What A Powerful Name

Today is Sunday, the third of July, 2022, in the fourteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be in your heart today.

Day 23,488

Yesterday was a busy day. We traveled back to Mineral Wells, to Mama’s house, and did some more, um, not exactly “cleaning,” but we went through some drawers and things and identified some things that could be thrown out and some things that probably need to be shredded. We’re getting closer to the time when we will need a trailer or truck to move a few big items, and then we can plan the estate sale. We were tired when we got home, but it was a good day.

I cooked my “signature” burgers for dinner. For some reason, S really, really likes my burgers. That’s pretty much all that happened.

The Texas Rangers beat the Mets, yesterday, 7-3, so they are tied for this series. The rubber game will be this afternoon. The Rangers are 37-39 for the season, still in second place in the AL West, now a game ahead of Seattle. The Angels have dropped to fourth place. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that. The Rangers are still 12.5 out of first, though, and still four games out of the Wild Card.

The Red Sox lost another game to the Cubs, 3-1. They are 43-35 for the season, and that loss dropped them back into third place in the AL East, a half game behind Toronto. They are 14.5 out of first place, and currently have the second Wild Card spot. As it stands, right now, the AL East still has all three of the Wild Card spots. MLB is ignoring my complaint.

Until further notice, the Yankees have the best MLB record and run differential. I refuse to type that any more. The Athletics still have the worst record, at 26-54. I will type that all day. Unfortunately, the Houston Astros have the longest current win streak, at five games. The Reds and Orioles are tied with the longest losing streak, at four games. The Athletics also have the worst run differential, having been outscored by 115 runs. However, the Nationals and Pirates are both at -114. The Rangers are at +16, and the Red Sox are at +57.

Our house church is not meeting, this morning, due to too many people being on vacations and/or cruises (I’m not jealous at all)(actually I’m not . . . I hope they are having wonderful times . . . I’m retired, working at the library; how could I be jealous of anyone??).

We’re not sure what we are doing for lunch today. We recently (a couple days ago) started doing the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) thing again, so we may give Applebee’s another try. They have some pretty healthy options, while our favorite BBQ place doesn’t really. That’s a shame, because I really like the people at that place.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the work you are doing. We thank you for working through people of all kinds and of all vocations and through the many hearts that know your goodness. We thank you for the great work led by the Lord Jesus, who will overcome the world with patience and with gentleness. He will overcome the world, opening the door wide for all, including the poorest of the poor, to come to you, their Father in heaven. Grant that with the light we have been given we may remain firm and true. Do not let us come into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:4-6 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that He who began a good work in us will complete it
2. that Jesus has overcome the world, and has opened wide the doors to the Kingdom of God
3. that I need never feel lost because Jesus is always with me
4. that the name of Jesus makes the darkness tremble and silences fear
5. that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
(Mark 12:17 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”
(Mark 12:24 ESV)


Today’s word, from Pray a Word a Day, is bewildered. This should be interesting.

“I weren’t never lost, but I was bewildered a time or two.” ~ Daniel Boone

Okay. First of all, that quote is highly suspect. I can’t verify that exact quote anywhere, but I see a couple that are similar, but with much better grammar.

There’s this one, from Goodreads: “I’ve never been lost, but I was mighty turned around for three days once.”

Then there’s this one from BrainyQuote: “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”

So apparently, Boone did say something similar to the quote used by the Guideposts folks.

Believe it or not, the word “bewildered” actually appears in Scripture, at least in the NLT, two times.

The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
[Shorter Ending of Mark]
Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.
(Mark 16:8 NLT)

When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
(Acts 2:6 NLT)

It also appears in Acts 2:6 in the ESV, but in Mark, the word is translated as “astonishment.”

The Greek word in Mark is ekstasis, which, as it turns out, can be translated either as “bewildered,” or “amazement,” or “astonishment.” However, the Acts 2 passage uses a different Greek word, sugcheo, which is translated “confounded” in KJV. The NLT and ESV are the only major translations in which the word “bewildered” is found. Not that that is at all relevant to today’s point.

Which is that, in Christ, we might get confused, we might get bewildered, or confounded, but we are never “lost.”

There are several important verses to remember when we feel that way.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 NLT)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
(John 14:16 NLT)

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

And one of my very favorites:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 NIV)

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
(1 John 4:18 NLT)

More verses to assuage our bewilderment. More promises from our Father and our Savior.

"Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm's surrounding me
Let it break at Your Name.

"Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble . . ."

We will experience confusion in our lives. There will be times of bewilderment. God never promises that we will not experience these things. He will not keep “bad” things from happening to us. He did not even keep “bad” things from happening to Himself!!

But what He will do is deliver us from the bewilderment, the confusion, the confoundment. (Is that even a word??)

And as simple as it may sound, sometimes all we need is the name of Jesus. His name cannot be overcome. His name silences fear. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lost (yes, I do feel lost, sometimes), all I need do is say the name . . .

“Jesus, Jesus.”


