Extravagant Love

Today is Sunday, the nineteenth of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,474

Today is Father’s Day, so I wish a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. I hope you are able to love on your kids today, and spend some time with them. Some of us will have to love some of our offspring from afar, and that’s okay, too. My father, of course, has been gone for seven years, now, and is still sorely missed. But he is more than fondly remembered for the love that he showed and care that he gave.

Today is also Juneteenth, but that holiday will be observed tomorrow. Since it was finally made a federal holiday last year, most banks will be closed, as well as the post office. I’m not sure about the library where I work, but I don’t ever work on Mondays, anyway.

The Rangers game was terrible, yesterday. Taylor Hearne did not have his best stuff, and they lost 14-7. It was actually quite a bit worse than the score indicates, too. But today’s another day. They are 31-34 for the season, still in second place, nine games out of first. They are also still four games out in the Wild Card race. They will play Detroit again today, in Detroit, at 12:40 CDT, with Dane Dunning taking the mound to try to win the series.

Almost as if the two teams are joined at the hip, the Red Sox also suffered an embarrassing loss, yesterday, losing to the Cardinals 11-2. They are now 35-31 for the season, still in fourth place, 1.5 behind Tampa and 14.5 behind the You-Know-Whos. They have another game with St. Louis today.

The Yankees have the highest everything right now. Best record, 49-16, highest run differential (+144), and longest win streak (nine games). Massive sighs. The Athletics have the worst record, at 22-45. The Nationals, though, have the worst run differential, at -115, as well as the longest losing streak, at eight games. The Rangers’ run differential sits at zero, today, and the Sox are at +45, after losing by nine runs, yesterday.

In the PWBA, the top 30 are currently in the fourth round of qualifying in the U.S. Women’s Open in South Glens Falls, NY. After three rounds, the top thirty were, in order, Cherie Tan (Singapore), Jordan Richard, Lindsay Boomershine (I like her name), Shayna Ng (another Singapore bowler), Shannon Sellens, Stefanie Johnson (from Texas), Erin McCarthy, Hui Fen New (Singapore), Shannon O’Keefe, Danielle McEwan, Rocio Restrepo, Birgit Noreiks (Germany), Liz Johnson, Daphne Tan (Singapore, Cherie’s sister), Dasha Kovalova (Ukraine), Verity Crawley (England), Missy Parkin, Bryanna Cote, Kerry Smith, Kayla Bandy, Clara Guerrero (Columbia), Chelsey Klingler, Sydney Brummett, Breanna Clemmer, Olivia Farwell, Hope Gramly (also from Texas), Jenny Wegner (Sweden), Diana Zavjalova (Latvia), Jen Higgins, and Josie Barnes.

This morning’s round will cut to the top 24, who will bowl in match play one round this evening, and two rounds tomorrow, to determine the top five, who will be on the live TV broadcast Tuesday night.

We aren’t going to church, today, as C has not been feeling well. She does not have Covid, though. Just some kind of cold or allergies, or something.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, O great and almighty God, we thank you that you have given us the Savior, in whom we can become united and have peace on earth. May he, the Savior, work powerfully among us. May your Spirit come into people’s hearts so that they learn to acknowledge you as their leader and their God and to rejoice in their lives, which are intended for eternal life. Bless us through your Word and through all the good you do for us. Constantly renew and strengthen us in faith and in patience through the grace you send us. Remember all the peoples who should become yours in the name of Jesus Christ. May they all confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the honor of God the Father. We praise you for the promise you have given us of a wonderful new day of help for all. We praise you that you have created all people to recognize their true calling and their way to salvation. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that unfailing love and unshakable covenant of peace from God, our Father
2. for the love that I had from my earthly father for all the years he was with us, and that he did his best to train me up in the love of the Lord
3. for the faithful love of my two wonderful daughters
4. for the extravagant love that our Father in heaven has lavished upon us
5. for the equality of all people in Jesus Christ (the reality is not necessarily realized, but it is still the reality . . . the ground is level at the foot of the cross)

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32 NIV)


The prayer word for today, from Pray a Word a Day, is extravagant. You have to look pretty extensively to find that word in any version of the Bible. It occurs a single time in the NLT, in Revelation 18:3, in reference to the sins of the Great Babylon. It does not appear in NIV, ESV, or KJV.

