Prayer is Hard Work

Good morning. It is Monday, September 7, 2015. Labor Day holiday in the U.S.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is ampersand. This noun is a word designating the symbol “&.” The actual definition is, “a character & that is used for the word and.” It looks like they didn’t finish the sentence. 😀

Today is Buy A Book Day. Now here is a case of getting holidays backwards! Yesterday was Read A Book Day, but today is Buy A Book Day. Shouldn’t we buy the book first? Unless, of course, you check it out at the library . . . And, if you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you already have a veritable plethora of books, so it is not necessary to buy another one in order to read one.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time going on about yesterday’s accomplishments, as I don’t feel it proper to boast in things we’ve done. We will just leave it at saying that yesterday felt like a very good day. We were very busy for most of the day, but the “busyness” was for good purposes, and we feel like we did some good things. Hopefully, we did, at least.

Today, we have nothing planned. Christi is cooking a roast in the crock-pot, and she has already put the algaecide in the pool to try to clear up our green water. We took a bottle of water to Leslie’s Pool Supply yesterday, and they told us that, plus some shock, was what we needed to fix this problem. So, we shall see if this works. We also just discussed the possibility of going bowling today. So we might do that.

I think my “go-to” app for history is missing a few things today. So I’m heading to’s This Day In History page.

It was on this date in 1813 that the U.S. nicknamed Uncle Sam. In 1896, an electric car, built by the Riker Electric Motor Company, won the first auto race in the U.S. Second place was also an electric car. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty that would give control of the Panama Canal back to Panama in the year 2000. In 1953, Maureen Connolly won the U.S. Open, becoming the first woman to win the Grand Slam of tennis. And on this date in 1785, William Fox headed up a meeting, at Paul’s Head Tavern in London, that would result in the formation of the first Sunday School Society for Britain. Its purposes were as follows: “to prevent vice; to encourage industry and virtue; to dispel darkness and ignorance; to diffuse the light of knowledge; to bring men cheerfully to submit to their stations; to obey the laws of God and their country; to make that useful part of the community, the country poor, happy; to lead them in the pleasant paths of religion here, and to endeavor to prepare them for a glorious eternity.”

Today’s birthdays include Queen Elizabeth I of England, Grandma Moses (American painter), David Packard (American businessman, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard), Arthur Ferrante (American pianist, Ferrante and Teicher), Peter Lawford (American actor), Buddy Holly (American musician), Gloria Gaynor (American singer), Julie Kavner (American actress, voice of Marge Simpson), Chrissie Hynde (American musician, The Pretenders), Susan Blakely (American actress), Corbin Bernsen (American actor), and Evan Rachel Wood (American actress).

Arthur Ferrante was a concert pianist who teamed up with Lou Teicher as part of a magnificent piano duo. Ferrante was born on this date in 1921 and passed away in 2009, at the age of 88. Here are Ferrante and Teicher performing their hit, “Exodus.”

John Greenleaf Whittier, J.P. Morgan, Jr., Warren Zevon, Bud Fisher, Kirsten Flagstad, Keith Moon, and Joe Cronin are among notable deaths on this date.


Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 102:16-24.

For the LORD builds up Zion; he appears in his glory;
he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.
“O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!”

Calvin hits on one of the great mysteries of prayer in his commentary on this passage. “It is worthy of notice, that the deliverance of the chosen tribes is ascribed to the prayers of the faithful. God’s mercy was indeed the sole cause which led him to deliver his Church, according as he had graciously promised this blessing to her; but to stir up true believers to greater earnestness in prayer, he promises that what he has purposed to do of his own good pleasure, he will grant in answer to their requests. Nor is there any inconsistency between these two truths, that God preserves the Church in the exercise of his free mercy, and that he preserves her in answer to the prayers of his people; for as their prayers are connected with the free promises, the effect of the former depends entirely upon upon the latter.” (p 141)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I’m moving on to chapter nine in the book, titled “The Touchstones of Prayer.” The purpose of the current section is moving “from theory toward practice by listening to the main insights on prayer given to us by some of the great teachers in the history of the church.” Of course, these principles intersect each other, as Calvin wrote from a more theological perspective, Luther from a more practical point of view, while Augustine, not surprisingly, focused more on “the motives of the heart.” In this chapter, Timothy Keller will attempt to “distill what we have learned from our master teachers,” calling the results “touchstones.” He defines a touchstone as “a small rock containing silica that was rubbed against a piece of gold or silver to test its degree of purity or genuineness.” It is important to note that this is “not a set of rules that merit or trigger God’s response in some magical or mechanical way.” There are too many Christians who do not understand that our Father cannot be manipulated in this way.

