Great Are You, Lord

Today is Monday, the 27th of February, 2023, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,727

Yesterday morning was wonderful! The entire worship service flowed in an almost miraculous way. The sermon for yesterday was “Forgive One Another.” They worked lyrics from the solo I sang both into the sermon, as well as into the congregational prayers. The song went very well. I believe it was better in the second service, as my nerves were settled a little bit by then. And it helped that I received many gracious compliments after the first service. I was almost overwhelmed by the positive feedback. But just as much credit goes to the music director. It was she, after all, who found the song that worked so well with both my voice and the flow of the service. And she is an excellent accompanist, as well.

As soon as the video appears on You Tube, I will post it.

Today should be a rather chill day. There are a few household chores that need to be done, but I got groceries delivered on Saturday, and I don’t think we are in desperate need of anything today. I might actually get some music practice in, today. I don’t have anything specific that I am working toward, at the moment, other than choir songs, but I can still practice.


Redeem me from human oppression, 
that I may keep your precepts.
(Psalms 119:134 NRSV)

Daily Prayer from

Lord our God, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers, we entreat you. Let your will be done among us; let your will be done for each one of us individually, and for our time. Let everything go according to your will, even if the way leads through tribulation, fear, and need. For in the end your goal will be reached. In the end you will fulfill your purpose, and your kingdom will come. Your kingdom will come to the honor of your name and for the redemption of all people still suffering on earth. Let your Word bring us blessing. May we go forward joyfully in the patience of Jesus Christ until times change, until a new day dawns and we are allowed to see your glory and your peace. Amen.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NRSV)

Today I am grateful:

  • that God’s purpose in His Kingdom will be fulfilled; He is in total control, regardless of how it appears
  • for strength to endure through tribulation, fear, and need
  • for the wonderful worship service we had, yesterday morning
  • for the large love (chesed) of God, and that we humans are also capable of loving in this way
  • that God is able to bring amazing beauty out of the wilderness of Lent

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:16-18 NRSV)

This is an important thing to remember, when engaging in Lent. We ought not go around broadcasting what we are doing for Lent, whether it be a fast from something or adding something meaningful to our life. It should be, essentially, a secret between self and God. There are three people who know what I am doing for Lent, this season. My wife, my mother, and one of my pastors. No one else will know, at least until after Easter.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. 
Let those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
(Psalms 70:4 NRSV)

Say it with me: “God is great!” “Great are You, Lord!”

You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. 
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
(Psalms 30:11-12 NRSV)
Praise the LORD! 
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
 in the company of the upright, 
in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, 
studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of honor and majesty is his work, 
and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; 
the LORD is gracious and merciful. 

The works of his hands are faithful and just; 
all his precepts are trustworthy. 
They are established forever and ever, 
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; 
he has commanded his covenant forever. 
Holy and awesome is his name. 
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
His praise endures forever. 
(Psalms 111:1-4, 7-10 NRSV)
"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed."
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. 
"Most loving Father,
whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you,
and to cast all our cares on you who cares for us:
Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life
 may hide from me the light of this love which is immortal, 
and which you have manifested to us 
in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. 
(The Divine Hours - The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on my distress, and the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
(2 Samuel 16:10-12 NRSV)

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.” Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD’s anointed?” But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
(2 Samuel 19:18-23 NRSV)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
(Isaiah 35:1 NRSV)

He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.
(Deuteronomy 32:10 NRSV)

A voice cries out: 
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level, 
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, 
and all people shall see it together, 
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
(Isaiah 40:3-5 NRSV)

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
(Mark 1:12-13 NRSV)

How exquisite your love, O God!
(Psalms 36:7 MSG)

First, I want to point out the mercy that David showed Shimei in 2 Samuel. This has always been a beautiful story to me. Shimei comes out of nowhere, throwing rocks and showering curses on David. David’s advisors want to behead Shimei. “No,” says David, “perhaps God has sent him to curse me.”

David had some pretty severe faults. But he truly was, in the big picture, a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know of any other human being that is as good at showing mercy as David was. He had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, who was trying to kill him. Yet he refused to lift a hand against “God’s anointed.” Would that we could all have the same mindset when it comes to retaliation.

Yesterday, in Sunday School, Pastor Eibel talked about Israel’s retaliation against the man who raped their sister, Dinah. “Violence begets violence,” he said, multiple times. And he reminded us that, while we ought not tire of seeking justice, “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord.

Second, I want to talk about Lent. When we consider that the basis for Lent is Jesus’s time in the wilderness before He began His “public ministry,” we know that He fasted for 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, He was tempted by Satan. So, at its roots, the Lenten season is bleak, a wilderness, a kind of desert.

