When I Am Afraid . . .

Today is Thursday, the twenty-sixth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,177

Eleven days until Labor Day

As I’m getting started, this morning, a question came up on Facebook, wondering what was the first movie I saw in a theater. I don’t rightly remember, as that was almost sixty years ago. However, the first movie I remember seeing was at the Pinto Drive-In, in Mineral Wells, Texas, and was a double feature of The Rounders, with Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda, and the science fiction movie, The First Men in the Moon. At least I think that was the combination. I know the second one is correct, and have vivid memories of that movie, as I was born to love science fiction.

C is working from home, today and tomorrow, this week, since she went in to the office on Tuesday, her normal work-from-home day. I don’t have any plans at all for today, but I might make a trip up to the library, as it looks like my first pay check might be a paper check. I doubt the direct deposit order has gotten completely processed, yet. On the other hand, I might also wait until Monday to pick it up next time I work.

I just remembered, I plan to make stir-fry tonight, so I need to get some chicken out of the freezer. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting. I got a second cup of coffee and took out the recycling, as well.

Today is Women’s Equality Day, recognizing the date, in 1920, when the nineteenth amendment to the US Constitution was certified. I’m a big proponent of women’s rights and equality, and recognize that, just as in the area of race equality, this nation has a long way to go.

The word for today is Xanadu. It’s a proper noun, defined as, “a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.” “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree.” Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan) was the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, Thirteenth century China. He built his capital in “Xanadu,” which was really called Shang-Tu. It’s also a pretty bad (from what I heard, as I’ve never seen it) movie, starring Olivia Newton-John.

Today’s quote is from Robert Frost. “The best way out is always through.” I’m not sure I agree with that 100%, but do believe that in many cases, it is true. There are times, however, that retreat is the best course of action.

And now for today’s birthdays:

1845 Mary Ann Nichols, English first victim of Jack the Ripper, born in London (d. 1888)
1874 Zona Gale, American novelist and playwright, 1st woman to win Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1921), born in Portage, Wisconsin (d. 1938)
1884 Earl Derr Biggers, American author ("Charlie Chan" detective series), born in Warren, Ohio (d. 1933)
1898 Peggy Guggenheim, American art patron & collector, born in NYC, New York (d. 1979)
1910 Mother Teresa [Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu], Albanian-born Indian nun and founder of Missionaries of Charity (Nobel Peace Prize, 1979), born in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (d. 1997)
1918 Katherine Johnson, American NASA mathematician (portrayed in film Hidden Figures), born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (d. 2020)
1921 Naomi Parker Fraley, American who inspired "Rosie the Riveter" poster, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (d. 2018)
1935 Geraldine Ferraro, American politician (US Representative from New York (D), 1979-85), and the 1st female vice-presidential nominee (1984), born in Newburgh, New York (d. 2011)
1939 Fred Milano, American doo-wop singer (Dion & The Belmonts), born in The Bronx, New York (d. 2012)
1940 Don LaFontaine, American voice actor, movie trailer legend (d. 2008)
1941 Chris Curtis [Crummey], British rock drummer, songwriter and vocalist (The Searchers - "Needles And Pins"), born in Oldham, Lancashire (d. 2005)
1942 Vic Dana [Samuel Mendola], American singer and dancer ("Red Roses For A Blue Lady"), born in Buffalo, New York
1947 Candy Moore, American actress (Lunch Wagon, Tomboy & Champ, The Lucy Show, Leave It To Beaver), born in Maplewood, New Jersey
1949 Bob Cowsill, American musician (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island

