Pause . . . Pray

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the eighth of March, 2022, in the first week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,371

Yesterday was an interesting day. I had scheduled a grocery delivery (a rather large one) to be delivered between 10-11 AM. This was set up the night before, as C, Mama, and I sat around discussing the grocery order. The order arrived right on time, but as I brought everything in, it appeared that some things might be missing. So I checked items off of the receipt as I put them away. Sure enough, it appeared that the driver (or a store associate . . . I will never know exactly whose fault it was) didn’t get a couple of bags. All of the cat treats were missing (oh, the horror!!), and none of the items that would be from the area by the pharmacy were there (toothpaste, ibuprofen, and so on). I was also missing one of the three Healthy Choice meals that I ordered.

I found a customer service number on one of my emails and called them. They helped me quickly and courteously, and said they were going to process a refund. After finishing my blog for the day (the grocery delivery interrupted that), I was getting ready to go to a grocery store and pick up the items that were missing, and I got a text telling me that my Albertson’s order would be delivered in a few minutes.

Wait, what?

Apparently, they found the missing bags at the store and immediately arranged for them to be delivered. Everything was there except for the Healthy Choice meal. So I took off my hat and shoes and had some lunch. As of this moment, I have seen no evidence that the refund was ever processed, so I’m glad about that. I don’t want to have to deal with trying to get me to charge me again for those items.

In the meantime, I was also wondering if a scheduled appointment with Milestone was going to happen. When the electrician made the repairs last week, he set up an appointment for a plumber to come by, yesterday, to look at my outdoor faucet in the back yard. The window as 11-2. By noon, I had heard nothing at all, not even a confirmation of the appointment, so I had assumed that they weren’t coming. But around 12:30 or so, I got a text and a phone call telling me that someone was on the way.

He arrived, and was extremely professional and friendly. However, after going over what needed to be done, and then giving the estimate, we elected to not have them do the work. They are outrageously high on their prices. We probably won’t be calling them again. They wanted over $500 to fix the outdoor faucet, and C found an average price of around$150-$300. I think, when the A/C folks are here tomorrow, I will ask them if they have any plumbing recommendations. Or I may check with our “handyman,” who doubles as a Walmart store manager. Hahaha!

Today, I don’t have much going on. It’s a normal Tuesday for me, which means I work this evening, 4:15-8:15. I’ll run out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and pick up stuff for them and C to have for dinner. I might get something for me to have for a late dinner, as well.

Winter is giving a final gasp (I hope?) at the end of this week, as we will have yet another bout of freezing temperatures overnight on Friday to Saturday morning, with chances of rain and snow showers. Actually, some of the snow could occur while I’m at work on Friday afternoon. Yuck.

My Lenten fast continues to go fairly well. On the physical side, I have had no candy. On the spiritual/emotional side, I have not been perfect, but have made progress. Last night, in fact, I stopped myself, mid-sentence, just about to say something critical about someone. C and Mama both approved, and also stopped talking about what we were talking about. It was a cool moment.


When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?
(Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that today is a new day; none of yesterday's anxiety is welcome; none of tomorrow's worries are allowed; it is today, and it is the best day; it is all we have
2. for the power of worship
3. for the scenes of worship in the book of Revelation, especially those that include people "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages"
4. for the pauses that God places in my life
5. for the wisdom He gives me to notice those pauses and to pray through them

John Henry Newman gives us three examples of Old Testament fasting. First, he mentions Jacob, whose account occurs in Genesis 32. Jacob had separated his entire camp into several groups, in preparation for meeting up with his estranged brother, Esau. Jacob was scared. He was sure that Esau was out for revenge.

After crossing the Jabbok, with his wives, children, and a few servants, Jacob spent the night wrestling with “a man.” It doesn’t specifically mention fasting in this context, but if he was wrestling all night, he was fasting. And the end result of this was a blessing.

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 
(Genesis 32:28 ESV)

The next example is Moses, who, after coming down the mountain to find Israel worshiping a golden calf and generally partying, went back up the mountain for forty days and nights, to intercede for them.

“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'"
(Deuteronomy 9:25-26 ESV)

The end result of this fast was that God didn’t wipe out Israel. Would He have done that, anyway? I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us know.

Tomorrow, we will look at the third example, which is Daniel.

(From Spiritual Classics, by Richard J Foster and Emilie Griffin)

The final chapter in Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation is, rightfully, on the book of Revelation, and called, “Worship.”

