Heal Us, O Lord

Today is Saturday, the twelfth of February, 2022, in the fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,347

Today’s header image is by Paul Militaru, from Romania. Please check out his lovely photography at the link provided.

Sometimes, I look at the year and shake my head in disbelief. 2022. I remember, as a child, trying to calculate how old I would be at the turn of the century, in 2001. And yes, the new century/millennium started in 2001, not 2000. I’m not even going to argue with you about it. You’re just wrong. Anyway . . . and now, it’s 21 years beyond that.

We were preparing our tax return, the other day, and C needed to know when my driver’s license expires. 2030. What?? Geez.

I think about the technological advances I’ve seen in my lifetime. I consider that today’s youth/teens have never known anything but primarily digital music, or streaming television. Then I think about the advances my parents’ generation has seen.

I remember the first handheld calculators (there was a factory in my home town, by the way). I remember when cassettes and 8-tracks became big, then when CDs obliterated vinyl. By the way, vinyl has been outselling CDs in recent years . . . it’s made a comeback, because people have realized that it actually sounds better than digital music.

But here’s the thing. I’m not stuck in the past. I have embraced the new technology, as much as I can. I confess that I never quite figured out “SnapChat.” But I have ventured into TikTok territory. You can find me here, if you want. I get mildly amused, and a little sad at all the Facebook posts I see from my generation; you know the ones. There’s a picture, perhaps, of an old-school car dimmer switch, on the floorboard, and the question says, “Who remembers these??” And a bunch of my contemporaries all jump on and say, “ME!!” What I take away from this is that they feel a sense of superiority about it.

Whatever.

Enough of that. It’s 2022. Wow. You have heard it said, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” I have learned that the second two thirds of that sentence are unnecessary. Time flies. Period.

It was, as usual, a great day at the library, yesterday. Someone brought donuts. Some of them were heart-shaped. Yes, because, as I have just realized, Valentine’s Day is Monday! C and I don’t even really acknowledge Valentine’s Day. It’s not really a thing for us. We don’t buy cards or flowers or candy. Well, we buy candy, but not just for that day. We’ve been buying way too much candy, these days. I will say, though, that we have enjoyed the temporary availability of chocolate covered cherries.

Today, S and I have appointments at the eye doctor. It was supposed to be S and C, but C has some kind of bronchitis or something, and doesn’t feel up to going, so we switched the appointment to me. I’m due for a checkup, anyway, so I’ll do it today. That’s at 12:20.

The rest of the day is wide open. I have a small grocery order scheduled to be delivered between 2 and 4 this afternoon. I’ll likely cook burgers for S and me, tonight. C has already said she doesn’t want one.

It’s colder today. The A/C was on, yesterday, because the temp was supposed to reach 77 degrees (and probably did), but today, the high is, like, 47 or something. So the heat is back on, this morning.

That’s all I got. Oh, wait. The Super Bowl is Sunday. I hope the Bengals win. The only reason I have for that is that I heard their quarterback loves to play chess and has an autographed copy of The Queen’s Gambit. I couldn’t tell you his name, at the moment, if my life depended on it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

A Genuine Prayer, by Daryl Madden

Oh Lord, my need
As day begins
In helping me
Be genuine

My mask, remove
My soul, reveal
Oh Lord let me
Be truly real

And with my friends
Our heart to share
Be vulnerable
And fully here

Oh, let me live
As You see me
A human of
Humility

Whose joy is found
With greater view
A life of grace
Through love of You!

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

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 
For fear has to do with punishment, 
and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 
We love because he first loved us. 
If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; 
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen 
cannot love God whom he has not seen. 
And this commandment we have from him:
 whoever loves God must also love his brother. 
(1 John 4:18-21 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the challenge presented in those verses above
2. for the reminder that everything I think, say, or feel, and everyone I meet, has to do with God
3. for the promises of healing (but not always the way we think or desire)
4. that, through all the years and experiences of my life, "I still believe"
5. that God doesn't change like our weather

The prayer word for the day is “heal.” Here is a word that typically only has one meaning. The scripture reference may not seem to have anything directly to do with healing, but let’s take a look at it.

‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
(Matthew 22:32 NIV)

The writer of today’s reading cites three different instances where he knows of someone who was miraculously healed. He names “Cheryl,” “Tim,” and “Deb.” Then he goes on to say that, sometimes, he prays to the God of “Cheryl, Tim, and Deb.”

Jesus’s point in that statement (He was responding to a trick question by the Sadducees) was that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not dead, but eternally alive. And not only alive, but physically and spiritually healed from anything that might have afflicted them, while on earth.

I prayed for my dad’s healing for years. He was afflicted with a rare muscular disease called Inclusion Body Myositis, in the Muscular Dystrophy family. He passed away from this disease on April 12, 2015, almost seven years ago. Was my prayer not answered? My prayer was answered, I will confidently say. It was not answered in the way I preferred, because I’m a selfish human. But it was answered in the best way. Yes, I miss my dad. But I believe, confidently, that he is 100% healed. I don’t know what heaven will look like, as we only have glimpses. But I believe that my dad’s muscles are strong and healthy in his “glorified” body, so he has been healed.

Sometimes, people are healed on earth. I also am a firm believer that I will be on this earth until God doesn’t need me to be here, any more. As long as there is a job for me to do, here, I will remain. When that time is over, He will bring me Home.

In the meantime, I will pray for peoples’ healing. Just because my dad wasn’t “healed” in the way I wanted, doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to believe in God’s ability to heal people. In the words of Michael Been and The Call, “I Still Believe.”

"But I still believe
I still believe
Through the pain
And the grief
Through the lies
Through the storms
Through the cries
And through the wars
Oh, I still believe"

(From Pray a Word a Day)

In Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson addresses something that I have struggled mightily with. In the chapter on Zephaniah, entitled “Seek God’s Right Ways,” he talks about how some of us tend to look for a “religion that will give us access to God without having to bother with people. We want to go to God for comfort and inspiration when we’re fed up with the men and women and children around us.”

Ouch.

That hits me right between the eyes. You see, I don’t like “people.” And that dislike has gotten even more severe in the last few years. Between the political division and the pandemic (much of which produced even more political division), I am simply fed up with “people.” But Peterson pointedly reminds me that this is not right. I can’t be that way. I mean, how can I obey Jesus’s command to “love one another” if I can’t stand the people I’m supposed to love??

I love this one statement that Peterson makes. “Everything you do or think or feel has to do with God. Every person you meet has to do with God.” This doesn’t mean that every conversation has to include something about God. But what it does mean is that my mind and spirit need to be in tune with this fact and consider that every person that I come in contact with . . . okay . . . how to frame this. I remember Dallas Willard saying something once. I can’t remember the exact quote or even where it was, but he said something to the effect that we need to treat every person as though Jesus is standing between us.

So if I meet someone while I’m at the eye doctor today, and have any kind of interaction, whether positive or negative, I need to act as though Jesus Christ is standing between us; He is in the midst; He is paying attention to the interaction, which means He is listening to what I say about that person or to that person; He is even hearing what I’m thinking about that person!

So if that doesn’t chill your bones, I don’t know what will.

Sounds like I need some “healing,” huh?

Never-changing God, I’m so fickle. I admit it, I confess it. Sometimes, I’m a hypocrite, too. I admit that, as well. I preach love for one another, but then I don’t want to have anything to do with people, in general, because, as Peterson has observed, I just don’t like people very much. They annoy me, they frustrate me, and I don’t understand why they think the way they do.

Heal me, O Lord! I know I’m not right about everything. I may not be right about much of anything. But I do know one thing that I’m right about, and that is that I’m supposed to love You with every ounce of my being, love my neighbor as myself, and love my brothers and sisters the way Christ has loved us. So help me do that.

Take that annoyance and remind me that You are present between me and those other people, all the time. That everything I think about them (even if I don’t speak words) goes through You, because You are aware of it all. Before I think something, let Your Spirit stop me and remind me that the person of which I am thinking is created in Your image, and might just be one of Your children, as well. Remind me that there is always something about their lives that I don’t know, don’t even have a clue about. Release me from judgmentalness! Just chisel that fault out of me. Cleanse my heart and heal me.

