Of Whirlwinds and Storms

Today is Monday, May 14, 2018. Day 21,977.

Six days until Pentecost Sunday.

“It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.” ~ Robert Anton Wilson (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is lollapalooza, a slang noun which means, “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance.”

We had a nice day yesterday, not doing much of anything, once we got home from our worship gathering. The gathering went well, and we had a good crowd, including some previous members that we had not seen in at least a couple years. Our pastor gave a good message, which was not about mothers, but about how we feel guilt in our modern society. It was mostly about the difference between feeling “guilty” for not reading my Bible in the morning, as is my habit, versus feeling guilty because I have more than enough food in my refrigerator while people quite close to me might not have enough to feed their children today. It was a tough sermon, and I will probably listen to it again on the podcast, when it becomes available. Instead of our usual blessing, at the end of the gathering (which is the one I sometimes paste in at the end of this blog), our pastor wrote a special one, which, in my opinion, did an excellent job of covering all of the women in all of the various phases of motherhood, including women who have never had any biological children. It had me in tears at the end.

After we got home and unloaded my keyboard and stuff, I headed to Kroger to pick up our Click List order. That was the last time anyone left the house, yesterday. C rested in the bedroom, watching TV, while I played video games, until it was time to cook potatoes and steaks, which I did for us between 2:30 and 4:00. Over all, I would say it was a great and restful day.

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays again, 5-3, taking the series. The Yankees, however, beat the Athletics again, so they are still tied for first place in the AL East and best in MLB, with records of 28-12. The Sox take on the Athletics tonight, which always seems to be a tough series.

The Rangers lost to the Astros, again, 6-1, making their record 16-26, now ten games out in the AL West. They appear to have the day off, and will be traveling to Seattle to play the Mariners.

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

In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 95:4-7

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! 
The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: 
that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; 
but you, O LORD, are on high forever. 
For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. 
But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil. 
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants. 
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 
to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm 92

(From The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll)
Storms

His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
Nahum 1:3b

Today, Charles Swindoll reminds us that God is present in the whirlwinds and storms of life. This is a much-needed truth in today’s world. If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, mostly every day there is some kind of disruption in life that could be at least categorized as a whirlwind. Many times, they are strong enough to be considered a “storm.” But God is always there. Swindoll offers up more than just this somewhat obscure text in Nahum.

. . . all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:35

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Psalm 115:3

. . . for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice.
Moses in Deuteronomy 4:30

Says Swindoll, “Life is filled with God-appointed storms.” There are two things in which we can take comfort. “First, we all experience them. Second, we all need them.”

Take a moment to process that while your brain rejects the notion that you “need” storms in your life.

Storms and whirlwinds accomplish at least two things in our lives. One is that, if we have strayed from the path, they guide us back to God. The other is that they “smooth us and humble us and force us to submit to the role He has chosen for us.”

Swindoll then offers the example of William Cowper (1731-1800). After passing through a great crisis in his life, he decided to end it all. He took poison. The attempt to take his life failed. Later, he hired a coach, traveled to the Thames River, with the notion of throwing himself off of the bridge, but he was “strangely restrained.” The next day he tried falling on a knife. The blade broke. He tried to hang himself, but was found, unconscious, but still alive. Eventually, he found a Bible, read the book of Romans, “and was gloriously saved.”

Cowper later wrote these famous words:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Go back to that verse in Nahum. “His way is in the whirlwind and storm.” Remember that today, when the whirlwind, or even the storm approaches. Knowing this, we can face the storms without fear, understanding that God is present, and will guide us through them.

Father, thank you for the storms in my life, and what you have taught me through them. Perhaps I have not yet learned what I should have from some of them. Therefore, teach me patience and humility in all that comes about. You are present in all things. Teach me faith (trust), death to self, and love. Then show me how to live in total dependence upon Christ and contentment with whatever I have in you.
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.

Grace For A Well-Timed Help

Today is Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” – Steven Wright
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is doctrinaire, an adjective meaning, “dogmatic about others’ acceptance of one’s ideas; fanatical.”

Today is Daiquiri Day. I can never remember how to spell that. But a Daiquiri sounds really good on these hot Texas days in July. I’ll have strawberry or peach, please.

C is home! C is home! C is home!!

