Psalms, Prayers, and Promises

Today is Sunday, September 16, 2018. Day 22,102.

Twenty days until Galveston!!

“I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to. But first, I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down.” ~ Mitch Hedberg, 1968-2005, The Quotations Page

The word for today is tunesmith, ” a person who composes popular music or songs.”

The Night of Worship, last night, was great! I don’t believe there were as many people as last time, but we didn’t advertise it so much at our own church, this time. There was a nice crowd from Mount Zion Baptist Church, and they seemed to respond well. The only downer was that Terry, our Exchange worship leader, was coming down with something, and by the end of the night, had no voice left. So Brandon and I covered for him in the last song we did. The funny thing is that we didn’t change the key, which made it a bit of a struggle for both of us. It was a good time, though, and an awesome time of worship.

The Red Sox beat the Mets 5-3 to make their record 102-47. Rick Porcello notched his seventeenth win. To add to our joy, the Blue Jays beat the Yankees, which knocked the magic number down to four! The Sox are 10.5 games ahead of the Yankees. One more game with the Mets this afternoon. Thirteen games left.

The Rangers came back and beat the Padres 6-3 to make their record 64-84. They play San Diego again this afternoon. They have fourteen games left.

There are two weeks of regular season baseball left. The Indians have become the first team to clinch their division. No team has even clinched a Wild Card spot in the National League.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street in Fort Worth. Our worship gathering begins at 10:15.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

In the middle of one of my favorite Psalms is this verse.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

What a beautiful truth. God is merciful and gracious. He abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness. I’ve mentioned before that “steadfast love” is translated “mercy” in some translations. The definition of “abound” is “exist in large numbers or amounts.” In truth, the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness are never-ending.

But ours, sadly, are not. Our steadfast love, mercy, graciousness, and faithfulness all have their limits. Because we are not God. And we don’t have anything in infinite quantities.

But if we walk in Christ, and walk in God’s Kingdom, we can at least exhibit some of the character of Christ. That’s the challenge. Because all of those things that threaten our mercy and grace, our steadfast love and faithfulness, come screaming at us on a daily basis. Sometimes, they are trivial things; sometimes, they are serious things.

One way to fight against these is prayer. Praying a Psalm like Psalm 86 would be a tremendous help. It also includes verses like the one I chose for my “life verse” a couple decades ago.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalm 86:11

You can’t possibly go wrong praying that verse! And I pray it, if not daily, at least several times a week.

We can also pray some of Paul’s prayers for each other. Like this one:

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Colossians 1:11-12

And we can count on His promises, such as this one found in 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

So. Pray for yourself, praying Psalms back to God, acknowledging His steadfast love, kindness, graciousness, and faithfulness. Pray for Him to teach you. Then pray for someone else that you know, that they would be strengthened in His power, according to His glorious might. Then rest on His promises, knowing that he will fulfill them, and, most importantly, that He is patient toward you.

Father, I thank You and praise You for Your steadfast love and faithfulness; faithfulness that transcends my faithfulness, infinitely. I praise You that You are infinitely merciful and kind, and that You are infinitely glorious! I do pray today, Father, that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth, and that You would unite my heart to fear Your name. I pray for my brothers and sisters, that they would be strengthened in Your glorious might. And I thank you for Your very great and precious promises, and the promise that You will keep them. You will do what You say You will do.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiveness, Gratitude, and “Randomness”

Today is Monday, June 11, 2018. Day 22,005.

Six days until Father’s Day. We are planning lunch at Papadeaux’s, probably on Saturday.

New countdown, as of last night’s announcement. 156 days until Fallout 76 releases.

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” ~ Mitch Hedberg, 1968-2005, BrainyQuote

The word for today is scrutator, pronounced “skroo-tey-ter.” It’s a noun which means, “a person who investigates.” I think the definition would be better if it used the world “scrutinizes.” I mean, shouldn’t a “scrutator” “scrutinize?”

We had a good morning at our worship gathering, yesterday. The message was a good message about forgiveness and how seemingly random things all work together in God’s plan. The example was Joseph and his brothers, in Genesis. The “random” thing was some guy who just showed up when Joseph was looking for his brothers (before they sold him into slavery). He had gone to a certain place to look for them, as his father, Jacob, had instructed him. They were no longer there, but had moved on to another place. This random guy just happened to be there, and told Joseph where they had gone. Had he not been there, Joseph probably would have gone back home, never been sold into slavery, and the whole Egypt thing probably never would have happened. The point is, you never know what impact the things you say and do in the course of a day are going to have.