“The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections, and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multidimensional act of Christian worship.”

It starts with the four “living creatures” in chapter 4, who are said to be chanting night and day, never taking a break,

Holy, holy, holy
Is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,

And, with the twenty-four elders joining in,

Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
Take the glory! the honor! the power!
You created it all;
It was created because you wanted it.
(Revelation 4:8, 11 MSG)

By mid-book, all the “saved ones” have joined in:

Mighty your acts and marvelous,
    O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
    King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
    give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
    all nations will come and worship you,
    because they see your judgments are right.
(Revelation 15:3-4 MSG)

Regardless of everything you have ever read about the book of Revelation, the central theme of John’s book seems to be worship. I love how Eugene Peterson has brought this out, in his different writings about Revelation. John was worshiping when he received the vision, and is responsible for “a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship.”

“Our times are not propitious for worship. The times never are. The world is hostile to worship. The Devil hates worship. As Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians are even killed because they worship.”

Consider this scene from chapter 19:

I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing,

The salvation and glory and power are God’s—
    his judgments true, his judgments just.
He judged the great Whore
    who corrupted the earth with her lust.
He avenged on her the blood of his servants.

Then, more singing:

The smoke from her burning billows up
    to high Heaven forever and ever and ever.

The Twenty-four Elders and the Four Animals fell to their knees and worshiped God on his Throne, praising,

Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!

 From the Throne came a shout, a command:

Praise our God, all you his servants,
All you who fear him, small and great!

Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of mighty rapids, the sound of strong thunder:

The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
    of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

And Peterson doesn’t even mention on of my favorite Revelation passages:

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes!
(Revelation 7:9-12)
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
(Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
But you, O Lord,
    are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
(Psalm 86:15 NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8:16 NLT)

Today’s prayer word is “comma.” Another good one, when taken in context, here. Obviously, the word is likely not in the Bible anywhere. I’m not going to go to the trouble to verify that right now, but I don’t think it is.

The quote at the beginning of the reading is from Christian musician TobyMac.

"Practice the pause. 
When in doubt, 
When angry, 
When tired, 
When stressed, 
And when you pause, 


Commas are interesting. I remember an English class I had in college, taught by a TA. I would write an essay for an assignment, and there would be a note written in the margin, “Comma not necessary.” Then, the next time, “You could put a comma there.” I was, like, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!”

But that’s the funny thing about commas. I’m a staunch supporter of the “Oxford comma,” so I use more commas than some. I was going to launch into this long, drawn out example, but there’s nothing spiritual about that, so never mind. But a comma in a sentence is a place to pause, perhaps to breathe.

Sometimes, God puts commas in our lives. Sometimes, those commas are at very inconvenient places. Over the last couple years, we have had a very large comma, haven’t we?

As written by one who is only referred to as “Barbranda,” “[God] inserts a comma in various spots in my life because He wants me to stop and rest or learn a lesson. Sometimes I recognize it as such; other times I think I’m facing a defeat or the end. But it’s only the Lord’s comma – a pause, not a period.”

We would all do well to ponder this, especially the next time a “pause” is forced upon us. I’m not necessarily an “everything happens for a reason” person. But there are times when those things do happen for a reason. Side note: that reason is, in my opinion, never to make you feel guilty or helpless or anything like that. But that’s a discussion for a whole ‘nother day.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”
(Psalm 46:10 MSG)

Father, thank You for the pauses. I’m even grateful for this gigantic pause we have had since the beginning of 2020. That doesn’t mean that I am thankful for the million deaths we have had in our country. It doesn’t mean I am thankful for Covid-19. There are, unfortunately, some who would read that that way. But I am grateful for the “reset” that has been forced upon us, the opportunity to step back and realize that there are most definitely things that we can live without. And, when some of the things we like are not available, we survive . . . we can adapt and get by. We can do without! Thank You for showing us that.

Thank You for the magnificent displays of worship that we see in the book of Revelation. And I thank You for the work of Eugene Peterson, who, at this moment, is likely enjoying one of those scenes of worship, in helping us to reframe our perspective on the difficult book of Revelation. It isn’t quite as difficult after hearing Eugene talk about it. You know, Father . . . I love worship, and I miss the act of worship in my life. This past Sunday was, for me, a great time of worship. I know that not everyone responds to the kind of worship setting that we were in, but my soul resonates with it. Help me to get back into the habit of worship, especially in my daily life. And that’s not a call for more music or singing, although I could definitely do more of that. It is a call for my life to be worship. For I believe that worship is something that are, more than something we do.