Yes, she got home around 7, yesterday evening, and we were able to have dinner together. I wasn’t expecting that until yesterday afternoon, when I found out her flight was getting in earlier than I had originally thought. Of course, she is exhausted, but still has to go to work today. It was pretty good trip from the sound of things, and there were some really cool things that happened, so that was nice. We are all very glad that she is home. Especially Screamer, the cat.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness
,
when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Psalm 95:6-11

There is a contrast presented here, between worship and wandering, or worship and “the wilderness.” In worship, “we give our attention to God’s love and direction.” But in the wilderness, in Meribah and Massah, we give our attention to strife and temptation, “in which we look out for ourselves and snatch what we can in a trackless desert.”

“Father, I will give my attention to you in faithful worship, listening to your words of truth and guidance; and I will put aside the contentious scrabbling for my own way, which only adds years of wandering in the wilderness of my sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From Solid Joys)

His Timing Is Perfect

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Any work that we do, any ministry, is in the future. So there is always time to worry about it, to “fret about our inadequacy.” I know I do that a lot. Twice a month, on Wednesday, I fret about whether I’m adequately prepared to lead a prayer meeting.

“Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry.” I like that statement. We cannot pray without faith. I believe that the very fact that we pray indicates at least a little faith. After all, if I had no faith, why would I pray? Even people who don’t know Christ pray, sometimes. That means that there is a spark of faith there; a belief in something that might possibly answer that prayer.

So we pray, as John Piper would put it, for “future grace.” But what if the grace comes too early or too late? (That sounds like one of those rhetorical questions that Paul keeps asking in his letters.) Piper gives us a literal translation of the verse above that gives a sweet promise about that. Here is what his literal translation says: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help.

Prayer is how we get this future grace. God’s grace will always arrive from the throne of grace, and right on time; right when we need it; a “well-timed help.” But we also have to have the faith that God’s timing is perfect, because ours isn’t. So we might get a little nervous when this grace doesn’t arrive when we think it should. We have to remember that God knows when it is needed. Remember that God set the times and boundaries for the nations of the earth (Acts 17:26). And then look at what the psalmist says in Psalm 31:15: My times are in your hand.

So when we begin to worry about the timing of this grace, we need to remember that it comes from the “throne of grace,” and that God’s future grace is always “well-timed.”

Father, thank you for these promises concerning grace. Thank you that your grace is always right on time. Now I pray that your Spirit will dwell so closely within me that I can remember these truths and promises when I begin to worry about the future (even when the “future” is ten minutes away).

Come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Will Not Forget You

Today is Monday, July 18, 2016.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
(BrainyQuote)
What I like about this quote is that it can be applied to our walk with Christ. If we take our eyes off of him, as Peter did, while he was walking on the water, we begin to see the obstacles around us. Then we start sinking, because our eyes are on the obstacles, rather than on the “Goal.” And the key is most certainly this. The goal is not better living, more prayer, more Bible study, or more compassion. The goal is Christ, himself.

I apologize for getting “preachy” above the double lines.

The word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is powldoody. This is “a variety of Irish oyster, eaten as a delicacy.”

Today is Get Out of the Doghouse Day. This is the day to make it right, whatever you’re in trouble for.

C comes back tonight! C comes back tonight! I’m pretty sure this is the longest she has ever been away from home, without us or me being with her. I have to say that S has been stellar, this whole time, nary caused a problem at all. C should be leaving Indianapolis around 4:00-ish, which is 3:00-ish here. I’m hoping she gets home before 9:00 tonight. It might be earlier, but I’m not holding my breath.

We’re going to start getting our fence fixed this week. Two sides need to be replaced. The other side was replaced by our neighbor, last year. It’s going to be a busy and expensive summer. We’re getting a new pool heater next Saturday, the fence should be getting repaired this week, and the leak in the pool is getting repaired next week.

I’m really looking forward to that vacation in October.

The Rangers lost two out of three to the Cubs, over the weekend, finally winning one yesterday afternoon. They are still 4.5 games up in first place. The Red Sox won two out of three against the Evil Ones. They are currently two games back of the Orioles, in second place.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95:1-5

“God is the reason for worship. The awesome power of God makes it sure that we shall worship; the graciousness of his will makes it certain that our worship shall be glad.”

“I praise your great name, O God. Every song I sing of your power and love, of your grace and glory, discovers fresh reasons for singing another. All praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

This is such a celebratory reading that I had to stop here for a few minutes, today. It reminded me of Saturday night’s worship time at B’s house. He led most of the music, and watching his face as he sang . . . it exemplified this passage from Psalms. We sang this one song, “I Will Not Forget You,” by Enter the Worship Circle. I’m going to post the video for the song below this. To watch people from all walks of life dancing before the Lord, “a wild dance I dance before You,” is very moving. When we worship God, it won’t always be celebratory, as evidenced by the final scene of the video. But much of the time, it most certainly can, and should, be. We have much to celebrate. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise before him with songs of praise!

