Observation and Imitation

It is Friday, March 1, 2013. Blessings to you. We are finally out of February. And only 14 days until our semi-annual trip to Paluxy River Bed Cabins in Glen Rose. Just typing that relaxed me a little.

Today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. Too bad we don’t have any peanut butter. Stephanie would really like this day. She loves her some peanut butter! 😀

Stephanie received her reward last night, after completing her 17th workout in the month of February! Here is what she received.
Stephanie's prize
That, my friends, is a baseball, autographed by none other than Derek Holland, starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Needless to say, Steph was thrilled at that! Sadly, I was not present last night, as her session began at 7pm, and I don’t get off work until 6pm now. I could have hurried up there, but we all decided that I would stay home and cook chili, having dinner ready when Christi and Steph got back. (Christi did not work out, she just took Steph.) As her training session was drawing to a close, several of the center staff gathered around to cheer her on. I really wish I had been there! I’ll go get in my workout tonight, though.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
I have two things today. On February 29, 45BC, the world celebrated its first “leap year.” It was not called leap year, then, it was called bis-sexto-kalendae, “a term not explainable in fewer than four paragraphs.” This was done by Julius Caesar, because the previous calendar only had 355 days, and Sosigenes of Alexandria had calculated that the year should have 365.25 days. The extra day in February, once every four years, made up for that .25. Caesar also changed the name of the month of Quintilis to “July,” to honor himself. Later, a senate would change the name of the month of Sextilis to “August,” in honor of Caesar’s successor, Augustus.

On today’s date in 1810, Frederic Chopin was born. His birth name was Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, and he was born in Zelazowa Wola, about 29 miles from Warsaw. Those Polish people sure like their Zs, don’t they? Chopin’s father was French and had him sent to a local French “lycee” to be educated. That’s a secondary school, by the way…I had to look that up. As one of those prodigies, Chopin gave his first concert “at the palace of Polish Prince Radziwill at the age of eight.” By the year 1836, Chopin’s friend Franz Liszt had introduced him to a “Parisian baroness named Aurore Dudevant (we know her by the pseudonym of George Sand). Smitten by Chopin, and already married, she pleaded with him to become her lover. He succumbed, and they lived in Majorca for two months, “in an abandoned monastery.” By by the time Chopin was 37, the affair ended, “broken by lovers’ quarrels and Chopin’s deteriorating health.” He died of consumption four months before he would have turned 40. “He is still considered the greatest composer of piano music in history.”

Here is a clip of Chopin’s “Prelude in E-minor (Opus 28 No. 4)

Today’s birthday (besides Chopin) is Dan Michaels, born on this date in 1963. Dan is a saxophone and lyricon player for The Choir, one of my top four Christian rock groups. He can be heard (and almost seen) in this clip of a live concert from Dallas, at The Prophet Bar, last October. I was at this concert, and I can hear Christi and me laughing during Derri’s talking before this song, “A Sad Face.”

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. Psalm 66:5
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
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

“Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”~~From The Divine Hours

Father, cause me to be a light for someone in darkness today. May I help someone find your peace today.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:22-24.

22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Observing One Another.” The scripture reading is 2 Timothy 3:10.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness.

One aspect of Christianity that is necessary for us to endure is “apprenticeship,” the act of “observing more experienced and well-formed Christians, following their moves, taking up their way of life, inculcating their virtues.” “Inculcating?” Had to look that one up. It means to instill values by frequent repetition. When we emulate more mature believers in this way, we get to a point where we “embody those practices for ourselves.” The church should be looking for opportunities to encourage this kind of behavior. Some churches call this type of activity “discipleship.” Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a sound, biblical concept.

However, caution is called for, because, since we are supposed to be learning from each other, by observation and imitation, we have a responsibility to “be cautious and humble about what we may be teaching with our words and deeds. Teaching is so much easier than learning.” (Some professional teachers might disagree with that statement, but I understand what he means. We are always “teaching” someone, simply by what we say and do in any given circumstance.) Teaching is also dangerous. When others admire and appreciate our lives and show it through imitation, it feels good. If we are not careful, we lose the humility piece of the puzzle, and “a huge gap gradually widens between what we say and the way we live.” This can have deadly consequences when we are dealing with the precepts of a holy God. Hear this truth: “There are no ‘masters’ in the spiritual life.” Is that a surprising statement? Not if you consider what the word “master” means. We have only one “Master,” that is Jesus Christ. In the human realm, in this life, we have mature teachers, wise teachers, but none who deserve to be called “master,” save Jesus. “Fundamentally we are all beginners receiving and giving on our knees before God and with open hands before one another.”