1949 Leon Redbone [Dickran Gobalian], American blues and jazz musician ("Seduced"; "Theme to Mr. Belvedere"), born in Nicosia, Cyprus (d. 2019)
1952 Michael Jeter, American actor (The Fisher King), born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (d. 2003)
1960 Branford Marsalis, American jazz, classical and funk saxophonist (Sting; Tonight Show, 1992-95), born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
1960 Keith Raniere, American sex cult leader (Nxivm) and felon, born in Brooklyn, New York
1966 Shirley Manson, Scottish rock singer (Garbage), born in Edinburgh, Scotland
1966 Dan Vickrey, American guitarist and songwriter (Counting Crows - "Accidentally in Love"), born in Walnut Creek, California
1969 Adrian Young, American drummer (No Doubt - "Don't Speak"), born in Long Beach, California
1970 Melissa McCarthy, American comedian and actress (Mike and Molly, Spy), born in Plainfield, Illinois
1980 Macaulay Culkin, American actor (Home Alone, My Girl, Richie Rich), born in NYC, New York
1980 Chris Pine, American actor (Star Trek), born in Los Angeles, California
1982 John Mulaney, American comedian, writer and actor (Saturday Night Live), born in Chicago, Illinois
1985 David Price, American MLB player (2012 Cy Young Award), born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Don LaFontaine (1940-2008)
Bob Cowsill, 72 years old today
Shirley Manson, 55 today
John Mulaney, 39 today. Some swears in this clip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
(Psalms 51:10-12 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have created a clean heart within me, through the work of Jesus Christ
2. that You restore the joy of salvation to me, daily
3. that "You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before [You] in the light of life." (Psalms 56:13 NIV)
4. for the place You are preparing for me
5. that You, Jesus, have borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4)

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK FOURTEEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

LORD, you will always be proclaimed as God; all generations will remember you.
(Psalms 135:13 GNB)

As I pause, this morning, I reflect on God’s great grace, infinite and matchless, that has cleansed my soul from sin.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalms 56:1-4,12-13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
Moses replied:
“It is not the sound of victory,
it is not the sound of defeat;
it is the sound of singing that I hear.”
When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
(Exodus 32:15-24 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I remind myself of the presence of the Lord, and read these passages again, looking for words or phrases that speak to my spirit.

Immediately, I find that I wish I could hear what “A Dove on Distant Oaks” sounds like.

The psalm has some precious words in it. Verses 3 and 4 have long been favorites. There is a children’s video that we used to have, I think it was called “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart,” and it featured the great Christian vocalist Steve Green. One of the songs featured Psalm 56:3-4.

I may have told this story before, here, but can’t remember. Many years ago, when our oldest daughter (referred to as “R” in this blog) was a child, C (her mother) was going to night school to finish her college degree. One particular night, while C was in class, a very bad storm came through our area. At the suggestion of the weather powers-that-be, R and I huddled together in the hallway, with pillows. She suggested that we sing that particular Scripture song while we waited for the storm to pass. It is one of the sweetest memories I have of her childhood.

As “grups” (a classic Star Trek reference, if you will), we have many opportunities to have childlike faith, and taking to heart the truth of Psalm 56:3-4 is certainly one of those. There are always times when we are afraid. Sometimes those fears are valid, sometimes they are silly. But in either case, we can put our trust in the Lord when we are afraid. In this case, David was being pursued by “adversaries.” And, in verse 4, he realizes the truth of the rhetorical-ish question, “What can mere mortals do to me?”

I have frequently said that the worst thing any other human can do to me is send me Home. The point is that no one can do anything to me to sever my relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Not only is there no condemnation for us who are in Christ, there is also no danger of anyone else being able to damage that relationship.

Then, for today’s reading, we skip to the last two verses, and there is great comfort in verse 13.

For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalms 56:13 NIV)

It is because of truths like that that I can put my trust in Him “when I am afraid.”

Just a quick note on the passage from Exodus. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be hilarious. But Aaron’s comment in the last verse is so humanly typical. “Out came this calf,” he proclaimed, as though he had nothing to do with it. I’m really kind of shocked that Aaron wasn’t “fired” at this point, but God graciously allowed him to continue on.

If we read on, we see that that Lord was gracious, but did state that He would punish people for their sins.

Father, I thank You that, because of the truths proclaimed in Your Word, I can put my trust in You anytime I am afraid. In fact, it causes me to not be afraid more often. I believe in Your Word, and I trust in You, therefore, I am afraid less often. The times that I do become afraid are because I have developed temporary insanity and forgotten the truth of Your Word. You are gracious, and You forgive when those times occur. And I also praise You that, because I live in the post-Jesus era, that I don’t have to worry about being punished for my sins because Jesus has already accomplished that for us.

May You give us more of a yearning to know You and the diligence of heart to seek Your face, daily. Please restore to us the joy of Your salvation, also on a daily basis, that we may experience You in Your fullness of joy. Father, I pray for wisdom for any family and/or friends who have not experienced Your salvation. May You surround them with Your Holy Spirit today.

