The Lord On High is Mighty

Good morning. It is Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Hump Day. Stephanie’s birthday!! Justin’s birthday!!

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is exculpatory. This adjective means, “tending or serving to clear from alleged fault or guilt.” For example, there might be exculpatory evidence that clears someone as a suspect in a crime.

Today, besides being Stephanie’s birthday, is World Humanitarian Day. I would encourage folks to stop and give thanks today for all those who have sacrificed much to try to help people of the world who are in need.

Yesterday morning was pretty stressful. It got better by the afternoon, though, and then, come 4:30, the day got much better! Today promises to be a wonderful day, as we spend it with Stephanie, doing pretty much whatever she wants to do. I believe it will begin at IHOP, for breakfast, and then off to Grapevine, for mani/pedis. I probably won’t get a manicure, but I will definitely get a pedicure. Take my man-card if you want, but don’t scoff until you’ve had one. At some point, we will stop at Krispy-Kreme for some doughnuts (they still spell them the old-fashioned way), and then at 7:00 tonight, we will go to Fogata’s for dinner. We have sent out a blanket invitation to friends to join us, if they want. There might be bowling, and there will definitely be Sonic drinks somewhere in there. Who knows . . . maybe more than once!

On this date in 43 BC, Octavius compelled the Roman Senate to elect him Consul. He would later be known as Augustus. In 1612, three women from Samlesbury, England, were put on trial, being accused of being witches. They became known as the “Samlesbury Witches.” On the same date in 1692, five people were executed in Salem, Massachusetts, after being convicted of witchcraft. In 1839, Jacque Daguerre’s new photographic technique was demonstrated to the French Academy of Sciences. In 1895, John Wesley Hardin, murderer and outlaw, was killed by an off-duty policeman in El Paso, Texas. In 1955, Hurricane Diane claimed 200 lives in the NE U.S. On this date in 1990, Leonard Bernstein conducted his final performance. And, on this date, in 1993, Stephanie Renee Bickley was born!

Today’s birthdays include Marcus Aurelius Probus (Roman emperor), C.I. Scofield (Scofield Reference Bible), Orville Wright (the Wright brothers), Coco Chanel (French designer), Ogden Nash (American poet), Philo Farnsworth (American inventor), Malcolm Forbes (American publisher), Gene Roddenberry (American TV producer, Star Trek), Willie Shoemaker (American jockey), Ginger Baker (English musician, Cream), Jill St. John (American actress), Johnny Nash (American singer/songwriter), Ian Gillan (English singer, Deep Purple), Dawn Steel (American film producer), Bill Clinton (42nd President), Tipper Gore (V.P. wife), John Deacon (English musician (Queen), Jonathan Frakes (American actor/director), Ned Yost (American baseball player/manager), Peter Gallagher (American actor), Gary Gaetti (American baseball player), Ron Darling (American baseball player/announcer), John Stamos (American actor), Kevin Dillon (American actor), Kyra Sedgwick (American actress), Matthew Perry (American actor), J.J. Hardy (American baseball player), Erika Christensen (American actress, Parenthood), and Stephanie Renee Bickley (daughter).

Wow, Stephanie sure shares her birthday with a lot of famous people! One that she might not be so familiar with (she is well aware of John Stamos, Ron Darling, Bill Clinton, and J.J. Hardy) is Kyra Sedgwick. Kyra is an actress with plenty of roles, but the one we are most familiar with in the Bickleyhouse is Brenda Leigh Johnson in The Closer. Oh, and she has also been married to Kevin Bacon since 1988. Here is a humorous clip from an episode of The Closer.


Today’s Bible reading (should I remember to read it) is Exodus 4 and Matthew 25.

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 93.