I am challenged, today, to pay special attention to anyone whose examples I might be imitating, and to also pay extra attention to anyone who might be observing and imitating me. That’s a scary thought, sometimes.

Father, I pray for discernment when it comes to thinking about who I might be imitating, who I might be observing, and whose practices I might be “inculcating.” Let me not fall into the trap of calling any man “master.” Jesus Christ is my only “Master.” We are all learning from you through him and through your Holy Spirit. It is a slippery slope when we begin to imitate other men, yet that is what we are called to do. We must only make sure that those other men are imitating Christ. Help me to pay special attention today to my reactions to circumstances, to the words that I say in any situation, for there might be others who are watching to see what I do. I never know when someone is watching me, and my heart’s desire, as I have prayed earlier this morning, is to be a light for someone who might be in darkness, to show your peace to someone who is lacking peace. Help me to always be aware of what I say and do.

As I get ready to go out into the world this morning, I pray for this work day, that it might bring success in the day, for both Christi and me. I pray for relief for her, as she continues to endure pain. I pray that she might consult a physician if it doesn’t get better. I pray for such a mundane thing as our toilet getting fixed properly this afternoon. I also ask that you lift up Stephanie and draw her close to you, showing your great love and affection to her today.

I lift up my friend Terry to you, praying that he might have patience and that he would be a good steward with all that you have given him.
I pray, as Shirley requested, for Earl’s health as she is away helping a daughter, and for peace of mind during the next week. Also, that all of us, as Christians, would be effective witnesses for you in this world.
Finally, I pray for a friend, Leslie, that you might give her career direction.

Your grace is sufficient.

Just as we are always observing and imitating others, we must know that others, somewhere, are also observing and imitating us. What a sobering thought. May our actions and words be found worthy!

Grace and peace, friends.

Authentic Truth vs Popularity

Today is Thursday, February 28, 2013. Last day of our shortest month. Blessings to you!

Today is National Public Sleeping Day. So if you use public transportation to get to work, go ahead! Take that nap on the way to work! However, if you are like me, and you are, sometimes, (shoutout to John Rody) and drive yourself to work, please don’t take part in this “holiday,” at least not until you get to work. Probably not a good idea to do it during the morning staff meeting, though.

Yesterday went even better for me at work, but it was a pretty light inbound day for us. Nevertheless, I’m getting better at managing my time with the new responsibilities. Stephanie and I made it to the gym (we almost didn’t, but that’s not something I will share about today), for Stephanie’s 16th workout in the month of February. I’m frustrated, as I have hit a bit of a plateau this week. I’ve been very good diet-wise, and worked out three days so far this week, and haven’t lost a bit for the week. I am, however, two pounds down from my last contest weigh in, and I plan to get by there this morning to contribute this week’s entry.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1854, “a small group of abolitionists, Free Soilers and former Democrats and Whigs met in a church in Ripon, Wisconsin, to join forces in fighting the extension of slavery into American territories. Under the leadership of Alvan Bovay, the participants adopted an anti-slavery resolution and agreed to meet again the following month. From this slight beginning was born the Republican Party of the United States.” The name “Republican” would not be formalized until March 6, at a meeting in Jackson, Michigan. They “positioned themselves as descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party, with its emphasis on equality for all, blithely ignoring the fact that their hero Jefferson had owned 250 slaves.” 😀 In two years, they nominated John C. Fremont for president, shouting this rally cry: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Really? Ugh. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln would be the first Republican president. At some point in time, they began referring to themselves as the “grand old party,” which eventually became what we see today as “GOP.” Of course, the Democratic Party was formed 22 years before the Republicans…

Today’s birthday is Joe South, born on this date in 1940. South was a singer/songwriter, probably most famous for his song, “Rose Garden.” That was far from my favorite of his, though. He also wrote a song called “Games People Play,” which was included (along with “Rose Garden”) on his Introspect album in 1969. Lynn Anderson had a monster hit with “Rose Garden,” though it was never released as a Joe South single. “Games People Play” reached number 12 on the US charts. He apparently also had a song in 1958 called “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor.” Also making it to number 12 on the charts was his single, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” released in 1970. Here’s a clip of “Games People Play.”

I couldn’t find a decent live clip. I did, however, find a recording of “Purple People Eater.”


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 54:22

My soul thirst for you, O living God, and all that is within me cries out to you! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:17-21.

17 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.

The judgment of God brings about severe reversals, such as forests becoming fields, and vice-versa. When Jesus comes, he brings hearing to the “deaf” and sight to the “blind.” Those who humbly seek will find “fresh joy” in him. There is great news in verses 20-21, as the oppressed are given hope that their oppressors will, one day, be brought to justice.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “False Prophets.” The scripture reading is 2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:17-18.