The Red Sox lost to the White Sox, yesterday, by a score of 5-2. This is disturbing, because the White Sox are one of the worst teams, this year. And, I believe, the Red Sox lost the series to them, 2-1. The Yankees lost, too, though, so the Sox remain a half game behind them in the AL East. They begin a series with Baltimore tonight.

The Rangers got swept by the Astros, which is disheartening, although not surprising. They lost yesterday’s game by the score of 8-7. I guess Rangers fans can still get a half-price Papajohn’s pizza today, though. The red-hot Mariners won again, so the Rangers are now 15.5 games out in the AL West, which, I believe, is the farthest out for the season. And to make matters worse, one of their starting pitchers, Doug Fister, has been placed on the DL. Oh. Apparently, they lost the game on a balk. Ugh. Their next game is Tuesday night, in LA, against the Dodgers.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 
They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the LORD. 
Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, 
and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. 
Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead; 
they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them. 
Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. 
And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever. 
They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, 
for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. 
They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them, 
but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 
They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 
they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. 
Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.

Psalm 106:24-39

There is such a contrast between Psalm 105 and 106. 105 seems to be all about the marvelous and powerful deeds of the Lord in delivering his people. 106 becomes a run-down of the horrific acts of his people as they seem to completely forget all of the great things that he did for them.

Lest we become too judgmental of them, we need to take a few steps back and examine our own lives. We know what God is capable of, or at least we claim to believe such things. Yet, so often our lives do not reflect these beliefs. A sobering reality for us to ponder.

Father, my prayer today is two-fold (or maybe even more-fold). I pray that I will take the time and energy to forgive all offenses, and even work a little hard to not be offended by things. Joseph is a great example for us on the topic of forgiveness. I also pray that I will be cognizant of the fact that every little thing that I do may have eternal impact. Not so much that I have to worry about it all the time. It’s not my job to try to make things have impact. That’s all part of your plan and your workings, and I just need to be aware that small things can often make big differences. Then I pray that I will remember the great works that you have done in my life and be grateful more often. Help me to live a life of gratitude, and, perhaps, as our pastor suggested yesterday, be thankful for things that we aren’t normally thankful for.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

For A Generation To Come

Today is Sunday, May 27, 2018. Trinity Sunday. Day 21,990.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~ Michelangelo, 1475-1564 (BrainyQuote)

“I don’t have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who’d be mad at me for saying that.” ~ Mitch Hedberg, 1968-2005 (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is lateritious, an adjective which means, “of the color of brick; brick-red.”

I feel, I believe, a little better this morning. I still have heaviness in my chest, but definitely don’t feel worse. I did not go to the Night of Worship last night (I wasn’t supposed to play at this one, anyway), so that I could be better rested for this morning. I will be going to our worship gathering, and playing, as usual. Which reminds me, I still have to print my song charts. Hold on a minute.

Thanks for waiting. Where was I? Yes. The Red Sox beat the Braves again, yesterday, 8-6. Drew Pomeranz only made 3.1 innings, so Steven Wright got the win on this one. This puts the Red Sox at MLB best 36-16. As an added bonus, the Angels pounded the Yankees 11-4, so the Sox are now two games up in the AL East.

The Rangers beat the Royals, 4-3, on a walk-off by Choo in the bottom of the tenth inning. According to the stats, this gives Choo the most home runs by any player from Asia. The Rangers are now 22-32 on the season, and 12.5 games out in the AL West.

Both teams will continue their series today.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street in Fort Worth.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: 
that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, 
to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 
that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, 
when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. 
He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 
“O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!” 
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 
but you are the same, and your years have no end. 
The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

Psalm 102:18-28

Right there in verse 18, we see a major purpose of a lot of these Psalms. “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.” What is it that needs to be recorded? “That he looked down . . . to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die.”

Verses 21-22 show us at least one of the purposes for our worship gatherings, which is to declare the name of the Lord, and to declare his praise.

Father, I thank you that these words were recorded for this generation and even more generations yet to come, that we might praise you with the same words with which you were praised in ancient days. Even though our music may be different (I still wish I could hear the original music), we praise you with similar words and phrases, many taken directly from this book of Psalms, this “prayer book of the Bible,” this “hymnal” from ancient days. Thank you for preserving it for us. May we be faithful to declare your name and praise you as we gather today. Be in our midst as we praise you, as we sing to you and sing to one another. Show us your glory; show us yourself; work in us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Good News About Ourselves

Today is Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Day 21,664.

