Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Faith

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,511

24 days until S turns 29!

In the words of Sonny and Cher, “the heat goes on.” Wait. That’s not right, is it? Well, anyway, it does go one. Yesterday’s high was 103, for our thirtieth triple-digit day of this summer, and the tenth in the current streak. And, to make matters worse, those two days of below-100-temperatures in the forecast are now gone. (Sad face) And the chances of any rain have also diminished.

The average high and low for yesterday is 97/73 and the previous record high was 102, so we set a record yesterday. (I just started looking at those numbers, yesterday.) Today’s projected high is 104, and at 9:30, it was 88. The forecast for the next ten days has every day being at least 101, but today is the only day that is as high as 104. Of course, all of that could change tomorrow.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Mariners, last night, 4-3. They scored first, but fell behind an inning later and never caught back up. They are now 43-52, still in third place in the AL West. Still twenty games out of first, but now eight games out in the Wild Card race. They will face Seattle again, tonight.

The Red Sox managed to finally win a game, yesterday, beating the Cleveland Guardians, 3-1. This put them back over .500, at 49-48. Unfortunately, they won in those dreadfully ugly yellow uniforms. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?? Anyway, they are still in fourth place in the AL East, and still only a half game out of last place. Seventeen out of first, and three out of the Wild Card. They will face Cleveland again tonight.

The Nationals have won two straight games, but are still at the bottom of MLB, with a 33-65 record. The Blue Jays now have the longest current win streak, with six consecutive wins, and the Giants (since the Red Sox finally won) now have the longest current losing streak, at five games. The Nationals still have the worst run differential, but it has improved to “only” -159. The Rangers are at +6, and the Red Sox are at -10.

Today being Tuesday, I will be working at the library, this evening, from 4:15-8:15, shelving books. I have a suspicion that there will be a number of “youth” carts in the queue, still, as there were several there Saturday evening. So, if I check out another children’s book, that will be why. Hahaha!

Yes, that’s Kevin.


Lord God, we thank you for your Word, greatest and most glorious of all that comes to our human life. Every day we want to find more joy in your help, in what you are doing for us. Again and again we feel and rejoice in the new help, new strength, and new courage for life given by your Word. We seek and seek to find Jesus Christ, the eternal Life. He will surely come to establish your kingdom. Praise to your name, eternal, glorious, almighty God! Be with us poor, lowly people. Strengthen us in spirit, and enable us to persevere until everything is fulfilled that is promised by your Word. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from
Your word, LORD, is eternal; 
it stands firm in the heavens. 
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; 
you established the earth, and it endures. 
Your laws endure to this day, 
for all things serve you.
(Psalms 119:89-91 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Word of God that stands firm, no matter how badly we humans distort it and misinterpret it and take it out of context
2. for another day of living
3. for the power and privilege of prayer
4. for compassion and mercy; both that of God toward us and that which we are to extend to one another
5. for faith in the God who makes the promises, and faith that He answers prayer

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 12:3-7 NIV, emphasis mine)

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
(1 Corinthians 12:11 NIV, emphasis mine)

Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is “compassion.”

“We can’t heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, an act of kindness.” ~ Mary Davis

I can’t verify this, but I’m guessing that this Mary Davis is the author of Every Day Spirit: A Daybook of Wisdom, Joy and Peace.

While there are plenty of references to “compassion” in Scripture, I do like the gist of this quote. I can’t “fix” the world. Not only can I not do it myself, it certainly can’t be done in one day. And there’s another quote by Mary Davis that I found en route to looking up this one. “We all change the world whether we intend to or not. And we always change the world for the better when we plant the seeds of kind thoughts and words.”

Every day, I change the world a little bit. How I change it is up to me. I can change it for the better or I can change it for the worse. That voice of compassion, that heart of love, or that act of kindness can have somewhat of a “butterfly effect” on the world around me.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”
(Isaiah 49:13-16 ESV)

The KJV translates the word that is seen as “compassion” here as “mercy.” The two are, of course, closely related. But here’s the thing. God has compassion (mercy) on His afflicted people. We are supposed to act like God. And Jesus told His disciples in that verse that I keep quoting to love one another the way He had loved them.

Therefore, we ought always show compassion toward one another. What’s that verse I shared yesterday?


If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
(Psalms 130:3-4 ESV)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

Speaking of compassion . . . God keeps no record of our sins. If He did, as the psalmist queried, “who could stand?”

So, here’s another question. Do we, as we are infinitely less than God, dare keep our own record?? And I’m not talking about keeping a record of my own sin! I’m talking about how we seem to be really good at marking the iniquities of others!

As Rick Hamlin states, “God knows about all my judgmental thoughts, my uncharitable impulses, and my efforts at loving my neighbor as myself.”

“But,” you might object, “you just said He doesn’t keep a record of those things!”

Maybe not. But then we have deal with some of the most frightening words Jesus ever spoke.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

Are we willing to take a chance that Jesus didn’t mean exactly what He said, there?

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

A prayer of Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country:

"O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succour,
let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for Thee."

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
(Mark 11:22-24 ESV)

These statements were in answer to the disciples’ astonishment that the fig tree that He had cursed the day before had withered. And it tells us something very important. The faith that we have, faith that our prayers will be answered, is faith in God. My faith is not in my prayers! My prayers are just words. But if my faith is in God, then my prayers become powerful.

“The power to believe a promise depends entirely on our faith in the One who promises.” And the development of that faith depends on our relationship with Christ Himself.

“The connection between faith in God and faith in His promises will become clear when we think about what faith really is. It is often compared to the hand or mouth by which we take and appropriate what is offered. Faith is also the ear by which we hear what is promised, the eye by which we see what is offered. I must hear the person who gives the promise – the very tone of his voice gives me courage to believe. I must see him – in the light of his eye and his countenance, all fear fades away. The value of the promise depends on the one giving the promise; my knowledge of his character and dependability creates faith in his promise. In the case of God our Father, there can be no doubt as to His character and power to hear and answer and provide.”

(From Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray)

Oh, and speaking of compassion again, check out the verse immediately following the above quote!

