Persistent Prayer

Today is Saturday, the thirtieth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,515

Twenty days until S turns 29!

We hit 103, yesterday, two degrees beyond the predicted 101, so our streak is now at fourteen days, and we have had a total of 34 days of 100+ temps, this summer. More importantly, however . . .

It rained.

Not for very long, maybe a half hour, and it was only a tenth of an inch (I didn’t measure it, but that’s what the nearest airport said), but it rained. It smelled so good, sounded so good, and felt so good. And the temperature dropped quite a bit when that happened. Between about 4 PM and 6:30, it dropped twenty degrees. The high today, at least on one of my weather apps, is predicted to be only 96.

We are going to Mineral Wells, later this morning. I have a lunch gathering with some old High School bandmates at 11:30, so I’ll go there while Mama and C go to the house. It’s going to be hot in that house, though, so I’m not sure how much work will get done. Or actually how much is left to be done, either. We’re very close to needing to get a truck to move the large pieces that we will be bringing to our house, and then we’ll be ready to get the estate sale going. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen until autumn, though.

The Texas Rangers won their second in a row, beating the Angels 7-2, once again behind the stellar pitching of Martin Perez. I’m a little concerned that the article about the game begins with, “With the trade deadline looming . . . ” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they traded Perez. That’s what the Rangers are notorious for doing. He’s their only good pitcher, this year, and they’ll probably trade him, which will dash any hopes for playoffs this season. He has won nine straight games.

The Rangers are now 45-54 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and 7.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again, tonight, in LA, at 8:07 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-1, making their record 50-51 for the season. They are in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first place, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to hold the best MLB record (by percentage), at 67-32. The Nationals are still the worst, at 34-67. The Mets and Athletics kept their win streaks alive, so they are tied with four straight wins. The Pirates lost again, so their losing streak is now at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +203, but are only ten runs ahead of the Dodgers. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, now at -164. The Rangers improved to +10, and the Red Sox dropped to -17.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we are your children. Hear all our concerns, we pray, for we want help from you, not from men, not from anything we can think or say. May your power be revealed in our time. We long for a new age, an age of peace in which people are changed. We long for your day, the day when your power will be revealed to poor, broken humankind. Be with us, and give our hearts what will remain with us, the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for RAIN!!
2. for the power, love, and self-discipline we receive from God's Spirit; may we employ that in our everyday living
3. for an opportunity to reconnect with old friends
4. for the lessons of the parables of Jesus
5. for the ability to acknowledge my weaknesses and unworthiness before the Lord, and the ability to rejoice in all things

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62 ESV)

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
(Romans 6:13 ESV)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. . . . “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
(Luke 18:1, 6-8 NIV)

Is Jesus teaching that we have to badger God into giving us what we want? Certainly not! But I have to confess that I have often puzzled over this passage (it’s not the only one I puzzle over, believe me).

But see the first verse in the chapter. Jesus is telling His disciples this parable why? “To show them that they should always pray and not give up.” It’s not the only time that He used a so-called “secular” device to teach one of His principles.

There is another principle at play, though, that might explain why we don’t get what we ask for, at least not right away. “God in His wisdom, righteousness, and love, dare not give us what would do us harm if we received it too soon or too easily.” (Andrew Murray)

Yet another principle to consider is what we are really after when we pray. I have discussed, previously, that prayer is not just a way for us to get what we want from God. And there are too many instances where people treat it that way. How many folks only pray when something is wrong?

Certainly, or Father wants to give us what we need. There may even be times when He gives us what we want. But He also earnestly desires fellowship with us, and that we would desire fellowship with Him more than we want His gifts. We all know what it feels like when, upon coming home from a trip away from the rest of the family, the first words out of the children’s mouths is, “What did you get me??”

I imagine that our Father feels the same way when we only pray to Him when we need or want something.

“We discover how earthly and finite our heart is and how we need God’s Holy Spirit to help us. Here we come to know our own weakness and unworthiness and to yield to God’s Spirit to pray through us.” In this, we also learn to crucify, with Christ, our own way and will.

“Let us acknowledge how vain our work for God has been due to our lack of prayer. We can change our methods and make continuing, persistent prayer the proof that we look to God for all things and that we believe He hears and answers us.”

