Known By God

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of November.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,267

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

We got the outside lights up, yesterday. And of course, one of them is already not lighting up. It’s possible it is just a bit loose in the connector. That happens sometimes, especially with a brand new set. We might have a chance to get the ladder back out, later today, and try to fix it. Of course, as well, it is the next to the top light on the house.

I finished a game on my PC, last night, after work. I got home from the library, cooked some eggs and toast for a quick dinner, and sat down to play Cyberpunk 2077. I knew I was close to the end, because, in a recent session, I reached one of those points where you get a warning asking if you’re sure you want to keep going, because there’s not going back from this point. Sure enough, I completed the story line.

As the ending approached, there were multiple choices to be made. There were at least three different choices as to who I wanted to take with me for the final fight, and then, at the very end, there was a very important choice, as well. I like the ending that I got, but am aware that, similar to Fallout 4, there are multiple ending possibilities. Makes me want to play the final sequence again, making different choices, just to see what happens.

But not for now. According to the Steam app, I have put 265+ hours into the game. Time for something different. Hahaha!

Today, I’m working from 9:15-6:15. I’m off tomorrow and Friday, for Thanksgiving holiday. I would have been off tomorrow, anyway. However, I will be working from 1:00-5:00 next Thursday. The circulation manager asked me if I would work that shift, since I’m going to be short hours on that pay period, and she needs help with coverage that day, so I said, “sure!”

Oh. I forgot to mention that we have another cat in the house. We got this one from the Watauga shelter, and she is already two years old and spayed, so we don’t have to worry about that. She is a tabby who looks a lot like S’s cat, Honey. We have decided that she will be called Magnolia. We will probably call her Maggie or Mags, for short.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Is A Blessing?, by Daryl Madden

What is a blessing?
But a share of
A taste of heaven
A gift of Gods’ love

Of nothing deserved
But one of pure grace
Let us receive it
With a grateful embrace

A treasure to cherish
Shared in many ways
If we are aware
We will be amazed!

Just a reminder
Of this message true
As a child of God
You’re a blessing too!
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all my friends and family; you are, indeed, a blessing to me
2. that I am alive and breathing, and have awakened to another new day
3. for the Light of Jesus Christ in my life
4. that I can sing praises to You and make music on various instruments
5. that You know me, intimately, as You know the number of and the names of all the stars in the heavens

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 ESV)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
You need milk,
not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness,
since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

Father, make me more like Jesus, increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with You and those around me. Make me mature in Your Word, living on the “solid food” that comes from constant immersion in it.

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven
and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning,
and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women,
Do not be afraid,
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here,
for he has risen,
as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:1-6 ESV)

“Awake,
O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

For you are all children of light,
children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5 ESV)

Father, may the Light of Christ shine on and through me, today.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me,
your High God,
above politics,
above everything.”
(Psalms 46:10 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet morning, I am struck by the Light that is Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to be “alive and awake,” shining brightly, in this world of darkness, with the Light of Jesus. I stop to take a long, loving, look at my Father, who is present with me, at all times.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
(Psalms 147:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
(Jonah 1:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that have stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my attention. Is there something within about which I need to ask God? I pray my life to my Father and rest in His presence.

Do you know how many stars there are? Does anyone? God not only knows the number of stars, He “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Yes, I do realize that this is poetry, not theology. But it gives us insight into the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of our God. “His understanding has no limit.”

If He knows every star and calls it by name, how much more does He know each of us? God Almighty, the Creator of everything that we can see and much that we cannot see, condescends to know us. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows everything that I am going to do and say today. He knows what I am going to think.

Yet, still He loves me. He remembers that we are only dust.

This causes me to do what Psalm 147:7 tells me to do. “Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.” I don’t have a harp, but I have instruments, and I can use them to make music to God. I also have a voice, with which I can sing praises to Him.

Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of us! You, who created everything, have made Yourself known to us, just as You know us. Someday, when we see You, face to face (as much as will be possible), we will know You as intimately as You know us. But, for now, we cannot handle such knowledge; it is too wonderful, we cannot attain it. As I go through this day, may this knowledge carry me through all challenges that I might face. Give me Your wisdom and shine in me with the Light of Jesus Christ. May His light be visible in me. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Father,
never let Your salvation,
Your free choice of me,
make me lax or arrogant toward others.
Never let me forget that You've chosen me for both a special relationship as Your child and a special service,
becoming a channel of blessing for all.
In Christ's Name,
amen."

BLESSING

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on
and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.
For such persons loyally in love with God,
the reward is life and more life.
(James 1:12 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Utterly Meaningless

Today is Sunday, the thirty-first of October, 2021. It is Halloween.

Day 23,243 (the number of days since I was born)

Seven days until Daylight Saving Time ends (fall back . . . you can’t say you weren’t warned!)

There are a number of reasons that today is significant. As already mentioned, it is Halloween. I really enjoy this “holiday” (I don’t really consider it a holiday, because we don’t get the day off from work, if it falls on a work day.), and the celebrations have been going on for a few days, already. I saw some very cool costumes at the library yesterday, as we had a family event yesterday afternoon. My favorite was the son of one of the other library aides (who, next week, will no longer be an aide, but a part time assistant librarian!) who came dressed as a dalek from Dr. Who.

That’s not his costume, of course . . . that’s just an image to show you what a dalek looks like.

Another reason this day is significant is that, 504 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, today is deemed “Reformation Day.”

But, for us, today is the most special because, twelve years ago, today, our oldest daughter, R, got married to J. So we wish them a “Happy Hallowversary” every year on this day!

I think I already mentioned that our church group is not gathering this morning. At this point, I don’t have any plans to attend elsewhere. We will also not be home to hand out candy, this evening, which is probably a good thing, because it means we did not buy any candy, and the last thing we need is overflow Halloween candy laying around our house. Those bite-sized candy bars find a way of always falling in my mouth, you know. Yesterday, at the library, I “accidentally” ate three giant Lemonheads.

