Failure and Prayer

“The mature Christians I have met along the way are those who have failed and have learned to live gracefully with their failure.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Saturday, May 31, 2014. Last day of May. Summer is on its way.

Today is Speak In Complete Sentences Day. Haha! Facebook and Twitter would shut down for a day if that was enforced!

Christi got a verbal offer from Mindtree, yesterday, matching the offer that we foolishly turned down about two months before she got laid off at Dex Media. We have decided that the best course of action is to take that offer. It is significantly more money ($15K), the health insurance is better (cheaper, with a co-pay, and lower deductible), and the vacation policy is not nearly as strict. Plus (and a big plus), there is a 10% bonus! Christi has already spoken to the lady at ASAP, who was very understanding. She said that she had even gone to their VP to see if there was any way they could match, but the just couldn’t compete. It was all very cordial, and Christi was even told that, if this didn’t work out, she could call them back. It’s very nice when you don’t have to burn bridges to make decisions. There is one bridge that is safely open. In the meantime, we will await the written offer, which is supposed to come on Monday. This, of course, would also delay her starting back to work for a week or so.

Today is our church day, and our service meets at 5:45 this evening. There will be a prayer gathering at 4:45. We always arrive around 4pm, as Christi usually does the slides for the service, and we help set up. If you happen to be in the DFW area and have nothing to do this evening, come check us out. We meet upstairs in Harvest Baptist Church, in the old school area. Here is a link to the map.


On this date in 1997, Ila Borders was the first woman to ever pitch in a minor league baseball game. I guess we are referring to official MLB minor league affiliates, here, as we all know that there was a woman’s league in the mid-1900s. This, however, is a case of a woman pitching for a “men’s” team. She came into the game in relief for the St. Paul Saints. Mike Veeck owned the team and had signed her for publicity. Turns out, though, that she could throw strikes and was more than just an attraction. Her first outing did not fare well, but she overcame the nerves, and after being acquired by the Duluth Dukes, made 15 appearances, helping the team move from last place to the playoffs, and even contributed a scoreless inning in a playoff game.

Just so you know I’m not making this up. . .

Ila Borders--Duluth Dukes
Ila Borders–Duluth Dukes

Today is the birthday of Alexander Cruden, Walt Whitman, Norman Vincent Peale, Don Ameche, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Paycheck, Happy Hairston, Joe Namath, John Bonham, Tom Berenger, Lea Thompson, Corey Hart, Brooke Shields, Colin Farrell, and Jake Peavey. It’s also the birthday of Peter Yarrow, born on this date in 1938. He was the “Peter” in Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here is their song, “500 Miles.”


(From The Divine Hours)

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

Psalm 66:8-9
. . . that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
Psalm 67:2
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Psalm 36:5

“O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon all of us who
watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship
may give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Psalm 22:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Luke 11:1-4

This is the weekend reading from “In Touch” magazine.

“Many of us have redesigned prayer to fit in with the busyness of our lives and to make us more comfortable.” We have organized it to suit ourselves, and in the process, we’ve forgotten what the heart of prayer really is–our relationship with the Lord.

“Prayer is to be a time of separation from the world in order to be with God. It occurs when we surrender our schedules, our priorities, and ourselves to the joy of drawing near to our Father in heaven. It’s a time to experience His love and express ourselves to Him; to remember that life is centered on Jesus and that our priority is to obey Him. It’s where our souls are nourished and we gain strength to continue.

“For us as children of the King, prayer is the means by which we communicate with Him about our needs, work, desires, and even our mistakes. It is also one of the primary ways for us to receive His responses. Most importantly, it’s a time to bask in the presence of God our Father and Jesus our Savior–and to be guided by the Holy Spirit in heavenly conversation.

“The value of prayer is seen in the life of Jesus. He often withdrew from the crowds and even from His own disciples in order to spend significant time with His Father. What value to you place on praying? Whom or what do you seek through your prayers? How often do you enter the throne room just to spend time with your Father? Commit to seeking a prayer life like the Savior’s–with God Himself as your focus and top priority.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Power In His Weakness.”

“The mature Christians I have met along the way are those who have failed and have learned to live gracefully with their failure.” We are faithful when we risk everything on Jesus, are willing to keep growing, and ready to risk failure.

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Isaiah 11:11-12

Father, I thank you for the failures in my life, but only because you have taught me through them. I still have so much more to learn, and each time I fail, which seems to happen daily, I learn that I still have much to learn. You are gracious and patient to continue to work with me, allowing me to grow in very small steps. But all of those small steps will, one day, add up to much maturity, I pray.

Help me to continue to grow my prayer ministry. The reading about prayer, today, spoke to me in many ways. I still don’t do enough private seeking of you and your glory. I need to concentrate more on the right things when I am in my “closet.” There is ample opportunity to shut off the outside world and seek only you. It requires discipline that I have yet to accomplish. I pray that you would help me do that, by the power of your Spirit in my life.

I pray for the remainder of this day. As we prepare for this evening’s prayer and worship time, may we focus on you and what you would have us do as your children and servants. May our worship time tonight be exactly that . . . worship. Give us the ability to focus for just a couple of hours on nothing but you. May everything that happens this evening be to your glory and honor.

We are thankful for the way things seem to be working in Christi’s job situation. We are very thankful that this other job offer came through, with the higher salary. May you be glorified in this and may we honor and glorify you with all of our possessions and money.

Your grace is sufficient.

Failure is inevitable. And in spite of what some “leaders” say, it most certainly IS an option. It is always an option. But it can be used for learning, in any and all circumstances in our lives, spiritual and otherwise. It is part of our path to maturity.

Grace and peace, friends.

A Season of Sacrifice

“Lent is a frontal assault on the false self, a time of dying daily to self in order to rise to newness of life with Christ.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning! Today is pre-Friday, February 27. Next to last day of February. 32 days until Opening Day! Oh, and 14 days until my birthday. But that’s not nearly as exciting as it used to be. Funny how that works. . .

Today is Chili Day, perhaps one of the more important holidays we celebrate. Chili is one of my favorite foods. Ranks right up there with pizza and popcorn. In fact, I sometimes have popcorn with my chili! I think we might even have chili tonight. How long has it been since you’ve had a nice, hot, steamin’ bowl of Wolf brand chili?? Well, that’s too long!

I had several opportunities to exercise yesterday’s thought of inconveniencing myself. One of the biggest came at work. I’m not going to go into it here, just because it doesn’t need to be done. Suffice it to say that I had a huge “God-moment” at work yesterday afternoon.

Christi wound up not having her phone interview yesterday. Something about an electrical emergency at the building in Dallas, and people having to walk down sixteen flights of stairs. Heh. They are supposed to call her back to reschedule that today. She also got a “random” phone call from a recruiter looking to hire someone for Dr. Pepper/Snapple. How cool would that be?? Except that they are in Plano. Not so cool. On the other hand, it’s only eight more miles than downtown Dallas. . . so who knows?

My sodium challenge continues to be successful. Three days in a row, I’ve come in below my maximum sodium allowance. Unbelievable. I never thought I could do it. I’ll be taking the last container of that delicious soup to work today, along with another half of an avocado. I love avocados, and they are allegedly quite good for you.


On this date in 1980, the Grammy Awards gave the first award for “Best Disco Recording” to “I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor. As is customary for the Academy, they waited until Disco was dying out (none too soon, either, I might add) to give the first, and only, award for that category. It was eliminated by the next year’s awards.