Father, may I remember this as I work today. Let my day be full of your praise and may it be full of prayer without ceasing. No matter what I face today, no matter who tries to “push my buttons,” may my countenance be full of joy, and may my heart be full of praise to you. May I not take my eyes off of my goal. May I not focus on the obstacles.

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.

Humility in Prayer

“Prayer both requires and empowers the abandonment of self-justification, blame shifting, self-pity, and spiritual pride.”~~Timothy Keller

Good morning. It is Friday, August 21, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is looky-loo. This noun means, 1. “A person who views something for sale with no genuine intention of making a purchase,” or, 2. “A person who comes or stops to look at something out of curiosity, esp. when such attention is unwelcome.” A synonym for that definition is “rubbernecker.”

Today is Poet’s Day. If you know any poets, give ’em some love today. I follow a few on WordPress, but I don’t dare start mentioning names, lest I forget some and hurt some feelings.

Once my stomach started feeling better, I had a pretty good day, yesterday. We wound up not going to Hoffbrau, as initially planned. The birthday girl changed her mind and decided she wanted to order Chinese take-out, so we did that instead. It is, of course, a mystery, what we will do tonight. There’s a good change that both Christi and I will have to work late this evening.

This weekend, we plan to go to Mineral Wells on Sunday, and attend church with my mother. I think Rachel and Justin plan to come meet us for lunch. Should be a good day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s Bible reading will be Exodus 5, Matthew 26, and Psalm 41.

Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 95.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

“His people are here spoken of accordingly as the people of his pastures, whom he watches over with peculiar care, and loads with blessings of every kind. The Psalmist wants to press upon the people a sense of the inestimable favour [sic] conferred upon them in their adoption, by virtue of which they were called to live under the faithful guardianship of God, and to the enjoyment of every species of blessings.” (p 234)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Yesterday, we looked at John Calvin’s principle on prayer regarding “joyful fear.” Today, we see a second principle, that of “spiritual insufficiency.” This “includes both a strong sense of our dependence on God, in general, and a readiness to recognize and repent our own faults in particular.” Calvin admonishes against the common practice of believing that, in prayer, we are adorning ourselves with our “best spiritual clothes,” as if we could impress God with our devotion. When we come before God, we have to be “ruthlessly hones about our flaws and weaknesses.” We need to be aware, when we approach God, of the fact that “our only hope is in his grace and forgiveness,” and we should be totally up front with him about doubts and fears. “We should come to God with the ‘disposition of a beggar.'”

Just as prayer both requires and produces fear, it also does the same with humility. The act of prayer brings us into the presence of God, and in his presence, our shortcomings are exposed. “Then the new awareness of insufficiency drives us to seek God even more intensely for forgiveness and help.”

“Prayer both requires and empowers the abandonment of self-justification, blame shifting, self-pity, and spiritual pride.”

Father, teach me this spiritual humility. Teach me that I cannot impress you with my devotion, with my words, with my eloquent prayers. Help me to be more aware of my faults and weaknesses, that I might pray more effectively. I am aware of the truth of these principles, yet my heart is not fully convinced. I still fall into the trap of believing that I can gain favor with you by impressing you with anything. You are God, the Creator of the universe! How could anything human impress you? Yet I believe that true humility and faith are things that do impress you. Therefore, I ask for these in greater intensity.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work and back may be safe. I pray that we might have a good work day today, and that we might not have to work late. However, if we do, may we do so with pleasant attitudes, at all times displaying the grace of your Kingdom. I pray for Christi’s leg, that you might bring relief to her pain. May you grant Stephanie your grace today, and show her your love. I continue praying that Rachel is getting some good rest, and that you help her find a clear path to her future. May you grant grace to my mother today, holding her fast in your loving arms. We look forward to worshiping with her on Sunday.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we find true humility as we come before God in prayer, and may that prayer produce even more humility.

Grace and peace, friends.