For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Most popular translations use the word “all” in this verse: “I can do all things . . .” Whichever word we read, there is a sense of maturity in the statement that Paul makes, here. It’s almost in passing, and it’s easy to miss. I say that, but people love to quote that verse. Yet, they frequently quote it out of context, just as they do Philippians 4:19.

What is the context of verse 13?

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
(Philippians 4:10-14 NIV)

We foolishly believe that, by changing who we are, or changing our circumstances, that we can become content. This was briefly referenced, last week, when talking about how much is enough.

If I can just get one more guitar. If I only had a few more thousand dollars in my bank account. If I could get a different job. If I could move away from this state, or even this country.

All of these thoughts are immature, in their nature. “There is a great deal we can do nothing about: weather, other people’s emotions and attitudes, and economic conditions. But there is one way we can do much: offer up the centers of our lives in acts of love and faith, risking our beings in relationship with God.”

When we do this, and couple it with Paul’s attitude, “That becomes an all that suffuses life with contented strength.”

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


Father, Your presence is amazing. I love being able to live and walk in the confidence that You are here/near all the time, and that You/Jesus will never forsake me. I know that I sometimes take this for granted and do not remind myself of this truth frequently enough. And sometimes I do allow myself to feel lost, bewildered, or confused/confounded. At those times, Your Holy Spirit reminds me of the truth. I am never alone; I am no longer lost, and will never be again. There is no need for bewilderment; there is no need for me to react the way I frequently do when silly things happen, when technology refuses to work properly. Help me to remember that these are all “footstool” problems, and have no eternal bearing whatsoever on my life, either here on this earth, or in eternity when I reach Home.

I praise You for Your promises of deliverance and Your presence. I praise You for Your promises of peace. Help me to embrace this peace and walk in it every day. Yes, the world appears to be burning, but we, as Your children, can walk in the fire the way the three Hebrew children did in Daniel, as long as that fourth “person” is walking beside us.

Jesus, may I say Your name a lot, each day, or at least think it, especially when I get confused or feel lost. Your name is powerful; Your name is beautiful; Your name is wonderful; and Your name makes the darkness tremble.

And yes, I can do all things through You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

Remember That You Are Dust

Today is Thursday, the twenty-fourth of March, 2022, in the third week of Lent. I have it on good authority that Lent is halfway through. Easter is on April 17, so that seems about right.

May the peace of Christ flood your soul today!

Day 23,387

Yesterday was a fantastic day, for the most part. C worked from home, so we were all here. Our new stand-alone pantry was delivered, mid-day, and C and I assembled it, yesterday evening. It looks very nice and fits exactly where we wanted to put it. My stock of Crazy Water fits nicely on the bottom shelf, and we cleaned out several of the shelves in the kitchen pantry, making room for cans and whatnot that we brought from Mama’s house, last week.

Today, I am driving Mama back to Mineral Wells to take care of a couple of tasks that must be done right away. Well one of them has to be done right away, and the other is somewhat pressing. C successfully got her Suddenlink Internet and cable canceled last week, so we need to retrieve the boxes from Mama’s house and send them back to Suddenlink. That’s the main reason for this trip. In addition, Mama needs to stop by her accountant’s office and pay some tax money to finish that process for the year. She also has a few more things at the house that were forgotten last Saturday.

C’s company is doing something special for the directors today. She doesn’t know what, other than they will be having lunch “outside.” The last time I remember something like this, they were all taken to see the latest Star Trek movie. So I’m thinking it will be something fun, at least.

That’s pretty much all I have, so I’ll get into the devotional for the day.

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)
Cast your bread upon the waters,
 for you will find it after many days.
 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, 
for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing; seriously, I'm just happy to be alive today
2. that, in spite of everything around us, as I walk in the Kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be (that's a Dallas Willard-ism)
3. that I am perfectly comfortable with remembering that I am dust, and to dust I shall return
4. for my sense of humor, and the fact that laughter exists
5. for the life that I have, and for God's admonition to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 8:15, "eat . . . drink, and . . . be merry")

Today’s prayer word is “humor.” I’m sure there are people out there who think that there is no place for humor in prayer. I’m not so sure I agree with that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.

While I acknowledge that prayer is serious business, I also know (or at least strongly believe, I guess) that God has a sense of humor. Once again, just look at the platypus or giraffe.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” I love that quote. And this is why, as a general rule, I have never been that fond of crass humor. I like humor that makes me think. I even like when I have to examine a joke (or Facebook meme) for a few seconds before I laugh.

Oh, and I seriously love puns. So much.

So how can humor fit into prayer? I don’t, for example, think I need to be telling jokes to God. But who knows? The problem is, you can’t tell Him one that He hasn’t heard, right?

Me: Hey, God, stop me if You've heard this one!
God: Stop.

Or maybe, just maybe, He might say, “I’ve heard it, but go ahead, anyway.” That’s the kind of Father I picture Him as.

No, I think that, while there are times when we should agonize in prayer, maybe even sweat drops of blood (I’ve never done that), there are also times when our spiritus should be lighter than air when we come before the Father, and there might even be a tinge of humor in our lightheartedness. It’s never to say that we don’t take it seriously. But maybe we need to not take ourselves so seriously?

