for many years, now, and I believe that You have delivered me from being self-centered. Yet I find that I still manage to slip back into that habit, sometimes.

I pray for Your Spirit to dwell strongly within me, to help me keep focusing on what is unseen, on what is eternal, rather than on things that are transient and will perish, along with the rest of this physical world.

Help me to die to myself, to use the resources that You have given me to help others. I rejoice at the possibility that my “tax dollars,” that which I have “rendered to Caesar,” might be used to help someone else out of a financial bind. I cannot fathom any child of God being so selfish as to complain about that. Dear God, help us get outside of ourselves and stop being so selfish! Does Jesus weep when we complain so?

Help me . . . help all of us who call Your name and follow Jesus, to die to ourselves, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking in His “easy yoke,” to live in Your Kingdom in this world.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

Grace and peace, friends.

Tomorrow . . . He Is Able

Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of August, 2022, in the twenty-first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart today!

Day 23,540

The mild weather continues after Monday’s monsoon rains. We had a high of 82, yesterday, and, according to Weather Underground, we had a small amount of rain in the area. The record high for yesterday’s date is 107. Today’s anticipated high is 86, and the ten-day forecast shows temps ranging from 87 to 94.

My evening at the library went fine, yesterday, and I shelved a couple carts of adult books. There was almost a whole shelf of Spanish language books on one of them, which was unusual. When I commented on that to one of our adult services ladies, she said that she thought we recently got some new Spanish books, so that probably explains that.

I have to take S to the doctor, this morning, for a routine check. It’s been about a year since she has seen the doctor, so it’s overdue. Neither one of us is looking forward to it, but it’s part of the deal I “signed up for” when we agreed that I could retire last year. And, as “they” say, “this, too, shall pass.” In fact, the appointment is at 9:00, and we should be there by 8:45, because there will no doubt be paperwork to fill out. This means I will have to finish the blog entry after we get back home.

The Texas Rangers lost another one-run game, last night, to the Rockies, 7-6. However, in the course of the game, Adolis Garcia extended his hitting streak to twenty games, which is the second longest Rangers hitting streak, behind Josh Hamilton, who had 23 in 2010. Garcia also logged his twentieth stolen base, which, combined with his twentieth home run, hit in Minnesota, has put him in the “20/20/20 Club,” being only the second Rangers player in history to have twenty home runs, twenty stolen bases, and a twenty-game hitting streak. Pudge Rodriguez is the other one.

The Rangers are now 56-67 for the season, in third place in the AL West, 22.5 games out of first place, and eleven out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Rockies again, today, at 2:10 CDT. They have 39 games left in the season.

The Red Sox also lost, last night, to the Blue Jays, 9-3. They are now 60-63 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 15.5 out of first and seven out of a Wild Card spot. They also have 39 games left, and play the Jays again tonight at 7:10 EDT.

The LA Dodgers have now won 85 games, and have a MLB-leading 85-37 record. With forty games left, at the rate they are going, they could break the record of 116 games in a season. That record is shared by the 1906 Cubs (who only played 152 games), and the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who played 162. I would say that’s unlikely, though, as they would have to win 32 of their last 40 games. They are currently winning 60% of their games, which would give them only 24 more wins for the season. At any rate, they should easily win over 100.

The Nationals, on the other hand, could lose 100, as they have the worst MLB record of 41-83. The Tampa Bay Rays (BOO) have the current longest winning streak, at four games. The Twins, Angels, and Pirates all have four-game losing streaks. The Dodgers have a +269 run differential, and the Nationals have a -211 differential. The Rangers are at +4, and the Red Sox have dropped to -43.

Tonight, I plan to cook Chicken Taco Rice Skillet, from Emily Bites, one of the family’s favorites. For the record, I use two chicken breasts, which might be slightly more than one pound, and I increase the rice to 1.5 cups. I also use brown Minute Rice, which decreases the simmering time.