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Our environment, as well as those with whom we choose to associate, will inevitably shape us, either for good or for bad. Peter shows concern, in this passage, that “the skewed biblical interpretation and lifestyle of the false teachers” will have an adverse effect on his readers’ ability to discern truth from error, and even cause the views of the false teachers to be seen as acceptable. “Repeat a bad idea or praise a sinful behavior often enough, and the entire cultural and moral landscape will eventually shift.” He therefore exhorts his readers to retain their stability “in the midst of spiritual and moral chaos.”

We have seen this happen in our culture, and we have seen false teachers rise up and become extremely popular. There are well-meaning pastors who have amassed thousands in their “churches,” by watering down the gospel to the point that it has no power. However, it is a “popularity gospel,” so it draws crowds because it makes them feel good about themselves. Peter warns us about this kind of thing in this passage, albeit not specifically. Who knows what kind of falsehood he was dealing with in his day? In our day, we must be no less alert to false teachers than Peter. We must compare the teachings of anyone who would have authority over us to the teachings of scripture. But we fall prey to pretty sounds and impressive orators. Just the other day, I heard a song on a popular Christian radio station. The song stated repeatedly, presuming to be the voice of God, “I won’t give you more than you can take. I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break.” Of course, that first sentence is one of my pet peeve points of bad theology that is still making the rounds in today’s church. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Whenever I hear that, I truly want to slap whoever said it up side the head. This idea is found nowhere in scripture! If God would not allow me to experience more than I can handle, I would not need God, would I? This is a perverted interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. But this is only referring to the area of temptation, and I believe the truth of this verse, which tells me that there is never a temptation that I don’t have the ability (still provided by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) to resist. In regard to the second sentence in the above song quote, we must be broken before God before we can be of any use.

*Steps off soapbox*

As we think about who our teachers have been over the course of our lives, it is always good to continually ask God for wisdom and guidance, especially as we think about who our teachers and influences will be in the future. In the words of Thomas a Kempis, “Grant me, Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, and to hate what is offensive to you. Amen.”

Father, I ask for your wisdom as I consider who I will allow to influence me in my life, both in the spiritual realm and the natural realm. May your Spirit dwell within me daily, constantly giving me guidance in everything I read and hear, that I might discern truth from falsehood, always checking your Word against what I hear and read. Let me never accept something just because someone popular said, wrote, or sang it. May I be diligent and zealous for the truth of your word. I pray for all who would call themselves a “pastor” or “preacher” of your Word, that they might have the wisdom of your Spirit and not lean on their own understanding. May they not fall prey to the trap of being popular. Popularity feels so good…but truth feels better. There is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it needs no addition or subtraction from men to help it.

I pray for this day, Father, asking again that Christi’s pain be relieved. I pray for healing for her, that she might walk without pain. She is strong, Lord, and endures the pain, without much complaining. But how long, O Lord? Dare I ask that of you? How long? Give us patience while we wait. Help us understand the purpose behind this. Above all, never let us forget that you work all things for the good of those who love you, and are called according to your purpose. She is expecting stress at work today. I pray that you gird her with extra strength to face this day. I also pray for my work day today, that it will go smoothly, without incident. I pray that you continue to help me adjust to the new hours and responsibilities of each day, managing my time wisely. Help me know what is important and what is not important. That goes for my whole life, not just work. I pray for Stephanie today, that she have a good day, and that you would draw her close to you, in your loving embrace. She is so excited about tonight, when she will get her reward for meeting her workout challenge for February.

I lift up a friend, Steve, whose wife had sudden loss of vision last week. I pray that her vision continue to improve, as thoughts seem to be that she experienced a severe migraine. May your healing hand be on her.
I pray for a friend, Lindsey, as her and her husband have important decisions to make. Give them guidance.
For Melody and her husband, I pray for guidance in work situations.
And I lift up another friend Jennifer, whose father passed away Tuesday night. May you comfort her and her brother in their loss.

As we consider who we allow to influence us, it is best to compare their teachings with the ultimate truth of God’s Word.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Wisdom of Peace

Today is Wednesday, February 27, 2013. Blessings to you! In case you are unfamiliar with calendars (not everyone keeps up with technology, you know), this is the next to last day of February (in a non-leap year, which this happens to be).

Today is National Kahlua Day. Straight from the Kahlua website, “KAHLÚA is made from shade grown, hand-selected 100% Arabica coffee beans and sugarcane.” No wonder that stuff makes such fantastic fudge!! Christi found a recipe a couple years ago for Kahlua fudge, and she makes some every year at Christmas. If I weren’t in the middle of a “Biggest Loser” contest right now, I would ask her to make some today. Sigh.

