Justice, Mercy, and Righteousness

Today is Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,193

Eleven more days until the Autumnal Equinox, the official beginning of Autumn

Temperatures are beginning to drop a bit, already, as Fall approaches. Over the next ten days, today’s projected high of 94 (the upper limit of “warm,” in my view) is the highest temp predicted. We have a couple of days that may not reach 90, with possible rain and/or thunderstorms on those days. Yesterday morning, around ten or so, C and I went out and walked up and down our street, and it was rather nice out.

Speaking of C, she is experiencing a bit more pain, this morning, but hasn’t taken any pain meds since mid-day, yesterday (I think). I commented to her, yesterday, that this has not gone anything like I had envisioned, pre-surgery. I seriously had this picture of her being completely immobile for, like, at least a week. Little did I know that they stress getting up and moving around for quicker recovery, which is awesome.

There isn’t much on the agenda for today. Grocery pickup between 11 and 12, and probably either a delivery from or trip to Albertson’s to get things we don’t get from Walmart Neighborhood Market. I cooked Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken for dinner, last night, so the leftovers from that will be lunch, today.

Today is No News is Good News Day. It would probably be a good idea to not look at any news for a day or so, every now and then. I saw a great meme yesterday that talked about how news was pre-Internet. Back in those days, we only got hit with “bad news” once or twice a day. Now, with Internet access and 26/7 “news” sources, we get barraged with bad news constantly. It’s bad for our mental health, and I believe that this is evident in the state of the world around us. People are simply going mad all over.

Speaking of bad news, our Keurig coffee maker just broke. Fortunately, I had one cup already. The second attempt made a nice mess, and we discovered that the bottom needle, that punctures the bottom of the K-cup, was broken off. Also fortunately, we discovered that we can buy a whole new cup-holder insert thingy (technical language, there) for less than $20, and for a mere $2.99, have it delivered this afternoon. Cheaper than paying $200+ for a new coffee maker!

The word for today is yclept. This one is a little strange. On the actual definition page, it says that it is a past participle of clepe, which means “to call; name.” It’s an archaic word, seldom used in today’s world.

Today’s quote is another from Oscar Wilde: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” More and more, I find this to be true.

Significant birthdays on September 11:

O. Henry, American short story writer (William Sydney Porter), 1862-1910
Tom Landry, American NFL player (NY Giants) and coach (Dallas Cowboys), 1924-2000
Virginia Madsen, American actress, 1961 (60)
Kristy McNichol, American actress, 1962 (59)
Moby (Richard Hall), American musician, 1965 (56)
Harry Connick Jr, American singer, 1967 (54)
Ariana Richards, American actress (Lex in the original Jurassic Park), 1979 (42)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Native American MLB player (first full-blooded Navajo in MLB; debuted with Boston Red Sox), 1983 (38)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

As I Am, by Daryl Madden

Lord, let us pray
As I am, where I am

For you love me
As I am, where I am

Receive Your love
As I am, where I am

And share Your love
As I am, where I am

A life divine
Where I am, As I AM

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
(Psalms 145:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that wherever I am, You are, and always have been
2. that You love me just as I am, and always have
3. for the example of people like Moses, in Your Word
4. for the admonition to pray for justice and righteousness in our leaders
5. that You work mercy for the afflicted and oppressed

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Yahweh is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who take refuge in him.
(Nahum 1:7 WEB)

This morning, as I pause during this quiet time, I consider Your loving presence in my life, the fact that You are always, and have always been, present with me, and loving me, just as I am.

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.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 72:1-4, 18-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land . . . Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
(Deuteronomy 34:1a, 4-7, 10-12 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are some biblical passages that are always more challenging than others, especially when it comes to meditation. As I linger over these selections, this morning, I’m leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit to show me what I should be learning from them.

Right off the bat, I see, in the passage from Psalm 72, that this would be a good prayer to pray for the leadership of any nation. We don’t have a “king,” but we have a President and Vice-President, as well as other elected leaders. So it is good to pray for the Lord to “endow” these leaders with justice and righteousness. It is good to pray that our court’s judges, all across our land, would judge people with righteousness and equity, and especially treat the afflicted and oppressed with justice.

It is good to pray for prosperity in our land, whether it come from the “mountains” or the seas or the plains. And then, in verse 4, we see the prayer that our leaders would defend afflicted, rescue or save the children of the needy, and “crush the oppressor.” I love this prayer, as I would love to see oppression cease all over the world.

The ending of the psalm is simply a hymn of praise, requesting, finally, that the whole earth be filled with the glory of the Lord. A wonderful prayer for any time and any place.

In the Deuteronomy passage, we see the ending of an era in the history of Israel. After Moses’s lengthy farewell speech, which takes up most of the book of Deuteronomy (the word “Deuteronomion” literally means “the second law”), he is allowed to view the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, and then he died in Moab. According to verse 6, the Lord, Himself, buried Moses in Moab, and no one knows where his grave is located. So even the bones of Moses were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

We also learn that Moses lived to be 120 years old, and maintained full vision and bodily strength. Whoever tagged on the last couple of verses made note that there was never another prophet in Israel who equaled Moses, “whom the LORD knew face to face.”

We learn a lot from following the life of Moses, but the thing that I am most grateful for is that we see his faults. Even though he performed some pretty miraculous deeds (or, rather, he was the vessel and channel for those deeds, as it was truly the Lord who did them), he was flawed in many ways. As previously noted, it is always good to see that the people that God used were (are) human in every way, possessing the same kinds of flaws that you and I possess.

Father, I thank You for the examples of the people in the Bible, people like Moses and Aaron, who, while they did some pretty great things, also had some pretty great faults. This gives me encouragement and hope, and helps me to not focus so much on my faults, but, rather, on the things that You are able to do in spite of those faults. Help me to pray more effectively, following the examples given me in the Psalms. Solomon’s Psalm today, encourages me to pray more fervently for the leaders of my country and state, and even my local leaders. I do pray, Lord for the just and righteous treatment of those who are afflicted and oppressed, and relief for their children. I also pray that You would, indeed, crush the oppressors, both in our own land, and around the world.