But oh, the things that the Lord can grow out of wilderness. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom!” says Isaiah. Our various activities throughout this season can, if we will allow them, produce beautiful results. We must be faithful and diligent, and allow God to work His will in us.

Third, let’s talk about love. (What, again??) The word for “love” in Psalm 36:7, is “chesed.” I have spoken of this Hebrew word, many times. It is also frequently translated “steadfast love,” and sometimes, even “mercy.”

Eugene H. Peterson says that the word “chesed” is a “large word. We don’t have a single word in the English language that can do it justice, “so we revert to the use of adjectives to bring out the distinctive quality and broad reach of this love: steadfast love, loyal love.”

Many times, as in Psalm 36:7, chesed is used to refer to the love of God. but we are “also capable of loving this way, even though we never seem to get veery good at it. Chesed is love without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.”

(Quotes from Leap Over A Wall, quoted in God’s Message for Each Day)

GREAT ARE YOU, LORD!! O, my Father, how magnificent is Your Name in all the earth, and throughout the heavens! I praise and worship You, this morning. We have so many reasons to praise You. The primary reason is simply because You are God! In additions, we praise You for Your forgiveness of our sin. Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that paid the price for our sin. Thank You for erasing our sin when we believe in Christ and follow Him.

Now, I pray, Father, that You help us to be obedient and forgive each other. Jesus said that we are to forgive each other, even if someone sins seven times against us in the same day! He also advised our brother, Peter, to forgive “seventy times seven” times, which we assume to be indicative of no limit. There is also no provision in there for the asking of forgiveness by the offending person. In short, we are to forgive them whether they seek it or not! Help us to do this, Lord. Make Your Holy Spirit strong within us!

Help us to show the kind of mercy that David showed, both to King Saul, who was actively trying to kill him, and to Shimei, who threw rocks at him and cursed him. Enlarge our hearts, Father, that we might be quick to overlook offense and consider that, perhaps, You have sent it our way for testing and strengthening.

Thank You that You can bring beautiful things out of the wilderness of Lent, Father. We know that Lent is not necessarily a “biblical” season. Nevertheless, we find great value in observing it, as we consider the 40 days that our Savior spent in the wilderness. For all who are observing Lent, this year, I pray that You give us wisdom and strength; that we might fulfill our commitment, and that we might also keep silent about it before others. It is between You and us.

Finally, Father, thank You for Your great chesed, Your “large love,” as Peterson called it. Your love is indeed large, Father. It is larger than anything. And it is most certainly larger than our sins. Help us to love in the same way You love. Help us to both love You and to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Love (Again)

Today is Sunday, the twenty-third of January, 2022, in the third week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,327

Our Hamilton show is today. I’m not sure what I’m going to count down to, next.

I had a pretty decent night’s sleep, last night. The new CPAP seems to be working pretty well. I’m getting more used to it. However, I have learned that I can’t use the humidifier feature in it, as it tends to clog up my nose. Fortunately, that feature can be turned off.

I learned a couple new things at the library, yesterday, the coolest being how to encode our RFID (I have no idea what that stands for) tags that are stuck in the back of the book. This is an electronic tag that is used to both check the book in and out, as well as provide security at the front door. So when I lay a book on the electronic pad at the circ desk, it checks the book out to the patron and unlocks the security feature so the alarm won’t go off when the patron leaves.

A patron was trying to check out a book that she had placed on hold, and the computer kept saying that the book was not in the system. I noticed that, when I scanned the book on the pad, the number that went in simply said “0.” The assistant librarian on duty helped me and showed me that the RFID tag had not been encoded with the bar code number, then taught me how to do that. Lo and behold, I had to do it again, later in the day, as I was clearing one of the book drops.

I also learned how to clear a patron’s charges from being billed for a “lost” book, after they returned the book to the library. This had not come up, yet, when I was on duty.

As previously stated, our show of Hamilton is this afternoon at 1:30. So we will be heading downtown as soon as we leave our church gathering, today. We will likely pick up Applebee’s on the way home for a mid-afternoon meal.


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
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!
(Psalms 34:1-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for music and all the joy it brings me, both in the realm of worship and praise, as well as entertainment
2. for brothers and sisters in Christ, and the opportunity to read God's Word together
3. for chocolate candy (all kinds, actually . . . I pretty much love candy, but chocolate is my favorite)
4. that God has been merciful to me, a sinner
5. for the beautiful innocence of children, and for Jesus's teaching that we must become like them to enter the Kingdom

In this morning’s Bible readings in You Version, I came across this passage.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. 
And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 
But Jesus called them to him, saying, 
"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, 
for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 
Truly, I say to you, 
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)

As we were closing the library last night, a young family with two small boys were leaving. As they went out the front door, the two boys were waving and saying goodbye to everyone they saw. The circulation manager was standing by the front doors, as is customary at closing time. Suddenly, I heard one of the little boys shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to the manager.

