What A Friend . . .

Today is Monday, the twenty-seventh of June, 2022, in the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,482

C and I had a good time at the show, yesterday, but I don’t think either one of us was crazy about the production. There were some great moments, and some not-so-great moments. Ironically, my great moments were probably C’s not-so-great moments. But that’s the way it goes. I will say this much. Anything that we didn’t care for was solely on the production, not the talent. The performers were marvelous.

As previously stated, I have jury duty today. Normally, I would have had to be there in about twenty-five minutes, but last week, I received an email with a court assignment and revised reporting time of 10:30, so I don’t have to leave as early. Parking might be more tricky, though. For our courthouses, though, there is a free off-site parking lot with free shuttle bus service from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, so I should be okay.

The Texas Rangers lost again (and lost the series) to the Nationals, yesterday, 6-4. It was actually worse than it looks, as the Rangers’ last three runs weren’t scored until the bottom of the ninth, too little, too late. They are now 34-37 for the year, but still in second place, a game ahead of the Angels, 10.5 out of first place, and 5.5 out of the Wild Card race. Tonight, they begin a series with the KC Royals, another terrible team.

The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, swept the Cleveland Guardians, beating them 8-3, yesterday. They are 42-31 for the season, and also in second place, but 11 games out of first. They are, however, in sole possession of the first Wild Card spot. Tonight, they begin a series with the fourth place Blue Jays.

Of course, the Yankees still have the best MLB record, at 53-20. The Athletics continue to be the worst, at 25-49. The Red Sox continue to streak, having won seven consecutive games, now. The Guardians, thanks to the Red Sox, now have the longest losing streak, currently at four games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +144, and the Nationals, in spite of having just embarrassed the Texas Rangers, have the worst, at -111. Texas is at +3, and Boston is at +65, only two behind the NY Mets. The next team up is roughly double that. But, the run differential column isn’t the most important. The “W” column is what really matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, help us to be holy as you are holy, and free us from all the earthly things that try to torment us. Grant us your Spirit so that we do what is right. May we always hold your hand confidently. Protect your children everywhere on earth, and help them do what is right even if the whole world does what is wrong. Help us, so that all we do becomes holy and pleasing in your sight. Let your grace grow among us and among the nations, and let your hand be strong to bring in your day, your day when everything is made new. May your name be kept holy, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the holiness of God, and the desire to imitate that
2. for the heart that God has given me
3. that Jesus calls me "friend"
4. for a morning of silence and solitude, directing my heart to God
5. for shelter over my head, with protection from the heat outside
6. that "forever and ever His heart is my home" (Matt Maher)

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?
(Mark 8:34-37 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is heart.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

When we speak of “heart,” we are usually speaking of what is considered, at least in Western culture, the seat of the emotion, the center of the person. It is very close to, and similar to, the notion of “soul.” I’m not going to go into a lengthy exposition on this, though.

We also know that the heart is what God looks at, when He is judging a person. And when we consider actions, the heart is akin to the motivation behind an action. A person could do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.” And then He immediately applied that to prayer, as well. Don’t pray just so other people can hear you pray. Don’t “heap up empty phrases” or “vain repetitions.”

What is in your heart when you give to the poor? What is in your heart when you pray for someone? For that matter, why do we dress up so fancy to go to church? Who are we trying to impress?

For many years, I have loved this passage in Ezekiel:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”
(Ezekiel 11:19-21 ESV)

The last verse there reminds me of Jesus’s warning, also in Matthew 6, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (verse 21).

Father, direct my heart toward You. May my heart be a “heart of flesh” rather than a “heart of stone.” I believe that it is, as You have given me the desire to be generous with the blessings with which You have blessed me. You have given me the desire to do my best to follow the commands of Jesus and to try to do the things that He mentions in His parable of the sheep and the goats. But I know that I can do better, and that I can do more. I pray for Your Spirit to direct me to people who need the help, that I might do what I am able to help them. I pray this for Your whole Body, that we might be more in tune with the needs around us, and less concerned with our opinions and causes.


