Keep Your Eyes On the Son

Good morning. Today is Thursday, the third of February, 2022, in the fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you, today.

Day 23,338

It was a fairly busy day at the library, yesterday, as people came in to get books in preparation for today’s winter storm. We have a subscription service that was initiated during the time that the library was closed in 2020. Those who sign up get three books a month, personally curated by a library staff member, based on the patron’s likes and preferences. A bookmark is provided with each book, that gives an opportunity for the patron to respond to the choice, indicating if the library staff person made a good choice for them. I see a lot of those come back through, some with good comments on them, but some with nothing at all, which is not at all helpful for the next month’s bag of books. I have thought about signing up for that myself.

Anyway, I handed out no less than seven of those bags, yesterday, which is, by far, a record for me. I handed out five during my first hour at the circ desk, and I don’t think I had ever given out that many in a whole day before.

The library, along with all city services (other than emergency of course), is closed today. I can’t speak for the rest of the area, but at my house, we pretty much only got sleet/freezing rain all night, and have had very little snow. Snow would be better, because sleet is ice, which means the roads are covered in ice. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, regarding my library shift, because it won’t get above freezing today. In fact, the projected high is only 23.

Our power went out for about an hour, last night, at around 1:30. At first, I was angry. I will confess that, in the spirit of transparency. I always want to hold myself accountable for the things I “preach” here, and show that I am not, in fact, perfect, and have a long way to go. I was angry at our governor and the farcical board that controls electricity in the state of Texas, since a few years back (many of us had no idea that our government had even done this) when the state decided to foolishly remove itself from the federal power grid. This is why we were without power for over thirty hours last February (some people for even five whole days). And no improvements at all were made in the last year, because our government caters to capitalistic greed and will not hold power resource companies accountable to their actions.

However, in the midst of my anger, it was as if the Holy Spirit were speaking peace into my soul, reminding me that my trust and hope is not in human beings, but in the Lord. The power was restored in less time than predicted by the power company. It took me a while to calm down and go back to sleep, which may not have happened at all, had it not been for that peace received from the Spirit. I was wrong to be angry, yes. My thoughts were not wrong, and someone in power still should be held accountable, and hopefully in this year’s election, that will happen. But I was wrong to be angry, because my hope is not in princes, kings, presidents, or governors. My hope is in the Lord God Almighty, and He is my strength and shield.

Today is my normal day off, anyway, so the library closing really means nothing to me. However, I am glad that my beloved library friends won’t have to try to get to work in this weather. Hopefully, they are all safe and warm. One of them said she was going skiing. Hahaha! The only thing on my “plate,” today (besides the chocolate cake I ate for breakfast), is likely a few loads of laundry. There should be some reading and gaming done, as well. And probably chicken stir-fry for dinner.

And here is my Wordle score for the day. As one of my Facebook friends says, I had a “fortuitous” second guess.

Wordle 229 3/6*

🟨⬜🟩🟩⬜
⬜🟩🟩🟩⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"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)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
(Psalms 34:4-8 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good
2. that He has delivered me from all my fears (so far)
3. that my hope and trust is not in any human being, but only in the Lord God Almighty
4. for Nathan Buchanan and his ministry to FBC Mineral Wells
5. for angels
6. for the light and warmth of the sun (as well as the Son)

“Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened, seek his face always. Entering into prayer today, I too am seeking the Lord, seeking his face, looking for the signs of his presence in my life, gently guiding me in truth and peace and love.”

When David's time to die drew near, 
he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 
"I am about to go the way of all the earth. 
Be strong, and show yourself a man, 
and keep the charge of the LORD your God, 
walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, 
his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, 
as it is written in the Law of Moses, 
that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 
that the LORD may establish his word 
that he spoke concerning me, saying, 
'If your sons pay close attention to their way, 
to walk before me in faithfulness 
with all their heart and with all their soul, 
you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'" 
Then David slept with his fathers 
and was buried in the city of David.  
So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, 
and his kingdom was firmly established.
(1 Kings 2:1-4, 10, 12 ESV)

In today’s reading, we see the final words of King David to his son, Solomon. David tells Solomon to “keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes.” Perhaps there is not a lot of agreement on what it means to walk in the ways of the Lord, keeping His statutes. It seems to mean different things to different people.

I will tell you what it means to me. It means paying close attention to the words and actions of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, if I am to walk in the ways of God, then Jesus is where I need to look. Of course, it is wise and helpful to read and meditate on the Law of the Old Testament. But that should not ever take precedence over the words and steps of Christ. And even if it does, we have the words of Micah, who said, “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?”

