Oh, How I Love Your Word

Today is Tuesday, the second of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,245

Ten days until C’s birthday!

It seemed like a busy day, yesterday. Part of that was because I didn’t finish yesterday’s blog until after noon. Then I went to the grocery store, but right after I got home, C texted me to tell me that S had a prescription ready at CVS. So I went back out to pick that up. Then, I had lunch, at a little after 2:00 PM. I had already started washing the bed linens, earlier, and they were dry not too long after that, so I had a little time to relax before I needed to put the sheets back on the bed. Then I swept the floor, and by the time I finished that, it was time to start cooking dinner, because C was on her way home.

Today, there’s not a lot to do. I work this evening, 4:15-8:15, so I’m planning to cook “lunch” at around 2:00 or so, planning to have it ready to eat by 3:00. Then I’ll have a light snack after I get home from work. I don’t have to work tomorrow or Thursday, so I may stay up later tonight.

Nothing else is planned. Oh, and C is working from home today, her normal day to do that.

The World Series continues tonight at 7:00, in Houston. The Braves lead the series 3-2.

I realize that I haven’t (and don’t usually) said anything about football. I’m not much of a football fan, and it’s still baseball season. But the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1, so far, this season! Granted, they are in one of the worst divisions in the NFL, and they are the only team in their division with a winning record, but they have played some pretty good teams, along the way. While I don’t actively root for the ‘boys, I have some good friends who do, so I wish for their happiness. Dallas plays Denver (4-4) this Sunday afternoon.

Today is Deviled Egg Day. I do love those, but I likely will not have any today.

The word for today is busk, “to entertain by dancing, singing, reciting, juggling, etc., on the street or in a public place.” I was familiar with the word, but did not know that it included activities other than singing or playing an instrument. Makes sense, though.

Today’s quote is from e.e. cummings, American poet. “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Birthdays on November 2:

Daniel Boone, American frontiersman, 1734-1820. 
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (Let them eat cake), 1755-1793
James Knox Polk, 11th U.S. President, 1795-1849
Warren G. Harding, 29th U.S. President, 1865-1923
Burt Lancaster, American actor, 1913-1994
Ray Walston, American actor (My Favorite Martian), 1914-2001
Jay Black, American pop singer (Jay and the Americans), 1938-2021
Stefanie Powers, American actress, (Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Hart to Hart), 1942 (79)
Keith Emerson, English musician (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), 1944-2016
J.D. Souther, American singer/songwriter (Heartache Tonight, New Kid in Town), 1945 (76)
Carter Beauford, American drummer (Dave Matthews Band), 1957 (64)
k.d. lang, Canadian country singer, 1961 (60)
David Schwimmer, American actor (Friends), 1966 (55)
Jay Black is the singer
Keith Emerson on keys

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

All have received gifts;
Use them to serve each other,
As stewards of grace.
(1 Peter 4:10)

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalms 118:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the gifts that You give
2. for opportunities to use those gifts
3. that we can count on Your guidance, forever
4. for Your Word and all of its benefits to my life
5. for the strength found in relationship

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY THREE

INVITATION

that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
(Psalms 48:14 ESV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on Your great and wonderful gifts, and Your constant guidance, always available to us, forever.

BIBLE SONG

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:97-104 NIV)

BIBLE READING

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 NIV)

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I become more aware of God’s loving presence, I read these passages again, looking for anything in His Word that has caught my heart’s attention. Is there a command to be obeyed? Is there comfort to be savored? As I meditate on these things, I pray them to God and rest in His presence.

The first thing that catches my attention is the first verse of the Psalms passage. “Oh, how I love Your law!” I like the way Peterson paraphrases this, so that we aren’t using the word “law” literally.

Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long.
(Psalms 119:97 MSG)

There are several different words used to describe God’s Word, throughout Psalm 119; law, commands, statutes, precepts, word. All of those could be defined, as Peterson does, “all You’ve revealed.”

I have been a Bible reader since before I was able to read. That may sound contradictory, but remember, people were reading Scripture to me before I was able to read. I have loved “God’s Word” as long as I can remember. Even through the darkest parts of my life, some of which were of my own making, it was always the Bible that drew me back to the path. Sure, His Holy Spirit is involved, no doubt. But even He drew me back via the precious Word of God.