I pray that Your Church would work for the common good and benefit of the communities in which she resides, all over the nation. May “deep care, bold love, and rich community” be experienced within the walls and boundaries of Your Church, wherever and however she meets. I pray for Your Holy Spirit to be active in the elders and leaders within the churches.

"Ancient of Days,
I don't have enough days in my lifetime to see the complete fulfillment of Your kingdom vision.
But give me the faith to embrace and act on Your promises for this life and the world to come,
whether or not I see its fruit.
By faith,
help me to invest the days You have given me for the good of the world,
with a living hope for Your coming kingdom.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 WEB)

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
(Psalms 123:1 ESV)

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
(Psalms 123:2-3 ESV)

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
(Song of Solomon 2:16 ESV)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:10-19 ESV)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Friend of God

Today is Friday, the twenty-seventh of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,178

Ten days until Labor Day!

Not much to report from yesterday, except that I got my first paycheck from the library job! I did have to go to Hurst City Hall to retrieve it, as it was a paper check, this time. But the direct deposit should be processed by the next payday, which will be two weeks from yesterday. Again, the City of Hurst observes a pay schedule from Fridays to Thursdays. That’s different than what I’m used to, but presents no problems for me.

I spoke with someone from the Social Security office, yesterday, and got the not-so-welcome news that it will definitely be at least sixty days before anything happens. I may have even gotten laughed at, mildly, which doesn’t really offend me. The guy I spoke with told me to call them back if I haven’t heard anything by September 21.

I also called the COBRA people, who told me that they had mailed my information on August 19. Since I had not received it, yet, she gave me my user ID so I could go ahead and log in and create my account. So I did that, and went ahead and signed up to continue my health insurance with CIGNA, at least through the end of the year. The cost was pretty much what C had calculated, $550 a month and some change. I went ahead and paid the first month, because they don’t process anything until the first payment is made. They will, subsequently, alert CIGNA, who will backdate my coverage to July 30, and anything that occurred between then and now (which should only be the sleep study) will be covered.

Today is The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day. This celebrates the life of author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, and you can read more about her by clicking on the link.

The word for today is orogeny, a geological term which means, “the process of mountain making or upheaval.”

Today’s quote is from Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

And now for the birthdays:

1809 Hannibal Hamlin, American attorney and 15th Vice President of U.S. (1861-65), born in Paris, Massachusetts (d. 1891)

1865 Charles G. Dawes, 30th Vice President of the United States, banker and 1925 Nobel Peace Prize winner, born in Marietta, Ohio (d. 1951)
1890 Man Ray, American artist and photographer (Dada), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1976)
1899 Byron Foulger, American actor (River's Edge, Up in Smoke), born in Ogden, Utah (d. 1970)
1899 C. S. Forester, English historical novelist (Horatio Hornblower), born in Cairo, Egypt (d. 1966)
1906 Ed Gein, American serial killer who was the inspiration for the films "Psycho" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", born in La Crosse County, Wisconsin (d. 1984)
1908 Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th US President (Democrat: 1963-69), born in Stonewall, Texas (d. 1973)
1911 Kathleen "Kay" Walsh, British actress (The Horse's Mouth, Oliver Twist), born in Chelsea, London, England (d. 2005)
1914 Catherine Marshall, American editor and writer, born in Johnson City, Tennessee (d. 1983)
1916 Martha Raye [Margaret Reed], American actress (Waikiki Wedding, Martha Raye Show), born in Butte, Montana (d. 1994)
1921 Leo Penn, American actor and film director, father of Sean and Chris Penn, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts (d. 1998)
1928 Joan Kroc [Mansfield], American 3rd wife of Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonald's and the San Diego Padres, born in West St. Paul, Minnesota (d. 2003)
1929 Ira Levin, American author (Rosemary Baby, Boys From Brazil, This Perfect Day), born in NYC, New York (d. 2007)
1935 Frank Yablans, American writer (North Dallas Forty), born in NYC, New York
1937 Alice Coltrane [née McLeod], American jazz harp, piano, and organ player (Journey in Satchidananda), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 2007)
1937 Tommy Sands, American actor (The Singing Idol; Ensign Pulver), and singer ("Teen-Age Crush"; "Love in a Goldfish Bowl"), born in Chicago, Illinois
1939 Edward Patten, American soul singer (Gladys Knight & the Pips), born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 2005)
1942 Daryl Dragon, American keyboardist (Captain & Tennille - "Love Will Keep Us Together"), born in Pasadena, California (d. 2019)
1942 "Chip" Douglas [Hatlelid], American songwriter, arranger, bassist (The Turtles, 1966-67 -"Happy Together"), and record producer (The Monkees), born in San Francisco, California
1943 [Susan] Tuesday Weld, American actress (Dobie Gillis, Wild in Country), born in NYC, New York
1944 Tim Bogert, American rock bassist (Vanilla Fudge; Jeff Beck), born in NYC, New York [1] (d. 2021)
1944 G W Bailey, Port Arthur, Texas, American actor (Police Academy, The Closer)
1947 Barbara Bach [Goldbach], American actress (The Spy Who Loved Me, Force 10 from Navarone), born in Queens, New York (still married to Ringo)
1952 Pee-wee Herman [Paul Reubens], American comic actor (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie), born in Peekskill, New York
1953 Alex Lifeson [Živojinović], Serbian-Canadian rock guitarist (Rush - "Limelight"), born in n Fernie, British Columbia
1953 Peter Stormare, Swedish-born actor
1956 Glen Matlock, British punk rock bassist (The Sex Pistols; The Philistines), born in Paddington, London
1961 Mark Curry, British stage and screen actor, and television and radio presenter, born in Stafford, England (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper)
1963 Downtown Julie Brown, Welsh TV personality and actress (Club MTV, The Earth Day Special, Junket Whore), born in Cardiff, Wales
1969 Chandra Wilson, American actress
1969 Avril Haines, American lawyer, 1st female Director of National Intelligence (2021-), born in New York City
1970 Jim Thome, infielder (Cleveland Indians), born in Peoria, Illinois
1970 Tony Kanal, Indian-American bassist and songwriter (No Doubt - "Don't Speak"), born in Kingsbury, London, England
1977 Sarah Chalke, Canadian American actress (Roseanne, Scrubs), born in Ottawa, Ontario
1979 Sarah Neufeld, Canadian violinist (Arcade Fire), born in British Columbia
1979 Aaron Paul, American actor (Breaking Bad, Need for Speed), born in Emmett, Idaho
1988 Alexa Vega, American actress
Daryl Dragon, 1942-2019
Chip Douglas, the bass player and arranger for “Happy Together,” 79 years old today
Tim Bogert (bass player), 1944-2021
Alex Lifeson, guitar player, 68 years old today!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

(Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo)

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalms 51:14-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Holy Spirit, Who can work within us and create holiness in our lives
2. for the prayers of St. Augustine
3. that You have opened my lips, that my mouth might declare Your praise
4. that, like Moses, we, too, can speak with You, face to face, as with a friend
5. that when trouble comes, we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, until the disaster passes
6. for You

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FOURTEEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

The name of the LORD will be remembered forever, and he will be famous for all time to come.
(Psalms 135:13 CEV)

As I look around me, in this world, I wonder . . . will the name of the Lord truly be remembered? For it seems as though fewer and fewer care about Him. But then I remember that I’ve read the end of the story. The last Word on everything is Jesus Christ, and He will be remembered forever, and every knee will bow down before Him.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:1-3, 5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
(Exodus 33:12-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I rest in the presence of the Lord, I meditate on these passages, seeking truth that will guide me in my daily life.

What is our best course of action when trouble comes, when disaster strikes? We see it in the first verse of Psalm 57. We cry for mercy and take refuge in the shadow of His wings. We see, in verse 3, that He will “send from heaven” and save us. What does He send? I can only guess that He sends angels. Or some other manifestation of His great power. Embedded in all of this is the great confidence that He cares for His children.

And because of this confidence, we can, as verse 7 indicates, exalt Him. We can declare His praises when His Spirit loosens our lips.

And we can hope for even a fraction of the revelation that Moses received in Exodus 33! What a glorious story that is! Moses has just come back up to the mountain after the debacle that was the idolatry of Israel, the golden calf incident. His brother has played the fool, and then lied about his own responsibility in the matter. And three thousand Israelites died that day.

And now Moses is before the Lord again, having come up to attempt to make atonement for the sins of the people. God has commanded them to leave Sinai and make their way to the “promised land.”

The verse right before our passage today is also a great one. “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Pre-pandemic, I used to go have coffee with a good friend, our former pastor. We would sit in comfy chairs at the coffee shop and talk to one another, usually about a book that we were both reading. This is the image that Exodus 33:11 puts in my head. Another image that I believe fits is captured well by the Internet comic, “Coffee with Jesus.” While it frequently contains humorous silliness, it depicts a different character each day, casually sipping a cup of coffee, while conversing with Jesus. Some folks I know are offended by this, and obviously think that Jesus is never less than serious about anything, and never spoke any words other than what was recorded in the Bible. Of course, even the Bible, itself, debunks that theory.

But I digress.

Back to the image of Moses conversing with God, face to face, as with a friend. The “WOW” factor is beyond imagination.

In the conversation that follows (our passage for today), Moses makes this request of God.

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
(Exodus 33:13 NIV)

I actually memorized that verse, once, in the ESV.

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
(Exodus 33:13 ESV)

And if we leave out that last sentence (because that will never be true about any nation other than Israel), it is a perfectly proper prayer (how’s that for some alliteration?) for any of us to pray.

And we see how the Lord honored that prayer for Moses, who subsequently received a first-hand glimpse of the glory of God!

Father, I echo this prayer of Moses today. If I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You even more, that I might find even more favor in Your sight. I know that I do, say, and think things that might cause me to not find favor in Your sight. But I also know that these things are erased by the blood of Christ. Not an excuse, mind You, but an acknowledgment of Your great mercy and grace. Lord, it should be the goal of every believer to have the kind of relationship with You that Moses had. I would speak with You, face to face, as with a friend. What an honor to be considered a “friend of God.” May Your Holy Spirit constantly lead me in that direction!

I also give You praise and thanksgiving that we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 57.

Lord, give us more awe and gratitude for the cross of Jesus Christ. I pray for all who are living in poverty and injustice, today, as well as those who are living in solitude and loneliness. May You be their friend today!

"Father,
Son,
and Holy Spirit,
keep me from dissecting your dynamic life into stale abstractions or lifeless schemas.
Instead,
give me a faith that's bigger than my intellectual grasp so I may know your name,
take up your invitation to enjoy your presence,
and enter your community of love.
Amen."

BLESSING

God our Father loves us. He is kind and has given us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father will encourage you and help you always to do and say the right thing.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 CEV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalms 37:4 NLT)

Then I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be glad because he rescues me.
(Psalms 35:9 NLT)

“God, no matter what happens today, my life is good. You make it so.”
(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2021)

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
(James 5:16 NLT)

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
(1 John 5:14 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Forgiveness

Today is Friday, the twentieth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,171

Seventeen days until Labor Day, the next official holiday in the U.S.

The birthday celebrations have taken a bit of a bittersweet turn. The first thing that is causing this is that our dog, Tessie, is not doing well. Over the course of the past week or so, she has developed a condition in her hind legs that is giving her tremendous struggle in walking. It seems like it hurts her, but we are not sure. She hasn’t eaten consistently and, when she has eaten, she has some pretty gross diarrhea. So we aren’t sure what’s in the future for her.

The other thing has to do with our church. There seems to have developed a rift in our fellowship over some opinions that were shared last Sunday, concerning the vaccine and some who have elected to not receive it. That’s all I’m going to say about it, as the situation seems to be being resolved.