And Jesus boiled all of the commands of the Law and Prophets into two commands. If you’ve read my blog before, you know what is coming. Love the Lord your God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything is covered in those two commands.

The question is asked, do I know a leader who carries great responsibility. I do, as a matter of fact, one whom I respect greatly. His name is Nathan Buchanan, and he pastors my mother’s church, FBC Mineral Wells. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate him very much (as well as the worship leader, Mel Kincaid). Pastor Nathan is bearing quite a load, right now, as his wife is quite ill. I believe that he is striving to walk in the ways of the Lord, as made evident by Jesus Christ. And I pray for him, that he might have “wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage” and everything else that he needs in order to successfully minister to the people of Mineral Wells, Texas.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

(From Pray As You Go)

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:14 NIV)

Today’s prayer word is “sun.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It could also be read phonetically to be “Son.” Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, you might be a cat owner. Dog owners might experience this, as well, but I’ve seen more cats do it. And that is laying on the floor, stretched out in a streak of sunlight that is shining through a window somewhere. Sometimes that streak is really narrow, yet the cat always finds a way to fit inside it, basking in the warmth.

“Like the sun, the warmth of Jesus’s presence does the same for me. When life feels wild, His faithful love leaves me feeling sated and calm. In light of His mercy, anxiety and anger fade away. There is no darkness in Jesus. His Holy Word is a lamp for my feet, guiding my way. His face shines upon me, bringing peace. Like the sun, Jesus brings light and life. I have all I need.” (Susanna, in Pray a Word a Day)

I’ve written a few songs, in my lifetime. One of my favorites is called “Keep Your Eyes on the Son.” It begins like this:

Have you ever looked at the sun, my friend?
If you have, then you know, when you look away again,
All you can see is a big yellow ball;
When you look at the sun, you can't see anything else at all.
Some people say, "If you look at the sun, then blind you'll be,"
But I'm here to tell you, it's the only way to see.

Keep your eyes on the Son . . .

We started out, this morning, talking about walking in the ways of the Lord (the version read in Pray As You Go had the word “faithfully” after “walk”), and walking faithfully. As we conclude, we see that the best way to walk faithfully in the ways of the Lord is to keep our eyes on the Son. The physical sun provides light and warmth to our physical bodies. The Son of God provides light and warmth to our spiritual selves.

Father, I have many things to pray, this morning. I lift up Your servant Nathan to You, asking that You would provide all the wisdom, kindness, strength, and courage that he needs in order to do Your work. I also pray for healing for his dear wife. May You bless them richly, especially for the kindness that they have shown my family.

I pray for my friend Robert’s granddaughter, Addison, who is struggling with breathing, in the hospital. Father, breathe life into this child and fill her lungs with oxygen.

Keep teaching us, Father, how to walk in Your ways, how to walk in Your kingdom. Help us to know the ways of Jesus, how to keep our eyes on Him as we walk in this world. The older I get, the more distracting life is. There are so many things that threaten to take our eyes off of Jesus, and successfully, all too often. Help us to stay focused; help us to walk correctly. Help us to do those things that are mentioned in Micah, things that please You.

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.

Make Me to Know Your Ways

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
(Psalms 25:4 ESV)

Today is Sunday, August 30, 2020, beginning the 22nd week of Ordinary Time. It is the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. Peace be with you!

Day 22,816

Eight days until Labor Day

What a night!!

Last night, around 8:00 or so, it might have been earlier, our power blinked off, then came right back on. I was in the middle of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and it knocked the PS4 off. So I started the process of rebooting the PS4, which also includes “repairing” the external hard drive. In the middle of the process, the power blinked off again, coming right back on. Fortunately, this time, it came on soon enough that it did not shut the PS4 down again, and it continued in its process of rebooting.

It had barely come back on when the power went off again. This time for somewhere between four and five hours (this all depends on what time this all started).

I can’t really sleep when the power is out. Number one, it’s too quiet. I know that sounds lame, but we have been sleeping with a fan/noisemaker on for decades. Number two, I sleep with a CPAP machine, as I have suffered from obstructive sleep apnea for many years. No power, no CPAP.

I did try. In fact, I put on my wireless headphones and set my iPhone to play some waterfall noise. I think I may have slept about an hour, but it wasn’t good sleep. So I got up and sat in the recliner, and tried to play some games on my phone. Even the LTE/5G service on the phone and table was terribly slow. The outage was affecting more than just our houses.

Oncor said that the estimated time of restoration was midnight. But by 11:00, they were saying 1:30 in the morning. Then, miraculously, the power came back on around 11:45. Even after that, my sleep was fitful, and not great. But I did manage to stay in bed until 7:45, which took some persistence, because there were several times in there when my body said, “Hey! You’re awake! Get up!,” and I said, “NO!”