Do not mistake me . . . I do not “worship” the Bible. I worship the God who revealed Himself through the Bible. But I do love the Bible, just as the psalmist who penned Psalm 119 did.

The Word of God, rightly applied, gives us more wisdom than anyone around us; our enemies, our teachers, our elders, even. It helps us stay away from evil paths. Or, when our feet have strayed onto an evil path, it gently maneuvers us back. It teaches us to hate those evil paths.

One of my favorite passages regarding God’s Word is found in Psalm 19.

The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.
GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
(Psalms 19:7-10 MSG)

The Teacher, in the meantime, continues to find everything to be meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.”

Father, I know that not everything in life is meaningless. Many of the tasks, however, in which we constantly find ourselves engaged, are truly a chasing after the wind. This is true; it is known. Many of those things, though, are, more or less, harmless, in the big picture. What is not meaningless is relationship with You, which we are able to enhance and grow through a healthy attitude toward Your Word. I praise You for Your Word, in which You have revealed Yourself further to us. I say “further,” because You have, in fact, revealed Yourself quite extensively through nature and Creation, to those of us who are looking at it wisely. But the revelation of Yourself through Scripture, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, is invaluable and priceless, worth more than pure gold, sweeter than pure honey (or strawberries). I love Your Word, Father, I do. Thank You for placing that love of it in my heart at such an early age. Thank You for placing people in my path, people who cared for me and loved me and read Your Word to me and taught Your Word to me. I cannot thank You enough for those blessings.

I pray that You would continue to give Your people a love for and commitment to the communities in which we have landed. I pray that You continue to equip us to serve in unique and effective ways.

"Everlasting God,
I shop for pleasure,
looking to consume happiness;
I hustle for meaning,
striving to make a difference.
But the more I consume the less I enjoy,
and the harder I work the more life slips out of my reach.
Help me understand the simple truth that none of my work or worry,
nor any of life's pleasures,
does any good without Your blessing.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 ESV)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
(1 Peter 4:9 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV)

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 ESV)

I want to take a moment to boast (I don’t normally do this kind of thing) about the relationship that my wife and I have. That whole passage from Ecclesiastes 4 is worthy of visiting.

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 ESV)

I feel like we have been lifting each other up, constantly, for over thirty-six years, now. And, since my retirement, this has even been enhanced more. When we discussed the possibility of me taking early retirement, I heartily agreed to become, more or less, a “house-husband,” taking care of menial household chores, on my days off, while C continues to work full time. For the record, it is still roughly four years until she is eligible for early retirement. But I have gladly taken on tasks such as laundry, sweeping floors, keeping dishes clean (which I helped with a lot already), trash removal, and things like that. I have tried to keep the house somewhat neat, and it has been quite rewarding for me. I don’t hate it at all. Because I am doing it out of love for my wife.

There are different ways to describe a marriage. The Ecclesiastes passage may not even be describing marriage, per se, but simply a good partnership. But that’s what marriage is, right? Most definitely a “good partnership.” Some say that one plus one, in a marriage, doesn’t make two, but makes one. I don’t disagree with that, but I would also entertain the thought that one plus one equals infinity, because I believe that we two together are infinitely stronger than one of us alone. And when Jesus is in the middle of us, it is infinity times infinity. “A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” (The Message).

Father, I praise You for this relationship, and look forward to what You are going to continue to do in our midst, in the years that we have left.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
(Ezekiel 36:22-23 ESV)

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!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

Abandoned for What?

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”~~Jack London
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is canoodle, which means “caress, fondle, or pet amorously.”

Today is Girl Scout Day. For all the cookies.

We had a great time last night. As I was driving home, talking to Christi and Stephanie on the phone, we decided to drive over to Lake Worth and have dinner at Ginger Brown’s Old Tyme Restaurant. We had not been there in probably close to 20 years. It was still as good as we remembered it, and they still give you free cinnamon rolls with every meal. The cinnamon rolls were also as good as we remembered, if not better.

After that, we came home (after stopping at Sonic for drinks), and watched this week’s episode of Major Crimes. Then I played Fallout 4 until mumblemumble o’clock.

I woke up at 7:30! I can’t sleep past 7:30 for some reason. That’s kind of aggravating when you stay up until mumblemumble o’clock playing Fallout 4.

