Was Job Patient?

Today is Saturday, the fifteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

By the way . . . that is not just a filler that I put in here. While it may seem somewhat “automatic,” I really do wish for the peace of Christ to be with everyone who reads this.

Day 23,319 (the number of days since I was born)

Only eight days until Hamilton, if the show goes on as scheduled.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. There was a flurry of activity around one point, and while I was unsuccessfully attempting to help one patron send a document to our printers from her phone (more on that in a minute), there was one person using the fax, and another waiting to use it.

The reason I was unsuccessful in helping the first patron was that she didn’t seem to know what to do on her phone, and was not patient enough to keep trying. She seemed really jittery, as well, and finally just gave up and said she would go home and do it. I don’t think there was any frustration with me, or at least I didn’t sense that.

In the meantime, the person using the fax finished, and actually helped the next person fax her documents. I thanked her profusely for this after I got done with the patron I was trying to help.

I also spent some time helping with the shelving again. I sorted several carts while sitting at my desk in the computer center, and then, from about 4:00-5:40, I shelved two carts of books in the stacks. The librarian that was on duty in the computer center was fine with me doing that. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I said it really didn’t matter, that I wanted to do whatever they needed me to do. That was the truth, too.

So today is my Saturday off, and we are planning to head to Mineral Wells in a little while to visit Mama and get me a couple cases of Crazy Water #4.

Oh, and C has been given permission to work from home over the next two weeks. As of right now, there were 827,132 new cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., yesterday. That number seems to change, though, as I’m looking at two days ago, which now shows 869,783.

While I have had various allergy symptoms over the past couple of weeks, I have exhibited none of the common symptoms of any of the Covid variants.

It’s cold today. Currently 33 degrees, and the high is only projected to be 36. Tonight’s low is predicted to be just below 30, but tomorrow’s high is 57. There is little-to-no precipitation predicted. In fact, I saw something yesterday that indicated that north Texas is experiencing a drought. But that seems to be rather normal for this time of year.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a call about my new CPAP yesterday, finally. I have an appointment Tuesday morning to pick it up. The total cost is going to be close to $1000. The good news is that all of that will go toward our deductible for the year. I won’t have to pay it all at once, either. There is an up-front charge, a couple months of “rental,” and then a final charge, after which I will own it.

And now, on to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is our Father's "good pleasure" to give us the Kingdom
2. that my treasure is in heaven
3. for the capacity God gives us to be kind to one another
4. that God has patience with us and can handle our questions of frustration
5. for the opportunity to look back on the week and assess any growth (or lack thereof)

Have you ever heard someone say something about the “patience of Job?” I have decided, over the years, that that phrase is incorrect. Job was anything but “patient.” He suffered, and he endured the suffering, true. He was faithful, never giving in to the temptations (and advice) to give up. But he was far from patient.

“Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stand before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily.”

"All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored: 
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good. 
I'd at least have the satisfaction of not having blasphemed the Holy God, before being pressed past the limits. 
Where's the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? 
Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I'm made of iron? 
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don't even have any boots!"
(Job 6:8-13 MSG)

And Job’s suffering was not unlike our suffering, in this life. He suffered “in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things.” But Job stayed faithful, having this firm conviction:

Because even if he killed me, I'd keep on hoping. 
I'd defend my innocence to the very end. 
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation! 
(Job 13:15-16 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)


So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)


Pray As You Go does a thing on Saturday that they call the “Saturday Examen.” What is examen? “A devotional exercise involving reflection on and moral evaluation of one’s thoughts and conduct, typically performed on a daily basis.” In the Catholic tradition, it is something that is done at the end of the day. I like PAYG’s idea of doing it on Saturday, at the end of the week. There is encouragement to look back on the week, reflecting on things that God has done, or, perhaps, on events that created tension or disharmony, or attitudes that could have been better. What went well? What didn’t go so well?

In the past week, I gained a fresher perspective on the purpose of God’s Word in my life; that it is not so much a moral code to try to live by, but stories told, with an invitation for me to live in them. It is God’s story, and I am invited to see my own story in the context of His story (and no, I am not trying to be clever with the word “history”). One of the keys in this is to never be satisfied with where I am, to never stop learning.

The idea of the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men was reinforced, something we all need to be reminded of, occasionally. I was also reminded that the people God used in the Bible were pretty ordinary, for the most part, and not always the most exemplary of characters.

The concept of doing good things for people that don’t like us was also reinforced, another thing that we need to be constantly reminded of.

One of the things that I need to do better at, going forward, is listening for the “voice” of God. Whether that be an audible voice, or the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, I need to be attuned to what He is saying to me. And I need to be aware of the fact that Jesus is willing to do good things for us, as He was willing to touch the leper and heal him.


Father, as this week draws to a close, I am thankful for the things You have taught me. I am always glad to have a reminder of Your sovereignty in this world, because the world constantly tries to make me think otherwise. The world loves chaos, and seems to thrive on that. But I know that You are in control of all things. I am grateful for the reminder of Job’s persistence before You. I’m not concerned at all with whether Job was a real person or not. The story has value, either way. It shows us that, while You are sovereign, You can take questioning. We cannot offend You or hurt Your feelings. And You will, eventually, answer.

I thank You for the many stories that have been presented to us in Your Word, stories into which we can enter and live. I thank You for imagination, that allows me to consider my own place in Your story by considering how I would have reacted in any of those Bible stories. And I thank You for the prayers of various people recorded in Your Word, that can give me inspiration for my own prayers.

Help me to be a better listener, next week. Let me focus on improving that skill. Increase my faith in You, as well, believing that You are always ready and willing to do “good things” for me. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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


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

Grace and peace, friends.

“Speak, LORD, For Your Servant Hears”

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,316

Eleven days until Hamilton, if the show goes on.

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru, Romanian photographer. Please check out his beautiful photography at the link provided.

What I really need to work on this year, is staying focused. I am so easily distracted, and I don’t think I’m alone. Our culture is driving us in that direction. We had a discussion in our house church, last Sunday, about our attention spans, and how short they tend to be now. For a good indicator of that, see how long TV commercials are, now (if you even still watch them . . . almost everything we watch is on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, now).

But I’ve been up since about 7:30, and still have not managed to start my devotional. I will say that I have listened to a Bible reading and done some praying, though, so there’s that.

It was nice being at the library, last night. I like all of my roles at the library, but Tuesday evening may be my favorite. That’s when I do shelving for four hours. It’s nice, because I’m by myself, either sorting books or media in a back room, and then pretty much alone in the stacks as I re-shelve the material. It’s quiet, and there’s a lot of time to ponder things. Plus I am always discovering new books I want to read or new movies/TV shows that I want to see. My “Want to Read” list on Goodreads has grown quite a bit, since I started this gig.

What’s on the agenda for today? I think I may have to make an in-person grocery trip. There are a few things we need, and Albertson’s doesn’t have them all. And Walmart Neighborhood Market doesn’t have any pickup times available today. Between being short-staffed, and people doing more pickups because of Omicron spread, they are being beat up pretty badly, these days.

I also plan to get on the treadmill at some point, today. I’ve been planning that all week, though, and it hasn’t happened, yet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; 
seek, and you will find; 
knock, and it will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receives, 
and the one who seeks finds, 
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
(Luke 11:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for beautiful music, with which I can praise God, both in listening and in playing/singing
2. for the faithfulness of the Lord and His promises
3. for water, water to drink, water in oceans and lakes and rivers and waterfalls
4. that, even when I mistake or simply don't hear the "voice" of God, He keeps calling me (1 Samuel 3)
5. for the clear call of God for us to love one another, because "love is from God" (1 John 4:7)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 
The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" 
and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. 
And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." 
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears." 
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 
And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 
(1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 ESV)

There’s a lot I could say about this passage, this morning. So much that my mind is kind of whirling around with all the thoughts. So I’m trying to focus on something. I’ll point out a couple of things.

First is the usage of the phrase, “not yet.” It occurs thrice in the passage. It first occurs in verse 3, where it says, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” This may be nothing more than a literal statement that a physical lamp was still burning that night. But I’m leaning toward reading more into that, considering the statement in verse 1 that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days.” That, in itself, displays the inadequacy of Eli and his “ministry,” and we find out, later, that his sons were pretty skeezy characters.

