Good and Trouble

Today is Thursday, the twenty-first of October, 2021

May the peace of God reign in your lives

Day 23,233

Seventeen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

As is pretty typical on or around Thursdays, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, this morning. I did some grocery shopping, yesterday, and not much else. I’m doing a few other household chores today, and hope to get a good deal of reading done. The library book I am reading is due tomorrow, and I’m not sure I’m going to get it finished.

The Red Sox are heading back to Houston, down 3-2, after another lackluster performance, yesterday. The sad thing is that Chris Sale actually put on a stellar performance from the mound, only giving up one run on a home run, early in the game. Unfortunately, the Houston pitcher was perfect through five innings, something that has never happened at Fenway Park. And then, as if they weren’t behind enough, Alex Cora showed that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and put Martin Perez in, again, in the ninth, to hand the Astros two more runs. Red Sox lose 9-1. Oh, well. It will be one less thing to worry about.

I have neglected to mention . . . we will be closing on the refinancing of our mortgage next Tuesday. We will be paying off both car loans after the refi, and we plan to channel the money we have been paying on the cars into the mortgage payment, and theoretically could have the house paid off in less than ten years. The main reason was to get a lower interest rate, but we will take advantage of the opportunity to pay off the cars early. I don’t foresee either of us entering into a new car loan any time soon. Both of our cars are less than five years old. I think mine is a 2019, and C’s is likely only the year before that.

Today is Reptile Awareness Day. Lizards, anyone?

Today’s word is shivaree. “A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple; charivari.”

Today’s quote is from Jonas Salk, American scientist. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Reminds me of one that I don’t know who originally said it, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Significant birthdays on October 21:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet (Rime of the Ancient Mariner), 1772-1834
Sir Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (Chicago Symphony), 1911-1994
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, American jazz trumpeter, 1917-1993
Whitey Ford, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1928-2020
Ursula K. Le Guin, American Science Fiction author (The Lathe of Heaven), 1929-2018
Manfred Mann, British rock musician (The Mighty Quinn, Blinded By the Light), 1940 (81)
Elvin Bishop, American rock guitar player (Fooled Around and Fell in Love), 1942 (79)
Judith Sheindlin, American television personality (Judge Judy), 1942 (79)
Lee Loughnane, American musician and songwriter (Chicago), 1946 (75)
Keith Green, American Christian musician, 1953-1982
Rich Mullins, American Christian singer/songwriter, 1955-1997
Carrie Fisher, American actress (Star Wars, Shampoo), 1956-2016
Steve Lukather, American rock singer, guitar player (Toto), 1957 (64)
Speaking of trouble . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Jesus wants us to receive the love he offers.
He wants nothing more than that we allow him to love us and enjoy that love.
This is so hard since we always feel that we have to deserve the love offered to us.
But Jesus wants to offer that love to us not because we have earned it, but because he has decided to love us independently of any effort on our side.
Our own love for each other should flow from that “first love” that is given to us undeserved.” (Henri Nouwen, Receive Jesus’ Love)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Psalms 79:13 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the love of Jesus, undeserved, yet freely given
2. that I am alive and breathing
3. for a raise at my library job (yes, already!)
4. for passages of Scripture with which I must struggle
5. that my enemy can bring nothing against me that God has not approved (don't agree? Read the book of Job)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

I praise God, because he did not reject my prayer or keep back his constant love from me.
(Psalms 66:20 GNB)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to reflect on the love of Jesus, as stated by Henri Nouwen, above. It is such a marvelous truth to realize that He loves us unconditionally, even though we have done nothing to deserve such love.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
(Psalms 110:1 NIV)

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
(Psalms 110:4-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
(Job 2:7-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in meditating over them. These are not the easiest of passages to apply to current life situations.

I’ll be honest . . . the psalm is not one of my favorites and is a bit off-putting, especially when trying to ascertain how it applies to us, today. I believe that the first part refers to the Father speaking to the Son. The designation “LORD” should be translated from the Hebrew “YHWH,” or “yehovah.” The other “Lord” is translated from variations of “Adonai,” which means “sovereign” or “ruler.”

References to Melchizedek are always confusing, too. Basically, Melchizedek was the king of Salem, who just appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14. There are some who believe that Hebrews teaches that he was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. However, I don’t think I go along with that teaching, and passages like Psalm 110 seem to rule that out. Nevertheless, Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the narrative, having no explanation of where he came from or anything.