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.” ~ Bill Watterson, who turns 59 today.

Bonus quote: “I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” ~ Mitch Hedberg
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is gobsmacked, a mostly British adjective, meaning, “utterly astounded; astonished.”

Today is Bikini Day. Don’t blame me, it’s the only choice they gave me. It’s the anniversary of the invention of the bikini, in 1946, by a Parisian fashion designer, named Louis Reard.

Yesterday was mostly a nice day. I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up about 5 things that we forgot about when we sent our order to Instacart, then picked up Sonic drinks, followed by Taco Bell for lunch. Earlier that morning, C had thrown some ingredients in the crock pot for a cheeseburger soup, which we had for dinner. It was okay, but not great. The fire-roasted tomatoes that were called for in the recipe seemed to have a sweet taste to them, and none of us really cared for that. That, along with the fact that you have to brown the ground beef before putting it in the crock pot probably make this a non-repeater, as we typically have crock pot dinners on work days.

I played Fallout: New Vegas for most of the afternoon (my reward for going to the store and getting lunch), and we watched some TV while we ate dinner. Then the fun came. It wasn’t actually as difficult to get to sleep as we thought. However staying asleep was a different story, altogether, as someone in the neighborhood thought it would be fun to toss firecrackers around, at intervals of at least thirty minutes, up until around 2:30 AM. I mean, seriously, it was as if they had some kind of monitor to tell when we had just fallen back asleep. And it was always just two or three, not a lot of them. They finally stopped, though, but sleep was restless, pretty much the rest of the night. I’m not angry (as I’m sure some people are), but feel that people who do these kinds of things (along with people who perpetrate road rage) are seriously deranged and need some time in a mental institution.

Tonight is bowling night, but the team we are supposed to bowl against will not be there. They bowled their games last Wednesday, after our normal league time was over. The good thing about that is that we should get through early tonight.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Psalm 98:5-6
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17-18
The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.”
Psalm 132:11
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 
and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

John 11:25-27

(From Living the Message)

One of the ways that the gospel is “good news” is that it is “good news about ourselves.” This reality within us is just as important as any world news that we might take in every day. Even if world peace existed, and all economies were fair and stable, we would still have to deal with the reality of ourselves.

It doesn’t matter how nice my house is, how well-educated I am, or how secure I feel within my job or family. It doesn’t matter how competent and happy I appear. If I am “filled with anxieties and guilt and hopelessness,” I can’t make it. If I cannot escape the conviction that my life has no meaning, it’s bad news. We all need “a sense of integrity and purpose. We need to count, to mean something, to be important to somebody, to make a difference.”

It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20b (The Message)

Father, help us to see the good news about ourselves in the Gospel. The good news that we don’t have to try to impress anyone, any more, not even you! Christ is in us, and we need to strive to live the kind of life that Christ would live if he were us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

A Day of Action

Today is Friday, June 30, 2017. Day 21,659. Last day of June. Four days until our July 4 holiday!

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

The word of the day is divagate, a verb, meaning, “to wander; stray.” It also means, “to digress in speech.”

It says today is Social Media Day. Seeing as how social media has pretty much taken over our lives, I don’t think it needs a day named after it.

Did I mention we had a pot luck for lunch, yesterday? Well, this one was truly “pot luck,” in every sense of the word. About half of the offerings were dessert, most of the other half was snacks or sides, and there were about two or three items that could be considered a “main course.” One guy brought in some tamales, there were a couple of trays of smoked sausage (one person brought Eckrich, and it was amazing!), and then, after we had started, someone else brought in three containers of wings. I stopped at Tom Thumb and got some potato salad and cookies. There was some of each left at the end of the day, so I brought them home. My guess is that S will eat the potato salad for lunch today. 😀

Nothing planned for tonight or for the weekend, until Monday night, when we have the Stars & Stripes event in Southlake. Then we are off on Tuesday, for a day of chilling and just hanging out. Maybe I’ll grill. Or maybe it will be too hot.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

Psalm 98:1-2
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:76-77
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 above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Psalm 108:3-4
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 
And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 
And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:29-32
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.” ~ Florence Nightingale, “Letter to a Friend”

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
1 John 3:18 (The Message)