Nevertheless, there was still opportunity for God’s Word, because His “lamp” had not yet gone out.

The other usages both occur in verse 7. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”

SERIOUSLY, ELI????

I mean, we don’t know how old Samuel was, at this point . . . no real clue. But how long had he been “ministering” with Eli, and he still did not know about God or His Word?? So Samuel is totally not to blame for not recognizing God’s voice, at this point.

Samuel mistakes God’s voice for Eli three times before Eli figures out what’s going on. Finally, Eli tells Samue what to do, Samuel does it, and the rest is history. He becomes one of the most famous prophets ever to exist in Israel.

How can we apply these things to ourselves, in our day and culture? First of all, I know about God and His Word. So I don’t have Samuel’s excuse when I don’t here His voice, or mistake His voice for someone/something else. There is so much “noise” in our world, today. Much of it is literal noise. This is why the disciplines of silence and solitude are so important. But they are also very neglected. I know I don’t practice them very often. And, truthfully, while it is difficult to find a place to practice those, I could go sit in a chair in my back yard, next to the pool and have “relative” silence. Sure there is noise, but there’s no coherent noise. And I could be alone for a while, assuming S doesn’t come out and bother me.

I know that I have felt/heard things in my spirit before, and wondered if that was God’s “voice” or just my own brain coming up with something. But I need to do better at knowing His voice and acting on it.

Second, we can learn something from Samuel, here. Obviously, he is still a child, more than likely pre-adolescent. And we have the teachings of Jesus that speak of us receiving the Kingdom “like a child.” Samuel was quick to obey, and when he finally understood what was happening, he did exactly what Eli (bless his heart) told him to do.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”

That’s my lesson for today. When I hear the voice of God (whether literal or figurative), that needs to be my response.

“Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”


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, 
(Matthew 25:35 ESV)
He said also to the man who had invited him, 
"When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
(Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 
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. 
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 
(James 1:22-27 ESV)

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)


Father, as I walk through this world, in Your Kingdom, engaging with people and situations, I pray for the child-like faith of Samuel, to be able to jump up and say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears,” whenever I hear Your voice. I do not believe I have ever heard Your voice, audibly, but I do believe that I have heard Your Spirit speak to me many times. Sadly, some of those times, I did not heed, and suffered for it. Oh, I did not necessarily “suffer,” in a physical way. Sometimes, it was in a spiritual sense. I have one instance in mind, over thirty years ago. My spiritual growth suffered because I did not do what I felt You telling me to do.

Father, Your lamp has not yet gone out in our world, in our land. Truthfully, I don’t believe it will. And Your Word is prevalent in our land, at least in this country. That doesn’t mean we are paying attention to it, though. Help me to be more aware of Your Word, and help me to find make time to practice silence and solitude so that I can meditate on and contemplate You and Your Word. My initial tendency is to feel overwhelmed and think that I don’t have enough time for all of this. But, truthfully, I have lots of time. I’m just not using it very wisely, sometimes. I pray for wisdom in that regard, as well.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD is near to all who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalms 145:18 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

“You Go and Do Likewise”

Today is Tuesday, the eleventh of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,315

Twelve days until Hamilton.

I must confess that I am not confident that the Hamilton show will go on as scheduled. I have no communication, thus far, from Bass Performance Hall. However, I have seen that dates in Houston, the week before our run begins, have been postponed due to outbreaks in the touring company. I have to assume that it is the same group that would be performing in Fort Worth, beginning on the nineteenth. Whatever will be, will be, though, and I shan’t worry about it.

C is working from home, today, which is always nice. It is a normal Tuesday for me, and I will be heading in to the library at 4:15, to work until the library closes at 8:00. Then I am off until Friday.

We had to buy a new electric can opener, which was already delivered, this morning. That may not seem like such a big deal, but the can opener we are replacing came with the house. It’s a Black and Decker under-the-cabinet space-saver can opener that is almost twenty-three years old. A piece broke off a couple weeks ago, and it will no longer hold cans up, and keeps dropping them. Plus the handle won’t stay engaged, so it becomes harder and harder to open a can. We did not get another similar opener, as B&D seem to be the only company that makes those, and they are almost $400, which is ridiculous! We got a counter-top Cuisinart for less than $50, which, in my opinion, is still quite a bit to pay for a can opener. But it is stainless steel, and has a nice, wide, heavy base. It looks nice.

So, now, the microwave that is installed over the stove is the only original appliance left in the house. The stove and dishwasher have both been replaced, and the refrigerator has been replaced twice. The hot water heater was replaced last year, and the garage door opener was also replaced last year. The heating unit is still original equipment . . . I don’t really consider that an “appliance,” but maybe it is. But the A/C is not original, and the blower in the attic was replaced a number of years ago.

Nothing really on my schedule for today, so who knows what I’ll get done? I need to get someone to come look at our dripping shower faucet.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 
'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 
The second is this: 
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 
There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mark 12:29-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our cats
2. for oceans and forests
3. for the parable of the Good Samaritan
4. that Jesus Christ emptied Himself for us
5. for the awe I feel in the presence of the holiness of God; may that holiness permeate my being, today

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 
He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 
And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 
And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." 
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 
He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." 
(Luke 10:25-37 ESV)

This passage was in my daily reading in the plan that I’m currently following in the YouVersion Bible app. Several things truck me, this morning, as I was listening to it.

The first thing is Jesus’s response to the lawyer’s answer to His question. The lawyer, of course, responded with words primarily from Deuteronomy 6:4-6, which is known as the “Shema.” The part about loving your neighbor as yourself is found in Leviticus.

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

First, Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered correctly. It’s what He said next that I really haven’t paid close attention to, before today.

” . . . do this, and you will live.” 

Wait.

WHAT??

What was the original question?

“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So, Jesus’s answer to the question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life,” is, essentially, “love God and love people.” As you can see, I’ve paraphrased that.

Jesus didn’t say anything at all about trusting Him for forgiveness of sin, repentance, praying the “sinner’s prayer” (which isn’t anywhere in the Bible, anyway), or any of the stuff that a modern-day evangelical would tell someone if they asked that same question!

Don’t worry. I’m not going down a path of “works salvation,” here. But I do need to spend some time processing what Jesus told this guy. Unfortunately for the lawyer, he couldn’t leave well-enough alone, and had to ask that next question, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke indicates that the lawyer was trying to justify himself by asking that.

So then Jesus proceeds to tell the famous “Good Samaritan” parable. Now . . . we don’t really know much about the man who was attacked by robbers, just that he was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. I suppose it is safe to assume (is it ever safe to assume?) that he was Jewish, a Hebrew. We all know what happens next. A priest and a Levite, two examples of people who should be the most devoutly religious sort of folk, avoid the injured man, no doubt with some kind of religious reason, perhaps even following “The Law” in doing so.

Then the Samaritan shows up. Samaritans were half-breeds. They were absolutely hated by the Jews. So this guy comes along and gives aid to someone whom he knew would, if they simply met on the street, absolutely loathe him. That would be something like an illegal immigrant giving assistance to a KKK member.

Then Jesus asks the lawyer which one proved to be a “neighbor” to the robbed man. Of course, the lawyer says, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus’s response speaks loudly to all of us.

“You go, and do likewise.”

It’s important to maintain the proper perspective, here. The person who showed mercy did not show mercy to someone whom he hated (at least we are not told that). He showed mercy to someone whom he knew would hate him!

A few chapters earlier, Dr. Luke records Jesus saying this:

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, 
and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
(Luke 6:27-31 ESV)

Of course, we all know verse 31 as “The Golden Rule.” And it is this kind of radical behavior that sets true Christians apart from the rest of the world. It also sets “true Christians” apart from all the pretend “Christians.”

Essentially, what I see here is this. If I am one who is inheriting eternal life, I will obey these things. I will love God with all of my being, and I will love my neighbor as myself. I will love my enemy. I will render assistance to someone who is in need, even if I know that they hate me.

