The Spirit of Glory and of God Rests Upon You

Good morning. It is Monday, February 23, 2015. 42 more days until Opening Day. Good thing, too, because it’s sleeting outside this morning.

Today’s word of the day is outrecuidance. Say what? “/ˌutrəˌkwiˈdɑns/” N. “Excessive self-esteem; overweening self-confidence; arrogance, presumption; conceit.” Yeah. I’ve known people like that.

Today is Curling Is Cool Day. I’ve always thought curling was fascinating. You do know what I’m referring to, right? Here’s a clip of some fantastic curling shots.

It’s certainly a good day for it. I think I could do some curling outside on the street right now.

Well, here’s the scoop. I was, as you know, supposed to be in Mineral Wells, this morning, to drive my mother back over there to Fort Worth for her cataract surgery. At about 3:00 PM yesterday, she called and said that she had decided, based on the severity of the weather forecast, to cancel the surgery and reschedule it later. The doctor apparently called her late last night to discuss it, saying he could possibly reschedule for Tuesday afternoon, but wasn’t certain. She wisely told him that we would have to be able to nail it down for sure, so they agreed to reschedule at a later date. As it turns out, it sleeted some last night, around 9:00 (maybe earlier). There was little to no precipitation from 10:00 until about an hour ago, when the sleet started coming down pretty hard. In fact, we had “thundersleet” this morning. Or so I’m told. I never heard any thunder, but reports state that it was around 5:00 AM, which is thirty minutes before our alarm goes off.

Since I already had PTO scheduled for today, you can bet I’m not getting out to drive in this stuff. They already aren’t expecting me at work, so there’s no need to call, either. Christi was going to try to go in to get her computer and come back home. Right about the time she was about to step outside was when it started sleeting the hardest. She came back in the study and said, “This is stupid, isn’t it?” I agreed. She is comfortably snuggled up in her recliner.

It was on this date in 1983 that the Environmental Protection Agency announced its plan to buy out and evacuate the town of Times Beach, Missouri. The town had become contaminated by Dioxin, and was the worst recorded incident of Dioxin contamination in history. Some reports have the town being evacuated as early as December, 1982.
times beach

Today’s birthdays include Samuel Pepys (diarist), George Frideric Handel (composer), William L. Shirer (historian), Elston Howard (baseball player), Peter Fonda (actor), Johnny Winter (musician), Patricia Richardson (actress), Ed “Too Tall” Jones (football player), Howard Jones (singer), Tom Bodett (“We’ll leave the light on for you”), Bobby Bonilla (baseball player), Aziz Ansari (actor/comedian), Emily Blunt (actress), and Dakota Fanning (actress).

Johnny Winter was an American singer/producer/guitar player who also happened to be an albino. Johnny’s younger brother, Edgar, is also albino. Johnny was born on this date in 1944, in Beaumont, Texas. He was found dead in his hotel room “two days after his last performance at Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14,” 2014. (Wikipedia) It is reported that the cause of death was emphysema and pneumonia. Here is a clip of Johnny performing “Be Careful With A Fool.”


With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.
For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.

Psalm 18:25-39

(FromSolid Joys)

Today’s reading is “The Hour of Unusual Threat.”

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1 Peter 4:14

“Many Christians in the world today do not know the life-threatening danger that comes with believing in Christ. We have gotten used to being free from such persecution.”

As a result of this, our initial reaction to such persecution is anger. “But that anger may be a sign that we have lost our sense of being aliens and exiles.” Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11) Have we settled in too much to this world? Do we not feel homesick for Christ, as Paul did? But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . .

Perhaps we need this reminder from Peter: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12) How many of us have considered how we might fare, should we find ourselves in the face of ultimate persecution, when that gunman has us in his sights and asks, “Are you a Christian?” The initial verse from 1 Peter, quoted above, is a strong word of hope, which should encourage us. If (and when) that hour of persecution comes, Peter gives us encouragement that “the Spirit of glory and of God” will rest upon us. “Doesn’t that mean that God gives special help in the hour of crisis to those who suffer because they are Christians?”

This is not to say that God is not present with us in other sufferings. It is to say that, when we suffer in the name of Christ, for the cause of Christ, suffering because we are Christians, there will be a special “resting” on us, of “the Spirit of glory and of God.”