However, Eugene Peterson likes the word, apparently, and it occurs multiple times in The Message. This particular verse is featured in today’s reading.

I’ll make a list of GOD’s gracious dealings, all the things GOD has done that need praising, All the generous bounties of GOD, his great goodness to the family of Israel— Compassion lavished, love extravagant.
(Isaiah 63:7 MSG)

And what a word to describe the love of God for us. Extravagant! There are, of course, many other words that have been used, over the years, to describe God’s love. Frederick M. Lehman may have said it best, in 1917, when he wrote the song, The Love of God. In the chorus (or refrain, if you prefer, he wrote:

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.

And then, the last verse, one of my favorite hymn verses of all time:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made;
were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,
and ev’ryone a scribe by trade;
to write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.

He doesn’t use the word “extravagant,” but it certainly fits.

Father, I praise You for Your extravagant love. Your love split seas and rivers in half, crumbled walls, even made the sun move backwards. Your love created things out of nothing, and miraculously fed your people with food from heaven. And then, when we thought it couldn’t get any more extravagant, Your love died for us, and then rose from the grave so that we could live in eternal glory in Your Kingdom. Extravagant, indeed. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.


So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
(Galatians 3:26 NIV)

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 NIV)

Father, today, I pray for racial equality in our land, and throughout the world. If we truly believe the words of Paul in Galatians, let us strive to make things better for all people, because we see all people as equals in Christ. The ground is level at the foot of the cross! And it is back to Your extravagant love that has provided this truth for us!


Eugene Peterson continues writing on the Sabbath. He makes a bold claim: “Keeping the Sabbath is easy: we pray and we play, two things we were pretty good at as children and can always pick up again with a little encouragement.”

He calls praying a “great act of freedom in relation to heaven.” Through prayer, we exercise our “bodies and minds in acts of adoration and commitment, practices of supplication and praise, and ventures of forgiving and giving.”

He calls playing a “great act of freedom in relation to earth.” Through playing, we “exercise our bodies and minds in games and walks, in amusement and reading, in visiting and picnicking, in puttering and writing.”

Easy, he says, yet we, in our society find it so hard. Part of the reason for that is that our culture doesn’t encourage us to keep a Sabbath. In fact, if anything, it is out to steal it from us. For many of us (and I have been fortunate in this respect, for most of my adult life), we are expected to work our jobs, seven days a week. Many people find themselves unable to attend worship services because of the demands of the job, as accomplishment and profit are king in America.

And the bottom line, says Peterson is that “after a few years of Sabbath breaking, we are passive consumers of expensive trash and anxious hurriers after trash pleasures.”

Ouch. Explicitly descriptive, but truthful.

“We lose our God and our dignity at about the same time.” And this is why Peterson encourages us to keep a Sabbath. “Guard the day. Protect the leisure for praying and playing.” And for those of you who think you are too mature to “play,” I give you this:

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson, except for the nose-thumbing)

Father, I praise You for the Sabbath. I thank You for the command that we have a day to rest, a day to pray, and a day to play. I realize Your command said nothing about playing, but I find myself in agreement with Peterson, whom I respect deeply, and trust just as deeply. I pray that You would remind all of us, frequently, that we need to take a day off to pray and play, a day off from the hustle and bustle that this culture demands from us. I also pray that, not just on the Sabbath, but all days, that You would help us to demolish the very concept of “hurry,” as it steals from us in many ways. You are not in a hurry. Why should we be?

Sometimes I find myself in a hurry to be Home. I also need not do that. Help me to live the life that You have planned for me, at the pace You have planned. I do pray that I will accomplish all that You have for me to do, and that I will reach and inspire all that You have for me to reach. May my presence in social media platforms be one that shows love and forgiveness to all, and inspires all to know the kind of gratitude that we should have toward You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


I realize Mercy Me changed the meter, but I’m okay with that.

Grace and peace, friends.