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:25 ESV)

Father, we are in desperate need of compassion in our society. We have, for far too long, now, made a practice of keeping a record of wrongdoings. We have forgotten how to have compassion on one another. We have forgotten the words of Jesus when He said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Increase my faith in You, Lord, that I might fully believe Your promises, and that I might be one whose prayer is righteous, fervent, and effective. May I be one whose faith is such that, whatever I pray, I receive. And You know, Father, that I am not entering into “prosperity gospel,” or “name it/claim it” territory. Because I rarely pray anything for my own benefit. My prayers are almost always for others. And I don’t want prayers answered so that people will point fingers at me and say “What a great pray-er he is!” I want prayers answered so that You will be glorified through the Son and by the Spirit!

I echo the prayer of Alan Paton, this morning. Open my eyes, ears, and heart, that I might see the needs, hear the cries, and offer the compassion and succor to those who need it. And don’t we all need it, in some way?

Take my judgmental thoughts and my uncharitable impulses and do away with them, that they would be no more. Make it so that only love, charity, compassion, and forgiveness emerge from my heart and soul. May I believe with all my being the words that Russ Taff sang back in the eighties when he said, “I don’t care what label you may wear; if you believe in Jesus, you belong with me.” That’s the attitude I want in my heart, Lord, and only You can put it there, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Refresh my spirit, Lord!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Have Mercy

Today is Sunday, the twenty-second of May, 2022, the sixth Sunday of Easter.

May the peace of Christ surround you today.

Day 23,446 (the number of days since I was born)


Lord our God, Almighty Father in heaven, we stand before you as your children, whom you want to protect through the need of our time, through all sin and death. We praise you for giving us so much peace in an age full of trouble, and for granting us the assurance of your help. Even when we suffer, we do not want to remain in the darkness of suffering but want to rise up to praise and glorify you. For your kingdom is coming; it is already at hand. Your kingdom comforts and helps us and points the way for the whole world, that your will may be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from
"O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Sixth Sunday of Easter)

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.
(Psalms 22:22 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace of God, that passes all understanding, through the most difficult of times
2. for the love of God, that also passes all comprehension
3. for the great mercy of God, that is beyond comprehension, mercy in which Christ paid the price for our sin and redemption
4. for the Word made flesh, which is restoring all things
5. for the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control; may all of these be visible in all of God's children

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
(Psalms 51:10-12 NLT)

Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
(Psalms 51:15-17 NLT)

It occurred to me, last night . . . I’m sure that I am not the only one who has experienced this, but my mother loves me. My mother loves me with a love that is deeper than life itself.

God loves me more. God loves you more.

I want you to just think about that for a minute and try to digest it.

I was wondering if today’s prayer word would be “maybe.”

But it’s not . . . it is “merciful,” which is much better than “maybe.” Jesus tells His listeners, in the Sermon on the Mount,

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 NIV)

The reading for today briefly traces the etymology of the word. It was first used in the thirteenth century, and comes from the Latin for “price paid,” or “wages.” It also comes from the same word as French for “thank you,” which is merci. It also shares the same root as “merchandise.”

I find this interesting, especially in light of the way we use the word. When thinking of the mercy of Jesus, we see that He did, in fact, pay a price for our sin. He purchased us (merchandise?) with His blood, and set us free from sin, for which we joyfully say, “merci.”

Father, I cannot adequately thank You for the mercy that You have shown us, as Your people, and me, individually. I look back at my life and see so much mercy that I am astonished. It began before I was born, of course, and has continued, and goes forward through the rest of my life and eternity. I cannot even really comprehend the scope of it. But I am grateful, and will at least try to thank You, even though my gratitude falls short.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
(Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

When the perishable is lost in the imperishable, the mortal lost in the immortal, this saying will come true: "Death is swallowed up in victory" "O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
(1 Corinthians 15:54 Phillips)

Eugene Peterson tells us that “the world gives us a bad education” by turning words around backward, mispronouncing them, distorting them, and so on. “Live spelled backward is evil. Evil captured the headlines in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, and it captures them still. But it is the live Jesus who has captured history–and captures us.”

The elements of life can be used against their intended purpose. The letters of the alphabet “can be used to confuse, to lie, and to destroy. They are reversed and perverted by cruelty and mockery, sin and death.”

But “in the silence of the tomb,” all of these things are “rearranged and made straight.” As Jesus is raised from the dead, the Word is “spelled right before us.” In the passage of 1 Corinthians 15, “Paul contrasts resurrection with vanity, fullness with emptiness, reality with illusion, live with evil. All his superlatives are understatements. Jesus breaks the spell of the reversed, backward spoken word.”

For years, now, I have loved the way Peterson puts words together. I have never read anyone quite like him. At times, he gets dense (not anywhere nearly as dense as Willard), but his “wordsmithing” is still beautiful. This reading is no different.

We find, in Jesus, the ultimate of “fixing” everything. It’s not all fixed, yet, that is easy to see. But one day, it will be . . . everything will be set right, and we will rejoice. I have confidence that it is not going to quite look like anything that any of us are imagining. In fact, I’m to the point where I’m really trying not to imagine it. I’m just waiting . . . and fully expect to be utterly awestruck and full of the most joy that I could ever dream of.

Father, I praise You for the work of Jesus in rearranging and making things straight, in spelling the “Word” right, after the world has spent so much time using things against their intended purposes. I pray for Your Church, that we might get it right. It’s so easy to get it wrong . . . especially these days. We are scattered, like sheep with no shepherd. We need to be following our True Shepherd, Father, so make His voice clear to us, that we might follow Him and not any humans, no matter how well-meaning they may be. I suspect that some of them aren’t as “well-meaning” as we would like to think.

My heart’s desire is to know the Word, Father, to know Him inside and out, that He might be my life and my existence, my desire and my purpose in this life. Help me to walk in Your Kingdom and stay on the path of righteousness. And help me to, as Jesus commands, love You with all my heart, love my neighbor as myself, and love other brothers and sisters the way that Jesus has loved us.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit. All praise to the Holy Trinity.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

“You Go and Do Likewise”

Today is Tuesday, the eleventh of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,315

Twelve days until Hamilton.

