Open My Eyes

Today is Sunday, October 2, 2016. Twelve days until Galveston!!

Quote of the Day

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Word of the Day

Understory – the shrubs and plants growing beneath the main canopy of a forest.

Today is Name Your Car Day. What do you call your car? No profanity, please. My Hyundai Sonata (although I don’t refer to it very often as such) is named “Amadeus.” Get it? “Sonata” – “Amadeus.” My last car was a Lexus RX Hybrid named “Serenity.”

The Night of Worship last night was great! We had some really powerful prayer time and a lot of good worship. I’m still a bit tired, this morning, but it will be okay. We’re getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. All primed and ready to go, after last night. We worship with The Exchange, and we meet at 10:15 at the Northpark YMCA, 9100 N. Beach, Fort Worth.

Both the Red Sox and the Rangers lost, yesterday. But it doesn’t matter to them, at all. The Rangers are playing Tampa Bay, which really doesn’t matter. It’s just a game to fill out the schedule. The Sox are playing the Boo Jays, which only matters to the Boo Jays. They stayed alive last night, after Kimbrel, the Sox closer, threw pitches everywhere but over the plate. Well, he threw one over the plate. Six feet over the plate!! Which allowed the runner that he had walked to get to third base, so he could score the winning run on a sac fly.

So the current picture is that Baltimore and Toronto are currently tied in the two wild card spots, with Detroit, who couldn’t manage a win against the Braves, 1.5 behind. If both Baltimore and Toronto win today, there will be no need for the makeup game tomorrow (I think). If Detroit loses today, there will be no need for a makeup game tomorrow (I think). If (God forbid), both Baltimore and Toronto lose today, and Detroit wins, and then Detroit were to win the makeup game, tomorrow, there would be a three way tie for the wild card, and what I heard would happen for that is so confusing, it made my head hurt.

In the NL, the Cardinals need the Giants to lose, and they need to win, which would put them in a tie for the second wild card spot. It all comes down to the last game.


Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. – Traditional Doxology

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation. Psalm 18:46

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119:17-24

When we discover that we are lacking in wisdom, it is not because God’s Word is missing some pages. It is because our vision is cloudy; we haven’t seen everything there is to see. We don’t need a different book, we need to look more closely at the book we have.

“Father, as I read your counsels and commandments in scripture, grant that I may not be drowsy or inattentive in my reading, but really see what is there with open, observant eyes, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Father, open my eyes to see wondrous things when I read you Word. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Show me what has already been revealed to us. Take the scales off of my eyes, that I might understand everything that I read in scripture. Let it dig deeply into my being and plant itself in my soul and spirit, so that it might take root and blossom. Fill me, Jesus!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” – The Diving Hours

Grace and peace, friends.

Fixing the Mind

Good morning. It is Friday, October 2, 2015.

Today’s word of the day is peripeteia. This noun means, “a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.” The last month for the Texas Rangers has certainly been a peripeteia!

Today is Name Your Car Day. While I don’t refer to it often, my Hyundai Sonata is named Amadeus.

So the Texas Rangers won last night, beating the Angels 5-3. This accomplished two things. It eliminated the Angels from contention for the division championship, and it clinched at least a Wild Card spot for the Rangers. Their magic number to win the division is now 1. Houston remains in the second Wild Card spot by 1 game. The Twins and the Angels are tied, 1 game behind the Astros. There are three games left, and anything could happen between those three teams.

The Red Sox finally lost to the Evil Empire, giving the EE a playoff spot and their 10,000th win. The thing is, the Sox were playing some secondary players in the game, which is fine, since the game really didn’t matter to them. They did pretty well, too, in my opinion. The score was 4-1, which is a respectable baseball score. As far as standings go, there is a three-way tie for fourth place in the AL East (or last place, if you want to look at it that way) between the Sox, the O’s, and the Rays. Again, with three games remaining, anything could happen. The Sox close out their season with the Indians. Baltimore finishes the season against NY, who wants to have home field advantage for the WC game. Tampa finishes against Toronto, who is fighting with KC for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage for all AL playoff series.