And I truly believe that I am told that I should not fight back. To me, that is what “turning the other cheek” means. And look . . . we are even allowed some naturally human selfishness through all of this. Jesus actually gives us an out at the end of this. Even if the motivation is that I want to be treated this way, myself, it’s okay! It is fine for me to treat others the way that I want to be treated. That is commendable.

I can only assume that there are a lot of people out there, pretending to be Christians, who really want to be treated with bigotry and hatred, since that’s how they are treating anyone who is not like them.


Father, I pray for more of this in my own spirit, today. I have seen something new in Your Word today. Of course, it is not “new.” It has always been there. But today, for whatever reason, You chose to have Your Spirit reveal this to me in a fresh way. And You have be drawing me, more and more, into this kind of attitude and behavior, for many years, now. Keep drawing me; closer and closer to You, and deeper and deeper into this kind of mindset. I want to be part of a Love Revolution. I want to be able to love You fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to love my neighbor as myself, including anyone who might despise me or abuse me. I want to love my brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that Christ has loved us. Make me able to do these things, please. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

And I pray, Father, for You to rescue Your Church. Or maybe the real Church is not in any danger. Maybe You are pruning. Help us to stay faithful and strong, as I can see times of persecution around the corner. But the “church” as an institution is faltering. Help us to be more faithful to follow Jesus and obey His teachings, rather than follow the prejudices of bigoted leaders.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

God is serious business, take him seriously; he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving.
(1 Chronicles 16:30 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Never

Today is Saturday, the eighth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,312

Fifteen days until Hamilton!

Yesterday was a sad day, as we learned of the deaths of two more entertainment giants. First, I learned that Sidney Poitier passed away at the age of 94. Most people remember him for To Sir With Love, but I remember him more for A Patch of Blue. Minutes after I learned of his passing, I learned that Peter Bogdanovich, director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and Mask, among others, had also passed away, at the age of 82. Both of them died on Thursday.

It was, of course, another great day at the library. In addition to working the computer center, which seemed busier than usual, with more people needing extended help, I was asked to jump over and do some shelving for the last couple of hours. Due to some unusual “projects” going on at the time, the shelving hall had gotten very backed up. There’s a chance that I might be doing a little more of that today, in between my times at the circulation desk. I believe my manager sent out an email asking the circ manager if I could do shelving during my “off-desk” hours.

Of course, I’m totally fine with this. Whatever they need me to do, I’m cool with.

Today, I am due in at 9:30, working until 6:15.

It is currently 45 degrees (which I believe is warmer than yesterday’s high), and is projected to reach 64 later today. It is currently cloudy, but is expected to be clear, this evening. Tonight’s low is expected to be 45. The temp range for the next week seems a bit more “normal” for this time of year, ranging from just below freezing in the morning to as high as 68 one day.

I finished reading A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins, last night, and posted my review of it in my other blog. I am currently reading, at the recommendation of one of the librarians, Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens). This volume contains both stories, along with quite a bit of critical content. I will try to get through all of the critical content after reading the stories. After completing two books in the first week of 2022, I am ahead of schedule on my reading challenge for the year. I’m sure that will not last long.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Little Quiet Moments, by Daryl Madden

In the midst of life
An offer here for free
To take a little moment
To be still and be

A moment to ponder
A change of attitude
Practicing of wonder
To foster gratitude

A moment of dwelling
With our being whole
To open to Spirit
And center the soul

A moment of vision
Perspective to see
Of the infinite ways
That Gods’ blessing me

Little quiet moments
An insight of gleaning
That seem to give the rest
Extra special meaning

This poem inspired by a quote from Fred Rogers: “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspiration and meditative poetry at the link provided above.

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

Today I am grateful:

1. for books and the authors who write them
2. for all of my new friends at the Hurst Public Library
3. for the fullness of joy in the presence of the Father
4. that I have a part in God's story, no matter how small it may seem
5. that God will never leave us or forsake us

Today, in Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, we get to the book of Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth was an “outsider,” not born into the faith. “But she came to find herself gathered into the story and given a quiet and obscure part that proved critical to the way everything turned out.”

In the midst of all the great names of faith (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon), we find this ordinary, seemingly random person. You and I, along with Ruth, might find ourselves saying, “Surely there is no way that I can have any significant part on such a stage.”

Of course, Ruth said no such thing, because she wasn’t even aware that there was a stage. But we, as we look back on this story, can easily find ourselves wondering how we, as similarly ordinary people, can possibly have a part in God’s great plan.

Says Peterson, “The book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or ‘out of it,’ as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count–every last one of us–and what we do counts.”

“Blessed be GOD! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life.”
(Ruth 4:14 MSG)

As Rich Mullins said, in "Who God Is Gonna Use," 
"You never know who God is gonna use
A princess or a baby
Maybe even you or me."

"Behold, I will do a new thing . . ."
(Isaiah 43:19)

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
(Job 12:12 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)

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
(Proverbs 16:31 ESV)

That Isaiah verse has popped up a lot, since January 1. I suppose that is always a theme for the “New Year,” that God is doing a “new thing.” But then, He is always doing a “new thing,” isn’t He? We read that favorite verse from Lamentations frequently, that talks about His mercies being “new every morning.” We wake up every morning to a new day. And who doesn’t remember the old cliche, from the seventies, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” (Okay, maybe it was earlier than the seventies.)

Cliche as it is, it’s true. Every day is the “first day of the rest of your life.” What do we do about that? And, no matter how old we get (I’m almost 64, now), God can and will keep using us to do “new things.” We are never too old to be a part of God’s great story!


Speaking of “never,” that happens to be today’s prayer word in Pray a Word a Day. Harriet Beecher Stowe is quoted as saying, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

The word “never” occurs in 186 verses in the Bible (in the English Standard Version). The first four of those are in Genesis 8 and 9, when God promises that He will never again destroy the earth in the way that He did in the flood. In Judges 2:1, “the angel of the LORD” says, “I will never break my covenant with you.”

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
(Psalms 34:5 ESV)

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
(Psalms 112:6 ESV)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
(Isaiah 51:6 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
(Daniel 6:26 ESV)

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(Zephaniah 3:15 ESV)

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:14 ESV)

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.”
(John 6:35-37 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:28 ESV)

There are many more occurrences of the word, a number of them more negative. But the point I make, here, is that God has made promises that He will not leave us, and that those of us who believe in Jesus and follow Him, will not be put to shame, cast out, or perish. There are other places where the word “never” is exclusively used in the KJV, but the ESV uses a word such as “not.” Deuteronomy 31:8 is one such place.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

In light of all of those “nevers,” I think it is safe to say that we, as His children, should “never give up,” because it’s “never too late.” You see, if our God is always in the business of doing “new things,” then we are “never” too old to be included in those “new things.” I’m wearing out my ” key, here.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” we’ve all heard. I disagree, because I’m an “old dog” and I learn “new tricks” almost every day.

God is doing a “new thing.” You never know who He is going to use in His plan. Remember, He even used a donkey once (go back and listen to that Rich Mullins song again). He used some real jerks in the story (go back and read about Judges in yesterday’s blog). He used a “nobody” like Ruth to be the great-grandmother of King David, in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

I won’t be in the lineage of a Savior, but I know for a fact that God has used me in peoples’ lives. I am confident that He will continue to do so, even though, in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty much a nobody. But you know what?

Everybody is somebody to somebody.


Father, I am grateful to know that You will never give up on me. Because of that, I will also never give up on You and what You can do in someone’s life, or in the life of our world and culture. I will never stop calling out to You; I will never stop worshiping You; I will never stop singing and playing my instruments to You. And I believe that, no matter how old I live to be, that You will continue to do new and fresh things within me and those around me.

I continue (because I will never give up) to pray that You will intervene and eradicate the plague that surrounds us. To all appearances, it is getting worse, daily. The country where I live had 850,000 new cases yesterday, a new record. But You know this. I implore You (yes, a fancy word for “beg”) to rid us of this disease, Father. I pray that the cases will stop, that the hospitals and their workers will get some relief. I also pray that people would stop being so mean to one another. Help us to love again, Lord. Help me to do my part, even more than my part, to spread love in this world.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

God In Present Tense

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the fifth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. It’s the twelfth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Day 23,309

Eighteen days until Hamilton!