I must confess that I am not confident that the Hamilton show will go on as scheduled. I have no communication, thus far, from Bass Performance Hall. However, I have seen that dates in Houston, the week before our run begins, have been postponed due to outbreaks in the touring company. I have to assume that it is the same group that would be performing in Fort Worth, beginning on the nineteenth. Whatever will be, will be, though, and I shan’t worry about it.

C is working from home, today, which is always nice. It is a normal Tuesday for me, and I will be heading in to the library at 4:15, to work until the library closes at 8:00. Then I am off until Friday.

We had to buy a new electric can opener, which was already delivered, this morning. That may not seem like such a big deal, but the can opener we are replacing came with the house. It’s a Black and Decker under-the-cabinet space-saver can opener that is almost twenty-three years old. A piece broke off a couple weeks ago, and it will no longer hold cans up, and keeps dropping them. Plus the handle won’t stay engaged, so it becomes harder and harder to open a can. We did not get another similar opener, as B&D seem to be the only company that makes those, and they are almost $400, which is ridiculous! We got a counter-top Cuisinart for less than $50, which, in my opinion, is still quite a bit to pay for a can opener. But it is stainless steel, and has a nice, wide, heavy base. It looks nice.

So, now, the microwave that is installed over the stove is the only original appliance left in the house. The stove and dishwasher have both been replaced, and the refrigerator has been replaced twice. The hot water heater was replaced last year, and the garage door opener was also replaced last year. The heating unit is still original equipment . . . I don’t really consider that an “appliance,” but maybe it is. But the A/C is not original, and the blower in the attic was replaced a number of years ago.

Nothing really on my schedule for today, so who knows what I’ll get done? I need to get someone to come look at our dripping shower faucet.


Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 
'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 
The second is this: 
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 
There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mark 12:29-31 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for our cats
2. for oceans and forests
3. for the parable of the Good Samaritan
4. that Jesus Christ emptied Himself for us
5. for the awe I feel in the presence of the holiness of God; may that holiness permeate my being, today
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 
He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 
And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 
And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." 
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 
He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." 
(Luke 10:25-37 ESV)

This passage was in my daily reading in the plan that I’m currently following in the YouVersion Bible app. Several things truck me, this morning, as I was listening to it.

The first thing is Jesus’s response to the lawyer’s answer to His question. The lawyer, of course, responded with words primarily from Deuteronomy 6:4-6, which is known as the “Shema.” The part about loving your neighbor as yourself is found in Leviticus.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:18 ESV)

First, Jesus told the lawyer that he had answered correctly. It’s what He said next that I really haven’t paid close attention to, before today.

” . . . do this, and you will live.” 



What was the original question?

“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So, Jesus’s answer to the question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life,” is, essentially, “love God and love people.” As you can see, I’ve paraphrased that.

Jesus didn’t say anything at all about trusting Him for forgiveness of sin, repentance, praying the “sinner’s prayer” (which isn’t anywhere in the Bible, anyway), or any of the stuff that a modern-day evangelical would tell someone if they asked that same question!

Don’t worry. I’m not going down a path of “works salvation,” here. But I do need to spend some time processing what Jesus told this guy. Unfortunately for the lawyer, he couldn’t leave well-enough alone, and had to ask that next question, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke indicates that the lawyer was trying to justify himself by asking that.

So then Jesus proceeds to tell the famous “Good Samaritan” parable. Now . . . we don’t really know much about the man who was attacked by robbers, just that he was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. I suppose it is safe to assume (is it ever safe to assume?) that he was Jewish, a Hebrew. We all know what happens next. A priest and a Levite, two examples of people who should be the most devoutly religious sort of folk, avoid the injured man, no doubt with some kind of religious reason, perhaps even following “The Law” in doing so.

Then the Samaritan shows up. Samaritans were half-breeds. They were absolutely hated by the Jews. So this guy comes along and gives aid to someone whom he knew would, if they simply met on the street, absolutely loathe him. That would be something like an illegal immigrant giving assistance to a KKK member.

Then Jesus asks the lawyer which one proved to be a “neighbor” to the robbed man. Of course, the lawyer says, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus’s response speaks loudly to all of us.

“You go, and do likewise.”

It’s important to maintain the proper perspective, here. The person who showed mercy did not show mercy to someone whom he hated (at least we are not told that). He showed mercy to someone whom he knew would hate him!

A few chapters earlier, Dr. Luke records Jesus saying this:

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, 
do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, 
and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
(Luke 6:27-31 ESV)

Of course, we all know verse 31 as “The Golden Rule.” And it is this kind of radical behavior that sets true Christians apart from the rest of the world. It also sets “true Christians” apart from all the pretend “Christians.”

Essentially, what I see here is this. If I am one who is inheriting eternal life, I will obey these things. I will love God with all of my being, and I will love my neighbor as myself. I will love my enemy. I will render assistance to someone who is in need, even if I know that they hate me.

And I truly believe that I am told that I should not fight back. To me, that is what “turning the other cheek” means. And look . . . we are even allowed some naturally human selfishness through all of this. Jesus actually gives us an out at the end of this. Even if the motivation is that I want to be treated this way, myself, it’s okay! It is fine for me to treat others the way that I want to be treated. That is commendable.

I can only assume that there are a lot of people out there, pretending to be Christians, who really want to be treated with bigotry and hatred, since that’s how they are treating anyone who is not like them.

Father, I pray for more of this in my own spirit, today. I have seen something new in Your Word today. Of course, it is not “new.” It has always been there. But today, for whatever reason, You chose to have Your Spirit reveal this to me in a fresh way. And You have be drawing me, more and more, into this kind of attitude and behavior, for many years, now. Keep drawing me; closer and closer to You, and deeper and deeper into this kind of mindset. I want to be part of a Love Revolution. I want to be able to love You fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to love my neighbor as myself, including anyone who might despise me or abuse me. I want to love my brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that Christ has loved us. Make me able to do these things, please. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

And I pray, Father, for You to rescue Your Church. Or maybe the real Church is not in any danger. Maybe You are pruning. Help us to stay faithful and strong, as I can see times of persecution around the corner. But the “church” as an institution is faltering. Help us to be more faithful to follow Jesus and obey His teachings, rather than follow the prejudices of bigoted leaders.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

God is serious business, take him seriously; he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving.
(1 Chronicles 16:30 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

Building A Building

Today is Monday, the fifth of July, 2021.