Psalm 110, though, proclaims that Christ (the “Lord” referred to in these verses) is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The latter verses of the psalm seem pretty violent, and I won’t pretend to comprehend verse 7 at all. I believe the main thing to get from Psalm 110 is the preeminence of Christ.

And the main thing I get from the Job passage (after I get through shuddering at the image of a man sitting among ashes, scraping boils off of his skin with piece of pottery) is Job’s response to his wife when she encourages him to “curse God and die.”

It’s a very wise response and one we would all do well to ponder. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Again, I don’t know if I believe that Job was a real person or if this is just allegory that teaches us things about God and His relationship with His people. I do know that there are people out there who would have us believe that any “trouble” we receive in life comes from the devil.

I don’t agree with that stance. God most definitely brought trouble on Israel. He sent trouble to David. Now, granted, most of those times of trouble were caused by their own actions. But Job had done nothing wrong. And while it is true that the boils and calamities were technically caused by Satan, they were allowed by God.

So I will gracefully (sometimes not so much, I admit) accept whatever comes my way. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, you know.

Father, I am grateful for all of the good that You bring to my life. And I know, as Scripture tells me, that even the trouble that comes my way comes through You, and You work it all out for my good, because I do love You, and I am called according to Your purpose. I say these things with all humility, especially in light of the love of Jesus, so freely given, yet so little deserved. I praise You for Your great love for us, Father! Give me strength to endure any trouble that comes my way, with the grace that the Holy Spirit enables me to display. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth.

I pray that all of Your Church will have a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for us. May we have the full experience of life as Your adopted children, and please give us vibrant prayer lives.

"God of severe mercy,
like Job,
eventually I will lose everything -
whatever treasures I have,
my family,
my health,
my life.
This bitter reality challenges my core motives:
why am I following You?
Who am I living this life for?
Yet in this I rest:
I belong to You,
come what may.
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
(Matthew 5:8 GNB)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 NIV)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
(Psalms 55:22 NIV)

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Psalm 55:22 is a great verse to read after considering the truths brought forth in Job.

Thank You, Father, that You will never let us be shaken.

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!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.

Keep On Running

Today is Saturday, October 21, 2017. Day 21,772.

Ten days until C’s knee replacement surgery.

Carrie Fisher, who was born on this date in 1956 (died in the celebrity massacre of 2016), said, “I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know. It was something I always did.”
BrainyQuote

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com is ducky, which means, “fine; excellent; wonderful.” But, and please correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think I have every heard this word used in any sense other than sarcasm. “Well, that’s just ducky!”

Today is <em>Reptile Awareness Day. You know, just in case you weren’t aware that reptiles exist?

I haven’t had time for personal update, much, this week. I’ve been trying to make sure that I have adequate time for my devotions, each morning, which is the more important part of the day. But there hasn’t been much going on, anyway.

Except for the part where someone got hold of my social security number somehow, and started opening credit card accounts. Yes, sir, I have been Identity Thefted! I may have mentioned a little over a week ago (can’t remember) that someone had gotten into my AT&T mobile account, stored a credit card with a Wisconsin address and PAID almost $1000 toward our account. We still can’t figure that one out. I changed my password and deleted the credit card. As far as I can tell, there has been no further activity there.

The next day, I received a strange call on my cell phone. I didn’t answer, because I didn’t recognize the number, but it showed being from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Yes! Another Wisconsin thing. Turns out, it was a number from the Kohl’s corporate headquarters. They left a message, too, with a call back number (different from the originating number). So, I called the other number. I had a strange conversation with a woman, who said that the message had been an investigator. But she couldn’t tell me anything about why, and started asking for personal information. So, I ended that call, as I didn’t feel comfortable giving that out.

About a week later, we received several disturbing things in the mail. There were two letters from Kohl’s. One stating that I had shoplifted some merchandise from a store in Fresno and was responsible to reimburse them $350. The other one was that a credit card had been opened in my name, but some of the information on the application was not verifiable, so they were wanting to verify if it was me.

We first called the number on the letter about shoplifting. Again, we had a very strange conversation with a woman who didn’t seem to know anything at all about the situation. All she would say is that if we filed an ID theft report and forward that to them, it would clear it up. When we asked to speak to a manager, she said there weren’t any. At Kohl’s corporate office. No managers. We ended that call, and tried the other number about the credit card. We got slightly better results, there, but it was still not handled well.