My heart nearly exploded. Is it any wonder that Jesus told us that we need to become like children to enter the Kingdom? This is the kind of love we must have for others. This is the kind of love I have been striving for for at least five years, now, and more intensely every year, especially in the current political climate of our nation.

Folks, this is not negotiable, in my opinion. There are two “great commands” (here he goes again . . .) that Jesus speaks of. Love the Lord your God with all of your being, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And then, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus delved a little deeper into that second one when He told His disciples that they were to love one another as He had loved them.

This love transcends everything else, and, most importantly, it transcends our blasted opinions about everything!! We should be able to shout, “I LOVE YOU!” to anyone we meet, just like that little boy, last night, regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of the color of their skin.

Trust me, I’m preaching to myself as much as I’m preaching to anyone else. There are some who know me, who know my political leanings and opinions, but I try to keep them away from this place. You may think you know, but you might be mistaken. What I am striving for is to not “lean” in either direction, politically, but to lean toward Jesus. I am reminded of Psalm 146.

Praise the LORD! 
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
 I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man,
 in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; 
on that very day his plans perish. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the LORD his God, 
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, 
who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed, 
who gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
 The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
 the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the sojourners; 
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, 
to all generations. 
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)

My hope is not in a human prince, but, rather, the Prince of Peace. My hope is not in a human king, but, rather, the King of Kings. My hope is not in a President or any other human ruler. Hope is in Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord, Son of God, maker of heaven and earth.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
(John 3:19 ESV).

Today’s prayer word is “always.”

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
(Exodus 27:20 KJV)

Father, may my love for You and the Light that is within me burn brightly, consistently, and “always.” Father, my heart is aching this morning, as I consider how I have failed to be like a child in my striving to walk in Your Kingdom. Sure, I’ve gotten better, over the years, but I still let differences of opinions and attitudes affect the way I feel about people. I confess this . . . it is sinful . . . and I ask, not only for the forgiveness that You freely give, but that You . . . well . . . fix me. Embed that light of Jesus, that love that He has, within me so deeply that I know no other way. Help me to beat my breast like that tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” I pray that prayer daily . . . “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” May it be so in my life. My hope is in You, Father. My hope is in no man. For only You can give us the resources and ability to execute justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry, set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind, lift up those who are bowed down, love the righteous, and uphold the widows and fatherless. You watch over the way of the travelers and sojourners, Father. Protect us when we travel, but help us to look out for those who are fleeing oppression in another land.

Father, help us to start a love revolution.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.


Today is Saturday, the eighth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,312

Fifteen days until Hamilton!

Yesterday was a sad day, as we learned of the deaths of two more entertainment giants. First, I learned that Sidney Poitier passed away at the age of 94. Most people remember him for To Sir With Love, but I remember him more for A Patch of Blue. Minutes after I learned of his passing, I learned that Peter Bogdanovich, director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and Mask, among others, had also passed away, at the age of 82. Both of them died on Thursday.

It was, of course, another great day at the library. In addition to working the computer center, which seemed busier than usual, with more people needing extended help, I was asked to jump over and do some shelving for the last couple of hours. Due to some unusual “projects” going on at the time, the shelving hall had gotten very backed up. There’s a chance that I might be doing a little more of that today, in between my times at the circulation desk. I believe my manager sent out an email asking the circ manager if I could do shelving during my “off-desk” hours.

Of course, I’m totally fine with this. Whatever they need me to do, I’m cool with.

Today, I am due in at 9:30, working until 6:15.

It is currently 45 degrees (which I believe is warmer than yesterday’s high), and is projected to reach 64 later today. It is currently cloudy, but is expected to be clear, this evening. Tonight’s low is expected to be 45. The temp range for the next week seems a bit more “normal” for this time of year, ranging from just below freezing in the morning to as high as 68 one day.

I finished reading A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins, last night, and posted my review of it in my other blog. I am currently reading, at the recommendation of one of the librarians, Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens). This volume contains both stories, along with quite a bit of critical content. I will try to get through all of the critical content after reading the stories. After completing two books in the first week of 2022, I am ahead of schedule on my reading challenge for the year. I’m sure that will not last long.