May God’s peace be with you, today!

Day 23,125

45 days until S’s birthday

We are, as previously discussed, off work today, as both of our jobs have allowed us this day for the holiday, since the fourth fell on Sunday, this year. I’m not at all sure what this day will hold. It will probably involve Applebee’s. And Sonic. I am sure that there will be cabinet painting (C’s current project). There will also be more coffee . . . be right back.

Thank you for waiting.

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. The worship service at FBC was nice, and quite stirring at some moments. Most of the songs were “patriotic” in nature, which I expected, but still manages to disappoint me, just a little. However, there were some good worship songs, and one that I had not heard before, “Great Things,” by Phil Wickham, et al. It also occurred to me, as we sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” that the only thing really patriotic about that song is the title. I especially like the last verse that we sang, which is not so easily found:

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool,
and the soul of wrong His slave.
Our God is marching on.

We had a good lunch, from Natty Flats, which is right across the street from the church. It’s BBQ, and was pretty good. We ordered from the drive-thru, then took it back to Mama’s house (via Sonic, of course), and enjoyed the food with good conversation.

We headed home a little earlier than usual, as S began to get insistent that she was ready to leave. We had a good trip home, though. C was not feeling well when we left, but after a little bit at home, she was much better, and finished up her evening sanding and painting kitchen cabinets. In fact, she did that until pretty close to 10:00 PM. She’s already in the kitchen working, this morning.


With You

Storm clouds on the horizon
I AM here and I AM near,
let not your heart be troubled

©2021 S. Michaels
A Line in the Sand
(‘High-Haiku’ 7-7-7)

We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.
(Psalms 33:20-22 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You, the I AM, are here and near.
2. for Your unfailing love that surrounds us.
3. that You are good, a refuge in times of trouble, and You care for those who trust in You (Nahum 1:7)
4. that I don't need to be worried about Your anger, any more, because Jesus Christ took the punishment for my sin. Forgive me for the times when I am leisurely flippant about this truth.
5. that there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus.

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



The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
(Nahum 1:7 NIV)

I pause, at this moment, to consider this goodness of God, “a refuge in times of trouble.” I give thanks for His care for those of us who trust Him.


For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?

Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?
(Psalms 6:1-5 NIV)


As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(1 Peter 2:4-10 NIV)


As I remind myself of God’s presence in this place (in spite of technological shortcomings that threaten my peace), I linger over these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers, this morning.

As the psalmist begins his prayer asking that the Lord not rebuke him in anger or wrath, I find that I can be truly thankful that this does not apply to me, because I am in Christ Jesus, and there is “no condemnation” for me, because Jesus has taken on the punishment for my sin.

While I may find occasion to echo some of the psalms of lament, this is not one of them. Although I also confess that there are times when I forget this truth and think that something “bad” may have happened to me because of some sin that I committed. In truth, though, my deepest belief is that that is not the case. That is what “propitiation” is all about. Overly-simplified, it means that, because of the work of Jesus, God is not angry with us any more. He does not punish us for our sins because He has already punished Jesus for those sins.

Peter calls Jesus “the living Stone.” And when we come to Jesus, we become “living stones” who are being built into a house, a spiritual house to be “a holy priesthood.”

This is deep language, but what we see is that the sacrifices we offer, rather than being flesh and bone, are spiritual in nature. And when we trust in the original living Stone, that “precious cornerstone,” we will never be put to shame.

Shame is a nasty thing, and it is one of our enemies. Or, perhaps I should say, it is one of the most potent tools in our enemy’s bag of tricks. For a great discussion on shame, read Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. Shame is bad, guilt is not. Shame says, “I am a bad person,” while guilt says, “I did a bad thing.” It may look like mere semantics, but the difference is extremely important.

In Christ, there is no shame. We may be guilty, but Jesus took that guilt upon His own shoulders and bore the penalty for it. That’s why there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ.

To those who to not trust this “living Stone,” that stone is “a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” And the stark reality is found when that verse continues: “They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.”

We are the people of God, and we have received mercy.

How dare we not extend that same mercy to others!

Father, I praise You for Your mercy on us; on me, because of the living Stone of Jesus Christ, Your precious cornerstone! I thank You that I do not ever have to feel shame because of this. I still do, because I forget; forgive my forgetfulness, O God. I allow feelings of shame to creep in and make me think I’m a “bad person,” when, even though I may not exactly be “good” (compared with Christ, no one is), I am certainly not “bad.” Not now. Not in Christ. I praise You that I am part of the chosen people, the “royal priesthood,” the “holy nation” (and that “holy nation” is not a real, physical nation, like the USA . . . it is a spiritual nation), and that I am part of Your “special possession.” I thank You for the propitiation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, which means that I do not have to fear Your wrath.

Skillful Savior,
as you build your church from the entire human race,
you gather in sinful,
broken people who long for your kingdom.
You take us as individuals and build us into so much more than we could ever be on our own--
a spiritual house,
a chosen people,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation.
May your church flourish everywhere.
(Heidelberg Catechism 54)


And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(1 Peter 5:10 NIV)

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
(Proverbs 27:1 NIV)

Father, it is only in You that we have any tomorrows. And what a “tomorrow” I am anticipating! For my “tomorrow” is in eternity. I’m not looking forward to “Tuesday” or “Wednesday” or even next weekend. Okay, maybe I’m already looking forward to next weekend, but I’ll rest in the joy of the current one first. I am eagerly awaiting and looking forward to my eternal reward, that rest that will last for ever and ever in “heaven,” wherever and whatever that turns out to be. I thank You for the grace and mercy that You have lavished upon us, in this life, and all that we have to look forward to in the next. Help me to walk in a manner worthy of the calling I have received. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

This morning, I also offer up a special prayer for the people of Canada, as they process the horrific discovery of the mass graves at the “Resident Schools.” May You bring peace and healing to the nation, and I continue to pray desperately for an end to systemic racism. I praise You, Father, that, in You, there is no skin color, no male or female, no slave or free. There are only human beings, souls in need of Your grace and mercy, and all on equal footing before Your Cross of Jesus Christ. Have mercy, Lord.