As we carefully consider these things, it is worth noting that there is a not-so-recent trend in dismissing any idea of our unworthiness before God. While it is true that Christ has made us “worthy,” it is also true that we have no intrinsic worth without Him. This does not mean that we walk around with stooped shoulders and droopy faces, thinking bad things about ourselves all the time.

There is a balance here, and Paul speaks of this when he talks about boasting in his own weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

So, along with Paul, I proudly proclaim my weakness, and my unworthiness, because it is in the acknowledgment of these truths that He is seen as strong and worthy. And I also choose to rejoice in these things.

That’s the prayer word of the day, by the way, “rejoice.” And our choice in this is emphasized by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “It is about your outlook towards life. You can either regret or rejoice.”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:12-15 ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin

Father, I thank You that You hear our prayers all the time. But I also thank You that You know what is best for us, at all times, and that You will not answer a prayer in the way that we want, if it will do us harm in any way (either spiritually or physically). Thank You for the parables of Jesus that teach us how to pray. Thank You for the examples of persistent prayer, to show us that we ought never give up in prayer.

I pray that my prayers would reflect Your will on earth, so that they will be more effective. I pray that my heart’s desires would be Your heart’s desires. And I know that the way for this to happen is for me to delight myself in You.

It is my heart’s desire, also, that I would desire fellowship with You more than the gifts that You give. Sometimes, I just want to sit and contemplate, basking in Your grace and mercy, in Your presence. There is such a warmth and acceptance in Your presence, Father, that even those words fail to describe.

And it is in that presence that I see the truth of how unworthy I am of all that You have done for me. However, I do not take that unworthiness to a level of self-deprecation that would cause me pain or grief. I celebrate it, because in Christ, You have made me worthy! I rejoice, along with Paul (not comparing myself to him in any way), that in my weaknesses, I am strong because of You and the work done in Jesus Christ on my behalf.

Help me to distance myself from thoughts and actions that would draw me away from You, or disturb my fellowship with You. And may my joy in You continue to grow and flourish.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”
(Isaiah 55:6 ESV)

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Love that Comforts and Provides

Today is Friday, the eighth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ reign within you, today!

Day 23,402

Today is a very special day. It is my mother’s birthday.

Happy birthday, Mama!! I love you!

I’ve already been out and got flowers and donuts to help the celebration, and we plan to have Freebirds today, at some point, probably for dinner tonight. C also made a strawberry cake for the occasion. Yum!!

My first Thursday at the library was a good day. It was a lot busier in the Computer Center than a typical Friday, which helped the day go by faster. I had a couple of patrons that needed extensive help, and I was able, for the most part to get them what they wanted.

I literally have nothing else on my agenda for today, other than going out to pick up the Freebirds (and Sonic drinks of course) later. Oh, and watching the Texas Rangers opening game, later, this evening, as they open the season in Toronto.

In baseball news, the Cubs, Royals, Cardinals, Mets, Reds, Astros, and D-backs, won their opening day games. The Red Sox/Yankees and Mariners/Twins games were both postponed and will hopefully happen today. Everyone else is scheduled to play today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)
Oh give thanks to the LORD; 
call upon his name; 
make known his deeds among the peoples! 
Sing to him, sing praises to him; 
tell of all his wondrous works! 
Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually! 
(Psalms 105:1-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the lifelong instruction and wisdom of godly parents
2. the comfort that God gives us in our sufferings and afflictions; comfort with which we can, in turn, comfort others
3. the love of God that results in His provision for our lives
4. the things I can learn from studying my past experiences
5. that God gave me a brain and the ability to use it

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
(Deuteronomy 10:12-22 ESV)

Today’s prayer word is “comfort.” Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days.”

We all have difficult days. Some of us have more difficult days than others, seemingly more than our fair share of them. There are some good words in 2 Corinthians about comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV)

The word appears a few more times in 2 Corinthians, as well. God comforts us, why? Not so that we can just feel better and not be sorry for ourselves. It is so that we can, in turn, comfort others.

The Bible is very clear, throughout, that this life is not all about me, and is not for me to benefit. Yes, I do receive benefits from the Christian life. But it doesn’t stop there. I’m not like the Dead Sea, that is all receiving and no giving. Anything I receive, I should be, in some way, giving away. The phrase “pay it forward” comes to mind. We cannot pay God back. That is simply impossible. But we can “pay it forward.” We can take the comfort which God gives us in our sorrow and in our difficulties and comfort someone else who has experienced loss or is having a bad day.