“A prayer for action:
Dear God, you did not just say that you would bring the children of Israel out of Egypt; you brought them.
You did not just promise to deliver Daniel from the lion; you delivered him.
You did not just assure Mary that she would bear a child; you came into the world.
You did not just offer yourself as a sacrifice for our sin; you were and are our sacrifice.
In the same manner, let me live out my words into the world today. Let this day be one of action.
(Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer today. Let me live out my words. Let my actions speak louder than my words, and let those actions be those which would be inspired by the steps and words of my Savior. I pray that my actions never contradict my words, as I know they have, at times, in the past. That is shameful, and I always ask forgiveness for those failings. Help me to show love, understanding, and compassion to my fellow humans. May the love of Christ overflow from my life.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The House of My Soul

Today is Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Day 21,622. Ten days until our Oregon vacation.

“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling, I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” ~ Mitch Hedberg (The Quotations Page)

Cantankerous ~ disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish.

Today is Brother’s Day. I don’t have one of those (not by blood, anyway). C doesn’t have one of those. Neither of our girls has a brother. But my mother has a brother. A twin, no less. If you have a brother, let him know you’re thinking about him today.

Not a lot to talk about this morning. The Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6, last night. I was able to watch part of it, before the DVR kicked us off of live TV. I’m not a big fan of Charter’s DVR, but it’s who we have, right now, so I’ll just have to live with it.

So far, this morning, I have managed to avoid finding out who won The Voice last night. If we can both make it through the day without finding out, we will likely watch the finale tonight.

All Scriptures are ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 96:9
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
Psalm 119:164
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
Psalm 25:8
Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 
For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it, that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases your sight; I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, Lord,
and spare your servant from strange sins.
(Augustine of Hippo, in Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name)
(From The President’s Devotional)

Father, what a beautiful prayer from Augustine! There are definitely times when I feel the same way, that the house of my soul is ruinous and needs so much cleaning. Indeed, to whom shall I turn but to you, for you are the only one who can truly cleanse me. Keep cleansing me, Father, by the blood of your Son and the power of your Spirit. May the Holy Trinity be active in my life today!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

No Perfect Families

“We get along not because we are good but because we are forgiven.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson

Today is Saturday, April 29, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“With a stop light, green means ‘go’ and yellow means ‘slow down’. With a banana, however, it is quite the opposite. Yellow means ‘go’, green means ‘whoa, slow down’, and red means ‘where the heck did you get that banana?'” ~ Mitch Hedberg

Word of the Day

Que voulez-vous ~ “Expressing mild exasperation or resignation: ‘what do you expect?’, ‘what can one expect?’.”

Today is Sense of Smell Day. Many of us take this sense for granted, but it is more important than we might realize. For one thing, if you can’t smell, you can’t taste. At least not very well. Celebrate your sense of smell today by trying to notice things that you smell throughout the day.

As of 9:30, this morning, it still is not raining. It’s only “mostly cloudy.” However, the predicted thunderstorms are due in approximately thirty minutes. On the other hand, as I look at the map, it seems that all of the rain is moving from the west to the north of the DFW Metroplex. So maybe we’ll have that band concert, after all. If so, I need to be at the location early, probably by 3:30, to secure a decent parking spot. Besides the usual shopping at Southlake Town Square, there will be art displays all over the area, so parking will be challenging. Our usual strategy is to catch someone leaving the shopping area and just follow them in our car to wherever they are parked. Creepy, perhaps. But effective.

The Red Sox held off the Cubs last night by scoring five runs in the bottom of the first inning. That was all they needed, as they wound up winning 5-4. Pomeranz got the win for the night. They remain stuck in third place, but only 2.5 games behind Baltimore and NY, who are tied for first.

The Rangers lost to the Angels, 6-3, giving up three in the top of the eighth inning. The loss was credited to Jeffress. They are tied for last place with Oakland, but only five games out of first.

I continue to derive great joy from the fact that the Boo Jays have yet to win 10 games. They are 6-17, nine games out of first, and currently the worst team in MLB. In addition, “Joey Bats” has a pathetic average of .167. How fun is that?


Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! 
Psalm 32:11
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. 
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

Psalm 67:3-5
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:12B
You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
Psalm 40:5
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.

(From Living the Message)

Today’s reading is called, “A Series of Broken Relationships.”