Thank You for the way my fast is going, and I pray for strength to continue it and to improve. Thank You for adopting me as Your son, through Christ Jesus. I believe that this adoption is permanent, and that no man can snatch me out of Your hands, per the words of Jesus. I praise You for this. Keep me growing in You, and learning more about You.

By Your Spirit, help me to pause and pray more often, today.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

On Labor Day

Today is Monday, September 7, 2020. Labor Day in the US (and, apparently, Labour Day in Canada). Peace be with you!

Day 22,824

34 days until our Broken Bow vacation!

Sunday was a good day. Our virtual worship gathering went well, as we completed our reading aloud of the book of Revelation. We read chapter 22, yesterday, and there was a lot of good discussion on it.

We also discussed, and agreed upon, the idea of meeting in person next Sunday. We will meet in our host’s back yard (weather permitting, which it should be if the forecast holds up), physically distanced, and with masks. No hugging, handshaking or physical contact, especially from those of us who are not staying at home every day. We worked out a plan for taking the Supper, as well. S may or may not attend, as she has a strong aversion to wearing anything covering her face. Basically, she has a panic attack.

We have also decided that our next step is to read through and discuss the book of Acts. And rather than reading a whole chapter at a time, we will break it up into smaller sections (we actually did that with Revelation 22, yesterday). There is no hurry, we have no plan of when this will be concluded. So it’s not going to be a “six-week study” or anything like that. We’re just going to read through the book together.

We had lunch from Applebee’s again, which was good. C had an issue with some of her broccoli not being cooked enough, though, for the second time. But my blackened salmon, with broccoli and “garlicky” green beans was delicious.

Today, the only plan we really have is to cook something different for dinner tonight. After I finish the blog, I’ll probably cook breakfast for us. The meal for tonight is Pecan-Crusted Buttermilk Chicken. I will let you know, tomorrow, how it turns out. It’s a recipe that we got from WW.

Speaking of WW, C and I have signed up to attend the in-person workshop next Saturday morning. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that they have closed our virtual workshop time (10:30 on Saturday) and combined it with the 9:00 Saturday workshop. Not necessarily an issue, but it would mean we had to be up earlier.

The other reason is that we are due quite a few “trinkets” (what I call the milestone rewards that they give out). For both C and me, the last one we got was for reaching the fifteen-pound mark. Haha! I am now at 71.8 pounds down, so they owe me a few.

I have just learned that our local Half-Price Books store is buying books from 2-4 PM and that I can bring a large tote (limit one tote or two boxes or three bags) to sell them. I’ve had a large tote filled since before the pandemic began, and I’m anxious to empty it out so I can fill it again! So I plan to make a trip up there later today. No doubt, I will come home with Sonic drinks.


Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(The Prayer of St. Francis)

“Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
(Psalms 68:26 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For an extra day off from work
  2. That You, O Lord, give wisdom, knowledge, and understanding
  3. For the work that You have given me to do
  4. That we have both maintained our jobs during these uncertain, scary times
  5. For the “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:29 MSG)

Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
(Psalms 74:20 ESV)

Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
(Psalms 17:13-14 ESV)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.
(Psalms 53:1 ESV)

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
(Matthew 24:42-44 ESV)

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.
(Psalms 37:10-17 ESV)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.
(Proverbs 2:1-15 ESV)

And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!
(Psalms 90:17 MSG)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 ESV)

Yes, it’s Labor Day. A day off from labor.

But I have decided to treat it as more than that. I’m choosing to let it be a day of true celebration. Celebration that I have a job. And, while it may be a job full challenges and frustrations, what job isn’t? It is a job where I am appreciated (at least by some) for the work that I do. Of course, it’s a job where I get paid a decent amount, but that isn’t always the most important thing.

Who am I kidding? Of course that’s the most important thing! But it is also important to be appreciated in the work that I do. It is also important to appreciate the work that others do alongside me, and I am being reminded of this today.

It is important to know that the Lord affirms the work that I do (Psalm 90:17) It is important to know that I am called to walk in this work with humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with those with whom I work, in love (Ephesians 4:1-3).

I confess – I don’t always do that. But I’m going to try harder to make that a point, each day.