“God often redeems our sufferings by equipping us and giving us opportunities to extend comfort to others. Sometimes we do that in person by sitting or crying with a struggling or heartbroken friend, but always we can pray for God’s comfort to visit them.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 
And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." 
And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" 
They said to him, "Twelve." 
"And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" 
And they said to him, "Seven." 
And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?" 
(Mark 8:14-21 ESV)

When we re-read these miracles of Jesus, what is our intent? Is it just to refresh our memories? That doesn’t seem to be the case here, with Jesus and His disciples. He wants them to dwell on the two particular miracles of which He speaks. “For they had already forgotten or had failed to see their central revelation – the eternal fact of God’s love and care and compassion. They knew the number of the men each time, the number of the loaves each time, the number of the baskets of fragments they had each time taken up, but they forgot the Love that had so broken the bread that its remnants twenty times outweighed its loaves.”

Jesus warned them against the teachings of the religious leaders, teachings which would have us believe that God withholds blessings based on legalities; teachings that resemble those of today’s “religious leaders.” Finally, the disciples did understand. “He who trusts can understand; he whose mind is set at east can discover a reason.” The lesson here was that God cares for His children, and will provide for their necessities. And it is love that is the driving force of this provision.

You see, the disciples were failing to trust. Look at verse 16. They discussed among themselves the fact that they had not brought any bread. After all that they had seen Jesus do. “The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of His Father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in. The lesson of them was that help is always within God’s reach when His children want it.”

All too often, we, as humans, remember the loaves but forget the Father, even as, in our theology, we “forget the very Logos.”

The care the Father has for us is care for the day (see Matthew 6). “The next hour, the next moment, is as much beyond our grasp and as much in God’s care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for the morrow, or for a day in the next thousand years – in neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything.”

“The moment which coincides with work to be done, is the moment to be minded; the next is nowhere till God has made it.”

(All above quotes from Creation in Christ, by George MacDonald, referenced in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

The Spiritual Discipline being highlighted, here, is that of study. That may sound odd, as we normally consider study to be a discipline that involves books and reading. However, Jesus has called His disciples, here, to study, dwell upon, and learn from their experience. We should do the same. It is worthwhile to look back upon our experiences and learn from them. We can learn much, both from experiences when we felt God moving in our lives, and experiences when we felt far from Him.

Here is another nugget from Eugene Peterson: “The Christian faith does not turn us into robots who are conditioned to behave in moral ways by reflex. The Christian faith does not lobotomize us so that we don’t have to think through anything. Jesus said, ‘Learn from me’ (Matthew 11:29). He intends to shape our minds, inform our intelligence, and mature our judgment so that we can understand and participate in the meaning of new life.”

The disciples were so fortunate to have that in-person experience with Him. We, on the other hand, must learn these things from a distance.

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I thank You that You have given us brains and the ability to think things through, and that You do not expect us to be pre-programed robots, conditioned to behave in certain ways. While I am expected to surrender my “rights” and walk according to the words and steps of Jesus, I still have the ability to make decisions and think about things. Those decisions are not always the right ones or, perhaps, not the best ones. But I am still me because You did not use cookie cutters to create us. If that were the case, all eight billion of us would have the same DNA, wouldn’t we?

I am grateful for Your work in my life, and that I can and should look back on my life and study it and learn from it. It is not a looking back, like Lot’s wife, where I regret that I have left some things behind. That is looking back and longing. I prefer to look back to learn, to learn from the times where I can see Your hand at work, and to learn from the times where I ignored Your hand and went my own way. It turns out that Your love and compassion for me worked through those times, even.

I am also thankful for that love and compassion that drives Your provision for Your people. We are quick to be able to quote the numbers, how many people were fed, how many loaves the little boy had, and how many baskets of food were left over. We like to memorize statistics. But we miss the point when we do that. With only a couple of fish and some loaves of bread, the miracle would have been just as powerful if fifty people were fed. The numbers are not the point. Your love, compassion, and overwhelming provision are the point. The same love that dropped manna from the sky for Your people, Israel, who were also quick to forget Your love and compassion only days after they had seen the miracle of the Red Sea parting and their enemies’ chariots drowned in the same sea.