"Father God,
like the Israelites,
I become what I worship.
They worshiped a golden calf and ran wild like laughable livestock;
I serve money and become a calculating machine,
or a slave to my career.
Focus me on Jesus,
so that I might become like him.
Amen."

BLESSING

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 GNB)

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
(John 14:3 ESV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
(John 15:12-14 ESV)

And what does He command? Love God . . . love people.

Rich and friends

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(Isaiah 53:4 ESV)

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!

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Looked At Him and Loved Him

Today is Saturday, March 9, 2019. Fourth day of Lent.

Day 22,276

FOUR DAYS until our Glen Rose “weekend.” Weekend is a stretch, I guess, since it will be starting on Wednesday. What I have not been mentioning is that, also in four days, I will begin my sixty-second year of life. I haven’t mentioned it because it’s really not a big deal to me, any more, these “birthdays.” But I am looking forward to a few days of reflection, peace, and quite out by the Paluxy River. Reflection, introspection, contemplation, and meditation, all enjoyed in the glorious presence of our Trinitarian God.

Quote of the Day

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.”
Robert Frost, American poet, 1874-1963
BrainyQuote

No word of the day today. I didn’t like any of my choices.

It was Friday, and we got off work on time! That’s always a good thing. C worked a bit late, though, as things weren’t quite working properly in her world. She still picked up our traditional Friday night meal of Freebirds, though, and we watched a little TV while we ate. Then I played on the PS4. I’m playing Fallout 4 again. I have other games I should play, but sometimes, I just want to go back to Fallout.

Today, the only thing going on is our grocery pick up. We did get a bit extra, in order to attempt to prevent having to get groceries next Sunday evening after our Glen Rose trip. We will see how well we did. I think C plans to get her nails done, and maybe take Tessie (dog) to get her nails clipped. Oh, and she also wants to go to the library to get some books for Glen Rose. I have plenty of books. C would say “too many books.” I’m not sure what that means.

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

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Psalm 11:7

Today I am grateful:
1. For a good night’s rest and sleep, briefly interrupted by some hail.
2. For a weekend to rest.
3. For beautiful, sunny weather today.
4. That “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
5. That Jesus is teaching me to do the same.

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause,
  you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
  have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
"You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory?
  how long will you worship dumb idols
  and run after false gods?"
Know that the LORD does wonders for the faithful;
  when I call upon the LORD, he will hear me.
Tremble, then, and do not sin;
  speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.
Offer the appointed sacrifices
  and put your trust in the LORD.
Many are saying,
  "Oh, that we might see better times!"
  Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O LORD.
You have put gladness in my heart,
  more than when grain and wine and oil increase.
I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep;
  for only you, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 4)

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Mark 10:21

This verse caught my attention earlier this week. So much so that I found an image with the phrase “Jesus looked at him and loved him” on it, and made it my Facebook cover photo.

We must begin with the first phrase. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” Everything stands or falls on that phrase. Yes, it is true that Jesus continued with instructions on what the man needed to do. But first . . . Jesus loved him.

In our “Christian” world today, we spend far too much time on the second half of this verse, and not enough time in the first part. We want to give out the instructions, tell everyone what is wrong with them and their world. That’s the easy part. We don’t want to expend the energy (or the risk, mind you) of the first part. I see it every day on Facebook. Post after post, slamming people for this opinion or that opinion. With absolutely no love extended. This is a tragedy.

You see, we are supposed to trying to act like Jesus.

Side note. I have been guilty of this very crime, so don’t think I’m just pointing fingers at other people. More on this in a minute.

Yes, we Christians (one definition of this is “little Christ”) are supposed to be acting more like Jesus. That is supposed to be the difference in our lives. When we fail to do the first part of Mark 10:21 before moving on to the second part, we come across as arrogant and judgmental. And hateful. There’s a reason that the outside world sees Christians as haters, these days. How sad to see someone posting a Scripture verse on social media only to turn around and call someone “idiot” because of their political point of view.

It’s more than sad. It’s hypocritical. Yes, I have some specific people in mind. And yes, I have made sure to stop and love them before I typed this.