After I finish this, we are going to go get the groceries, then we will pack and head to Glen Rose for three nights! Our favorite place on earth!! Tomorrow is my birthday, which is the reason for this trip. And we decided to switch it up a little bit and stay Saturday-Tuesday, this time, instead of Thursday-Sunday. After all . . . I don’t want to have to come home on my birthday, right? We are very excited, and really looking forward to some pie!!

In the 2016-is-the-year-of-celebrity-apocalypse category, I looked at Facebook yesterday afternoon to have my world severely rattled by the news of Keith Emerson’s death. Keith Emerson was keyboardist and founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, one of my top favorite groups from the seventies. He was 71 years old. To make it worse, it has been revealed that he apparently committed suicide, because he was suffering from some kind of nerve disorder that was affecting his ability to play. My roommate from my seminary days was equally rattled, perhaps even more than me. “Wow!!! I have no words. He was probably the strongest musical influence in my life. The world has changed. It will never be the same. RIP Keith Emerson,” he said. Here is a clip of an ELP performance from 1974 at the famous California Jam. Of course, I was not there, but I watched as much as I could on TV. I remember seeing this, hanging on every note that they played.

Here’s another clip that demonstrates his masterful piano playing. This man was not just a rock musician.

Then today, I learned that Gayle McCormick, lead singer of the group Smith, from the sixties or seventies (I can’t remember), died on March 1.

I’m compiling a list. We’ve lost at least 32 music/acting celebrities so far this year. I’ve probably missed some, too.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Psalm 34:7-10

Just because someone is young does not eliminate them from the possibility of disaster. People who are suffering should not “look enviously at the ‘young lions’ who appear not to have a care in the world.” Our security comes from God. “Wholeness of life is reserved for those who share his life.”

“Father, make me more attentive to the realities of your presence than to the illusions of the world, more trusting in the ‘angels of the Lord’ and less envious of the ‘young lions.’ I wait upon you in my need for the wholeness you promise in Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.”

“Lord, if I could truly wrap my mind around the magnitude of Your grace, I would never be able to get up off my knees.” (Katie Ganshert in Daily Guidposts 2016)

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”
Mark 10:25

Today’s reading is “Abandonment.”

“Our Lord replies in effect, that abandonment is for Himself, and not for what the disciples themselves will get from it.” Chambers cautions us against a “commercial spirit” in our so-called abandonment. You know what he means . . . “I am going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” But, he says, “Abandonment is not for anything at all. we have got so commercialized that we only go to God for something from Him, and not for Himself.”

This really speaks to me, because I have grappled with this for years. Still grappling, too. “If we only give up something to God because we want more back, there is nothing of the Holy spirit in our abandonment; it is miserable commercial self-interest.”

Father, keep speaking to me about this. It is one of Chambers’s favorite topics, abandonment. And the idea that we typically only give things up because we want something else in return is so spot on. This is pretty much the crux of modern Christianity. Steer us away from this idea, Father, and teach to come to you for you alone. Sure, we will pray for things, and we normally will pray for tangible things. But, in the midst of this, let us also pray to simply have you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Good morning. It is Sunday, November 2, 2014. Welcome to the “Weekend Edition.”

Today is Zero Tasking Day. It’s a perfect day for it, too. We have just come off of Daylight Saving Time (could we please just STOP IT??) Anyway, it just so happens that we have absolutely nothing planned for today!

We had a really great time at church last night, with a good prayer gathering beforehand. Jacob started his series on the book of Colossians. We got through verse 2. 😀 But he pulled quite a bit out of those two verses! This is going to be legen . . . wait for it . . . DARY! 😀

After church, we came home and had our “Mexican soup” that had been cooking in the crock pot all day long. It was scrumptious!! We watched a few TV shows and headed off to bed, somewhere around midnight. We didn’t change our clocks until this morning.

Today is going to be simply a day of rest. I will probably try to get in some practice on guitar and trombone today. Oh! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here. There is an event brewing to gather a bunch of band members from when I was in college at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce) for a wind ensemble reunion concert, sometime next Spring. I’ve started trying to brush up/strengthen up my chops so I can play in it. If I can’t manage to get them strong enough, I will certainly try to be there for the concert! I am also trying to learn “fingerstyle” guitar, which is way more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m going to stick with it, though, and learn it!