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

“A simple survey of the world should of itself suffice to attest a Divine Providence. The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion–no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wanderings, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God’s hand? By what means could it maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it?” (p 232)

Father, I pray that, as I look at the creation around me, the earth and the skies and all that fills them, I will remember you as Creator. Of course, the scientific “facts” have changed since John Calvin wrote these words, but that in no way diminishes your power and authority over all creation. When I look at the night sky, especially when I am in a place where light pollution is absent, I am amazed. I praise you, Father, for your creation, and it gives me joy and comfort to think that the One who created all of this has arranged for me to be a part of his Kingdom. Thank you for placing me in Christ, Father. Thank you for adopting me as your child. I pray for the confidence and boldness to proclaim your Kingdom to a lost world. May I be faithful to communicate your love to all people.

I pray for this day, Lord, that we might have a wonderful time with Stephanie as we celebrate her birthday. Keep us safe as we travel around, and may our joy be full today. Thank you for all the friends who have already wished her a happy birthday. Such good friends, Father, that care so deeply for her. That could only happen through you and your love for us.

Your grace is sufficient!

When you look at creation, especially in the sky above us, I pray that it will remind you of the One who holds it all together.


Grace and peace, friends.

“Come To Me”

It’s Sunday morning, August 19, 2012! That means that Stephanie is 19 today!! Happy birthday to our girl! It is also the birthday of our son-in-law, Justin. How weird is that? Happy birthday to Justin, too!

Today is “National Potato Day.” I love me some potatoes! Just about any way I can get them. Except “sweet.” Don’t like sweet potatoes. Except in a pie…but I’d rather have pumpkin pie.

On this date in 1909, the first race was held at the Indianapolis Speedway. (Pay attention Stephanie…all of this stuff happened on YOUR birthday!) Louis Schwitzer won that race. (Not to be confused with Nick Swisher.) On this date in 1964, The Beatles kicked off their first U.S. tour at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. On this date in 1946, Bill Clinton was born. On a not so good note, on this date in 1934, Adolf Hitler became president of Germany.

Also born on this date are Ben Carr (Family Pastor at The Exchange), Orville Wright, Coco Chanel, John Stamos (Stephanie did you know you shared a birthday with HIM??), Matthew Perry, Ginger Baker (drummer for the rock group Cream), Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), and Kyra Sedgwick (we already miss you, Brenda Lee!!).

We had a really good day yesterday. Transporting Grandmother and Don from west Fort Worth to our house went very well. Lunch was good, and we got to visit with the owners of Fogata’s for a few minutes. You see, we haven’t seen them since January, and it was good to visit with them to explain that they didn’t do anything to make us mad. They were thrilled to see our weight loss progress and encouraged us to stay with it. Then they gave us free dessert for Stephanie’s birthday. They do this thing with sopapillas…I’ll just show you.

Of course, we shared that six ways, so it wasn’t too bad for us. Afterward, we came home and had strawberry cake that Stephanie and Christi made together. It was quite good. Today, in about an hour, we head to Mineral Wells, for lunch with my parents (aka Grandma and Grandpa), and the cookie cake that we will take with us. We won’t be losing any weight this weekend. :p

Father, I pray that you would reveal something new to me this morning, or refresh something old. Give me a glimpse of you as I look into your Word today.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 80. Another psalm from Asaph, this one is a prayer for restoration.
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(3, 7, 19)

Verses 17 and 18 seem to be speaking of the Davidic king, and, ultimately, the Messiah.
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!

My Utmost For His Highest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

God’s desire for us is that we live a life that is fully immersed in Jesus Christ. However, there are times, when we are attacked from the outside, that we fall into a sort of introspective mode, and become self-conscious. “Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling.” It is not a sin. There are are multiple circumstances that may produce self-consciousness. “It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.” Anything that disturbs this “rest in Him,” must be dealt with immediately. It is not a case of “ignore it and it will go away,” (not a quote from Chambers), but must be dealt with by coming directly to Jesus Christ. “If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.”

I must beware of anything that threatens to divide my life in Christ, no matter what it is. “The great solution is the simple one–‘Come unto me.'” The verse above provides the simplest of answers, “Come to me.” The answer to every problem we have is, ultimately, “Come to me.” Yes, that sounds overly simplistic. But, “The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words.” Will I argue, rather than come? To the degree that I am not “real,” I will dispute.