It was a fine day, yesterday. My evening at the library was different than usual. I was asked, at the beginning, to cover in the computer center while the full-time librarian went on lunch break, so I didn’t get a lot of shelving done. In fact, I didn’t technically put anything on the shelves, last night, as the remainder of my time was spent sorting a cart of DVDs. While that task may sound simple, it’s more time-consuming than you might think. I have to open every case to check the DVD in the case and make sure it matches the bar code number on the case. Then I have to make sure all DVDs in a multiple set (such as a season of a TV show) are in the case. Then I have to make sure that each case has one of our sticky notes with places to indicate issues with the media (won’t play, skips, and so on). Then, before putting them back on the cart in alphabetical order by title, I have to lock each case with our magnetic locking device. That is occasionally a challenging task, as sometimes those locking mechanisms don’t want to work.

At any rate, I was able to get the full cart sorted and ready for someone to shelve this morning, and then walked the shelves to straighten up some, and picked up stray books along the way, which we mark as “used” in the system. If a book is taken off the shelf, but not checked out, it is marked “used” so that the librarians know that there was at least some interest in the book. This helps them when the “weeding” times come.

I’m up pretty early, this morning, and not sure why. I am working the full day, today, 9:15-6:15, and it is the first full day since my new devotional routine began. That may have something to do with why I couldn’t go back to sleep. I also signed up to work an extra shift tomorrow, from 10-2, to cover for someone. I don’t know who, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m always willing to work an extra shift if it doesn’t interfere with any other plans, and it is only a half day, so I’ll still have time to prep for our Chicken Stir-fry tomorrow evening.

Oops. I just remembered . . . I’m supposed to start soup in the crock pot, this morning. And my coffee cup is empty. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting. The soup is started. It’s Chicken Ranch Crockpot soup, today. Chicken breast, three cans of 98%fat free cream of chicken soup, and one packet of ranch dressing mix. Oh, and a can of water, using one of the soup cans.

Okay, here we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Little Things, by Daryl Madden

Little gifts of kindness
Of generosity
Bring light to this world
Through humility

Little acts of love
Through the trinity
Draw the world as One
Bound Spiritually

Little prayers of faith
Through divinity
Turns the worlds direction
Oh, so gradually

All these little moments
One day we will see
In another world
Flow to eternity

The little things in life
The world sees as small
Turns out in the end
Are the greatest, of all

This is something to remember when we feel like we can’t do anything to change the world because we are only one person. One person can change the world of one other person. Please check out Daryl’s other poetry on the link provided above.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
 let them ever sing for joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
For you bless the righteous, O LORD; 
you cover him with favor as with a shield. 
(Psalms 5:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for coffee
2. for little acts of love and kindness, spread around the world
3. for these quiet pauses, each morning
4. for colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and all the combinations
5. that Jesus looks at me (and you) and sees good things
6. for Jesus's calling on me to follow Him
7. that God's Word is not just some literary artifact to be studied, but can be brought into present tense in our lives

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." 
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"
 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 
Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 
Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." 
And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." 
(John 1:43-51 ESV)

When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he noted a good quality about him. What good qualities does Jesus see in us? I assure you that He does see good qualities in us. As hard as I am on myself, when I look within, I believe that Jesus, who can see all and knows me better than I know myself, looks upon me and sees some good things.

Yet I find within me things that I would have Him change. What things would you have Jesus change in you? I encourage you to talk about these things with Him, both the good things that He finds in you, as well as those things you would like to see changed.

Father, I am thankful, this morning, for the calling of Jesus on my life. Obviously, You found something in me that was worth having, or You would not have chosen me and called me. Yet, anything that You found was something that You already put there. This puts me back at Psalm 139 again. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Show me the “greater things,” Lord. Let me see where You are working in this world that seems so lacking of Your presence. Help me do the little things that You place in my path, little things that can change the world of one of “the least of these.”

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

(From Pray As You Go)


As I continue looking at the spiritual discipline of meditation, the question is posed, “What are some obstacles to meditation for people in secular careers?”

That is an interesting question, especially considering that the word “secular” did not come into use in that context until after the fifties. What, exactly, is a “secular” career? The opposite of a “sacred” career? Did not Brother Lawrence even consider the washing of dishes as “sacred?”

But I digress. It is not the purpose, here, to debate the difference between “secular” and “sacred.” I understand the meaning behind the question. All of my full-time jobs have been in a “secular” career. And while there may not be a large number of obstacles to meditation in these careers, they don’t have the advantage of having a career in some kind of ministry. For example, a pastor should have all kinds of time to meditate. Now whether or not he or she takes advantage of that is on them.

In contrast, someone working an 8-5 job in some kind of industry doesn’t have an abundance of time to stop and meditate during the day. However, those obstacles can be overcome. For example, last night, as I was walking the shelves of the library, I prayed, which can be a form of meditation. I could just as easily have gone over memorized passages of Scripture in my head, while glancing through shelves of books. The challenge is to not look at all the books and wonder, “Oh, that looks interesting; what is it about?”

One of the reasons I have, for many years, chosen to get up much earlier than I need to, is so that I can have the time to read and meditate on Scripture and other worthy writings, before I begin the tasks of my day. That’s what I’m doing right now, because I cannot guarantee that I will have a chance to have quiet reflection during my work day, even at a place like a library. Working the circulation desk is not always quiet.

But taking time to pause in the morning, like this, also helps me be more aware of times throughout the day when I can pause and reflect or pray. There is plenty to pray about, at least for me.

Meditation is an important discipline to engage in. It is a process of thinking through passages of Scripture that have been read, praying them back to the Lord, along with questions about what has been read. Is there something I need to ask Him? Is there an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak further into this passage, helping me understand it? And while there are certainly obstacles to this discipline, in “secular” careers, they can be overcome.

Father, help me to be more aware of times, during my day, when I can pause and reflect on things I have read earlier. Help me to rely on the Holy Spirit to draw my attention to these things and remember what I have read.


In Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson describes Deuteronomy as “maybe the longest sermon ever.” Along with Leviticus, Deuteronomy probably stands as one of the least favorite books of the Bible to read. It is, essentially, “Moses, standing on the Plains of Moab with all Israel assembled before him, preaching.”

Peterson says that this sermon “does what all sermons are intended to do: Take God’s words, written and spoken in the past, take the human experience, ancestral and personal, of the listening congregation, then reproduce the words and experience as a single event right now, in this present moment.”

Peterson rejects that thought that God’s Word is just a literary artifact to be studied, or that human experience “is dead history merely to be regretted or admired.” It all must be brought into today, into context.

This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. 
It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. 
And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. 
No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! 
Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you 

Life and Good, 
Death and Evil. 

And I command you today: Love GOD, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by GOD, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. 
(Deuteronomy 30:11-16 MSG)

Notice how the words “today,” “here,” and “now” keep recurring. This sermon’s importance is highlighted by the fact that this is the last stop on their long journey to the Promised Land. Moses puts their entire experience, as well as the entirety of the commands of God, into present tense.

Be vigilant, 
listen obediently to these words that I command you 
so that you'll have a good life,
 you and your children, 
for a long, long time, 
doing what is good and right in the eyes of GOD, your God. 
(Deuteronomy 12:28 MSG)

“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
(Psalms 50:15 ESV)

In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
(Psalms 86:7 ESV)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
(Isaiah 40:29 ESV)

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.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)


Today’s word in Pray a Word a Day is “creativity.” Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Kids are naturally creative, it seems. What happens to us, though? It seems like most of us lose that creativity when we get older. There are a handful of people, who seem almost “genius-like,” who never seem to grow up. And I don’t blame them, if “growing up” means losing your imagination.

How can the word “creativity” be used in prayer, today? I will be considering this as I walk through this day. For me, it lends itself to my desire to make more music this year. Making music, whether writing it or performing someone else’s creation, is, itself, creativity. Every time I play a song, regardless of who wrote it or when it was written, I create something new. That is worth considering, don’t you think?

Also, consider . . . we were created by the Master Creator, “in His image.”

Father, fan my creativity into flame today. Make my imagination soar. As I find time to meditate on Your Word, throughout this day, and as I am called upon to pray for the needs of whoever you put in my path, make me creative in these tasks. There is nothing wrong with creativity in prayer. Thank You for giving me an imagination, and I thank You that there is still the heart of a child lurking in there, somewhere.