Little Quiet Moments, by Daryl Madden

In the midst of life
An offer here for free
To take a little moment
To be still and be

A moment to ponder
A change of attitude
Practicing of wonder
To foster gratitude

A moment of dwelling
With our being whole
To open to Spirit
And center the soul

A moment of vision
Perspective to see
Of the infinite ways
That Gods’ blessing me

Little quiet moments
An insight of gleaning
That seem to give the rest
Extra special meaning

This poem inspired by a quote from Fred Rogers: “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspiration and meditative poetry at the link provided above.

You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for books and the authors who write them
2. for all of my new friends at the Hurst Public Library
3. for the fullness of joy in the presence of the Father
4. that I have a part in God's story, no matter how small it may seem
5. that God will never leave us or forsake us

Today, in Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, we get to the book of Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth was an “outsider,” not born into the faith. “But she came to find herself gathered into the story and given a quiet and obscure part that proved critical to the way everything turned out.”

In the midst of all the great names of faith (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon), we find this ordinary, seemingly random person. You and I, along with Ruth, might find ourselves saying, “Surely there is no way that I can have any significant part on such a stage.”

Of course, Ruth said no such thing, because she wasn’t even aware that there was a stage. But we, as we look back on this story, can easily find ourselves wondering how we, as similarly ordinary people, can possibly have a part in God’s great plan.

Says Peterson, “The book of Ruth makes it possible for each of us to understand ourselves, however ordinary or ‘out of it,’ as irreplaceable in the full telling of God’s story. We count–every last one of us–and what we do counts.”

“Blessed be GOD! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life.”
(Ruth 4:14 MSG)

As Rich Mullins said, in "Who God Is Gonna Use," 
"You never know who God is gonna use
A princess or a baby
Maybe even you or me."
"Behold, I will do a new thing . . ."
(Isaiah 43:19)

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
(Job 12:12 ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; 
they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
(Proverbs 16:31 ESV)

That Isaiah verse has popped up a lot, since January 1. I suppose that is always a theme for the “New Year,” that God is doing a “new thing.” But then, He is always doing a “new thing,” isn’t He? We read that favorite verse from Lamentations frequently, that talks about His mercies being “new every morning.” We wake up every morning to a new day. And who doesn’t remember the old cliche, from the seventies, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” (Okay, maybe it was earlier than the seventies.)

Cliche as it is, it’s true. Every day is the “first day of the rest of your life.” What do we do about that? And, no matter how old we get (I’m almost 64, now), God can and will keep using us to do “new things.” We are never too old to be a part of God’s great story!

Speaking of “never,” that happens to be today’s prayer word in Pray a Word a Day. Harriet Beecher Stowe is quoted as saying, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

The word “never” occurs in 186 verses in the Bible (in the English Standard Version). The first four of those are in Genesis 8 and 9, when God promises that He will never again destroy the earth in the way that He did in the flood. In Judges 2:1, “the angel of the LORD” says, “I will never break my covenant with you.”

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
(Psalms 34:5 ESV)

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
(Psalms 112:6 ESV)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
(Isaiah 51:6 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
(Daniel 6:26 ESV)

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
(Zephaniah 3:15 ESV)

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:14 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
(John 6:35-37 ESV)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:28 ESV)

There are many more occurrences of the word, a number of them more negative. But the point I make, here, is that God has made promises that He will not leave us, and that those of us who believe in Jesus and follow Him, will not be put to shame, cast out, or perish. There are other places where the word “never” is exclusively used in the KJV, but the ESV uses a word such as “not.” Deuteronomy 31:8 is one such place.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

In light of all of those “nevers,” I think it is safe to say that we, as His children, should “never give up,” because it’s “never too late.” You see, if our God is always in the business of doing “new things,” then we are “never” too old to be included in those “new things.” I’m wearing out my ” key, here.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” we’ve all heard. I disagree, because I’m an “old dog” and I learn “new tricks” almost every day.

God is doing a “new thing.” You never know who He is going to use in His plan. Remember, He even used a donkey once (go back and listen to that Rich Mullins song again). He used some real jerks in the story (go back and read about Judges in yesterday’s blog). He used a “nobody” like Ruth to be the great-grandmother of King David, in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

I won’t be in the lineage of a Savior, but I know for a fact that God has used me in peoples’ lives. I am confident that He will continue to do so, even though, in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty much a nobody. But you know what?

Everybody is somebody to somebody.

Father, I am grateful to know that You will never give up on me. Because of that, I will also never give up on You and what You can do in someone’s life, or in the life of our world and culture. I will never stop calling out to You; I will never stop worshiping You; I will never stop singing and playing my instruments to You. And I believe that, no matter how old I live to be, that You will continue to do new and fresh things within me and those around me.