We have not yet been truly persecuted in this country. Not being allowed to put the Ten Commandments on the wall of a courtroom or in the school room is NOT persecution! Having your head chopped off by ISIS . . . that’s persecution. We have known nothing of that in this country. Perhaps we will, someday. The Bible seems to promise it. When it comes, we should not act surprised, or even angry. According to God’s Word, we are supposed to welcome it, and consider ourselves blessed. I’m thinking the American Center for Law and Justice won’t be much help at that point.

Father, I pray for the Church in the U.S., that she will get homesick for Christ. I pray that we will get back to considering ourselves “strangers in a strange land;” aliens, sojourners, foreigners. Our citizenship is in heaven, not in this world. This is one reason, Father, that I don’t get too terribly caught up in politics or even patriotism. Yes, I support my country. I pay my taxes. I pray for the leaders. But it is not my home. I am a citizen of heaven first. I pray that we would brace ourselves for imminent persecution, the real kind. I pray that when it comes, we will, as Paul and Peter tell us, consider ourselves blessed, not rise up in anger and outrage and call a lawyer. There is still so much that we don’t understand, Father, myself included. Teach us your ways and, by your Spirit, help us walk in your truth.

I pray for this day, as we sit at home. May your grace rest upon us, as we rest. I pray for safety for anyone who is out there. News reports have over 50 injury accidents in the Dallas area, including one fatality in the city where I work. May your hand of mercy rest on people who are out there. I pray that tomorrow will be better, that the ice will dissipate, that we might be able to drive safely to work. In the meantime, may we take advantage of the opportunity to rest and abide.

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Wonderful Cross

Good morning. It is Sunday, February 23, 2014. Only five more days in February. Only 36 days until Opening Day. The Red Sox traditional doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College happens this Thursday! Baseball is that close!

Today is Melba Toast Day. I have always loved Melba Toast. I can remember when the old style restaurants used to have a basket of crackers on the table, and there was always some Melba Toast. And I would always eat it.

Yesterday was a full day, it seems. I had a very nice breakfast and conversation with my friend, Robert, at the Main Street Cafe in Keller. I had never been there before, but it was quite good, and to quote Agent Cooper, from Twin Peaks, “Damn fine coffee!” Their coffee was so good, I had three cups! That’s a lot for me.

While I was having breakfast with Robert, Christi and Stephanie took Steph’s cat, Honey, to the vet, because she seemed to be experiencing an ear infection. Sure enough, she had a double ear infection! Poor kitty. They cleaned out her ears and gave us some meds to give the cat. That’s always fun. . . giving meds to a cat.

After all of this, Christi and I went to the grocery store. This trip took a little longer, because we were trying to come up with lower-sodium options for me to take to lunch during my work week. My blood pressure is still a tad on the high side. Not dangerously high, but yellow to orange on the scale. So I’m going to get more serious about my diet.

We had our usual worship service last night, and our pastor gave a very good message on unity in the church, in relationship to the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. He gave us a sort of new spin on the 1 Corinthians passage where Paul rebukes the people for the manner in which they take the Supper. At the end of this, I was hard-pressed to speak with a brother in the church and deal with an issue that I had been carrying around for a while. It is so freeing when God works in this way.

Christi went out with the Huddle girls after church, so Steph and I went out to eat. We tried to go to Fogata’s, but they had live music (Stephanie can’t handle live music in restaurants. . . too loud), so we wound up at Eastern Kitchen, a Chinese Buffet.

It was a good day.


Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1912. He wrote songs of the “real West, a place of hard-working people and harsh environments rather than romantic cowboys and explorers.” His family split apart when he was young, and when he was 15, he “left home to travel the country by freight train.” His possessions included a guitar and a harmonica. The hobos and migrant workers he encountered along the way loved to hear him sing the folk-songs he had learned in Oklahoma. He made his way to California in 1937, where he began performing the songs on radio shows, hoping to become a successful western singer. He began performing songs that he had written himself, describing experiences he had had among the “vast armies of the poor and dispossessed created by the Great Depression.” He soon ran into the Communist party, to which he became sympathetic. “Many of his songs reflected a strong commitment to the common working people, and he became something of a musical spokesman for populist sentiments.”