There are 264 birthdays on the list on Among them are Constantine I, Roman Emperor, 272, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet, 1807, John Steinbeck, author, 1902, Irwin Shaw, author, 1913, John Connally, Texas Governor, 1917, Joanne Woodward, actress, 1930, Elizabeth Taylor, actress, 1932, Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, 1934, Van Williams, actor, Fort Worth, TX, 1934, Howard Hesseman, actor, 1940, Mary Frann, actress, 1943, Eddie Gray, guitarist, Tommy James and the Shondells, 1948, Neal Schon, guitarist, Journey, 1954, Timothy Spall, actor, 1957, Johnny Van Zandt, singer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1959, Adam Baldwin, actor, 1962, and Josh Groban, singer, 1981.

Adam Baldwin is the actor who played the character of Jayne Cobb in Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Oh, how we miss you, Jayne!


(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

“My soul thirsts for the strong, living God and all that is within me cries out to him.”

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought
me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. . .
Colossians 3:23

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

“Humility is characterized by an attitude that does not seek to exalt or assert oneself.” (In Touch Magazine)

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Dying Daily To Self.”

Brennan tells a story about giving an address at a convention center. After the sermon, called “The Victorious Limp,” the audience “rose to its feet and erupted in thunderous applause.” In the rush of gratification that followed, he says he had a vision of himself lying in a coffin. This caused him to remember another story about a bishop who was dying and lay in bed, “fully clothed in all his episcopal vestments.” At that point, he burst out laughing, as he had worn his miter to the convention center!

The point of all of this is appropriate, as the season of Lent approaches. Growing up Southern Baptist, I never observed Lent. I never heard of Lent until I got to college. Anything that even remotely resembled Catholicism was shunned by our little Baptist church. But the point of Lent is self-denial, sacrifice. And we need to remember that Jesus tells us to do these things in our closet, “in such a way that only your Abba sees and knows what you are up to.” Lent is “a season of hidden secret acts of loving-kindness.” It is a “frontal assault on the false self, a time of dying daily to self in order to rise to newness of life with Christ.”

For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:13

Father, as you continue to drive this point home in my life, I have to confess that it has been a long, hard road. Long and hard because I’m stubborn. Every time I think I’ve got this, another scenario comes along where I assert my own “independence” and my own “importance” and begin to insist upon my own way about something. And it never fails. Immediately afterward, I am given a good hard slap by the Holy Spirit, and begin to repent. But there always follows this tremendous guilt feeling, because I have failed, once again to live the life of Christ and exhibit the characteristics of the Beatitudes and fruit of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 13, which I read at least once a week, says that love never insists on its own way. Father, I frequently fail at love. In fact, using modern terminology, I would even say that my efforts at love are frequently and “epic fail.” So, therefore, as painful as it is, I ask you to keep throwing this at me until I finally get it. My heart’s desire is to be this kind of person for you. My desire is to be as completely selfless as is possible, to give up my life, my existence, my self-importance to the point that I obey scripture and consider everyone else to be more important than me.

I pray for this day. I ask for traveling safety, as I head back to work this morning, and then home again, this evening. May my work day be one of peace and grace, and I ask that I would allow your grace to channel through me in all things today. I pray that Christi’s interview will take place today, and have favorable results. I also pray that you give us wisdom when it comes down to making a decision about her employment, should it come to that. Let us be wise and not foolish, Father. Give Stephanie wisdom and understanding, and surround Rachel and Justin with your love and care.

I lift up a prayer for Terry’s family, as the surgery did not yield good results on his uncle yesterday. Give comfort to this family, Lord.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all observe the idea behind the season of Lent, but do it all year!

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Still and Know

“It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the waters anew.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Friday, February 7, 2014.

Today is Send A Card To A Friend Day. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but I’m guessing that this is a dying practice. I think it would be fun to do, though, and it might boost the mood of a friend, to get an unexpected card in the mail, that just says, “Hi, I was thinking about you!” Not to mention the benefit for our poor Post Offices. . .

So, yesterday morning, I got up at my normal-ish time (my alarm is set for 6:00, but I haven’t slept that late yet). When I went to let Tessie (dog) out, there was nothing. Totally clear. Went through my usual blogging/devotional process, and as I was getting ready for my shower, Christi (who had just gotten up), yelled, “The ground is covered with snow!” Excuse me, what?? Sure enough, she was right, and it was still snowing. In fact, it kept right on snowing until around noon yesterday. By the time I knew it was snowing, it was too late to get an early start to work. The roads were mostly okay, but the closer I got to work, the worse they got. It was odd, too. Any place where traffic flowed at near posted speeds, the roads were clear and the snow was just blowing around behind the cars. But at the traffic lights and other places where traffic didn’t flow, the snow was packed down into slippery ice. There was one point where the traffic on the road I was on was backed up so far and moving so slowly, that I turned around and went across to another road. In all, my normal 45 minute drive to work took me almost two hours! I know people from up north somewhere make fun of us when this happens, but they fail to understand that we don’t have the resources to deal with ice and snow down here. Why on earth would our cities shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment that would be used once, maybe twice, a year? That would be insane. So we just deal with it as best we can, which, from an outsider’s perspective, isn’t very well. Well, to all of them, I just give a hearty helping of raspberries. πŸ˜› And just remember, all you Yankees. . . I don’t laugh at you when you think 95 degrees is “hot.” Okay. Maybe I do. πŸ˜€

The company that Christi is currently talking to about a job closed early yesterday (see above paragraph), so she is expecting to talk to them sometime today. In addition, she also has another phone interview on Monday (I think I mentioned that yesterday). She and Stephanie might come over and have lunch with me today, but that probably depends on what time she is supposed to interview with the hiring manager.

On this date in 1964, “Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport.” Off of that plane, for the first time in the U.S., stepped John, Paul, George, and Ringo. They “were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane and onto American soil.” (Source:

Later this weekend, there will be a tribute to The Beatles, on the night of the 50th anniversary of their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Say what you will about the mop-headed boys. They changed the face of popular music forever.


(From The Divine Hours)

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Psalm 99:1
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 33:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8

“Any portion of life spent outside of God’s will is wasted time.” (In Touch magazine)

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Interior Stillness.”

Brennan tells the story of a very busy man coming to a desert father and complaining about frustration in his spiritual life; his prayers were ineffective, his virtues flawed, not to mention failed relationships. The desert father listened patiently, and then retreated to his cave, whence he came back with a pitcher of water and a basin. He told the other man to watch the water as he poured it into the basin. When he began pouring, the water splashed on the bottom and sides of the basin. Stirred and agitated, the water swirled around inside the basin. But it gradually settled, and soon the “small fast ripples evolved into larger swells that oscillated back and forth.” Eventually, the water became so still that the man could see his own face in the surface. “‘That is the way it is when you live constantly in the midst of others,’ said the hermit. ‘You do not see yourself as you really are because of all the confusion and disturbance. You fail to recognize the divine presence in your life, and the consciousness of your belovedness slowly fades.'”

“It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the waters anew.”

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

Father, this story has shown me something that I needed. The visual metaphor of using the water basin to describe our lives is truly helpful. How many times is my water disturbed! How often do I disturb it even further with my restless attempts to still it, not being aware that my feeble efforts are, in fact, having the opposite effect! Teach me to be still. Teach me to be still and know. Teach me to be still and know that you are God. You will be exalted. Your will will be accomplished, with or without me. May I truly learn to be still and only move or act when your Spirit prompts me to.