Yesterday was another pretty heavy day at work, but I left at 4:30, because Thursday is Christi’s Huddle night. As I meditated on yesterday morning’s devotion, it occurred to me that I was, once again, guilty of allowing people and circumstances to steal my joy. As a result of that, I had a pretty good day, yesterday, maintaining a joy in the Lord that I am not always able to maintain. The verses from yesterday spoke to me frequently, throughout the day. I hope to continue that trend today, especially in the face of impending overtime, this evening.

Tomorrow will be our last Saturday worship service, as Sunday mornings will begin next weekend, when we are in Mexico.


(From Heart Aflame)

but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.

Psalm 106:35-36

” . . . we are more inclined to follow the example of the bad than of the good. . . . nothing is more dangerous than associating with the ungodly; because, being more prone to follow the vice than virtue, it cannot but be, that the more conversant we are with corruption, the more widely it will spread.” (p 276)

Calvin goes on to say that the utmost care and caution are necessary, for he knows that we must associate with such people in our lives. How would we be salt in the earth, otherwise? This is why we must take care to be deeply entrenched in the Word and prayer.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In this section, Timothy Keller begins looking at three stages of meditation described by John Owen, British theologian, in his book, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. To begin with, Owen makes a distinction between meditation, Bible study, and prayer.

It is distinguished from the study of the word, wherein our principal aim is to learn the truth, or to declare it unto others; and so also from prayer, whereof God himself is the immediate object. But . . . meditation . . . is the affecting of our own hearts and minds with love, delight, and [humility].

Owen’s first stage is what he calls fixing the thoughts, “selecting and getting a clear view of a truth from the Bible.”

By solemn or stated meditation, I intend [first] the thoughts of some subject spiritual and divine, with the fixing, forcing, and ordering of our thoughts about it. . . . [It is] the actual exercise of the mind, in its thoughts, meditations, and desires, about things spiritual and heavenly. . . . They mind them by fixing their thoughts and meditations upon them.

Keller goes on to describe and illustrate several methods of getting “such a clear view of a text.” The first is to read a biblical text deliberately, asking ourselves four questions:

  • What does this teach me about God and his character?
  • About human nature, character, and behavior?
  • About Christ and his salvation?
  • About the church, or life in the people of God?

As an example, Keller leads us to John 2:13-22, where Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

What can we learn about God from this text? “We might see that God cannot be taken lightly, that he is holy. In his presence, his ‘house,’ it matters how we live.

What can we learn about ourselves from this passage? “It might strike us how important it is to concentrate on him during worship, and not daydream about other affairs.”

What about Christ and salvation? “Jesus is not only predicting his resurrection here, but he is also claiming that he is the ultimate temple, the bridge over the chasm between God and humankind.”

And what about the Church, God’s people? “We see how important it is to learn the Scripture, even though it may take time and patience to understand and rejoice in its teaching.”

We will continue later with other methods and examples of meditation, based on Scripture passages.

Father, as I continue to learn about meditation and prayer, I pray for the discipline to take passages of Scripture and ponder them in these various ways. I tend to rush through reading, and even thinking about passages, largely because I have read them so many times. Help me to slow down, to stop and ponder, even passages that I have had memorized since I was very young. Take these truths and implant them in my heart!

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will be a good day, without stress. Show your joy to her and help her be a beacon of light in the darkness. I pray that same for my work day. Help me to maintain the joy that I know in you; make it truth in my life. May I display your kingdom in all kinds of circumstances. I pray that we might not have to work terribly late, this evening.

I also pray for the rest of our family. For Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, may you show grace and love to them today, drawing them to your light and peace.

May you bring comfort to the community in Oregon, shattered by the senseless violence of yesterday. In light of this and other troubling circumstances in the world, I say . . .

Come, Lord Jesus!

The first stage of meditation, and possibly the most difficult in our culture, is fixing the mind. May we be able to successfully fix our minds on Christ and his truths.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life

Good morning. It is pre-Friday, October 2, 2014.