Father, I continue to pray for relief in this pandemic. Numbers are soaring; hospitalization are at an all-time high; make us aware of the needs, and give us a miracle. I have been asked to pray for people who have Covid, Lord, and I do that. I am asking for a miracle for one family, today, if it is not too late. They need a miraculous healing, Father. I pray Your healing blessing upon them.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Messy Community

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the fourth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. It’s the eleventh day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ fill you today.

Day 23,308

Nineteen days until Hamilton!

It’s chilly, this morning, some would say cold, but not as cold as the last two mornings. I do not think C had to scrape ice off her windshield, this morning. As I begin, this morning, it is 34 degrees, with a projected high of 65. A nice day.

I don’t believe I have mentioned our neighborhood cat. He lives across the street, and is named Dommy (or Dommie, not sure how they spell it). Several times a day, he activates the motion sensors on our cameras in front of the house as he makes his rounds. We actually enjoy watching this. Twice, yesterday, he followed exactly the same path, across the sidewalk in front of our porch, and then down the driveway on the driver’s sided of my car. I’m thinking about finding something to give to the folks across the street for him. I need to find out if he is also an indoor cat, or strictly outside.

I have a little bit of laundry to do today, as well as a side trip to a different grocery store. There is at least one thing we need more of that we can only get at Walmart Neighborhood Market. Maybe I should sign up for their delivery service, as well.

I work my four hour shelving shift this evening, from 4:15 – 8:15. So, at some point, I will go out and pick up Subway for lunch for S and me, and get a salad for C for her dinner. I also just remembered that I need to swing by CVS to get some scripts for S. Hopefully there won’t be four people in line getting Covid tests.

I finished my first book of the year, yesterday, so that’s good. It is called The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski (Polish). It introduces a beloved character known as The Witcher. I plan to read more of his books, and believe we have most of them in the library. Next up is A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins, author the best-seller, The Girl on the Train. Believe it or not, I am also still working through The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber. Hopefully, I will finish that soon. It is actually a good book, but not an easy read. Lots of footnotes and historical information.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Spirit Blessed, by Daryl Madden

Come, oh come, oh Spirit blessed
As colors rising to express
To start this day with our request
In the light of dawning

Come, oh come, oh Spirit blessed
With humble will let us confess
To Your power we attest
Unto our knees of falling

Come, oh come, oh Spirit blessed
When we are put to the test
Through Your grace let us profess
Your Word of wisdom spawning

Come, oh come, oh Spirit blessed
Let this weary soul find rest
And turn to you when we are stressed
When we feel darkness calling

Come, oh come, oh Spirit blessed
With our praise, our joy express
In sharing prayer, let us invest
Our daily path of walking

I like the rhythm of this poem, as well as the prayer expressed. Yes, Spirit, come!

For great is the LORD, 
and greatly to be praised, 
and he is to be feared above all gods.
 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, 
but the LORD made the heavens. 
Splendor and majesty are before him; 
strength and joy are in his place. 
(1 Chronicles 16:25-27 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the splendor and majesty of the Lord, and the strength and joy we receive from Him
2. for the opportunity to spend more time with Jesus, as He asks me, "What are you looking for?" (John 1:35-42)
3. that Jesus revealed the way to God; it is not hidden
4. for the enlarged capacity to love each other and be more generous with our resources
5. for the communities that God has placed us in, messy as they are

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, 
"Behold, the Lamb of God!" 
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 
Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, 
"What are you seeking?" 
And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), 
"where are you staying?" 
He said to them, "Come and you will see." 
So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him,
 "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). 
He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 
"You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter). 
(John 1:35-42 ESV)

Jesus asks the question, here, “What are you seeking?” This could be stated as “What are you looking for?” I believe that we could hear Jesus asking us that same question today. What is my answer? What am I looking for?

The answer to this question varies, depending on the day, depending on my spiritual state of being. Today, my answer is going to be more spiritually-leaning than materially-leaning. I am looking for Him. That’s not just a “Sunday School” answer, either. I really am looking for Jesus; I’m looking for God. Not that I have not found Him, mind you. But that I am looking for more depth of relationship. I am looking to be more like Jesus so that I can be more in tune with what God wants for my life.

Apparently, the two disciples that were following Him weren’t quite ready for the question. The best they could come up with was, “Where are you staying?” To which He simply replied, “Come and you will see.” So Jesus invites me to come and see where He is staying. What do I find there? What does He say to me? How do I respond?

Obviously, these are questions that require the use of imagination, and there is nothing wrong with that. I believe I would find a simple abode, simply furnished with basic necessities, no frills or extras. Jesus would only have what He needed to live. And I believe that, as I spend time with Him, He would ask me again, “What are you looking for?” Or maybe, “What do you want?” I don’t believe He is satisfied with the first answer to His question. And my response would be what I typed earlier. “I want to know You. I want to know as I am known.”

Reading/listening to this passage again, I use my imagination and consider spending an afternoon with Jesus. What would this feel like? My heart’s desire is to spend more time with Him during 2022.

(Questions taken from Pray As You Go)

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


As I continue to look at Thomas More’s “A Godly Meditation” in Spiritual Classics, the question is asked, “What lessons can I learn from Thomas More’s attitude and his meditation?” I posted the parts that spoke most to me a couple days ago, but if you want to read the entire thing, it can be found here.

What I learn or see in this meditation is an attitude of contentment and humility, or at least the desire to have more of both. There is value in setting our minds on the Lord and, for the most part, ignoring “the blast of men’s mouths” (I can’t get over how much I love that phrase). More expresses a deep desire to know the Lord and His ways, as opposed to the world and its ways. He desires no worldly company. He desires to “lean unto the comfort of God.” In our current culture, it is popular to use the phrase “press into God.” I, personally, prefer the concept of leaning. I’m not trying to force my way in; rather, I am depending on Him, leaning on Him.

More desires to know his own wretchedness and to have a deep humility and meekness about him. Death is not something to be ignored, but should be something of which we are very aware. It is reality. It does not go away if we ignore it. He uses the phrase “to abstain from vain confabulations.” I had to look that up. It basically means conversation. So there is a deep desire to have all conversations be meaningful.

But I think the most powerful piece of this comes toward the end. ” To think my most enemies my best friends; for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favour as they did him with their malice and hatred.” As Jesus told us, we should love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Thomas More bears this out in this meditation. And, as he ends it, he stresses that all of these attitudes are worth more than “all the treasures of all the princes and kings.” This seems to line up with the sentiment concerning wisdom, that we get from the book of Proverbs.

Father, I pray that You would help me develop the kind of mindset found in Thomas More’s meditation. And, as I hear Jesus asking me what I am looking for, I continue to answer that I am looking for You, and a deeper relationship with You, that I might be more like Jesus in every way.


In Symphony of Salvation, Eugene Peterson briefly examines the book of Numbers from a perspective of “growing up” in community.

When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. The People of Israel marched at GOD’s command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored GOD’s command and wouldn’t march. They stayed in camp, obedient to GOD’s command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment GOD issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference—when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at GOD’s command and they marched at GOD’s command. They lived obediently by GOD’s orders as delivered by Moses.
(Numbers 9:17-23 MSG)

“Many of us fondle a romanticized spirituality in our imaginations. The ‘God’s in his heaven/all’s right with the world’ sort of thing.” I love this, because it is, to a degree, true of many people. This tends to express itself in a longing for a simpler time, “nostalgia,” as it were. Or perhaps even wishing to be born back in “Bible times.” That’s kind of amusing, because, if you read the Bible accurately and carefully, there is no indication at all that life was easy, or that serving/worshiping God was a piece of proverbial cake. The books of Numbers through at least Judges show us what a mess these people were.

As communities, we need organizational help. We need relational help. “The people who find themselves called and led and commanded by God find themselves in the company of men and women who sin a lot – quarrel, bicker, grumble, rebel, fornicate, steal – you name it, we do it. We need help in getting along with each other.” I can think of no time when that has been more obvious than the present day.

Perhaps we need the prayer of Moses.