Do Good to All People

Today is Saturday, the nineteenth of June, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,109

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

But, perhaps, the bigger news is that today is Juneteenth, and, thanks to legislation recently passed by the U.S. House and Senate, and signed into law by President Biden a couple days ago, for the first time in history, Juneteenth is a federal holiday. Personally, I believe that is a good thing. I do not expect that my company will provide it as a paid holiday, however, in future years. I might be surprised, though. Who knows?

C is home!!! C is home!!! I felt like Balki on Perfect Strangers, wanting to do the Myposian Dance of Joy. Her flight actually landed about a half hour early, in DFW, so she was home before, or at least right around 10:00 PM.

Today will be a full day, with WW workshop at 10:30, followed by a visit (I think it’s still on) from R & J, with lunch. I’m thinking that I stand to lose maybe a pound or two, this morning. That will put me close to where I was before the unexpected gain, due to medication changes.

Speaking of medication changes, I have been off of blood pressure medication since Monday, and for most of the week, it has been right around 112/65. Until this morning, when it was 99/65! I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be taking Lisinopril any more. I just hope I don’t wind up having to take something else to make it go up!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

You bless me here
A misty morning
A stirring breath
Silence adorning

You bless me here
A gentle light
Of colors depth
Of beauty bright

You bless me here
A moments’ being
Of dwelling in
A vision seeing

The light of love
Of Spirits way
In Your embrace
I long to stay
(Embrace of Morning, by Daryl Madden)

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!
(Psalms 31:24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that C got home safely last night!
2. for the weekend, to rest and refresh for the coming work week.
3. for visits with family.
4. for the many gifts that You have granted me through Your Spirit
5. that You desire justice for the poor and uphold the cause of the needy

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK 4 – DAY 7

INVITATION

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
(Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV)

I pause for a moment to reflect on the embrace of love that I experience from my Father, and the hope that I put in Him.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.
(Psalms 140:1-3 NIV)

I say to the LORD, “You are my God.”
Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy.
Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD; do not let their plans succeed.
(Psalms 140:6-8 NIV)

I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.
(Psalms 140:12-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I sit here, this morning, in God’s presence, I read these passages again, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and meditations, and my prayers.

The passage from Psalm 140 is a tough one, and tricky, too. I mean, who among us would not agree that it is good to pray that the wicked not be granted their desires, and that we need to be delivered from “evildoers?”

The problem is that we are not all in agreement about who/what is “wicked.”

For a good idea on that, keep reading, looking at verses 12-13. There are a lot of ways that “wicked” can be defined. I believe that the best way is to consider those who do not acknowledge God, through Jesus Christ. Yet not everyone who considers themselves an atheist is really all that “evil,” are they? That sentence was grammatically awkward and I’m not going to try to fix it.

But in verse 12, it says that the Lord secures justice for the poor, and He upholds the cause of the needy. Let’s use that as a context for defining “wicked.” In my opinion, someone is “wicked” who does the opposite of verse 12.

Then who is righteous? Whoever works with the Lord to do the things in verse 12, and then whoever does the things mentioned in verse 13.

And, ironically, there is almost a seamless transition between the Psalms passage and the Galatians passage. Seriously, go up there and read them, maybe out loud and don’t stop or pause when you get to the end of Psalm 140, but just keep reading right on into Galatians 6.

It really flows. It’s almost like the Holy Spirit was guiding the person who put this reading together!

God is not mocked. And He is not deceived by our platitudes. We reap what we sow. Verse 8 is powerful.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
(Galatians 6:8 NIV)

I’ve been in both places. Sometimes on the same day. That makes for a rough day, let me tell you. But if we spend our lives hoarding resources, being selfish, and only looking after our own interests, we will find ourselves alone at the end of our lives.

What are we building? Are we building something out of wood, hay, and stubble, that will all burn to the ground at the end of days, or are we building something out of gold and silver, that will live on?