There has been a prevalence, especially in the American evangelical tradition, of this idea that “Christian families” should be almost perfect. There should be two parents, who always get along, the children should be well-behaved, never getting in trouble, at least with no one outside of their parents. They should be perfectly obedient, always respecting and obeying everything the parents say. It reminds me of TV shows from the late fifties and early sixties. “Father Knows Best.” “Leave It To Beaver.” “The Munsters.” That last one was a joke.

Eugene H. Peterson reminds us that the Bible knows nothing of this kind of family portrayal. We don’t see, in the Bible, a Norman Rockwell painting of a family sitting around a Thanksgiving turkey, all smiles. Rather, we consistently see “a series of broken relationships in need of redemption.” Even David the King, the “man after God’s own heart,” is said to have broken all ten commandments. I’m not sure if that’s true, but he certainly broke a lot of them. And his family was terribly broken. His own son tried to dethrone and kill him.

Even some of Jesus’s best friends, Mary and Martha squabbled over the household chores.

What this says to us is that we need not carry a burden of guilt because our families aren’t perfect. Christian families should not be expected to automatically only display sweetness and harmony. Why? Because we are all human. We are not perfect. We will not be perfect, this side of heaven.

So, since this fictional model is absent from Scripture, this frees us to pay closer attention to what IS in Scripture – “a promise of new community which experience life as the household of faith, a family in Christ. Life together consists of relationships that are created not by blood (at least not our blood) but by grace. We get along not because we are good but because we are forgiven.”

Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
Ephesians 2:17-18 (The Message)

Father, I thank you for the freedom that this truth brings along with it. I don’t remember when I began realizing this, but there was a time when I began to notice that most of the people that are highlighted in the story of redemption (except, of course, Jesus) were just as broken as I am. You used people that needed redemption to illustrate the story of redemption. As Jesus, himself, said, it’s the sick people that need the doctors. We are all broken, and, by all appearances, irreparably broken. But you don’t believe in impossible. You sent the One who can repair us. Now, teach me the disciplines that I need in my life to walk in obedience to the One who has repaired my brokenness.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Chocolate and Bunnies

Today is Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Eleven days until Easter.

Quote of the Day

“You know, you can’t please all the people all the time… and last night, all those people were at my show.” ~ Mitch Hedberg
I miss this guy. 😦

Word of the Day

Pantophobia ~ Originally: hydrophobia (rabies) (obs.). Later: a condition characterized by groundless or irrational fears; fear of everything; generalized anxiety. I was really hoping this would be the fear of pants.

Today is Day of Hope, a day set aside to remember the “hidden statistics” of abuse and neglect that millions of children, worldwide, suffer every day.

Last night, Joey Gallo crushed another 440+ foot home run, this time to the upper home run porch at Rangers Ballpark. Sadly, they still fell one run shy of the Indians, losing 4-3 in Martin Perez’s 2017 debut. He fell behind early in the game, giving up three runs in the first two innings. They have one more game with the Indians in this series, tonight at 7:05. Cole Hamels will take the mound tonight for the Rangers. The Red Sox continue their series with the Pirates tonight at Fenway Park, with Chris Sale making his Red Sox debut.


Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. 
Psa 85:9  Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.

Psalm 85:8-9
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

Psalm 43:3-4
. . . that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 
for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Psalm 24:1-6

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

The Lord has risen indeed . . .
Luke 24:34

Roberta Messner writes of meeting a new cashier at the cafeteria in the hospital. “When I asked if Easter was a special holiday for her, she looked at me, perplexed, and told me, ‘No, honey, my children are all grown.'”

Her office mate, Julius, reacted sadly to that tale. He came from Nigeria. He loves America, but he noted that, in Nigeria, Easter was very different. Materialism was not a thing there, so they didn’t focus on “bunnies and chocolate.” Instead, at 4:00 AM on Easter morning, people would begin to gather at the parsonage, where they would move on to the next house, singing resurrection songs. They went from house to house, gathering more people, until, at 8:00 AM, they were at the church, where they would praise God, “nonstop, until two or three in the afternoon.”

“We were filled with such joy, we never tired,” Julius said.

How different are we. Who among us has not been guilty of looking at the order of service to see how many songs we had to get through, or texting people during the sermon? Or maybe even complaining because we “don’t like that song very much.”

May we approach this coming Easter with the kind of joy that Julius and his people experienced in Nigeria.

Father, teach us the true meaning of events like Easter. Help us to not get caught up in the materialism of chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs and Easter Egg hunts. Help us to truly celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Why Do We Believe?

Good morning. It is Tuesday, February 24, 2015. 41 more days until Opening Day.