(From Pray a Word a Day)

For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastes 12:7 NLT)

The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
(Psalms 22:26 NLT)

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
(1 Corinthians 15:43-44 NLT)

People make up a lot of stuff about what “heaven” will look like and what our bodies (there seems to be some indication that there will be bodies) will look like. But it’s all speculation, because we really don’t have a lot of information about it. There’s probably a reason for that. As much as I long for Home, can you imagine what that longing would look like if I knew what kind of body I’m going to have, or what that “mansion” will look like?

Or maybe it’s not going to be quite what we imagine, and we might be disappointed, and our longing for it would diminish.

Back to the idea of not taking ourselves to seriously, I love the thing that the minister says when he or she rubs ashes in the shape of a cross on someone’s forehead (I’ve never done this, but hope to next year). “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That’s what that verse in Ecclesiastes says.

This is not to produce a sense of hopelessness in us. I can see how it might. “Oh, I’m just dust, and there is no hope for me to improve on that.” No. I don’t believe we are supposed to think like this. I think it is to force us to remember that we are not the center of the universe. I am stuck, for now, in this “mortal coil,” this body. While I don’t go along with Gnosticism that says all flesh is evil (and, yes, there is still a remnant of that thinking, even in today’s evangelical church), I do know (or at least believe strongly) that this flesh is yet to be redeemed. It will be, though, someday, and Scripture seems to indicate that I will have some kind of “glorified body.”

(Scripture also tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ, and I have no idea what that is going to look like “when we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.” What if we are all joined together, spiritually, into one “physical body,” of which Jesus Christ is the “head?” What if we are all joined into one body that is the Bride? But that’s not a topic I’m prepared to tackle today.)

We are beloved of God. We cannot possibly overemphasize this. But we are also dust, and to dust we shall return. If I die today, and fifty years later, someone digs up my casket, they will not find this body. They will find nothing but bones (and I’m not even totally sure about that) and dust. My body will be “buried in brokenness,” but it will, one day, be raised in glory. For now, it is just dust, and I need to remember that.

And, I need to, as the writer of Ecclesiastes has so eloquently told us, enjoy my time on this earth, in this sack of dust, jar of clay, meat-suit, or whatever you want to call it, and do whatever my hands find to do with all my might, and “eat, drink, and be merry.”

And, to cement these ideas, even further, here is what I read from Eugene Peterson, today, in a reading called “To Be, to Do.”

“Just to be, just to do – these are the two great gifts of God, the foundations of every other gift. We need to return to these two great capacities again and again and cultivate them.

“The events of daily life need to be placed in perspective by a deep sense of prayer, by learning how to be before God. Then, as reality closes in on us, we will perceive each event as the working of the Holy Spirit, carefully designed for our particular needs. Every event is a touch of the living finger of God, which is sketching in us – body, soul, and spirit – the true image of his Son, which the Father originally gave to us and is restoring.”

“Events of daily life need to be placed in perspective . . .” What better statement can be made for this day and this hour in our world? Our culture, these days, tends to look at every event as world-ending. Gas prices went up, so everything is over, it’s all terrible. But that’s because we Americans tend to think it’s all about “me.”

Guess what.

It’s not.

We all need to stop, breathe, and head for that “deep sense of prayer,” and learn “how to be before God.”

And remember that we are dust.

Father, I am happy, this morning. I am happy to be reminded that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. I am comfortable with my dustiness. I do not take myself too seriously (ask me again when the Internet breaks, though). I know that I am deeply flawed, and that this body will be buried in its brokenness, some day. I rejoice in the promise (I fully embrace this promise with my whole imagination) that that broken body will be raised again in glory, someday! Hallelujah!

And because of this, I do try to look at live events, and world events, in the perspective of one who has entered in the depths of prayer, and is still learning how to be before You. I don’t have it down, yet, and acknowledge that I never will, not until I stand (or probably fall on my face) before You. Father, I thank You for this perspective that You have given me. I praise You that You have molded my heart and arranged the events of my life so that I have come to this place on this day, and that my mind and spirit take in this information and believe it and embrace it.

I am astounded that every event is a touch of Your living finger on both my life and on the fabric of this world. Don’t ever let me go, Lord. I will stray again, I’m sure. My feet will chase after something that is not on the path, and You will gently (or maybe not-so-gently) bring me back to it. I trust in You implicitly, Father, for You will always do (or allow) whatever is best for me and You.

So help me, Father, to display this knowledge and to reflect it in my daily life. Help me, the next time the Internet breaks (that’s my best example of when I tend to freak out), to put that event in perspective, to look at the “big picture,” and to see that things like that (like most things) are simply “footstool problems.”

All glory to You, Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.

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.

Wisdom and Forgiveness

Good morning! Today is Friday, the fourth of March, 2022, in the season of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,367

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photography at the link provided.