I continue (because I will never give up) to pray that You will intervene and eradicate the plague that surrounds us. To all appearances, it is getting worse, daily. The country where I live had 850,000 new cases yesterday, a new record. But You know this. I implore You (yes, a fancy word for “beg”) to rid us of this disease, Father. I pray that the cases will stop, that the hospitals and their workers will get some relief. I also pray that people would stop being so mean to one another. Help us to love again, Lord. Help me to do my part, even more than my part, to spread love in this world.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Third Day of Christmas

Today is Sunday, December 27, 2020. The third day of Christmas.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,935

Only five days until 2021!

Having all of these days off kind of messes with your head, let me tell you. All day, yesterday, we kept having to remind ourselves that it was only Saturday, and that we didn’t have to get up and go to work “tomorrow.” And it will happen again, next week, as we both have New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day off.

Then there are no more holidays until Memorial Day. That’s five straight months without a non-weekend day off, unless we take PTO, which we most certainly will. I’ll probably take my birthday week off in March, especially since I got another whole week when I hit my ten-year work anniversary, last month.

Yesterday was a good day. WW results: I lost 3.2 pounds since the last weigh-in, which was two weeks ago. If I can manage to lose 1.6 this week, I will hit 100 pounds for the year! It’s really tempting to “cheat” myself and scrimp on eating, this week, just to insure that I make it. But, as anyone who has been in WW before knows, that tactic can sometimes backfire. I will attempt to do everything as normally as possible. If I make it, great! I will celebrate. If I don’t, I will surely hit it the next week, and I will celebrate. There will be no crying.

Lunch was leftover Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken and corn casserole. Then we made chicken stir-fry for dinner, last night, with red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and onion. Add a little soy sauce for flavor, and put some rice in the bowl (for 5 Smart Points). So delicious!

Nothing planned at all for today, at least not yet. I’m sure C will get in a walk. Our little church is not meeting today, as some wanted to have the Sunday after Christmas as an off day. I’m sure S will tune in to the live broadcast from FBC Mineral Wells.


Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us

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


Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
(Psalms 99:1-5 NIV)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:9-14 NIV)

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
(John 1:16-18 NIV)

At this point, each morning, I will try to share what words/phrases/concepts speak to me through the selected reading. Today, the first word is “light.” Jesus is called the Light of the world. John calls Him the “true light that gives light to everyone.”

I’m intrigued at the language, because this Jesus, of whom it was said in Matthew that He would save His people from their sins, is here said, in John 1, to give light to everyone.

Isaiah 9:2 days that the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. We were all walking in darkness before Jesus Christ entered the world in the flesh, and He is that Great Light.

The light shone on everyone. However, not everyone acknowledges or receives that light. The ones who do obtain the “right to become children of God.”

The other thing that speaks to me is in verse 18. Part of that bringing of light to everyone is the revealing of God to us. Jesus, about whom John says that He “is himself God,” has made the Father known to us.

We need nothing else.

Father, I give You thanks, this morning, for molding my heart so that it was receptive to this Light. I would not have sought this Light on my own. I praise You that Jesus, the Light of the world, came and made You known to us. Help us, Your Church, Your children, do a better job of displaying that Light in our own lives. Help us to follow Christ in our homes, our workplaces, and in our neighborhoods.

I also pray that all of us who claim to follow Christ would do a better job of serving the “common good.” Help us to be more concerned about our “fellow man” than we are about ourselves. Certainly, we must take care of ourselves, but we are confused about what is needed and what is wanted. We are also confused about what are our “rights,” when we should have surrendered all of those to Christ, upon believing in Him and choosing to follow Him.

I also lift up a prayer for all who have had to work through the holidays. I may even have work associates who are working today. So I lift them up to You, and ask You to rain grace and mercy down on them.

"Unseen God,
I sometimes wonder:
what are you like?
Thank you for not leaving me in the dark
but making yourself known in Jesus.
Because he is one with you,
I see exactly what you are like in him,
a perfect reflection of your glory.
Give me the eyes to see you
and faith to serve you.
(Belgic Confession, 10)

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalms 103:1-14 ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 89:52 ESV)

Extol the LORD, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion.
He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 147:12-20 NIV)

The truths presented in Psalm 103 are glorious. The most important, I believe, being that God is no longer angry with us, He has forgiven us, and He looks on us with compassion. “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.”

These are such comforting words, good to return to during just about any period of life, but most especially when our enemy digs up past sins out of our trash and presents them to us in an effort to disable us with shame. If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, that works. It shouldn’t. And if we remember passages such as Psalm 103, it won’t work as often.