Don’t Clutch the Blessing

Good morning. It is Monday, September 3, 2012. Today is Labor Day in the U.S., so I’m sitting her, comfortably in my study chair, at almost 9am. For now, at least, life is very good. Today is also “U.S. Bowling League Day.” I like that. I miss bowling leagues. In fact, Christi and I met in a bowling league, back in 1984. The T.G.I.F League at Wedgwood Bowl in Fort Worth, TX. My heart still flutters when I remember the Friday night that she marched up to me and informed me that her previous boyfriend and her had broken up. If I’m not mistaken, that was December 7, 1984. The rest, as they say, is history. In just over a month, we will be married for 27 years. I’m biased, but I believe our love is unrivaled. With the possible exception of that of my own parents. Again…biased. 🙂

On this date in 1777, the American Flag was flown in battle for the first time. It was during a “Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.
On this date in 1991, the director of It’s A Wonderful Life, Frank Capra, died at the age of 94.
On this date in 1977, Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants hit his 756th professional home run. This broke Hank Aaron’s record for career home runs. When he retired in 1980, he had 868 career home runs, still a professional record. Stick that in your pipe, Barry.


Today, we are praying for a mourning with a family who lives near where our lifehouse meets. Their home burned last night, while they were out of town. It seems that they lost everything. Steps are already under way to minister to them. I don’t know their names, but that shouldn’t stop people from praying for them. After all, our Father knows them, right?

Today, we have absolutely nothing planned. The feeling is indescribable.


Father, I pray that you reveal something of yourself to me this morning, as I look into your word.


Today, I’m reading Psalm 95. This is a psalm of praise and worship.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
(1-7a)

This psalm gives us good advice. Let us sing and make a joyful noise to or God, the rock of our salvation. We should be thankful when we come into his presence. Of course, we are always in his presence, as there is no place where he is not. However, I take this as a context of meeting together to worship him. We figuratively “come into his presence” when we gather to worship him as a community. There have been at least two worship songs written from verses 6 and 7, both of which, I believe are called, “Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down.” We should kneel and worship before him, for he truly is our Maker.


My Utmost For His Highest
Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD (2 Samuel 23:16

David yearned for water from the well of Bethlehem. Chambers wonders, “What has been like water from the well of Bethlehem to you recently–love, friendship, spiritual blessing?” Notice what David did when these “mighty men” brought him the water. He poured it out! On the surface, this appears to be pure insanity. But he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. He would not take it to satisfy himself. “If you satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you; you must sacrifice it, pour it out, do with it what common sense says is an absurd waste.”

How do we do this with something intangible like love or spiritual blessing? The only way to do this is in “the determination of my mind.” It’s a purely mental/spiritual thing. Let’s say someone does a kindness to me, one that I know I could never repay; in fact, I might not even accept such a thing, were it not for me relationship with the Lord. I acknowledge that it is “too great and worthy for me,” and I “pour it out unto the Lord, then these things pour out in rivers of living water all around.” If I fail to do this, they could turn into lust, which would not only endanger me, but all those that I love, as well. This is rather deep. “Love has to get to its transfiguration point of being poured out unto the Lord.”

When we clutch a blessing for ourselves, we will become bitter and sour. If we pour out that blessing, we will be a sweet aroma out of heaven. We must allow ourselves to enlarge the horizons of those around us.


In At the Throne of Grace, John MacArthur offers a prayer that would have fit well with Saturday’s post. If you recall, a major theme of that day was the idea of “unsullied walking…unsullied talking…unsullied thinking.” Here is a portion of a prayer from MacArthur’s book, on page 201.
Save us, we pray, from empty words of praise and blessing given to You
and thoughtless, unkind, and cruel words given to others who are made in Your image.
Give us by Your Holy Spirit control over our tongue,
which is supreme evidence of a disciplined life under which all else is under control as well.
Grant us discipline of speech that comes from strength of character so that out of the fountain of our lips
comes only that which is
sweet, fruitful, edifying,
uplifting, and Christ honoring.


Father, as I enjoy this day off from the usual work, I pray that I would be one who consistently comes into your presence with thanksgiving. Make my heart thankful each day. May I not fail to give you thanks for something every day, even if it is simply for the very air that I breathe. There is so much around us that we take for granted…precious gifts that you have given us. I pray that I would be a faithful sheep of your pasture.

I pray also for understanding for the deeper things that you bring to us. May I never clutch a blessing until it becomes lust. Help me, by the power of the Spirit, to pour out all blessings and spiritual gifts, even blessings from other people, until they, in turn, become rivers of living water, flowing out of me onto other people, blessing them and enlarging their horizons in your name. Make me one who is generous, not selfish with that which you have given me. I had nothing before you found me. I am nothing without you, and I will take nothing out of this world with me, outside of your very great and precious salvation.