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi will hear from the hiring manager at that job today. I pray that, for the rest of the day, she will rest and do whatever she wants to do. Again, I thank you for the painting that is keeping her spirits up. I pray that my drive to work will be easier than yesterday’s. Keep me aware of your presence during this day, and give me moments of stillness throughout the day. If a period of time comes up where I have no work to do, may I spend it meditating on you and your word, rather than getting bored and frustrated. I pray that Stephanie’s spirit will be settled today and not anxious about anything. Give her understanding and help her accept when things cannot go her way.

Your grace is sufficient.

This isn’t a Christian song, and I really wanted to post the Three Dog Night cover, but I couldn’t find it on You Tube, so here is the original recording by Blue Rose. It still gets the point across.

Be still and know. . .

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus and Emotion

Good morning. It is Wednesday, February 5, 2014. Only ten more days until Red Sox pitchers and catchers report. Some of the players are already there, I hear. Truck Day is this Saturday, the 8th. Opening Day is March 31, 54 days away.

Are you ready for some baseball?

Today is National Weatherman’s Day. So should we thank the people that are wrong as much as they are right? In all fairness, the weather reporters have a tough job. Weather, while indeed predictable, is unreliable, at best. And fickle. Weather is fickle. So give it up for the weatherman, who is mostly guessing at his job.

Christi has an interview today with a consulting firm. They have a PM job (that’s “Program Manager”) that is a “contract-to-hire” job that she will be interviewing for. This job would be in Irving, which is not bad. She’s worked in Irving before. It’s good that she’s already getting some activity. That is certainly helping her state of mind.

I get my car back today. Did I write in here what happened? I can’t remember. Looks like I didn’t. What happened was this: I took the car to the dealer where we got it, for an oil change. We got a year’s worth of free oil changes when we bought the car, so certainly, I’m going to take the car back there. I was sitting in the waiting room when the lady working the service counter came in and got me. She was apologizing before we got out the door. It seems that a “technician,” while backing up in another car, backed in the the rear bumper of ours. It wasn’t horrible, but it scraped some paint off the bumper, and didn’t affect anything else. She must have apologized about a dozen times. They replaced the bumper and painted it. She also said they would even take care of the ticket for that day, which included a $20 tire rotation that I had told them to go ahead and do. They gave me a loaner, which was almost exactly like mine. I think she was most grateful that I didn’t come unglued at the whole thing. I basically shrugged and said, “Hey, stuff happens.” She thanked me at least four times for being so understanding and patient. Mostly, I feel sorry for that technician. I seriously prayed on the way home that he didn’t lose his job over that.


(From The Divine Hours)

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Psalm 84:11-12
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. Psalm 119:147
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
Psalm 13:5
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
Psalm 89:11

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.
(The Gloria)

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God;
and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

“Godliness comes from thinking the way God does.” (In Touch magazine)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any
excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Jesus’ Feelings.”

Have we manipulated our image of Jesus so much that we no longer have a clue who he really was? He was “a man in a way that we have forgotten men can be: truthful, blunt, emotional, nonmanipulative, sensitive, compassionate–his inner child so liberated that he did not feel it unmanly to cry.” Jesus met people right where they were, yet refused to compromise on integrity.

The Gospels give us a picture of the “beloved Child of Abba” that is “a man exquisitely attuned to his emotions and inhibited in expressing them.” He did not “reject feelings as fickle and unreliable.” I believe we would do well to hone in on this characteristic of Jesus. When I was in seminary, it was very popular to scoff at even the word “feelings.” Emotionalism in worship was frowned upon. Yet we have a Savior who wept and laughed (I do realize that we have no Biblical reference to show him laughing, but I cannot help but believe that he laughed with his disciples); who cared deeply enough about people to even put his hands on a leper! One time, he even wept over an entire city!

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it. . . Luke 19:41

Let us not reject our feelings and emotions. Rather, let us use them like Jesus did, not allowing them to control us, but allowing them to be a kind of barometer of things around us. It’s okay to weep over people and their sorrow. We’ve had much death and sorrow in our church over the past weeks, and just last night, I learned that a good friend of our pastor (and I know this person) is struggling with depression, eating disorder, and has suicidal thoughts. It broke my heart. I’ve never struggled with showing emotion, though. I’m a musician, it comes with the territory. But if we have the mind of Christ in us, then we also have his heart, his emotions. And it’s okay to allow those to surface.

Father, I pray that you always keep me an emotional person. But I also pray that my emotions never be allowed to control me. I fell into that trap yesterday. I was in a pretty bad mood most of the evening, but you drew me out of that, with the help of my church family at our Huddle meeting last night. This is one reason that I went ahead and went to the meeting, even though I didn’t “feel” like it. I pray that the love of Christ will always flow out of me, from his heart to mine. Keep me compassionate about people, because that’s one thing I need in order to be an effective intercessor.

I pray for this day today. Keep Christi and me safe as we travel about today. I pray for her interview today, that it will go well. The potential job seems to be in a place where many of her past co-workers are working. This would be excellent for her! But you will be done, Father. Your will be done. I pray for a smooth work day for me today. Help me to develop more of an “out” relationship (this is a Huddle reference, I don’t expect outsiders to understand), Father, as I go about my day. I pray that you draw Stephanie closer to you today, Father. Give her understanding.

I pray for this young lady who will be going into rehab next Monday. Father, give her strength and courage to do what she has to do for the rest of this week. Make her strong, and then bring her out on the other side, healed and whole.

Your grace is sufficient.

Don’t be afraid to allow emotion to surface. Don’t try to repress it. In the same way, don’t let it control you, either.

Grace and peace, friends.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(From The Divine Hours)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep us in your safe place, Father.

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

Grace and peace, friends.

God Is There

Good morning. Today is Saturday, June 8 (I keep forgetting what day it is, and have to hover my mouse over the clock at the bottom of my screen), 2013. Sigh. A well-needed Saturday, too. This week has seemed like a long one, probably because last week was only four days because of the Memorial Day holiday.

Only ten more work days on this wretched account that I work on. Yesterday, our client sent us more freight than I have ever seen in the history of this account. I just talked to the guy who works nights, while ago, and it actually turned out better than I was expecting. That’s helping me rest a little easier over the weekend. No new developments yet.

We’re going to cook a brisket tomorrow (or maybe tonight). Why? Because we want to. What more reason do you need? We got a recipe last week for one that we had last Sunday at a friend’s house, and it was legen . . . wait for it . . . dary!

Today, the bass player in our worship band is coming over to work on music with me. It seems he is leading worship tomorrow, and he’s nervous about that. I know this guy. He’ll do fine. But I’m there for him; I got your back, Terry!! πŸ˜€

Today is (oh, my gosh, I didn’t have a donut yesterday!!) Best Friends Day. I’m married to mine.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, was imprisoned with his parents in 1792, in the Temple, “a 12th century fortified monastery so named because it once housed the Templar order.” He technically became King of France, Louis XVII, after his father was executed in January of 1793. Shortly after that, he was “put in the charge of a rabidly republican cobber named Antoine Simon, who treated him with the brutality and contempt that revolutionaries reserve for royalty.” Three months after that, his mother was executed at the guillotine, and the young dauphin was, once again, imprisoned in the Temple. “The only poetic justice in the story is that Simon perished on the guillotine shortly thereafter, executed in the same group of victims as the Terror’s main terrorist, Maximilien Robespierre.” Loius-Charles was kept in solitary confinement in a cell that was never cleaned and doubled as a toilet. He died on this date in 1795, at the age of ten. Yes. I said “ten.” What an absolutely dreadful story. “Modern scholars believe he died of tuberculosis.” Of course there are rumors. Some said that he was poisoned by his jailers, while others say that he never died but was somehow rescued from the Temple. In the years that followed, there were many who pretended to be “the Dauphin, most famously and fictitiously in Mark Twain’s great novel Huckleberry Finn.”