Forgive us for being so quick to forget, and help us to remember to study; both Your written Word as well as the past events of our lives. I thank You for people like George MacDonald, Eugene Peterson, Richard J Foster, and Emilie Griffin (and others) who have written so that we can more easily remember.

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.

When We Don’t Know What To Pray

Today is Friday, January 20, 2017.

Quote of the Day

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Word of the Day

Asseverate – to declare earnestly or solemnly; affirm positively; aver.

Today is Cheese Lovers Day. That is definitely for me! I love cheese!!

Today is Inauguration Day. I don’t have time to put down everything that is on my mind, this morning, so that’s all I’m going to say about that. Almost. I will say that I sincerely wish that all of the blatant hypocrisy from both sides would just stop. It’s disgusting.

We hung out with some good friends, last night. That’s rare for us on a week night. We have this thing I mentioned before. It’s a “Missional Gathering.” It is designed to eventually incorporate people who wouldn’t otherwise attend church services, by doing things like backyard barbecues, or things like that. In our case, it centers around our monthly “Night of Worship,” which happens at one of the couples’ home. Anyway, we had an awesome time, last night. Each of us picked up something to eat on the way over, and we just sat around and talked about whatever came up for about ninety minutes. At the end, we briefly discussed our next Night of Worship, and when our next gathering would be.

I’m so ready for this weekend.

36/73

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Psalm 96:1

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes. Psalm 119:145

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
(A Song of Praise)

Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. Psalm 85:13

(From The President’s Devotional)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

“When we don’t know what to pray.

“When concern stacks upon concern, and tasks seem to merge together, and the demands on our psyche stretch us thin.

“When we’re needed, and we’re goaded, and we’re misunderstood; when the lump in our throat expands and blocks out words.

“That’s when the Spirit steps in, with ‘groanings too deep for words.’ The Spirit of God brings our message to the Father when we can’t articulate it ourselves. When we’re at wit’s end. The Spirit prays for us when we don’t know what to pray.

. . . Amen.”

I don’t have much to add to this. Just that it is truth. It is truth that we forget all too often. Let us rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who will intercede for us when we don’t know what to pray.

Father, help me to believe this; help me to depend upon it, so that, in those moments, when I am at a loss for words, I can be confident that you have heard my prayer, as voiced by the Spirit. Hallelujah!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.

Retirement?

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Eduro)

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is iconoclast. Literally, “image destroyer,” the definition is, “a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration,” or, “a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.” I’m not sure that I ever knew what this word actually means.

Today is Don’t Step On A Bee Day. Especially if you are barefoot.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
Psa 91:15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
Psa 91:16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16

“All that is prayed for and believed is confirmed in the action of God. God enters our lives and acts in ways that meet every need. Blessings are exchanged.”

“I do love you, O god. And I do need all that you can do for me: deliver, protect, rescue, honor, and save. Thank you for the richness of your promise and the steadfastness in your performance, even in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

The Spiritual Sluggard

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together. Hebrews 10:24-25

I don’t really want to “mix with the rough and tumble of life.” We all have the capacity to be “spiritual sluggards.” I would rather live a remote, retired life. Personally, I think I would have been a great hermit, living like one of the “desert fathers.” But, “to live a remote, retired, secluded life is the antipodes of spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.” “Antipodes??” I had to look that one up. It is “the direct opposite of something.”

What happens to our spirituality when we come up against “injustice and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil?” We tend to go to God strictly for peace and joy; “we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him.” This goes back to questions asked by Dallas Willard. Do we want God, or do we just want his benefits?

We want to provoke each other, as the KJV put it. We want to “stir up one another to love and good works.” We don’t want physical activity, though. “Active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing.” Sometimes, we make ourselves busy to keep from having to confront our spiritual sluggishness.

“The danger of spiritual sluggishness is that we do not wish to be stirred up, all we want to hear about is spiritual retirement. Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement.”

Father, I pray that I might desire Jesus Christ, and not this idea of spiritual retirement. I confess to being spiritually sluggish at times. I confess that there are many times when I would rather take my spirituality out to the desert and be alone. I know that this is wrong, and not what you desire for me. I confess that, much of the time, I simply do not like being around people, even my spiritual brothers and sisters. I pray that you would bring me out of my introverted shell that I might minister to people, that I might serve people, and that I might serve with people. You have made us a community, and it is my obligation to share in that community. May your Holy Spirit draw me further into that, Father, that I might be who and what you desire me to be.