The first group of touchstones is headed “What Prayer Is.” The first touchstone is “Work–Prayer Is a Duty and a Discipline.” Keller begins by saying, “Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel like it or not.” Our prayers should go on, even if we don’t feel as if we are getting anything out of it.

Consider two roommates, one of which never speaks to the other. When questioned, the reason is given that one just doesn’t get much out of talking to the other. Regardless, it is simply rude not to speak to someone. “Of course rudeness is far too weak a word to use for a failure to directly address your Maker, Sustainer, and Redeemer, to whom you owe your every breath.”

We must be persevering in prayer. It is striving, which means that we must stick with it, “through the ups and downs of feelings.” Do not fail to pray because you don’t feel like you are “in the spirit.” Rather, pray until you do feel it. Consider, also, those who spend hours gazing at great works of art, constantly finding new things to appreciate in them. “How much more should we give this kind of patient attention to prayer?” Is there a painting that is even minutely as great as our God?

“Prayer is always hard work, and often an agony.” There are times when we must wrestle in prayer. We all know, I’m sure, those instances when it is time for our prayer session, and everything around us seems to conspire to prevent it. Sometimes we must wrestle in order to concentrate. “No Christian outgrows the need to struggle and persevere in prayer.”

Father, keep me involved in this hard work of prayer. Yes, I have experienced mornings where it was almost impossible to concentrate or focus enough to succeed in prayer. Sometimes, I have to abandon my list of needs and simply focus on you and a verse that spoke to me that morning. Other times, I simply fail. I pray for more consistency in this work of prayer. Please continue to teach me about it, theologically, practically, and existentially.

I pray for the day ahead of us. May we have a fun day of relaxation and play, if we choose to do so. Give us good rest for the remainder of the week ahead, and prepare us to display your kingdom to those around us as we work.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Prayer is hard work. We must struggle and strive through it, even when we do not feel like it.

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.
Romans 15:30

Grace and peace, friends.

What We Were Made For

Good morning. It is Saturday, August 15, 2015. Four more days until Stephanie’s birthday!

Today’s word of the day, from, is heliolatry. This is an easy one. It means, “worship of the sun.” We get a lot of that in the summer, especially around the beaches, right? But I jest. That’s not really “sun worship.” I, myself, am not fond of the sun at all. I mean, I appreciate what it does for us, as far as, you know, keeping the Earth from hurtling through space on a trajectory to who knows where, as well as providing a temperature that is livable on the planet. But my skin and the sun do NOT get along at all.

Today is Relaxation Day. However, we have will be busy from noon until at least 7:00 PM, so we will have to “celebrate” relaxation day tomorrow. At least this one fell on the weekend!

I wound up only have to work thirty minutes late, yesterday, so that wasn’t too bad. Christi left when I told her I was leaving, so we got home at close to the same time. She picked up BBQ and I picked up Sonic drinks. We watched several TV shows, then she went to bed, while I stayed up and watched American Mary on Netflix. I’m not going to describe that movie here. It was one of those that makes one quite uncomfortable.

We are having lunch with a friend, this afternoon, so that will be nice. After that, it will be our usual Sunday afternoon/evening activities, with our Anchor Prayer Gathering beginning at 4:45, and our Worship Gathering at 5:45. We will be up at the church around 3:00 or so, to help get things ready.

Tomorrow, other than our normal grocery shopping, I don’t think we have any plans, so it should be a good “Relaxation Day.”

On this date in 1540, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, along with six other classmates, take vows. This would lead to the creation of the Society of Jesus in September. In 1843, Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen, Denmark. It remains open today, making it one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. In 1914, the Panama Canal opened to traffic. On this date in 1935, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed when their aircraft crashed during takeoff in Barrow, Alaska. In 1941, the last execution occurred at the Tower of London, when Josef Jakobs was executed by firing squad, for treason. On this date in 1965,

And on this date in 1969, Richie Havens opened up Woodstock.