We will be going to a friend’s house for “Halloween chili” tonight. That’s one of our favorite events of the year. I think S might even be planning to dress up as a kitten. I might wear my “wizard costume,” which consists of a black trench coat, a felt hat, and a walking stick. Impressive, eh?

There are no other plans for today. And my next shift at the library is Tuesday evening. Did I mention that I got my Covid booster last Thursday? I can’t remember if I did. But I was really tired all day yesterday, and felt a little icky Friday night. But at one point Friday night, I finally got up and took some Advil, so I felt pretty normal yesterday, but just really tired. My left arm is still marginally sore, but not too bad.

The Braves won again, last night, to take a 3-1 lead over the Astros, in the World Series. I’m hoping they can put it away tonight. I suppose I should be more interested in it, if I’m truly a fan of baseball. But I’m not, and it is what it is, right?

I may have forgotten this, yesterday, but I’m still reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. I’m close to finishing and should finish it this afternoon.

On to what’s truly important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Finding Light, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

October ending
seasons come and go,
the River winds on
 
Selah (Psalm 19:8)
©2021 S. Michaels
Strong Tower(Haiku/5-5-5 & Psalms/Proverbs Faith Notes)

I will give thanks to you,
O LORD,
among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
(Psalms 108:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, though seasons come and go, Your love remains steadfast and sure
2. for the love of family and friends
3. that You are my God and will be my guide, "even to the end" (Psalm 48:14)
4. that the earth is filled with Your love; remind me to look for it every day
5. that I'm not stuck living in the past, but am freely moving forward with You; all praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – DAY ONE

INVITATION

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
(Psalms 48:14 NIV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on my life. It is filled with love, both Yours, and that of family and friends. When I forget about that love, and focus on self and negativity, please remind me of the love.

BIBLE SONG

You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalms 119:57-64 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2-5 NIV)

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages over again, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart. I either silently, or possibly out loud, repeat them, meditating, forming prayers in my spirit.

I do love Psalm 119, as long as I am not expected to read the entire chapter (176 verses!) in one sitting. Almost every verse in the psalm mentions, in some form or fashion, the Word of God. It is a symphony of praise, and epic poem, to God’s Word. If you have a version in which the chapter is broken up into groups of eight verses, you see a Hebrew letter designated at the beginning of each group.

If you could read Hebrew (I can’t), you would notice that each verse of that group of eight verses begins with that Hebrew letter that is at the top of the section or stanza. Oddly, we do not know who wrote this psalm.

In the section I’m reading today, although the NIV does not feature this, the Hebrew letter is Heth. The KJV shows it as CHETH, which may be more accurate, because each of the verses begins with a word that starts with ch.

I love the thought of God as my “portion” (v. 57). To me, this indicates that God is enough. He is all I need.

I don’t know that I could ever honestly say that I have actually sought the face of the Lord “with all my heart” (v. 58). It is most definitely something to which I aspire, though.

Verses 63 and 64 also speak to me. I consider anyone who fears the Lord and follows His precepts to be my friend. That does not mean that everyone who claims to be “Christian” will be my friend. There are many who use that label who obviously do not either fear God or follow His precepts. And the statement that the earth is filled with God’s love is something that we all need to be reminded of, frequently. I make mention of this in the prayer following today’s invitation.

I always love getting into Ecclesiastes. It’s a fun book to read, even if it is a bit confusing, sometimes. While its authorship is commonly attributed to Solomon, I am not 100% convinced that this is the case. To me, it is not clear who wrote it, and I have no guesses at all as to who else it might have been, other than Solomon.

And you know what? I really don’t care who wrote it. “The Teacher” wrote it. Some (the respectable Matthew Henry included) would argue that the fact that it says “Son of David,” and “king in Jerusalem” prove that it is Solomon, as he fits both of those descriptions. However, the words “king in Jerusalem,” may describe David, not “the Teacher.”

If read in the wrong spirit, one might immediately find Ecclesiastes to be an exercise in futility, and somewhat depressing. I mean, the thought that “everything is meaningless” can be somewhat discouraging, right?

Some translations, such as KJV and ESV, use the word “vanity,” rather than “meaningless.” The Message uses the word “smoke.” I rather like that. The Hebrew word literally means “emptiness” or “vanity,” so those translations are pretty much correct. But another word could be “unsatisfactory.” I like that, too. It could even be said to mean “transitory.”

Why does the Preacher/Teacher say this? He gives examples. We go to work every day. What gain do we get from this? In our modern day, we get paid with the currency of the land. What do we do with that? We pay bills, we buy things. But, ultimately, it is nothing. In fact, in these days, it’s all pretty much pretend money, anyway. I hardly ever see cash, and the only think I use it for, any more, is to tip my Sonic carhop when I’m at one of the few Sonics that won’t turn on mobile tipping.

We have reached an era that, for many of us, cash is “meaningless” or “vanity.” That scares a lot of people who take Revelation way more literally than they should.

The Teacher looks at generations that come and go, while the earth just keeps on turning. I am alive today. I have lived twenty-three thousand, two hundred and forty-three days (it looks a lot longer when I type it). That’s a lot of days. Or is it?

If you take the creation story literally (which I both do and do not . . . don’t hurt yourself trying to figure that out), the earth has been in existence for somewhere between six and eight thousand years. If you believe some scientists, it has been in existence for billions of years.

I’m just going to go with the six thousand number. If that is correct, and it would be the minimum time that the earth and universe have been in existence, that is more than two million days.

That kind of makes my 23,243 pretty petty, doesn’t it?

So I’m alive today. I might live another twenty or thirty years. Or less or more. Only God knows. But then I will be gone. No one knew me before 1958. And very few will remember me after I’m gone. A handful, likely. And when they’re gone, no one will remember me.

Meaningless. Vanity. Everything is utterly meaningless.

The sun comes up; the sun goes down, and then it runs back around so it can come up again. It’s a meaningless cycle.

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . into the future.”

And then, the Teacher nails the coffin shut by telling us that there is, quite literally, “nothing new under the sun.”

Hah! He never got to see iPhones, right?

See?? Are you depressed yet??