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.

Brevity vs. Eternity

“If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(BrainyQuote)

The Word of the Day, from Dictionary.com, is tourbillion. While it might seem that this has something to do with a tour of Bill Gates’s house, it means, “a whirlwind or something resembling a whirlwind.” It is also a name for “a firework that rises spirally.”

Today is Stay Out of the Sun Day. This redhead is all about that! You don’t have to tell me twice.

We got Mama safely here, yesterday, with a stop at Ginger Brown’s on the way home. It was a most enjoyable day. When we got home, we sat down to chat, and turned on the Red Sox/Angels game, which was on the national Fox affiliate. We had previously listened to the Rangers totally embarrass themselves by being beaten by the worst team in the AL, the Twins, 17-5. Now, it seems, it was the Red Sox’s turn. Clay Buchholz was the starter, and in his inimitable fashion, gave up a three run home run in the first inning. It only got worse from there, including an inning where the Angels made history by getting eleven consecutive hits. They scored eleven runs in that inning, as well. The Red Sox managed to plate two. Final score . . . 21-2. We quit watching around the fifth inning and watched The Martian, with Matt Damon. It was a very good movie. Much better than the baseball game.

Tonight is Stars & Stripes 2016, in Southlake. The Southlake Community Band and Swing Band will be playing. The Swing Band plays at 6:00 PM, and the Community Band plays at 8:15 PM. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9:30.

We are getting ready for church, this morning. Our worship gathering is at 10:15. We are The Exchange, and we meet at 9100 N. Beach, Fort Worth, TX.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

Psalm 90:3-6

It is stunning to compare the brevity of human life to the eternity of God. In fact, it’s almost an impossible comparison, as our minds really cannot fathom eternity. “The only basis for existence . . . is in God.” If we attempt to separate ourselves from God, we become like a “dream separated from the sleeper.” However, when we are joined with God, “we are part of an eternal reality.”

“Forgive me, Father, when I try to take my few years, my meager strength and my uncertain ideas and try to make a life out of them. It is a shabby effort at best. I will, instead, turn it all over to you to make of it what you will, in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, I echo the prayer of Eugene Peterson and pray that you would take this brief number of years that I call a life, and mold it into something useful to you. I know that you began molding years ago. I have faith that this is true. I pray that it will continue, and that I will not try to make it my own. Take your word and embed it into my being that I might be a true disciple, abiding in your word. Help me to know your presence always.

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.

Interceding Out of Sympathy

“The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is snuggery, “a comfortable or cozy room.”

Today is Garden Meditation Day. I could so be into that, today. I would find a nice, secluded spot to sit in Fort Worth’s Botanical Gardens and just meditate to my heart’s content. Or fall asleep. Maybe both.

Band practice was okay last night. We are now preparing for our July 3 concert, which will be performed in the Southlake Town Square. July 3 falls on Sunday, this year, and we will have Monday off for the 4th.

Christi’s throat is still hurting, but she said she thinks she feels better, this morning. Hopefully, it is working its way out.

The Red Sox had an off day, yesterday, but so did most of the other teams in the AL East, so nothing changed in the standings. Except for the Blue Jays, who lost to the Texas Rangers, 2-1. I don’t know what’s going on in Chicago, this season, but both of their teams have the best record in their league, and the Cubbies are currently the best team in baseball.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. We will be celebrating on Saturday, with my mother. I don’t think she knows this, yet. Well, she does now, I suppose. Our plan is for all of us to converge on her house Saturday afternoon, go out for a meal, and visit, as we like to do. This way, on Sunday, Christi, the mother at our house, can chill and do whatever her heart desires. At this point in time, I believe one of those things will be a pedicure.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.

Psalm 62:8-12

“The soul careens from side to side seeking a way to completion.” I really like that word picture. On one side is lawlessness, spiritual anarchy (“Those of low estate”). On the other side, the false security of wealth (“those of high estate”). But these are the ditches on either side of the highway. “The Lord himself is the way to wholeness.”