In the meantime, we are considering going to the zoo, later today. S has said that she would like to do that, and we haven’t been there in quite some time.

Today is World Mosquito Day. Why on earth would we have a day that celebrates mosquitos?? They answer that question in the link, should you care to read it.

The word for today is mickle. This is an archaic word that means, “great; large; much.”

Today’s quote, from Oscar Wilde, is, “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”

And now for today’s birthdays, right after I get back with another cup of coffee:

1561 Jacopo Peri, Italian composer and singer who wrote the 1st recognized opera "Dafne", born in Rome (d. 1633)
1833 Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States (Republican: 1889-93), born in North Bend, Ohio (d. 1901)
1890 H. P. Lovecraft, American horror writer (At the Mountains of Madness, Weird Tales), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1937)
1905 Jack Teagarden [Weldon Leo Teagarden], American trombonist and actor (Meet Band Leaders), born in Vernon, Texas (d. 1964)
1907 Alan Reed, American actor (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and voice artist (Fred Flintstone, Lady and the Tramp), born in NYC, New York (d. 1977)
1918 Jacqueline Susann, American author (Valley of the Dolls), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1974)

1923 Jim Reeves, American country singer and actor (Gun Fury, Kimberley Jim), born in Panola County, Texas (d. 1964)
1926 Frank Rosolino, American jazz trombonist (The Frank Rosolino Sextet), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 1978)
1931 Don King, American boxing promoter best known for his association with Mike Tyson and for his unusual hairstyles, born in Cleveland, Ohio
1932 Anthony Ainley, British actor (Doctor Who), born in Stanmore, Middlesex (d. 2004)
1935 Ron Paul, American author and politician (3 times presidential candidate, 1988, 2008, 12), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1942 Isaac Hayes, American musician and composer (Shaft), born in Covington, Tennessee (d. 2008)
1943 Sylvester McCoy, Scottish actor (Seventh Doctor in Doctor Who), born in Dunoon
1944 Graig Nettles, American MLB 3rd baseman (NY Yankees, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians), born in San Diego, California
1946 Connie Chung [Constance Yu-Hwa Chung Povich], American news anchor (NBC, CBS), born in Washington, D.C.
1946 Ralf Hütter, German musician (Kraftwerk), born in Krefeld, Germany
1947 James Pankow, American trombonist, arranger and composer (Chicago - "Make Me Smile"; "Colour My World"), born in St. Louis, Missouri
1948 Robert Plant, English rock vocalist (Led Zeppelin), born in West Bromwich, England
1949 Phil Lynott, Irish rock singer and bass player (Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back In Town"), born in West Bromwich, England. (d. 1986)
1951 Greg Bear, American sci-fi author (2 Hugos, Eon, Eternity), born in San Diego, California
1952 John Hiatt, American singer and songwriter (Have a Little Faith in Me), born in Indianapolis, Indiana
1952 Rudy Gatlin, American country singer (Gatlin Bros-Broken Lady), born in Olney, Texas
1952 Doug Fieger, American singer–songwriter (The Knack - "My Sharona"), born in Oak Park, Michigan (d. 2010)
1954 Al Roker, American weatherman (NBC, Today), born in Queens, New York
1956 Joan Allen, American actress (Peggy Sue Got Married, Tucker, In Country), born in Rochelle, Illinois
1956 Rick Olsen, American rock guitarist (Berlin-Take My Breath Away)
1962 James Marsters, American actor (Spike-Buffy the Vampire Slayer), born in Greenville, California
1966 "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, American heavy metal guitarist (Pantera), born in Arlington, Texas (d. 2004)
1970 Fred Durst, American singer (Limp Bizkit), born in Gastonia, North Carolina
1971 Brad Avery, American musician (former guitarist for Third Day)
1974 Amy Adams, American actress and singer (Arrival, Man of Steel, American Hustle), born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
1979 Jamie Cullum, English singer-songwriter, pianist and radio presenter, born in Rochford, England
1992 Demi Lovato, American actress (Camp Rock) and singer/songwriter (Unbroken), born in Albuquerque, New Mexico
James Pankow, trombone player, is the writer of this suite of songs
James Marsters

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory.
(Psalms 48:9-10 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your steadfast, unfailing love
2. for the victory of Your strong right hand
3. for forgiveness, which is central in Your model prayer for us, and central to our very existence
4. for Your great and might acts, both in history and in our lives
5. for loving us, in spite of ourselves

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK THIRTEEN – DAY SIX

We will celebrate and praise you, LORD! You are good to us, and your love never fails.
(Psalms 106:1 CEV)

I pause for a moment to reflect on Your unfailing love, so grateful that Your love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.
(Psalms 50:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
(Exodus 14:26-31 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I linger, asking the Holy Spirit to guide my meditations and prayers.

The visual of Psalm 50:2 is beautiful to me. God shines forth from Zion, perfect in beauty.

When we read things like Psalm 50, it is easy to allow our misconceptions about God come through. I’ve written before about the dangers of thinking about God in terms of “us vs them.” We get this cockamamie idea in our brains that God is “on our side,” and then we read things like: “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.”

We then read our preconceived incorrect thoughts about God into those verses and get all self-confident in our “causes” and believe that God is going to come down and wipe out all of “them,” whom we foolishly believe to be the sole source of all the evil in the world.

But here’s the thing. When God does come and send devouring fire before Him and His raging tempest, it’s not going to be pretty or pleasant. And many, if not most, of us are going to be surprised at the results.

I’ve said it before, and I will, no doubt, say it again.

God is on God’s side. And we need to (all of us) do a much better job of making sure that we are on His side.

When Pharaoh chased Israel into the middle of the Red Sea, God came, with a raging tempest. He instructed Moses to stretch his hand back out over the sea so that the walls of water would crash back down, engulfing the Egyptians. “Not one of them survived.”