Lord, give us today a wide appreciation for things of beauty and the diversity of creation. I pray for blessing and wisdom in the lives of all who are active in the caring of Your creation. I also pray for the welfare of all living creatures.

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!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas – Hope

Today is Monday, January 4, 2021, the eleventh day of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,943

Today, we are finally back to a “normal” work schedule. And, while I have most certainly enjoyed the time off, I find myself a little glad to be back on schedule. The challenge is going to be found as I continue to work with my new devotional materials for the new year. I’m still working to nail down the timing.

I’m still mentally dealing with yesterday’s challenge from The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn. He calls them “missions.” It was to step out of old ways, old habits in this new year. I haven’t quite done that, yet. Perhaps an actual plan might be in order.


I want to begin today’s prayers by sharing a poem from fellow blogger Daryl Madden. I have been following his blog for a bit, and find his poems to be quite deep and inspiring. This one, from yesterday morning, is called “Settle Now.” It is my opening prayer for this morning. Shared with permission.

Settle now in stilling
Focus be of here
Emptiness outpouring
In silence, be aware

Settle now in Presence
Focus of the light
Covering so precious
Grace of Your insight

Settle now in dwelling
Focus of the deep
Savor the sweet fragrance
Letting Spirit seep

Rooted now in love
Enwrapped in sacred prayer
Holiness of being
One of soul to share

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



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


A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.


But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.


There are a number of words that hit me in this brief passage. “Kindness,” “love,” “mercy,” “grace.” All characteristics of God and/or things He lavishes upon us. And the, at the end, “hope.”

It is very clear here, as well as plenty other places in Scripture, that our salvation is not because of anything we have done. It might even be implied that it is in spite of unrighteous things that we have done.

The Holy Trinity is represented quite sell in this passage. The Father saved us, through the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Through all of this, we are justified by His grace, becoming heirs (remember, we read about being heirs a couple days ago), and we have hope!

“Hope” is not just wishful thinking. We use the word differently, in our language. We “hope” we get to go on a trip this year, somewhere. We “hope” for that raise from our employer. But in this case, “hope” is more of an assurance that something is going to happen. One of the definitions of hope is “grounds for believing that something good may happen.” I would replace “may” with “will.”

We have it on good authority, solid ground for believing, that we will experience and possess our inheritance of eternal life. This is true hope!

Father, there are so many words in this passage that thrill me and fill my soul. I will walk away from this session today with that hope, solid in my soul, of eternal life, and the inheritance that awaits me in my eternal Home. I long for that Home, Father, that place where there will never again be pain, tears, loneliness, or sorrow. That place where “evil” will not be allowed to dwell, in any of its forms. I thank You for Your kindness and love, Your grace, Your mercy, and for providing us with this hope.

"God of mercy,
whenever I lose sight of you and my faith falters,
whenever I'm tempted to doubt your heart
or misconstrue your motives,
turn me again to the clearest sign of your generous mercy:
your only Son, Jesus.
Remind me, too, of the sign of my baptism into Jesus,
that I am washed clean and reborn through Christ;
grow me up into all of its promises and blessings.
(Westminster Larger Catechism 167)


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

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 NIV)

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
(Luke 11:5-8 NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

While [Peter] was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”
(Matthew 17:5 MSG)

One of the ways that Holy Spirit is described in Scripture is with the word “wind.” There is a Hebrew word for that, Ruach. As a simple illustration, if you go outside and walk against a strong wind, it is difficult to make progress, and you get weary faster.

But if you turn around and walk with the wind, progress is much easier, and the wind actually helps you move.

So it is with walking in the Spirit. If we walk in the same direction the Spirit is moving, we will find it much easier to make progress, and we will not get weary. In a way of speaking, when we walk in the Spirit, or with the Spirit, we have the wind at our back.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:8 ESV)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
(Acts 2:2 ESV)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
(Galatians 5:16-17 ESV)

The Mission: “What part of your life is against the direction of the Spirit? Today, turn it around and start walking with the Wind at your back.”

Father, help me to walk in and with the Holy Spirit today. The Spirit is Holy, so the direction He is moving is toward holiness. Mold my heart and spirit today toward holiness.

Father, I pray for humanity’s role as caretaker of Your creation. May we see You in our world around us, as we go about, doing whatever it is that You have given us to do. Give us eyes to see You and to see Your beauty everywhere we look. I also pray that we would be better stewards of the creation that You have given us.

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!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(Psalms 100:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the first work day of a new year
  2. For the hope that I have within me, which is the result of Your kindness, love, grace, and mercy
  3. Once again, that You have made me an heir, with an assured inheritance which includes eternal life
  4. For consistency in prayer
  5. For the Wind of the Holy Spirit
May your joys be as bright as the morning,
And your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
May you have…
Enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow to keep you human,
And enough hope to keep you happy.
(An Irish New Year's Blessing)

Grace and peace, friends.

Beneficiaries of Mercy

Good morning. It is Saturday, January 3, 2015. 93 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “alrightnik.” The meaning is, “Chiefly in Jewish usage: a person who has succeeded in life financially but is regarded as vulgar or self-satisfied; a nouveau-riche person, an arriviste.”

Today is Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. If only we had some left.

The drive to work, yesterday, turned out fine. It rained the whole trip, but the temp stayed above freezing all day. The work day went very smoothly, and we got off early again. I left work shortly after 3:00 PM. We had spaghetti for dinner last night, cooked at home, as we have embarked on a new plan to eat more healthy at the beginning of this year. We got completely caught up on past seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and just in time, as the new season begins in just over a week. Then we watched a so-so movie, called Good People, which featured James Franco and Kate Hudson. As I was hunting around in Netflix after that, I stumbled across a movie called Knights of Badassdom. Yes, the title is somewhat crude, but the movie turned out being quite entertaining. I would bill it as a “dark comedy,” as it definitely has comedic elements throughout, but also has some quite horrific moments in the latter half. What enticed me to even watch it (certainly not the title) was the featured actors. Peter Dinklage (how can you not watch a movie with Peter Dinklage??), Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten (Jason in True Blood), and Summer Glau. The fact that Summer Glau was in it was the final draw for me. She, of course, played “River” in Firefly and Serenity. The film was about a group of “LARPers.” That stands for “Live Action Role Play.” Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Jimmi Simpson was also in the movie. He plays Liam McPoyle in It’s Always Sunny. He also has a part in House of Cards.