I’m reminded of the parable of the rich fool, from Luke 12.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:13-21 NIV)

Also 1 Corinthians 3.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV)

Galatians 6:10 sums it up.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:10 NIV)

Father, help me to be one who does good to all people. Once again, this idea flows right into the two jobs that we have, as we walk in Your kingdom. Loving You and loving people, especially “those who belong to the family of believers.” May I never be numbered among the “wicked” in anything that I do, think, or say. Sometimes that is a struggle. I know and acknowledge that even this morning, I struggled with wicked thoughts about a particular person. Forgive me, Father (I know You already have), for those thoughts, and help me to be one who pushes for unity, not division, through our mutual love for You in Jesus Christ. Help me to always “walk the talk,” and may my speech be sincere in all things, never filled with meaningless platitudes.

Lord of the harvest,
it's not a question of "if" anything is growing in my life but "what."
Help me to know that the root of what I see in my life is found in the quiet planting of thoughts,
words,
looks,
desires, 
and gestures.
Guide me to examine those quiet,
hidden places of my life and to sow the Spirit,
so that my life contributes to the growth of your good kingdom,
for all to see and enjoy.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 105/106)

BLESSING

[May you be] filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11 NIV)

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
(1 Peter 4:10 KJV)

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
(Romans 12:6-8 NLT)

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.
(1 Corinthians 12:4 NLT)

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.
(1 Timothy 4:14 NLT)

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
(Luke 16:10 NLT)

All of this to simply say, exercise the gifts you have been given. You don’t need to take a “spiritual gift inventory” to know what you should be doing. Just do the gifts, which may, in my opinion, vary, depending on the circumstances. But if you enjoy doing a thing for someone else, then do that thing, and do it gladly, and do it well.

Father, thank You for the gifts You have given me. Help me to be more cognizant of them, especially when circumstances arise which would allow me to exercise a gifting. Help me not worry so much about a “vocation” or what I should be doing with the rest of my life. Just guide me by Your Spirit, into areas where I can use the gifts You have given me. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Lord, this morning, I pray for “creative and risk-taking ministry in the church that engages the community,” even and especially for smaller house-churches like ours. I pray desperately for unity and holiness within Your Church, Father. I specifically pray for all who are newly baptized into Your Church, or who are preparing to be baptized, this weekend, or soon. May Your Spirit fill and encourage them.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Yet I Am Always With You

Today is Friday, June 19, 2020, in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you.

Today is Juneteenth, the date that commemorates when slaves were declared free, under the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

Day 22,744

Two days until Father’s Day!

As is our custom, the company is providing lunch today. This time, I chose a “Keto Southwestern Chicken with Mexican Vegetables Powerbowl.” Not that I’m really into Keto . . . it just sounded really good. I can’t remember all the ingredients, though.

R & J are planning to come down tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that. I’m not sure what we will do, other than have some lunch together. Whatever may come, it will be nice to be together.

C and I finished watching the first season of Broadchurch, last night. It’s a British mystery series, and was copied by an American version called Grace Point, which we saw a number of years ago. Broadchurch was much, much better. There are two more seasons, so we will watch those next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalms 34:8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I have tasted and seen . . .
  2. That You are a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11)
  3. That You are my Shepherd, and I lack for nothing
  4. That I am always with You
  5. For Your amazing grace

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
(Psalms 71:3 ESV)

But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
(Psalms 88:13 ESV)

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
(Psalms 7:11 ESV)

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.
“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”
(Luke 6:46-49 MSG)

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah. The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah.
(Psalms 9:15-20 ESV)

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

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

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:7-11 ESV)

A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)


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

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19 ESV)


When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
(Psalms 73:21-23 NIV)

Says Timothy Keller, “The antitoxin for envy and self-pity is humility.” Right away, in verse 2, the psalmist acknowledged that his sin was hurtful to himself. later, he acknowledged that it also hurt others.

This is an important thing to know. Even though what David said in Psalm 51, “Against You and You only have I sinned,” is technically true, it is also true that our sin has far-reaching implications and ramifications (that’s one of those “preacher” words), far beyond harming our self only.

But then, the psalmist realizes that he has also been arrogant toward God! Our sin cannot harm God, as He cannot be harmed. But see in verse 22, the psalmist describes his behavior toward God as that of a “brute beast.”

Augustine acknowledged that he once stole some pears because it was “forbidden fruit.” That was the only reason he did it. “Deep in us something snarls, ‘No one tells me what to do.'” And isn’t that the basis of the whole rebellion against the current pandemic regulations? I have never seen such a clamor over something as simple as wearing a face mask. Yet we happily don shoes and shirts so we can visit our favorite restaurant.