The words of Moses turned out to be true. “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

What is sad is that what is stated in verse 31, “And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant,” didn’t stick. It lasted only a few chapters, in fact.

So fast-forward a few thousand years. If the fickle human beings that saw, first hand, the miracles of the Lord, couldn’t be faithful to Him and His Word for more than a few days or weeks, how do we expect to do better?

The beauty of all of this is that He knows it. Nothing that we do surprises Him. He knows everything that there is to know about us, and, because He is outside of time, He already knows everything we are going to do before we do it. Therefore, I think it is even safe to say that He isn’t even “disappointed” in us, not the way we tend to get disappointed in one another.

For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
(Psalms 103:14 NLT)

And, in the words of a great Easter song that used to love to sing, “But still He loved me . . .”

Let’s go back to that one prayer that we have. You know the one . . . we usually call it “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Is it a coincidence that “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is pretty much right smack in the middle of that prayer? I’d like to think not. I’m not much of a believer in coincidences.

Now, let’s go back up to that bit at the top about some church issues. While I’ve been typing this blog (which has taken most of the morning), people have been talking. There have been multiple conversations, both in texting and verbally. It looks like things are working out, which is good, because we believe that this church is worth preserving. I don’t think any of us simply want to walk away. Forgiveness is central. It is the center of this prayer, and it is the center of our lives.

Honestly, we can’t survive without it.

Father, thank You. Thank You for forgiving us for our sins. Thank You for loving us, when we get so unlovable. Thank You for being faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to You. Thank You that “Your love never fails, it never gives up; it never runs out.” And thank You for giving us the ability to forgive one another. Help us to be stronger, though, and to not be so easily offended. Help us to be stronger for one another; help us to love one another and carry one another’s burdens. Also, help us to reach out when there are misunderstandings, rather than jerking our knees.

Please give us the Christlike ability to deny ourselves and serve others. Give us the commitment to do justice and show mercy. And please show mercy to those who are imprisoned, and give grace to those who minister to them.

"Strong and mighty God,
retrieve holy fear for you from the depths of fright and anxiety.
Make me deeply intimate with your awesome presence and mightily aware of your costly mercy.
Mingle in my heart a holy fusion of reverence,
love,
awe,
and trust,
freeing me to lovingly,
willingly yield my all to you.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

You have shown me the path to life, and you make me glad by being near to me. Sitting at your right side, I will always be joyful.
(Psalms 16:11 CEV)

Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.
(Proverbs 20:30 GNB)

The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.
(Psalms 118:22-23 NLT)

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:28-30 NLT)

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

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Lent and Easter

Today is Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Day 22,269

Twelve days until our Glen Rose weekend!!!

Quote of the Day

“Who, being loved, is poor?”
Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, 1854-1900
BrainyQuote

Word of the Day

Animus ~ strong dislike or enmity; hostile attitude; animosity. (Dictionary.com)

Did I mention that S has not been feeling well, this week? She has had some kind of cold-type thing (no fever, as far as I know) for most of the week. She sounded better, yesterday, but still wasn’t feeling great.

Well, C woke up this morning with something, as well. She’s coughing, sneezing, snorting, and just doesn’t feel well at all. She has not checked her temp yet. I’m staying as far away as I can from both of them! Update . . . she just came in here and said that she does not have fever. That’s good news, at least.

So . . . R & J will not be coming over today. I’m going to pick up my new glasses as soon as I finish this, and then I’ll pick up our Kroger Click List between 1:00 and 2:00. At some point, in there, I’m sure I will get something for lunch. I seriously doubt anything else will happen today.

As for tomorrow, I also doubt that there will be a trip to Mineral Wells for the visitation of our family friend who passed away. Our church is having a baptism celebration tomorrow afternoon, so I was already unsure, but with C feeling badly, I may be the only one attending the baptism. We signed up to bring some food, so one of us will need to go to that.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 7:17

Today I am grateful:
1. That I have, so far, remained well, during this sickness season.
2. For a weekend to rest for the coming work week.
3. For books to read.
4. For an opportunity to sacrifice something (Lent)
5. For the celebration of new life (Easter)

O God, the source of eternal light:
Shed forth your unending day
  upon us who watch for you,
that our lips may praise you,
our lives may bless you,
and our worship on the morrow give you glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Saturdays)

(From Faith That Matters)

Today’s reading is “Giving Up and Taking Up,” by N.T. Wright.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative.” What a great observation, and a much-needed statement. Seriously, what do most people think of when they hear the word “holiness,” especially in connection with a particular church? “Holiness Church.” Even in my mind, that designates a church with a bunch of “don’t” rules.

“Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time. . . . That’s Lent for you.” But you don’t leave the garden empty after you weed it. “Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit.” That was a really long sentence. But get the gist of it. There is a time for pruning, and there is a time for bearing fruit. All of this is considered in “holiness.” The Easter season should balance out the Lenten season. Holiness is not all about giving something up. It is also about taking something up, as well, something new, “some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.”

Lent begins this coming Wednesday, March 6. I suppose that means March 5 is “Fat Tuesday.” Mardi Gras. I don’t participate in that particular festivity. I’m fat enough already. A little joke, there. However, I will consider doing something I do not normally do, giving something up for Lent. The thing is, though . . . if it is something that I believe God would not approve of, why would I only give it up for forty days? I guess that’s not the entire point. The point is sacrifice, taking up a sort of cross for the season, giving something up that brings me pleasure. And it needs to be something that I truly like in order to be effective.

But then, after the forty days, what new thing could I undertake to balance out the giving up during Lent? This will require some serious soul-searching, indeed.

Father, guide me through the upcoming Lent and Easter seasons. I pray for something different in my life, this year. Something “new.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

Soli Deo Gloria!!

In His Presence

Today is . . . hold on . . . Saturday. That’s right. Saturday, November 24, 2018.

Day 22,171

31 days until Christmas!

“Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”
Oscar Wilde, Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet, 1854-1900
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is waggish, “roguish in merriment and good humor; jocular; like a wag.”