It is also important to let peace reign in our hearts. And to do the work that we do, whatever it is, “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17).

Today, if you are a working person, I enjoy you to join me in this celebration. I challenge you to know that the Lord affirms your work. I challenge you to appreciate those with whom you work, visibly and verbally, if possible. And I challenge you to do the work that you do in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God.

Father, I thank You for my job, for the work that You have given me to do with my hands and with my mind. I thank You for the people with whom I work. All of them. Even the ones who are more challenging to get along with. I thank You for the weekly paycheck that I receive for doing this work.

I pray, Lord, that You would inspire me, daily, to do my work for Your glory, and in the Name of Jesus Christ. I pray that You would cause me to be grateful every day, and do my work in a grateful state of mind. I pray that, while I am at work (and everywhere else, for that matter), I will display the characteristics of Christ in all of my interactions.

I pray for all of the people in this world who have lost employment because of the pandemic. May You be their Provider, and I pray that they will be able to find jobs again.

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!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

He Cares for You

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

Today is Monday, July 13, 2020. Peace be with you!


37 days until S’s birthday!

We had a good day yesterday, nice and restful, peaceful. Our virtual worship gathering was good, as we started doing something different. Well . . . we’re already doing something “different” from most churches, but this was even different for us.

The wife of our host family and I had been chatting about something over the past couple of weeks, as some of us are going through some Bible reading plans on Revelation, in this app called “YouVersion.” Both of us had noticed Revelation 1:3, which says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Last year, at some point, several of us read a book by Francis Chan, called Letters to the Church. The book chronicles Chan’s conviction to ditch the “normal” mega-church model and begin a bunch of house churches in Northern California. It is the book that inspired The Exchange to begin meeting in house churches.

In this book, Chan recounts how they took that verse from Revelation seriously, and just started reading it. Straight through, from start to finish. As we were listening to these Bible reading plans, some of us thought that might be a good idea. No one acted on it until yesterday.

It was Brandon’s turn to lead, but, at some point during the week, he asked Kristin if she would like to. She agreed, and began our reading through Revelation. We read through three chapters, with some good discussion on what we saw/heard there. We will continue, next Sunday, when it’s my turn, starting back up with chapter 4, which is where it gets really interesting, because that’s where the “rapture” discussions begin.

After church, I went out and got us Subway and Sonic drinks for lunch while C prepared the Basque Chicken dish in the crock pot. It turned out to be not nearly as good this time, and we aren’t exactly sure why. I don’t even think we’re going to eat the leftovers.

You win some and you lose some, right.

I also owe my mother an apology, as I completely forgot to call her yesterday. I will call this evening.


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer 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
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalms 51:15-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the Church, both worldwide and local
  2. For the promise of blessing to those who read Revelation aloud
  3. That Your steadfast love extends to the heavens, and Your faithfulness to the clouds, and that we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36)
  4. That nothing is too difficult for You
  5. That You are mindful of us (Psalm 8)

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

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

O Lord, may this be true for me today!

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
(Psalms 119:12 ESV)

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
(Luke 17:3-4 ESV)

There are several variations of this command in the Gospels. Here, in Luke, we are told that if someone sins against us seven times in the same day, we are to forgive him. It is my opinion that this is an arbitrary number, and that Jesus simply is telling us that the number of times is irrelevant. We are to forgive one another. Period.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
(Psalms 36:5-10 ESV)

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalms 8:3-4 ESV)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
(Revelation 21:22-25 ESV)

But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
(Luke 18:27 ESV)

He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 ESV)

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”
(Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. May the groans of the prisoners come before you; with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die. Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord. Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.
(Psalms 79:9-13 NIV)

I am frequently astonished when I read Psalm 8. I read that question; you know the one. “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

And it frequently happens as, as the psalmist also says, “when I consider . . . the moon and stars.” When I am able to look up at the “heavens” from a vantage point where there is little to no light pollution, say the upper deck of our favorite cabin in Glen Rose, I feel very tiny and insignificant.

Then I remember that the One who created the heavens, the moon, the stars, and gave each them a name, cares for me. He cares for us.

This is astonishing. I honestly don’t understand why everyone on the planet does not revel in this truth.

And then, speaking of Revelation, we get a small glimpse of what our eternal home will look like. The glory of our God will be so bright that the sun, moon, and stars will no longer be necessary. He is our Light! His glory is bright enough to light all of eternity.