Update: The doctor appointment went well. S struggled a bit with anxiety, at the beginning, but by the time it was over, she was good. I’m very proud of her.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we long to come into your light, to live in your strength, that we may do what pleases you and furthers your kingdom on earth. Protect us from evil and do not let us be wounded by the flaming arrows of the evil one. Make paths for us whenever we do not know how to go forward. We always know you are our Father. Because you are our Father, we want to be courageous and persevere to the end so that you can make our lives bear fruit for you, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
And, with all these, take up the great shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
Ephesians 6:16, NEB

Today I am grateful:

1. for the shield of faith; may I take it up consistently
2. that S's doctor appointment went well
3. that Jesus holds my tomorrows in His hands
4. for the power of music and song
5. that I would rather love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in
6. that He is able . . . able to accomplish what concerns me today, able to handle anything that comes my way, able to do much more than I could ever dream

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
(John 6:16-21 ESV)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 NIV)

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
(Job 38:41 NIV)

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
(Luke 12:24 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)


This is a theme that arises frequently in this blog. Tomorrow. When I read the above four references, I immediately thought of an old hymn, written by the great Ira Stanphill.

I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

I don’t really know what else to say. I certainly can’t add to this. God cares about us. He loves us. And while it is true that Jesus is the only doorway into the Kingdom, I would much rather try to love people into the Kingdom than try to scare them in.

There must be thousands of songs that speak of this same sentiment. There is a quote that is attributed to C.H. Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to make a mistake. When I can’t trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
(C.D. Martin)

That song even speaks to my constant longing for Home. If I’m trusting Jesus the way I claim to be, perhaps my sights shouldn’t be so fixed on “Home,” but on Jesus and the presence of His Kingdom, here and now.


Father, You know my heart, and You know how quickly it leans toward worry. It’s not that I don’t trust You. I do trust You. And I feel, so often, like that father from the New Testament, who proclaimed, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

Maybe the problem is that, while I trust Your ability, I don’t always trust what You want to do. That needs to go away. It really does. I need to embrace the truth of Your love in my life. You love Your children, and You are faithful to provide and protect us. Help my unbelief. Help my lack of trust. Help me to know that You will provide, and that You will hear my prayers and, as Jesus said, whatever I ask for in His name, You will do.

Help me to remember . . . You are able to accomplish whatever concerns me today, You are able to handle anything that comes my way, and You are able to do much more than I could ever dream.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

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.

Sheep or Goat?

Today is Friday, the twelfth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,528

Only SEVEN more days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday was quite busy in the computer center. There weren’t a lot of patrons, but, at least early in the day, there were quite a few who needed assistance. This, of course, kept me busy, which made the day go faster. It slowed down significantly after my lunch break, and I had a nice conversation with the manager during the last hour of the evening.

The high temperature yesterday only hit 97, which was what was predicted. There was no rain yesterday, and not really any predicted today, either. Today’s high is also predicted to be 97. Yesterday’s record high is 106. I do wish the site would tell me when that occurred. Over the ten-day forecast, there are only four with 100 or higher, and the highest is 102. S’s birthday is predicted to be 96.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros 7-3, yesterday. It was probably worse than the score suggests, as it was 7-0, at one point. The new pitcher, Ragans, was the loser. The Rangers are now at 49-62, still in third place in the AL West, 22 games out of first place, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a weekend series with the Seattle Mariners tonight, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox won their single game against the Orioles, last night. Is anyone else surprised?? Final score was 4-3. Newcomer to the team, Eric Hosmer provided the game-winning RBI. The Sox are now 55-58, still in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. The O’s have moved to within a half game of a Wild Card spot, now. And, honestly, if the Rangers or the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs, if the Orioles do, I would probably pull for them. On the other hand, Tito still manages the Cleveland Guardians, so I might root for him, too. There are still approximately fifty games left, though (it differs from team to team). A lot can happen in fifty games.