Today is Name Your Car Day. Seriously. Have you ever thought about naming your car? My Lexus RX, that I traded in for my Hyundai Sonata, was named “Serenity.” My Hyundai Sonata is named Amadeus.

Pittsburgh decided not to show up for their Wild Card game last night, and lost 8-0 to the Giants. Kansas City won a nail-biter Tuesday night, 9-8 in 12 innings. Now, that’s a game! Kansas City plays the Angels tonight, while Detroit plays Baltimore this afternoon. I’m rooting for KC and Baltimore. I don’t care who wins the NL series.

Nothing much really going on around here. Christi is having dinner with some old work friends tonight, so Stephanie and I will be on our own for dinner. I’m guessing Sonic will be involved.


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

Galatians 2:20

(From The Divine Hours)

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97:12
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalm 86:1-2
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
Psalm 26:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Matthew 5:6

Today’s Gospel Reading

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
Matthew 8:28-34

Matthew’s version of this event is slightly different than Mark’s and Luke’s. Matthew tells us that there were two demon possessed (or possibly oppressed) men, rather than only one, as reported by Mark and Luke. The Reformation Study Bible notes opine that perhaps only one of the men was particularly violent, which may be why Luke and Mark only report one. Bottom line is, there really is no explanation for the difference.

Also of interest is the single word of Jesus in the entire event. “Go.” And that was all it took. A mere single-syllable word has that much impact on the demons of darkness. How much more should we heed his words? If you remember, the very reason that I have begun this regular reading of the Gospels is the words of the Father immediately following the transfiguration in Luke 9:35. “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Snare of Spiritualism.”

As we consider the temptations of Jesus, they all seem to relate to spiritualism. In the first one, Satan appeals to Jesus’s divinity. Consider the serpent’s empty promise to Eve, as he said, “You will be like God.” One of his major ploys is to “stress our spiritual strength, our divine character.”

Consider the ill-advised attempts of many people to escape the true reality of our humanity. Alcoholism. Drug addiction. These are attempts to escape that which is real, to soar above the curse of humanity by escaping the poverty, loneliness, and frustration that are so much a part of the human condition.” Even intellectual pride can fit into the same category (without, of course, the physical damage to the body). “I attempt to bridge the vast gulf that separates creature from Creator by disavowing my limited, finite intelligence, and I take myself so seriously that I feel superior to others. I presume that I am more important in the eyes of God than the brother who cooks in the kitchen.” Satan stresses our “charismatic gifts,” and we become entrapped in spiritualism.

For all that is in the world—
the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—
is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:16

Father, I pray that I not fall into this trap of spiritualism. Let me not believe that I am more important than anyone in your Kingdom (or the rest of the world, for that matter), as your Word admonishes me to do the exactly the opposite and consider others to be more important than myself. You have protected me from alcoholism and drugs, but I have my own vices that have endangered my life and health over the years, so I need feel no pride over those who have fallen into those traps. You have saved me and my life, Father, through the blood of Christ. Help me to stay on the path and never forsake the truth that I am human and fallen. I would be worth nothing, were it not for your hand on my life. May the lust, the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life hold no sway over me, Father!

I pray for this day, that our travel time would be safe. May our work day go smoothly today, and may Christi have a good time of fellowship with her friends over dinner tonight. May their breaking of bread be glorifying to you, and may she have the ability to share the Kingdom in whatever way she can. I pray for Stephanie today, that you keep her close to your heart and show your great love to her.

Your grace is sufficient.


Grace and peace, friends.

Submission Results in Provision

Good morning. It is Wednesday, October 2, 2013.

Today is “Name Your Car Day.” I’ve done that. My Hyundai Sonata is named “Amadeus.”

My dreams of a 1975 World Series rematch were short-lived, as the Pirates beat the Reds in the NL Wild Card game last night. Oh, well. Tonight’s game features Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay in the AL Wild Card game. I’m not terribly concerned about who wins, but whoever it is faces the Red Sox, starting Friday night. I wonder if I’ll have my new shirt by then. . .