But I digress.

“No one tells me what to do” seems to be the Western mantra. But when we admit this darkness in our souls, the work of grace can begin. That beautiful word “yet” at the beginning of verse 23 . . . almost as beautiful as the two most glorious words in all of Scripture (this is my opinion), “But God . . .”

“Yet I am always with You!”

“God never let him go. Only when we see the depth of our sin will we be electrified by the wonder of grace.”

“Lord, the deeper the darkness, the more visible and beautiful the stars. And the more I admit my sin, the more Your grace becomes a reality rather than an abstract idea. Only then does Your grace humble me and affirm me, cleanse me and shape me. Make Your grace amazing to my heart. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)


Father, I am almost speechless at this, today. Almost. I am so very thankful that You have made me taste and see that You are good! I praise You for bringing my sin to light and helping me to see the darkness in my own soul, but then shining the light of Your “electrifying grace” in my soul. May I walk in that light today. May my countenance be as electrifying as Your grace, regardless of the challenges that come my way today.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost,
But now am found
Was blind,
But now I see!
(John Newton)

Grace and peace, friends!

Freedom

“By looking at Jesus we learn what it is to be on the trail to abundant life.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, June 19, 2014. Also known as “Juneteenth,” commemorating the day, in 1865, that Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, to announce that the war had ended and the slaves were now free.

Today is also Garfield the Cat Day. I’m pretty sure there is no connection, other than the date.

Christi had an interesting day yesterday. Besides walking between two buildings about three times (they are NOT close together), she seems to have built some good relations with the customer (Mindtree is under contract with Southwest Airlines), as well as making her stand about things that need to change. She actually felt pretty good, mentally, about things after yesterday. Of course, her feet were killing her, though.

I’m pondering things that might change, regarding my blogging time. I’m not sure yet. We’re getting up a few minutes later, since Christi is going to work again, so I’m not having quite as much time. I miss adding my history and birthday trivia (for example, I seem to have completely missed Paul McCartney’s birthday, yesterday. I’ve toyed with switching to an evening time instead of mornings. When I decide, you’ll be the first to know. Well, maybe the second. My wife will be the first.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalm 86:11

(From The Divine Hours)

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Psalm 51:15
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Psalm 43:3-4
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Psalm 89:8, 14
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:9
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.
Psalm 102:25-28

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Law Of the Spirit.”

In the RSV, the author of Hebrews 2:10 describes Jesus as the “pioneer of our salvation.” Then in chapter 12, verse 2, He calls Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” “By looking at Jesus we learn what it is to be on the trail to abundant life.”

Jesus freed his disciples from “the tyranny of law.” He did not abolish the law, nor did he change it. However, he dethroned it “from its place of primacy, relativizing it, making it subordinate to love and compassion–to the law of the Spirit.”

Paul tells us, in Romans 7:1-6, that we are no longer under the domination of the Law. “The Christian, united to the risen Christ, is dead to the Law, delivered from the Law, freed once and for all. The Christian vocation is a vocation to liberty. Freedom is the cornerstone of Christianity.”

Do not think that I have come
to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them
but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17

freedom1

Father, I give you thanks and praise for the freedom that we have received in Christ. I praise you that we do not have to live by the law of the Old Covenant, and that it was given to show us our frailty and failures. In Christ, we have been made free, and I pray that we will not fall prey to trying to live by the old law, to try to gain or earn salvation through “being good.” Remind us that there is no way we could ever have been good enough to earn that salvation. Remind us that there is nothing we can do that will cause you to love us more than you already love us, or to love us less than you love us. Remind us that we are free.

I pray for this day, that we will have safe travel to and from work. I pray that Christi’s job will continue to get better, and that she will continue to build the relationships that she has begun building. She is so good at that, and I praise you for her ability to do that. I pray that she will get on famously at this job, and, perhaps, that she has found a place to finish her career. I pray for Stephanie today, that she might get to feeling better.

Your grace is sufficient.

Remember freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

Grace and peace, friends.