Today’s word of the day is hoghenhine. This one is an odd historical legal term, meaning, “A person who has stayed in a household for three nights, and so becomes the legal responsibility of the host; a member of a household; a dependant.”

Today is Single Tasking Day. More and more research is showing that multi-tasking is actually quite inefficient. It seems that when you multi-task, you don’t focus well on any of the tasks. So it’s better to single task.

Well, I’ve decided that I’m going ahead and using one more day of the PTO that I already had scheduled for this week. Christi went to work this morning, and got there with no problem. She said there was one bridge that was kind of scary. The thing is, it hasn’t gotten above freezing yet, and isn’t projected to until later today. The other problem is that it is supposed to snow tonight, starting at close to midnight. But it is supposed to get up to almost 50 degrees on Wednesday, so that should not be a serious issue. I plan to go to work tomorrow and cancel the rest of the vacation, which will be needed, eventually, when my mother’s cataract surgery gets rescheduled.

On this date in 1868, Andrew Johnson became the first President to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. He would later be acquitted by the Senate. There have only been two impeachments in our history, and both were acquitted.

Today’s birthdays include Wilhelm Grimm (the Grimm Brothers), Winslow Homer (artist), Honus Wagner (baseball player), Chester Nimitz (Admiral), Marjorie Main (Ma Kettle), August Derleth (writer/publisher), Abe Vigoda (actor), Michel Legrand (composer), Barry Bostwick (actor), Edward James Olmos (actor), Rupert Holmes (singer/songwriter), George Thorogood (singer/guitarist), Debra Jo Rupp (actress), Steve Jobs (Apple), Paula Zahn (journalist), Eddie Murray (baseball player), Beth Broderick (actress), Michelle Shocked (musician), Billy Zane (actor), Mitch Hedberg (comedian), Mike Lowell (baseball player), and Bronson Arroyo (pitcher).

Mitch Hedberg was an American comedian, born on this date in 1968. His style and delivery were unique. At one show, he was said to have laid on the stage during part of his delivery. Sadly, he died of a drug overdose in 2005. One of my favorite jokes of his in the following clip. “One time a guy handed me a picture and said, ‘Here’s a picture of me when I was younger.’ Every picture is of you when you were younger!”


You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me.
As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.
Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses.

Psalm 18:40-45

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “God Opens the Heart.”

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Acts 16:14

Why do some believe and others do not? Every Paul preached this happened. Somehow, some of us, who were “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) believe, yet others do not.

There are some answers why some do not believe. Some people “thrust it aside” (Acts 13:46), finding the message of the gospel to be “folly” and being unable to understand (1 Corinthians 2:14). Also, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Romans 8:7)

There are those who hear and reject the gospel who “hate the light” and will not come to the light, “lest [their] works should be exposed” (John 3:20). According to Ephesians 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” The truth is available to them, but “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

But this doesn’t answer the question of why some do believe. All of us are in the same condition, initially. In the book of Acts, we get the answer in three different ways. The first is that they are appointed to believe. Acts 13:48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

Another way of answering the question is to say that God has granted repentance. Acts 11:18 says, “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'” Until God grants repentance, we are unable to do so.

Finally, in the passage quoted above, we see one of the clearest answers as to why some believe. God opens their hearts. Why did Lydia believe? “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Father, I thank you for opening my heart! I could never have believed, had you not done this in my life. Your grace in my salvation is amazing! I pray that you continue to open hearts all over the world as we go into the world to share your Kingdom. Make us faithful to be Jesus for the people in our lives, but we pray that you would open their hearts when we go out among them. Without your grace to grant repentance and open hearts, our message is nothing but a shouting into the wind. May we always remember that it is not the message that we bring that saves. Yes, there is power in the Gospel, power unto salvation. But it is your power that unlocks the heart and grants repentance, so that when our message, our ministry, reaches their lives, they are open to believe. Teach us, Father, keep teaching us!

I pray for this day. I thank you that Christi got to work safely, this morning. I pray for clearer road conditions tomorrow, as I attempt to drive to work, as well. I pray for the rest of the week, as we work, and that the weather would not get bad again. I pray for Christi’s day, that she would have a good work day. I thank you for putting her in my life. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would show her your great love in her life.

I pray for our Huddle gathering tonight, that it would be glorifying to you as we try to learn how to be and make disciples.

Everything about our salvation is a gift from God. We need to remember this. It is all grace.

Grace and peace, friends.