The Reality of God’s Presence

Today is Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Hump Day.

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is winkle. Winkle is a verb, “chiefly British,” which means, “to displace, remove, or evict from a position.”

Today is Moon Day. Because it was July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong made that “one giant leap for mankind.”

Not really a whole lot going on around here, today. It’s Hump Day, as already mentioned, the halfway point of the work week. But C is going in a little late, this morning, as she had trouble sleeping last night. I think she is still experiencing the effects of last week’s trip. She is also afraid that she might be getting sick, so send some prayers up, if you would.

The Red Sox beat the MLB best Giants 4-0, last night, behind a solid outing by this year’s ace, Rick Porcello. Baltimore lost, so the Sox are within a half game of first place. The Rangers continued their downward slide, losing again to the Angels. Pitching continues to be an issue, as they scored enough runs to win a game last night. Kyle Lohse was the losing pitcher, as they lost 8-6.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96

“When we discovery God’s rule, the ways in which he extends his Lordship in grace and mercy, our vocabulary of praise expands markedly.” I challenge you to join me in seeing how many ways we can praise the Lord today.

“How glorious to be ruled by you, O Lord, and not by the abstract, mechanical laws of nature or the capricious, uncertain laws of society. Rule me in the person of Jesus Christ, in whom your kingdom is even now present. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Dependent on God’s Presence

. . . but they who wait for the LORD . . . shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Walking is a fairly normal, mundane activity. There is no thrill to walking. When Scripture uses the word “walk,” it is normally used to express character. God doesn’t command us to “be spiritual;” rather, he simply tells us to walk before him.

“When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills. In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Ghost; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality; and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.”

Our experience of God’s presence is not dependent on where we are, but “only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us.” When we do not depend on the reality of his presence, our problems really begin. Note that we depend on the reality of his presence, not the consciousness of it. Hear this. God is with me all the time, whether I feel it or not! The more I depend upon that reality, the less I need to ask him for guidance.

Father, help me to live in this reality today (and tomorrow, and every day). Help me to depend on the reality of your presence. Yes, sometimes, we ask to be more aware of that presence, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. However, I need to know the truth of the statement I made above; that you are with me all the time, regardless of whether I feel it. This is reality. You are there. I am determined to set you before me and depend on that reality.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Balancing Mystical and Rational

Good morning. It is Monday, July 20, 2015. I am off work today, because I’m working this coming Saturday.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is longanimity. This is a noun, meaning, “a disposition to bear injuries patiently : forbearance.” The example sentence used is, “The fans showed longanimity by coming back year after year to cheer on the perpetually losing team.” Applicable, I believe to the Red Sox nation for the 86 years between 1918 and 2004, as well as to Cubs fans for over 100 years. Darned goat.

Today is Moon Day, celebrating 46 years since we first made footprints on the Earth’s only natural satellite.

As stated above, I am enjoying a rare Monday off, but will pay for it this coming Saturday. A three-day-weekend in exchange for a one-day-weekend. Not the best trade in the world, for my money, but it is what it is, at least for now.

I got to go see Jurassic World, yesterday afternoon, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it has replaced Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as my current favorite movie. Also, due to these circumstances, V For Vendetta has dropped out of my top five movies, to the number six spot. My top five movies are, in this order, Jurassic World, Sweeney Todd, Jurassic Park (only the first one, please), The Princess Bride, and Amadeus. While it may seem that this has happened only because Jurassic World is my most recent movie, that is simply not true. I am going to see it again, today. It has been a long time since I have seen the same movie two days in a row (perhaps the first Jurassic Park?). I knew, when I heard the original theme music in the first minutes of the movie, that it was going to be legen . . . wait for it . . . DARY! And, I am not ashamed to confess, I was literally crying at the end. And I mean literally literally, not figuratively, as is the idiotic custom for people to use in our current culture. There are multiple shoutouts to the original movie, one being the appearance of the original Asian scientist in the genetics lab. Another was the stumbling upon the original visitor’s center from the first movie, and, yes (mild spoiler alert), the appearance of the original T-Rex!!!! I’m getting goosebumps just typing all of this, folks! I can’t wait to see it again, this afternoon! This will be a DVD I will definitely buy!