Yesterday was another great day. C and Mama had a nice time visiting while I was in here, hammering away at the computer keys. Afterward, we had a little breakfast, then I went and took our DNA test kits to a mailing spot, after which I picked up Sonic drinks for all of us. After a little while, I then took Mama back to Mineral Wells. It was a pleasant drive over, and I took her to the bank before taking her home, so she could take care of some business. My drive home wasn’t bad, but traffic picked up, the closer I got to Fort Worth.

When I got home, C had gotten a lot of Christmas decorating done. Most of the inside decorations were up, and a good bit of the outside, as well. I ordered some dinner from Door Dash, and after we ate, C went and put the Christmas tree up in the front, and put lights on it.

This morning (what’s left of it), C is out and about, spending money and doing things she likes to do, some in preparation for more change in the house. Right now, she is looking at switching out two light fixtures. She also wants to do some remodeling in our master bath. I should be afraid, I think, but I’m not.

Later today, I’ll pick up the groceries, and C will put the lights up on the outside of the house.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ezra 3:11

I forgot to do my gratitude list yesterday, and almost forgot today. Also, let me say that I’m not doing this just because it is Thanksgiving season. I intend to keep it up. If I can’t come up with five things for which I am grateful each day, there is something wrong with me. And there may be repeats. I won’t apologize for that. So, all that being said, today I am thankful for:

1. The wonderful relationship that my wife and I have, that allows us to be who we are with no judgmentalness from either side.
2. Still having my mother to celebrate holidays with.
3. The unique church family with which we gather to worship (The Exchange Church)
4. That I am able to play keys and sing in our worship gatherings each week
5. Books, man. I am thankful for books!

(From The Book of Common Prayer)

“O God, the source of eternal light:
Shed forth thine unending day upon us who watch for thee,
that our lips may praise thee,
our lives may bless thee,
and our worship on the morrow may give thee glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(A Collect for Saturdays)

“Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with the and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.”
(The General Thanksgiving)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
The Inner Life

Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 
In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:19-20

“The great characteristic of the New Testament is that it is a dispensation of the inner life.” The verses quoted above speak of one of the greatest mysteries of our faith. How can Jesus be in the Father, and us in Him, and He in us? This is truly a mystery.

In Jeremiah 31:33, we are told this: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” Then in Ezekiel 36:26, we see this: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” Just a few verses before the passage from John 14, Jesus says, “the Spirit of truth . . . dwells with you and will be in you.”

“It is in a heart into which God has placed the Spirit of His Son, a heart in which the love of God is shed abroad, that true salvation is found.” Where we learn and are trained is in the place of private prayer, “with the Father ‘who sees in secret.'”

“Sincere and faithful daily use of the place of prayer will make the inner hidden life strong and full of joy.”

We tend to spend more time developing the “outward means” instead of the “inward reality.” What I think Murray means by this is that we tend to focus more on the words and methods of prayer than we do the inward communion and spiritual life with God. Murray continues, “It is neither the intensity of your Bible study nor the frequency or fervency of your prayers or good works that necessarily constitute a true spiritual life. God is a Spirit, and our spirit within can commune with Him. The way to become conformed to His likeness and partake of His disposition is to spend time in His presence and appropriate His life for your life.”

It does not mean that we shouldn’t be frequent and fervent in our prayers, nor does it mean that we shouldn’t study our Bible with intensity. What it does mean is that it is the time spent in God’s presence that is more important.

Father, I want to be more in Your presence. I know that I am always with You and that You are always with me. But I believe that Murray is speaking of something deeper than simply acknowledging that I am with You. To truly be “in Your presence” requires a deeper knowledge of You and an intentionality to the whole process. I can study my Bible without being aware of Your presence. I can even pray without being aware of Your presence. But I cannot be aware of Your presence and not pray! Therefore, going forward, may I always seek to know Your presence before I try to anything else of a spiritual nature.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

A Spirit of Intercession

“May God give us the gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and petition.”

Today is Monday, November 12, 2018.

Day 22,159

Today is C’s birthday!!!

TWO days until Fallout 76!!!!

“Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.”
Oscar Wilde, Irish dramatist, novelist, and poet, 1854-1900
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is hippotherapy, which, oddly, has absolutely nothing to do with a hippopotamus. It means, “The use of horse riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, esp. as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength.”

As it turns out, we did not, in fact, go see Cinderella yesterday. I should clarify. We went, but we did not see. We walked in the front door and was told by the usher that we were not at the right show, after which he pointed out that the day on our tickets was, in fact, next Sunday.

. . .

This is one of life’s baffling moments, you know. How did I not see that? We bought the tickets months ago, and I suppose that I got so caught up in it being C’s birthday present that I convinced myself that it was the day before her birthday, instead of the weekend after. We got a good laugh out of it, rather than being upset. At least it wasn’t last weekend, and we can still get to the show next weekend! We would have gone to The Cheesecake Factory across the street, but we really weren’t that hungry, yet. Maybe next weekend, we can go after the show.

Instead, we came back home (after a stop at Sonic for drinks, of course) and did what we normally do on Sunday afternoons. NOTHING!! Hahaha!

As previously mentioned, today is my wife’s birthday. She is ****** years old today! I am so blessed to have her in my life for these past 33 years. To be honest, it’s more like 34. I knew her for a few months before we started dating, and the 34th anniversary of our first date in only a few weeks away. Thank you, Lord, for putting her in my life!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Psalm 141:1-3

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
The Work of Intercession

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
1 Timothy 2:1

“It is only love that can enable us for the work of intercession.” What, exactly is this thing called “intercession?” It is “the work of going to God and taking time to lay hold on Him for others.” Some might say, “Well, I do that,” when, in fact, they really don’t. What they might consider intercession is their weekly prayer meeting where they pray together for the various members of their faith community. No mistake, that is not a bad thing to do. But, if we are honest, most of us have very little understanding of what it means to “wait upon God.” And intercession requires waiting. Not passive waiting, but waiting, nonetheless.

