Fixers

The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.”

Good morning. Today is Monday, the seventeenth of January, 2022, in the second week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today!

Day 23,321

Six days until Hamilton!

We had a nice gathering, yesterday, for our house church. There were six of us in person, and two on Zoom. We only managed to get through one Psalm (52), but had some good discussion, and great fellowship. I really feel that we are closer to what the first century church did at their gatherings, anyway. We talk about our lives, read some Scripture, and pray together. Occasionally, we also break bread together. One thing I’m missing, though . . . we haven’t taken the supper in a while. I need to bring that up.

C is working from home, this week. She still doesn’t feel great, but feels better than yesterday. We feel like that terrible wind on Saturday blew in some junk or stirred it up in the air. Not even a hint of fever, for any of us, though. I’m sneezing and sniffling a bit, this morning, but have felt pretty much fine for a few days.

There is nothing much on today’s agenda. Tomorrow, I have an appointment to pick up my new CPAP machine, at 11:00 AM. Once I get that and get it set up, I may be looking at changing doctors. C’s doctor has moved from the clinic he was at, along with a couple other associates. I may be switching over to them. I haven’t decided, yet. It’s a lot easier for me to find time to visit a doctor’s office, these days, so they don’t have to be real close. Their new office is on South Main in Fort Worth, close to the “hospital district,” about twelve miles from my house. That’s not too bad, and is about fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the time of day.

All the wrong teams won, yesterday. The Buccaneers blew out the Eagles, the 49ers beat the ‘boys, and the Chiefs beat the Steelers. I’ll probably be rooting for the Bills from this point on. It feels like rooting for the end of the world, though, so I don’t know. The Cardinals and Rams play tonight, and I literally could not possibly care less who wins that game.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 
And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins." 
(Mark 2:18-22 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are being criticized for not doing “religious things,” such as fasting. They are being compared to two different groups, neither of which had much in common. It is worth noting that Jesus, in His response, refers to Himself as “the bridegroom,” and seems to indicate that his “taking away” will be of a violent nature.

As I read this, I consider the idea of “religious things,” and how I feel about them. There is certainly nothing wrong with ritual. I’m somewhat a fan of it, actually. I am drawn toward church settings that employ ritual and liturgy, even though the current setting that I attend does not. I have not, however, ever been able to get a firm grip on the ritual of fasting. I have fasted before, but not on a regular basis.

But when ritualistic things are done “religiously,” without focus on the object (i.e., the “bridegroom”), they are meaningless. Ritual for the sake of ritual is worthless.

I will confess that I have never quite understood the examples of the cloth and the wineskins. I get the technical descriptions and understand the truth that, if you patch and old garment with a piece of new material, and then wash it, the new material will shrink, and destroy the work that was done. And I understand that fermenting wine swells, which would burst a wineskin that had already been stretched out.

What I’m not sure of is how this applies to people and their relationship to Jesus and the Father. I’m looking at some commentary at the moment, in particular by Alexander MacLaren, and it says that, “The attempt was made to keep Christianity within the limits of Judaism; it failed, but not before much harm had been done to Christianity. Over and over again the effort has been made in the Church, and it has always ended disastrously,-and it always will.” This makes sense, and I can see, as the New Testament progresses, that similar disagreements arose, especially concerning things like circumcision.

I would welcome any other thoughts or suggestions regarding this. And as we, as the opening song suggests, turn our eyes upon Jesus, may the things of the earth truly grow strangely dim.

(From Pray As You Go)


I find it interesting that, in Symphony of Salvation, Eugene H. Peterson takes four chapters to go through the book of Job. Today, I’m in the third of the four, which deals with Job’s “friends” who come try to “fix” him, during his suffering.

And who among us has not experienced something similar to Job? The moment something “bad” happens to us, “people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way roadkill attracts vultures.” I actually love that last sentence!

And, you might notice, these people are usually full of “advice” from God’s Word! They tend to play “fast and loose” with biblical quotations. The question is, though, “Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they’ve said their piece?”

Many of the things that Job’s “friends” said were “technically true.” But it is that “technical” part that spoils them. “They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy. The answers are slapped onto Job’s ravaged life like labels on a specimen bottle.” And here is how Job defended himself:

Then Job defended himself:
 "I've had all I can take of your talk. 
What a bunch of miserable comforters! 
Is there no end to your windbag speeches? 
What's your problem that you go on and on like this?
 If you were in my shoes, I could talk just like you. 
I could put together a terrific harangue and really let you have it. 
But I'd never do that. 
I'd console and comfort, make things better, not worse!
(Job 16:1-5 MSG)

“The book of Job does not reject answers as such. There is content to biblical religion. It is the secularization of answers that is rejected – answers severed from their Source, the living God, the Word that both batters us and heals us. We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.”


And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, 
holding everything in common. 
They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
(Acts 2:44-45 MSG)
"Let me give you a new command: 
Love one another. 
In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 
This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other."
(John 13:34-35 MSG)
And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives 
and splashes over on everyone around you, 
just as it does from us to you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 MSG)

Father, as I turn my eyes toward Jesus, this morning, I pray that my focus may stay sharp. By this point in my life, I am surely an “old wineskin,” but have I been fully stretched to my maximum capacity? I think not. I believe there is still room for me to be stretched, and You continue to do so, as each year goes by. I pray to You, constantly, that You would teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. And just when I think I’ve got Your way figured out, You take me a little deeper and show me something that, while it may not be “new,” it is new to me. I pray that I will continue to be receptive to that wisdom and knowledge, as it comes.

I also pray that I would never fall prey to the temptation to be like Job’s friends. We all think we’ve got all the answers, and it is very easy to sit around and instruct someone who is suffering, to tell them why they’re suffering, and what they did wrong to get there. When, truthfully, we have no idea whatsoever. I pray that, when I encounter suffering in others, I would have the wisdom to know what to say and how to say it. I also pray that I might have the wisdom to not “say” at all, but to merely sit and listen, or simply be with the person, sitting in silent support. May we not be guilty of citing chapter and verse without having Your mind and heart on the matter.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Father, I pray for continued work in the area of racial reconciliation. We seem to have moved tremendously backward in recent years, and, sadly, driven largely by people claiming to be followers of Christ! May it never be, Lord! Help us, Your people, to be compassionate people who fight for the equality of all men, especially considering how we have been graciously given the salvation that began with Israel! Were it not for Your compassion and Your equal treatment of all people, we “Gentiles” would be permanently lost! Oh, how we seem to have forgotten this. God have mercy on us and help us!

Finally, in the spirit of yesterday’s readings, I invited Jesus to intervene and intercede in our world today. Jesus, please bring forth healing. We beg You to eradicate this plague from our world, and I pray that Your people would demonstrate more willingness to stop thinking selfishly and make sacrifices for the greater good.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Today I am grateful:

1. for the salvation that has been granted us and made available to people from every race, tribe, tongue, and nation
2. for people who know the mind and heart of God and can truly be helpful and compassionate to those who are suffering, without trying to "fix" them
3. for a mind and heart that desires to see equal rights and treatment for all people
4. that God continues to stretch me with new understanding of biblical concepts
5. for the mind and heart to be more devoted to God than to religious things

And now to him who can keep you on your feet, 
standing tall in his bright presence, 
fresh and celebrating— 
to our one God, 
our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master,
 be glory, 
majesty, 
strength, 
and rule before all time, and now,
 and to the end of all time. 
YES. 
(Jude 1:24-25 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Better Country

Good morning. Today is Monday, the tenth of January, 2022, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your spirit.

Day 23,314

Thirteen days until Hamilton! So far, it is still on.

So it’s back to a more “normal” week for me, this week. I only work two days at the library, this week, tomorrow evening, and all day Friday. Unless, of course, I get “summoned” to work an extra shift, like last week. At this point, I don’t really have any major plans. There are household chores to do, which I usually try to get done on Mondays. For example, I am currently vacuuming the floors while I type this, thanks to the new robot vacuum we got for Christmas. That saves me some time, but it also cuts out some steps that I usually get on Mondays. So there’s definitely a tradeoff, there.

I need to leave the house for a few minutes, later, as I have a couple of packages to pick up at a nearby Amazon Hub locker. I also want to get some more reading accomplished. So far, I’ve already finished three books, this year! In the interest of full disclosure, however, two of those were started last year.