Not much else happening today. I need to put up some laundry and do the dishes. Boring, household stuff. So, on to the fun and important stuff, in that order.

On this date in 1807, Nicephore Niepce received a patent from Napoleon Bonaparte for the Pyreolophore, the first internal combustion engine. In 1871 British Columbia became part of Canada. In 1881, Sitting Bull and the last of his fugitive people surrendered at Fort Buford, North Dakota. On this date in 1903, Ford Motor Company shipped its first car. In 1926, the Southern Methodist Church Convention votes to allow women ministers. And, as mentioned above, on this date in 1969, Apollo 11 made the first successful manned moon landing. Oh. One more. On this date in 1976, Hank Aaron hit home run number 755, which would be the last home run of his career.

Today’s birthdays include Alexander the Great (Greek King of Macedonia and conqueror of Persia), Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand mountaineer), Cormac McCarthy (American author), Natalie Wood (American actress), Diana Rigg (English actress), John Lodge (English musician, The Moody Blues), Kim Carnes (American singer/songwriter), Carlos Santana (Mexican-born American guitarist), Dan Shaughnessy (American sports writer), Chris Cornell (American singer, Soundgarden, Audioslave), Reed Diamond (American actor), Omar Epps (American actor), Judy Greer (American actress), Gisele Bundchen (Brazilian model), Stephen Strassburg (American baseball player), and Julianne Hough (American dancer).

John Lodge is the bass player, as well as singer and songwriter, for The Moody Blues, having been a member since 1966. Here is a clip of their song, “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band).”

Peregrine White, Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Bruce Lee, James Doohan, and Tammy Faye Bakker are among notable deaths on this date.


Today’s reading from my Bible reading plan is Genesis 5-6, Psalm 12, and Ephesians 3.

The Psalm reading from Heart Aflame is 84:7-10.

They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

There have been many theologians in the past who would insist that the knowledge of God “is above concepts. It is a knowledge that registers itself in the soul passively without an idea.” (Timothy Keller quoting Thomas Merton) The more mystical push toward not thinking about God or speaking to him.

Paul, however, in the New Testament, transcends this idea. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15) We are praying to the Father, using words, through the Son, who is THE Word.” Martin Luther insisted that we cannot go to God outside of using his Word. “We must first hear the Word, and then afterwards the Holy Ghost works in our hearts; he works in the hearts of whom he will, and how he will, but never without the Word.”

It is good to strike a balance between two extremes. J.I. Packer says, “there is [indeed] a place for silence before God . . . after we have spoken to him, while joy at God’s love invades the soul.” Consider the fact that, when two people love each other, sometimes they simply sit in silence and gaze into each other’s eyes. However, they will also, still, search for words to express the way they feel about each other. Such it is with us and God. God has found his Words, and given them to us. We, upon reading, hearing, and pondering those words, respond back to him with similar words.
(pp 56-59)

Father, as I pray to you, may my prayers reflect your Word back to you. May my understanding of you grow as I reflect more deeply on passages of Scripture that I read. May I also, like the Psalmist, be content to merely be a doorkeeper in your house, as opposed to having the highest honor in the tents of the wicked. Help me to balance silence and words in prayers, seeking to know you more, but also seeking to glorify you in word, as well as in deed. May I, like Paul, seek to pray with my spirit, as well as with my mind.

I pray for this day, that Christi will have a good day, today, free of drama and stress. May her travel home be safe, this afternoon. I pray for safe passage to and from the mall, this afternoon, and a good time of fellowship with Jacob, as we watch a movie together. I pray for your grace and mercy to rain down on the rest of our family, Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, as they do what they need to do today.

I pray for more rain for the drought-stricken people of California. They got some rain last night, in areas from San Diego to Los Angeles. May they get similar relief as to what you gave us in Texas, back in May.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we find a good balance between the mystical and the rational as we continue to gain knowledge of our Father and how to pray to him.

Grace and peace, friends.

I Owe You Unconditional Love

“The Man whom [Peter] had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him.”