Today’s birthdays include Napoleon Bonaparte (French dictator), Sir Walter Scott (Scottish novelist), Charles Comiskey (American baseball owner), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (English composer), Edna Ferber (American novelist), Julia Child (American cook), Rose Marie (American actress), Bobby Helms (American pop singer), Jimmy Webb (American musician), Stieg Larsson (Swedish writer), Debra Messing (American actress), Ben Affleck (American actor and Red Sox fan), Natasha Henstridge (Canadian actress), Kerri Walsh (American beach volleyball player), and Joe Jonas (American musician).

Jimmy Webb is an American songwriter who has written numerous hits for other artists. Among some of his more well-known songs are “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” “All I Know,” and “MacArthur Park.” As you can see his transcends genre.

Here is Glen Campbell’s recording of “Wichita Lineman.”


Today’s Bible reading will be Genesis 48-49 and Matthew 22.

Today’s Psalm reading, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 91:14-15.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

“Here it is noticeable that God, in declaring from heaven that we shall be safe under the wings of his protection, speaks of nothing as necessary on the part of his people but hope or trust.” (p 228)

(From Solid Joys)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God . . .
1 Peter 3:18

Today’s reading is “What We Were Made For.”

“The gospel is the enjoyment of fellowship with God himself.” This is expressed in the verse, above, by the phrase, “that he might bring us to God.” Pretty much any reason for the gospel leads to this.


  • “We are forgiven so that our guilt does not keep us away from God.
  • We are justified so that our condemnation does not keep us away from God.
  • We are given eternal life now, with new bodies in the resurrection, so that we have the capacities for enjoying God to the fullest.”

We should examine our hearts to see why we want forgiveness, justification, and eternal life. If it is for any other reason than to be with God and enjoy him forever, we need to rethink that. (It doesn’t mean we aren’t forgiven or justified, mind you, but just that perhaps our motivation is off kilter.)

The greatest gift that God has given us, in the gospel, is himself. “That is what we were made for.”

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Father, I pray that my motivations are pure. I pray that the reason that I want forgiveness, justification, and eternal life is so that I can enjoy your presence forever. I can think of nothing better. There is no experience that I have encountered in this life that can compare with simply being in your presence. Let that be my motivation for everything.

I pray for this day. May we have a great time of fellowship with Lindsey, this afternoon. I pray that our prayer and worship gatherings will glorify you and lift you high. I pray also that we will have some good rest afterward, and that tomorrow will be a good day of rest, after we get the necessary errands run.

Thank you again that Rachel was able to pass her thesis defense and can now move on to whatever comes next in her life.

What do you desire most from God?


Grace and peace, friends.

When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

Good morning. It is Saturday, August 1, 2015. Welcome to August.

Tough choice for word of the day, today. So tough, I’m not choosing. I’m going to give you both of them! The word of the day from Merriam Webster is skulduggery, a noun, meaning, “underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; also : a devious device or trick.” I’ve always been a fan of that word. The other one, from, is noctambulous. I mean, who couldn’t love that word, right? It means, “of, relating to, or given to sleepwalking.” So let’s see if we can get on with some noctambulous skulduggery, here!

Today is Mead Day. No, not Margaret. Mead is an alcoholic beverage made with honey. It is similar to wine, but much, much sweeter. It is also very difficult to find, being a throwback to the days of knights and ladies of the court. Every year, when we visit Scarborough Renaissance Festival, I make it a point to have a glass of mead. It’s quite delicious, in my opinion. Perhaps I will see if I can scrounge some up, today, but I have my doubts.

I wound up working until just shy of 6:00 PM last night. Christi and I actually got off work at almost the same time, so that turned out okay. She stopped and got our Sonic drinks, and I ordered pizza. We didn’t stay up too terribly late, because she had to get up and go in by 6:00, this morning. But she’s already back home, and everything seems to be working correctly, which is good news.

We don’t have much planned for today, I reckon. We’ll get some lunch, and have our prayer and worship gatherings this evening. Tomorrow, we will go get our groceries, along with some for Christi’s mom and step-dad. Usual Sunday stuff. After that, who knows. Perhaps we will go bowling this weekend. We have decided that we don’t need another activity added to our weekly schedule, so we won’t be bowling in a league, just yet. Beginning Monday, I have band practice again on Monday nights; I have Huddle on Tuesdays; Christi has bowling on Tuesdays (currently over, but they are planning a winter league); Christi has Huddle on Thursday; we have church on Saturday. If we add a bowling league to that already frenetic schedule, we will have something five nights a week. That’s just too much. Maybe after our Huddles are done, we will look into something, but who knows. For now, we will stick to casual bowling on Sunday afternoons, whenever we get the chance.