Today’s birthday is, of course, Chuck Negron, born on this date in 1942. It is hard to believe that one of the lead singers of Three Dog Night is 71 years old today. Three Dog Night was one of my very favorite rock groups in the late sixties and early seventies. I share this love of them with my wife, as they are her favorite group, as well (okay, they may be tied with Steve Perry and Journey). Chuck is our favorite of the three “dogs,” even though he no longer is affiliated with the group, after some really rough times in his life. Three Dog Night still tours without Chuck, and he occasionally tours on his own. We say him a few years ago at one of the “Hippiefest” events that rolled through town. Happy birthday, Chuck! Here is a You Tube clip of their hit song, “One.”

Honorable mentions go to Robert Schumann, 1810, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867, John W Campbell, 1910, Robert Preston, 1918, Jerry Stiller, 1927, Nancy Sinatra, 1940, Scott Adams, 1957, Derek Trucks, 1979, and Alex Band, 1981.


Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:2
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. Psalm 84:8
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Father, I pray that you teach me something during my time with you this morning. Give me the grace to live this day, and to accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished in your plan for my life.

In Touch Magazine reminds me, today, that I am always in the line of God’s vision.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

The example is given of a three-year-old girl who suddenly realizes that she cannot see her daddy anywhere. She begins to panic. What she doesn’t realize is that he is in the next room, and has been able to see her all along. He never lost sight of her. When our eyes are distracted from looking at our Father, when they become focused on “the hills,” which are a constant source of treat and trouble, we need to remember that our Father’s eyes are always on us. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:4).

In the same light, Tabletalk Magazine gives us reasons not to fear. We may fear that God does not always see us. We may fear that the worst case scenario is going to fall up on us. But God has words of comfort for us in Isaiah 43. In verse 1, God says, Fear not, for I have redeemed you. This word “redeemed” means (in a rather simplistic way) “purchased.” God has purchased us with the sacrifice of his Son. This redemption, this purchase, comes to us through his call. But it is not just a general call. See the reset of verse 1. I have called you by name, you are mine. I belong to God, body and soul. He has purchased me; he has called me by name. So even if that worst case scenario does happen, I belong to him, so I have nothing to fear.

But there’s more. In verse 5, God says, Fear not, for I am with you. In fact, there are promises in verse 2 that go along with this thought. 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. “When the worst comes upon us and we feel exposed, alone, and ashamed, we hear God reminding us that He is with us in our affliction.” What more comfort do we need than these words, “Fear not, for I am with you?”

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Seeking False Guidance.” The scripture reading is 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, which chronicles the tragic circumstances of King Saul.

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.
1Ch 10:14 He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

How often are we tempted to look elsewhere if God doesn’t answer our prayer for guidance right away? “Even Christians sometimes fall into such superstitions practices as ‘Bible roulette,’ in which one opens the Bible at random and looks for guidance in the first verse the finger falls on.” Many of us are familiar with the humorous joke in which the man is asking for guidance and does this. His finger falls on Matthew 27:5, which says of Judas Iscariot, And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Feeling certain that this was surely not his course of action, he tries again. This time his finger lands on Luke 10:37, in which Jesus says, “You go, and do likewise.” Desperate for one last try, he closes his Bible and does it again, landing on John 13:27, in which Jesus says, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” It’s a funny story, but it also shows the error of trying to make decisions in this way. In truth, it’s not much different than Saul consulting a medium to try to solve his problems. When we are desperate for guidance, there is no other proper course than to pray to our Father, and then be patient as he gives us our answer, even if it takes weeks. Or years.

Lord, your way is perfect: Help us always to trust in your goodness, so that, walking with you and following you in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and may cast all our care on you, for you care for us. Grant this, Lord, for your dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Father, I pray that the thoughts presented in my devotional today will stay at the front of my mind throughout, not only this weekend, but the rest of my life. You always have your eyes on me, I am always in your line of sight, even when my eyes get taken off of you by some distraction. You have purchased me, you have redeemed me, you have called me, and you are always with me, even when things get tough. May I remember this, by the power of your Spirit, each day, especially during these stressful times at my work, when I fall into the temptation of thinking you aren’t there. That’s silly. Of course, you are there, and I praise you for this. When I have decisions to make, may I always seek your Spirit, and nothing else. Speak to me through your word, through your Spirit, and through others, if necessary, and give me the ears to hear and eyes to see your truth and your guidance.

I pray for this day, as Christi and I go out to do our weekly chores. Keep us safe as we travel around. I pray for the practice session this afternoon, that Terry and I will have a productive time, as well as some fun. I pray for our worship celebration tomorrow, that you will be glorified and praised, above all else. It’s not a concert; it’s not a production; it’s not about visual response. May we and our other leaders always know and recognize this.

Rest assured of the truths in this devotional today. God can always see us; God has purchased us; and God is always with us. I can think of nothing else that I need to get through each day.

Grace and peace, friends.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

Good morning. Today is Friday, May 24, 2013. Normally, I would be excited, but I have to work tomorrow, because our client is a retailer, and since they won’t be getting deliveries on Monday, they want deliveries on Saturday. πŸ˜› On the positive side, I will be off Monday, and Tuesday should be more relaxed. After this weekend, we have 19 more days on this account.

We took a night off to just chill at the house last night. I was very tired, and Stephanie has worked out some new challenge ideas with the new club manager at 24 Hour Fitness, something a little more reasonable.

We have at least three friends who are currently in Moore, Oklahoma, helping with the relief efforts. One of them has posted pictures on Facebook. It has an eerie resemblance to New Orleans after Katrina. Just piles of rubble everywhere.
Moore, OK damage
Please keep praying for these people, as well as those in Granbury, Texas, from the week before. We tend to forget about the one that happened earlier, focusing on the most recent tragedy. I know there is enough room for both in my prayers.

Today appears to be National Escargot Day. Really?? Snails??

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1626, a Dutch-speaking German man named Peter Minuit, a “director of the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony,” made a trade with a local Native American tribe. He traded approximately “60 guilders’ worth of pots, pans, fish hooks, tools and cloth” for “a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River.” The island was named Manhattan Island, derived from the Algonquin name for “island of the hills.” Settlers were moved to the southern tip and the new town called New Amsterdam. American dollars did not exist at that time, so “the traditional tale that Minuit bought Manhattan for $24 is an anachronism.” In 1631, Minuit drowned in a hurrican on his way back to Holland, but New Amsterdam continued to flourish. However, in 1664, it was ceded to the British in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British renamed it New York.

Today’s birthday is Terry Scott Taylor, born on this date in 1950. Terry is the brains an front man behind my favorite group in the history of music, Daniel Amos. He also is part of a “Christian Supergroup” called The Lost Dogs, as well as another incarnation of Daniel Amos called The Swirling Eddies. He has been my very favorite songwriter since the early eighties, and I frequently refer to him as my “Christian music hero.” Here is a clip of my favorite Daniel Amos song, “I Love You #19.”