Good morning. Or afternoon, depending on when I finish this. I stayed up really, really late, playing X-Box baseball, and slept until 10:00 this morning. That’s the nice thing about having church on Saturday evening. Anyway, this is Sunday, July 20, 2014. In 30 days, Stephanie will be 21 years old.

Today is Moon Day. Hold on, now. Everyone keep your pants up!! This is about that “cold-hearted orb that rules the night,” the Moon. Of course, this is “Moon Day” because this is the day that, 45 years ago, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and some poor guy whose name nobody remembers landed on the moon. Or did they?? 😀 I’ve seen Capricorn One. Who knows?? Anyway . . . “One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty great day. Our prayer time and worship service were both great last night. There was definitely a strong sense of the Lord’s presence in both events. There was also an intense moment between the two. During our prayer time, I felt a strong impression from the Lord to take care of some business with some people. After we finished, I gathered the four people that have been leading worship, lately, and had a conversation with them. I confessed to them that I had been harboring jealousy, which is true, because I haven’t been asked to help with the worship leading very much at all. I got to lead the Christmas Eve service last year, and one other regular service. But the thing is, God has me doing something else, right now. The struggle for me, over the past few months is to let the worship part go so I can concentrate on what he has me doing at this stage of my life. And what that is is intercessory prayer. So I asked the four people for forgiveness, and they were graciously responsive. It was a very sweet time. Interestingly, that freed me up to have one of the most intense worship times that I have experienced in a long time.

We were planning to go up to Denton today to visit with Rachel and Justin, but they are both extremely busy with summer school projects this weekend, so we will wait until next week. Not sure what we will do for the rest of this day.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

I wasn’t aware of this, but in conjunction with “Moon Day,” I’ve learned that it was on this date in 1969 that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon. How spectacular must that have been?

Today’s birthdays include Carlos Santana, Kim Carnes, Natalie Wood, Omar Epps, Gisele Bundchen, Judy Greer, Sir Edmund Hillary, Diana Rigg, Stone Gossard, Reed Diamond, Stephen Strasburg, Petrarch, Sally Ann Howes, Alexander the Great, Nelson Doubleday, Dennis Yost, and Dan Shaughnessy. Kim Carnes is a singer, most famous for her 1981 hit, “Bette Davis Eyes.” She is 69 years old today.


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

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Psalm 95:1, 3
Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Psalm 90:16
I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
Psalm 71:22-24a
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Psalm 111:1
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 113:5-8

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know my necessities before I ask and my ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Love Without Conditions.”

“The fundamental secret of Jesus in relation to his disciples was his sovereign respect for their dignity. They were persons, not toys, functions, or occasions for personal compensation.” In Luke’s account of Peter’s denial of Christ, he makes the observation that, after Peter’s third denial, Jesus turned and looked at him. (Luke 22:61) “In that look the reality of recognition was disclosed. Peter knew that no man had ever loved him or no woman could ever love him as Jesus did.” This is, of course, speculation, but I find that I tend to agree with it, especially this next part.

“The Man whom he had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him.”

This love that Jesus had for Peter (and the rest of his disciples) was rooted in “his complete and unconditional acceptance of him.” We humans who place conditions on our love fail to see that it is not really love, but an exchange. “If you really loved me, you would. . .” We finish the sentence with whatever addiction we are highlighting at the moment. May we learn the unconditional love of Jesus. No, we cannot learn it, can we? May Jesus impart to us the ability to love people unconditionally, just as he does!

And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

Isaiah 35:8

(I love that last line: “even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.”)

Father, in heaven, continue teaching me to love as you have loved. Give me the love that Jesus has for his disciples. Give me unconditional love. Make me to stop putting conditions on my love for people. No one owes me anything, and I owe them love. Help me to obey the commands of Jesus in this regard, to love others as myself, and to love my brothers and sisters as he has loved us. I thank you that you have been working on me in this, and pray that it will continue, and that I will come closer and closer to being like Jesus.

I lift up an additional prayer this morning (and every day going forward) for the massive numbers of children who are flooding the borders of Mexico and Texas. Father, I pray for compassion on these children. I pray that the Church in America will stop idolizing our nation and its borders and begin to show compassion on these children. May we focus on what is important in your kingdom, not in this earthly “kingdom.” We can let the politicians lose themselves in that battle. Our duty is to help bring about your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, and focusing on our own comfort while ignorantly ignoring the plight of thousands and thousands of children is being blatantly disobedient to your commands.