We had a successful and uneventful trip to get Mama, yesterday, and she is safely back here in Fort Worth, with us, for a little while. We dropped off a mail hold form at the Post Office, and left her tax documents with her CPA, and I also grabbed a couple cases of Crazy Water while in town.

The only “incident” that occurred was that my tire pressure light came on, in the car, before I got out of Fort Worth. Everything felt okay, so I didn’t stop to check it until I got to Mama’s house in Mineral Wells. The lowest tire had 30.5 (after driving that distance), so I wasn’t terribly worried about it. I just checked it, this morning, and it has 26, which is about seven pounds low. I’ll keep an eye on it, and, unless it drops drastically more between now and then, I will put some air in it Sunday afternoon.

Today is a normal work day for me, at the Hurst Public Library, in the computer center. Tomorrow is my Saturday to work the circulation desk. Sunday, our house church is not meeting, so I am going to take the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in Grapevine, with my friend and former pastor. I’ve never been to a Lutheran service before, so this should be interesting.

The Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. As expected, keeping critical comments out of my vocabulary has been much more challenging than not eating candy. I have not been 100% successful, but am being more aware of when they occur, and able to stop them in their tracks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Nothing Called My Own,” by Daryl Madden

I know I’m in danger
But need not of fearing
If I remember
That I am nothing

I’ll know that danger
Can take nothing from me
When I feel afraid
I forget, nothing I be

And If I remember
I’ve nothing called my own
That will not be lost
At the end of life shown

That only what’s not mine
But God’s will ever live
And free me from false fears
With a heart to give

(based upon words by Thomas Merton)

This poem really spoke to me, this morning, as I recall words from a little book by Horatius Bonar, called How Shall I Go To God? It opens with the line, “It is with our sins that we go to God–for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own.” Please check out Daryl’s poetry at the link provided.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the WordPress community; I am constantly encouraged and uplifted by my blogging friends
2. for the safe trip to Mineral Wells and back, yesterday
3. for the wisdom taught in the book of James, difficult as it is
4. for the lineage of faith that is in my ancestry
5. for the strength of God that is helping me in my Lenten journey

The book of James is a tough book to swallow. Every time I have to read it, I cringe, because it doesn’t just step on my toes. It crushes them.

But one thing we learn from this difficult book is that “Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior.” The outside world looks at that statement and gives out a hearty “Ya think??”

Part of the problem, though, is that 1) the outside world seems to have the mistaken idea that the Christian church should be a model community of good behavior; and 2) the Christian church often tries to deceive the outside world into believing that it is a model community of good behavior.

James would have us believe otherwise. And, as Eugene H. Peterson points out, “Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential.” This does not necessarily involve knowing truth, although that is helpful, because “what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it?”

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
(James 3:17-18 MSG)

James was traditionally known as a man of prayer, spending much time on his knees. He lived what he wrote:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
(James 1:5-6 MSG)

“The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
(James 1:17 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22 ESV)

Or, if you prefer:

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
(Matthew 18:22 NLT)

Speaking of wisdom, in this passage of Scripture, we see the wisdom of forgiveness. And we see Peter, thinking himself extremely righteous by offering to forgive someone seven whole times, having his toes crushed by Jesus’s James-like wisdom, telling him, essentially, don’t count how many times you forgive someone.

“God – on Whose repeated forgiveness I depend – requires that I do the same for others and that they do the same for me. Not grudgingly, but from a sincere heart. . . . Forgiveness is a wisdom near to the heart of God.” (Carol Knapp)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 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 6:9-15 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Today’s prayer word is “link.” I almost passed over this one, but I got to thinking about it. Laurence Overmire, an American poet who is also a genealogist, is quoted as saying, “All of our ancestors give us the precious gift of life.”

There is not a word of Scripture in this reading, nor is there any reference to it. It is entirely about someone’s lineage.

And when I think about my lineage, I am blessed. God didn’t have to birth me into this family. But He chose to place me in it. (Remember yesterday’s prayer word?)

My family has a long history of God-loving people in it, and I am very grateful for this. My spiritual life would likely have been much different otherwise.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You and thank You for placing me where You did. What a blessing to have been born into this family. Random luck, some would say, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “coincidences.” It was part of Your plan, and I am very grateful for this. And You kept it going, even when I tried to leave (or at least wander off) the path. You always kept me on the path, sometimes nudging me, other times outright shoving. There may have even been a few times You had to tie me up and carry me over Your “shoulder.”

Father, as Your Church continues trying to survive these years, I pray that You help us in several things. Help us to forgive the way Jesus told us to forgive, not the way Peter tried to. It is unlimited. Jesus didn’t mean seventy-seven times or four hundred and ninety times, at least that is what we believe. He seems to have been indicating that the amount of forgiveness is as unlimited as Your love. And praises be that You don’t stop forgiving us at seventy times seven times!!

I also pray that You help us, as a Church, to get along in wisdom, the way James is trying to teach us. We are strongly divided, these days, and we need Your help. There are factions that are focusing on the wrong things. We need to be focusing on Your love, the love of Jesus, and our love for each other. Maybe it really is “all about love.” And, while I wouldn’t go quite as far as the Beatles, we definitely do need love and more of it. Help us to remember that our jobs are to love You and love people, not to judge people and condemn people. That is actually Your job, and Yours alone. But You also have promised that, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Thank You for that, as well.