Father, I give You praise because You are not angry with me, You have forgiven me, and You look on me with compassion. I give You praise because You think about me at all. I am not worthy of Your compassion, Your grace, Your mercy, even Your love. Yet You have chosen to love us, and even more, You chose to sacrifice Jesus for us, in order that our sins might be forgiven. I cannot, and will not ever be able to, adequately express gratitude for this. So I will simply praise You whenever it crosses my mind.

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!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(Psalms 107:1 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your mercy, so wonderfully lavished upon us
  2. For Your forgiveness, which I can rest in
  3. For Your compassion, which keeps me going, and enables me to love others in return
  4. For the Light of the world, who reveals You to us
  5. That I am still alive and breathing

Grace and peace, friends.

Love, Yet Again

Today is Wednesday, December 23, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,931

It is “Christmas Eve Eve.” And our last day of work for this week. So it feels like Friday, today.

The weather continues to be mild in DFW, but will be chilly in the mornings over the next few days. Christmas day looks to be around freezing in the morning, but up to sixty-two for the high.

It appears that my hopes for a New Year’s Eve snow have been eradicated. There might be some ice, from rain that happens the day before, as the temps drop below freezing, but then it is projected to clear up and be in the lower fifties for the high, both NYE and January 1.

I had a pretty good day, yesterday. The expedite portion of my job stayed rather slow, with only a couple people being active, so I was able to focus on clearing out unreceivables. I’m hoping today will be the same. That also makes it much less stressful.


Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

(St. Teresa of Avila)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For my eyes; Lord help me to see more beauty around me
  2. For my ears; Lord help me to listen better
  3. That You were pierced for our transgressions
  4. That Your chastisement brought us peace
  5. That Your wounds brought us healing

Psalms 43:3-4 ESV
(3) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
(4) 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.

“Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord, our God,
For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(A Song to the Lamb)

Psalms 84:10 ESV
(10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Luke 1:30-38 ESV
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

(34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

(35) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
(36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Psalms 24:1-6 ESV
(1) A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
(2) for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
(3) Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
(5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Isaiah 9:2 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

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. 
"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Psalms 63:3 ESV
(3) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Isaiah 53:1-9 ESV
(1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
(3) He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

(4) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
(8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
(9) And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

As I read this passage, this morning, I am moved, almost to tears. Sure, I have read this, perhaps, hundreds of times. But today, as I am considering my points of gratitude, I get stuck in verse 5.

Jesus did not meet the expectations of the masses when He arrived. Isaiah even describes Him as being “despised and rejected.” Also, according to verse 2, He wasn’t much to look at. All of those paintings that depict him as being so beautiful . . . nothing more than artistic liberty.

In spite of all of this, He fulfilled His purpose, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. And then, the kicker. Verse 6. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

In the words of Xochitl Dixon, my favorite Our Daily Bread writer, “Nothing is more beautiful than that.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
(14) Let all that you do be done in love.

John 13:34-35 ESV
(34) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
(35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 4:7 ESV
(7) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Psalms 145:1-9 ESV
(1) A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
(2) Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
(3) Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
(4) One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
(5) On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
(6) They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
(7) They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(8) The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
(9) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Verse 8 mirrors what the Lord said to Moses, as He passed by so Moses could see his back, while hiding in the “cleft of the rock.” Jonah also quoted these words back to God in chapter 4 of his story. But Jonah was angry because God chose to spare a people whom he despised.

But verse 9 should make us all stop in our tracks. “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Are we equally good to all? Do we only want God to show love to the people we like?

I shared 1 Corinthians 16:14 (above) on Facebook and Instagram today. Both with the caption, “I’m still working on this.” It’s true. As much as I preach love through this platform, I confess that I still struggle with doing everything I do in love. I also still struggle with loving all whom I know are loved by God.

I’m willing to bet we all struggle with this. But at least some of us are “struggling.” There are many who don’t even seem to consider it, spewing hatred at anyone who differs from them politically, theologically, sexually, or racially. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

And I need to love those people, too. Period. Hard stop.

Father, You have brought me back around to love again, today. The fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I still have much to learn. I am grateful that I don’t read those Scriptures and say, “I’m doing pretty good.” Rather, I read them and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And that is truly my prayer. Have mercy, Lord. Keep working on me, teaching me to love, and to do everything that I do in love. Help me to love with Your love, and show that to all around me, because You love them, too, as You show Your love and goodness to all You have created.

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!

Grace and peace, friends.

You Have Searched Me and Known Me

Today is Tuesday, December 15, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,923

Ten more days until Christmas. There’s a pile of packages, waiting to be wrapped, on the desk at the front of our house.

We still have not quite sussed out how we are going to share those with the rest of the family, though.