The Rangers and Red Sox both won again, last night. The Rangers have a three-game winning streak on, while the Red Sox have won two in a row, which hasn’t happened in quite some time. Cole Hamels, newly acquired by the Rangers, will be pitching in tonight’s game.

On this date in 1876, Colorado became the 38th U.S. state. In 1902, the U.S. bought rights to the Panama Canal from France. In 1941, the first Jeep was produced. In 1944, Anne Frank made the last entry in her diary. On this date in 1966, Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother, after which he took numerous guns to the Tower on the campus of the University of Texas, where he killed 14 more people and wounded 32 others, from the observation deck of the tower. The tower was closed for a while, reopened and closed again several times, due to suicide jumps, 9/11, and other events. It has been open to visitors since 2004. On this date in 1981, MTV aired its first music video. It was, as is commonly known, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles. I’m not sure when MTV played its last music video. (Sarcasm, there.)

Today’s birthdays include Claudius (Roman Emperor), William Clark (American explorer), Frances Scott Key (Star Spangled Banner), Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Dom DeLuise (American actor/comedian), Yves Saint Laurent (French fashion designer), Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Tommy Bolin (American musician), Robert Cray (American blues musician), Joe Elliott (English musician, Def Leppard), and Madison Bumgarner (American baseball player). Also born on this date was my granddaddy, D.W. Vinson.

Joe Eliott is the lead singer for the rock group Def Leppard. He turns 56 today, and they are still touring. I think they are going to be playing in the DFW area soon. One of my work associates keeps asking me if I’m going to see them. 🙂 Here is their hit, “Pour Some Suger On Me.”

Notable deaths on this date include Marc Antony, Calamity Jane, and Charles Whitman (see history notes above).


Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 30 and Matthew 9. In Genesis 30, we pick up the ongoing tale of Rachel, Leah, and Jacob. Leah has had four children, and Rachel has had none. “Give me children, or I shall die!” she declares to Jacob. Jacob, flustered, says, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” So Rachel gives Jacob her servant, Bilhah. Because that worked out so well for Sarah, you know.

Leah’s sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Through Bilhah, Rachel had Dan and Naftali. Then Leah decided to get in on this act, since she had stopped having children. She sent her servant, Zilpah, in to Jacob. Zilpah had Gad and Asher. After this, Leah conspired with Rachel to get the mandrakes that Rachel had found. Apparently mandrakes had some kind of fertility characteristics. So, then, Leah had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun. After this, Rachel had Joseph. That’s eleven, so far. Oh, and there was a daughter in there, who barely gets mentioned, Dinah.

At this point, Jacob starts trying to get away from Laban. It takes some scheming, as we will find out, for Laban was every bit as good a trickster as Jacob.

Rich Mullins wrote a song about this whole ordeal that Jacob went through.

In Matthew 9, we get a truncated account of Jesus’s healing of the paralytic that was brought to a house by friends. After this, Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector, to follow him, and has lunch with him. This gets criticism from the Pharisees, because they really hate tax collectors. Matthew gives us quick accounts of Jesus raising a girl from the dead, healing a woman who had been sick for twelve years, healing two blind men, and casting a demon out of a man who had been unable to speak.

At the end of chapter 9, Jesus gives this instruction to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Today’s Psalm from Heart Aflame is Psalm 89:34-35.

I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.

(From Solid Joys)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Today’s reading is “Our Weakness Reveals His Worth.”

Our suffering magnifies Jesus Christ’s worth and power. This is God’s design for us. And this is grace, because our greatest joy is to see “Christ magnified in our lives.”

Right before the verse above, from 2 Corinthians, Paul had pleaded with the Lord to remove what he simply called a “thorn in the flesh.” We have no idea what this means. There is never any indication of what this “thorn in the flesh” was. We only know that the Lord refused to remove it from Paul’s life, responding, instead, with the verse that is quoted above. “God ordains that Paul be weak so that Christ might be seen as strong on Paul’s behalf.”