“First, God, I imagine that I want to live completely free, a rebel against all restraint – a lawless person. Then I imagine that I want to live completely secure, without any needs – a rich person. You expose both as vain fantasies: I will pour my heart out to you and find both liberty and security, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Vital Intercession”

. . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Ephesians 6:18

Chambers speaks, today, of dangers in intercession. One is when we begin to intercede out of sympathy for people instead of out of identification with God’s interest in them. This is difficult to explain, but if you consider that a brother or sister is going through a difficult time, there is always a possibility that God has brought this on them as a testing time. If we are praying out of sympathy for them, we might beg God to stop the trial; to bring them out of the difficulty. However, if we are praying out of an identification with God’s interest in them, we would be more likely to pray that God strengthen them as they go through this trial; that they might successfully learn what they are supposed to learn from it.

Obviously, this takes great discernment.

“It is impossible to intercede vitally unless we are perfectly sure of God, and the greatest dissipator of our relationship to God is personal sympathy and personal prejudice.”

Father, I pray for this kind of identification as I intercede. I have experienced times when I wondered if it was proper for me to pray for what the person asked, or if there was some other purpose that you had in mind for them. Help me to be “perfectly sure” of you in these instances. Give me the intimate connection with you that can draw this kind of thing out and make me an effective intercessor. Help me to identify with your interests in others.

I pray especially, this morning for James, who needs a job. May you lead him to the job that you have planned for him. Let him not give up hope.

Come, Lord Jesus!”

Grace and peace, friends.

Don’t

“We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.”~~Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Eduro)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is pugnacious, “inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.” Some days I feel more pugnacious than others.

Today is Chocolate Cake Day. Do I need to say anything else?

So it turns out that the news of my cousin’s son breathing on his own wasn’t so good. They have placed him in hospice, and have given him three to six days. This is not entirely unexpected, but I will keep praying for a miracle.

Last night, we tried a new recipe which really consisted of nothing more than adding a seasoning mix to some chicken and baking it. It was quite tasty, though, and we had some green beans and corn along with it. We watched this week’s episode of Downton Abbey, in which Daisy almost succeeded in sticking her foot so far up her mouth that it would have had to have been surgically removed. Bless her heart. I’m also very concerned that something is seriously wrong with Lord Grantham. We also watched the series premier of Angie Tribeca, a new comedy by Steve and Nancy Carrell. We won’t be watching any more of it. It’s just stupid. Too much slapstick, non-stop, with nothing serious at all. I did laugh at some of the jokes, but it was like a string of bad Steve Carrell jokes, all smashed together, with no break between them. I was disappointed.

It’s Wednesday, Hump Day. Let’s get this week over with.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

Psalm 18:31-42

“‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in His justice,
which is more than liberty.
for the love of God is broader
than the measures of man’s mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind’
(F.W. Faber, ‘There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy’).”

“You delivered me, God, from the tangled and cramped alleys of sin and put me in the spacious country of mercy and justice. Now I have plenty of room to walk in your ways. Assist me to follow ‘in his steps’ even as I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “Look Again and Think.”

. . . do not be anxious about your life . . .
Matthew 6:25

“A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in.” This is something that we will never be free from. It will either threaten us in the area of clothes and food, of money or the lack thereof, or friends or the lack thereof, or of difficult circumstances. If we don’t “allow the Spirit of God to raise up the standard against it, these things will come in like a flood.”

I’m a champion worrier. I got it from my mother. She thinks she is the champion. I would contest that. I make up circumstances that don’t even exist yet, and worry about them! But Jesus commands us to not do that! The Lord tells us that the only thing we should be concerned about is our relationship with him. Of course, our “common sense” rails against this. We have to consider how we shall live, what we shall wear and eat and drink! Jesus says, “Don’t.” And do not make the mistake of thinking that he doesn’t quite understand what we are going through. “Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things, so as to make them the one concern of our life.”

Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34) It’s early in the morning. How much “evil” has already begun to threaten me? What have I already found to be worried about? “What kind of mean little imps have been looking in and saying–Now what are you going to do next month–this summer? ‘Be anxious for nothing,’ Jesus says.” But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? We need to keep our eyes fixed on the “much more” of our heavenly Father!

Father, teach me this truth! A huge percentage of the things that I find myself worrying about are 100% out of my control! It is pointless to worry; it does no good whatsoever! And it shows that I lack faith! Teach me to trust you. After all these years, I still struggle with this. May your grace rain down and calm me in the face of these “mean little imps.”

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

P.S. I know it looks like I forgot to finish the title. I did not. That’s it. “Don’t.”