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
(John 15:13-15 ESV)

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!"
(Joseph Medicott Scriven, 1855)
"I've found a friend, O such a friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him;
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which naught can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Naught that I have mine own I call,
I’ll hold it for the giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are His, and His forever.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!
So kind and true and tender,
So wise a counsellor and guide,
So mighty a defender!
From Him who loves me now so well,
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life or death, shall earth or hell?
No! I am His forever."
(James G. Small, 1866)

Thank You, Jesus, for calling me “friend.”


Father, this morning, I pray for the fire in Palo Pinto County to be extinguished. Please send rain, or otherwise intervene, that no more damage would be done. Please protect all the firefighters who are involved in attempts to contain this fire. Please protect the homes of those nearby, who might be in the path of it.

I know of several who have recently lost loved ones, Father. I pray for peace and comfort for them and their families. I also lift up my mother’s good friend, who is having some physical issues. Please bring healing there.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


That piano playing!!!

“Forever and ever His heart is my home!”

Grace and peace, friends!

Joy Still Comes In the Morning

Today is Saturday, the fourth of June, 2022, in the seventh week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,459

This is the last day of the season of Easter, as tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, and the beginning of Ordinary Time.

This has already gotten quite long, and I don’t want to make it longer with trivial matters.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for guiding us, your children, here on earth. We thank you that whatever happens to us, we can again and again find joy because you give us what is good even when times are evil and when we go through sorrow. We thank you that your goodness and your faithfulness penetrate everything, and that at last, at long last, they penetrate our hearts. Then we can know and be glad that your Spirit guides us. We can know we are never alone but can receive strength to help us in the struggle and toil of our life. Through your help everything becomes fruitful – good and evil, life and death, health and suffering. Everything must serve you through the working of your Spirit. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! 
His mercies never cease. 
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; 
therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for God's great faithfulness and mercy, in that He gives us what is good, even during sorrowful and evil times
2. that I'm still alive and breathing; praise the LORD!
3. that a joyful or cheerful heart, the center of my being, is good medicine for my body and my soul
4. for the joy and praise that can be found in a church that is truly walking in Christ
5. for times that force me into humility, because we could all use more humility

Today’s prayer word is “expect.”

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
(Psalms 5:3 NLT)

This verse has long been a favorite of mine, and it is something by which I try to live each day. But frequently, I forget to do that bit about waiting expectantly. Too often, I “bring my requests” and walk away in total oblivion.

I need to remember these words of David, each day. I need to remember to wait expectantly to see what God will do. Maybe there won’t be anything immediate. But let me tell you this. I would rather wait and see nothing than miss something by rushing away.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
(Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

I know full well the truth of this.

So confession time: yesterday evening, I didn’t do so well in remembering everything that I blogged about yesterday morning. After taking my mother to the bank to deposit her oil royalty checks (would you believe there was another one waiting in the mail when we got home?), I decided to get the bank’s app on my phone. Mama doesn’t have a smart phone, so I figured, if we get it on my phone, then we can do mobile deposit for those checks. Then we don’t have to visit the bank so often.

I got the app downloaded, no problem. The first time I tried to log in, it said that either the username or password was incorrect. I used the combination that I had logged into my “bitwarden” (an excellent password keeper app for the phone, by the way), so I tried again. Same result.

I started spiraling. My wife will tell you, right away, that I don’t do well when technology doesn’t work right.

So I got on my laptop and opened the browser to the bank’s website, where I saw right away that I had the user name wrong, by a number. So that was my fault. I fixed the user name in the bitwarden app, and logged in on the bank app. Naturally, the first thing that happens is that it wants a verification code in order to register and recognize this new device. I was expecting that.

So I had it send the code to Mama’s phone. She got it, I entered it in the app, and it immediately said that either the code was invalid or expired, or that the account had been disabled. We tried again, different code, same result.

I was livid. Seriously, I was freaking out. But there was phone number to call, in the text message, so I called it. I spoke with a very friendly lady who had me send another code to Mama’s phone, but she said she would give it to me on the phone, rather than getting it from the text. For some reason, it worked just fine, that time. We got the app open, and also enabled mobile deposit, so it’s ready the next time we want to deposit a check.

There was something else that happened, I think, a few minutes later. But the bottom line is that I completely reacted wrongly about all of this. I totally forgot my whole thing, from yesterday morning, about “first world problems.”