We are broken, Lord, all of us. So we need Your “fixing.” Give us wisdom, give us love, give us one another. And help us, as brother Daryl reminds us way back at the beginning, that we really have nothing that we can call our own.

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Was Job Patient?

Today is Saturday, the fifteenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

By the way . . . that is not just a filler that I put in here. While it may seem somewhat “automatic,” I really do wish for the peace of Christ to be with everyone who reads this.

Day 23,319 (the number of days since I was born)

Only eight days until Hamilton, if the show goes on as scheduled.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it was a lovely day at the library, yesterday. There was a flurry of activity around one point, and while I was unsuccessfully attempting to help one patron send a document to our printers from her phone (more on that in a minute), there was one person using the fax, and another waiting to use it.

The reason I was unsuccessful in helping the first patron was that she didn’t seem to know what to do on her phone, and was not patient enough to keep trying. She seemed really jittery, as well, and finally just gave up and said she would go home and do it. I don’t think there was any frustration with me, or at least I didn’t sense that.

In the meantime, the person using the fax finished, and actually helped the next person fax her documents. I thanked her profusely for this after I got done with the patron I was trying to help.

I also spent some time helping with the shelving again. I sorted several carts while sitting at my desk in the computer center, and then, from about 4:00-5:40, I shelved two carts of books in the stacks. The librarian that was on duty in the computer center was fine with me doing that. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I said it really didn’t matter, that I wanted to do whatever they needed me to do. That was the truth, too.

So today is my Saturday off, and we are planning to head to Mineral Wells in a little while to visit Mama and get me a couple cases of Crazy Water #4.

Oh, and C has been given permission to work from home over the next two weeks. As of right now, there were 827,132 new cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., yesterday. That number seems to change, though, as I’m looking at two days ago, which now shows 869,783.

While I have had various allergy symptoms over the past couple of weeks, I have exhibited none of the common symptoms of any of the Covid variants.

It’s cold today. Currently 33 degrees, and the high is only projected to be 36. Tonight’s low is predicted to be just below 30, but tomorrow’s high is 57. There is little-to-no precipitation predicted. In fact, I saw something yesterday that indicated that north Texas is experiencing a drought. But that seems to be rather normal for this time of year.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a call about my new CPAP yesterday, finally. I have an appointment Tuesday morning to pick it up. The total cost is going to be close to $1000. The good news is that all of that will go toward our deductible for the year. I won’t have to pay it all at once, either. There is an up-front charge, a couple months of “rental,” and then a final charge, after which I will own it.

And now, on to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." 
(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that it is our Father's "good pleasure" to give us the Kingdom
2. that my treasure is in heaven
3. for the capacity God gives us to be kind to one another
4. that God has patience with us and can handle our questions of frustration
5. for the opportunity to look back on the week and assess any growth (or lack thereof)

Have you ever heard someone say something about the “patience of Job?” I have decided, over the years, that that phrase is incorrect. Job was anything but “patient.” He suffered, and he endured the suffering, true. He was faithful, never giving in to the temptations (and advice) to give up. But he was far from patient.

“Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stand before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily.”

"All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored: 
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good. 
I'd at least have the satisfaction of not having blasphemed the Holy God, before being pressed past the limits. 
Where's the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? 
Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I'm made of iron? 
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don't even have any boots!"
(Job 6:8-13 MSG)

And Job’s suffering was not unlike our suffering, in this life. He suffered “in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things.” But Job stayed faithful, having this firm conviction:

Because even if he killed me, I'd keep on hoping. 
I'd defend my innocence to the very end. 
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation! 
(Job 13:15-16 MSG)

(From Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
(Romans 14:19 ESV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

Pray As You Go does a thing on Saturday that they call the “Saturday Examen.” What is examen? “A devotional exercise involving reflection on and moral evaluation of one’s thoughts and conduct, typically performed on a daily basis.” In the Catholic tradition, it is something that is done at the end of the day. I like PAYG’s idea of doing it on Saturday, at the end of the week. There is encouragement to look back on the week, reflecting on things that God has done, or, perhaps, on events that created tension or disharmony, or attitudes that could have been better. What went well? What didn’t go so well?

In the past week, I gained a fresher perspective on the purpose of God’s Word in my life; that it is not so much a moral code to try to live by, but stories told, with an invitation for me to live in them. It is God’s story, and I am invited to see my own story in the context of His story (and no, I am not trying to be clever with the word “history”). One of the keys in this is to never be satisfied with where I am, to never stop learning.

The idea of the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men was reinforced, something we all need to be reminded of, occasionally. I was also reminded that the people God used in the Bible were pretty ordinary, for the most part, and not always the most exemplary of characters.

The concept of doing good things for people that don’t like us was also reinforced, another thing that we need to be constantly reminded of.