I’m grateful for all You do in my life, and pray that this will continue. Just keep teaching me Your ways, that I may walk in Your truth, and in Your kingdom. May my feet be guided down the path of righteousness, true righteousness of faith, based on the words and actions of Jesus, not on some man’s legalistic interpretation of Your Word.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

I Still Believe

Today is Saturday, September 19, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,836

22 days until our Broken Bow vacation; 23 days until our 35th wedding anniversary!

23 years ago, today, we lost the lyric, musical, and spiritual genius of Rich Mullins.

Overall, this past week was pretty good. And I get to testify that I did a pretty good job of remembering what I was supposed to remember, yesterday, after my morning blog. I made it through the day pretty well, with a constant attitude of “it is well with my soul.” I was able, I hope, to express love in some way to everyone. I will confess, however, that the one person I find it hardest to love was not there.

The weekend has no unusual plans, that I know of. We have our in-person WW Workshop at 10:30. We did remember to sign up for it. I think I might lose a couple pounds. I think we will, just like last week, head over to Sprouts for our fruit/produce right afterward, and pick up Sonic drinks in that area, as well.

C is feeling well, this weekend, so she will probably get the groceries after we have our brunch.

Tomorrow, we will have our in-person meeting of The Church at Brandon and Kristin’s, at 10:15. That’s about it. We’re reading the book The Acts of the Apostles, now, and only got through chapter one last week.

One last thing. C has notified me that she is scheduled to return to full time work at the office on September 28, just under two weeks from now. You can bet she’s not looking forward to that. I believe the department heads have already returned. People with offices will return on September 28, and people who share cubicle spaces will continue to work from home.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, my Father,
You have promised to remain forever with those
who do what is just and right.
Help me to live in Your presence.
The loving plan of Your Wisdom was made known when
Jesus, your Son, became man like us.
I want to obey His commandment of love
and bring Your peace and joy to others.
Keep before me the wisdom and love
You have made known in Your Son.
Help me to be like Him in word and deed.


(Prayer to Live in God’s Presence)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

So bless GOD, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless GOD, all you armies of angels, alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless GOD, all creatures, wherever you are— everything and everyone made by GOD. And you, O my soul, bless GOD!
(Psalms 103:20-22 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend, to rest up for the coming work week
  2. That through all of this pandemic, the Lord has protected us, and that we still have our jobs (and, unlike many, we have managed to lose weight)
  3. For the body and blood of Jesus Christ, celebrated weekly in the Supper
  4. That through it all, I still believe
  5. THAT YOU WILL NEVER LET ME GO!!

Show me the light of Your countenance, O God, and come to me.
(based on Psalm 67:1)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
(Psalms 42:1 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalms 118:22-23 ESV)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
(John 6:53-58 ESV)

Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him,
so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.
(Psalms 89:19-29 ESV)

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

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

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
(Acts 3:2-8 ESV)

And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
(Acts 3:16 ESV)

What makes us strong? According to this passage, it is faith; faith in the Name of Jesus.

I continue to struggle with the fact that we do not see miracles such as this in our day. I understand that, in the book of Acts, the Gospel is forging into the frontier. It is new. And many of the miracles that happened served to advance this new Gospel.

But I also sincerely believe that we have lost something along the way. I’m still sussing that out, though. I believe that prayer has a lot to do with it. But I also believe that belief has much to do with it. When we pray, do we really believe that God will do what we ask? Or are we just hoping?

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:23-24 ESV)

I have found myself crying out to God as the father of that child did: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

Father, You have kept my faith alive, through all of these years. As I have watched friends fall by the wayside, for some reason that I can’t fathom, You have held me in Your strong hand of love. I praise You for this, Lord, as I can hold my head up and proclaim, “I Still Believe!” Help my unbelief, my God! I want to see Your power work in this world, as it did in the book of Acts. I don’t want power for myself. If I have power, I will begin to believe it is mine. I want to see YOUR power. I want to channel Your power. “I believe; help my unbelief!”

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“I’ll march this road, I’ll climb this hill
Upon on my knees if I have to
I’ll take my place up on this stage
I’ll wait ’til the end of time for you like everybody else”

“For people like us in places like this
We need all the hope that we can get”
(James Paul Goodwin, Michael Been)

Grace and peace, friends.