There were only eight games played, yesterday, so the only stats that changed were the run differentials for my two favorite teams. Everything else remained static. The Rangers now have a -3 differential, while the Red Sox improved by one run, to -35.

I’m off today, since it is Friday. That will likely change, soon, however. One of the other part time aides is leaving us, his last day today. He had been one who only worked in the computer center (I’m a “floater,” working in three different departments). I have been informed that, once someone is hired and trained to replace him, I will be moved back to my old Friday schedule for the computer center, which is perfectly fine with me. While I have enjoyed the every-other-week four-day-weekend, I would prefer to not have to work two nights a week. Fridays would be the same schedule as Wednesdays, which is 9:15-6:15. So, on my “heavy” weeks, I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, with Thursday off in the middle. A little more balanced.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Though,” by Daryl Madden

Come to watch the light shine
Though nothing’s there to see
Only through reflection
The colors come to be

Come to feel the wind blow
Though nothing’s really there
Only through the movement
It’s affects appear

Come listen to the silence
Though nothing to be heard
Only through our faith
Will we hear the Word

Come seek the divine
Though there’s no human way
Only through the Spirit
With vision, let us pray

I simply love this poem. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


Lord our God, you are our strength and shield. Our hearts hope in you and we are helped. Accept us from among all the nations as a people who want to serve you. Strengthen our hearts, especially when we must be tested in every way and must face the many hardships that will come when we take up our task of proclaiming your name and witnessing to you. For you are strong and can protect us. You can fill us with light and with joy to proclaim again and again the salvation that is coming through your all-powerful goodness and mercy, salvation in Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord is my strength and shield, and that my heart trusts Him, and He helps me
2. that the Body of Christ is made up of people from all nations
3. for the light and joy we receive that enable us to proclaim the message of His love and salvation
4. that Jesus sums up the entirety of the law and the prophets with the two greatest commands
5. that God continues to drive my heart toward love

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; 
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; 
the mighty man cries aloud there. 
A day of wrath is that day, a 
day of distress and anguish, 
a day of ruin and devastation, 
a day of darkness and gloom, 
a day of clouds and thick darkness, 
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
 against the fortified cities 
and against the lofty battlements. 

I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, 
because they have sinned against the LORD; 
their blood shall be poured out like dust, 
and their flesh like dung. 
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. 
In the fire of his jealousy, 
all the earth shall be consumed; 
for a full and sudden end 
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18 ESV)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
(Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)

“May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.” ~ Edward Grinnan, Daily Guideposts 2022

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

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)


I don’t have a lot of my own words, today. I got some emotional chill bumps from Edward Grinnan’s prayer, today, as well as from the content of his reading for the day. The prayer seems to paraphrase Jesus’s words in that “parable” about the sheep and the goats. I put parable in quotation marks because I’m not so sure it’s an actual parable. In fact, the ESV does not call it a parable.

"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)

There may be some serious surprises on this day, when some people who believe they are “righteous” get their due reward.

Today's sources:
YouVersion daily Bible reading plan
Abide meditation
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, in heaven, as we pray, sometimes in vain repetitions, but, nevertheless, for Your kingdom to come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven, is it the words of Jesus that we are considering? For I truly desire Your will on earth as it is in heaven. And, if I read the words of Jesus correctly, that will is for the hungry to be fed, the thirsty to be given water to drink, the strangers, immigrants, and refugees to be welcomed, the naked to be clothed, and the sick and in prison to be visited and cared for.

I can’t help but wonder what the self-righteous among us think they are praying for when they repeat those words? I can’t help but wonder what the bigot means when he prays for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done. I don’t think he really wants Your will at all. I think he wants his own misguided vision of what he thinks Your will must be.

Have mercy, Father! Show Yourself in our midst! Show Your power in our land. Mold our hearts that we might share in believing the truths that Jesus proclaimed when He was walking the earth, that His teachings about the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, would become our core beliefs as we strive to walk in His steps and in His words.

Because this is what love looks like. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” And I will echo brother Grinnan’s prayer. “May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.