I pray for this day. May it be a day of peace and relaxation in our home. I pray that you would draw us always closer, both to you and to each other as a family. May we pray together, faithfully, and bless each other richly. May we treat each other with grace every moment of every day, remembering the grace with which you treat us.

I pray for the family that lost their home in a fire last night. May we, your people, be a blessing to them as they mourn the loss of possessions and memories. May we pour out blessing on them over the next few weeks. Love them through us, Lord.


May we all be faithful to pour out whatever is, to us, water from the well of Bethlehem.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Lord Is My Helper, I Will Not Be Afraid

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, June 5, 2012. One day closer to whatever’s next. Today is “National Gingerbread Day.” Warm. With butter. On this date in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. He had just won the California presidential primary. On this date in 1870, Constantinople burned.

And on this date in 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the Milton Berle show.

Yesterday was a momentous day in the Bickley family. Four and a half years ago, this took place.

Rachel Elise Bickley received her high school diploma, actually one semester early. She won graduation, by the way. She had more little symbols by her name than anyone else. Oh, yes. It is, too, a competition! 🙂
Yesterday, her little sister got hers.

Stephanie Renee Bickley is now officially a high school graduate. There are slight differences in those photos. Note the lack of gown in Stephanie’s, as well as the lack of a stage or principal. No, Stephanie did not walk the stage. And that’s okay. It’s so huge that she’s holding that diploma that the rest of it really doesn’t matter. Last night we celebrated with Cotton Patch and ice cream.

CONGRATULATIONS, STEPHANIE RENEE BICKLEY!!

This morning, Christi has an interview with the HR people at Sabre, to talk about the hostile work environment. Well…technically, according to the PTBs, it’s not a “hostile work environment” because it’s not racially motivated. However, it can definitely be defined as a corporate bullying environment. Personally, I think “hostile” is “hostile” whether it’s racial or not.


Father, I pray for some glimpse of your glory this morning as I look into your word. Teach me how to live in the Spirit.


Today, I will read Psalms 5, 35, 65, 95, and 125.

In Psalm 5, David petitions the Lord in a time of distress. I love verse 3. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. The words “prepare a sacrifice for you” could be translated “direct my prayer to you.” We don’t make sacrifices, at least not the same way as the Israelites did. I sacrifice by getting up earlier than I would need to, otherwise. I could sleep an extra hour, but I get up just so I can spend this time with God. Verses 7-8 speaks of the only reason that I am even able to approach the Lord. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
Psalm 95 calls for songs of praise as we worship and bow down. Psalm 125 speaks of the strength of those who trust in the Lord. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. (vv 1-2)


My Utmost For His Highest

…for he has said…So we can confidently say… (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Chambers continues looking at the verse from yesterday, which contains what he calls God’s “say-so.” In between the two segments of today’s quote, we find the phrase, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Chambers says, “My say-so is to be built on God’s say-so.” Since the Lord says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” then I can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.” This does not mean that I won’t be tempted to fear; I most certainly will. But if I am living in the Spirit, I will remember “God’s say-so,” and be full of courage instead of fear. In many of us, our faith falters when those apprehensions arise; we forget God’s say-so; we forget to stop and take that deep spiritual breath. “The only way to get the dread taken out of us is to listen to God’s say-so.” So right now, I will stop and breathe. I have apprehension. There is the temptation to fear that I will face a mess when I get to work this morning. But I will stop and listen to God’s say-so. He will never leave me nor forsake me. Therefore, I will boldly and confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear!”
Just because we feel fear does not make us cowards. Understand that. I recently gained a new respect for the group Casting Crowns, after seeing them in concert before a Texas Rangers game. However, I’m still not a big fan of their song “Courageous.” There’s a line in it that speaks of being on the front lines, standing unafraid. I’m sorry. If there was ever anyone standing on the front lines, and that one was unafraid, he needs psychiatric help. There’s a quote out there that says something like this: “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is being terrified, but doing the right thing anyway.” That’s probably not an exact quote, and I’m not sure who said it, but I agree. We aren’t cowards when we feel fear. We’re going to face what we’re up against, but there still might be a sense of dread. But, when we live in the Spirit, and stop and listen to God’s say-so, that sense of dread diminishes significantly, if not disappearing altogether. “Are you learning to say things after listening to God, or are you saying things and trying to make God’s word fit in?” That’s the big question! We come up with ideas and then try to make God’s words fit our ideas. That’s completely backwards. I need to lay hold of God’s say-so and then say, “I will not fear.” “It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in the way, He has said–‘I will never leave thee.'”
We are also afflicted by frailty in this venture. When I note how feeble I am in my efforts, my difficulties become like giants and I feel like a grasshopper. If I dwell in this state, sadly, God becomes a nonentity! I must not dwell in that place; rather I must remember God’s say-so and remember to sing his praises, boldly proclaiming, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid!”