We had a good time at our church gathering, yesterday. There were only four of us at the house, but there were three more on Zoom. We had some good discussion that started on Psalm 51, but kind of went all over the place. I think we plan on starting to look at either First and Second Samuel, or the life of David, soon, to go along with our readings in Psalms.

We had a good lunch from Applebee’s, after which C went up to CVS to pick up some scripts for S, and I called Mama. We had a nice conversation, in which I talked more about football than I have the whole last year. Haha. The Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs again, with one of the best seasons they have had in quite some time. But the interesting thing about yesterday is how many of the playoff spots were still up in the air for the last week of regular season play. I may or may not watch any playoff games. I’m not much of a football fan, and haven’t really rooted for the Cowboys since Jerry Jones hired Barry Switzer as the head coach.

And with that, I think I have written more about football than I did all last year.

We lost two more celebrities, yesterday, one of which was a big shocker. Bob Saget, most famous for Full House, was found dead in a Florida hotel room. He was only 65 years old. At this point, no cause of death has been announced. Not too long after we learned of that, it was announced that the actor who played Dobie Gillis, Dwayne Hickman, had also passed away. He was 87. This is starting to look like 2016, which I unaffectionately refer to as The Great Celebrity Massacre of 2016. As we know, the 2022 list actually started on 12/31/21 with Betty White.

I guess I should get into the devotional for the day, as it is after 9:30 already.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Enough, by Daryl Madden

In this lonely world
Life can be so tough
Sharing of Your love
Am I good enough?

Life can be exhausting
Each day the road is rough
In helping all the broken
Do I do enough?

Trying to be holy
Sometimes I have to bluff
In living out my faith
Do I believe enough?

I say I don’t ask these
But that is just fluff
But when I do
Say, enough is enough

Asking the wrong questions
Dealing with this stuff
For all I need to know
That Jesus is enough

I love this, because I believe that we do, indeed, spend too much time worrying about whether we are “enough,” or if we are doing “enough.” Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Do what GOD tells you. 
Walk in the paths he shows you: 
Follow the life-map absolutely, 
keep an eye out for the signposts, 
his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; 
then you'll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.
(1 Kings 2:3 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. that God is sovereign; even when it doesn't look like it, even when everything seems to be "off the rails," God is sovereign and ruling
2. for the gospel proclamation that the Kingdom of God is here, now
3. for the promise of a "better country," a heavenly country
4. for my partner in life
5. for my church family, who also serve to help strengthen me, as we bear one another's burdens

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; 
repent and believe in the gospel."
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 
(Mark 1:14-20 ESV)

It is believed by many (and I tend to be one of them) that the entire Gospel of Jesus is presented in that one sentence in verse 15. The time has come, the opportunity is here. The rule or reign of God is near, at hand. Jesus commands us to think differently and put our trust in this good news.

The kingdom is here, it is now. It has been here ever since Jesus set foot on the earth. It is not something that we are waiting for, when we die. We are walking in it now.

It is also worth taking note of who Jesus went to first. He did not come on the scene and immediately seek out the “preachers,” the “religious” people. He went to the everyday workers, the fishermen. Truthfully, I have been a part of both scenarios. I spent a large part of my life being “religious.” The older I get, the less “religious” I am. I’m trying to be more ordinary. There is value in the ordinary, the daily work of the ordinary people. This is where the true work of the Kingdom takes place.

The question is asked, as I listen to today’s Pray As You Go presentation, “What would be your response to the Lord’s call, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people”?

I would love to think that I would have followed Him, just as Simon and Andrew did. We are told that they left their boats and equipment immediately and began following Jesus. But, truthfully, I cannot really answer that question. What is worth pondering, this morning, though, is, is there something that I need to abandon immediately in order to follow Him more fully?


Today, in Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, I get to the reading that encompasses First and Second Kings. The main thrust of this reading is the sovereignty of God. This is one of the major truths of everything we read in the Bible.

God is Sovereign.

He rules. “Not only in our personal affairs but in the cosmos. Not only in our times and places of worship but in office buildings, political affairs, factories, universities, hospitals–yes, even behind the scenes in saloons and rock concerts.”

Sure. It doesn’t always look like it. “Most of us are knocked around much of the time by forces and wills that give no hint of God.” But remember the title that is given to Jesus: King.

How do we manage to live in this, “in a world that is mostly either ignorant or defiant of it?” We allow our minds and imaginations and behaviors to be shaped “by the reality of God rather than by what is handed out in school curricula and media reporting.” And Peterson believes the books of Kings to be invaluable resources in this realm.

In the story, which begins, actually, in the Samuels, we know that the people having kings was not God’s idea, but theirs. “Since they insisted, he let them have their way.” However, in that allowance, He did not abdicate His sovereignty. In fact, He was not even delegating sovereignty to those kings. They were supposed to represent His sovereignty.

As we know, this did not ever work very well. But what we do see is that, “in the midst of the incredible mess these kings are making of God’s purposes, God continues to work his purposes and uses them in the work–doesn’t discard them, doesn’t detour around them; he uses them. They are part of his sovereign rule, whether they want to be or not, whether they know it or not.”

Hezekiah at least had an idea of this.

And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed! 
GOD, God of Israel, seated 
in majesty on the cherubim-throne. 
You are the one and only God, 
sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, 
Maker of heaven, 
maker of earth. 
Open your ears, GOD, and listen, 
open your eyes and look. 
Make all the kingdoms on earth know 
that you are GOD, the one and only God. 
(2 Kings 19:15-16, 19 MSG)

Speaking to the Assyrians through His prophets, God says this:

Did it never occur to you that I’m behind all this? Long, long ago I drew up the plans, and now I’ve gone into action, Using you as a doomsday weapon, reducing proud cities to piles of rubble, . . .
(2 Kings 19:25 MSG)

“The books of Kings provide a premier witness to the sovereignty of God carried out among some of the most unlikely and uncooperative people who have ever lived.”

I love that quote! Because it directly lines up with who we are, as well. We are pretty unlikely and mostly uncooperative people, I think.

These are the words that David spoke to Solomon, as David was about to did:

Do what GOD tells you. 
Walk in the paths he shows you: 
Follow the life-map absolutely, 
keep an eye out for the signposts, 
his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; 
then you'll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.
(1 Kings 2:3 MSG)

They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:16 NIV)

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 
'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
(Revelation 21:1-4 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “partnership.”

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 
Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV)

The devotional book only cited verse 9, but I can’t just quote that verse without the other three, as they complete the thought. Specifically that line at the end of verse 12, that, on the surface, appears to be confusing. Wait . . . I thought we were talking about two people, not three!

But if you consider that God is the third strand of that cord, it completes the truth. I am not very strong alone. With a partner, a collaborator, I am stronger, and if God is in the center of it, we are unbeatable.

Ultimately, my wife is my partner. I am stronger with her. We have overcome obstacles in our thirty-six years together; obstacles that would have been impossible without God in our midst.


Father, like the people referred to in Hebrews 11, I long for that “better country.” I make frequent references in this forum to “Home,” and that is what I long for. However, that longing is not so strong that it makes me of no use in this life. I am not “so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good.” But neither am I completely entrenched in the things of this world. I won’t deny that there are some things of the world that I enjoy. But if Your plan was to bring us all Home today or tomorrow? You would get no complaint from me!

I embrace Your sovereignty, and have for many years, now. The longer I live, the more understanding I have concerning this idea of sovereignty. We are not robots. You do not control every single thing that I do. At least I don’t think You do. I have a measure of “free will” within the confines of Your sovereignty. But You are working Your plan, as we can clearly see throughout the pages of Scripture, and You are using ordinary people like us to do it. The pages of the books of Kings show us this. What a mess! Just like the pages of the book of Judges! We talked about this in church, yesterday morning, about how messy we are, but we are still loved by You and You still use us in Your kingdom. We are very grateful for this, and honored and humbled to be a part of Your story.

I thank You for my wife, Lord, for the partnership that You put together over thirty years ago. She is more than I ever deserved and I am so grateful for the love that You made between us. Thank You for Your hand in our lives and our family. I pray that You continue to direct us all through this life, and embrace Your promise that we need not fear because You are right here with us, all the time.

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.

The Pattern of Christ

Here we go! Today is Monday, the third of January, 2022. It’s the tenth day of Christmas. It is also considered “The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus” on the Church calendar.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,307

Twenty days until Hamilton!