I’m not, actually. Because I kind of understand where he is coming from and where he is going. But you have to read it all in context, and, frankly, it’s rather unhealthy, mentally, to read only the few verses that are highlighted today, and just stop. That really does leave us in a dark, dark place.

If I look only at these things, then, yes, it can be very depressing. But I do not only look at these things. I can honestly, and happily, in fact, look at all the devices of this world, both physical and not, and proclaim, along with this Teacher, that they are “utterly meaningless,” nothing but “smoke” and mirrors.

In the grand scheme of things, in the broad picture of eternity, everything in this room, where I am sitting, that I can see with my eyes . . . all meaningless. “It’s all gonna burn!” Perhaps these words that I am typing are even meaningless.

Unless, one day, someone happens to stumble across this blog, and it miraculously leads them into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. At that point, it will mean everything in the world to one person.

And that’s kind of why I’m doing it. One of the reasons that I keep it up. That, and my mother enjoys reading it.

So, while we don’t come up with any firm purpose from today’s reading, we must know that knowing God and His wisdom is what provides the only real meaning in life. What is the meaning of life? As much as I like to say it, it is not, in fact, “42.” It is to know God, and to fear Him. To spread His love to everyone . . . to “pass it on.” It is to follow Jesus Christ into territories that make us uncomfortable, and to set aside many of these things that truly are meaningless and vanity, that we might walk in His Kingdom and follow in His steps.

Father, I praise You, even for the meaninglessness of the material world around me. I do thank You for many of these material things; things which can, in fact, be used to provide meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. But let us not get too attached to these things, which will not survive us for very long. Some of these things may outlast me, physically, but as we live with You for eternity, they will, in fact perish. May we use them wisely and “hold on loosely” to them, always being aware that someone else may need them more than we. Keep me aware of any needs that I might be able to provide with the resources You have provided us. And let us not think to heavily on the thoughts that all is vanity or utterly meaningless, as we might truly find ourselves in a dark place, mentally and emotionally. There is really no reason for us to go there, in light of the fact that our world, our universe, is filled with Your love!

May we, Your people, be filled with resurrection hope and joy. May we all be equipped to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whenever opportunities arise.

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

"God of heaven and earth,
what is the purpose of it all?
The endless cycle of life brings with it questions that don't find answers in the available light under the sun.
With You,
however,
I get the larger view beyond this world.
I trust You,
God in heaven,
for everything I need for life under the sun -
including intellectually satisfying answers to my biggest questions.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 NIV)


Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17 NIV)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(John 16:13 NIV)


Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:26 ESV)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
(Luke 6:37 ESV)

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
(Luke 13:12 ESV)

There’s a common word in these three verse, at least in the Greek text. The word that is translated “released,” “forgive/forgiven,” and “freed,” is all one Greek word, “apoluo.” Literally, it means, “to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss.”

So from this fact, we can get the following truth.

“If you don’t forgive, you won’t be released. You’ll stay bound and imprisoned.” But the same word speaks of healing. So forgiveness is linked to healing and the lack of forgiveness to the lack of healing. Those who cannot forgive cripple themselves. And the same word speaks of moving on and being sent forth for the purposes of God. If you don’t forgive, you won’t be able to move on or to let go of the old. Nor will you be able to be sent forth and fulfill God’s calling for your life.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

I read those words, and I think of the many people that are close to my age who do nothing on social media other than moan and complain about how things used to be. They are constantly mocking younger generations, thinking themselves to be superior because they know how to write in cursive and can drive a stick shift.

These folks need to wake up! They are stuck in the past, unable to move on, to let go of things that simply don’t matter any more! And they appear so very hateful and angry all the time, with no hint of forgiveness or release. I pity them; my heart hurts for them. I am so very grateful to God that He has allowed me to not get stuck in that mode. I frequently skip over a lot of those “Who remembers _______?” posts that I see on Facebook. Yeah. I remember. But I don’t live there any more. I live in 2021, where nobody needs to know how write in cursive any more. Where the only reason to drive a stick shift is if you have a fancy sports car.

And just to prove I’m not stuck in the past, here is some really nice music that I discovered, this morning. I’m not one of the “old guys” who are constantly saying that all of today’s music is “crap.” Thanks to Derri Daugherty of The Choir, for the recommendation.

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!

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.

“Though He Slay Me . . .”

Today is Friday, October 31, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,878

Twelve days until C’s birthday. What does she want for her birthday? No one seems to know.

Today is Halloween. Today is Reformation Day (the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg). Today is the occurrence of a “blue moon” (two full moons in the same month). Tonight we will set our clocks back an hour (technically, the change is at 2:00 AM on Sunday . . . whose crazy idea was that??) to return to Standard Time. All of this in the midst of a seemingly never-ending pandemic.

Then, to top it all off, we have learned that the iconic James Bond, the best James Bond, Sir Thomas Sean Connery, has died.

And all of this before it’s even 9:00 AM!

The only thing we have to do today is go to our WW Workshop at 10:30. This, thanks to C, who decided to go do the grocery shopping yesterday, during her lunch hour. We all had prescriptions ready, and mine was at the Kroger Pharmacy, so she just decided to go ahead and knock out the groceries.

So, with great fear and trepidation (mildly exaggerated), I plan to spend some time in here, this afternoon and see if I can get ProTools working on this PC. Last Saturday (and Sunday), I got all the software I need downloaded. At least I think I did. There are still a couple of things on the laptop that I need to see if I can get on this PC, but they aren’t essential. I have yet to crank up ProTools, here, though, and get it configured. So I will try that, this afternoon. I’m not yet sure what I will try to record.

I need a planning session to make a plan as to what I want to record in the future, because right now, it’s all just a jumble in my brain.

We will not be having our church gathering tomorrow, as too many people are out of pocket. Based on a conversation with Brandon, yesterday, it appears that it might be must C, him, and me. There wouldn’t necessarily be anything bad about that, but we all tend to agree that we don’t want to read ahead with the majority of our folks not there. And the way our group is structured, we certainly have that flexibility.