Yesterday was a better day for me, at work. I managed my time better, and I feel like I got everything done that needed to be done. Hopefully, I did it all correctly. 🙂 Not much else happened yesterday, other than us not having time to get home to pick up Stephanie before lifehouse. I have to go straight from work, now, since I’m working thirty minutes later. It’s just as well, though, because our LH meeting was a little weird last night. I can’t really say anything else about it right now.

I don’t know if I mentioned it or not, but someone is coming to fix our toilet Friday afternoon. That’s really great, because our morning routine is really being disrupted by only having one toilet in the house. I’m having to do things in the wrong order. Any of you readers out there who are even slightly OCD will completely understand that.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1933, shortly after 9pm, Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to the Reichstag building in Germany.
Reichstagsgebäude (Berlin) kurz vor herbstlichem Sonnenuntergang Van der Lubbe was a 24-year old Dutch bricklayer, and former Communist, and, claiming no political affiliation, allegedly meant the act as a protest against “the rampant injustices of capitalism.” He quickly confessed to his act upon his arrest. However, what his act of arson really triggered was a massive move forward by the Nazi party and the Third Reich. Hitler had been Chancellor for less than a month, and Hermann Goring claimed “the fire was the first act of an uprising intended to disrupt the forthcoming Reichstag elections.” An emergency decree was declared that resulted in the immediate cessation of German rights enjoyed under the Weimar constitution, “including those of free speech, assembly, press freedom and privacy of communications.” Over the next few days, “Communists, Social Democrats, trade union leaders and intellectuals were beaten, tortured, imprisoned and killed–all in the name of saving Germany from imminent bolshevism.” The Nazis gained a solid victory in the March 5 elections, as a record number of first-time voters came out. Van der Lubbe was found guilty, but the four Communists tried with him were acquitted, due to lack of evidence (van der Lubbe did insist that he acted alone). He was executed on January 10, 1934. He probably should have received a medal from the Nazis, as he pretty much jump-started their movement.

Today’s birthday is Adam Baldwin, born on this date in 1962. Adam is not one of those Baldwins. While Baldwin has been seen in several roles, in my world, he is most known for his portrayal of “Jayne” in Joss Whedon’s sci-fi-western, Firefly, and subsequent movie, Serenity. Here is a video that someone put together, celebrating “The Man They Call Jayne.”

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Psalm 28:1
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? Psalm 77:13
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

Father, as I head into this new day, I pray that you give me something this morning that will keep my soul looking to you during this day. Draw me closer to you.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:15-16.

15 Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

This is a dangerous place to be, that of thinking you are hiding anything from God. But that’s how people are, and that’s why the most nefarious deeds seem to be done in the dark. But God sees all, and he understands all, because, in spite of the beliefs of many, he created all things.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “True Teachers.” The scripture reading is James 3:13-18.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

“True teachers impart godly wisdom that informs our faith and forms our character.” In this passage of scripture, James discerns between true wisdom and false wisdom. The false, or “earthly,” wisdom is “unspiritual, demonic.” It includes “jealousy and selfish ambition.” It leads to “disorder and every vile practice.” This wisdom is completely self-seeking, even when it pretends to have the best interests of others in mind. I once worked with someone like that. He would always spin his ideas to try to make you think they were benefiting you, when, in fact, they were truly benefiting him. But heavenly, or Godly, wisdom is characterized by being “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” It “brings about godly results.” The righteousness of God becomes visible in one who seeks peace and attempts to live by the laws of peace. “Just as true faith shows itself in good works, true wisdom shows itself in unselfish, godly conduct.” The reading closes with the following prayer:
Father God, thank you for those people in my life through whom you have taught and shepherded me–my parents, my teachers, my pastors, my friends, my partners in ministry. I also thank you for those times you have taught others through me. What a privilege to be engaged in your work this way. In your name I pray. Amen.

Father, I can truly mimic that prayer above. For I can name someone from all of the categories of people who have taught me and influenced me throughout the years. I’m still working on my timeline, but I know that there are many people whom I could name in those categories. And I will name them, before this is all over with. I am grateful for the “cloud of witnesses” that you have placed in my life. My only regret is that I have not allowed their influence to sink in even further than it has. But, even at the age of almost 55, I am still a “work in progress.” And I will be that until I meet you face to face. I pray that I never think that I have arrived. I know better. I plan to grow and learn until I am physically unable to do either, and at that point, I will be ready to meet you. I pray for the wisdom that is listed in this passage of James. I ask you, by your Spirit, to prompt me to take a look at that list of traits daily, that I might keep right in front of me the way I am supposed to live. I pray that you make me pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Give me your wisdom, and help me to live by this wisdom.