That same day, we also received a credit card from Target and a credit card from WalMart, neither of which I applied for. I immediately called the numbers on the backs of both cards. The guy I spoke with at Target was extremely helpful (I’m not 100% positive, but I’m pretty sure he was also in the United States, which I’m 99% sure the Kohl’s people were NOT), and informed me that the fraudulent people had, in fact, used the $500 temporary limit, but that I would not be responsible for any of it. He said the card would be turned off immediately, and that I would receive a form in a few days that I need to complete and send back. The WalMart people were just as helpful and professional as Target. They did, however, forward me to someone with the bank that backed the card. There had been no usage on that one, but it was also turned off immediately.

I called our local police department to report ID theft. They took down information for a report, but since nothing happened in our city, they couldn’t file an official identity theft report. I get that. But at least they have the data.

I also filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission. That seems to be the most important thing to do. And I emailed that report to Kohl’s on Friday. In addition, I put a fraud alert on all three credit reporting companies. I’m seriously considering putting a credit freeze on all three of them today. That will cost me a little bit, but it would, no doubt, be worth it.

Oddly enough, after most of these phone calls, and after dinner was ready, we sat down to eat, and decided to watch last Sunday night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” with John Oliver. After spending a few minutes going over some recent news reports, John Oliver settled into the week’s story. The Equifax security breach. I swear I am not making this up!!

We got the Kohl’s credit card in the mail, yesterday.

In other news, the Dodgers made quick work of the Cubs, beating them in the NLCS 4-1. At least the Cubs won a game. The Yankees, after falling behind 2-0 in Houston, proceeded to win three consecutive games in NY to go ahead 3-2 in the ALCS. But last night, back in Houston, the Astros put it to the Yankees, beating them 7-1. The final game of that series is tonight at 7:00 CDT. The World Series begins Tuesday night.

I have also learned that today is the 62nd anniversary of the birth of Rich Mullins, who died in 1997. Here is a video of his song, “The Color Green.”

I also just became aware that today is also Keith Green’s birthday. He was born in 1953, while Mullins was born in 1955. Green died in 1982. Here is his song, “O Lord, You’re Beautiful.”

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:2
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Psalm 84:8
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! 
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 57:7-11
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
John 10:14-17
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 95:3-5

(From Daily Guideposts 2017)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:1

In today’s reading, Julie Garmon writes, again, about her daughter, Katie, whose divorce was final in April (unspecified year). In August of the same year, she had “double hernia repair surgery.” Katie planned to run a half-marathon in October, only six weeks after the surgery.

Julie was skeptical regarding the health safety of running so soon. But Katie insisted that it was something she needed to do.

At 7:55 AM on the day of the race, Katie texted her mother “Say a prayer that I finish strong.” Julie texted Isaiah 40:31 back to her. They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Later, another text came. “Pray. Mile 8. This is hard.” Julie texted back, “Praying. I love you!”

Then came, “Mile 10. Can barely move my legs. Pain in my side. Keep praying.” Julie really wanted to say, “Just quit!” But she wrote, “I’m praying. Text me when you finish!”

Then, a little after 10:00 AM, came the photo of Katie crossing the finish line! She called Julie and said, “Thanks for praying, Mom. When I wasn’t sure if I could keep going, I knew you and God wouldn’t let me quit.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve want to just quit this race, to lay everything down and just live however I want to. I have watched numerous friends fall along the wayside, as the years have gone by. One in particular, with whom I went to high school and grew up in Sunday School, is pretty much an atheist, now. Another dear friend, while I think he still believes, won’t set foot in a church.

How have I held on? There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a super-Christian with super faith. I’ve had sin in my life that would make some of you run and hide. There are only a couple of explanations as to how I have endured some of the circumstances that have come my way. One is the grace of God, because he chose me and will not let me go. The other is the same thing that kept Katie going in the story above. My parents praying. And, most certainly, grandparents, too, when they were still on this earth.

Not only have I stayed the course (not perfectly, again, please, please understand that . . . I strayed off of said course plenty of times), but I am discovering new things about God, faith, and this life in the Kingdom every single day! And I’m almost sixty years old! God is so good, so beautiful, and so loving!