You will notice that today’s blog is slightly later than normal. I am not going to work today, as the funeral for C’s step-brother will be this afternoon. They are having the “visitation” piece this morning, around 11:00, so I took the whole day off. I’m out of PTO for the year, so it will be without pay, but my site manager was very gracious to work with me on this. We have a bereavement policy, but it does not extend to “step” relatives. I could have said that my wife’s “brother” had passed, but I chose to be completely honest about it.

So, even though it will be a day away from the stress and anxiety of work, it will be a day fraught with emotional distress, which will result in just as much exhaustion as a day at work. Prayers are coveted.

I can’t really think of anything else to write, so I will move on to


This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 95:1 ESV
(1) Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and breathing
  2. For the peace that passes understanding
  3. For the generous spirit You have given me
  4. For the guidance of the Holy Spirit away from being quarrelsome
  5. That You know everything there is to know about me
  6. That, no matter where I find myself, Your right hand holds me

Psalms 144:5 ESV
(5) Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Psalms 71:23 ESV
(23) My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

Psalms 89:1 ESV
(1) I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Revelation 3:10-13 ESV
(10) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
(11) I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
(12) The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
(13) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Psalms 103:10-14 ESV
(10) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
(11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
(12) as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(13) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
(14) For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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. 
"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Seventeen

Judges 13:2-7 ESV
(2) There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children.
(3) And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
(4) Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean,
(5) for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
(6) Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name,
(7) but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'”

Judges 13:24-25 ESV
(24) And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him.
(25) And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Luke 1:5-25 ESV
(5) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
(6) And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
(7) But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

(8) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
(9) according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
(10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
(11) And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
(12) And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
(13) But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
(14) And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
(15) for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
(16) And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
(17) and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

(18) And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
(19) And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
(20) And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
(21) And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.
(22) And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.
(23) And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

(24) After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,
(25) “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV
(22) So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
(23) Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
(24) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
(25) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
(26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

This is related to what occurred in my spirit, yesterday. If you recall, I was convicted, yesterday, of harboring some hatred (mild, perhaps, but still a form of hatred, nonetheless) toward some folks who have different political beliefs than I. Repentance happened, along with restored joy, which continued throughout the day.

This topic is similar. First, we are forbidden (seriously, folks, forbidden) to engage in “foolish, ignorant controversies” that “breed quarrels.” They may not seem foolish or ignorant to you or me, but if we would step back from the ledge, we would, perhaps see that, in the grand scheme of things, they truly are.

And why must we resist that temptation? Because “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome.” Period.

That’s a big bite to chew on, especially for someone who has spent a large part of his adult life with a love for arguing. No. We must not be quarrelsome, but “kind to everyone.”

“For all who love God and seek to tell others about Him, may we speak His truth in love. With every word, the Holy Spirit will help us.” (Patricia Raybon, Our Daily Bread)

Note that she said, “HIS truth.” There is a whole lot of “truth” being proclaimed out there, these days, even by followers of Christ, that is not God’s truth. We really need to be more careful what we proclaim as truth.

Psalms 139:1-12 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
(2) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
(3) You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
(4) Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(5) You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
(6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
(7) Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
(8) If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
(9) If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
(10) even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
(11) If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
(12) even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

I’ve been waiting all year for this Psalm to come up. It is one of my favorites of the 150. I can’t say it is my absolute favorite. I love too many of them to make a claim like that about any one of them. It is definitely in the top five, though.

The truths proclaimed in this psalm give me great comfort. God knows everything about me. Everything! He is “omniscient.” Even down to knowing what I’m going to say before the words are on my lips. To some, this would be terrifying, I know. But I get great comfort from this.

Why? Because I know that I cannot hide anything from God. Therefore, I never try. I might hide things from other people. But I am completely transparent with my Father in heaven, because I know He knows it all, already.

He is also everywhere. He is “omnipresent.” He hems me in, behind and before. I’m reminded of one of the prayers of St. Patrick.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

Where can I go? Where can I flee? Nowhere! There is nowhere that God is not! This is also something that can either be comforting or terrifying. But it is only comforting for me.

Because of these things, when my wife points out a flaw of mine, or that I’m acting particularly weirdly, at any given moment, I am free to listen to her and heed her advice. I can “bear to let God expose [me] and to overcome [my] distorted self-views, which are so confused and biased.” And trust me, we all have “distorted self-views.”

Also comforting is verse 10. Wherever I go, wherever I may find myself, God’s hand will lead me, His right hand will hold me. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses of the past few years.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV
(10) fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

“Lord, I confess that when things go wrong in my life, I seldom stop to consider whether you are lovingly trying to show me something that needs to change. Friends tell friends the truth, even when it hurts. So help me to be open to your friendship and critique. Amen.”