As we were watching TV, a thunderstorm came along. My initial reaction being, “Was that thunder??” It was creepy thunder, too, the kind you might expect at Frankenstein’s castle, just as he is about to activate the monster. Right before we went to bed, there was one that literally shook the house. One of my friends, who lives in Hurst, said he lost power, shortly before midnight. A relative of mine, who lives in Jasper, Texas, said that they got an emergency warning at 3:11 AM that there was a tornado warning!! But all appears to be well, this morning.

Today is probably a typical Saturday. Christi will probably go out and get groceries, later, and then we will have our usual prayer gathering and worship service this evening.Tonight will be unique, as it will be a service of worship and prayer, and the pastor will only speak for a few moments at the very beginning. We are focusing on prayer for the year ahead, for our church. As the leader of the prayer ministry for our church, I get to have a pretty big part in this. I’m a little nervous about that. Our pre-service prayer gatherings is at 4:45, and our worship service is at 5:45. We are The Exchange.

(Source: Wikipedia)
It was on this date in 1977 that Apple Computer was incorporated.

Today’s birthdays include Cicero, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Milland, Victor Borge, John Sturges, Maxene Andrews, Hank Stram, George Martin, Sergio Leone, Robert Loggia, Dabney Coleman, Bobby Hull, Stephen Stills, John Paul Jones (the one from Led Zeppelin), Victoria Principal, Mel Gibson, Nichole Nordeman, Danica McKellar, A.J. Burnett, and Eli Manning.

Wow. That’s a lot of big names. George Martin, an English record producer, is 89 years old today. He is frequently referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” due to his extensive involvement in the production of all of their original albums. He also composed and conducted the string accompaniment for “Eleanor Rigby.”


(From Heart Aflame)

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:1-6

David, having been made king by divine appointment, was thoroughly confident in God, as people conspired against him. The grounds of this confidence was “that he only followed the call of God.” David was confident that God would “show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder.” He will also “not forsake the work of his own hands.” David was aware that he “reigned only by the authority and command of God.”

With all of this in mind, we know, then, that “all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God.” Anyone who refuses to obey Jesus Christ denies the authority of God, regardless of what they may say or profess.

We may also rest assured that there is nothing that any man can do to obscure the glory of God. We should be encouraged by the fact that, no matter how powerful wicked men may seem to be, God’s power transcends theirs, infinitely.

(From Knowing Jesus)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

“God gave his Son the name Jesus.” It is “the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Everything we do, in regards to our heavenly Father, we do “in the name of Jesus.”

Who is Jesus? He is “God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and God in our human flesh.” He is “the unique Son of God, the only begotten of the Father.”

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) When we call upon the name of Jesus, “we invoke all the attributes of deity, his holiness, his creative power, his wisdom–everything that God is, Jesus is.” (I do not agree 100% with that statement . . . Jesus is not the Father, nor is Jesus the Holy Spirit. God is all three of these, Jesus is only one of the three.)

On the other hand, the name, “Jesus,” was fairly ordinary. This gives us hope in that he was like us in his humanity, susceptible to sin and the effects of it. Nevertheless, he went without sin, and always fully pleased the Father. He is humanity and deity combined in one person.

Jesus is the central point of the entire Word of God, and is referred to by almost 200 different names, titles, and metaphors. Angels appeared to Mary and Joseph, as his impending birth was announced. Mary was told, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32) The angel told Joseph, “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) The meaning of his name, Jesus, or “Yeshua” in Hebrew, is “God (or YHWH) saves.” John tells us, in the first chapter of his Gospel, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“What does the name of Jesus signify or represent to you?
“How can you allow Jesus to exercise his wisdom, love, and authority in your life?”

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to be my Savior. May his supremacy in my life determine the choices I make.”

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “The Smallest Faith.”

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Romans 9:16

It would do us well to acknowledge that, in one way or another, everything that we, as believers in Jesus, will receive from God this year, is mercy. “Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy.” One of the primary reasons that Jesus came into the world was “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:9) We were born again, “According to his great mercy.” (1 Peter 1:3) Daily, we draw near to the throne of God, “that we may receive mercy.” (Hebrews 4:16) And while we remain on this earth, we are always “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 21)

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, he spoke of mustard seeds and uprooting mountains. “In other words, the issue in your Christian life and ministry is not the strength or quantity of your faith, because that is not what uproots trees. God does. Therefore, the smallest faith that truly connects you with Christ will engage enough of his power for all you need.”

But, then, based on Jesus’s words in Luke 17:7-10, even the “fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.” We must constantly be aware that we “never rise above the status of beneficiaries of mercy.”

Father, may I never forget mercy. May I never fall from a place where I acknowledge that I am nothing more than a beneficiary of your mercy. Everything that I receive from you is mercy. Even the pain that I occasionally feel in my body is mercy. The trials that I go through on a daily basis are mercy. These are all mercy because what I deserve is death and punishment for sin. Thank you that Jesus came to take that for me. Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith; Jesus, the name above every name; Jesus, the second person of the Trinity; Jesus your only begotten Son; Jesus, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. May I surrender everything in my life to him today and every day.

Father, this year is beginning on quite a good note for us, so far. We are grateful for every blessing that comes our way. But let us not begin to expect them. Rather keep us grateful, and make us remember that these blessings are also mercy.

I pray for this day. As we go out to have lunch in a little bit, may we be safe as we go. I pray for closeness as a family. As we prepare for tonight’s prayer and worship, make our hearts totally dependent upon you. I pray for Stephanie as she helps out with the children, that her heart will be drawn closer to yours. I pray for the times of prayer that we will experience tonight, as a church. As we look forward to what you will do in 2015, may we fall on our knees and faces before you, acknowledging that everything we receive from you is mercy. I pray for direction, provision, and growth for our church this year.

As you walk away from this blog today, as I walk away from this devotional, I pray for one thing to occupy our minds: mercy. We are all (even those who do not profess to believe in Christ) recipients of his mercy every single minute!