One of the things that I need to do better at, going forward, is listening for the “voice” of God. Whether that be an audible voice, or the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, I need to be attuned to what He is saying to me. And I need to be aware of the fact that Jesus is willing to do good things for us, as He was willing to touch the leper and heal him.

Father, as this week draws to a close, I am thankful for the things You have taught me. I am always glad to have a reminder of Your sovereignty in this world, because the world constantly tries to make me think otherwise. The world loves chaos, and seems to thrive on that. But I know that You are in control of all things. I am grateful for the reminder of Job’s persistence before You. I’m not concerned at all with whether Job was a real person or not. The story has value, either way. It shows us that, while You are sovereign, You can take questioning. We cannot offend You or hurt Your feelings. And You will, eventually, answer.

I thank You for the many stories that have been presented to us in Your Word, stories into which we can enter and live. I thank You for imagination, that allows me to consider my own place in Your story by considering how I would have reacted in any of those Bible stories. And I thank You for the prayers of various people recorded in Your Word, that can give me inspiration for my own prayers.

Help me to be a better listener, next week. Let me focus on improving that skill. Increase my faith in You, as well, believing that You are always ready and willing to do “good things” for me. All glory to You, through the Son, and by the Spirit

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
(Kyrie)

Grace and peace, friends.

You, LORD, Reign Forever

Today is Tuesday, the nineteenth of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,231

Nineteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

Yesterday turned out to be quite a lovely day. S and I got to my mother’s house somewhere around 11:30 (don’t remember exactly). Our first stop was to get her new phone activated. The young lady at the AT&T store was very friendly and helpful, and the process didn’t take too long. The new phone is enough like the old one that it will be easier to get used to. From there, we hit up the Crazy Water store, where I picked up two cases for me and one for my mother. We both drink #4, which is the strongest variety. Pretty much straight out of the ground, I think. It is reminiscent of the well water that my grandparents used to have.

After a stop by the bank to cash some checks, we headed to Natty Flats BBQ to pick up some lunch, which we took back to the house to eat. Their chili, as usual, was delicious. I also had a chicken breast, which was tasty, but a bit on the dry side. Their signature BBQ beans were also delicious, as was the “baked tater salad.” After lunch, S and I headed back home, leaving around 2:30, so as to miss rush hour traffic.

This morning, I have to be at the Hurst Conference Center by 8:30 for the conference that I am to attend. I don’t think I’ll make it in time for breakfast, which is at 7:30.

The Red Sox had another grand slam home run, last night, their third in two games of the ALCS, yet another historic moment. They scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, and won the game 12-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. They will play again tonight, and the NLCS resumes tonight in Atlanta. The Braves have a 2-0 lead in that series.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Grace, mercy, and peace;
Power, love, and self-control;
Do not be ashamed.
(2 Timothy 1)

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalms 57:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ease with which we got Mama's new phone set up, yesterday
2. for the smooth, safe travel we had to Mineral Wells and back
3. for the love of family
4. that my citizenship is in heaven
5. that I will be transformed into Your likeness

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
(Psalms 66:20 ESV)

As I pause during the stillness of the morning, I reflect on Your steadfast love and faithfulness. I hold on to the truth that Your Spirit gives us, not fear, but power, love, and self-control.

BIBLE SONG

A song. A psalm of David.

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 108:1-5 NIV).

BIBLE READING

Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim
for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.

You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.
Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long?
Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old
unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.
(Lamentations 5:15-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I ponder and linger over these passages, looking for ways in which they move my spirit to prayer and meditation.

I am immediately made aware of the similarity between Psalm 108 and Psalm 57, quoted before my gratitude list. This can be seen other times, as one reads through the book of Psalms.

The heart of the psalmist is steadfast, because the love of the Lord is steadfast. God’s great love, higher than the heavens (this is also a recurring theme throughout Psalms), sustains us; it gives us the ability to praise Him and give Him thanks, to sing of His greatness among the peoples of the world. We sing and pray for Him to be exalted among the peoples of the earth. We desire to see His glory over the whole earth.

But, like the author of Lamentations, we also, at times, experience the loss of joy; our dancing turns to mourning. And, more often than not, this is caused by our own sin. In the case of Israel, it was the sin of a nation. In our case, today, it may be individual sins; they can, indeed, rob us of joy, that pervasive sense of well-being that we get when we are walking in the presence of God, in His kingdom. But it may also be sins of the Church, when she falls short of God’s ideal, chasing after the lies of men.

It is important to note that, in the middle of the lamentation, there is the proclamation, “You, LORD, reign forever.” Even in the midst of our sorrow, as we confess the lack of joy, that truth stands out, stands tall. If we can acknowledge the sovereignty of our God, even in the midst of lamentations, we are moving in the right direction. As the Church, we have the promise that our God will never utterly reject us, and will not be “angry with us beyond measure.” Jesus Christ has taken on the anger of God and punishment for our sins.