Honorable mentions go to Queen Victoria, 1819, H.B. Reese, 1879 (“Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”), Roger Peterson, 1937 (Who is Roger Peterson? The pilot who flew the plane on “the day the music died” in 1959), Bob Dylan, 1941, and Patti LaBelle, 1944.


Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Psalm 69:5
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Psalm 65:3
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Psalm 25:4-8, 11

Father, your goodness and mercy are amazing to me. I thank you that you have atoned for my transgressions, and that you have blotted them out. I seek your presence this morning as I look into your word for a while. Teach me your paths, lead me in your truth.

In Touch Magazine presents a very thought-provoking question today.

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The question is, “Which interests you more–who Jesus is or what He can do for you?” So today, I stop and think, am I more concerned with knowing God or just receiving his blessings? How much of my prayer time revolves around physical needs? Much of it, I confess, and I’m probably not very different from anyone else. I will say this, in my own defense, though; the majority of my prayer time centers around the needs of others, at least. Still, there is not a lot of time spent in just communing with God. That needs to change somehow. Of course, that’s what the majority of this time right now is for, too.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is definitely something that I can identify with. The reading is called “God Notices Us.” The scripture passage is Psalm 10:1-4, 14.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

The Psalmist is frustrated over a couple of things, here. One is that the Lord appears to be hiding himself while the wicked prosper and succeed in their schemes to further cheat those already poor. The other is that those same wicked people think that God does not see them. Most people who say, “There is no God,” aren’t true atheists, but, rather, simply believe that God, in whatever form he takes, is not paying attention to them. But the Psalmist realizes in verse 14 that, yes, God does see, and not only sees, but takes note of “mischief and vexation,” and commits himself to taking care of the helpless and fatherless.

I have fallen into the way of thinking, before, that my prayers and deeds are of no use to anyone; that my prayers for other people are doing no good. Especially when there are things that I have been praying for for months, and there seems to be no answer. Does God notice? Does he hear my prayers? The answer is, yes, he does. He notices. He hears. Why has he not granted my prayers? When God is ready to reveal that information to me, he will. There is where my faith must be exercised. There is where my belief in the goodness of God must take precedence.

Mercy number 14 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called (uhoh), “Washing Feet.” Brennan relates an incident when he was at a retreat center, reading the account in John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Suddenly, in the spirit, he was in that room, and he was Judas. Do we ever stop to think that Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer? As Brennan imagined knowing that his Savior was about to wash his feet when he had betrayed him, he though of all his sins, his failures, his weaknesses. What Jesus said to him, in his spirit, was astounding, and something that we must come to grips with. “Brennan, I expected more failure from you than you expected from yourself.”

You see, this goes back to what I realized a few weeks ago, and still struggle with accepting. God is not disappointed in me. He can’t be. We have this image of God that he always expects us to succeed, and then, when we fail, he is disappointed, sighing in frustration. People, this cannot possibly be a true representation of our Father! “But . . . all this “be perfect” stuff in the Bible . . .” Yes, that is there. But God, who knows all, and has written down every step that our feet will take before the every came to be, already knows what we are going to do. Therefore, that is exactly what he expects from us! He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves because he knows us perfectly and completely! So when Brennan continued to bring up his “irritating character defects, the boasting, the inflating the truth, the pretenses, the impatience, all the times [he] got drunk,” Jesus responded, “What you’re saying is true, Brennan. Yet your love for me never wavered and your heart remained pure. And besides, you’ve done one thing that makes Me forget all the rest. You’ve been kind to sinners.”

Now, just as all analogies fall apart at some point, we can’t go around thinking that anything we have done causes the Lord to forget our sins. But to focus on that one statement would be to miss the point of the whole event. The point was, again, that God is not disappointed in us. He sees the love of Christ in us. Brennan Manning says he sobbed so hard that the priest in the next room came over and knocked on the door to make sure he was okay. Then Jesus simply told him, “I just washed your feet. Do the same for others. Serve My people humbly and lovingly.”

Do I have to go around washing people’s feet. No. We don’t wash feet in our culture, because aren’t walking around with mostly bare feet, in dust, mud, and horse manure. But I do need to serve God’s people, humbly and lovingly.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

“Why have You kindled in me the flame of faith, this dark light
which lures us out of the bright security of our little huts into
Your night? And why have You made me Your priest, one whose
vocation it is to be with You on behalf of men, when my
finiteness makes me gasp for breath in your presence?”
Karl Rahner

Father, how I have long thought that you were always disappointed in me, and I confess that I continue to struggle with that. Even though I have accepted the truth that your love for me never changes, and that there is nothing I can do to increase or decrease your love for me, I still struggle with the human emotion that thinks that you surely must be disappointed in me when I sin. But I must accept that this cannot be. The idea that you expect more failure from me than I expect from myself is truly revolutionary to me, yet scripture bears this thought out. All those passages about you knowing our steps before we take them, you knowing the words before we speak them; you know it all, therefore you expect nothing less, nothing more. You have truly “washed our feet.” Therefore, I have no other choice than to humbly and lovingly serve others in return for the gracious gift that you have given me. Show me who I can serve today, and when the opportunity arises, remind me quickly that this is service to you, before my human side rises up and gets all resentful over having to do something for someone else. Give me the spirit to serve gladly, humbly, and lovingly.

I also pray today that I might be more desiring of simple, true communion with you than for the blessings that knowing you bring. There is nothing wrong with praying for needs, you tell us to do so. However, let the desire of my heart be to simply know you more.

I pray for this day, today. Continue to heal Christi, as she recuperates from her surgery. Stephanie has found her promises in Colossians 3. I pray that you help her make those personal for her own life. And give her understanding by the Holy Spirit as you draw her closer to you. And I pray that my work day will not be a struggle today. I pray ahead of time for a smooth Saturday delivery day, as well.

I continue to lift up prayers for all the people affected by tornadoes in the past week. May you give them restoration, comfort, and hope, and I thank you for the people who have responded selflessly to the need for relief help.

We don’t need to wash feet, but we do need to serve; selflessly, gladly, humbly, and lovingly. I’m reminded of an old hymn, by B.B. McKinney.

Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways.
Come before His presence with our songs of praise.
Unto Him our Maker, we would pledge anew
Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with gladness, thankful all the while
For His tender mercies, for His loving smile.
Blessed truth enduring, always just the same.
We will serve with gladness and praise His name.

Serve the Lord with gladness, this shall be our theme.
As we walk together, in His love supreme.
Listening, ever listening for the still small voice.
His sweet Will so precious, will be our choice.

Serve Him with gladness, Enter His courts with song.
To our Creator, true praises belong.
Great is His mercy, wonderful is His name.
We gladly serve Him, His great love proclaim.

Grace and peace, friends.

Cry Out For the Spirit

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, May 8, 2013. 34 working days to go.

Today is “No Socks Day.” Our friend Jacob should like that. He, apparently, hates socks. I’m not a big fan of them, myself. Unfortunately, the will not allow me to wear sandals at work. However, I am not currently wearing socks. So happy No Socks Day!!