So, you see, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, sometimes. This journey, as long as we remain in Jesus’s “easy yoke,” is not terribly difficult. But as soon as we step out of that yoke and forget who we are and whose we are, things get really tricky. And, like yesterday evening, we wind up looking somewhat foolish.

But enough about the broken spirit. What about the joyful heart? Or, as the NLT says, “cheerful heart.” I just realized something. There’s a gift shop in Glen Rose that C and I used to frequent, called Cheerful Heart Gifts. And if you click on that link, you will see that they quote Proverbs 17:22 right on the front page.

The KJV translates the word as “merry.” The Hebrew word is śâmêach, which can also mean “blithe” or “gleeful.” And the word translated “heart” is lêb which can also mean the “center” of something. So, when we allow ourselves to maintain joy or cheerfulness at the center of our being, it brings healing to our bodies. It’s “good medicine.”

Reader’s Digest (is that even still a thing?) used to have a monthly column called “Laughter: The Best Medicine.” As a child, I eagerly awaited that feature every month. Most of the time, in fact, I would devour all of the jokes in the magazine, and, for the most part, ignore all of the “serious” stuff.

I have always loved to laugh. And I do believe in the truth of that statement that laughter is good, if not the best, medicine. And who doesn’t feel better by just smiling?

Solomon was probably the author of this proverb. And, for most of his life, he knew the joy of the Lord. But, later in life, Scriptures says that his heart turned away from God.

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
(1 Kings 11:9 NLT)

The writer of today’s Daily Guideposts 2022 reading, Carol Knapp, says this:

“For me, the biggest joy-stealer is this very thing – turning away from God or allowing something to interfere with my closeness to Him. Communion with God . . . is the source of gladness in my life. It yields the ‘good medicine’ of a joyful heart.”

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)

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
(John 16:22 NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)

“Indeed, “joy still comes in the morning.”

It is very cool when there is a convergence of ideas from unrelated sources. The readings in Eugene Peterson’s On Living Well are not dated. The one I came to today is called “On Joy at Church.”

I wonder what God is trying to tell me, today?

“More praising goes on in church, more joy is expressed in the context of the Christian congregation, than anywhere else on the face of the earth.”

Where else do we spend our time, during the week? Grocery stores, department stores? These days, those are pretty grim places . . . not much joy there, as shelves continue to be sparse (at least for some products) and prices continue to rise. “People pushing their food baskets, anxiously comparing prices, complaints etched into their faces as they pay the clerks.” (This book, while published in 2021, is comprised of meditations that were written long before that year, as the author passed away in 2018, long before the pandemic hit us.)

We also spend a great deal of time on roads. Also not a very “happy” place. “Worried, compulsive people are behind the wheels of most of those cars.” Heaven forbid you should not react immediately when that light changes!

Even athletic events, places where we used to be more celebratory (at least if our team won) have become places of “complaining, arguing, and criticizing.”

As a place that contains a context for joy and praise, the church should be unequaled. It’s not perfect, for sure, and there are probably some local churches that resemble the grocery store or highway or athletic event more than they do a worship service. I’ve attended a few, in my life, that, sadly, had more arguing, complaining, and criticizing than they did worship.

But, in general, I would agree with Peterson, when he says, “I don’t find any other place in the world where there is such a consistent friendliness, such a steady joy, such a relaxed rejoicing in God’s love. There is more generosity when it comes to money in church than anywhere I know. Where else in this community can you find people giving their money away each week, then standing up and singing, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’?”

When is the last time you walked up to someone at the grocery store and said, “Say, you’re new here. I’d like to get to know you better!”?

As previously mentioned, there is no perfect church. We acknowledge this. Some are far less perfect than others. Taking all of this into consideration, though, there is no place on earth where such joy can be found. And that is one reason that I keep “going to church.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I praise Your name, this morning, because You have, while giving me a good dose of reality, increased my joy, still. What a joy it is to worship You, to praise You, to sit and meditate on Your Word, to know You more. I thank You for the ability to do this, for the time that I have to do these things.

I confess my shortcomings as I failed, miserably, yesterday evening, and I am grateful for the knowledge of it, and grateful that I am able to acknowledge it, as well. I pray that You keep working on me, in this regard, that I might always know Your joy, and that I would not allow “first world problems” to steal or diminish that joy. Things like that always have a fairly easy solution. And even when they don’t, they tend to eventually work out fine.