The increase in Coronavirus numbers at the end of this week is terrifying, to say the least. Yesterday, we had 101,461 new cases! Roughly ten thousand more than Thursday, which was roughly ten thousand more than Wednesday! I have no idea what is going on, but I do know that the general population, based on what I don’t see, doesn’t even notice, and doesn’t care any more. Texas actually didn’t “win,” yesterday, as Illinois had 7164 new cases, higher than our 6819. To put all this in perspective, we were averaging around half of yesterday’s total when all of the stay at home orders were in place.

I will remind everyone, once again, at least my readers in the U.S., to remember to move your clocks back an hour, either tonight before bedtime, or, if you prefer, in the morning when you wake up. Truly, an extra hour of sleep doesn’t mean much to me, any more, as I rarely can sleep past 6:30 in the morning, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, 
I have sought you. 
I became weary and I labored. 
O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and 
never to cease seeking you. 
Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance.
 Give me the strength to seek you, 
for you help me to find you and you have more and more 
given me the hope of finding you. 
Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. 
Preserve the first and heal the second. 
Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. 
Where you have opened the door to me, 
welcome me at the entrance; 
where you have closed the door to me, 
open to my cry; 
enable me to remember you, 
to understand you, 
and to love you. 
Amen.
(Prayer to Seek God Continually, St. Augustine of Hippo)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
(Psalms 103:20-22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend (finally here), to rest and refresh for the next work week
  2. For Martin Luther and his 95 Theses
  3. That Your plans stand firm forever, and Your intentions can never be shaken (Psalm 33:11)
  4. That God is mightier than any storm (or pandemic) that we are going through
  5. That, “though He slay me, I will hope in Him”

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:1-3 ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
(Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.
(Psalms 33:11 NLT)

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:9-17 NLT)

A Psalm of David.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
(Psalms 15:1-5 ESV)

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.
(Isaiah 9:2 ESV)

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

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

While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:18-22 ESV)

“On any give day, we can go from feasting to mourning, from celebrating life to processing death, or some other life challenge. Our lives can swiftly be reduced to ‘sticks and bricks’ – financially, relationally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But God is mightier than any storm. Surviving life’s trials requires faith that’s focused on Him – faith that enables us to say with Job and others, ‘May the name of the Lord be praised’ (v. 21).”
(Arthur Jackson, Our Daily Bread)

This is a great word for these times. There are many lives that have been disrupted and shattered by this pandemic. And many may be wondering why? What is God up to? What is He trying to show us?

I don’t have answers to any of those questions. I’m not that wise. But I can confidently proclaim, along with Mr. Jackson, that “God is mightier than any storm.”

So, as we pray through these days, remember this. We do not have to be defeated. These times are hard, and they are tougher than we are. But they are not tougher than our God. He will prevail. And, as Job said later, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).

Father, I praise You that You are mightier than any storm or pandemic that we are facing. We need not be defeated, because You win! I praise You that I am able to say, along with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” I love you, Lord!

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!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Repentance and Regeneration

Today is Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Day 22,309

Thirty-seventh day of Lent

Twenty-eight days until our Vegas trip!!

Quote of the Day

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”
Martin Luther, German leader, 1483-1546
BrainyQuotes

Word of the Day

Alacrity ~ cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness. (Dictionary.com)

The Texas Rangers scored in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth to beat the Diamondbacks 5-2 last night. Lance Lynn got the win for the Rangers, and Kyle Bird notched a save. Logan Forsythe made a magnificent catch to end the game. Hunter Pence got his first home run of the season. The Rangers are now 6-6 on the season, tied for fourth place in the AL West. They have the night off, and will play Oakland tomorrow.

The Red Sox were off last night, so they didn’t lose. They resume their first home series with Toronto tonight at 6:10, with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.

The KC Royals are currently the worst team in baseball, at 2-9. However, there are three teams, including the Boston Red Sox, that are 3-9. That list also includes the Rockies and the Marlins. The Mariners continue to roll and top MLB with a 12-2 record.

C had a checkup with her cardiologist a couple days ago, and everything is good. If you recall, she has a small aneurysm, but it has not grown. He told her to come back in October, and if it hasn’t grown any, she won’t have to go back.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 21:13

Today I am grateful:
1. For leftover Subway sandwiches to take to work
2. Milder weather and temperatures
3. For love
4. For the God-given desire to repent
5. For the great salvation provided by our Lord

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for,
all women in childbirth,
young children and orphans,
the widowed,
and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely;
to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit;
and to comfort with thy presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(The Book of Common Prayer, The Great Litany)

(From The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer)

Today’s reading is “No Regeneration without Reformation.”

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:16-18

The offer of pardon for sins in the Bible is conditioned on the intent to reform on the sinner’s part. The word “intent” is the most important word in that sentence. We don’t want to give the false message that you must reform before you can be forgiven. Nothing could be further from the truth. But there is a popular “theology,” popular when Tozer was alive, and popular today, that seems to think that our pardon “depends upon faith alone.”

While faith is certainly necessary, repentance is also necessary. Repentance means to change your thinking about your way of life. It means that you desire to change. Can you imagine a church full of sinners, claiming to be forgiven and regenerated, who still love sin and haven’t changed their ways?

“The converted man is both reformed and regenerated. And unless the sinner is willing to reform his way of living he will never know the inward experience of regeneration.”

Before we can get to Isaiah 1:18, we must deal with verses 16 and 17.

But, once again, we must emphasize that it is the intent that matters. Do I intend to forsake my sin? Do I desire to change? That is enough to get it started. I don’t have to be perfect to be saved. But I do have to want to forsake my sins.

Father, I thank you for giving me the desire and willingness to repent and forsake my sinful ways. I thank you, as well, for the regeneration that you have given me through the life and blood of Jesus Christ. Please empower me to walk in your kingdom today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Is Risen Indeed!

Today is Sunday, April 1, 2018. Day 21,934. Resurrection Sunday!

“He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:6

Martin Luther (not his birthday) said, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” BrainyQuote

The word for today is shavie, a Scottish word which means, “a trick or prank.” It is, after all, also April Fools Day.