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1884, Harry S. Truman was born, “in a small bedroom in his parents’ house in the dusty market town of Lamar, Missouri.” His background was rather unremarkable. He was not well educated; he never attended college. He failed as a haberdasher and barely survived as a farmer for almost ten years before entering politics. He was a “classic ‘machine politician,’ a creature of the corrupt Kansas City party boss, Thomas Pendergast.” He was elected to the US Senate, but even that was “largely engineered by the Pendergast machine.” More “back-room politics” got him nominated to run as Franklin Roosevelt’s vice-president in 1944. When Roosevelt died suddenly in 1945, Truman became President. His association with Pendergast caused Republicans to call him the “reductio ad absurdum of the common man.” He was privately prejudiced against blacks and Jews. However, these were private prejudices, and his public character was that of “uncommon sense and granite integrity.” He kept that famous sign on his desk, “The buck stops here.” He served for almost eight years as President, and achieved the “greatest election upset in American history in 1948.” Who can forget this headline?
Harry Truman
Among his accomplishments: “he authorized the first use of the atomic bomb to end the war with Japan, helped create the United Nations and NATO, initiated the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the Second World War, and let the free world’s confrontation with Communist aggression by authorizing the Berlin Air lift and intervening in Korea.” Truman died on December 26, 1972, just shy of his 89th birthday.

Today’s birthday is Robert Johnson, born on this date in 1911. Johnson was a blues guitar player, and is probably most famous for his alleged deal with the devil from his song, “Crossroads.” Admittedly, Johnson had a technique that has puzzled many over the decades, not the least of which was Eric Clapton, who has been so fascinated with Robert Johnson that he released an entire album of covers of Johnson tunes. Of course, one of Clapton’s most famous songs is Cream’s cover of “Crossroads.” Here is Johnson’s “Crossroads.”

Here is Clapton’s, with Cream.

The circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death, at the age of 27, are very strange, indeed. The cause of his death is unknown to this day. Blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson claims that Johnson was poisoned by a jealous husband, because he had been flirting with the guy’s wife at a dance he was playing. He grew ill over the next couple of days, and reportedly died in “a convulsive state of severe pain” (Wiki). A musicologist, Robert “Mack” McCormick, claims to have tracked down the man who killed Johnson and gotten a confession from him, but would not reveal the identity of the man. True or not, it’s a fascinating story around a fascinating blues legend who inspired many players since.

Honorable mentions go to Oscar Hammerstein I, 1847, Robert Johnson, 1911, Don Rickles, 1926, and Ricky Nelson, 1940.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him, all creatures here below; praise him above, you heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.~~Traditional Doxology
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

Father, I pray that you shine this great light on me this morning, as I have walked in darkness. Send out your light and truth and let them lead me today, that I may go to your holy hill. Let me praise you with my whole being this morning, Lord! Teach me something new today; something of you that I have never seen before.

In Touch Magazine led me to John 14:1-4 this morning.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Jesus gives us assurance, here, that our eternal destination is a real place, a tangible place. But the phrase that resonates the most with me, this morning, is the very first sentence. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Oh, how much time we spend in this life doing exactly the opposite of this! How much of your day is your heart troubled? The comfort of Jesus bids us to let that trouble go and rest in him. Our eternal resting place is secure. He is readying it for us and will return someday to take us all there. That calms my spirit; it rests my soul; it causes my heart to not be troubled.

If you recall, yesterday’s reading from Tabletalk Magazine cited Isaiah 61:1-3. Today’s reading leaps over to a passage in Luke, chapter 4. In that chapter, Jesus enters the synagogue, takes a scroll and reads these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

He spent the rest of his days on earth proclaiming good news to the poor, liberating the captives, giving sight to the blind, and setting the oppressed free. He continues to do those things today. More importantly, he proclaimed himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy!

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “The Appearance of Righteousness.” The scripture reading is from Matthew 23.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. (5-7)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (27-28)

So Jesus talks to the scribes and Pharisees in these verses and we all jump up and cheer, and say, “Yeah!!” Not so fast. What Jesus is condemning, here, is called “hypocrisy;” “playacting.” “The dichotomy between appearance and reality, between word and deed, draws Jesus’ most profound criticism.” And it is a result of practicing the disciplines out in the open, right in front of other people, so that they can see your spirituality. Let’s take a poll: How many people went to church last Sunday morning, sang hymns or worship songs, prayed, listened to the preacher, maybe put some money in the offering plate or bag, and even said “Amen” a few times? How many of the same people had an argument with their family on the way home? Or complained about the preacher’s sermon on the way home? Or, even worse, gossiped about some church member on the way home? We are all really good at putting on a show. (Just so you understand, the finger points back at him who is typing, too.) We all fall so short of the ideal. The point, though, of this reading, is not to make us all feel guilty for being hypocrites, because we all are, at some time. The point is that we need to practice our disciplines in private. We need to pray in our “closets” (I don’t literally pray in a closet . . . it’s dark in there, and I wouldn’t be able to see my pray list). We need to give generously, but quietly. And if we fast, we need to do it in a way that is not obvious.

Here’s an example. Every Sunday morning, a group of people get to the elementary school where The Exchange meets, to unload a trailer and set up the cafeteria for a worship service, a gym for the children’s ministries, and a couple other rooms for nursery and preschool. It’s all done before the “regular” people get there for worship celebration. They have no clue how it happens. They just get there, and this place has been miraculously transformed into “church.” We don’t all stand around saying, “Hey! We did this for you! Look at what we did! We got up early on Sunday morning so you can have church!” We don’t want that! And that’s not why we do it. We do it for Jesus. It’s a service to our King. And we don’t care if anyone else ever recognizes us for it. THAT is what Jesus is talking about!

“Beginners in the spiritual life are apt to become very diligent in their exercises. The great danger for them will be to become satisfied with their religious works and with themselves. It is easy for them to develop a kind of secret pride. . . . But those who are at this time moving in God’s way will counter this pride with humility. They will learn to think very little of themselves and their religious works. Instead, they will focus on how great and how deserving God is and how little it is that they can do for him. The Spirit of God dwells in such persons, urging them to keep their treasures secretly within themselves.”~~John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul

I didn’t have time to get to one of the 19 Mercies yesterday, but I’ll get back to it today. I’ve gotten to number four, which is “Cry Out For the Spirit.” “Only the Spirit of Jesus Christ can accomplish the profound inner realities of a deeper faith, a real conversion of heart, a radical break with sin, a more reckless trust, a more forgiving, loving heart. So I urge you to spend time pleading for more of His Spirit and reading more of His Word.” Unfortunately, many of us think the Spirit will just act in our lives while we sit passively by. But initiative is necessary on our part. I need to cry out for a “mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit” in my life. This should be a continuous prayer in my life, not unlike one I find myself saying more and more, these days, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!” I need to add to this a prayer crying out for more of his Spirit. Coupled with that should be daily doses of reading scripture, with emphasis on the New Testament. Not that we need to throw out the Old, like certain “denominations” do, but the New Testament is where the words and actions of Jesus are, and it is him we are trying to emulate. Can we not spare a few minutes a day, out of our busy lives, to read and meditate on the words of Jesus? Reading his word is still the main way he speaks to us.

Yet, we must not work out of guilt. It’s a fine line, a tricky thing. We are not legalistic about this. I try to pray at certain times every day. But if I don’t have the time or ability to do so, for some reason one day (or even if I forget because of business at work), there should be no guilt. We have to get away from this idea that God is disappointed in us because we didn’t do thus and so and such and such a time. But if we really want his Spirit in our lives, we will do the things that will avail us of that potential. I ran into a lady who is a “life coach” at our church picnic Sunday night. She said something that really made me stop and think about my life. She said that we do the things that we want to do. So if we say, “I really want to lose weight,” her question would be, “Well, why aren’t you, then?” Ummm . . . Yeah. You see, we do exactly what we want to do. If I really want to get closer to Jesus and have more of his Spirit, then I will do the things that are necessary for that to happen.