This is one of those things that is seen to be foolish by those who do not believe as we do. But we know that, if we appear to be self-sufficient, God does not get glory. Instead, we get glory. That is not our goal, nor our desire. Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

So Paul, as he experienced this grace, rejoiced in it.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Living by faith in God’s grace means being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus. Therefore faith will not shrink back from what reveals and magnifies all that God is for us in Jesus. That is what our own weakness and suffering does.”

Father, may my faith not shrink back when suffering is ahead. I have not truly suffered for your sake. I cannot ever say that I have. But I have been weak before men, and will continue to do so, if being weak makes you appear to be stronger. I am surrounded by men who act as though they are strong. I pray daily that all of us who call ourselves by the name of Christ will rejoice in our weaknesses that make you stronger. May we say, along with Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I pray for this day, that you will be glorified in what we do today. May our prayer and worship gatherings be strong in you today. May we lift your name high, both in prayer, and in worship. May we rejoice in you, and may we hear the proclamation of your word, and receive what you have to tell us today.

Your grace is sufficient in all things.

May we rejoice in our weakness, knowing that it makes Christ appear stronger.

Grace and peace, friends.

Security For Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Good morning. (And afternoon, because it’s 3:30pm as I sit down to finish this entry.) Today is Monday, December 31, 2012. It is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2012.

On this date:
In 1600, the British East India Company was chartered.
In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease at L45 per year and started brewing Guinness.
In 1897, Thomas Edison first demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public.
In 1904, the first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (although it was called “Longacre Square” at the time).
In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge opened.
In 1955, General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion in a year. Hmmm…
In 1983, AT&T and the Bell System were broken up by the U.S. Government. I’ll never understand why the government was afraid of them.
In 1991, the USSR was officially dissolved.
In 1992, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved.
In 1999, the U.S. Government officially handed control of the Panama Canal back to Panama.

Today’s birthdays include Charles Cornwallis (British general), 1738, Henri Matisse (French painter), 1869, Rex Allen (actor, singer, and songwriter), 1920, Odetta (American singer), 1930, Sir Anthony Hopkins (actor), 1937, Rosalind Cash (actress), 1938, Sarah Miles (actress), 1941, Andy Summers (The Police), 1942, Sir Ben Kingsley, 1943, John Denver, 1943, Connie Willis (Science Fiction author), 1945, Diane von Furstenberg (fashion designer), 1945, Tim Matheson (actor), 1947, Burton Cummings (The Guess Who), 1947, Donna Summer, 1948, Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith), 1951, Bebe Newirth (Cheers), 1958, Val Kilmer (“I’m your huckleberry”), 1959, Nicholas Sparks (author), 1965.

This has been a pretty momentous year for me (and for our family, as well). The most important thing about this year has been what I consider to be my spiritual growth. God brought us to The Exchange Church about 18 months ago. We jumped right in and started serving almost immediately, only in the setup/tear down areas, at first. Then Christi and I both got involved in the tech ministry, with her doing the Pro Presenter on the Mac on alternating Sundays, and me doing lights and podcast. My involvement decreased in that, however, for two reasons. One, we moved to a new school, where we would not have as much room for all the lights, so there were no lights to control. Two, we stopped doing video podcasts, and went to audio only, which could easily be done by either the person running the Mac or the sound engineer. The big thing came about a little over a month ago when I received a call from our worship leader, inviting me to play keyboard in the next Sunday’s worship celebration. So now, I’m a regular member of the worship band.

But I was supposed to be talking about spiritual growth. Somewhere in the midst of all of this serving, God really got hold of me, and started drawing me closer to him. I strongly believe, with all my heart, that this was because of the “lifehouse” ministry of our church. In order to be a full-fledged member of The Exchange, you must commit to being part of that ministry, which is the small community group that meets outside of the regular church, once a week. In our group are two other people who are heavily involved in setup/tear down/tech, as well as the discipleship/prayer pastor (our leader). But we have grown very close as a group, and have seen some amazing ministry going on. There has also been a measure of accountability that has not been present in my life before. During this time, God also pushed me into a sort of prayer ministry. And as I have gotten more involved in this, I have grown closer to other people, as well. I can’t remember the day or the circumstances; I just know that one day, God strongly suggested that I get into intercessory prayer. I’m still learning about this, and have far to go, but the important thing is that I am praying daily, and the majority of that prayer time involves praying for the needs of other people, both spiritual and physical. I’m even using Facebook as a tool for the prayer ministry. We knew it had to be good for something other than Bejeweled Blitz and Words With Friends, right?