We definitely had an adventure last night. We arrived in Granbury around 2:00 PM, as planned, which, it turned out, was way too early. We got our rehearsals over with and had a couple hours to spare before the event was to begin. But our pastor and one other brother went into town and got us some Golden Chick to eat, so we had a little “breaking of bread” (or chicken) together.

The event went well. I think we, as a band, did quite well, and there seemed to be a definite spirit of worship. The whole thing finished up around 8:30, and we got home (after a quick run through a McDonald’s drive through in Weatherford) just after 9:30.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15. This morning, we will be celebrating with an Easter Breakfast!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 
Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 
Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!” 
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” 
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

Psalm 70

May all who seek the Lord rejoice and be glad in him!

(From Daily Guideposts 2018)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5

When we envision Jesus, do we just see Jesus, or do we see the resurrected Jesus? Perhaps that is just semantics, but I think it is important how we view Jesus. Do we believe in the resurrection? Then we should see Jesus as resurrected. This gives us hope for our broken lives. And trust me . . . all of our lives are broken in some way. Some of us are much more broken than others.

As Carol Kuykendall attended her Easter morning celebration, she looked around her and saw stories of faithfulness and hope. Then she saw the signs of brokenness all around her, but it was brokenness that had come to celebrate the resurrection, in hopes of the Easter message. “A family raising other people’s children; a widower learning to find a new way in a life alone; people in financial crisis, unemployment, and homelessness; folks in broken relationships. Here we were, all together, waiting to hear the Easter message that Jesus’s death and Resurrection promises eternal life with Him in heaven, where there will be no more pain or stress or loneliness or death.”

Sometimes I wish I attended a more formal, traditional church, where the Easter service would begin with the minister proclaiming, “Jesus Christ is risen!” And the congregations responds, “He is risen indeed!”

“Let the celebration begin!”

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Acts 2:24

Hallelujah, my God! Thank you for the Resurrection, which gives us all hope. If there were no resurrection, we would be wasting our time at “church.” In fact, if there were no resurrection, there would be no church. There would be no real life. I cannot imagine a life without it. My hope is in you in Christ. May your presence be made known today at our worship gathering, as we celebrate Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12

Grace and peace, friends.

Steadfast Love and Faithfulness

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” – Martin Luther
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is transmogrify. Yes, that’s really a word. I seriously thought Calvin made it up! It means “to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.” Here’s a quote from Don Quixote, written in 1755: “How strangely can that miscreant enchanter, who is my enemy, transmogrify things to thwart me? Know, Sancho, that it is a very easy matter for necromancers to make us assume what shapes they please; and the malicious wretch who persecutes me, envying the glory I should have gained in this battle, hath doubtless metamorphosed the squadrons of the foe, into flocks of sheep …”

Today is Please Take My Children To Work Day. Hahahaha! I got a good laugh out of this one!

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. Our worship gathering went really well, I believe. I had a good time playing, even though one of these songs was brand new to me, and another one, I hadn’t played in a very long time. The pastor’s message on prayer was a good one, as well. It was all about trusting God with our prayers.

C didn’t do much of anything, other than rest, which is good. We watched some TV, then some baseball. C went to take a nap, and I fired up the PS4 and played The Evil Within. I finished Until Dawn on Saturday. Very interesting game, and I probably should play it again, someday, and see if I can get a different ending.

It’s Monday again. I have band practice tonight, the last practice of the summer. Our July 3 concert is this coming Sunday night. I will link to it tomorrow. The power just flickered, which shut off my computer, and I had to wait for it to reboot. Now I’m a bit behind, so I need to get on to the devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'” Selah.

Psalm 89:1-4

“Steadfast love” and “faithfulness” — what two better phrases/words to be the central focus of a song? This is “God’s relationship with his creation.”

“O God, within the sometimes puzzling experiences of this pilgrimage, I will gratefully sing of your steadfast love and your faithfulness which, despite my stuttering steps and recurrent doubt, steadily develop a redeeming purpose in my life. Amen.”

Father, as I go through this day, may I be constantly aware of your steadfast love and your faithfulness. May they be the driving forces of my life today.

Come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

An Eternal Beginning

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”~~Martin Luther
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is aposiopesis. This is “a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.” Finally, a word for that thing that Stephanie does all of the time, usually right before the last word of a question.

Today is Cheese Lovers Day. Wow! And right on the heels of my other favorite food, Popcorn Day! This is truly amazing.

I do not have good news about Jeremy, my cousin’s son. I had a Facebook message from his sister when I woke, this morning. It turns out that what has happened is not a diabetic coma, as they thought. Apparently, it is anoxic brain injury brought on by choking on some vomit after he went to bed. She said he also had high blood pressure, which must have contributed to this somehow. He is, essentially, brain dead. “We are just waiting for a miracle,” she said. While I was never close with Jeremy, I was very close to his mother, my cousin, when I was growing up. Probably the closest out of all of my other cousins, as she was the closest to my age. My heart is breaking for her (as well as the rest of the family) right now.

Christi had a good time having dinner with friends from a previous work environment. I had a good time playing Fallout 4. Everybody wins, right? Tonight, we’ll be all together for the first time this week, so we’ll probably make chili for dinner. That’s the plan, anyway.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:7-11

“Faith builds on foundations that reach to the bedrock of eternity. Life in God acquires a steadiness that is unaffected by the tremors of anxiety. Even death cannot shake its repose.” How true this is. As I was reflecting yesterday on all of the events of this year, including a call I got yesterday, the contents of which I will not reveal at this time, I had such mixed emotions. However, due to the truths reflected in the above quote, I’ll tell you where I landed. I landed firmly on that foundation that reaches to “the bedrock of eternity.” This is a year to be strong. This is a year to fight to the finish. No matter what it continues to throw at us, my faith is built on that foundation of Jesus Christ, and, as the psalmist says, “I shall not be shaken!”

“‘O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in Thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Book of Common Worship). Amen.

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “Are You Fresh for Everything?”