And He cares for us.

I am going to ponder that simple truth as I walk through this day. I invite you to do so with me.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Truthfully, when I look up, into the night sky, and see the multitude of stars and planets, I am amazed that You care for us and for me. I praise You for this truth, and I pray that it causes me to walk humbly before You today.

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!

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 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Bids Us Come to Him

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Today is Saturday, July 11, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,766

39 days until S’s birthday!

Sadly, I have heard that there will be no free Slurpees on 7-Eleven Day. However, 7-Eleven is donating a million meals to Feeding America. So, good on them. I would rather see a million out of work people get to eat than have a free Slurpee.

Once again, we don’t really have plans for today. I’m sure there will be grocery shopping, and we have our virtual WW workshop at 10:30. I think C plans to mow the yard. I may do a little recording today. I say that every Saturday. But some Saturdays, I actually do it.

Over all, last week at work was pretty good. There were some stressful moments, and, yesterday, there was a brief period when I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed as I was getting hit with emails, Skypes, and phone calls, but I got through it, and the day ended well. Most of the receiving team either left around 3:30 or went over to help the kitting team around the same time. Receiving had a pretty light week. I had plenty to do, though, to keep me until 4:30. I could have probably worked another hour or two, but didn’t.


God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


I just noticed that line in the Serenity Prayer that says, “Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it . . .” That’s a good prayer. Because this world is sinful, and it is going to be sinful until Jesus returns. I have not been asked to change that. I know that there are people who believe that it is the duty of the “church” to rid the world of sin. Find that in the Bible, and maybe I will consider it. Jesus has not asked us to do that. All He has asked us (commanded, rather) to do is to love God, love our neighbors, and love each other (the Church) as He has loved us. In doing those things, He said, we fulfill the entirety of the law.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
(Psalms 107:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend, and the rest it brings
  2. For Your wondrous works to the children of man, even the ones who won’t believe in You
  3. For the diversity of peoples that will inhabit Your kingdom
  4. That Jesus bids us come to Him and walk in His easy yoke
  5. That Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:1-3 ESV)

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
(Psalms 8:2 ESV)

O, that You would silence the enemy, Father!

I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
(Psalms 119:141 ESV)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)

Father, help me to humble myself like a child, but not so that I can be “great.” Because if I desire “greatness,” I am no longer being humble. What a double-edged sword.

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:10-12 ESV)

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)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:7-14 ESV)

“Imagine heaven: a parade of every people group in the world celebrating the wonder of being children of the living God–together! As believers in Jesus, may we celebrate that diversity today.”

(Bill Crowder, Our Daily Bread)

I’ve been listening to a Bible-reading plan on Youversion, that is going through Revelation. I remember being stirred by this passage on the day that it went through Revelation 5. It baffles me, knowing the truth and inclusivity of the Kingdom of God, that anyone can espouse bigotry and prejudice against any other people group. God loves all people, and all people will be included in His kingdom. What a day, glorious day, that will be!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
(Revelation 3:20 ESV)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Jesus bids us come to Him. The verse in Revelation is to the Church!! It is not an evangelistic verse (even though it has been used as such for many years). It is Jesus inviting the Church to allow Him in. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

There is no better way to handle this pandemic than to come to Jesus and bring the anxieties and issues to Him. I know I sound like a Sunday School evangelist, but I really believe this with all my heart.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

Father, help me to cast my cares on You, because You care for me! Help me to come to Jesus daily, hourly, remembering to stay in that “easy yoke” with Him. I am weary and burdened, as are many of us, right now. Take these burdens from us and give us rest, rest in Jesus, as we walk in Your Kingdom!

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!

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. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
(Isaiah 41:10-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Justice and Mercy

Sunday morning, December 11, 2011. 12/11/11. 14 days (two weeks!!) until Christmas. 20 days left in 2011.

Last night we went out to look at Christmas lights. As a general rule, there didn’t seem to be as many this year. I guess “times is hard,” to quote Mrs. Lovett. We found one neighborhood in Keller that had quite a few nice decorations, but then we wound up going back to a neighborhood in North Richland Hills, called Diamond Loch, which is well known in this area for their light displays. We were encouraged as we headed that direction, because we saw no less than a dozen city buses coming back toward us, all with flashing signs that said “Holiday Lights Tour.” Diamond Loch did not disappoint. There were many brilliant light displays, two of the most memorable being one that displayed “Whoville” and the Grinch, playing songs from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on an unused radio frequency (the real “Grinch,” not Jim Carry’s sorry knock-off), and the other one that played Christmas music over another radio frequency with flashing lights synchronized (you know…the ones that always play Trans Siberian Orchestra music…). We had a great time, oh, and we brought Tessie with us. Tessie is our Corgi dog. She is very good in the car.