I pray for our day today. I continue to pray for pain relief for Christi. Perhaps there is some action that she needs to take if this doesn’t abate soon. Give us wisdom to know what needs to be done. Ideally, though, I ask for healing. Your will be done in all things. I pray that we will both have a good day at work today. I thank you for what I perceive to be a successful and productive day yesterday. I pray that you draw Stephanie close to you today and give her peace and wisdom for her life.

I also lift up to you my prayer “ministry.” Give me wisdom to see things that need prayer, and keep me always mindful of the needs of those around me, that I might constantly be lifting them up and being obedient to your commands to “pray without ceasing.” Keep me faithful in prayer, Lord. And help me to remember and consider that scene from Revelation 8, where the angel is offering up the prayers of all the saints in a golden bowl of incense.

True wisdom lives peacefully. That statement speaks volumes, and it speaks loudly. Imagine a world where everyone lived by that truth.

Grace and peace, friends.

Walking, Standing, Sitting

It’s Tuesday morning, February 26, 2013. Blessings to you!

Today is Tell A Fairy Tale Day. What is your favorite fairy tale? One of these days I’m going to get around to reading the Grimm’s tales in full. But for now, my favorite would probably be Red Riding Hood. So, in light of that, I give you this…

Yesterday was a challenging day. I need to reexamine my time management, that’s for sure. I don’t think the added responsibilities are too much for me, it’s just figuring out how they all fit into the day.

Last night’s workout at the gym made number 15 for Stephanie in February! She is well past her goal for this month’s challenge. We are very proud of her. She will receive her prize Thursday night.

33 more days until Opening Day.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1815, Napoleon escaped from the island of Elba, where he had been exiled, along with his mother, Letizia. The deal was supposed to be that he retained the title of Emperor and receive a yearly stipend of 2 million francs. However, “the French government was balking at paying his yearly stipend,” and many European officials felt that his island of exile was too close and wanted him sent somewhere farther away. He also missed his wife, Marie-Louise, who, unbeknownst to him had taken a lover and had no intention of seeing him again. So he slipped away, and on March 1, he and 800 loyal soldiers landed in a tiny fishing village called Golfe-Juan, near Cannes. He marched towards Paris to reconquer France. “Hope ran high in the Emperor’s camp, but Waterloo was only three months away.”

Today’s birthday is Fats Domino, born on this date in 1928. He is famous for his R&B singing and piano playing. Here is a clip of my favorite Fats song, “I’m Walkin’.”

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4

Father, I pray you grant me grace for this day, and show me something of yourself during my time of devotion this morning.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:13-14.

13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
14 therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

This passage should serve as a warning to the people of God in any generation. We must be careful that we are not simply giving the Lord lip-service, while our hearts are far away from him. I like the way Eugene Peters words this in The Message. “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it, I’m going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, stand them on their ears. The wise ones who had it all figured out will be exposed as fools. The smart people who thought they knew everything will turn out to know nothing.”

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Delighting in the Law of the Lord.” The scripture reading is Psalm 1:1-3.

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Here we find the central issue in spiritual formation. “What do you give your attention to? What do you immerse yourself in? What do you take pleasure in? Where do you take your life cues from?” The verbs in this passage suggest habits; walking, standing, sitting, delighting, meditating. Do I hang around with scoffers, sinners, and the wicked? Or do I delight and meditate daily on the law of the Lord? In keeping with the them of this ten-day period, here is a quote from Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy. “It is one of the major transitions in life to recognize who has taught us, mastered us, and then to evaluate the results in us of their teaching. This is a harrowing task, and sometimes we just can’t face it. But it can also open the door to choose other masters, possibly better masters, and one Master above all.”

Father, as I continue to contemplate who my teachers and mentors have been over the years, I ask you for wisdom to see the truth. May your Spirit bring me total honesty as I reflect. Show me where I have been, what I have learned, and who I might have been teaching, as well. Give me wisdom to then take this knowledge and apply to the present and the future as I continue to choose who will teach me. Just because I am almost 55 years old doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning. I pray that I never stop learning. Give me a sense of delight in your word, and cause me to meditate more on what I find there.

I lift up this day to you, Lord. I pray for Christi to have relief from pain. Please touch her body and heal whatever it is that is causing this recent hip/lower back pain. Were I bolder, I would shout out, “It is enough!” But I do not presume to know. You are God. You have all things in your hand, and you cause all things to work for our good. It just hurts me so much to see her in this pain. Therefore, I will relentlessly cry out to you for her healing. I pray for our work day, that it will be smooth and productive. I pray for wisdom as I learn to manage my time better with my new responsibilities. I felt hurried and behind at the end of yesterday. I pray that you would draw Stephanie closer to you today as she lives her life. Give her life meaning and purpose. Teach her your ways. I pray for our lifehouse meeting tonight, that we might draw close and minister to one another, while discussing whatever the topic is tonight. I pray that you bring Alex safely back to us.