I don’t really have much to write about, this morning. No news, really. C is at work, and things are moving back into more of a normalized schedule. This is my week to work four days. Or three and a half, I guess. I work tomorrow evening for four hours, Wednesday all day, Friday all day, and Saturday all day. The floor has been swept (by the new Robot Vac we got for Christmas), and a grocery order has been placed, for delivery this afternoon.

We’ll be back to having our Monday night chili for dinner, and I’m back to tracking my food intake on the WW app. I gained roughly twenty pounds between Thanksgiving and now, but have actually dropped a couple in the past week, so we are back on track.

I have some laundry to do today, and, at some point, I need to get some go-juice in my car. But, honestly, that could even wait until tomorrow, if I don’t have to go anywhere today.

I decided on January 1 to do a whole Bible reading plan on the Youversion app. My plan, this year, is to listen to the entire Bible in those readings, as it will read some versions out loud. I’m listening to the ESV, which is still my favorite version.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We give You praise, adoration
Love and affection
In awe of Your glory
The wonder of who You are
We give You praise, adoration
Love and affection
In awe of Your glory
The wonder of who You are

We're building You a throne upon our praise
We're building You a throne upon our praise
(Building You A Throne, by Maximilian)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, 
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, 
but also to the interests of others. 
(Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the awe of the glory of God and the wonder of who He is
2. for the ability to count others as more significant than myself (and the struggle that goes along with that)
3. for the holiness of God, and that this holiness affects every part of my life, because He is present with me (Leviticus)
4. that I can place every part of this life before God as an offering (Romans 12:1-2)
5. that, even though I am just one, when we work together, we can do wonderful things

Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, 
though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, 
by taking the form of a servant,
 being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 
Therefore God has highly exalted him 
and bestowed on him 
the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

How is my mind similar to the mind of Christ? How is it different? To be honest, I don’t see that many similarities. I see a lot of differences. Sure, I am working on that bit about considering others more significant than myself. I’m struggling with the part about doing nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. But I live in a society that does nothing but try to train me to do otherwise. Everything in this culture points to ME, ME, ME!

I suppose I do try to look out for the interests of others, but even that is a challenge. So how, exactly, is my mind similar to that of Jesus Christ? That’s a good question, and I will be reflecting on that more, during this day. There are major differences, the most obvious being that I am not God; I am not perfect, therefore, my mind is not perfect. But I am striving, at the beginning of this new year, to bring everything about my being into subjection to Jesus. I know, there are people who would cringe at that language. But here’s the thing. God is my Creator; He is the Center of everything; He is the reason we exist! So, it is my duty to live for Him, not for myself.

The question, then, is what do I need to let go of in order to make more space for God to act within me? The answer is in those Scriptures, in the second chapter of Philippians. I need to let go of those selfish ambitions; that conceit; I need to let go of think of myself as the most significant, and begin to think of others as more significant than myself.

I listen to this Scripture reading again, imagining myself approaching the manger that holds the infant Jesus. What words do I find on my lips and in my heart?

Lord Jesus, I worship You. I cannot imagine what words would have been on my heart, had I been present at Your manger. I thank You for the fact that You emptied Yourself in order to identify with us. I cannot begin to imagine what pain this was for You, how alienated You must have felt. I pray for the ability to empty myself, this year, today, this moment. Help me to consider others more significant than me. Help me to ditch the arrogance of my culture and begin to live for You and for the benefit of others. Help me to empty myself. Help me to align my life with Yours.

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 Pray As You Go)


Today, I consider a reflection question from Spiritual Classics. To view the reading click back to yesterday’s edition. It was an excerpt on Godly meditation, by Thomas More. The question today is, “How can I be more single-hearted in my attachment to God?” This is an excellent question for meditation, and hearkens me back to my life verse, which is Psalm 86:11.

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

As I consider that verse and the question, I look back at More’s meditation. The beginning of it says:

"Give me thy grace, good Lord, 
To set the world at nought, 
To set my mind fast upon thee. 
And not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths."

This is one way I can be more single-hearted. As I pray for my divided heart to be united, I can strive to “set the world at nought,” and to set my mind fast upon Him. I love the phrase that More uses, “the blast of men’s mouths.” That is truly what it is. Nothing but a blast of hot air, coming from most humans, especially those in any kind of authority or leadership position.

It helps, as well, to look back up there at that passage from Philippians. I cannot have the same mind that is in Christ Jesus if I am hanging on “the blast of men’s mouths.” In order to be single-hearted toward God, I must shut them out, completely. Even if I agree with them! Do you see that? The last thing I need, in the midst of this struggle, is to have my human opinions validated! My opinions need to be squashed! Only the truth of God matters. Unfortunately, this “truth” is not always as clear as some folks would make you believe. This is the reason for meditation and contemplation.

Father, I pray Psalm 86:11 again. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth, and only Your truth. Unite my divided, selfishly conceited heart, to fear Your name! Show me the way of love and peace, the way of Christ. Teach me to walk in His steps and in His words, that I might live this life in love, love for You and love for my neighbor, considering them to be more significant than myself. Help me to not hang upon the blasts of men’s mouths.


As I move on into the reading from Symphony of Salvation, by Eugene H. Peterson, today’s reading focuses on what is probably the least popular book of the Bible, Leviticus. Tell me I’m wrong. If you are person who loves Leviticus, more power to you.

The opening paragraph of the reading says, “One of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame him. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes.”

Oh, yes! Isn’t this the truth??

But “God cannot be fit into our plans; we must fit into his.” He is not a tool; He is not an appliance; He is not a blank check or credit card, regardless of what some TV evangelists might try to tell you.

"Do what I tell you; live what I tell you.
 I am GOD. 
"Don't desecrate my holy name. 
I insist on being treated with holy reverence 
among the People of Israel.
 I am GOD who makes you holy 
and brought you out of Egypt to be your God. 
I am GOD." 
(Leviticus 22:31-33 MSG)

There is a recurring word in that passage that tells us that God is set apart from us. He is “other.” He is “above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment fantasies or our utopian schemes for making our mark in the world.” He is alive on HIS terms, not ours.

What we can learn from reading Leviticus in a different light (not just a list of rules) is “that this holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God.” We stand in His presence at every moment. Just read Psalm 139, one of my favorites.

Paul even helps us with this a little, in Romans.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: 
Take your everyday, ordinary life—
your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—
and place it before God as an offering. 
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. 
Instead, fix your attention on God. 
You'll be changed from the inside out. 
Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. 
Unlike the culture around you, 
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, 
God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12:1-2 MSG)
"I'll set up my residence in your neighborhood;
 I won't avoid or shun you; 
I'll stroll through your streets.
 I'll be your God; you'll be my people." 
(Leviticus 26:11-12 MSG)

Father, I am grateful for Your presence in my life, Your holy presence! I am so thankful for the effects that Your presence and Your holiness has on every aspect of my life. Help me to be more cognizant of this, as I walk through each day.


“I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.”
(John 13:15 MSG)

But the fruit of the Spirit is 
love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; 
against such things there is no law. 
And those who belong to Christ Jesus 
have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:22-24 ESV)
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, 
not busy at work, but busybodies. 
Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 
As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, 
take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him,
 that he may be ashamed.
 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 
(2 Thessalonians 3:11-16 ESV)

Today’s word, in Pray a Word a Day, is “together.”

“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” ~ Mother Teresa

I am only one person. You are only one person. Sometimes, I feel like my prayers are like little mosquitos around God’s head, just puny little annoyances. But that’s just our enemy talking, and he talks through a lot of different sources.

Consider the humility of Mother Teresa. She said that she never does great things. But most of the world knows who Mother Teresa was. Only a handful of people know who I am. But it doesn’t matter who knows who I am. What matters is that I do my part in trying to bless those around me.

Very seldom does it feel like all of my devotional materials line up the way they have today. When it happens, it is mind-blowing. And I’m going to end where I started, in Philippians. Back to Philippians 2:3-4.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
(Philippians 2:3-4 MSG)

Can you imagine what this world would be like if we all did this? Heck, even if, say, ten percent of us did this??

Father, I pray for the pattern of Jesus Christ to become evident in all of our lives. I pray that, as I live in this world, as I walk around in this world, that people would be able to tell, by my actions and attitudes, that I have been with Jesus. Open our eyes, Lord, to the damage we do when we do things out of selfish ambition or conceit. Open our eyes to the harm we do to the Gospel of Christ when we act selfishly. Take our ears and diver them from the blasts of men’s mouths! Help us to hear only You. Thank You for Your holy presence in our lives and in our world. And help us to do more good in this world, “together!” All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Reigns

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-seventh of December, 2021, the third day of Christmas. (I literally had to stop for a few seconds to think about what day this is.)