“Please forgive the wrongdoing of this people out of the extravagance of your loyal love just as all along, from the time they left Egypt, you have been forgiving this people.”
(Numbers 14:19 MSG)


“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
(Luke 10:22 ESV)

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
(John 17:3 ESV)

“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:26 ESV)

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
(Ephesians 1:17 ESV)

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
(Colossians 1:15 ESV)


The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is “enlarge.”

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
(1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV)

Today’s writer, identified only as “Bob” (didn’t we already have a “Bob?”), writes this:

“It’s a great word to pray, and it can apply to so many areas of concern and desire. For God’s kingdom to rule in my life: Enlarge. For my capacity to love others: Enlarge. For my ability to give generously: Enlarge. For the church’s influence in my community: Enlarge. For the ability to see clearly, speak constructively, and work creatively: Enlarge.”

I’m not really a big fan of the “prayer of Jabez” fad from a decade or so back. However, taken in the context of the above paragraph, it is worthy of consideration. I don’t pray so much for God to “enlarge my border.” I don’t need more territory. However, along with “Bob,” I could use more of God’s kingdom rule in my life, more capacity to love others (and how!), more of a mind to give generously, more of a positive influence from the Church, and more ability to see, speak, and work clearly, constructively, and creatively.

Father, as I walk through this day, I do pray that You would enlarge these capabilities within me, especially that one about loving others. This is a topic that You have me stuck on, now, for a number of years, and it’s not going to stop. I don’t want it to stop. I don’t want to rest until I see at least Your people following this command to love You and love people as we love ourselves. I can’t get over how difficult this seems to wrap our heads around. Help us, oh, God! Enlarge our hearts and fill them with Your love for each other.

Jesus, thank You for showing us the Father. You are the only way to get to Him, and I praise You that You have shown us this. I also praise You for giving me the capacity to believe this and live in it. Thank You for the communities in which You have placed us. They are messy, Lord. Really, really messy, even the small ones. Or perhaps it just shows up more in the small ones, because it’s not so easy to get lost in the crowd. Whatever. I still thank You and pray for Your guidance and leadership in these communities. Make Your pillars of fire and cloud more obvious to us.

Lord, the Covid virus continues to rampage through our society (and our world). Please relieve us from this plague. We implore You to eradicate this virus. I also pray for unity within both our nation and Your Church (I’m always much more concerned with the Church), that we may succeed together.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Surely Goodness and Mercy

Good morning (it will be afternoon before I am finished). Today is Saturday, the first of January, 2022. The eighth day of Christmas.

May the peace of Christ be upon you today!

Day 23,305

Twenty-two days until we finally get to see Hamilton. Hoping that the current surge of Covid Omicron variant doesn’t wind up canceling this one.

It’s a new year, and with the new year come new devotional materials. So things will begin looking a little different from last year. Some things will stay the same, but others will change. I will continue to try to make note of where we are in the Church calendar, hence the mention of the eighth day of Christmas, above. I have a couple of sources to help me keep up with that.

Yesterday was another great day at the library. It was somewhat slower than usual, for the whole library, as well as the computer center. There were only a handful of staff people there, so it was very quiet. I had an unusual experience as I helped a gentleman scan and attach documents to an HOA website, so he could try to get permission to add solar panels to his home. It was very complicated, and reinforces my opinion that I will NEVER live in an HOA.

C wasn’t feeling well, yesterday, so I picked up Subway for dinner for last night. We did wind up staying up until the end of 2021, though. Actually, I think C had to, to make sure that their systems came back online at midnight, as scheduled. She and I counted down the new year together, watching the last minute or so from a New Orleans broadcast.

At any rate, 2022 is here. So far, I don’t feel any different. That’s not one hundred percent true, but it has nothing to do with what day it is. Yesterday, as I was listening to “The Blessing” (I posted the video at the end of yesterday’s blog), something “flipped” inside. I can’t really put a finger on it, or put it in words, but some attitudes changed. As 2022 gets into gear, I don’t have any “resolutions.” I don’t do those any more , haven’t for at least a decade. I don’t really have any “goals,” either, as goals are supposed to be measurable. Well, I take that back. My Goodreads reading goal for 2022 will be fifty-two books, just like it was in 2021. I’m going to try to share my Year in Books from Goodreads. Hopefully that link will work. There is one error in it, though. I actually only read 48 books. For some reason, it has The Hobbit in there twice. I only listened to the audio version. I did not read a physical book again.

I do have some “aspirations,” I suppose. I want to read more, pray more consistently, love better, make more music, and spend a little less time playing video games.

To begin the year, I will focus on the following resources:
Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson (sixty days)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Pray a Word a Day, a new Guideposts resource

I may or may not choose to add another resource. There is one that I will use after the sixty-day Peterson book. On Living Well: Brief Reflections on Wisdom for Walking in the Way of Jesus, also by Eugene H. Peterson. I’m not sure how many days it will take, but I’m confident that there aren’t 365 readings in it.

Actually, I believe I have just decided to also include Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, a Renovare resource edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. It is a different format than I’m used to, having a weekly reading for fifty-two weeks. Not sure how that will play out in my daily readings, but it will be fun to explore.

So there it is. Oh, and Happy New Year to all who make it over here, either on purpose or by serendipity.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Eternal Father, 
You gave to Your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to of our salvation:
Plant in every heart,
we pray,
the love of Him who is the Savior of the world,
our Lord Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
in glory everlasting.
Amen."
(Collect for January 1, The Holy Name, The Book of Common Prayer)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, 
for he has done marvelous things! 
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; 
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
(Psalms 98:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for new beginnings
2. for God, for His very existence and who He is
3. for the marvelous things that God has done
4. that God is always doing "new things"
5. that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us, pursuing us

My verse for 2022 will be Psalm 145:18. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

My word for 2022 (I don’t remember if I had one for 2021) will be “pray.” Because that’s what I need to do more of.


“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”

Thus begins the first reading in Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation.

And, if we look at the first verse of Genesis in The Message, the first three words are, “First this: God.”

God looked over everything he had made; 
it was so good, 
so very good! 
(Genesis 1:31 MSG)

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 43:19 NIV)

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
(Job 8:7 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

These are great verses to begin a new year. Especially a new year that has been preceded by two really sketchy years. Things have not been great. Understatement of the century. But we, we who are followers of Jesus Christ, have a hope for our future, most especially the future that we will have beyond this world, beyond this mortal coil.

Things keep happening. People are losing loved ones. Beloved celebrities (ones that we thought would live forever) are leaving us. But we followers of Jesus cannot afford to fix our eyes on these things. We must keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ. Our God is always doing a “new thing.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)


Today’s word for prayer is “goodness.”

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 23:6 ESV)

It is worth noting that the Hebrew word that is translated “follow,” can also mean “chase” or “pursue.” So we consider that the goodness and mercy of the Lord are actually chasing us or pursuing us, and that kind of implies that we might be actually, sometimes, running away?

Just food for thought there.


Father, I praise You for the “new things” that You are constantly doing. I thank You that Your goodness and mercy are chasing and pursuing us . . . much more actively than simply “following,” which kind of implies a passive nature. You are chasing us down with Your goodness and mercy! Help me to stop running from them and let them catch me! I praise You that You are You, that You exist, from before eternity past beyond eternity future. And I praise You that You have made a way for us to exist with You, through the work of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and our salvation. Help me to embrace this salvation, more than ever, this coming year.

I continue to pray for this pandemic to end, Lord. Please wipe this virus off the earth, that we may return to some kind of normalcy. I also pray, though, for the compassion of human beings to be restored. There is so much meanness and hatred in our world, today. I pray for Your followers, Your children, to rise up and insist on LOVE! Again, I start a campaign for a love revolution! Make it so, Father!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Become the Blessing

Today is Thursday, the twenty-third of December, 2021, the fourth Thursday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,296

Only two more days until Christmas!!

It is Christmas Eve Eve. Or as one Facebook friend stated, “Christmas Adam.” If you get that, good on you!