It would do us all well to take stock of where we are standing, sitting and walking. Once again, it is a reflection of who or what is important to us.

Grace and peace, friends.

Who/What Is Teaching Me?

Good morning. Today is Monday, February 25, 2013. I always say, “Good morning,” don’t I? Readers might not be reading in the morning. Perhaps I should think of a different greeting.

Oh, yeah! Today is National Chili Day! I am definitely down with that! Chili is one of my favorite dishes. And I am one of those who will always insist that the best chili comes WITHOUT beans! Nothing but meaty goodness in my chili, thank you very much! And may I say, as far as restaurants go, the best chili I have had outside of what we make at home is at Hoffbrau Steak House. At home, we make a very simple, quick chili, with “Rotel Chili Fixin’s.” I use this in spite of their apostrophe abuse. A can of Rotel, a can of Tomato sauce, and we add another can of diced tomatoes, flavored with more “zesty chili” flavor. This all goes into a pound of 96% lean ground beef. It’s quite delicious, and very, very easy to make. I think we’ll have some tonight. I actually want some right now!

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1841, one of France’s greatest painters, Pierre Renoir, was born. Apparently, Renoir always “underplayed his talent, once denying that he was a great artist on the grounds that he was not syphilitic, homosexual or insane.” He was quoted as saying, “What are paintings for, after all, to decorate walls.” He was the son of a tailor, and in his 78 years, produced over 5000 oil paintings. He helped father Impressionism, along with Monet. It is said that, as he grew older, his hands were so “crippled with arthritis that the brushes had to be bandaged to them.” He died on December 3, 1919.

Today’s birthday (besides Renoir) is Jerry Chamberlain, born on this date in 1952. You probably haven’t heard of Jerry, but he is the lead guitarist for my favorite group in the whole universe, Daniel Amos! He wrote and sang this song, “Man in the Moon.” It was one of the songs on their album, Horrendous Disc, which is considered by many to be one of the top Christian Rock albums of all time. Here is a clip of Jerry performing the song live.

I must break my pattern and name two birthdays today. It is also the birthday of Alexis Denisof, born on this date in 1966. Alexis is most loved by fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the actor who played Wesley Wyndam-Price, Faith’s watcher. He has the added distinction of being married to Alyson Hannigan, who played Willow on BtVS, and together they have a couple of very cute children, Satyana and Keeva.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Psalm 103:20-22
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” Psalm 70:4
… that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:12

Father, I pray that you might open my eyes that I may see, open my ears that I may hear, and open my mind, that I might understand what I read this morning. Give me grace for this day.
During this day, may I choose acceptance over bitterness; may I choose peace over fear; may I choose light over darkness; may I choose life over death.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:11-12.
11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”
12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

The words of the prophet are unintelligible to the people. It either appears to be sealed up to them, or they just can’t understand them at all.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Discerning Our Teachers.” The scripture reading is Romans 12:2.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Everyone is someone else’s disciple. “At different times in our lives we are the students of our parents, our playmates, our teachers, and our peers.” This is how we learn about the world; this is how we learn how to act and hoe to treat each other. Intentionally or not, we also become “disciples” of media (books, magazines, TV shows, movies, radio programs, and so on). “That is why it matters who and what we surround ourselves with.” In the passage above, we are to be transformed, renewed, “from the inside out,” so that we gradually become more like God, who is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. If we spend too much time with things or people that are not Godly, “we will find ourselves changing in ways we may not intend.”

The next ten-day challenge (and may I say I failed miserably at the last one) is to take blocks of time and focus on the central influences in my life. I will create a time-line of my life, dividing it into the various stages. I am to consider teachers and other influences that were important during those times. At some point, I am to focus on the present, considering who my “teachers” are at this stage in my life (I am currently 54 years old, approaching 55 in less than a month, for anyone who cares to know), and what they might be teaching me. “Scripture tells us that we can know who has been inwardly transformed by God by the fruit they produce.” I am to inquire of God to know if there are “people or influences” that I should minimize at this point. (Like anyone else, I am probably slightly afraid of that question.) Then I am to ask God what new ways I can learn. Am I being called to more frequent Bible study? Are there any individuals or books that God would desire that I learn from? And then, finally, I am to consider who might be learning from me, and what I am teaching them.