May the peace of Christ be with you today.

Day 23,300 (the number of days since I was born)

Only five more days until 2022!

We had a busy day, yesterday, it seems, and we got quite a bit accomplished. First, we got our new robot vacuum set up and running. It did very well, I think, and ran for quite a while. It’s pretty quiet. The cats were very interested, but wary.

Then we started setting up/installing our new Blink security system, along with the new Alexa Echo Show device. This was a little challenging, because you have to do things in the correct order, and the instructions are not exactly forthcoming on what that order is.

Here’s the thing. The doorbell does not come with the cameras. It’s a separate entity. So C went to install the doorbell first, but then I discovered that, before you sync up the doorbell, you need to sync the “sync module” which is a piece that does come with the cameras. And, in addition, there are QR codes that have to be scanned, most of which are actually on the inside of the devices. So those have to be scanned before putting the back covers back on the doorbell and cameras.

We eventually got all of this figured out, and successfully got three cameras and a doorbell installed and activated. We armed them last night before going to bed. We got several notifications that they were activated (motion-sensitive). We need to adjust them a little, because a couple of the driveway view activations were made by garbage trucks driving by on the street, as well as people just walking by on the sidewalk. One of the front door activations (front door is a different camera than the doorbell) was caused by the cat that lives across the street.

We can adjust where the camera (especially the driveway one) points and then pick certain areas in the photo that will not be activated. It will just take a little time and effort to do this.

I also called Mama using the Alexa Echo Show device, which was really neat. I just say, “Alexa, call Mama,” and it does. I don’t have to even open my phone.

Technology is pretty amazing. We can also say, “Alexa, show me the back yard,” and it will show us the live camera view from the Blink camera back there. Here is a view of our driveway and our back yard.

I was going to add a bunch of pics of books that I received for Christmas, but I believe, upon further reflection (and the fact that it is already almost noon), that I will do that in a separate post, perhaps in my other blog.

I’m not sure what else is in the works for today. C and I might go to Six Flags, in a little while, if my allergies let up some. I’m currently feeling better after taking some otc meds. We also have an entire ham that needs to be cut up and put in the freezer.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. 
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! 
(Psalms 32:8-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I can see colors
2. for books (I got some new ones for Christmas)
3. for the steadfast love that surrounds us who trust in the Lord
4. that the Lord goes before me and establishes my steps (Proverbs 16:9)
5. for the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

For if you keep silent at this time, 
relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, 
but you and your father's house will perish. 
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom 
for such a time as this?" 
(Esther 4:14 ESV)

But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
 according to the power at work within us,
 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
 throughout all generations, forever and ever. 
Amen. 
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
 bright as crystal, 
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 
through the middle of the street of the city; 
also, on either side of the river, 
the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, 
yielding its fruit each month. 
The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
 No longer will there be anything accursed, 
but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
 and his servants will worship him. 
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 
And night will be no more. 
They will need no light of lamp or sun, 
for the Lord God will be their light,
and they will reign forever and ever. 
(Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)

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

CHRISTMAS – DAY THREE

INVITATION

A Psalm for giving thanks. 

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
Serve the LORD with gladness! 
Come into his presence with singing! 
(Psalms 100:1-2 ESV)

As I pause, at this moment in time, I consider Home. There is a lot to think about already, what with the Scriptures concerning how the Lord establishes my steps and has plans for my life that truly do not have any regard for what plans I might have (if I’m doing things right, my plans line up with what He has planned for me). And, as the thought from Esther so aptly puts it, we should be ready for anything, and ready to do what the Lord is leading us into, because, for all we know, that is exactly why we are here at this exact moment in time.

But Home . . . no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard about, what has been prepared for us. We have not even truly imagined it. The Spirit has revealed bits and pieces to us, but our finite minds and limited understanding can’t comprehend what has been revealed to us. And have those who have “gone on before us . . . ” have they seen it? Has anyone seen it, yet? This vision seen in Revelation 22 . . . if I understand things correctly (and there is a HUGE chance that I do not), this has not happened, yet. These are questions for people who have much more understanding than I.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD reigns, 
let the nations tremble; 
he sits enthroned between the cherubim, 
let the earth shake. 
Great is the LORD in Zion; 
he is exalted over all the nations. 
Let them praise your great and awesome name— 
he is holy. 

The King is mighty, he loves justice— 
you have established equity; 
in Jacob you have done 
what is just and right. 
Exalt the LORD our God 
and worship at his footstool; 
he is holy.
(Psalms 99:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. 
(John 1:9-14, 16-18 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the Lord’s presence, I read these passages again, asking the Holy Spirit to guide me toward how God might be speaking to me. I will allow my heart to respond accordingly and take refreshment in His presence.

I take great comfort in the truth that the Lord reigns. I look around me, though, and, many times, my eyes do not see evidence of this truth. It all looks like chaos to me. This is where faith comes in. I realize that those who do not believe, call them atheists or agnostics or whatever, would consider me foolish for going down that path, but I, frankly, couldn’t care less about their opinions. The Lord reigns. And while my eyes may not see the evidence, my heart and my spirit know that it is truth. Things are seldom what they seem.

I would that all the nations would praise His name, and that they would do it before that great and terrible “Day of the Lord,” after which every knee will bow and every tongue confess, some willingly and some under the most fearful of compulsion. I cannot begin to imagine the hate and fear that will fill the hearts of those who will not believe in our God, on that day.

I also see that this King, this Lord, who reigns, is mighty and He loves justice and has established equity. I fear that there are many who will find themselves not on His side, at the end, because they have not loved justice and have refused to “establish equity” in their own dealings with other human beings.

The final word on the matter is in Psalm 99:5.

Exalt the LORD our God 
and worship 
at his footstool; 
he is holy.
(Psalms 99:5 NIV)

These words are trustworthy and true. He is holy. He is mighty. He loves justice and mercy. He has established equity. All humanity would do well to exalt Him and worship at His footstool.

We have been given the right to become His children, because we have believed in His name, according to the passage in John 1. Note that our “birth” in this passage is not of human descent or will, but “born of God.” This is what is meant by the whole “born again” thing. We have been born “from above,” born “of God.” This was made possible by the Word (who existed from before, all throughout eternity past) who became flesh and dwelt among us.

John, who wrote this Gospel message, was an eyewitness to these things and beheld the glory of Jesus Christ, “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

We may not have seen God, but Jesus Christ has made Him known to us. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO MAN comes to the Father except through Him.

Father, I praise You for these truths, today. I thank You that You have placed faith in my heart, many, many years ago, and that this faith is still alive and well within me. I thank You that You have also fashioned within me a love for justice, mercy, and equity. I pray for justice in all the world, in every land, in every tribe and nation and government, and that everyone in any kind of authority would see Your majesty and might, and would exalt You and worship at Your footstool!

I pray that all Your children would heed the call to follow You in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces. I pray that we would all have increased capacity to serve the common good. And I pray for special blessings on those who have had to work through the holiday season.

"Unseen God,
I sometimes wonder:
what are You like?
Thank You for not leaving me in the dark but making Yourself known in Jesus.
Because He is one with You, 
I see exactly what You are like in Him,
a perfect reflection of Your glory.
Give me the eyes to see You and faith to serve You.
Amen."

BLESSING

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, 
for he has visited and redeemed his people."
(Luke 1:68 ESV)

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.

God Will Do What He Says He Will Do

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twentieth of December, 2021, the fourth Monday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,293

Only five days until Christmas!

There will be a flurry of Christmas wrapping today, as I work on getting C’s presents wrapped. They’ve been in a pile in my study for a couple weeks, and today is the day to get them wrapped. Hopefully. Heh. If I don’t get them done today, I also have tomorrow. I’m working Wednesday, this week, so I’ll need to get that done by then. On the other hand, I’m not working Thursday, so there’s that.

Procrastination 101.

I have some help, this morning.

Cleopatra wants that cursor

Oh. I’ll be right back. I need to start some laundry.