I pray for this day. In whatever activities we engage for the remainder of this day, may we be safe, and may we have a restful time.

Your grace is sufficient.

Unconditional Love
Unconditional love. It is what we owe each other, but it is also impossible, unless we allow the Spirit to rule in our lives. May we all do so.

Grace and peace, friends.

Bad At Waiting

Friday has arrived! It is Friday, July 20, 2012. Today is “Moon Day,” so designated because of what is also my first “This day in history” entry. It was on this date in 1969, that Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. As he did so, he uttered those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Of course, he meant to say, “That’s one small step for A man…” On this date in 1973, Bruce Lee died from a brain edema that was possibly caused by an adverse reaction to prescription painkillers. And on this date in 1963, “Surf City,” by Jan and Dean, hit number one. Here’s a pretty amazing quality video of the song.

There was a shooting last night in Aurora, Colorado, at the opening screening of The Dark Knight Rise. A lone gunman burst into the emergency exit at the front of the theater, released a smoke bomb, and opened fire. At least 12 people are dead and dozens more injured. The gunman was apprehended. At this point, I know of no reason for the shooting. “They can see no reasons, ’cause there are no reasons, what reason do you need to be shown?” (Boomtown Rats, “I Don’t Like Mondays”) It’s just a senseless tragedy. Please pray for everyone affected by this tragedy.

Father, I pray for some vision of you this morning. Some kind of inspiration that can help make sense of a world that is becoming increasingly nonsensical.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 50. This psalm, by Asaph, describes the power and majesty of God.
The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Our God comes; he does not keep silent;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above and to the earth,
that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge!

It is in this psalm where it is declared that the Lord owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (v. 10). In regard to the sacrifices, he says,
If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

The psalm closes with this verse:
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

My Utmost For His Highest

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

When we are in an unhealthy state, emotionally, we look for thrills. In the spiritual life, this leads to “counterfeiting the Holy Ghost.” In the emotional life, “it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality.”
“The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us.” The problems we experience come when we don’t rely on the reality of God’s presence. He was there all the time. In Psalm 46, the psalmist says, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. This psalmist has a lock on the reality of the presence of God. Is it really necessary for us to constantly be saying, “O God, lead me and guide me?” If our lives were based on the reality of his presence, we would not need to ask for such guidance, because we would be walking always before him. We are bad at waiting; “They that wait…” those are the ones who mount up on wings of eagles.

Father, help me wait. I’m bad at waiting. I confess it. It’s true. I forget your presence. I need your Spirit to remind me constantly that you are here. You will never leave me or forsake me, you have promised. So when it seems like you aren’t here, it is because I have forgotten. You are teaching me to wait…I don’t need to ask for that…it’s already happening.

Father, I pray for the people affected by this tragic shooting in Colorado. The depravity of men is staggering when it works itself out in situations such as this. We cry and shout because we don’t understand. But ultimately it is the sinfulness of man that results in things like this. I’m not saying that anyone’s sin caused them to die in this shooting. What I am saying is that is sin that drove this young man to do such a senseless act. We are NOT okay, Lord. We need you. We need Jesus. Desperately. As always, there will be people who try to point at such an event and say that it’s proof that you don’t exist. I will never doubt your existence, Father. I will strive to point others to you. Strengthen me with your Spirit.

I pray for this day. I pray that those who survived this shooting will be comforted in the aftermath of it. Surely there were some present in that theater who know you. May they pray diligently today for the families of those injured or killed. May they pray for the comfort of those who will never understand why this happened. May we all pray for these people today.

I pray for this work day. I pray for a smooth day for me at my job, and for Christi as she works from home today. I pray that Stephanie will not be a distraction to her today. Give us enough grace for this day, Father, for your grace is sufficient.

I’m bad at waiting. Are you? But the result of waiting is the strength of eagles’ wings.

I leave you with this, today. “Let go, let go, come to life. Take a walk in the burning heart of God!”

Grace and peace, friends.