Father, You do reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to generation, even if Your people have forgotten and chased after the deceitful promises and lies of men. Forgive us, Father, and draw us back to Your path, teaching us Your ways, that we might walk in Your truth. Jesus is the Truth, the Life, and the Way. He is the only Truth, the only Source of life, and the only Way to You. I pray for You to be exalted in all the earth, and that Your glory would be seen throughout our world. Draw more people to You, Lord! Restore to us the joy of our salvation, that we might know and believe that things in Your kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine.

Father, please grant us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us, both spiritual and physical. Please equip us to serve in the best ways possible in these communities, as well as in our workplaces.

"God who suffers with us,
for faint hearts pierced with sorrow,
for all who have lived too much in darkness,
for those who know sickness and poverty,
lean years and drought,
I pray for Your help and comfort.
Bear them up with compassion,
and may Your hand deliver fresh mercy.
Amen."

BLESSING

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

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
(Romans 8:11 NIV)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
(Philippians 3:20-21 NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:1-9 NIV)

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The True Judge

Jesus commanded us to love one another, not judge one another.

Today is Friday, the ninth of April, 2021. Easter Friday, in the first week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,038

41 days until our weekend in Glen Rose

It is currently 66 degrees, with a projected high of 85 today. I’m not really ready for it to be hot again, but I will not complain. Many of us, after Snovid-19, this past February, have declared that we will never again complain about the heat in the Spring/Summer of Texas. There is little to no precipitation expected today.

I believe my Mama had a good day, yesterday. I started trying to call her, on the way home, but got no answer. I resisted temptations to worry, figuring she was out with a friend, and, sure enough, she was. One of her besties took her out to run some errands, including dropping her taxes off with the person who does her taxes for her. They even went to a grocery store! Mama has not been to a grocery store in over a year! They topped off their afternoon together with a Blizzard from a local DQ.

We had a nice conversation, later in the evening, after she got home.

An interesting thing has happened in my life, recently. It may seem trivial to some, and, yet others might think it’s a no-brainer. Earlier this week, I decided to stop adding salt to my food (except for popcorn . . . I’m still salting my popcorn). I decided, quite suddenly, that I wanted to know what the food actually tastes like without all that salt piled on it (I used to use quite a bit of salt). For example, I have not salted my over-easy eggs once, this week, during breakfast. I have added other seasonings, such as Chipotle, Bacon-Lover’s, and Ranch, from my favorite seasoning people, Flavor God, and those, no doubt, have a small amount of salt in them. But as far as just pouring salt on my food, I have ceased to do this.

The Boston Red Sox are tied for first place after defeating the Orioles 7-3, yesterday. Eduardo Rodriguez got the win for the Sox, putting them at 4-3 on the season. They are off today, and will continue a series with the O’s tomorrow, at Fenway.

The Texas Rangers were off yesterday, and remain in third place in the AL West, at 3-3. They begin a weekend series with the Padres of San Diego, this evening, at Globe Life Field (I had to look to check what this is officially called). Kohei Arihara will take the mound for the Rangers. The Padres are 4-3 on the season, and, of course, include the much-loathed Manny Machado. Jurickson Profar, former Rangers player, also plays for the Padres, now.

Weekend plans include a trip to Mineral Wells to celebrate birthdays with Mama, along with R & J. S will likely remain at home, as she is still feeling tired from her Covid shot. Plus she is still wary of getting out and about, as her and masks do not get along.

Breaking news . . . Britain’s Prince Phillip, husband of the Queen, has died at the age of 99.

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)

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
(Psalms 71:14-16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your mighty deeds, of which I will boast, all of my days
  • for the wonderful flavor of my Twisted Pine Hawaiian Blend coffee
  • that we may rejoice in You and be glad in You and experience a pervasive sense of well-being
  • that all who believe in You, Jesus, receive forgiveness of sins in Your name
  • that, as long as I am going in the right direction, You are going ahead of me

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

EASTER – DAY 6

INVITATION

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
(1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

I am pausing to quietly reflect on the gift of life, remembering that not even my next moment is a “given.” Lord, Your mercy is overwhelming, at times.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David. A petition.

Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
(Psalms 70:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
(Acts 10:39-43 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly read these passages again, lingering over the words and phrases, I ask the Holy Spirit to point out something to my soul, showing me some truth that perhaps I have failed to notice before, or refreshing something well-known, but perhaps neglected in my life.

The prayer in Psalm 70:4 stands out to me, this morning.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
(Psalms 70:4 NIV)

We could all use a little more rejoicing and gladness, these days. We are not seeking a type of “joyfulness” that runs around oblivious to things in the world. That is not really “joy.” Ignorance is bliss, they say. But it is?

What we seek is true joy; a pervasive sense of well-being. The idea that, no matter what life throws at me, it’s going to be okay. I can be glad in the Lord and His provision and protection over me, in spite of pandemics and power outages in the midst of the coldest days in a century.

So, yes, Lord, may all who seek You rejoice and be glad, this day!