O God, I seek you, but my heart is fickle.
I believe; please help my unbelief. When all I can do
is want to want You, take my crumb of faith and break it
like bread to feed thousands, beginning, by Your mercy,
with me. You reject no desperate, sinful, seeking child.
You say only and always, Come! I come to you, God.
Pour out Your Spirit on me.
Speak Your words of life to this child.
I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Father, take this day and make it glorious for you. Give me more of your Spirit today. Remind me throughout this day to cry out for your Spirit constantly. Give me your words of life, feeding me with the crumbs of my faith, faith that you gave me to begin with. I thank you for the gifts of faith and repentance, with which I was able to believe in you. As I go through this day, may I do the disciplines that I do secretly, never seeking any kind of recognition or human reward for my actions. When I work, let the things that I do at work be done as offerings to you. Yes, I work to get paid, but there is a higher calling in place, here. Let me work for you; let me glorify you in all that I do. Let everything that I do be done in love.

I rejoice in the assurance of an eternal home with you. I pray that I might live my life in such a way as to point others toward this home. Help me to help others find your peace, that peace that surpasses all understanding. Teach me to, like Jesus, share good news with the poor, liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, and free the oppressed. That all sounds so dramatic. How can I do those things? By your grace; by your mercy; by your Spirit.

May this day bring peace to Christi and me, in our workplaces. May this day be full of you! Give us the grace for today, to meet any challenge head on, and to do our work productively and effectively. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show her your steadfast love today. I also pray for Rachel and Justin (I pray for them every day), as they finish up another semester and get that much closer to achieving their goals. Give them grace and mercy, show them your love and peace.

I pray for extra grace for a family from our “huddle” group today. They are experiencing some true, deep struggles right now. I know I’m not telling you anything new. Father, shower them with your presence today.

There’s a lot of stuff up there. My encouragement today is to find time to cry out for his Spirit in your life. Seek him today, and nothing more.

Grace and peace, friends.

Disappointment and the Sovereignty of God

Good morning. Today is Thursday, April 18, 2013. And two days after the tragic bombings in Boston, a fertilizer plant exploded in the small town of West, Texas. Which is in south Texas. *scratches head* Anyway, they still aren’t sure how many people have been killed by the explosion and are estimating anywhere from five to fifteen. Last I heard, almost 200 are in the hospital with injuries, and several buildings are/were on fire. We’ve had overnight rain and storms, so rescue efforts are being impeded by the weather. Our prayers are definitely going up for everyone affected by this disaster.

I guess this “less salt” diet is working. Last night my BP checked at 126/78. It was back up to 142/72 this morning, but it seems to be higher in the morning, for some reason. That’s the opposite of what I would have thought, but what do I know? I guess I’ll be looking for some kind of salt substitute at the store this weekend. Bleah.

We got to the gym last night again, where I did my usual elliptical workout for 45 minutes and allegedly burned 560 calories.

Today is “International Juggler’s Day.” I like that, because, in just over a week, we will be going to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, where we will see Cale the Juggler perform! Huzzah!! Check him out here! (Unless you don’t have a Facebook account, in which case, you probably won’t see anything except a Facebook signup page.)

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
It was on this date in 1521, in the “Diet of Worms,” that Martin Luther stood before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (only 21 years old at the time), and uttered those famous words, “Hier stehe ich. Ich Kann nicht anders.”

Here I stand. I can do no other.

Luther was condemned for defying the “true church” and preaching “heresy.” He would not back down as the “true church” had become so corrupt as to hardly be recognizable. The Emperor had promised him safe conduct, so did not have him seized. Luther spent the rest of his 25 years preaching that “heresy.” It should be duly noted that Martin Luther had no desire to start a new “church.” He simply wanted to reform the one that was already in existence.

I found this video clip from a 2003 movie, with Joseph Fiennes playing Luther. I think this was done very well.

Today’s birthday is Leopold Stokowski, born on this date in 1882. Stokowski was a famous orchestra conductor. He was also the subject of this cartoon.

Honorable mentions to Lucrezia Borgia, 1480, Duffy Lewis, 1888, Joy Gresham Lewis, 1915, James Woods, 1947, Jeff Dunham, 1962.

Today’s Devotional

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3

Father, I pray that you show me a vision of you during this devotional time, that I might have inspiration to live this day looking to you in all circumstances that come my way.

In Touch magazine: “When We Feel Disappointed”

. . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faithβ€”that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

We are quick to quote Romans 8:28 to others when they experience disappointments. A lot of people know this verse by heart (even though the majority tend to leave off the second half): And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. One reason I like the ESV (quoted here) so much is that the verse is rearranged so you can’t omit the part about “for those who love God,” which is a condition to the promise. Anyway, like I said, we are quick to quote that verse to others when they have disappointments, or even failures, in their lives. But are we as good at applying this concept to our own lives? “Do we have faith that God is engineering our circumstances–no matter how uncomfortable they may be–for our ultimate benefit?” I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that he will return to earth. I believe that my salvation is by grace alone. But what happens when some big disappointment comes along in my life? Do I start crying out, “O God! Where are you? Why is this happening to ME??” These disappointments don’t mean God doesn’t love me! They don’t mean that he has stopped paying attention to me, either, or that he has, even for the briefest of times, abandoned me. I must remind myself of the truth of Romans 8:28, and then focus on the verse at the top of this passage, and KNOW that, even in disappointment, God is with me. Remember . . . God is not surprised or disappointed at anything, because he is omniscient (all-knowing). There is nothing that I can do that will surprise him. And it has recently been brought to my attention that, since he doesn’t have any false expectations of me, I can’t disappoint him, either. Now there’s something to chew on!

Father, as I prepare myself to face this day, I recognize that there have been disappointments in my life, some of them bitter. But you have always been there, directing the course of my life, and fulfilling the truth of Romans 8:28. I confess that there have been times when I mistakenly thought that you had abandoned me/us. Emphasis on the word “mistakenly.” I know that you are there, always. I also know that you are engineering my circumstances for my ultimate benefit. But perhaps the most shocking revelation of all is that you aren’t even disappointed in me. My feeble brain cannot fathom this. It makes logical sense, considering your sovereignty, and all. But I never really contemplated it, logically. I just always assumed that, when I sin, you are disappointed. But to be disappointed implies surprise, doesn’t it? And there is nothing that I can do that can surprise you. I have to meditate on this some more.

I am also glad to be reminded of the passage in Ephesians 3, which I have added to my daily prayer regimen that I pray for the friends that you put in front of me each day. I pray that all of my brothers and sisters in Christ will be rooted and grounded in your perfect love, that love which casts out fear, and that we may all be able to comprehend (hah!) the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ, and to know his love, that love which surpasses knowledge. But how can I “know” something that “surpasses knowledge??” May you fill us with your fullness, Lord!

I pray your blessings on this day ahead. Keep Christi safe as she drives to work in the rain. I pray that our work day will be anxiety free, as you give us the strength and wisdom to meet any challenges head-on, by the power of your Spirit. The more I go on with you, the more I know that nothing comes my way without your permission. Let me be aware of that when I’m in the midst of circumstances that would distract me from the ultimate goal of knowing you. I pray for opportunities that may be coming.