The storm that caused the outage was tremendous. At one point, it was raining so hard with such high wind that I literally could not see past the fence in our back yard. There was a brief moment of small hail (sounded more like sleet), and I went to look in the front yard, and I could barely see the houses across the street. Lots of thunder and lightning, which distressed Tessie (dog) to no end.

But we lived through it. Power is on, and the Internet works. As far as we can see, nothing blew away, although the pads from the back porch swing were in the middle of the yard, and the door to the plastic storage shed in the back yard blew off.

Before that, yesterday was a pretty great day. Walmart Neighborhood Market came through with most of what we ordered, and the pickup process was fine. The Sprouts delivery from Instacart was awesome! They had everything we ordered, and it all looked good. And it arrived over an hour earlier than projected. We may be in trouble, though, as Walmart NM was out of our “no-sugar-added” Fudgsicles! Oh, the humanity!!

Fortunately, we have a box of 18 of them still in the freezer.

Also, no one seems to have cherries any more, which is sad for C. She loves fresh cherries, but, alas, they are only available from around April to the end of August. So, see you next year, cherries.

Today, we have our virtual worship gathering at 10:15. It’s my turn to “lead,” and I hope we can finish Revelation. We have three chapters to go, two of which are some of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible.

After that, we plan to order lunch from Applebee’s, and go pick it up, curbside. It was so good last week, we may have a new Sunday tradition.

The rest of the day is wide open.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I got in the study and made a little music, yesterday. I didn’t actually record anything, but I practiced a little, playing the guitar for a little while, as well. I want to, eventually, record this song by The Lost Dogs.

Minus the steel guitar, probably. The Lost Dogs, when this song was recorded, consisted of Terry Scott Taylor from Daniel Amos and The Swirling Eddies (first verse), the late Gene Eugene from Adam Again (second verse), Michael Roe from the Seventy Sevens and Kerosene Halo (third verse), and Derri Daugherty from The Choir and Kerosene Halo (fourth verse). After Gene passed away, at the age of 39, they didn’t really replace, him, but Steve Hindalong from The Choir became their permanent percussionist.

I could write for days about these people. They are my favorite musician/songwriters of any genre.

Anyway, I love this song. When Gene sings the line, “I’m too crippled now to walk again, but I’ll walk those streets of gold,” it brings tears to my eyes, because I think of my father.

"It's time to make your peace with God
'cause this life's over fast;
We were built for glory,
we were made to last."

Wow. I could stop now and just have my prayers.

Just kidding.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
(Psalms 111:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. To be alive and awake
  2. That we do not appear to have sustained any damage from last night’s storm/power outage
  3. For another opportunity to study Your Word with Your saints
  4. For the ability to hope continually in Your faithfulness and steadfast love
  5. That Your light and joy will shine on the righteous and upright of heart

. . . that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalms 83:18 ESV)

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
(Psalms 71:14 ESV)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
(Psalms 118:22 ESV)

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:24-26 ESV)

A Psalm of David.
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
(Psalms 110:1-5 ESV)

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"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."
(The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:
(Lamentations 3:37-41 ESV)

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 ESV)

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
(Psalms 25:4 ESV)

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV)

Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.
(Psalms 97:10-12 NIV)

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ,” says Paul in 2 Thessalonians.

As He does this, He will direct us to remove those “idols” that were mentioned in yesterday’s reading, one of the most prominent of which is . . .

. . . ourselves.

If I can remove myself from the “throne” of my heart, and place Jesus, there, He can make me to know His ways and direct my paths. If He does this, then light and joy will shine on me.

If light and joy shine on me, pesky inconveniences like power outages won’t bother me. Even really terrible things will seem less so.

If that light shines on me, “it will spread wisdom and beauty” in my heart. “Christians find what they see in the world and in their own hearts making more sense. And people around Christians see them slowly but surely turning into something loving and beautiful.”

Sadly, right now, the world is seeing something much different coming out of “Christians.”

But that doesn’t define all of us, and I can only hope that those of us who are truly trying to follow Jesus, His steps and His words, can show the world what a real Christian is and should be.

“Lord, I praise You that You are a God of light, that in You is no darkness at all. There is still, however, plenty of darkness in me. I am blind to my faults; I find it hard to ‘see’ Your glory and love during the day. Fill my inner being with Your light, whatever the cost. Amen.”

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, my prayer today, and every day, is that You would make me to know Your ways and teach me Your paths. Teach me Your ways, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. Help me to show Your steadfast love, faithfulness, and mercy to this hurting and broken world, all the while remembering that I am also hurting and broken.

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!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.