The passage in Acts has some crucial Gospel truth. One is found in verse 42, which says that God appointed Christ as “judge of the living and the dead.” Jesus is the judge. Plain and simple. And I believe that we should leave that job to Him. It’s hard. I tend to judge people, it’s a weakness of mine. It implies that I think I’m better. I don’t, necessarily. But that is the implication. So I must turn that gaze inward when I find myself being “judgy.” Then, after turning it inward, I must abandon it, altogether and love my neighbor as myself.

Jesus commanded us to love one another, not judge one another.

Then comes the last verse of the passage, verse 43. “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Again, plain and simple. That is an important piece of the Gospel message. Some would say it is the Gospel message. I tend to lean toward that being the simple proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is here. That was the Gospel that Jesus preached.

Father, may all who seek You rejoice and be glad, today and every day. Fill our spirits, our souls, with joy and gladness, as we contemplate You and Your mighty deeds. May we boast in You and You alone, and in nothing that we have done. May we be filled with a pervasive sense of well-being as we walk in this world. May we accept Christ as the only true judge of ourselves and others. And may that filter into everything that I think and say today. If I begin to say something judgy about someone else, or even myself, Holy Spirit shut my mouth! You, Jesus Christ, are the only true judge, appointed by the Father! Help me to spread the Gospel message that all who believe in You receive forgiveness of sins in Your name.

Jesus,
judge of the living and the dead:
knowing that a verdict on my life is coming sends me scurrying away in fright,
until I see that my judge is the very one who has laid down his life for me.
Thank you that I can face your judgment without fear or condemnation,
because I will be raised up in glory,
openly acknowledged as your friend,
approved and acquitted,
and freed to rejoice in you forever.
May the joy of that day start now.
Amen.
(Westminster Short Catechism 38)

BLESSING

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG)

“GOD, your God, will cross the river ahead of you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:3 MSG)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
(Psalms 118:22-23 ESV)

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(Isaiah 53:3 ESV)

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
(Hebrews 13:12-13 ESV)

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
(1 Peter 2:4-8 ESV)

Father, I thank You that, as long as I am going in the right direction (that which is pointed out by Your Holy Spirit), I have nothing to fear, because You are going ahead of me. I also thank You for the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. May He be the cornerstone of my life today.

Lord, give us a deeper sense of gratitude for the cross of Christ. May You provide for and protect those living in abject poverty and suffering injustice. I pray for Your inner peace and comfort for any who struggle with their sexuality.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Choose To Die

Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is quisling. This is a noun, meaning, “one who commits treason : traitor, collaborator.”

Today is Be A Millionaire Day. I would, naturally, love to oblige. I’ll see what I can do.

Last night was a rough night for my home town of Mineral Wells. While the damage they received was not nearly as devastating as what happened to Van last week, it is still heartbreaking to see, especially places that are so familiar to me. My mother is fine, as she lives a few miles from downtown, which is where the major damage occurred on this one. A portion of the old First National Bank building drive through is laying in the middle of Oak St. Trees and power lines are down all over. And my mother’s church, First Baptist Church, lost an entire section of outside wall, above the gym.

Oak Street
Oak Street

First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church

Fortunately, no one has been injured, at least that I know of at this point. As people are saying, buildings can be replaced.

We will still be visiting my mother on Monday, if the Lord says so, too. We are really looking forward to that holiday. The weather is still potentially rainy for another week or so, with possible thunderstorms predicted on Sunday, but nothing too serious looking, at this point.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 57

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “How to Hate Your Life.”

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
John 12:24-25

This flies in the face of modern-day “pop psychology,” which is all about loving ourselves. Even some modern “evangelistic” churches preach the same stuff. It is not popular to “hate yourself” in our culture. But it is exactly what Jesus instructed us to do. But wait. Or did he? What he said, there, is that “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” It sure sounds like that is loving myself, to me!

But what does it mean? Here are some ideas.

“If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.”

But it goes even beyond these things. All of these things are relatively passive in nature. We must go beyond this and make conscious choices to follow Christ, from Gethsemane to the cross. “Jesus is not just saying: If things go bad, don’t fret, since you are dead anyway. He is saying: choose to die with me. Choose to hate your life in this world the way I have chosen the cross.”

It doesn’t really matter what happens to us, as long as we are living to the glory of the grace of God.

Father, as I reflect on these things, right on the heels of yesterday’s reading about being complete in Christ, help me to make the right choices today, choices that would indicate that my life in this world is nothing to me. Help me to follow Jesus into this day and beyond, choosing to “die to myself,” and live to your glory. May I be fully satisfied in you today.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and back would be safe. I pray for our work day, that you would give us the grace and mercy we need, for this day only. Give us today our daily bread. I pray for the people of Mineral Wells and First Baptist Church, as they continue cleaning up from yesterday’s tornadoes. May your strength and guiding hand be with them. I thank you that, as far as we know, there are no reports of injury. I also thank you that my mother, along with other families of friends, are safe. I pray that this will be all of this kind of weather for now, for this town. May you show your great love to Stephanie, Justin, and Rachel, today, as they go about their business. I especially pray for Rachel, as she continues to suss out her future.

Your grace is sufficient.

Let us who follow Christ make choices that would move us toward the cross.

Grace and peace, friends.