I lift up a prayer for the people in West, Texas, who have been tragically affected by the explosion. I pray for rescue efforts to be successful, and the people will have hope and comfort from you through this. May your Church rise up and be the relief and comfort that we should be.

Your grace is sufficient.

God is sovereign. We cannot surprise him, therefore, we cannot disappoint him, either. Ponder that for a while today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Into the Core of My Being

Good morning. Today is Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Today is National Banana Bread Day. Don’t throw away those over-ripe bananas sitting on your counter! Make some delicious banana bread with them!

Stephanie got in her 12th workout of the month last night! Woot! She has met the challenge that was issued! I think that she might have been “re-challenged” to add a couple more days, but that’s no problem…there are still five days left in this month.

Yesterday was my supervisor’s last day at my company. So next week, my hours are shifting by thirty minutes, which is not too bad. If we win the contract renewal, I’m supposed to get a promotion. Not to management (which is okay with me), but to a higher level hourly position. I would appreciate any prayers that you might feel compelled to offer up on that. We should know something within a couple of weeks. Even if we don’t win the renewal, I should still have a job. It will just be in a different department, on a different account. I’m hoping to stay put. I like my job.

Today should be a pretty typical Saturday. Grocery shopping, probably right after I post this entry, maybe a couple more errands, lunch, practice, and then maybe working out again tonight. Oh, that reminds me…I dropped back into second place in our Biggest Loser contest. That’s okay, though. I’m not worried. I finally recovered from last weekend’s overindulgence, and am moving forward for next week. I plan to retake the lead next week. πŸ˜€

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 303, “soldiers and city magistrates,” under the order of the Emperor Diocletian, broke into the most important church in Nicomedia (the 4th century “de facto capital of the Roman Empire”), and, “finding no idols to destroy, burnt the Holy Scripture and then levelled the building to the ground,” thus beginning one of the most intense persecutions of Christians in history. “The next morning, Diocletian issued his famous edict ordering the destruction of churches throughout the Empire.” Diocletian had established himself as a “sort of living god, the son of Jove, whom ordinary mortals could approach only prostrate and supine, to kiss the hem of his robe.” (Was insanity a prerequisite to be an Emperor, or was it something that happened afterward?) Of course, those pesky Christians refused to worship the Emperor! That, in Diocletian’s eyes, weakened the state. As Christians resisted, Diocletian issued more edicts, each more harsh than the previous. “Finally, in April 304, Diocletian commanded all Christians to worship the Roman gods on pain of death, and Christian refusal led to an atrocious slaughter, including feeding believers to the lions.” Just one year later, Diocletian abdicated (due to ill health) and retired to his birthplace where he died in 316. “Ironically, the mausoleum in which he was buried is now a Christian church.”

Today’s birthday is Johnny Winter, born on this date in 1944. Winter is a legendary blues guitar player, possibly most noted for his recording of Rick Derringer’s song “Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo,” which can be seen in this clip.

As an added bonus, here’s a clip from three years ago of Johnny Winter and Derek Trucks performing “Highway 61” at a Crossroads Festival. Look! Same guitar!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:2

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Psalm 84:8

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Father, Show me something of yourself this day, as I read and meditate on your Word. Give me grace enough for this day only.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:5-8.
5 But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff. And in an instant, suddenly,
6 you will be visited by the LORD of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
7 And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.
8 As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

In spite of the impending judgment against Jerusalem (Ariel) in the preceding verses, the Lord declares that her enemies will soon be like the dust, blown away in the wind.

In Touch magazine reminds me today that it is difficult to remain thankful if prayer is not a regular part of the life with God. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 has three commands. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances… Perhaps it is not a coincidence that “pray without ceasing” is in the center of those three.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Eating God’s Word.” That sounds funny, doesn’t it? But here is the scripture reference, Ezekiel 3:1-3.
1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”
2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat.
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.

If we are to believe this encounter, Ezekiel literally ate a portion of scripture, part of a scroll which contained “words of lamentation and mourning and woe,” according to chapter 2, verse 10. The chapter divisions are unfortunate, in this case. “Ezekiel internalizes the word of God until it becomes a part of his being.” It tasted sweet to him, surprisingly. But what does Psalm 19:10 say about the law of the Lord? It is sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. There is another scroll in the Bible that is eaten, by John, in Revelation 10:10. In this case, it tastes sweet, but becomes bitter in his stomach. But this account of Ezekiel gives us a glimpse of what the disciplines of the spiritual life can do for us. “Through prayer and study, worship and service, we regularly digest God’s word into the core of our being, where it feeds and transforms us.” Our lives consist of flesh and spirit, between which there is a constant battle. When we “digest God’s word into the core of our being,” we feed the spirit, making it stronger for the battle. When we fail to do this, the flesh becomes stronger, and we find ourselves stumbling more often.

I’m challenged to continue interpreting the passage I’ve selected (and let me confess that I’m not keeping up with this challenge very well), while reflecting on the following quote:
“As I spent time chewing over the endless assurances and promises to be found in the Bible, so my faith in the living God grew stronger and held me safe in his hands. God’s word to us, especially his word spoken by his Spirit through the Bible, is the very ingredient that feeds our faith. If we feed our souls regularly on God’s word, several times each day, we should become robust spiritually just as we feed on ordinary food several times each day, and become robust physically. Nothing is more important than hearing and obeying the word of God.”~~David Watson, Fear No Evil: A Personal Struggle with Cancer

I have a couple of comments on this quote. One is that, in meditation, I must reflect on more than just the “endless assurances and promises” in the Bible. Too often we focus so much on the promises that we forget about the commands. Yes, there are some great and glorious promises in the Bible, that are worthy of my attention. But if I forget about those commands, especially the ones that tell me to love the Lord my God with every part of my being, and to love my neighbor as myself, and, even more importantly, to love other believers as Christ has loved us, then I’m not balanced, and those promises are nothing more than words on paper. I also shy away from statements that say, “Nothing is more important than…” These statements are always subjective. Everyone has their own idea about what is most important in the Christian life. All you have to do is listen to three different sermons from churches all over the country to hear three different opinions on what is most important or what “it’s all about.” Jesus gave us what is most important. Love God…love people. Everything else falls into place below those two commands. That being said, I will not discount the thought behind the quote above. Reading and “chewing over” God’s word is very important to the spiritual life, the “with-God life.” And I am quite fond of this concept of “eating God’s Word.”

Father, I pray that my life will be characterized by the consumption of your words. May I be faithful in reading portions of scripture daily, and then “chewing over” them throughout each day. Make me more faithful in the meditative part of this idea. I read part of your words every day, pretty much without fail. But how much have I taken to heart? How much have I, like Ezekiel, “eaten?” Not enough, I know this. Whether it is a lengthy passage, such as the one that I am supposed to be reading each day, or just a verse or two that I encounter in my daily prayers, I ask that you would prompt me by your Spirit to remember them, chew on them, and digest them, daily. Make them a part of the core of my being, the central part of my life each day.

I pray that this day be one of rest for us, even as we go about doing things that must be done today. Prepare my heart for playing in worship tomorrow, and prepare my fingers as well, as I practice the songs for tomorrow. I pray for each one of the band members that will be playing/singing tomorrow, Jordan, Terry, Will, Summer, and Renee. Fill us all with your Spirit as we worship you tomorrow.

We, of course, will not literally eat our Bibles, as Ezekiel and John the Revelator did. However, it is to our great advantage to “chew over” and “digest” portions of God’s Word each day.

Grace and peace, friends.