It was on this date in 1940 that he wrote what is probably one of his most famous and popular songs, “This Land Is Your Land.” The song ” reflected not only Guthrie’s support for the common folk, but also his deep love for his country.” The verses spoke of the beauty and grandeur of the nation, while the “chorus drove home the populist sentiment that the nation belonged to all the people, not merely the rich and powerful.” It also turned out to be one of his last songs, as his career was interrupted by World War II. He had moved to New York before the war, but served in the Merchant Marines during the war. When he returned to New York, he began performing and recording again, but “never matched his earlier prolific output.”

In 1954, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and spent his later years in New York hospital. One of the visitors he received while in the hospital was a young man named Bob Dylan. Guthrie died in 1967, but his music lives on.

Just for kicks, I’ll give you Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version of the song, which is one of the better recordings of the song. In this You Tube clip, there seems to be a mistake at the very beginning, which seems to be crediting Pete Seeger for writing the song.

Today, there are 250 birthdays listed on Included in this list are Pope Paul II, 1417, Samuel Pepys, Naval administrator, 1633, George Frideric Handel, composer, 1685, Barney Dreyfuss, baseball owner, 1865, Victor Fleming, film director, 1889, William L. Shirer, historian, 1904, Elston Howard, catcher, 1929, Peter Fonda, actor, 1940, Fred Biletnikoff, NFL wide receiver, 1943, Johnny Winter, singer/guitar player, 1944, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, NFL linebacker, 1951, Howard Jones, singer/pianist, 1955, Dana Katherine Scully, fictional character, 1964, Emily Blunt, actress, 1983, Aziz Ansari, comedian/actor, 1983, and Dakota Fanning, actress, 1994.

Johnny Winter is a blues guitar player/singer. He’s known for a number of recordings, such as “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,” and “Still Alive and Well.” Here’s a lesser known song, “Be Careful With A Fool.” Johnny is 70 years old today.

A note of sad news today. It has been reported that Maria Von Trapp, the last member of the singing Von Trapps, on which The Sound of Music was based, has passed away at the age of 99 years old.


(From The Divine Hours)

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 29:2
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1
O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.
Psalm 44:1
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:4

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

Could the Crucifixion be said to have been “beautiful?” “For those who saw only the external tragedy, Jesus naked and nailed, flanked by two criminals, blood streaming from every wound and pore of his body, it was a horrible spectacle indeed.” History tells us that, for those very reasons, crucifixion was banned by Constantine, as being brutal and inhuman. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there? “The body of Jesus, was racked, broken, and bathed in blood, but his soul was ennobled by a dignity, suffused with a love that illuminated, transformed, and transfigured his suffering and death. This was the mightiest act of love ever to rise from a human soul.” And in that respect it was beautiful. It was “beautiful; a terrible, terrible sight.” (Terry Scott Taylor in “Darned Floor, Big Bite)

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.
John 13:1

Father, I pray that you give me the grace to see both the horror and the beauty of the cross on which Jesus died. Rather, the act of mercy and grace in the crucifixion, not the actual wooden pieces that made up the cross. When I say “the cross,” what I really mean is “the crucifixion.” Hopefully, that’s what we all mean. We do not worship the cross, itself, but we recognize it as an instrument of our salvation. Perhaps we have been guilty of romanticizing it to the point that we fail to see the brutal horror of it. Brennan Manning has reminded me, this morning, both of the horror and the beauty that resides in it at the same time. May the “ennobled soul” of Jesus Christ fill my soul today. May I be transformed and captivated by this love that illuminates.

I pray for the day ahead. Give us good rest today, and if we must go out, keep us safe in our travels. I think Christi’s going to a baby shower for one of our Huddle people today. I pray that they have a good time of fellowship and sharing as they celebrate the imminent arrival of another soul in our Exchange family. I pray for the parents, RJ and Jen, that they will be continuously blessed through this event.

I pray for our sister Kathryn, who has a date this afternoon! May it go well for her and may she be blessed.

I also pray for Kevin and Jackie, who must appear in court tomorrow for a custody hearing. May your grace intervene and your will be done in this situation.

Your grace is sufficient!

The wonderful cross! Beautiful in its horror.

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.