It’s going to be a slightly busy day, for a Monday. There’s the aforementioned laundry. Then I need to make a side trip to the grocery store, to pick up a few things that we either didn’t decide we needed yet, or weren’t available from Alberton’s, yesterday. Tonight, I’m going out to eat with C, courtesy of USBC. I believe we are going to the Winewood Grill, in Grapevine. C has her yearly checkup with her doctor, this afternoon, so she’s coming straight home after that, and we will be able to drive over there together.

I also, apparently, have yet another package to pick up at the hub locker.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

On the Path, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

All of
our footsteps
lead home 

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

I admire this poet’s ability to express things so simply, yet beautifully, in so few words. For many of us, “Home” is the ultimate goal, and we certainly hope that we are walking in the right direction. Please check out her website for more poetic imagery.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, 
"Which commandment is the most important of all?" 
Jesus answered, 
"The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

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

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of God in my heart, which drives me (and enables me) to love others
2. for my weaknesses, which allow God to display His power in me
3. that the Lord has searched me, and knows me, inside and out
4. that God's Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent
5. for the blessing that comes from believing that God will fulfill His promises to us

But he said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
But the LORD said to Samuel, 
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, 
for I have rejected him. 
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, 
but the LORD looks at the heart." 
(1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
You have searched me, 
LORD, 
and you know me.
(Psalms 139:1 NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, 
and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, 
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-THREE

INVITATION

Turn us again to yourself, O God. 
Make your face shine down upon us. 
Only then will we be saved. 
(Psalms 80:3 NLT)

As I pause during this quiet moment (the cat is currently not on the desk), I consider that the Lord’s face is assuredly shining down on us. I acknowledge the truth that I cannot begin to comprehend my life from the middle. God is working His plan, and all will be clear when it is completed. I must trust Him and not lean on my own “understanding,” which is truly no understanding at all.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice. 
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, 
the hills the fruit of righteousness. 
May he defend the afflicted among the people 
and save the children of the needy; 
may he crush the oppressor. 
May he endure as long as the sun, 
as long as the moon, through all generations. 
May he be like rain falling on a mown field, 
like showers watering the earth.
 In his days may the righteous flourish 
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. 
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 
where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, 
the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 
But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
(Luke 1:39-45 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I seek the guidance of His Spirit as I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

My Father, I rejoice, along with Paul’s writing, in my weaknesses, knowing that it is in them that You are made strong, or that Your strength is made evident. Your grace is, indeed, sufficient for anything we might be going through. I also take joy in the fact that You do not regard outward appearances, but are concerned with what is in the heart. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go around looking like a slob, but it also means that I don’t need to “dress to impress,” at least not for You. It is apparent that I cannot impress You with anything. For You have searched me, and You know me, inside and out. You know things about me that I do not know. As that psalmist said, such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it.

Help me to lay aside all hindrances, any sin that entangles me, and run the race set before me. Help me to know that I cannot understand my life, my circumstances, by looking at them from the middle. I will only be able to fully comprehend my life when I can see it from beginning to end, as we can see Your Word. Of course, I cannot fully comprehend Your Word, yet, either. Help me to know what I need to know, to comprehend what I need to comprehend, and to trust that You have given me everything that I need for life and godliness.

As I read through the psalm again, that speaks of defending the afflicted, saving the needy, and crushing the oppressor, I am drawn, instead, to the words of Elizabeth at the end of the Luke passage. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” I believe that I can appropriate this blessing for myself, as I believe that we can all do so. If we believe that You will fulfill Your promises, we are, indeed, blessed. And I do believe. I believe that You will do what You say You will do.

"Son of Man and Son of God,
in real time,
You were conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary.
Deity and humanity were inseparably joined together in You.
Thank You for the way Christmas reminds me that faith is both material and mystical.
No confusion,
but lots of wonder.
Amen."

BLESSING

"May the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven,
shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace."
(Based on Luke 1:78-79)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven 
and do not return there but water the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, 
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Will Deliver . . .

Good morning. It is Monday, the thirteenth of November, 2021, the third Monday of Advent.

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,286

Only twelve more days until Christmas!

We had a lovely day, yesterday, in Mineral Wells. Yesterday’s Christmas worship, at First Baptist Church, was very good. I love what their worship leader does. Rather than present a “canned” musical, he curates a set of music, himself, which incorporates the children’s groups, as well as the congregation, in the singing. In other words, it is not a “performance,” as much as it is simply worship.

Afterward, we had a great lunch from Natty Flats BBQ. I had sliced brisket and sausage, along with their “baked tater salad,” and some “Natty Flats BBQ beans,” as well as a side of their delicious chili. We also had some banana pudding for dessert.

After a few hours of visiting with Mama, we headed home, but not before having to extricate a neighborhood cat from her house. He (or she?) sneaked into the front door while we were saying our goodbyes. Fortunately, S saw it happen, so I was able to get the cat out with little effort. It was quite funny.

Today is a standard day off for me. Laundry is already started, and a trip to one or more grocery stores will be in the near future. Not a big trip. We actually don’t do much of that, anymore, since I can easily go on either Monday or Thursday of any week, not to mention Tuesday morning or early afternoon.

I finished reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly, on Saturday night. I’m going to focus on trying to finish The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, this week. I need to take a glimpse at what I’ve already read, just to refresh my memory. I’m on page eighty-five of a little more than two hundred. I have no idea what will be next.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Lord is strength and song;
He has become salvation;
I will praise my God.
(Exodus 15:2)
But let all who take refuge in you 
rejoice;
let them ever sing for 
joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name may exult in you. 
(Psalms 5:11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we have enough; food, clothing, shelter, and more
2. that our hearts are drawn toward helping those who do not have enough
3. for Christmas music
4. for Your care for the needy and weak
5. for Your rescue for the oppressed

And he called his disciples to him and said to them,
"Truly, I say to you, 
this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 
For they all contributed out of their abundance, 
but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, 
all she had to live on." 
(Mark 12:43-44 ESV)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree 
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; 
they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; 
they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; 
he is my rock, 
and there is no unrighteousness in him. 
(Psalms 92:12-15 ESV)
The glory of young men is their strength,
 but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
(Proverbs 20:29 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY SIXTEEN

INVITATION

How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of the messenger 
who brings good news, 
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns! 
(Isaiah 52:7 NLT)

I pause, this morning, in the silence of the hour, to reflect on the beauty of the message, and on the joy that comes from knowing Jesus.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice.  

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, 
the afflicted who have no one to help.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy 
and save the needy from death. 
He will rescue them from oppression and violence, 
for precious is their blood in his sight. 
(Psalms 72:1-2, 12-14 NIV)

BIBLE READING

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 
"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 
And do not begin to say to yourselves, 
'We have Abraham as our father.' 
For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 
The ax is already at the root of the trees, 
and every tree that does not produce good fruit 
will be cut down and thrown into the fire." 
(Luke 3:7-9 NIV)
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 
John answered them all, 
"I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 
(Luke 3:15-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, attempting to notice how God might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, allowing my heart to respond to the Lord in prayer. I take refreshment in His presence.

Father, I see again, the emphasis placed on the needy, the afflicted, the weak, those who need to be rescued from oppression and violence. I see that their blood is precious in Your sight. This causes me anxiety, as I look around me, because I see so much of all of it. So much, in fact, that I am virtually paralyzed because I don’t see how I can help. Yet You move my heart toward generosity, and I pray for direction. I have, we have, resources with which You have blessed us. Guide our hearts and our hands, Father, to know where to direct those resources, that they might provide the most relief for the most people. Help us to do the work of Jesus on this earth. I pray that more of Your people would care more for those whom Scripture clearly tells us that You care about, deeply.

Let us not get complacent or over-confident, either, Lord. We have the example of Israel, who was exiled because of their sin. While it is true that they were allowed to return to their land, and they produced the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ, yet they continue in their unbelief. Being of Israel will do them no good if they continue to deny the truth of the Messiah. Likewise, if we do not follow Jesus and obey Him, we will be lost. I do not believe that we can become lost, once we have begun to follow Him. However, I fear that there may be many who believe they are following Him, who are truly not. Give us clarity of vision, Father, and weed out all false teachers, that the message of the Gospel not be muddled. We leave that to You and Your angels, though, as Your disciples were instructed to not try to remove the weeds from the true grain.

May I not be chaff, Father, that becomes burned with “unquenchable fire.” Sometimes, my enemy foments doubt in my heart. Keep me confident . . . make me struggle with my sin, and not give in to temptation. Increase my joy, that overwhelming sense of well-being, that comes from knowing You through Christ.