In Life Together, Bonhoeffer speaks against the idea of reading bits and pieces of Scripture in the corporate setting. He is a supporter of the idea of lectio continua, or “consecutive reading.” “The Holy Scriptures do not consist of individual sayings, but are a whole and can be used most effectively as such. The Scriptures are God’s revealed Word as a whole.” (p. 60) His response to the objection that people can’t retain and comprehend large portions of Scripture readings in one sitting is this: “If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend a chapter of the Old Testament in its context, then that can only fill us with profound shame.” (ibid) He states that, if this is the case, we must admit that the Bible is mostly unknown to us. And I believe this to be true in the modern church. I believe with all my heart that, if we were to take a poll of Biblical knowledge among churchgoers today, the result would be dismaying. “Mature Christians keep on learning it and learn it better and better; and as they read and hear it on their own, they will never finish this learning.” (p. 61) I know this to be true from personal experience. The Bible is a living book…I learn more from it every time I read it (if I’m truly reading with any comprehension, that is). In his argument against reading single verses out of context, he says this: “The Scripture is a complex unity, and every word, every sentence, contains such a diversity of relationships to the whole that it is impossible always to keep track of the whole when listening to an individual portion of it. Therefore, it appears that the whole of Scripture as well as every passage in it far surpasses our understanding.” (ibid)

On the subject of consecutive reading, he says, “For those who want to hear, reading the biblical books in a sequential order forces them to go, and to allow themselves to be found, where God has acted once and for all the salvation of human beings. The historical books of the Holy Scriptures come alive for us in a whole new way precisely when they are read during worship services. We receive a part of that which once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we too pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness. All this is not mere reverie, but holy, divine reality. We are uprooted from our own existence and are taken back to the holy history of God on earth. There God has dealt with us, and there God still deals with us today, with our needs and our sins, by means of the divine wrath and grace. What is important is not that God is a spectator and participant in our life today, but that we are attentive listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the story of Christ on earth.” (p. 62)

Father, while I certainly believe that it is most definitely important that you be a participator in my life, I also believe that it is more important that I be a participator in what you are doing, which is truly, “the sacred story.” May I be an attentive listener to all that you would say to me. I am inspired, my conscience is pricked by what Bonhoeffer has written. I will purpose to read more complete portions of Scripture in my devotional times. I cannot do anything about the lack of Scripture reading in worship (other than pray that you would inspire our pastors to include more reading of Scripture), but I can do something about what I read on my own. Show me yourself as I read. Show me, through your Word, through the history, the great salvation that you have worked for us! I will listen! I will participate!

And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Wow…I don’t know where that came from. Well, maybe I do. As soon as I typed “And when,” those words immediately came to my mind, and I have to assume that the Spirit put them there. (I know…it’s a worship song from, like, the eighties or something.) But that is the main theme of my devotion today, as I see the answer to all things being the words of Jesus when he says “Come to me.” When circumstances threaten to divide my life, to divide my unity with Jesus, that is what I must do, come to him. Too often, I panic. Or I spend hours meandering around, looking for some answer in the wrong places. Whatever is going on in my life, I will bring it to Jesus. As the old hymn says, “Tell it to Jesus alone.” Too simple for some, I’m guessing. But, Father, I’m a big fan of simple. And I believe that we have been guilty of complicating your grace much more than necessary. May we, your people, find a way back to the simple grace that you have provided on our behalf. May we truly come to you when we are overwhelmed. May we learn to abide in you.

I pray for this day. Give us safe travel to Mineral Wells, now, and a good time of fellowship with my parents as we celebrate Stephanie’s birthday some more. I pray that she have a wonderful day today. And I pray that you show her how much you love her today.

Your grace is sufficient. May it overflow in our lives.

Whatever is distracting you or afflicting you today, come to Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.