So, pray for your children, and keep running the race set before you, knowing that, if you “wait for the LORD,” your strength will be renewed.

Father, thank you for all that you have done for me and my family. Thank you for praying parents and grandparents. Thank you that you remind me to pray for my own children. I pray that you always draw them closer to you. And thank you for continuing to teach me new things so that my faith doesn’t grow stale.

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.

A Living Sacrifice

Good morning. Today is Monday, (how is it Monday already?) October 21, 2013.

Today is “Reptile Awareness Day.” Be kind to a lizard today. Take that however you want.


There’s really not a lot to talk about on the personal level, this morning. Yesterday was a pretty good day, with a good worship service, and setup/tear-down went pretty smoothly. It was slightly stressful because there was a song we were struggling with, but we wound up not even practicing or playing the song yesterday. After church, a group of ladies from the church went to a painting activity that they all got from Groupon. They all pretty much painted the same picture. Christi’s looks like this. . .

Christi's painting
Christi’s painting

They had a really good time. Stephanie and I just relaxed at home, and even took a nap. I was pretty tired from staying up the night before for the ALCS game and subsequent celebrations.


(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson won the battle at Cape Trafalgar, outmaneuvering a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships numbering 33 with his fleet of only 27 ships. During the course of the battle, his ship, Victory became entangled with a French warship and he was shot by a sniper at 1:15pm. The bullet, catching him in the shoulder, went through his lungs and shattered his spine. He was carried below, where he survived another three hours in “indescribable pain.” Legend has it that, after asking his captain to kiss him on the cheek, he uttered these last words, “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty.” The Battle of Trafalgar was decisive, denying Napoleon his last hope of invading England.


Today’s birthdays are Carrie Fisher, 57, Judge Judy Sheindlin, 71, Dizzy Gillespie, 1917-1993, Alfred Nobel, 1833-1896, Charlotte Caffey, 60, Whitey Ford, 85, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, Steve Lukather, 56, Elvin Bishop, 71, Zack Greinke, 30, and Steve Cropper, 72.


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
Psalm 71:8-9
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
Psalm 88:1-2
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:4-5
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Psalm 3:8

Father, I pray that you would show me marvelous things in your words this morning. Teach me and lead me in your truth.


Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “A Living Sacrifice.” the scripture reading is Romans 12:1.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Paul has been dealing with a lot of issues involving community in the chapters before this one. The word “therefore” signifies a change of emphasis. We’ve all heard the cliche, right? “When you see ‘therefore,’ always go back and see what it’s there for.” Paul has been stating that Jews and Gentiles are on common ground in Christ; all of us sinners are brothers and sisters in Christ; we understand that Jesus is our savior; we realize that we are new creations in Christ, “resurrection men and women through the works of the Holy Spirit.” “Well, then – therefore! – let us live this new life to the hilt, placing our bodies simply, wholly, believingly on the altar, a daily offering so that God can work his will in us.” I’ve heard it said by more than one person that the problem with a “living sacrifice” is that it is always trying to get off the altar. It sounds humorous, but it is, sadly, true. We are constantly taking ourselves off of the altar of sacrifice. The book offers this prayer from “Prayer of Abandonment to God,” by Charles de Foucauld:

Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what You will,
whatever You do, I will thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all Your creatures,
and I’ll ask nothing else, my Lord.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
I give it to You
with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, Lord,
and so need to give myself
to surrender myself into Your hands
with a trust beyond all measure,
because You are my Father.


Father, I pray that I might be able to pray the above prayer and mean it. May I have the willingness to completely abandon myself to you, that you might do with me whatever you will. The flesh rebels against this prayer, as it is scared to let go. It is selfish and has its own desires that it does not want to relinquish. Help me to sacrifice this flesh to your glory, Father. I do love you, Lord, even though sometimes I don’t show it properly. You know my heart. I pray that you search it and cleanse it, renewing a right spirit within me.

I pray for this day, Lord, that Christi and I might have a day full of you and your grace. Regardless of how the day goes (I always ask for a smooth day), may we face each challenge looking to you for strength, grace, and mercy. May we approach each person we interact with with the same grace you have lavished upon us. Show Stephanie your heart of mercy today, drawing her ever closer to you. May she see your grace and mercy today.


May we all be successful in laying down our lives to the Lord for a living sacrifice, and then staying on the altar that he might do with us as he wills.

Grace and peace, friends.