"Holy God,
lead me to repentance that brings life.
Not the groveling show that's more about convincing You I'm worthy of Your forgiveness,
but the cut-to-the-heart kind of repentance that is grieved at my sin because of Your holiness and glory.
Move me by Your mercy and lead me to a life of joyful obedience.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel, 
because he has visited 
and redeemed his people."
(Luke 1:68 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Prepare the Way

Today is Monday, the sixth of December, 2021, the second Monday of Advent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,279

Nineteen days until Christmas. I’m planning to get some Christmas gifts ordered today. We have some lists to look at, for S and R.

Yesterday was a fine day. Our Zoom gathering was okay, and lunch was pretty good. I placed a grocery order with Albertson’s, for delivery later in the afternoon, and C went out to get a few things, including some produce items that Albertson’s seemed to be out of. Albertson’s also made a somewhat silly substitution, in my opinion, which is causing me to have to make an additional trip to a store, today. I had ordered a fifteen ounce can of tomato sauce, Hunts brand. Rather than substitute a house brand of the same size, they substituted one can of Hunts eight ounces. That does me no good. They should have substituted two cans, at least, so I had my fifteen ounces.

In their defense, I do have the ability to go in and check substitution options. I suppose I will have to start doing that with every item, since they do not give me the option of rejecting their substitutions, like some stores do.

We finally got our Christmas ornaments on the tree, yesterday. Here are a few pics of the tree, featuring our new ornaments for this year.

New ornament from Indianapolis
New ornament from Indianapolis
S picked this one, from Indianapolis
The whole tree
Magnolia under the tree

I really don’t have anything else on my “plate” for today. I’ll try to come up with something at least semi-productive.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When a man's ways please the LORD, 
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 
(Proverbs 16:7 ESV)
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
 dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 
Delight yourself in the LORD, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the LORD; 
trust in him, and he will act.
(Psalms 37:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace of the season
2. that You are my light and my salvation
3. that I have neither poverty or riches in my life, but that I have enough
4. for help in recognizing the things that are vanity
5. that, because You are my light and my salvation, I have nothing to fear in this world

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.
(Psalms 119:37 KJV)

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? 
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? 
Selah.
(Psalms 4:2 ESV)
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; 
give me neither poverty nor riches; 
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
(Proverbs 30:8 ESV)
Vanity of vanities, 
says the Preacher, 
vanity of vanities! 
All is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV)

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

ADVENT – DAY NINE

INVITATION

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid? 
(Psalms 27:1 NLT)

I pause during this quietness to center in on the presence of the Lord, and to block out distractions that call for my attention.

BIBLE SONG

Endow the king with your justice, O God, 
the royal son with your righteousness. 
May he judge your people in righteousness, 
your afflicted ones with justice.
(Psalms 72:1-2 NIV)
May he rule from sea to sea 
and from the River to the ends of the earth. 
May the desert tribes bow before him 
and his enemies lick the dust. 
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores 
bring tribute to him. 
May the kings of Sheba and Seba 
present him gifts. 
May all kings bow down to him 
and all nations serve him.
(Psalms 72:8-11 NIV)

BIBLE READING

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 

"A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 
'Prepare the way for the Lord, 
make straight paths for him. 
Every valley shall be filled in, 
every mountain and hill made low. 
The crooked roads shall become straight, 
the rough ways smooth. 
And all people will see God's salvation.'" 
(Luke 3:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again slowly, I look for words or phrases that stir my heart and soul within me. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, and feelings, and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

Father, Jesus is our King. And while I realize that Psalm 72, likely written by Solomon, was composed as a song/prayer for the physical king of Israel, at the time, I can easily transfer the thoughts forward to refer to Jesus. I do know that Jesus will judge Your people in righteousness, because He is the embodiment of righteousness. I am confident that He will judge the afflicted with justice and mercy.

I look forward to the day when Jesus will rule “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” All the earth will one day bow before Him, and His enemies will, indeed, “lick the dust.” Along with the psalmist, I pray that “all kings bow down to Him and all nations serve Him.” What a day that will be when these things come to pass. As we celebrate the peace of the Advent season, this is a part of our future that we have to look forward to.

As ancient Israel prepared for the first Advent of Jesus Christ, Your servant John began to preach. In fact, Jesus had already come as the baby, as the Christ-child. John the Baptizer began preparing human hearts for His kingdom. He sought, just as we do today, to “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” As we anticipate the second coming of our Savior, we acknowledge the effects of His coming. “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” We pray for these things to come to pass as we endeavor to prepare our world for His return.

As I ponder these, things, Father, turn my heart and my eyes away from vanity, from everything that the “preacher” considered to be vanity, in Ecclesiastes. May we not be people who love vain words and seek after lies. I am grateful that You have given me neither poverty nor riches (though some would say we are “rich”), but that you have provided enough for our needs, along with some extra that we might give away, in order that others might be blessed.

I praise You that You are my light and my salvation, and that I have nothing to fear in this world.

"Father,
 I am weary of all that is wrong with the world -
murder of the innocents,
a smeared and wrecked creation,
tyrant-oppressed poor,
hunger-withered children,
exploited women,
forgotten elderly,
invisible homeless.
I long to see that all these enemies -
Yours and mine -
will be, once and for all,
condemned,
and all things crooked made straight.
Set me to making way for Your justice with renewed vigor.
In Jesus our Deliverer's name we pray,
amen."

BLESSING

Wait patiently for the LORD.
 Be brave and courageous. 
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. 
(Psalms 27:14 NLT)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Are You Ready?

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of November, 2021. First Monday of Advent.

Day 23,272

Twenty-six days until Christmas.

I have received unpleasant news, this morning, news which will have an impact on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come. My Uncle “Buddy,” Robert Vinson, has passed away, this morning. He was my mother’s twin brother. At this point, I don’t know of any arrangements, but there will likely be a funeral later this week, which may mean that I miss a day at the library. Unless they decide on Saturday.

Brother Daryl Madden has shared a couple of poems with me, this morning. You who are regular readers are familiar with him and his inspirational/comforting poetry. Here are a couple which he has shared with me today.

Still You

Still raw is your passing

You’re in a better place
Your hope in gift of faith
Is answered by His grace

Still here is our sorrow

In random burst of tears
Drifting in our loss
Your emptiness felt here

Still in life’s reflection

The love to us you shared
We see your shadow cast
In many ways, you cared

Still we walk our path

With joy and sorrow, feeling
In prayer, we’ll be with You
A new way you’ll be healing


Still we’ll remember you

Etched within our heart
For now, your closer still
Through love that you’ll impart

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing. Nothing at all

It does not count. There is no wall

I’ve only slipped. In the room next

Nothing’s happened. Be not perplexed

As is the same. As was it be

You are you. And I am me

The old life lived. Together in love

Remains untouched. Unchanged above

Whatever we were. To each other

That we are still. And not another

Why should I be. Out of your mind
Just because. The eye is blind


As I am. I wait for you

So very near. Round corners view

All is well. Nothing is hurt

Nothing is lost. This truth assert

In moment brief. And all will be

As was before. Our joy to see

How we shall laugh. In embrace so sweet

When very soon. Again we’ll meet!

Thank you so much, Daryl!

We had a nice, restful day, yesterday. I spent about an hour at a local tire shop, though, getting tires rotated and air pressure checked. What prompted that was when the tire pressure light came on in my car, on the way back from Mineral Wells, Thursday evening. I checked the pressure on Friday, during the day, and all the tires had about the same pressure. The two fronts were exactly the same, and the two rears were almost exactly the same. This indicated that I likely didn’t have a leak.

I was planning to take care of it Saturday evening, after work, but it was raining, so I decided, since my car was long overdue for tire rotation, to take it to the tire shop that is open on Sundays and have them take care of it. So for $15, I got a tire rotation and all four tires checked and aired up.

Most of today will be spent getting caught up on various chores, such as laundry and grocery shopping and sweeping the floor. It’s good to be back to a regular schedule.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Catch A Breath, by Daryl Madden

Before our day begins
Time to start performing
Take a step outside and
Catch a breath of morning

For a seed of beauty
A gift of the spawning
To dwell within the light
Catch a glimpse of dawning

Let it settle in
Worldly time to cease
In silence of the soul
Draw a taste of peace

Know that loves abounding
Blessings our God shares
With gratitude to offer
A whisper of prayer

Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poems at the link above.