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3

“Being born of the Spirit means much more than we generally take it to mean.” I’ve started this synopsis with one of the last sentences in the reading, because that sentence carries much weight, and summarizes the reading perfectly. And it is very true. Typically, when we think of being “born again,” or “saved,” as I grew up saying, we think of the beginning of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and leave it at that. But it is so much more.

It is, as Chambers says, “an unmistakable work of god, as mysterious as the wind, as surprising as God Himself.” Truly we do not know how or where it begins, as it is “hidden away in the depths of our personal life.” However, it does not stop at the beginning. In fact, Chambers says, it is a “perennial, perpetual and eternal beginning.” I like that. The true life in the Spirit keeps us fresh all the time, in our thinking, in our talking, and in our living.

When we become stale, something is out of joint with God. If we feel like we have to find something to do for God, we are beginning to get stale. This freshness of which Chambers speaks is not born out of obedience. It comes from the Holy Spirit. The obedience is what keeps us in the light.

Chambers admonishes us to “Guard jealously your relationship to God.” Do not pretend with Jesus (as if we could, anyway, right?). We must draw our life from God and no other source.

“Being born of the Spirit means much more than we generally take it to mean.”

Father, I confess that I have not adequately guarded my relationship with you. Teach me to do that, resisting attitudes and temptations that would adversely affect that relationship. Let me draw my life from you, and give me that eternal beginning. Keep me fresh; let me not get stale. Rather, I should say, restore me from the staleness that I have allowed to creep in.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

I Exist For the Sake of Christ

Jesus Christ “is the center of reality and the reason for its existence.”~~Brennan Manning

Well, good evening. It is Friday, April 18, 2014. Good Friday, in fact. Now, let it be known that I do not believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday. The math doesn’t work. But it’s not one of those “hills to die on.” Therefore, I will commemorate and celebrate with the rest of Christendom on this day that is chosen to remember the crucifixion of Jesus. As B.C. once said, “Good Friday: The only Friday truly worthy of giving thanks to God.” Well, I couldn’t find a copy of that particular comic online, but I found this one.

B.C. on Good Friday
B.C. on Good Friday

In honor of Good Friday, I won’t post any other “holidays” that might be occurring today.


It was a good day today, for the most part. I’m still feeling rather useless at work, due to lack of complete system access. I now have a “domain” and can log onto a desktop, but I won’t be able to get into their SAP system until sometime next week. I’ve finished orientation and all of the required training classes and assessments. I missed a question on one of the assessments. That really disturbed me. 😀

Christi had a little fun with a scam caller today. Unfortunately, these scam callers, however, draw in a lot of not so lucky people who aren’t wise enough to not do the things that the callers want them to do. This one calls about Microsoft errors on your computer and offers to fix them. The caller was from India (the number said “unknown”) and said his name was Dale Edwards. Mmmmhmmmm. Sure it is.

I discovered something today that was a little disconcerting. I was called upon by my pastor (as part of the Pastoral Assist Team) to participate in a group text where we were to text back our greatest challenge and greatest joy at this point in time. The challenge was easy. The joy was not. Honestly, I’m not feeling terribly joyful right now. I’m not necessarily unhappy. And I’m not feeling like I’m losing faith. But joy, at least for the moment, is lacking. I know all the right answers. “The joy of the Lo-o-o-ord is my strength,” and all that. And yes. It is. But that joy is, while not stolen, quite buried beneath a mound of uncertainty that prevails in our lives. Yes, we know “God’s got this.” We’ve said it, and we will keep saying it. Our faith is still strong. But it is very difficult to dig out from under that mountain right now. I won’t even blame it on the fact that it is Good Friday, when we are supposed to be morose and contemplative as we think about the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. (Personally, I see no reason to be sad on this day. Jesus is risen from the grave. He is NOT being crucified again every year on Good Friday!) Okay, maybe not “morose.” I looked that up, and it means “sullen and ill-tempered.” Anyway. I feel sure that the joy will return to the surface soon, maybe even tomorrow. Who knows? Right now, it’s just not so easy to find.

By the way, my answer in the text was “Hope of future grace.” We are, after all celebrating the resurrection of Christ this weekend, and we have the hope of experiencing the same resurrection one day.

Shoot, I could end this thing right now! But you wouldn’t be that lucky! 😀


(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1521 that this occurred. Well, the actual event, not the movie of it.


Today’s featured birthday is Leopold Stokowski, born on this date in 1882. He was a British orchestra conductor, one of the premier conductors of the early 20th century. He also appeared in the Disney film, Fantasia. But instead of that, I give you Bugs Bunny’s tribute to “Leopold.”


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!

Psalm 134
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.
Psalm 13:3
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 131
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.
Psalm 92:13

“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
“Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen and help you, and cause you to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
“When through fiery trials your pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.
“The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose,
I will not, I will not desert it to foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”

“Almighty God, who has promised to hear the petitions of
those who ask in your Son’s Name: I beseech you mercifully
to incline your ear to me who have made my prayers and
supplications to you; and grant that those things which
I have faithfully asked according to your will, I may
effectually obtain, to the relief of my necessity, and
to the setting forth of your glory;
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”


I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 25:8


Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Matthew 27:26-50


Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “In Christ.”

This is just more than Paul’s normal way of signing a letter. “It was the meaning of time, the focal point of history; it contained the explanation of the universe.” Yes, it is true that God loves us, but he only loves us “in Christ.” We can only return that love through Christ. If you think you love God, and you don’t believe in Jesus, you don’t really love God. Those are harsh words, I know, but it is the truth. Jesus Christ “is the center of reality and the reason for its existence.” For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

Why am I here? Why am I walking around on this planet? The answer is, for the sake of Christ. The angels must answer the same way: “We exist for the sake of Christ.” If the entire creation suddenly became articulate and began to cry out, it would cry out with the same words: “We exist for the sake of Christ!”

“He is the way, the truth, the life, the parable of the Father unraveling the riddle of existence.”