Today is our Worship Celebration and Christi is running the Mac. We will all be heading up there by 730, so I’d best get moving.

Today’s Bible readings:
Revelation 2; Zechariah 7; Isaiah 40:1-11

First up in Revelation 2 is the church in Ephesus. (vv. 1-7) In a sense, these are not different “churches,” but all local manifestations of the universal Church. The church in Ephesus gets high marks for faithfulness to true doctrine. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” Remember, also that these are words that Jesus is having John write to these churches. In spite of these good things, Jesus has one complaint toward Ephesus. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Perhaps they have gotten too caught up in doctrine. Each letter has promise of reward at the end. To Ephesus, he says, To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (This is not to say that these rewards are exclusive to each local church.)

Next is the letter to Smyrna. (vv. 8-11) Smyrna is encouraged because of the persecution they endure. Apparently, they are in the midst of some Jews who slander the “Christian” church. Jesus calls them a “synagogue of Satan.” (v. 9) He encourages them with these words: Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (v. 10) The reward stated in this letter is The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

Third is the letter to Pergamum. (vv. 12-17) This church was apparently located in a hotbed of immorality (I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is) But they have managed to hold fast to the name of Jesus. However, there are some in their midst who follow the teachings of Balaam, and some who follow the teachings of the Nicolaitans. We don’t know much about them, but assume that their teachings are similar to those of Balaam and Jezebel. The church is called to repentance, else Jesus will come and clean them out. The promised reward in this letter is To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. (v. 17)

The final letter in chapter 2 is to Thyatira. (vv. 18-29) He starts out with something good: I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. (v. 19) However, the tolerate a woman who is called Jezebel (we don’t know if this is her true name or not) who is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. (v. 20) She has even been given opportunity to repent, yet refuses to. So, Jesus declares, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (vv. 22-23) Note, though, that the rest of the faithful in Thyatira will not be burdened with this, and are encouraged to hold fast to Jesus until he returns. The reward in this letter is, The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

In Zechariah 7, the Lord declares what is important to him. The people have fasted, yet they do not seek justice and mercy. The Lord is more concerned with mercy. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (vv. 9-10) These people refused to listen to him and this was the result: As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts, and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate. (vv. 13-14)

Father, may we, your people, always be more concerned with justice and mercy than we are with appearances. The church in Ephesus needed to return to their first love and do the deeds that they did at first. They were consistent with doctrine and appearance, but were lacking in these other things. The people to whom you spoke in Zechariah did all the right motions and rituals, but did not take care of the widow and the fatherless, yet you have made it obvious that this is where your heart is. Let us realize this and always seek after your heart, Lord.

I pray for our Worship Celebration this morning. Let it be acceptable in your sight, and I pray that all of our technology will work properly, so as not to distract worshipers.

May your grace and mercy reign today, Lord.

To obey is better than sacrifice. The Lord is more concerned with the widows and the fatherless than he is with our rituals and appearance. Let us seek his heart!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Branch

It’s Saturday morning, December 10, 2011. I’m going to try to whiz through this before time to leave for setup this morning. I may save it and come back this afternoon, if I don’t feel like I’ve done it justice. It’s 33 degrees at the moment, a tad chillier than yesterday morning, but will get up to around 53 today. We have rain forecast to begin around Tuesday of next week.

Stephanie met with her teacher again yesterday, and then got all of her work completed yesterday afternoon. Things are looking up. After next week, she gets two weeks off. I hope we can get back on schedule quickly in January.

Today’s Bible readings:
Revelation 1; Zechariah 5-6; Isaiah 11:1-5

So today, I get to probably the most difficult book of the whole Bible. And, by the way, please note that it is “Revelation” (singular), NOT “Revelations.” The official, complete title of the book is either “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” or “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” depending on which version you are reading. Since it begins with the words, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” I believe I’ll stick with that one. There is some disagreement on who the author is, but I think that most scholars agree that it was John, the disciple of Jesus. I read one commentary, a long time ago, that opined that it might have been John the Baptist. I’ve never seen anyone else suggest that. Here is how it begins:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
I’m wondering if I should be sitting here reading this out loud… Also, we must understand that the word “soon” is relative. The “last days” were begun when Christ was resurrected, and when we remember that time is irrelevant to God, the word “soon” kind of loses any sense of urgency.