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that comes in waiting for You
2. for many good memories with my uncle
3. that Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. that I am one of the sheep of Your pasture, that You have made me, and I am Yours
5. that You are making us ready; may we walk in the hope and expectation that You have granted us

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

You might wonder why we are reading the account of the fall of man during our Advent celebration. It all comes down to verse 15, where we get the first glimpse of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The first glimmer of hope, the one who would “bruise the head” of our enemy. Jesus will come and undo the work of Satan, but not without great cost. Therein lies our hope, and hope is one of the central messages of Advent.

I thank You, God, that You are generous and the giver of all good things. I thank You that You have always had a plan for us and for the world, that You revealed this plan to us through Your prophets, and that this plan finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.



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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I am counting on the LORD;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
(Psalms 130:5 NLT)

As I pause in the quiet, this morning, I am pondering life, itself, and its brevity. Eighty-three years may seem like a long time, but my sixty-three seems so very brief, as I look back. Life is fragile, but we have hope in Christ Jesus, hope of life eternal. Sixty or eighty years is merely a grain of sand in comparison.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:36-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, meditating on them and giving them my full attention. Is there something for me to ask God about? I pray my life to Him, and rest in His presence.

Psalm 72 is one of those that, on the surface, appears to be about an earthly king. Solomon appears to be voicing a prayer/song for himself, in third person. However, I believe it is also valid to attribute this to Jesus, based on the language it contains.

We do want Jesus to judge His people in righteousness, and His afflicted ones with justice. We desire prosperity for His people. We hope for the defense of the afflicted, and that the children of the needy will be saved. We also pray for all oppressors to be crushed. We believe that Jesus will endure longer than the sun and moon and all the stars, beyond all generations.

But then we shift gears a little bit, as the passage from Matthew 24 concerns the second coming of Jesus. We know this, because it is Jesus, Himself, voicing the words.

We hear that no one knows the hour or the day that Jesus will return. In fact, it would appear that even Jesus, Himself, does not know, but only the Father knows. We read that life will be going on, business as usual, when the Son appears. Just like in the days of Noah, the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” And, He says, this is exactly how His second coming will be.

That is somewhat unnerving, I think. We won’t see it coming until it does. So all of this guessing and predicting, all of the books that have been written, trying to predict when it will happen, all useless. I find it interesting and enlightening that, even though Jesus gives all these signs before He says that, He still, at the end says that no one will know when it’s going to happen.

His main advice? “Keep watch.” “Be ready.” We get the same advice from Luke 12:40.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

Father, help us to be ready. And while we are getting ready, may we not focus on the things that we cannot know. May we not waste time and energy trying to figure out what Jesus, Himself, doesn’t even know! Just let us be ready. What does being ready mean? It means simply keeping watch. Yes, Jesus gives us signs, and we can watch for them. But trying to predict when it’s going to happen is pointless. May our eyes be fixed on You; may our attention be on Your Word and on those who need it; may we focus on doing the things that Psalm 72 prays that Jesus, our King, will do, which is helping in the deliverance of the needy and afflicted, and crushing the oppressors.

Help us to see You in all things, as we walk in Your creation, and as we look around us.

I thank You for the life of my Uncle Buddy. I pray for my mother, Aunt Barbara, and for Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, my cousins. I also pray for their children and grandchildren, as they all grieve the loss of husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

"Coming Savior,
You are the Word,
the wisdom,
and the very image of the Father.
Ready my ears to hear Your word of truth,
my heart to learn the ways of Your wisdom,
and my eyes to see the beauty of Your likeness.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who is the faithful witness
to all these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NLT)


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.

Seek Good, Not Evil

Today is Monday, the twenty-second of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,265

Only three more days until Thanksgiving! Preparations are underway, groceries have been ordered.

Plans for Thanksgiving for this year are that we will visit my mother in Mineral Wells on Thursday, taking food with us over there, and then have another Thanksgiving meal at our house on Friday with C’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece, along with niece’s boyfriend.

I’m working tomorrow night, Wednesday all day, and then Saturday, having Friday off for Thanksgiving.

We had a nice flight home, yesterday. We got packed up and checked out with no issues, and met R & J for breakfast at the same place we ate on Friday morning, Lincoln Square. I had a German Skillet, which was scrambled eggs, smoked sausage, and sausage gravy, on a bed of small potato pancakes. It was delicious. For my “bread” choice, I got pancakes, which were also delicious. We said our “farewells” at our car, and got a few pictures. I forgot my tripod, so there is no group picture of all of us, but each of us is in at least one picture.

S, C, R, & J
R & J
S, me, R, & J
S, C, me, & R

There were tears as we drove away.

Our flight was fine. I lucked out, and the middle seat in my row (even though they said the flight was completely full) was never occupied. On the aisle was a young lady who was, at one point, reading/studying a book with some music notation in it. I asked her what she was studying, and she said she was studying the Brahms Handel Variations. Turns out she is a pianist. I asked her if she was going to be a famous concert pianist someday. She laughed and said probably not. I hope she is wrong. I never got her name, though, so I guess I will never know.

The landing in DFW was not nearly as good as the near-perfect landing in IND. Our pilot bounced a couple times in DFW. It wasn’t bad or scary, or anything. Just not as smooth. We made sure to thank all of the flight staff and attendants. I frequently made it a point to thank people, especially at the airport, even in the shops. Thanked them just for being there. These are tough times, and people need appreciation. They get treated so poorly.

I learned something new about my car, yesterday, too. In the second rental we had, in Indy, R pointed out that, if the phone was connected to the car via USB charging cable, the map for Waze (GPS app) would appear on the car display panel. So we hooked that up, which made following the GPS around much easier and safer. This came up when I mentioned having issues propping up my phone so it wouldn’t fall.

When we got back to our car at DFW, we looked around, and sure enough, there is a USB port with a picture of a phone. When plugged in, it activates “Car Play,” which displays the phone screen on the display panel where the radio usually shows.

I felt really stupid. I’ve had this car for over a year and had no clue that it would do that. But now I know.

C is off all week, thanks to her company’s generosity. She might have to crank up her work laptop here and there, but doesn’t have to go to the office. She is currently setting out Christmas decorations. We got in the spirit when we visited that Christmas market in Carmel, so we decided to go ahead and get started with them early, this year. We would normally have done it over the coming weekend, so it’s not too early.

The reason I’m running late, today, is that I have been messing around with my Dropbox account, trying to get files synced up from two different drives on this PC. I’m concerned that one of my hard drives might be about to crash, so I’m trying to get files backed up. I also didn’t sleep well, last night. We’ve been eating so badly, over the past five days, that my stomach, I think, had enough, finally. It decided to keep me up for a few hours last night. I’m still not feeling quite right and haven’t eaten anything this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Almighty and gracious Father,
I give You thanks
for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the labors of those who harvest them.
Make me, I pray,
a faithful steward of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities
and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours)

“The LORD lives,
and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be my God,
the rock of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance and brought down peoples under me,
who brought me out from my enemies;
you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from men of violence.
“For this I will praise you,
O LORD,
among the nations,
and sing praises to your name.”
(2 Samuel 22:47-50 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a very successful trip to Indy, a great visit with our kids, and safe flights both ways
2. that You are the rock of my salvation, my Rock and my God
3. for this season of the year, when most people will find some things for which to be thankful
4. for all who continue the practice of "thanksgiving" beyond this season or just this month
5. for all of Your great and marvelous attributes, described by Your Word

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY TWO

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
(Psalms 46:10 NLT)

I pause, now, to consider the affirmation that You will be honored by every nation, eventually.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
(Psalms 145:1-3 NIV)

The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
(Psalms 145:17-21 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.
(Amos 5:7 NIV)

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.

You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.

Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
(Amos 5:10-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, slowly and deliberately. I try to notice how God might be speaking to me through them. I also try to set aside preconceived prejudices and allow the Spirit to speak freshly to me. I allow my heart to respond to God in prayer, laying out my thoughts and meditations to Him, taking refreshment in His presence.

As we work toward the end of Psalms, we come to a few that are purely praise. It is hard for me to identify a single word or phrase that speaks to me in Psalm 145. It is more of an idea . . . a concept of the character of God, or His attributes. The passage lists some truths about Him.