(Source: This Day In History}

On this date in 1947, the Spruce Goose made its first and only flight. Designed by Howard Hughes, it was the largest aircraft ever built, also called the Hughes Flying Boat. It had a “wingspan longer than a football field and was designed to be able to carry more than 700 men to battle.” Unfortunately, the war had ended before the plane was ever finished. He flew it once to prove to Congress that it was airworthy. He kept it ready for flight until his death in 1976, but it never went into production. It is currently kept at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

Spruce Goose

Today’s birthdays include David Schwimmer, Marie Antoinette, Daniel Boone, James Polk, Warren Harding, Stephanie Powers, Burt Lancaster, Ray Walston, k. d. lang, Carter Beauford, Jay Black, and Keith Emerson.

Jay Black turns 76 today. He was the lead singer for the pop group, Jay and the Americans, back in the sixties. Here is their song, “This Magic Moment,” one of my favorite songs from that era.

In addition, Keith Emerson is 70 today. He was the keyboardist/composer for the prog-rock group Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (ELP), who hit their strongest stride during the seventies. Here is a live performance of their adaptation of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” from “Rodeo.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 100:3
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 9:1-2
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 56:10-11
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
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people
offer you true and laudable service: Grant that I may run without stumbling
to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:1-8

Here begins a lengthy section of the many parables of Jesus. Matthew begins with the Parable of the Sower. Jesus speaks of a sower who went out and cast seed in his field. The seed falls in various places, but only one type of soil produces fruit. It wasn’t until I was grown and beginning to have a better understanding of things that I realized that only the last type of soil, the “good soil,” represents one who has been “saved.” On the first soil, it is as if the person never even hears the Gospel. The seed is eaten before it can even gain access to the soil. On the second soil, there is an appearance of growth, but no depth, and external circumstances quickly destroy any signs of fruit. I have seen people who have appeared to receive the Gospel and believe, but in only a short time, have completely forgotten and gone back to their old way of life. It is my opinion that these were never saved. Likewise, the seed that fell among thorns and was choked out. One important thing to consider is that we have no control over what kind of “soil” we are. It is only by the grace of God that we are “good soil” and have received the Gospel and begun to bear fruit.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Journey to Transparency.”

“The journey to transparency begins with an honest confrontation with the truth, which is not something but Someone.” Do I need to confess that I am “inordinately preoccupied with security, sensation, and power?” Do I have compassion for others when they act out “their addictions and emotion-backed demands?” Do I realize that these people are mirrors of myself? Have I considered that “their little drama” is either where I am, or where I have been?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Earlier, he had said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Jesus has declared that he is the truth. If we know him, we know the truth, and the truth will set us free. What are we set free from? We are set free from the inordinate preoccupation with “security, sensation, and power.” We are set free to have compassion toward others who display the same kinds of dysfunctions that we have. Understand that we are still human, and we are still messed up. We have simply embarked on this journey to transparency, which began with that “honest confrontation with” Jesus Christ, who is the truth.

Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Psalm 69:16

Father, I thank you that you began my journey to transparency many years ago. It seems, however, that I have not mad a lot of progress in those many years. Again, I find that I still struggle with preoccupations with security, sensations, and other things. Maybe power, but not so much, I don’t think. I’ve never really desired power. Any time I get any, I tend to mess things up. May my sole preoccupation be with Christ. I do know the Truth, and he is still setting me free. I pray that freedom would continue to come, and I impatiently desire it to come more quickly. But your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that includes the speed of my sanctification. I pray that you would make me more of a “saint,” not so much in the sense of moral “holiness,” but in the sense of “set apart holiness.” Teach me to pray without ceasing. Teach me to notice when others need something from me, and then help me be willing to meet those needs in whatever way I can. Give me more compassion and understanding for others in the midst of their drama and addictions.

I pray for the remainder of this day, that it will be restful and easy for us, as we prepare for another week of work. I pray for my doctor’s visit tomorrow morning (general checkup), that all would be okay.

How’s your “journey to transparency” going? Mine keeps getting sidetracked by “rabbit trails.”

truth_set_you_free

Grace and peace, friends.