This challenge could be very interesting, and, perhaps, painful.

Father, I pray for wisdom and success in this challenge. This is one that I feel is necessary to truly work on. I’m aware that there are influences in my life that might not be probably aren’t are not teaching me your ways. Do I need to eliminate them all completely? Do I need to get some people out of my life? Do I need to add some people to my life? All of these things are things that I will be bringing before you over the next couple of weeks. I pray that you will show me all of these things, and that I will be serious and diligent to work on this. My heart’s desire is to draw closer to you, and to learn from you, as much as possible. I also desire to be a worthy “teacher” to others, that I might show them your peace and help them learn your ways. Show me what I am teaching others, either intentionally or not. Convict my heart if I am leading anyone down a bad path by my actions or attitudes. Most of all, though, I revert to the scripture that I have chosen for my life verse…Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86:11) And then I lift up my verse for this year to you…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do these works in my, O my Father!

I pray for this day and all that it will bring into our lives. This morning, I especially pray for Christi, as she has been experiencing lower back/hip pain for a couple of days. I pray for relief for her. Please, God, relieve her pain! Make it so that she can walk with constant pain, Lord. I also pray for her work day, that she might not encounter any stress/anxiety/drama at work today. I ask you to draw Stephanie closer to you today, inspiring her heart to know you more. And as for my work day, with this new schedule and new responsibilities, I pray for a smooth transition today, and help me make wise decisions as I take on some of the roles that my supervisor had. I also pray that our customer will renew the contract with our company.

Consider…and these are good things to consider, regardless of your beliefs…who or what is teaching you? And who are you teaching? What are you teaching them? Would you want to be learning whatever it is that you are teaching those around you? Tough questions!

Grace and peace, friends.

“In the Way of Your Testimonies I Delight”

Good morning. Today is Sunday, February 24, 2013. Up early to head to the school where our church meets. Set up is at 715, band rehearsal at 830, the “Fuel” service (that’s for the people who work in other areas during the main worship service) at 930, and the Worship Celebration at 1045.

Today is National Tortilla Chip Day. I suppose you need some salsa or queso to go along with those, right? I mean…just tortilla chips alone would be kind of boring. Ooh, or maybe some guacamole. Yeah. That would work just fine.

Stephanie drug me to the gym again yesterday. I guess that’s a good thing. That was after Christi and I bought a new toilet at Home Depot and tried to install it ourselves. Something isn’t quite right, though, so we are going to have to break down and call the HD installers to come rescue us. Good thing we have another bathroom in the house! 😀

On this date in 1500, Charles V, “the greatest of all the Habsburg emperors,” was born. “By the time he was nineteen his father and grandfather were dead, his morbidly insane mother was locked up for life in a lonely town in Spain and Charles was the master of more land in Europe than anyone since the Roman emperors.” He was not only emperor, he was also King of Spain, Charles (Carlos) I. On this date in 1525, his forces defeated those of French King Francois I. His actual coronation occurred on this date in 1530, even though he had been emperor for over ten years. He would be the last emperor crowned by a pope until Napoleon “coerced another one almost 300 years later.”

Today’s birthday (besides Charles V) is the great Honus Wagner, born on this date in 1874. Besides being famous for having the most valuable baseball card in existence, he was actually one of the better baseball players of his time, and, some would argue, of all time. He passed away in 1955.

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. Psalm 30:4

I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

I give you thanks for this new day. I pray for inspiration during this time of devotion. Jesus, show yourself to me.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:9-10.
9 Astonish yourselves and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not with wine; stagger, but not with strong drink!
10 For the LORD has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers).

The Lord has put the prophets and seers to sleep, he has silenced them.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Treasuring God’s Word.” The scripture reading is Psalm 119:9-16.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

In truth, you could read the entire 119th Psalm to find inspiration on the topic, “Treasuring God’s Word.” “This Psalm explores the words of God’s provision through the law and the delight of living under its guidance.” The entire Psalm is a “wide-ranging A-Z reflection on living gladly under God’s rule.” As discussed in a previous post, when I was reading through Psalms, this psalm is a Hebrew alphabetic acrostic, each section of eight verses beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Psalm includes praise, it includes thanksgiving, it admires the Lord’s wisdom and generosity through giving us his laws and precepts, it pleads for deliverance and renewal, and there is more. The unknown psalmist overflows with his delight in the law of the Lord and his eagerness to be molded by the “with-God life” that it portrays.

I am challenged to allow the spirit of this joyful Psalm bubble up within me as I reflect on my chosen passage today. A quote from Abraham Lincoln is included at the end of the reading. “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.”