He is worthy of praise (v. 3)
No one can fathom His greatness (v. 3)
He is righteous in all His ways (v. 17)
He is faithful in all He does (v. 17)
He is near to all who call on Him in truth (v. 18)
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him, hearing their cries and saving them (v. 19)
He watches over all who love Him (v. 20)

This praise psalm, however, seems to be on a different spectrum than the passage I’m reading in Amos, today. In fact, I find the Amos passage to be quite alarming. I do take note of the fact that this prophecy is concerning Israel. However, I see correlations with my own country.

In our modern land, there are certainly those “who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground” (v. 7). And one of our biggest problems, right now, is that there are people on both sides of the political fence who believe that that statement is true for the “other side.”

Verse 10 is similar. “There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.” Again, what I said about the alleged political fence is true. Neither Democrats nor Republicans believe the other side is capable of telling the truth.

What it boils down to, though, is stated in verse 12. “There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.” This has long been true in our nation. It is, perhaps, more prevalent in other nations. But the Bible is clear on this issue. Our Father in heaven detests this practice. And the consequences are dire.

I find verse 13 to be interesting, though. “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.” I’m not sure what that means. I don’t think it means that, when we see evil being practiced, we should say nothing. I don’t think it means that we should be silent when the innocent are oppressed.

We are instructed, though, whether we are ancient Israel or modern man, to “seek good, not evil,” that we may live.

Father, I pray for this world, that we would be more inclined to seek good and not evil. I know that there are always going to be people who seek evil, but it is those who do evil and think that they are doing good who are of greater concern. I pray that the innocent not be oppressed, in my own country, as well as around the world. I realize this seems like such a fruitless prayer, but I truly believe in Your ability to stand up for and uphold the cause of those whom You love so much. Help us to find ways to stand up for the widows and orphans, the homeless and poor, the needy and oppressed, and those who constantly live in the shadows of injustice. The rich few have had their way for too long, Father. But in the meantime, please show C and me how we can help.

"Furious God,
thank You for fuming prophets who picture and proclaim Your anger at sin in the world - 
sin that hurts,
maims,
and enslaves.
Help me to trust Your anger,
understanding it as a form of love against oppressive evil.
Thank You that Your justice and anger find their ultimate expression in Jesus's cross and resurrection.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NLT)

I pray that, while unity within our country is unlikely, You would bring about unity within Your Church.

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.

The Ancient Paths

Good morning. Today is Monday, the fifteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,258

Two days until we fly to Indianapolis!

C and I had a nice time, yesterday afternoon. Right after our church gathering, we headed out to go to Macy’s to see if we could find the two shirts that never made it home Saturday. We did not find the actual shirts, but they were kind enough to allow us to get two more of the same kind, to replace them. While we were there, we also bought me a nice Levi’s jacket, black jean material with fleece lining, as well as a nice set of sheets for our bed. The jacket was about twenty dollars off, while the sheets were seventy-five percent off! Heck of a deal, there. We got $140 sheets for a little over thirty dollars. In addition, since C used her Macy’s card, she got another thirty dollars of “bonus money” that she can spend before December 14.

Today, November 15, is my father’s birthday. He would have been 84 years old, today. He passed away in April of 2015, from Inclusion Body Myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease, related to Muscular Dystrophy (I think). My enjoyment of baseball has not been the same, since.

It feels like I have a lot to do, today, but I really don’t. Monday is one of my two days that I am always off work, so there are things that I like to get done on Monday. Today, I will make a quick trip to a grocery store, mainly to pick up some ground turkey for our chili tonight. Of course, we need bananas and grapes, too, but I won’t buy too many of those, because we are “leaving on a jet plane” on Wednesday morning. So I just need enough to get us through a couple days.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,
the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
(Revelation 11:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. the hope of our eternal reward
2. for the ancient paths; help us to rediscover and walk in them
3. for the calmness in the soul of contentment, as a weaned child with its mother
4. for the memories of life with my father
5. that You work to transform my heart and mind to conform to Your ways
6. that Your blessings are eternal
7. that Jesus has overcome the world; help us to follow Him

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
(Psalms 71:19 NLT)

As I pause, during this chilly, quiet morning, I meditate on the promise of reward in eternity, however great or small that reward might be. All of the wonderful things that God has done add up to those final verses in the Bible, that wonderful picture of Home. I pray for endurance, going forward.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. Of David.

My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 131:1-3 NIV)

BIBLE READING

To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
(Jeremiah 6:10 NIV)

“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the LORD.

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
(Jeremiah 6:13-17 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I mull over those, repeating them over in my spirit, and pray my thoughts and meditations, my desires and needs and feelings, to the Lord. I rest and enjoy His presence.

There seriously needs to be more of the attitude expressed in Psalm 131. This one, attributed to David, speaks of not being haughty or proud, not being concerned with matters too great or wonderful for me. Perhaps that is one of our biggest flaws as humans, especially in the West. We tend to be overly concerned with things that are too great and wonderful for us to comprehend. We tend to be overly haughty and arrogant.

We need to be more like that “weaned child with its mother.” We need more contentment. And we need, as the “new Israel,” the Church, to put our hope in the Lord (and only in Him), “both now and forevermore.”

We read verses like Jeremiah 6:10 and immediately thing we know who that’s talking about. It’s those other people, that’s who. Those guys over there. It’s not talking about me, or my friends!

We shouldn’t be so quick to assume.

Are we all greedy for gain? Greed has been, and continues to be, a huge problem in this culture. Prices for things have gone up, recently, and people seem too quick to blame the wrong people or groups. The bottom line is greed. And our culture’s systems promote greed.

But when the “prophets and priests” participate in this, it is that much more deplorable. We put Band-Aids on problems and say, “peace, peace,” when their truly is no peace. There is no shame.

The verse that jumps out the most, to me, today is verse 16. And this is where we, the Church, have failed, over the past decades.

GOD’s Message yet again: “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, The tried and true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. But they said, ‘Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.’
(Jeremiah 6:16 MSG)

I like Peterson’s paraphrase, there. But I also like the NIV, that uses the phrase “the ancient paths.” That’s what one of the books I am currently reading is about. In The Divine Embrace, Robert E. Webber is examining the ancient paths of the spiritual life and comparing them to the way spirituality has “progressed” over the centuries. The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, called for the people to look back to the “ancient paths,” find them, and walk in them.

But the people of that day, just as the people of today, said, “Nothing doing. We aren’t going that way.” We seem to think we have a better way.

But, again, we all seem to have this problem thinking that all of these warnings apply to the “other guys,” not us. Humility is needed. And trust me, I point back at myself, too.

Father, as I enjoy and rest in Your presence, this morning, I take heed of the words of Scripture. As I go forward in my life, I seek out these “ancient paths,” with the intention of walking in them, seeking Your face and the best form of spirituality that will benefit both me, and everyone else. As Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” That has truly been the prayer of my life for many years, now, and it still is. I am still seeking this truth and this way, all the while acknowledging that Jesus Christ, Your Son, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no way to get to You except by Him. Help me to find and walk in these ancient ways and paths, that I might truly know You and worship You and serve You.

Help us to see You in all things, wherever we are, wherever we look. Help us to listen to You, as well, however You choose to speak to us.

"Speak,
Lord,
because Your words are life.
Clear out my ears, 
deaf to Your Word because of the din of the world,
and forgive my foolish heart,
too quickly convinced of being the authority on what is right and best.
Let me yield my life to Your Word and walk in Your good way;
transform my mind and conform me to the likeness of the Word, 
Jesus.
Amen."

BLESSING

And now,
may it please you to bless the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you.
For you have spoken,
and when you grant a blessing to your servant,
O Sovereign LORD,
it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:29 NLT)


The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
(Psalms 33:5 NIV)

Arise, O LORD;
O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart,
“You will not call to account”?
(Psalms 10:12-13 ESV)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart;
I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

Arise, O Lord! Show Your mighty arm in our world, today. Let not the wicked continue to have their way among us. I’m not wise enough to be able to weed out “the wicked.” We all have our ideas as to who makes up “the wicked,” Father. Many short-sighted people believe that everyone in a particular political party is wicked. Give us wisdom beyond that, Lord. And help us to remember that it is Your job, along with Your holy angels, to remove the weeds from the harvest, but not until harvest time. We were told, according to Jesus, to not try to do that, lest we damage the harvest at the same time. It is my opinion, Father, that the harvest is being damaged by some foolish people. Help us, Lord! Rise up! Show Your power and strength and might! And give us Your wisdom!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I have said to you,
that in me you may have peace;
I have overcome.

Grace and peace, friends.