Help me to remember the truth that You work out all things for our good, and are constantly at work to make things better in Your Kingdom. And, we would do well to remember that, in Your Kingdom, things are already far better than we could ever imagine.

I thank You for joy, for a cheerful or merry heart. I thank You for the idea that my heart is the center of my being, and that, when my center is joyful, everything is better, and the “bad” things don’t seem to matter as much. I thank You for laughter, that brings healing to our weary bones and tired bodies. Help us all to smile more, complain less, argue less. And I thank You that, no matter how “bad” things might seem, “Joy still comes in the morning.” Your mercies are new, every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Keep our hearts focused on You; let not our hearts turn away from You, as Solomon’s. Help us to always look toward You and love You with all our being.

And I thank You for the Church, where we can and should be able to experience the most joy possible. While there is certainly joy to be had in the observance of a beautiful sunrise, there is still more joy to be found in the celebration of You, together with all the saints. All praise to You, Father, through the Son and by the Spirit. May we be able to gather with Your saints, somewhere, on each Lord’s Day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Free To Love

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of April, 2022, in the second week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ rain down on you, today!

Day 23,422

This being Thursday, it will be my late shift at the library today, from 11:15-8:15. I will be in the Computer Center today. I was in Circulation, yesterday, and will be back there again Saturday, after having tomorrow off.

C and Mama may go back to Mineral Wells on Saturday, to do some measuring and bring back some more stuff. Since we got rid of our grand piano, we have some space to add bookshelves, a couple of which we are going to retrieve from Mama’s house. We are also looking at purchasing some more new ones to put between the exercise equipment in the front of the house and the reading chairs that are now in the “dining room.”

The Texas Rangers lost another game to the Astros, last night, 4-3. It was close, but their ninth inning rally fell short. Brett Martin was tagged for the loss, in relief. The Rangers are now 6-12 for the season, in last place in the AL West. Out of those 6 wins, only one was credited to a starting pitcher. The rest are credited to the bullpen. 7 of the losses are credited to starters. So, out of 18 starts, only 8 decisions have gone to the starters. This speaks highly of the mediocrity of the team’s pitching staff. But we Rangers fans are used to this, aren’t we?

They will get a chance to tie the series, this afternoon, as they face the ‘stros at 1:05 this afternoon. I might watch a bit of that on the PC at work in the Computer Center.

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-1, last night, improving their record to 8-11. They are in fourth place in the AL East, 4.5 behind the Evil Empire. Those two teams will play again, this afternoon, at 3:07 EDT.

The NY Mets have risen to the top of MLB, with a 14-6 record. The Yankees, having won 5 consecutive games, are rising fast, and currently third, behind the Mets and the SF Giants. The Cincinnati Reds continue to hold down the worst spot, at 3-15. The Rangers are fourth from the bottom.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
He existed in the beginning with God. 
God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. 
(John 1:1-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for cantaloupe and grapes
2. for prayer, the comfort it gives, and the power that it contains
3. that He who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121)
4. that Jesus paid the price to set me free
5. for the wisdom and wealth that I have in Jesus Christ

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

“In the morning, prayer is the key that opens to us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings; in the evening, it is the key that shuts us up under His protection and safeguard.” ~ Billy Graham

“God’s response to our prayers is not a charade. He does not pretend that he is answering our prayer when he is only doing what he was going to do anyway. Our requests really do make a difference in what God does or does not do. The idea that everything would happen exactly as it does regardless of whether we pray or not is a specter that haunts the minds of many who sincerely profess belief in God. It makes prayer psychologically impossible, replacing it with dead ritual at best . . . of course, this is not the biblical idea of prayer, nor is it the idea of people for whom prayer is a vital part of life.” ~ Dallas Willard

The prayer word for today is “desert.” That’s “desert,” as in a large, sandy, hot expanse of land. Not to be confused with “dessert,” that is a sweet, tasty, treat.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
(James 1:3 NLT)

The desert is only bad when you’re lost in it. How many movies have we seen where someone is lost in the desert, crawling around, looking for water? That is most definitely bad, and the odds of surviving are, I would think, slim.