It was also during this past year that I began to have a deeper understanding of the life of Christ in me. I began to see the Beatitudes as not simply an ideal that we should try to live by (that has been the way I understood it for most of my life, some even saying that it was an impossible ideal), but as the characteristics of Christ that should be visible in the life of the true Christian. Christ lives in me; his life should be visibly manifest in me. The Beatitudes reflect that, and, while definitely impossible for the natural life, should be normal for the spiritual life. I also include the definitions of love in 1 Corinthians 13, and the spiritual gifts list in Galatians 5:21-22 in this category. All of these are things that should be normally visible in the life of the Christian, because a) we have the life of Christ in us, and b) we have the Holy Spirit empowering us.

As 2013 approaches rapidly (I almost typed “rabidly;” better put my reading glasses on) I hope for even more growth, because if I’m not growing, I’m stagnating, and going backwards. I hope for a deeper understanding of prayer; I hope for a deeper walk with the Lord, as I try to live out the prayer in Psalm 86:11, which is my “life verse.” It says, Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I believe I will add verse 12 to that, which says, I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. And I hope for a deeper understanding of the life of Christ in me.

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! Psalm 65:4
Father, as I look into your word this morning, and examine the year that has gone behind me, may I see a fresh revelation of you; one that will carry me forward into the new year, shining with your glory like the noonday sun.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 14:24-27.
24 The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and on my mountains trample him underfoot; and his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden from their shoulder.”
26 This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

In this passage I see the sovereign hand of God over all the earth. A portion of it applies to Assyria only. But verses 26 are stated to be the purpose “concerning the whole earth. The hand of God cannot be thwarted. If God has said it, it will happen. Our God will do what he says he will do, and no one can turn back his hand.

Today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest is called “Yesterday.” The scripture reference is Isaiah 52:12. …the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

“At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.” Our Lord provides us with security from yesterday. Sometimes, my enjoyment of God’s grace in my life can be sullied by “the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.” But there seems to be a reason for this, and it is most certainly not to wallow in self-pity. God is the God of yesterday, and allows memories in order to keep us from getting into a “shallow security in the present.”

That same verse (Isaiah 52:12) also says, For the LORD will go before you. He will watch where we have failed to watch. He provides me with security for tomorrow, watching for things that might trip me up into failures. “God’s hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.”

Finally, this same verse says, For you shall not go out in haste. “As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us.” There are things in our yesterdays that cannot be fixed; they are irreparable; they cannot be gotten back. There are, it is true, lost opportunities. But God has no desire for us to fall into destructive anxiety over these things. Rather, he transforms it into “constructive thoughtfulness for the future.” Our God provides us with security for today. “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”

“Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

Father, I thank you deeply for the victories and growth that you have given me in 2012. Now, I look forward to 2013, and it is my desire to both let the past sleep on the bosom of Christ, and to “step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” I long to see Jesus more and more during this next year. I pray that the coming year would be more incredible than the last one. I’m greedy, it’s true; greedy for more of you! May I not “go out in haste,” in this new year, but stop to meditate and reflect as I move into it. Let there be no “impulsive thoughtlessness” in my ways in this next year. I pray that you will watch for me when I fail to watch, but I pray, as well, that you give me eyes to see the way in which I am walking. My life verse will not change. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. I pray that, as 2013 approaches, you will have me an additional verse on which to focus in the coming year. As I recall, this year’s verse was Joshua 1:8, which says, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. There have been times, during this past year, when you reminded me of that verse.

I pray that I might only think of failures past in order to prepare myself for the future. It is all in your hands, my Lord, my God, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I pray for the remainder of this day. Oh, what a beautiful day It has been. What a wonderful vacation this has been. May we finish this day, this year, off in grand style. We plan to attend the hotel’s show tonight and will try to “ring in the new year.” But may we, at the same time, be thankful to you for everything that has happened in 2012, and look forward to everything you will do for us in 2013.

Looking back at the past is not always bad. It’s only bad if you allow it to stifle your future.

Stay safe tonight.

Grace and peace, friends.

No Dryness…No Deadness

Good morning. It is Friday morning! Huzzah! September 7, 2012. Today is “National Neither Rain Nor Snow Day.” For those of you who aren’t old enough to remember what that means, it’s a reference to the persistence of the mail carrier, no matter what the conditions. So, if you see your mail carrier today, give him/her a word of gratitude. After all, the very device you are using to read this is diminishing their jobs by the minute.