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is Friday, no, Wednesday . . . okay, let’s call it “Frednesday!” November 26, 2014. Thanksgiving Eve!

Did you know that the directors of Despicable Me allegedly wrote a language for the minions? Supposedly, each word really means something. (We still haven’t seen either one of those movies.)

Today is Cake Day. I’m cool with that. I love cake! Let them eat cake!!! “You! Cake or death?”

Had a pretty good day, yesterday, as we move toward Thanksgiving. I worked an hour over to try to assure that we didn’t have a whole lot of overflow work into this morning. We’re hoping that we don’t get a ton of work this morning, because we have to stay and finish whatever we get today. Since we are on a 24-hour clock for our metrics, and we are closed tomorrow and Friday, everything that comes in today must get finished today. But, as C.S. Lewis said, “It is what it is.” Or, as someone else said, “Que sera, sera,” or, “What will be, will be.”

Tomorrow will be day of cooking and eating, collapsing, and then more eating. It is possible that there will be some football watching, but only if someone else requests it. Personally, I will be rooting for the Eagles.


(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:4
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
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.
Psalm 7:17
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.

Psalm 30:1-5
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.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Matthew 15:21-28

Was Jesus testing this woman? This is one of those passages that causes me to stop and sort of scratch my chin, saying, “Hmmm . . . ” It is true that Jesus’s primary ministry was to Israel, while he was on earth. But at some point, it becomes evident that this woman makes no pretense of being deserving of his compassion, but merely hopes to partake in the overflow of the blessing. This is even seen in her initial cry to Jesus, as she asks for mercy. She is depending only on mercy. Jesus declares the greatness of her faith and heals her daughter.

We deserve none of the blessings of God, and it pains me when believers act so pompous that they believe that God owes them blessings. We are all at his mercy, and it is only his love and compassion for us that causes him to lavish grace and blessings upon us. We deserve nothing but the punishment of hell for our rebelliousness. We are certainly not better than this Canaanite woman.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Difficulty of Standing Up For What Is Right.”

All too often, it is true that those who stand up “for the truth of human dignity, no matter how disfigured,” find themselves standing alone, abandoned by “previously supportive friends.” Sometimes those “friends” even become critical, depending on the scope of the circumstances. Sometimes, standing up for what is right is a lonely plight.

“I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’
“You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

Lamentations 3:55-58

Father, I thank you for the mercy that you have shown to me and my family. I praise you for the grace that has been lavished upon us, who deserved none of the blessings that you have given. You certainly do not owe us anything; rather, the opposite is true . . . I owe you everything. Yet, I owe you nothing, because it has all been paid. My mind, my heart, cannot wrap itself around this truth; it is too great for me to comprehend. ” Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” You are beautiful, Father, and your grace is glorious.

I pray that you would give me the faith and strength to always stand up for what is right, no matter who might oppose me. This is sometimes a difficult thing. It takes time and energy to stand up for what is right and for those who are slighted, and sometimes, I am just lazy, or sometimes I don’t want to bother with the confrontation. Other times, I am too comfortable, and don’t want to step outside that comfort zone. I pray that you remove me from that way of thinking. Make me more like Jesus, as I continue to try to learn how to be a true disciple. Help me to love you, follow Christ, and share the kingdom.

I pray for this day. May we have safe and smooth passage to work and home today. I pray for a good work day for both, and that we might not need to work late this evening. I pray for Stephanie, today, that she might be in a better frame of mind, and that you would give her wisdom and understanding. May you turn her sadness into joy, Father, and show your great grace to her. I pray for peaceful times tomorrow and Friday, and that we would be thankful to you 365 days a year.

I pray for peace for the people of Ferguson.

Remember his mercy upon us.

Grace and peace, friends.


Good morning. It is pre-Friday, October 30, 2014.

Today is Checklist Day. So make your checklist, and then check that off of your list.

Well, the Giants won the World Series, winning game 7, 3-2. It was a well-fought game, with great pitching on both sides. In a move of managerial brilliance, the Giants brought in their ace, Madison Bumgarner, after only two days rest. He mowed down Royals like nobody’s business. Time to start counting days to Spring Training. Baseball is over for another year.

I’m going in early again today. And I stayed late yesterday. We are snowed under, right now, and can’t seem to dig ourselves out. I keep hearing it’s going to slow down when we get into the holiday season. Bring it on, please! 🙂


(From The Divine Hours)

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Psalm 99:1
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 33:8
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.

Psalm 125:1-3

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
Matthew 12:38-42

We should no longer be looking for “signs” from God. Jesus is the sign.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Breaking the Primitive Concept.”

“According to Hosea, God is willing to maintain the relationship even when his spouse has become an adulteress or a prostitute.” This is brought forward into the New Testament, as the woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus. The people expected Jesus to judge her. “She has been unfaithful, and this divine posture embodied in leadership would stone her.” The Pharisees want just first, only being interested in “the contract.” “The person is expendable in this primitive concept of God.” Sadly, there is still much of this attitude in today’s “churches.”

“But in the man Jesus we see the actual face of God–one in keeping with the whole Old Testament revelation.” He is interested in the woman. “His love moves one step beyond justice and proves more salvific than spelling out the ground rules all over again.”

“The revelation of God’s love comes to full term in Jesus Christ who declares that God is Father.” He calls all of us to the same “Father-Son relationship” that he shares. Paul echoes this in Romans when he says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Romans 8:15)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
Mathew 7:1-2

Father, help us to show more mercy than judgment. Help us to show grace to a lost world, that we might make more disciples for you. Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth, and in so walking, not be more interested in judgment than mercy. You have proven over and over again that you desire mercy. How then, can we not show mercy, especially after we have been shown such mercy in our lives??

I pray for this day, that we would have safe passage to work and back. I pray that the work day will go smoothly. I pray, too, that we might be able to get caught up a bit at my job, today. I pray for Stephanie. Father, show her your overwhelming love today. Draw her closer to you.

You have given us mercy. May we show mercy, in return.

We all need to learn that mercy trumps judgment. We are still too quick to judge.

Grace and peace, friends.