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
Colossians 1:19


Father, I thank you. At this point, today, I cannot say much else. I exist for the sake of Christ. I praise you for the sacrifice that we remember on this day. The truth of the Gospel, that Jesus Christ left heaven, came to earth, died for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day, is the truth that should be resounding from the Church around the world. Instead, the Church is floundering around, crying about things like gay marriage and abortion. We should be preaching the Gospel, and nothing else. This is not “sin management!” This is about Jesus Christ bringing your kingdom to earth and giving us a place in that kingdom as adopted children! Oh, if we could all only realize this and begin to live this “kingdom life!” Well, I guess I could say more, after all. Thank you, Father, for giving me a place in your kingdom, in Christ. Now, give me the strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, to live in this kingdom. And let your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. Let your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Do with me as you will, I am your servant.

I pray for what is left of this day. I thank you for a good day at work. I thank you that Christi was able to fend off that scam caller. I pray that a job is forthcoming for her, soon. But we will continue to hope and trust that you have this under control. Your grace is sufficient. I thank you that Stephanie is serious about her health, and has already worked out three times today!

I pray for the Hernandez family as they celebrate Marty’s life tomorrow.

Marty and Lesia Hernandez, by Christi Bickley
Marty and Lesia Hernandez, by Christi Bickley

May we truly worship you tomorrow evening, as we celebrate the resurrection of your Son, our Savior.


Grace and peace, friends.

Disappointment and the Sovereignty of God

Good morning. Today is Thursday, April 18, 2013. And two days after the tragic bombings in Boston, a fertilizer plant exploded in the small town of West, Texas. Which is in south Texas. *scratches head* Anyway, they still aren’t sure how many people have been killed by the explosion and are estimating anywhere from five to fifteen. Last I heard, almost 200 are in the hospital with injuries, and several buildings are/were on fire. We’ve had overnight rain and storms, so rescue efforts are being impeded by the weather. Our prayers are definitely going up for everyone affected by this disaster.

I guess this “less salt” diet is working. Last night my BP checked at 126/78. It was back up to 142/72 this morning, but it seems to be higher in the morning, for some reason. That’s the opposite of what I would have thought, but what do I know? I guess I’ll be looking for some kind of salt substitute at the store this weekend. Bleah.

We got to the gym last night again, where I did my usual elliptical workout for 45 minutes and allegedly burned 560 calories.


Today is “International Juggler’s Day.” I like that, because, in just over a week, we will be going to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, where we will see Cale the Juggler perform! Huzzah!! Check him out here! (Unless you don’t have a Facebook account, in which case, you probably won’t see anything except a Facebook signup page.)


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
It was on this date in 1521, in the “Diet of Worms,” that Martin Luther stood before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (only 21 years old at the time), and uttered those famous words, “Hier stehe ich. Ich Kann nicht anders.”

Here I stand. I can do no other.

Luther was condemned for defying the “true church” and preaching “heresy.” He would not back down as the “true church” had become so corrupt as to hardly be recognizable. The Emperor had promised him safe conduct, so did not have him seized. Luther spent the rest of his 25 years preaching that “heresy.” It should be duly noted that Martin Luther had no desire to start a new “church.” He simply wanted to reform the one that was already in existence.

I found this video clip from a 2003 movie, with Joseph Fiennes playing Luther. I think this was done very well.


Today’s birthday is Leopold Stokowski, born on this date in 1882. Stokowski was a famous orchestra conductor. He was also the subject of this cartoon.

Honorable mentions to Lucrezia Borgia, 1480, Duffy Lewis, 1888, Joy Gresham Lewis, 1915, James Woods, 1947, Jeff Dunham, 1962.


Today’s Devotional

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3

Father, I pray that you show me a vision of you during this devotional time, that I might have inspiration to live this day looking to you in all circumstances that come my way.


In Touch magazine: “When We Feel Disappointed”

. . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

We are quick to quote Romans 8:28 to others when they experience disappointments. A lot of people know this verse by heart (even though the majority tend to leave off the second half): And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. One reason I like the ESV (quoted here) so much is that the verse is rearranged so you can’t omit the part about “for those who love God,” which is a condition to the promise. Anyway, like I said, we are quick to quote that verse to others when they have disappointments, or even failures, in their lives. But are we as good at applying this concept to our own lives? “Do we have faith that God is engineering our circumstances–no matter how uncomfortable they may be–for our ultimate benefit?” I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that he will return to earth. I believe that my salvation is by grace alone. But what happens when some big disappointment comes along in my life? Do I start crying out, “O God! Where are you? Why is this happening to ME??” These disappointments don’t mean God doesn’t love me! They don’t mean that he has stopped paying attention to me, either, or that he has, even for the briefest of times, abandoned me. I must remind myself of the truth of Romans 8:28, and then focus on the verse at the top of this passage, and KNOW that, even in disappointment, God is with me. Remember . . . God is not surprised or disappointed at anything, because he is omniscient (all-knowing). There is nothing that I can do that will surprise him. And it has recently been brought to my attention that, since he doesn’t have any false expectations of me, I can’t disappoint him, either. Now there’s something to chew on!


Father, as I prepare myself to face this day, I recognize that there have been disappointments in my life, some of them bitter. But you have always been there, directing the course of my life, and fulfilling the truth of Romans 8:28. I confess that there have been times when I mistakenly thought that you had abandoned me/us. Emphasis on the word “mistakenly.” I know that you are there, always. I also know that you are engineering my circumstances for my ultimate benefit. But perhaps the most shocking revelation of all is that you aren’t even disappointed in me. My feeble brain cannot fathom this. It makes logical sense, considering your sovereignty, and all. But I never really contemplated it, logically. I just always assumed that, when I sin, you are disappointed. But to be disappointed implies surprise, doesn’t it? And there is nothing that I can do that can surprise you. I have to meditate on this some more.

I am also glad to be reminded of the passage in Ephesians 3, which I have added to my daily prayer regimen that I pray for the friends that you put in front of me each day. I pray that all of my brothers and sisters in Christ will be rooted and grounded in your perfect love, that love which casts out fear, and that we may all be able to comprehend (hah!) the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ, and to know his love, that love which surpasses knowledge. But how can I “know” something that “surpasses knowledge??” May you fill us with your fullness, Lord!