But we must remember that the land where Jesus walked was surrounded by desert. And it is often said that He disappeared for hours at a time, going off into “desolate” places to pray.

The desert can be a trial, or it can be “a moment to be still and be loved.” And even when it is a trial, it is still, as James mentioned, a place for endurance to grow.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, if I experience any desert times today, or in the near future, remind me that You are always close, always with me, and that You are helping me grow through those times. Help me to remember the truth of Psalm 121. You are always there; You don’t slumber or sleep, and You are always watching over me as I come and go, both now and forever.

If they are bound in chains and caught up in a web of trouble, he shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride. He gets their attention and commands that they turn from evil. If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant.
(Job 36:8-11 NLT)

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.
(Proverbs 26:11 NLT)

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
(Isaiah 44:22 NLT)

There’s a mixture of ideas presented here. But what we need to know is that we are forgiven. A few days ago, I mentioned a Twila Paris song that opens with the lines, “I am here to confess the same old sin; how can He still be listening?”

We are, sadly, oftentimes that fool who repeats his foolishness. But the Lord has swept away my sins “like a cloud.” He has cast them as far as the east is from the west. He has thrown them into the depths of the sea, and Scripture proclaims that He remembers them no more. The price has been paid. Hallelujah!

Father, I praise You that the price has been paid to set me free. I hang my head in shame when I return to my foolishness, but then You remind me of my forgiveness and call me back to holiness, that I may continue to walk in Your kingdom and follow the path laid out for me. I pray that You make it harder and harder for me to return to my foolishness. I pray You would continually work within me to take away even the slightest thought of sin. I look forward, with great anticipation, to that day when temptation will no longer be an issue. Truthfully, I’m not sure we will know how to act.

Eugene Peterson points out that wisdom and wealth cannot save us. While it is true that God has paid the price for us, it is also true that there is not enough wealth in the world to make that happen. “Neither PhDs nor fat salaries can bring us to God as free men and women.”

This doesn’t mean that wealth and education are not useful in this life. Unfortunately, we tend to be a reactive people who are either all or nothing. But wisdom and education are certainly liberating in our civilization. “In Solomon’s life, his wisdom and wealth were admired rather than despised. But they were not capable of freeing him from his sins and bringing the rule of God to the people.”

This is important because of the possibilities of the culture in which we live. “Each one of us has a good chance of being both wealthy and wise. We know a lot and we have a lot. Yet there are many indications that we are not using our wisdom and wealth according to God’s will.”

Yet, in spite of this, there are still millions of hungry people in the world. “Surely it is not the will of God that people be hopelessly trapped in desperate poverty at a time when our culture as a whole has become one of affluence and abundance. Beyond economics, beyond politics, this is an issue of love (or the deplorable lack of it.”

Wait. Did he say “love?” Funny how that word keeps popping up here.

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question is “What is the chief end of man?” That could be rephrased, “why are we here?” The given answer is, ” . . . to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Says Peterson, “We must look for a deeper reason for living than simply acquiring better educations and better jobs and more wisdom and more wealth. We must seek a more substantial means of glorifying God – deeper wisdom and a greater amount of wealth than Solomon’s. We must take steps to protect ourselves from Solomon’s paradox: the outward signs of wisdom and wealth that cover up an inward stupidity and a social poverty.”

This must begin on the inside, with the foundation. “We begin with ourselves as creatures of God and seek his wisdom and wealth at our deepest levels of being. We seek them through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is described by John as the “Word” of God, which could be seen as “the intelligence or the rationality of God.” Then, Jesus is also called the “glory” of God. According to Peterson, the word “glory” in Hebrew is similar to the word for “wealth.”

“We speak of receiving Christ into our hearts, receiving God’s kindness and nearness within our own existence. When we do this voluntarily, the Word of God and the glory of God, his truth and his grace, his wisdom and his wealth, become implanted as life principles within us. Our lives begin to reflect the rationality of divinity and the solid wealth of eternity.”

Of course, we must remember that the world will never see this as either wisdom or wealth. But we should really care what they think, should we?