John begins by sending blessings to the “seven churches that are in Asia.” (v. 4) John also begins with a doxology, which, as we have seen in most of the New Testament Epistles, is saved for the ending. Then John gives us these words: Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (v. 7) Yes, it is declared, Jesus will return, and all will see him! And it will not be a happy time for some people! “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (v. 8 )

After this, John describes the circumstances in which he received this revelation. He was exiled on an island called Patmos, “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (v. 9) Here you can see the location of Patmos.
John was told by a loud voice to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (v. 11) He described the voice as sounding like a trumpet. When he turned around to see the source of the voice, at first, he saw seven golden lampstands. And then here is what he saw. …in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (vv. 13-16) Understandably, John’s first reaction was to fall at his feet as though dead. John was seeing a vision of the Lord! It was Jesus he saw. But Jesus put a hand on him and said to him, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (vv. 18-20) Thus ends the first chapter of Revelation.

(It is now 3:30 pm, we have been to setup, the grocery store, and lunch at Hoffbrau. I’m back to pick up where I left off.)

At the beginning of Zechariah 5, the prophet sees a flying scroll. But what makes this flying scroll so special (besides the fact that it’s a flying scroll) is that it is twenty cubits by 10 cubits. That’s quite a large scroll. (If you remember, a cubit is approximately 18 inches, so 20 cubits would be approximately 30 feet…10 yards!) The Lord said that this scroll represented a curse going out over the land to clean out everyone who stole or swore falsely by his name. Then, Zechariah sees a basket with a lead cover. There is a woman in the basket, and it is stated that she is “Wickedness.” Then two other women, who must have been angels of some kind, picked up the basket and took it away. Zechariah was told that she was being taken to “Shinar.” This, apparently, is an ancient name for Babylon.
In chapter 6, Zechariah is told to go to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and place upon his head a crown of gold. Then, it was stated, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”‘ You see, “Joshua” is also “Yeshua,” which can also be translated “Jesus.” It is Jesus who will become the High Priest. He will build the true Temple, and he will sit on the throne forever. He is “the Branch,” that is referred to in Zechariah.

This same idea is brought forth in Isaiah’s prophecy, in chapter 11:1-5. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Once again, this “Branch” is Jesus the Messiah.

I am thankful, Lord, that, as I come close to finishing my quest of reading through the Bible this year, you have kept me faithful in my reading, and that I have made it this far. As I start my foray into the book of Revelation, I pray that you would keep me focused on what is central in the book, as well as what is central in the entire Bible, and that is Jesus Christ. There is much to get bogged down with in reading Revelation, and that is a danger of it. But I want to focus on Christ as I read this book, and his ultimate victory. In fact, Father, as I finish this year, let me see Christ in every part of Scripture that I read from now until the close of the year, especially since we spend this part of the year celebrating his birth.

Lord, I am thankful for good friends. Especially good friends who are faithful to pray, even when we don’t ask them to. Lord, you have worked on my pride this year. And perhaps I didn’t realize until this morning, just exactly what you were doing. But I thank you for the work that you have done in my life. You led us to The Exchange for a reason. I’m not 100% sure yet what that reason is, but I’m beginning to have a good idea. I am grateful for it, Lord. We have a ministry already, even though it is mostly behind the scenes. And I’m thinking that is good for us, after spending so many years being “up front.” I praise you, Father. Not really for any specific thing, but just because I feel like praising you.

I pray for the rest of this day. We plan to venture out to look at Christmas lights this evening. I pray for a good time as we do this. It’s always been a special time for our family. I pray for good rest tonight, and, as we get up tomorrow, may we be alert and rested for the part we will play in tomorrow’s Worship Celebration. May the worship that is offered up to you tomorrow morning be pure and acceptable in your sight. May we be all about Jesus and nothing else!

I’ve discovered, today, how difficult it is to come back to a blog that was begun earlier in the day. The focus is disrupted, and I think it shows. My main thing today is simply Jesus. He is The Branch. He is the King. He is my Redeemer. All glory to him!

Grace and peace, friends.