Father, as I reflect on 1 John later today, may I experience the same kind of joy that the author of Psalm 119 experienced. May I be every bit as excited about reading your words and allowing them to mold and shape my life. My heart’s desire is for my life to be a “with-God life,” completely defined by the characteristics of Jesus Christ and his love in my life. I desire to be known as a person of love and peace. I pray that your Word would shape me into that, for the rest of my life. May it be true of me, as in verse 14, “In the way of your testimonies I delight…”

I pray for this morning’s worship celebration. May you fill all of our hearts with your Spirit this morning as we worship you. I pray for Jacob as he prepares to share a message with us this morning. Open our ears and hearts to hear what you would say to us today. And may our worship not stop when we leave the doors of that building this morning. May our lives be full of worship for you, from Sunday to Sunday.

I sincerely desire for the Word of God to shape my life into a life of peace and love.

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. 😀

(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.


Good morning. Today is Thursday, February 21, 2013.

Today is National Sticky Bun Day. I will not be participating in this “holiday.” But feel free to enjoy some luscious, yummy, gooey,…okay, I’ll shut up, now.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day around here. Christi continues to use her bone stimulator (this will go on for a while), Steph and I got to the gym last night, and it was her tenth workout this month. She is only two days away from winning her prize from the manager of our center. She is so excited!

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
At 7am on this date in 1916, German forces began bombing “the French-held salient north of the historic fortress city of Verdun.” I had to look up “salient” in that context. A salient (n) is “something that projects outward or upward from its surroundings” (Webster). This would begin “the longest and one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.” Over the course of ten months, over 700,000 would lose their lives (from both sides). Fort Douaumont fell to the Germans on February 25, but was retaken on October 24. The French claimed victory, but historian Alistair Horne wrote “Neither side ‘won’ at Verdun.” The French General responsible for holding and retaking the fort, Philippe Petain, eventually became Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. A young company commander in the 33rd Infantry was captured on March 1, “and spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp.” His name was Charles de Gaulle.

Today’s birthday is Rebecca Nurse, born on this date in 1621. I know…you’re wondering, “Who in the world is Rebecca Nurse?” Rebecca was hanged during the hysteria of the Salem witch trials on July 19, 1692. There was no credible evidence against her. Well…there was no credible evidence against any of the victims of the Salem witch trials.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. Psalm 54:4

Father, I pray for a glimpse of you this morning, as I look into your word.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:1-4.
1 Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the feasts run their round.
2 Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and she shall be to me like an Ariel.
3 And I will encamp against you all around, and will besiege you with towers and I will raise siegeworks against you.
4 And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust your speech will be bowed down; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper.

“Ariel” represents Jerusalem, city of David. This passage is an oracle of woe against Jerusalem. Here repetitions feasts and celebrations without meaning have become tiresome. Assyria will come against Jerusalem and besiege her.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Saturated with Scripture.” The scripture reading is Nehemiah 1:5-11a.
5 And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.
8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples,
9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’
10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.
11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Nehemiah’s prayer is offered up when he learns of the great trouble that is afflicting his people. It also reflects a very thorough knowledge of scripture, as nearly every phrase in the prayer is derived from Old Testament scripture. Compare…
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9
You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. Deuteronomy 7:21
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deuteronomy 10:17
Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant and to the plea of your people Israel, giving ear to them whenever they call to you. 1 Kings 8:52
O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! Psalm 130:2
So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. Deuteronomy 34:5
And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. Deuteronomy 4:27
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. Deuteronomy 30:1-4
For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 9:29
“Nehemiah was so saturated with Scripture that the words of Scripture had become the thoughts of Nehemiah.” The Bible is a great resource for the people of God in their conversations with God.

Father God, give me the strength, the discipline, and the desire to study your word as Nehemiah did, to become so saturated in Scripture that its words come to my mouth and heart unbidden. In your name I pray. Amen. (Quoted from the book.)

Indeed, Father, I desire for your words to become my words. Motivate me to become so immersed in scripture that its words come naturally to me when it is time to pray. Hide your word in my heart, Lord, so that when I offer up prayers to you, I am praying your heart. There can be no better prayer than for me to repeat your words back to you. Fill my heart with your Spirit as I pray to you each day. Give me a deeper desire to study and learn your words.

I pray for this day today. I pray that Christi and I will have a good work day. I pray that the bone stimulator is doing some good on her stress fracture. I also pray that you would draw Stephanie closer to you today. Give her peace during these thunderstorms that are predicted today. She is so frightened during these times. Reach down and cover her with your hand of peace today. Hide her in the cleft of the Rock.

My heart’s desire is to be, as Nehemiah, so saturated with the words of God that they come forth naturally in prayer.

Grace and peace, friends.