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, thank You for the Word made flesh! Thank You for Your glory that was and is reflected in Jesus Christ. And I praise You that, in Him, we have all the wisdom and wealth that we need. Help us to reflect this in love as we walk through this world. Help us to show this wisdom and use this wealth to serve others. There has been a huge failure, Lord, as people have pretended to love while actually displaying the hatred in their hearts. That ought not be so, and it is giving Your Church a bad name in this world. I pray that You would intervene and cause Your people to show love for their neighbors, to love others as they should. I am thankful (but not boastful, because it is not of my own doing) that You have put love in my heart. But I’m still flawed and broken, as are all humans, and sometimes that love doesn’t make its way out and I find myself being judgmental. I pray for Your Spirit to control me and stop that. Help me, in my life, to “reflect the rationality of divinity and the solid wealth of eternity.”

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Never

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.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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.

Whom He Loves, He Disciplines

Today is Sunday, July 12, 2020, beginning the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!

Day 22,767

38 days until S’s birthday!

Yesterday was a nice, relaxing day. After our WW workshop, I cooked brunch for us (eggs and accessories). We watched an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (all five seasons available for streaming on Hulu), then C went to the grocery store, and I cranked up the PS4. I did not do any recording yesterday. Perhaps today. We’ll see how I feel.

I did manage to finish The Last of Us, Part 2, which should be subtitled, “Ellie is the biggest jerk on the planet.” It doesn’t mean I didn’t like the game, because it was enjoyable. However, the main character, by the end of the game, was an intolerable jerk who just wouldn’t stop. She manages to alienate everyone in her life, because she must have vengeance. On Abby, who killed Joel because Joel killed Abby’s father to save Ellie’s life. But the problem is, when Joel saved Ellie’s life, he doomed the entire human race because Ellie was the only hope for an antidote for the disease that had swept the world, causing all of the monstrosities that roamed the cities (not exactly “zombies,” because I don’t think they were “dead”). That’s probably way more than you wanted to know about the game. I’ll just say that Ellie got exactly what she deserved in the end.

After finishing LoU2, I put Dragon Age: Inquisition back in the PS4, to continue that adventure. That will still take a while, as it seems to be a very huge game.

Plans for today . . . virtual church at 10:15. Some kind of lunch (probably Subway). C and I plan to make the Basque Chicken with Chorizo and Peppers in the crock pot again. That stuff was soooooo good! That will be our dinner. No other plans for the day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.
(The Prayer of St. Francis)

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

Okay. Let’s do that!

Today I am grateful:

  1. That I’m still alive and breathing
  2. That joy still comes in the morning and hope still walks with the hurting
  3. That You love us enough to discipline us when we go astray
  4. That our sin will not bring us into condemnation because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ
  5. For the green pastures and still waters

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.
(Psalms 28:2 ESV)

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
(Habakkuk 2:20 ESV)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
(Psalms 118:26 ESV)

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
(John 12:44-50 ESV)

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
(Psalms 119:103-104 ESV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
(Psalms 23:1-2 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)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father,
you have brought me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power,
that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us. How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; for they have devoured Jacob and devastated his homeland. Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.
(Psalms 79:1-8 NIV)

Why did the Lord bring about (or allow) the destruction of Jerusalem. According to verse 5, it was “jealousy.” Paul speaks, in 2 Corinthians 11:2, of having a “godly jealousy” for the Corinthian Christians. “It is love angered by anything that is defacing or destroying the loved one.”

As parents, we are “jealous” for our children’s success and happiness. We stand ready to oppose or remove anything that gets in the way of these things.

“If God had allowed Israel to go its idol-worshipping way, its people would have been totally lost to Him.”

As Christians, we know that our sins cannot bring condemnation upon us. But we also know that our God is very jealous for us, and will “discipline us if we go astray (Hebrews 12:4-11).”

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:4-11 NIV)

“Lord, You love me like a father, and when I am in pain You are grieved. And yet, like a father, You love me too much to let me alone when I am living foolishly. When troubles happen, instead of crying, ‘Unfair!’ help me to ask, ‘Is there anything You are trying to show me?’ Then show me. Amen.”

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

Father, as difficult as it is to say, I am thankful for the times when You discipline me for going astray, and I go astray way too often. Maybe not way off the path, true, but there are days when I seem to completely forget Who I belong to. So thank You for the faithful reminders when this happens. May I walk more faithfully in Your Kingdom this next week, 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!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.