We had a great Huddle group last night. There are changes a-comin’! I can’t really divulge anything yet, but there is going to be a major announcement this Sunday. We (Christi and I) are pretty excited about the future of The Exchange.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1187, after being under Christian rule for just under a century, Jerusalem fell to the Muslims under the leadership of Sultan Saladin. European Christians had captured Jerusalem during the First Crusade. But King Baldwin IV died of leprosy and, instead of passing to his young nephew, the throne was manipulated by Baldwin’s sister Sibylla, who seized the crown and had her husband Guy de Lusignan declared King. Unfortunately, Guy “had neither the intelligence nor the ruthlessness of former Christian rulers” and was lost the city to the Muslim raiders. Interesting fact. . . “To the delighted astonishment of the conquered Christians, Saladin and his men treated them with kindness and courtesy rather than the indiscriminate slaughter that followed the Crusaders’ capture of the city.”

Today’s birthday is Don McLean, born on this date in 1945. McLean is a singer/songwriter who has made many really good records. His most well-known song is, of course, “American Pie,” from the album by the same name. Also on that album, however, is a very fine song, a tribute to the painter, Vincent van Gogh, called, simply, “Vincent.”

Honorable mentions go to Sting, 62, Kelly Ripa, 43, Maury Wills, 81, Groucho Marx, 1890-1977, George “Spanky” McFarland, 1928-1993, Bud Abbott, 1895-1974, Annie Leibovitz, 64, Rex Reed, 75, and Mike Rutherford, 63.

Bonus video. Mike and the Mechanics (Mike Rutherford) singing “The Living Years.”


O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:1-2
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. . . Psalm 116:13
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:19
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Psalm 56:10-13

Father, I do praise you, but I am still in the formative stages of trusting you. Yes, even after all these years, I struggle with trusting you. It must be a human thing. But I find myself closer to being able to fully trust you with my whole heart. May your Spirit guide me into that place. I do believe that I can speak that last line of Psalms, above, with clarity and confidence. You truly have “delivered my soul from death,” and you have delivered “my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” I praise you for this, Father. I ask you to guide me into your word this morning and teach me your ways.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Israel Would Not Submit to Me.” The scripture verse is Psalm 81:8-14.

Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.”

This seems to be a psalm used on a specific feast day, “perhaps the fall Festival of Tabernacles.” The song celebrates “God’s saving power, particularly noting God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt.” God invites his people to “reap the benefits of his adequacy and generosity.” If we trust him with our whole hearts, we will get all that we need.

In this psalm, “submit” seems to mean “obey.” We know from the Biblical record that Israel, time and time again, failed to obey the Lord, which resulted in many negative consequences, not the least of which was 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, unable to enter “the promised land.” We should be able to learn a lot from Israel’s experience, but I’m afraid we don’t. However, God’s commands are different to us. And that is a totally different discussion that revolves around the words of Jesus Christ. The point of this morning’s reading is that, if we submit to the Lord and follow his ways, obeying his commands, we will be well-provided for.

Father, I pray for a spirit of submission to be prevalent in my life. I know that I struggled with that yesterday, and, after things that were revealed last night, now know that it was in vain that I struggled, because there was no need for the anxiety at all. I love how you are teaching me to trust you, even though it’s uncomfortable at times! I pray that you continue to teach me, as well as all your people, to be submissive to your will. Your plan is the ultimate priority; your plan will come to pass. What I must do is walk in that plan, walk in your truth, walk in your ways. Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

I pray for this day, as always. May we have a good work day, and may we be more aware of the people around us and their needs, not just walking in blindness, stuck in our own little world. Make us people of grace, people of peace. May we help others find your peace, Father. Teach Stephanie your will and your ways, Lord, and draw her closer to your heart.

I lift up a special prayer for our pastor, Jacob, as he leads us into unfamiliar territory. Give him strength and courage to do what you have shown him must be done. I pray that he is hearing you rightly and discerning accurately. Fill him with your Spirit and your truth.

God has shown us the truth; if we fully submit to him, we will be taken care of. Jesus reinforces that truth in Matthew 6:33. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Grace and peace, friends.