Not Of This World

“The Church of Jesus Christ is a place of promise and possibility, of adventure and discovery, a community of love on the move, strangers and exiles in a foreign land en route to the heavenly Jerusalem. We are a pilgrim people who have checked into the hotel of Earth overnight with bags packed and ready to go.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Monday, August 25, 2014. Back to work.

Today is Kiss and Make Up Day. I think you know what to do.

We had a very nice visit with my parents yesterday. We stopped The Mesquite Pit on the way in, and picked up lunch for all of us. Great food, and we were able to relax at their house to have lunch. After lunch, Stephanie got to open her presents. As is the custom, she received 21 gifts! One for each of her years. I’m not sure how much longer Grandma is going to be able to keep that up! 😀 We then just sat around and discussed whatever happened to come up.

Our evening at home, afterward, was nice and relaxing. Now, Christi only has four more 6:30 AM conference calls! New job on Friday!


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

(From The Divine Hours)

Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 31:23-24
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

Psalm 31:2-3
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:17

Today’s Gospel reading

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Matthew 5:7

Showing mercy, like being meek, is seen by many to be a weakness. Yet Jesus, here, pronounces those who are merciful, as being blessed, or happy. In addition, those who show mercy, will, in reward, be shown mercy. Sometimes mercy takes a physical aspect, and is visible. Other times, it is purely spiritual, and results in forgiveness.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “A Pilgrim People.”

“The Church of Jesus Christ is a place of promise and possibility, of adventure and discovery, a community of love on the move, strangers and exiles in a foreign land en route to the heavenly Jerusalem. We are a pilgrim people who have checked into the hotel of Earth overnight with bags packed and ready to go.” I love this!! We are on the move! The earth is not our permanent home. Just as Jesus was always on the move, so should we be.

Thus says the LORD:
“Keep justice,
and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.

Isaiah 56:1

Father, keep us, your Church, on the move. May we not spend too much time sitting around discussing, but take our love and be on the move with it, showing mercy and grace to all we encounter, because you have shown us mercy and grace with no bounds! May we keep justice and do righteousness everywhere we go. May we take seriously our mission, whatever you have given us to do with our lives and our hands. Show us the possibilities; show us the promise. Make us painfully aware of our “exile” in “Hotel Earth.”

I pray for this day. May we have safe travel to and from work. I pray that Christi’s day will not be too stressful, as she prepares to make the transition to a new job on Friday. I also pray for all who are starting a new school year today (and other days this week, if not today). May you bring grace and peace to the school campuses and may your light shine, even in the public schools.

Fill us with your grace, Father!

We must remember . . . we are “not of this world.” Our permanent home is not yet revealed. May we be “a community of love on the move.”


Grace and peace, friends.

Mercy, Mercy

Good morning. It is Monday morning, June 30, 2014. Last day of June, four days until a holiday.

Today is Social Media Day. Wait. I think every day is Social Media Day. Apparently, though, on this particular day, people actually arrange meetups with people they’ve met on Social Media. Now there’s an idea. I seem to recall having one of those years and years ago, pre-Internet, back when we only had those things called “Bulletin Boards.” So it’s not exactly a new idea, is it?

Yesterday went pretty smoothly; much more smoothly than the previous day. We actually got much more accomplished than I expected us to. Most of the boxes are unpacked, the apartment looks pretty nice, the stereo/TV components are all set up (and they even work), and both mother and step-dad can maneuver around the apartment pretty easily (he’s in a scooter and she needs a walker). We got over there around 1:00pm and left at about 6:00pm. Christi went to the grocery store for them and picked up some food for the week. I brought the girls (Stephanie and her friend Megan) home, stopping at Taco Bell on the way home. I sat on the couch eating my food and zoned out while watching the Red Sox and Evil Empire play. By the way, the Red Sox won 8-5 last night, taking the series, and they were playing in NY! Good times. Maybe the season will turn around.

Christi and I went to bed before 9:00pm. Got a decent night’s sleep, but we’re both pretty stiff.


(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
“O Lord, we come this morning Knee-bowed and body-bent Before thy throne of grace.
O Lord—this morning— Bow our hearts beneath our knees, And our knees in the
lonesome valley. We come this morning— Like empty pitchers to a full fountain, with
no merits of our own. O Lord—open up a new window of heaven, And lean out far
over the battlements of glory, and listen this morning.”
James Weldon Johnson
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—
Psalm 18:46
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.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15

We spend way too much energy worrying about time. God’s timing is perfect. He will take care of us. Even when the movers are six hours late.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Law of Mercy.”

There is a passage of scripture where Jesus and his disciples were walking along, one day, and became hungry. His disciples plucked some grain from a field and ate it. Oh, and it was the Sabbath! So you can imagine . . . the Pharisees had a field day with that! They immediately pointed out that Jesus’s disciples were doing “what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:2) Part of the reply Jesus gave, however, is in verse 7 of the same chapter, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

Brennan tells a story from years gone by, of being in the stadium of the Evil Empire, on a Friday, when a “beleaguered fan” approached him. The fan had had a long day and not had time for lunch. He had even worked overtime. “I was wondering if I could get a hot dog?” You see, they weren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Brennan writes, “Mentally, I thumbed through my moral theology manual for mitigating circumstances: nuclear holocaust, famine, lunar attack, wedding anniversary . . . What would Jesus have said? ‘Bring two!’

And he said to them,
“The Sabbath was made for man,
not man for the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27


Father, may we never be guilty of putting human law in front of the needs of others. May we always be prone to mercy. So many of the traditions that we follow in our churches are things that men have devised because of human interpretations of things that are written in your word. Human and, at times, extremely faulty. Point our hearts toward mercy as we deal with our brothers and sisters in the human race. Help us all to see with the eyes of Jesus, hear with his ears, and feel with his heart. May the life of Christ be formed in me today.

I pray for this day. May our stiffness and tiredness from the weekend not adversely affect our work abilities this week. I pray for safe travel to and from work. I pray that Christi will continue to learn more and become more comfortable in her work environment. I also pray that Stephanie will have a good day with her friend Megan, and that they will be safe here, at home. Draw Stephanie closer to your heart today.

Your grace is sufficient for all things. Keep reminding me.

May we look for ways to show mercy today, as we walk in our world.

Grace and peace, friends.