On this date in 1813, the nickname “Uncle Sam” began being used to refer to the U.S. It all seems to revolve around some meat packer named Samuel Wilson.
On this date in 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed control of the Panama Canal over to Panama. A detail that was not widely publicized at the time (or at least I forgot it, because that was, um…35 years ago), was the the shift would not occur until the end of the 20th century. Some people are still mad at Jimmy for this.
On this date in 1936, Buddy Holly was born. So, was this “the day music was born,” Mr. McLean?

Life goes on pretty normally at the Bickleyhouse. Christi has a visit to an orthopedist this afternoon, so hopefully she can get some relief or advice from her ongoing pain, although it still seems to be gradually (very gradually) getting better. Can something be “very gradual?”

I have several people I want to ask for prayer for. Some of these have been on my prayer list for a while, but I want to put them out here for all of you who read this and are pray-ers. I have several friends who have been out of work for a while. Please pray for Mike, Debbie, and Christia. Also, my immediate supervisor has an older sister who is mentally (and physically, I believe) challenged. According to him, she should not have lived past 13 or so, and is now 40. She is in the hospital with pneumonia. Her name is Lisa.

Father, I pray that you would show me something of yourself this morning that will draw me closer to you and inspire me to live this day looking to you. You are my rock and my fortress, my refuge and my hiding place.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 99. This continues the theme of praise to the Lord, beginning, as Psalms 97 and 93 did, “The LORD reigns…”

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!
The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.
O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!

I like the them, “Exalt the LORD our God.” Note how the location changes from his “footstool” to his “holy mountain.” He is, indeed holy!

My Utmost For His Highest
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water… John 4:14

“The picture our Lord gives is not that of a channel but a fountain.” The fountain flows into us, and then continues as the rivers of living water flow out of us. If the life is not flowing out like it should be, there is something wrong with me. “Something has obstructed the flow.” If I stay with the Source…keep my eyes and my heart focused on him…then what? I will be blessed? No. “Out of [me] will flow rivers of living, irrepressible life.” Again, it’s not about me being blessed, but about me being a blessing!

I don’t want to be like the Dead Sea, which always takes in, but never gives out. If that is happening, I am not rightly related to Jesus. “As surely as we receive from Him, He will pour out through us, and in the measure He is not pouring out, there is a defect in our relationship to Him.” We really need to fix our thinking on this. We are not passing on blessings to people; we are not just giving testimonies to experiences. We should be a “river continually flowing.” It should be unconscious. I’m not simply passing on a blessing to others. I am being obedient to Christ so that this river flows continuously out of me and blesses everyone around me. If I guard this relationship with Christ, and do not allow anything to obstruct it, “there will be a steady flow for other lives, no dryness and no deadness.”

It matters not if I can see the rivers! I should never look at myself from the standpoint of, “Who am I?” “In the history of God’s work you will nearly always find that it has started from the obscure, the unknown, the ignored, but the steadfastly true to Jesus Christ.”

That is what I wish to be said about me after I leave this Earth. “He was steadfastly true to Jesus Christ.”

Yes, Father! May it be said of me that I was steadfastly true to Jesus Christ! That is my heart’s most sincere desire. While it is true that I desire to be a blessing to all around me, the desire to be steadfastly true to Christ trumps all other desires. Make it so in my life. Help me to remove all obstructions so that the rivers of living water can flow freely out of me, whether I can see them or not. Let my focus be not on who I am, or what is being done through me. Let my focus be on who you are, and simply being obedient to you. I trust you to take care of the blessings that pour out of me.

I will worship you at your holy mountain, from your holy footstool, for you, O Lord, are holy! Reign in my life, Father!

I pray for this day. I pray that Christi will have a good day as she works from home today, and then as she goes to the doctor this afternoon. I also pray for Stephanie today, that she will have a good day, and that you will draw her heart closer to you. If her and Michael do something tonight, I pray that you keep them safe.

I pray for those I mentioned earlier, Lord, that you would provide them with jobs, that they may provide for themselves and their families.

Your grace is sufficient.

I am determined to be a blessing by being obedient to Christ. “No dryness…no deadness.”

Grace and peace, friends.