I pray your blessings on this day ahead. Keep Christi safe as she drives to work in the rain. I pray that our work day will be anxiety free, as you give us the strength and wisdom to meet any challenges head-on, by the power of your Spirit. The more I go on with you, the more I know that nothing comes my way without your permission. Let me be aware of that when I’m in the midst of circumstances that would distract me from the ultimate goal of knowing you. I pray for opportunities that may be coming.

I lift up a prayer for the people in West, Texas, who have been tragically affected by the explosion. I pray for rescue efforts to be successful, and the people will have hope and comfort from you through this. May your Church rise up and be the relief and comfort that we should be.

Your grace is sufficient.


God is sovereign. We cannot surprise him, therefore, we cannot disappoint him, either. Ponder that for a while today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Still and Know

Good morning. It is Friday, October 19, 2012. Today is “National Seafood Bisque Day.” Seriously, have you ever had Lobster Bisque? It’s amazing! We were in some restaurant up in New England, in 2000, the first time I ever had some. Now, we only have to go as far as Denton, Texas to get some bisque. I don’t think I’ll be able to get any today, though. What a shame.

On this date in 1512, Martin Luther got his doctorate in theology.
On this date in 1781, Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, ending the American Revolution.
On this date in 1789, John Jay was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the United States.
On this date in 1917, Love Field in Dallas opened.
On this date in 1982, John DeLorean was arrested for drug dealing.
The first Blockbuster video store opened on this date in 1985.
Also on this date in 1985, the music video for “Take On Me” helped a-Ha reach the top of the U.S. Pop charts. This video is still regarded as one of the most imaginative and unique music videos ever made.

This date in 1987 is known as Black Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 22% in one day.

Today’s birthdays include Charles Merrill, 1885, Peter Max, 1937, John Lithgow and Jeannie C. Riley, 1945, Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers), 1948, Evander Holyfield, 1962, Tracy Chevalier, 1962, Amy Carter, 1967, Chris Kattan, 1970, Keith Foulke, 1972, Michael Young, 1976.


Yesterday was, indeed, a much better day than the previous day. Nothing much to report, other than the fact that the Detroit Tigers completed a sweep of the Evil Empire, crushing them 8-1 in game four of the ALCS, to advance to the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals are close behind, beating the Giants (even with Loki on the mound) 8-3. They lead the NLCS 3-1. I don’t have a lot of interest in that series, but have friends, both IRL and in the blogosphere, who love the Cards, so I’m pulling for them. However, being a staunch AL supporter, I must pull for the Tigers in the Series. Sorry, guys.


Father, I pray for some revelation this morning that will help me live this day looking to you.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 120. Finally out of Psalm 119. This psalm begins a series of what are known as “Songs of Ascents.” These are songs that were traditionally sung by people as they made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

1 A Song of Ascents. In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!

What is the distress from which the psalmist seeks deliverance? Apparently, he is surrounded by people who are less than truthful. The only valid “reward” for the deceitful tongue is to be pierced by an arrow, or to be scorched by glowing coals. He is cursed to dwell among people who have a hatred for peace. It is a valid and worthy prayer to ask God to be surrounded by people of honesty and integrity; people who desire peace. I pray daily that I would be a peacemaker, according to the teachings of Jesus in the Beatitudes. Perhaps today, I can help someone find peace with God.


Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “The Unheeded Secret.” The scripture is John 18:36, which says, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.

“The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God.” This is one of Chambers’s “pet peeves,” throughout this devotional book. We, in the modern church, tend to emphasize the wrong thing. The kingdom of God is within us, Jesus tells us. “An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of life.”

The spirit of this religious age in which we live is a plague. There was no hint of the “press and rush of tremendous activity” in the Lord’s life, yet we put high priority on activity. We must constantly be doing something. But the disciple should be like His Master, right? Hear this: “The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men.” (Emphasis mine)

The last paragraph of the reading is words Chambers spoke to men who were in his Bible Training College, telling them that their best time needs to be spent “soaking before God.” If too much time is spent in “overactive energies,” it will be time wasted. We must get rooted and ground in God by soaking in his truths. If we do this, we will “remain true to Him whatever happens.” If not, we will “snap when the strain comes.”

Sadly, the time I spent in seminary never taught me this. There was never an emphasis on soaking before God. We were too busy studying books, practicing instruments (I was still a music major, even in seminary), getting ready for the dreaded comprehensive exams. Who had time to soak? But that’s the purpose of this blog, this time I spend every morning. I want to soak. I want to take a deep breath and dive in, head first, and just sit there for a while, soaking in the truths of God, seeking his face, learning who he is. Be still, and know that I am God… (Psalm 46:10)


Father, I pray that I would take more time to “be still and know” that you are God. Teach me how to soak. I think that I have gotten better at it, during this past year, especially as you have guided me down a path of prayer. I emphatically believe that, in order to be effective as a pray-er, one must spend much time soaking in your word. I pray for even more. Am I greedy? Yes, Lord! I am greedy for more of your word and the influence it has on my life. 2012 has been a “banner year” for me, I believe. I pray that it will continue to be so, and that 2013 will be even better. I seek not any glory for self. I seek only to know you more and to glorify you in whatever I do.

I pray for the Church today. I pray that we would all recognize the value of spending time communing with you, soaking in your truth, over and above the hustle and bustle of constant activity. Our world moves too fast. Everything out there teaches us that we must hurry to do everything. We must always be busy doing something. Teach your Church that this is false. Teach us your ways, Lord, that we may walk in your truth. May the power of your Spirit place us in a mode of soaking you up, resting in you.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi to be healed from the pain that she is experiencing. Give her a good work day, free from stress. Help her to “be still and know” that you are God, and that you love her. I pray the same for Stephanie. Give her a day of soaking in your truth. Give her wisdom from the Spirit as she lives today. I pray that my day will be not stressful, and that I can get things accomplished today that need to be done. Show me the direction that you want my life to go. Teach me to soak.


Be still and know…rest…soak.

Grace and peace, friends.