“May God give us the gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and petition.”

Not everyone, I suppose, is “called” to be an intercessor. But Paul, here in 1 Timothy, urges us all to make intercession for “all people.” Says Murray, “Take time to pray for the church citywide, nationwide, and worldwide. It is only right to pray for the lost. God helps us to pray more for them. It is right to pray for missionaries and for evangelistic work, for the heathen or the unconverted. Paul did say that we must also pray for believers. . . . Plead for God’s people that He would visit them; plead for each other, and for all believers who seek to do God’s will. Ask God to pour His love into you every day. Let love fill your heart.”

May we remember that the first word in the “fruit of the Spirit” is “love.” We are set apart by this same Spirit. May we learn how to intercede and to wait upon God.

Father, You have brought me this far in the arena of intercession. I pray that You keep drawing me. Daily I pray for different people. The list above is daunting if we think that we have to pray for all of these groups every time we pray. But this is certainly not so. May we be in tune with Your Spirit as He leads us in ways that we should pray, and in the times that we should pray. Prayer doesn’t have to happen at 6:30 every morning, or at 5:00 PM every evening. It can happen any time as we observe Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Let Your Light Shine

Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Day 22,097.

25 days until Galveston!!

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” ~ Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, BrainyQuote

The word for today is nimby, “A person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in their own neighbourhood, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.” Also an acronym for “not in my back yard.”

I have not done well with my time, this morning, and am significantly behind, so I’ll get on with things. The Red Sox didn’t play and are eight games up in the AL East with eighteen games left. Magic number is still 11. The Rangers actually beat the Angels 5-2.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 
Matthew 5:16

There are a lot of people in this world who are all in favor of letting their light shine. But not quite in the way that Jesus intends. You see, most of us want the light to shine on ourselves. We want to let our light shine so that we can get glory. But that’s not the Jesus way. He says we need to let our light shine so that, yes, people can see the good works we do, but also that our Father can get the glory. So when my light shines, it points away from me, not toward me.

When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, he said this, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” And then, Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” I don’t like stopping in the middle of that sentence, so let’s include verse 25, too. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Today, let’s do a couple of things. May we let the light of Christ shine in us, pointing people to the glory of our Father, and let us encourage one another, and serve one another, stirring each other to love and good works.

Father, indeed, teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name, Your great name! Make my light to shine today, away from me, toward You. And may I be encouraging to my brothers and sisters today.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Least of These

Today is Thursday, January 4, 2018. Day 21,847.

84 days until Opening Day.

Oscar Wilde said, “But what is the difference between literature and journalism? …Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all.”
The Quotations Page

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is hornswoggle, a verb, meaning, “bamboozle, hoax.”

Not much to talk about, around here. I’m starting back up with band practice in Southlake, this coming Monday evening, so that will be new. I’ve been off since the July 3 concert of last year. But I’m looking forward to getting back into it. I need to be playing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! 
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah. 
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. 
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. 
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. 
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” 
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4

In today’s Daily Guideposts reading, Stephanie Thompson reminds us that the time we spend waiting, for whatever reason, can also be time waiting to hear from God. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

(From The Business of Heaven)
An Upside Down World

“While we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order? How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heartbroken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis? No . . . It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” (Letters to Malcolm)

(From The Finishing Touch)
Upholding Human Dignity

Some years ago, an 84 year old Swedish woman sat on her balcony for two months before a neighbor discovered that she had died. The neighbor felt badly for not realizing it sooner, saying, “I hope this dreadful story makes us better at keeping in touch with our old neighbors.”

“Isolationism,” says Chuck Swindoll, “is a human tragedy.” This scenario could have easily played out in any country, city, or town. “For fear of poking our nose in someone else’s business or getting involved in something that could backfire on us, we have trained ourselves not to stop, look, or listen.”

Certainly, we must be cautious. Who hasn’t heard of someone who unwittingly stopped to help an apparent stranded motorist, only to be robbed, or worse? Yet, “somewhere between prudent caution and total isolation there is some sort of measured space worth the risk.”

Our world has grown fast-paced (even more so since 1994 when this book was published). Technology makes us more and more insignificant. We all struggle to be loved for who we are, yet tend to put up these fake personas on social media. We get voice mails when we call people. Some would rather send texts than talk to people in person. I, personally, do not enjoy having “conversations” via text message. For one thing, it takes too long to type a message of any length on the tiny phone “keyboard.” When we call “customer service,” we get someone in a far-away country, with little or no real understanding of the issues we are facing. We can even drive to a local ATM at any time of day or night, and get instant cash without any kind of human involvement.

“Machines write for us, answer phones for us, get money for us, shop for us, think for us, rent cars for us.” All of this has resulted in a tragic loss of human dignity. Dallas Willard defines “dignity” as that which cannot be exchanged for something of greater value. For example, we can exchange a few dollars for a hamburger. But there is nothing of greater value that should be exchangeable for a human life. That is one reason human trafficking is so horrible. But I digress.

Our excuses for the devices that rob us of this dignity is that they save time, allowing us to be more efficient. Plus they keep “us from getting hung up on knotty things like relationships and people-related concerns.”

Says Swindoll, “What’s so healthy about becoming completely untouchable? What’s so healthy about high-tech efficiency? What’s so healthy about computer-generated letters from one friend to another? What’s so healthy about spending the day talking to machines?”

A machine can’t give you a hug when you are grieving. They don’t really “listen” to you, because they are incapable of caring. Neither can they give you affirmation when you’re down or confront you when you’re wrong. “When you need reassurance and hope and strength to go on, you cannot replace the essential presence of another human being.”

Remember, Jesus came to save people, “human beings with names and personalities and fingerprints and faces. Upholding human dignity is worth the effort every time.”