So, yesterday went great at the library, another great day in circulation. I received a couple more gifts from librarians. Our circ manager gave us all a festive pitcher/planter thing, with matching shears and paring knife, along with a bag of crunchy goodness made of pretzels, peanuts, and Chex cereal. And one of the other librarians sneaked in and handed me a bag with some Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar hand soap. She probably doesn’t know this, but Warm Vanilla Sugar practically melts me. It’s my all time favorite BBW scent. Oh, and there was a handful of Lindor chocolates in that bag, as well. Yum!! Next year, I’m going to have to figure out something to give all of them.

Tuesday night, I got a lovely (and quite comfy) pair of soft, warm socks, a wooden ornament, and a little package of magnets with book designs on them.

Have I mentioned, lately, how much I love working at this library?

The Bundtinis that I took to work were quite the hit. I wound up eating the last one, though, because no one would take the last one. Hahaha!

Today, the cooking will begin. This evening, there will be fudge, and at least two crescent roll pull-apart Christmas trees made (one savory, one sweet). We may make four of them, if we have enough pans. If not, then we will make two more tomorrow night, after the Christmas Eve festivities are over.

C is working from home again, today, for which I applaud her. Especially considering that the traffic may not quite be back to normal, yet, today, after this happened, yesterday!

That is Loop 820 in North Richland Hills, at around 8:00 AM, yesterday. All lanes, both east and west-bound, were closed for a while. I passed by at around 9:00-ish, on the way to the library and it was still burning. I could not see what was burning, because there were high walls blocking the view at that particular point of the freeway. However, at that point, the west-bound lanes were still closed, as well as both directions of express (toll) lanes. The walls near the event were completely blackened by the smoke.

Apparently (and this is the best information I could find) there was an accident involving a fuel tanker and an empty animal waste truck (and possibly one other vehicle). There are reports that say one person died at the scene and another person was air-flighted to a hospital with critical burns. As of 6:30 last night, the west-bound express lane was still closed, and traffic was extremely heavy on the normal lanes. I was able to avoid most of that by exiting early.

Later today, I need to take some Social Security documents and fax them to the SS folks. I don’t know why they still insist on faxing, rather than having them scanned to an email. It would be much simpler to do that. I have a printer that will fax, but we have no land line at our house. So I suppose I will go to the Hurst Library to do it, after 10:00 AM. I know how to use that system, and I suppose there is an outside chance that I won’t have to pay, although I probably would not ask for that. If they offer, I won’t turn it down, though. Heh.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let Me Forgive, by Daryl Madden

Let me come to
This realization
Here to reset
My expectations…

They were so selfish
So, I sacrificed
Let me forgive them
For not being Christ

They didn’t care
Their love was a fraud
Let me forgive them
For not being God

They gave bad advice
Wish they didn’t share it
Let me forgive them
For not being the Spirit

And forgiving myself
For I’m one in the same
In the love of the Three
Let us remain

The point is, not a one of us is perfect. We are not Jesus, we are not God, we are not the Holy Spirit. We are all flawed, so we all should forgive ourselves and one another.

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

"I have said these things to you, 
that in me you may have peace. 
In the world you will have tribulation. 
But take heart; I have overcome the world." 
(John 16:33 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace that I have in my soul, because of Jesus Christ
2. for the gift of joy in my life
3. for the love of God that is in my life
4. for the ongoing desire to share that peace, love, and joy with all who live in my world
5. that whatever I have received from God, I must give away to others

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, 
an ever-present help in trouble. 
(Psalms 46:1 NIV)

As you go, proclaim this message: 
'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 
Heal the sick, raise the dead, 
cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. 
Freely you have received; freely give. 
(Matthew 10:7-8 NIV)
Very truly I tell you, 
whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,
 and they will do even greater things than these, 
because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 NIV)

“Whatever you have received from God, you must give to others. If you’ve been loved, you must love. And if you’ve been loved without having deserved that love, then you must love those who don’t deserve your love. If you’ve been given joy, your life must bring joy to others. . . . if you’ve received that blessing, your life must become a blessing. And if you received that gift, your life must become a gift.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)


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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-SIX

INVITATION

Bring us back, O God! 
Show us your mercy, 
and we will be saved! 
(Psalms 80:3 GNB)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing God, through the Son, and by the Spirit. I reflect on the perfection of the Trinity and how that plays into my life. I acknowledge that this knowledge is unfathomable.

BIBLE SONG

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
 that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever
 and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, 
my God, the Rock my Savior.' 
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, 
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
 I will maintain my love to him forever, 
and my covenant with him will never fail. 
I will establish his line forever, 
his throne as long as the heavens endure. 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 26-29 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
(Romans 16:25-27 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me, lingering over them, giving them full attention. Do I find something I need to ask God about? I pray my life to God, taking refreshment in His presence.

Father, the sense of peace, love, and joy in my heart is almost overwhelming. Certainly, there are things in my life, in this world, that trouble me, that unsettle me, but they seem distant at this moment. C is experiencing turmoil in her work, at the moment, and I pray for Your peace to settle in that place. I pray for Your intervention in the circumstance, that the issue they are furiously working one would be fixed, seemingly out of nowhere.

I will sing of Your great love forever, Father. With my lips I will make known Your great faithfulness, and Your mercies, Your great mercies, which never fail and are new every morning when we awake from our sleep. The mercy exists in the fact that we wake up at all! I will sing of the joy in my soul, and the peace in my heart. These are things that will be sung from my heart for all eternity. I so look forward to the days when I will be singing them in person with You.

Thank You for the encouragement and admonition that I have nothing to fear. You are my eternal help; I fall down, You pick me up; I stumble, You are there to catch me. Sometimes, I intentionally walk off of the path, and You gently guide me back. I am spared from Your wrath by the gift of Jesus. Help me to gift that back to others, as well. Your steadfast love never fails.

Help me to be a blessing and a gift to others today. Give us spiritual renewal and refreshment as we walk in Your kingdom. Help us to truly understand the full meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bring about racial peace and reconciliation in our world. And may You lead us into new relationships with people who do not share our beliefs.

"Wise God,
thank You that Christ's incarnation was not a quick reaction to surprising circumstances but part of Your eternal purpose,
the unfolding of Your long-ago decreed will.
To think that my salvation is part of Your grand eternal purpose leaves me stunned with joy-filled awe.
Amen."

BLESSING

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

May It Be, According to Your Word

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of December, 2021, the fourth Sunday of Advent. The theme of the fourth week of Advent is love.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,292

Only six more days until Christmas!

I have several boxes to pick up at our local Amazon Hub Locker, today, and I think the last few Christmas presents should be delivered tomorrow or by Wednesday at least. There is a chance that one of our gifts might not make it before Christmas, but it’s not a huge problem.

Yesterday was a good day at the library, but it seemed a bit long and slow. It wasn’t very busy, and especially the last ninety minutes or so seemed dead. I think everyone else felt the same way, because I swear we were out the back door in less than ten minutes after the library closed.

We are actually having our church gathering in person, today. I think they met at the house last Sunday, as well, but we weren’t there. I’ve got a large grocery order scheduled to deliver from Albertson’s, this afternoon, which will (if we get everything) take care of most of what we need for the Christmas holidays. There are a few things that they did not have, and there will probably be a thing or two that wind up not getting fulfilled, so I’ll probably have to run out and grab a few items tomorrow.

I only work two days, this week, Tuesday night and Wednesday all day. I’ll be off Friday and Saturday for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That’s one of the reasons that I worked yesterday. The main reason I worked yesterday was because one of our other aides needed to have the day off, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Hidden Gifts of Christmas, by Daryl Madden

Listen my dear child
Soul to be aware
Gifts of Christmas coming
Are hidden everywhere

Come to look above
The same stars shining bright
That led Mary and Joseph
Through the deserts night

Wrapping every present
The Spirit here to know
The same true heart giving
Three wise men did show

The treasures of the season
Found within a prayer
Of peace and hope and love
Rejoicing and to share

Please visit Daryl’s site to see his other poetry.