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

Father, You have given me a lot, this morning. Thank You for guiding my heart away from being quarrelsome. This past year, for sure, has been somewhat groundbreaking in that arena, as I strive to maintain an attitude of love and thankfulness, trying to form a “love revolution” in my small sphere of influence. I still have a lot of work to do in that area. Or should I say “we” still have the work to do, for I cannot do it alone.

I praise You for the truths that You are always near me, and that You know everything about me, before I know it myself. I find this quite comforting, and it encourages me to be completely open before You. I am not afraid to confess to You when I have thoughts that I should not entertain. And in that area, I am also thankful for the therapy that I have recently been involved in. It has been very helpful, even after only a few sessions. Wherever I am, Your right hand holds me. Therefore, I will not fear, even if the mountains tumble into the sea.

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!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The rEVOLution

Today is Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Peace be with you.

Day 22,854

FOUR DAYS until our Broken Bow vacation!

Five days until our 25th wedding anniversary. And, actually, only one more day until we are on PTO for over a week!

Well, I can’t think of anything to say, this morning, so I’ll jump right into my devotions. Let me rephrase that. There are definitely things I could think of to say. But sometimes, it’s best not to say everything you think, you know.


Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.
God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah. because they do not change and do not fear God.
(Psalms 55:16-19 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For another day of life
  2. That You satisfy me in the morning with Your unfailing love (Psalm 90:14)
  3. That my life matters because of You
  4. That You have called me to show others Your love
  5. For drawing me further in, this morning

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
(Psalms 67:1 ESV)

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
(Psalms 31:1 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
(Psalms 118:22 ESV)

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
(Matthew 16:27 ESV)

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
(Psalms 110:1-4 ESV)

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalms 70:1 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. 
"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.
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.
(Psalms 90:1-2 NLT)

Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.
Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
O LORD, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!
(Psalms 90:10-17 NLT)

Does your life count? Does it matter?

We know that life is short; it is brief. We might get seventy or eighty years. Some get more than that. But “even the best years are filled with pain and trouble” (verse 10).

If we get too caught up in this mindset (even though it is truth), we might begin to despair. Everything is too big; too huge. This universe is seemingly infinite, and the God who created it even more so.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?
(Psalms 8:3-4 NLT)

But then Moses (he wrote this psalm) gives us verses 12 and 14. Lord, teach us to realize how short life is. Other versions say “Teach us to number our days.”

You see that number up at the top of this blog?

Day 22,854

One day, I decided to take Psalm 90:12 literally. That’s how many days I’ve had. If I were able to go back and remember all of them, I wonder how many of those would be filled with pain and trouble. Or maybe not “filled” with pain and trouble, but I would be willing to bet that not a single one of those days has gone by with no pain or trouble at all.

But that’s a lot of days!! I mean, seriously! Almost twenty-three thousand days! It looks even longer when you write it out. Hahaha!

Yet, it seems as though I am suddenly sixty-two years old.

I’m rambling. Sorry.

The point of all of this is that, yes, life is brief, and, yes, God is huge and intimidating.

But He loves us, oh, how He loves us.

And if we contemplate that love, we can be satisfied by it, every morning. And we can also “be glad all our days.” So, even in the midst of the pain and the trouble, we can be joyful, when we remember how much our Father loves us.

How much does He love us? I’ll give you two pictures.

Our lives also matter, because, while we are here, “we can show God’s love to others. Though our lives are short, they’re not meaningless if we leave a legacy of God’s love. We’re not here on earth to make money and retire in style, but to ‘show God’ to others by showing them His love.”
(David H. Roper, Our Daily Bread)

And, for further encouragement, even though our days on this earth may be short, we are, in fact, “creatures of eternity.” We may be “children of time,” but we are destined for eternity. One day, Jesus will return, and we will be taken to our forever Home, whatever that will look like. There’s a beautiful picture in the final chapters of Revelation.

So, yes. Your life counts. My life counts. And the more I live up to my destiny and purpose, the more it counts. This is why I’m spending my efforts and energy on this blog and in social media to promote LOVE. I’ve said before . . . I’m trying to start a “love revolution.”

Whoever designed that was brilliant. I never noticed the word “love” backwards in the word “revolution” before.

I want to love others as Jesus has loved me. I want to fulfill my destiny and purpose, and I want my life to have meaning.

Father, I am grateful for this calling upon my life. I praise You for the love You have lavished upon all of us. And I praise You for working it into my spirit, of late, that I might be able to shower the world around me with your love. Help me to start this “love revolution” and keep it going. It may be a revolution of only one person. But so be it. If I can be one person who makes some kind of impact on my world, then I will have fulfilled Your purpose in my life.

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!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.