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 
They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139

Father, remind me today of the need to uphold human dignity, with every person I meet. No matter how annoying I think a person might be, they are a creation of yours, made in your image, and deserve the consideration of someone who will deal with them as though they were Jesus. As Rich Mullins once noted, after treating someone rudely, “I just know that was Jesus.” Remind of this today. Everyone I meet is one of the least of these.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

Denial of Grace

Today is Monday, October 16, 2017. Day 21,767. Twenty days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

Oscar Wilde, who was born on this date in 1854 (died 1900), said, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is jawbreaker, which means, “a word that is hard to pronounce.”

We are back to “reality” today, after having avoided it for several days. We had a wonderful time celebrating our thirty-second wedding anniversary. We were back in our favorite of the Paluxy River Bed Cabins, the Cedar House. Although it has stairs to get up to the second floor bedroom, it is still our favorite cabin. That is largely because the number of trees around it, between the cabin and the river, give a little more of a secluded feel. The single story Cliff House has a great view of the river, but is too exposed and doesn’t give as much of a solitude vibe.

The best morning was Sunday morning, sadly. Sadly because that was the day we had to leave. But it was the only morning where we couldn’t even hear traffic noise from the nearby Highwya 67. Nobody gets out much on early Sundays, and there were some times of absolute silence, except for birds.

On Friday, we visited Fossil Rim, the wildlife park. It has been years since we were there, and we had a wonderful time feeding and observing various kinds of animals. Sadly, the giraffes would not approach our car. They were too busy eating leaves off of trees. Perhaps they were tired of bending down to get their food. Or maybe they don’t like red. Who knows? We do have a few pictures, and maybe I’ll get them up here, eventually.

That reminds me, I still need to upload pictures of my cousin’s wedding from the previous weekend.

The Astros are leading the Yankees 2-0 in their series, as are the Dodgers leading the Cubs. The ALCS resumes today at 7:00 CDT, in New York.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

The Call to Prayer
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
The Request for Presence
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
Psalm 70:4
The Greeting
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 30:2-3
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 115:15
A Reading
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4
The Morning Psalm
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Psalm 111:1-4, 7-9
The Small Verse
Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed.
(Traditional)
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Lord, I pray that your grace may always precede and follow me, that I may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Concluding Prayer of the Church
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.† Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

It’s been a while, but I last talked about Peterson’s idea of “acquired passivity.” He takes a moment to address the idea of works. “Why is there such unending and often acrimonious argument and contention about faith and works?” Paul’s writings should definitely put an end to that debate, or, as Peterson calls it, “tedious gossip.”

“Faith in Christ is an act of abandoning the shores of self, where we think we know where we stand and where if we just try hard enough we can be in control.” Dallas Willard defines grace as God accomplishing in us what we cannot accomplish on our own.

But we are hesitant to get up that solid footing of the self. We have formed years of habits on this “ground.” It is difficult for us to give up the idea that we can just try harder and live “anxiously by my wits and muscle,” rather than “living effortlessly in the world of God’s active presence.” In fact, our entire North American culture consists of, “to all intents and purposes, a context of persistent denial of grace.”

Father, teach us to embrace grace. But let us not think that grace alone is all we need. Yes, of course, we believe in salvation by grace alone. But it doesn’t stop there. Our faith in you, by the grace you provided, leads us to works, which are the proof of our lives in you. When we live in the Kingdom way, walking in the steps, works, and words of Jesus, those works become evidence of our faith and your grace. Let us not live in such a way that we deny your grace.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

On Being Right

Today is Thursday, May 25, 2017. Day 21,623. Nine days until our Oregon vacation!

“Everything popular is wrong.” ~ Oscar Wilde
From Brainy Quote

Chinwag ~ an idle chat; to chat idly; gossip.

Today is Towel Day. For those who are not “in the know,” this is a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The first thing to remember is, of course, DON’T PANIC! The second thing is to always remember your towel.

C hasn’t been feeling well over the past couple of days. Both days, she set out for work and wound up coming back home. She thinks she’s feeling better this morning. She was having chills and a very low-grade fever (barely over normal, most of the time).

The Red Sox beat the Rangers again, last night, 9-4. Perhaps it would be better to say that Sam Dyson beat the Rangers. I’m not sure why they are still letting him pitch. If he hadn’t pitched, last night, the Rangers might have won that game. Of course, you never know. The Twins beat the Orioles, so the Sox are now only 3.5 games out of first. The Rangers are 7 out, behind the Astros, who remain the best team in baseball, for the time being.

We finally watched the two episodes of The Voice, from this week, including the finale. So we now know who won this season. I somehow managed to get all the way through yesterday without finding out. I was slightly disappointed, but not unhappy when Chris Blue won the competition, edging out Lauren Duski, who, in my opinion, is one of the best female country vocalists I have ever heard. And I don’t even like country music that much. All four contestants sang an original song that was written just for them. Lauren wrote hers, herself, and it was really good. I didn’t care for Chris’s original. As for the performances on Monday night, I think Jesse Larson’s were the best for that particular night. He and Adam Levine nailed Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” But Jesse came in fourth place, followed by the youngest to ever reach the finale, Aliyah Moulden.

Today would have been the 60th anniversary of my parents’ wedding day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV, unless otherwise noted

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.

Psalm 96:2-4
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Psalm 69:16
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation
Psalm 18:46
. . . who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
Psalm 104:32

(From The President’s Devotional)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

Joshua DuBois says, “We can do anything today–and we’d probably be right.” We can probably back up our words with “unassailable facts and solid figures.” We might even be justified in the way we feel and/or act toward those who may have wronged us, and our judgments upon others might be justified, as well, “given their misdeeds.”

However, is being right always worth it? “Once we’ve summited the mountain of our own correctness, what great prize will we receive?”

The words of Maya Angelou, above, closely echo those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. There are times when how we make people feel will be much more important than whether or not we are right.

Dallas Willard once said, “One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it.”

“Dear God, let me put first things first–not my own ‘rightness’ but my love for you and others.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, I echo this prayer. It’s not always important to be “right,” or to exercise our “rights.” Truthfully, if we are following Jesus, we have surrendered those rights, including the “right” to be “right.” Let me always consider others more than myself, Father, in my walk with Christ.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.