Dear friends, 
since God so loved us, 
we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the fact that "God so loved us"
2. for the gift of the ability to love one another
3. that You are constantly doing "new things"
4. for the ability to keep "pressing on"
5. for the willingness of Mary to be a part of Your miracle

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
(Psalms 91:11 ESV)

Behold, I am doing a new thing; 
now it springs forth, 
do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
And the angel said to them, 
"Fear not, 
for behold, I bring you 
good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
(Luke 2:10 ESV)
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 
But one thing I do: 
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal for the prize 
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-TWO

INVITATION

Restore us, O God; 
make your face shine on us, 
that we may be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NIV)

I pause to consider the love of God, which enables us to love Him and love one another. I am praying, this week, especially, for more ability to display that love to everyone.

BIBLE SONG

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

 I trust in you; 
do not let me be put to shame,
 nor let my enemies triumph over me.
 No one who hopes in you 
will ever be put to shame, 
but shame will come on those 
who are treacherous without cause. 

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 25:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." 
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail." 
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her. 
(Luke 1:26-38 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. As I linger over them, I pray these back to the Lord, seeking His guidance for my walk in His kingdom.

Father, I am grateful, today, for the ability to keep pressing on, to keep on walking in this kingdom life, the life You have given me, and the path that You have shown me. I put my trust fully in You, depending on You for safety and provision, as well as spiritual life. I believe that all who put their trust in You will be free from the fear of being shamed. Your trust is a safe place for us to be, and makes this world safe for us, as well. I have nothing to fear, just as Your Word constantly commands me to “fear not.”

Keep showing me Your paths, Lord, as I continue to look for them. Don’t let me stop seeking You.

Thank You for the willingness of Mary to be Your servant in this miracle of the coming of Jesus. May I be as accepting of Your will as she was.

Give us all Advent hope and joy, Father, and the willingness to be a channel for Your Good News.

"Visiting God,
eclipse my doubts and questions with the brightness of Your presence,
and,
like Mary,
overshadow my life with Your Holy Spirit,
conceiving in me a true faith that receives Jesus Christ,
making Him my own and me Your favored one.
Amen."

BLESSING

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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Sorrow and Sighing Will Flee

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the fifteenth of December, 2021, the third Wednesday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,288

Only ten more days until Christmas!

I woke up with allergies, this morning, so I’m feeling a bit stuffed up. It’s funny, because it didn’t start until about the time I got out of bed. A couple of sneezes, and my nose has been running like a sieve all morning. I’ve taken some Sudafed and DayQuil, though, so hopefully that will be settling down, soon. Fortunately, it is my Wednesday off work, so I don’t really have to go anywhere.

Other than a quick trip to an Amazon hub locker to pick up a Christmas gift that has been delivered..

Last night at the library was extra special. It was my shelving night, which I always enjoy, because it’s quiet and I’m pretty much alone, lost in the stacks of books (or DVDs, sometimes, but last night, it was all books). The extra special part happened around 7:00 PM. First, a little back story. A few weeks ago, the youth services manager (our library calls children “youth”) approached me and asked if I would like to participate in their monthly “story laboratory,” a thing where they start in the youth program room, but then go to different places in the library for a sort of “progressive storytime.”

When I interviewed for the library aide job, I had asked them if there would ever be opportunities for me to read to people. I was, initially, told no, that the part time aides didn’t really do that. However, Ms. Beverly remembered me asking that, and asked if I would like to participate in one of their Story Laboratory nights. I said yes, of course.

I didn’t know when it was coming, but thought it should be coming up. Well, it turned out, it was last night. Since I don’t work every day, she didn’t really have an opportunity to remind me, otherwise I would have dressed a little more “festively.” So what we did, last night, was several of us read portions of “The Night Before Christmas” from a pop-up book that was very cool. We had a small group of about four children and their mothers. I had so much fun! I got to read the bit where Santa calls out all the reindeer names.

Oh, and by the way . . . did you realize that its “Donder,” not “Donner??” I learned that last night. I made sure to enunciate that one clearly.

I also pointed briefly at my own beard when I got to the part about Santa’s beard being as white as snow, and said, “Just like mine!”

I have nothing on my agenda for today, other than the aforementioned trip to the Amazon hub locker. I’m planning to make chicken stir-fry for dinner tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You Can Steal, by Daryl Madden

You can steal my happiness
But you can’t steal my joy

You can take my trust away
But faith you can’t destroy

You can take my job today
But not my purpose be

You can make me miserable
But God loves you and me

Even if it’s comes to death
And you kill my body

Still I know that I can rest
In life eternally

My words are bold and I will fail
Through struggles to endure

Let me dwell upon this truth
Gods’ faith in me secure

I like this one because it reminds me of some of my favorite things that Dallas Willard said. One is his definition of joy, as “a pervasive sense of well-being.” The other is his statement that, in God’s kingdom, “this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” Please check out Daryl’s other poems, at the link provided.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 
they shall obtain gladness and joy, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
(Isaiah 51:11 ESV)
Sing for joy, O heavens,
 and exult, O earth; 
break forth, O mountains, 
into singing! 
For the LORD has comforted his people 
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
(Isaiah 49:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my coffee
2. for everlasting joy, and the eventual absence of sorrow and sighing
3. that You can calm the storms
4. for Your forgiveness; help me to always forgive others as You have forgiven me
5. that, no matter what I am going through, You are with me, and will never leave me or forsake me

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13 NIV)

Get rid of all bitterness, 
rage and anger, 
brawling and slander, 
along with every form of malice. 
Be kind and compassionate to one another, 
forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you. 
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
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)

When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, 
they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you. 
(Isaiah 43:2 ESV)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" 
that is, 
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
(Matthew 27:46 ESV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 
As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:35-39 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY EIGHTEEN

INVITATION

How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, 
Breaking the news that all's well, 
proclaiming good times, 
announcing salvation, 
telling Zion, 
"Your God reigns!" 
(Isaiah 52:7 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I am pondering the eternal presence of God in my life. I am reveling in the truth that, no matter what I am going through, He is with me.

BIBLE SONG

You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
 you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 
You forgave the iniquity of your people 
and covered all their sins. 

I will listen to what God the LORD says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly.
 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land. 

Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, 
and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
The LORD will indeed give what is good, 
and our land will yield its harvest. 
Righteousness goes before him 
and prepares the way for his steps. 
(Psalms 85:1-2, 8-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; 
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. 
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, 
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; 
they will see the glory of the LORD, 
the splendor of our God. 

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened 
and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 
Then will the lame leap like a deer, 
and the mute tongue shout for joy. 
Water will gush forth in the wilderness 
and streams in the desert. 

And a highway will be there; 
it will be called the Way of Holiness; 
it will be for those who walk on that Way. 
They will enter Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy will crown their heads. 
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
 and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-2, 5-6, 8A, 10B)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention (hopefully). As I look for potential questions for God, I pray my life to Him, enjoying and resting in His presence.

Father, I see, this morning, that more than once I have read the promise that “sorrow and sighing” will “flee away.” While I don’t feel especially sorrowful, this morning, nevertheless, these words bring me great comfort. It seems that there is always something to “sigh” about, in this life, and the promise that You are with us, with me, through all things, brings great comfort. To know that, one day, the response of sighing over things will no longer be necessary or even desires, is very sustaining. We seem to have had much to sigh about in the past couple of years.

But the truth remains that, in Your kingdom, this world is a perfectly safe place to be. The truth also remains that, in Your kingdom, things are far better than we could ever imagine. I take note of the fact that You never promise us that we will not pass through the waters; You do not promise us that we will not walk through the fire. You do promise Your presence and that, when we do walk through the fire, we will not be burned. You also promise us that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from Your love.

I will listen to what You say, Father. You promise peace to us, Your faithful servants. Your salvation is near to those of us who fear You, and You will give what is good. However, let us also be aware that not everything we desire is, in fact, “good.”

May we walk in that way of holiness, that we may enter Zion with singing, that gladness and joy may overtake us, and sorrow and sighing flee away. May all this come about through Your Son and by Your Spirit.

"Incarnate Lord,
why do we easily consider our bodies as shameful or something to get beyond,
when You're quite fond of them?
Forgive us for trying to be more spiritual than You are by denying our human earthiness.
Overtake us with joy that You have come physically to this world,
taking a face and sharing our flesh,
for truly begin our Immanuel,
'God with us.'
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed be the Lord, 
the God of Israel; 
he came and set his people free.
(Luke 1:68 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!