Father, as I was reading Psalms this morning, I stumbled across the one that I designated as my “life verse” many years ago. Psalm 86:11. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I also looked at verse 12, which says, I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. I reiterate that prayer this morning, Father. Teach me your way. Let me walk in your truth. If I ask you to unite my heart, then it certainly means that my heart must be divided, and, oh, it is! My heart has been divided for as long as I can remember, for there are things that hold a place in my heart that should belong only to you. I confess that there are things in my life that have received more attention than you, Lord! I don’t necessarily believe that there is anything more important than you, but I place things in higher priority momentarily. Unite my heart, to fear your name, Lord. And then, when my heart is united, I can continue with verse 12. I can give you thanks with my whole heart! Not just a part of it!
This morning, I have directed my prayers to you. I have set up a watch this morning, looking for you; my eyes are raised to the heavens as I look up to you for my help. It is only because of your steadfast love for me that I am even able to approach you. Your steadfast, unfailing love is what has brought Jesus Christ into my life. Your Spirit drew me to him and then granted me repentance so that I could believe and be saved. Therefore I praise you with all my heart this morning.
I pray for the ability to hear your say-so, Lord. You have promised that you will never leave us nor forsake us. I hear that today. I hear your words, and can, in turn, boldly say that you are my helper and that I will not fear. And right this minute, that is easy to heed, easy to do. But what happens one hour from now, when I’m on my way to work? Too often, I forget what you have taught me between the time I close down this computer and head out the door. The thoughts of the day ahead come crowding in like rushing water, like a flood. But today, I pledge to remember that “like a flood, your mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace!” Your “flood” of mercy is much greater, much more powerful than the “flood” of fears that my enemy throws at me. You are my helper, O Lord. I will not fear.

I pray for this day, Father. I pray for Christi as she meets with HR people at her job. I pray for her self-esteem, Lord. Lift her up (everyone who read this, pray for Christ, too!), because she is battling feelings of failure. She is not a failure, Lord!! She is a beautiful woman who loves you dearly! Yes, we apparently made a mistake. But we were also deceived. Christi has not failed her family, nor has she failed herself. While it looks like we are taking a step back, we are still moving forward, for that is the only direction we can take. I pray that you would flood Christi today with that flood of mercy, reigning. Rain down on her your love and grace and mercy, to such a degree that she is overwhelmed with your sustaining presence today. May your Spirit fall on her so hard that she can see nothing else, hear nothing else but your love for her. And may she walk out of that horrible place with her head held high and her affirmations intact. She is your child, your woman, God! Please lift her up today!

I praise you, Lord, for Stephanie’s success. We thank you for that diploma, Lord. It is only by your grace and mercy that this event has been achieved! We all battled long and hard for this day, and it finally arrived. I now pray that you would give us wisdom as we think about Stephanie’s future. Give her wisdom, too, Father, to know what is reasonably attainable, and what is not.

I pray for Rachel this morning, as she continues in her studies for a higher degree. May your love and grace flood her today, reminding her that she is yours. Let her not be overwhelmed by the tasks that she faces, but may she also hear your say-so.

I lift up a woman from our church (I confess that I cannot remember her name) (I have just been reminded by a Facebook friend that it is Krista) who has been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and is facing just over a year to live if this is not healed. We are praying for healing for her, Father, but we also acknowledge that your will will be done. Nevertheless, we still desire healing, that you can be glorified through this. Give her family comfort and courage in the face of this affliction.

Keep me focused this morning as I drive to work, that I might continue my prayers in transit. Remind me who I need to be praying for, that I would not forget anyone. I rely on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me.

Your grace is sufficient.


I cannot describe what I am feeling right now. It is almost utterly overwhelming. May we all heed God’s say-so today, remembering that he will never leave us nor forsake us. May we all, then, confidently proclaim, with heads held high, “The Lord is my helper, I will NOT be afraid!”

Hallelujah!

Grace and peace, friends.