Each day, this week, since this verse caught my eye, I have been quoting to myself frequently. As I drive to work, I constantly remind myself of the verse. “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” While I am work, it becomes almost a mantra to me. “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” When someone causes me frustration at work. “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

You might be amazed at how much good it does for me to do this. What would this world look like if everyone who calls themselves by the name of Jesus Christ would make this part of their daily lives? “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

For me, it is my goal now to never move on to the instructional piece of that verse, telling someone what they need to do or what is wrong with what they are doing, without first making sure I have loved them. If I cannot accomplish that, I will not move on to the second piece. I will then stop and confess to my Father that I am struggling to love this person.

I truly cannot put into words the effect that this has had on me this week. All of that typing above does not do it justice. God has done a tremendous work in my spirit. I hope that my experience can help someone else. I pray that people who engage in hypocrisy will stop and consider what they are doing and the effect it has on the world’s perception of who Christians are.

Father, help us. Have mercy on us. Show us the way to love. I thank You that You showed me this verse, earlier this week, and impressed upon me the importance of that simple, short phrase. I thank You that You have been teaching me how. I pray that You continue to do so. I want to be known as someone who loves, not someone who hates. Also . . . I recently encountered some writing that pricked my heart on the subject of complaining. I pray that You help me to stop complaining. Period.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

Soli Deo Gloria!

Teach Me To Wait

Today is Sunday, October 28, 2018.

Day 22,144

Seventeen days until Fallout 76!!

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
Robert Frost, U.S. poet, 1874-1963
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ossature, “the arrangement of bones in the skeleton or a body part.”

I was a bad fan, last night. I have good excuses, though. And I would deny that I “gave up.” But when the Dodgers went ahead 4-0, I turned everything off and went to bed. It was after 9:00 PM. I got four and a half hours of real sleep the night before. I say five and a half, but my Fitbit disagrees with me. I was exhausted, and we get up at 6:30 on Sunday mornings.

By the time I truly went to sleep, the Sox had tied the game 4-4 on Mitch Moreland’s and Steve Pearce’s home runs. Later I got up to look at the score. The Sox won 9-6!! They scored five runs in the top of the ninth! So they lead the series 3-1, going into tonight’s game five. Price gets the mound for Boston, and Kershaw, whom we have already beaten once, for the Dodgers. I’m hoping we can end this tonight.

We had a nice visit with R & J, yesterday. We went to Hoffbrau for lunch, then came home and played a game for a while, then just sat and talked about stuff. Good conversation, good visit. Next time will likely be Thanksgiving, since that’s under a month away.

We are getting ready for our worship gathering, this morning. We worship with The Exchange Church, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, at 9100 N. Beach Street, in Fort Worth, Texas. The worship gathering begins at 10:15.

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

“O Lord, save they people, and bless thine heritage;
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin;
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us;
As our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted;
Let me never be confounded.”
(The Book of Common Prayer)

(From Power in Prayer, Andrew Murray)
The Certainty of Blessing

Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
Isaiah 49:23

As God seeks our fellowship, He gives us assurances. He promises us that our hope will never be in vain. “it is strange that though we should so often have experienced it, we are still slow to learn that waiting on God must and can be the very breath of our life, a continuous resting in God’s presence and love, a constant yielding of ourselves to him to perfect His work in us.”

This is true. How often are we surprised are we when God works on our behalf after we pray or wait on Him? He has done it time and time again. Why have I not learned that “waiting on God must and can be the very breath of . . . life??”

Now, translating this to the Church, the effectiveness of waiting on God for His Church will depend on “the place that waiting on Him has in our personal life.” The measure of our faith is “what we know of God in our personal experience; conquering the enemies within, reigning, ruling, and revealing himself in His holiness and power in our inmost being.” This revelation “will be the true measure of the spiritual blessing we expect from Him and that we will bring to others.”

If we know how much waiting on God will bring us blessing, then we can have confident hope that the same blessing will come to the Church. These blessings may be delayed, “but knowing Him who has promised makes the wait worthwhile and full of hope.”

“Waiting on god is the highest privilege of His redeemed child.”

Father, here I am, still asking You to teach me to wait on You. I’m really bad at this. Not so much that I’m impatient, but more that I just get discouraged. Guide me by Your Spirit to wait, to hope in confidence, that You will do whatever You say You will do, and that my waiting, hoping, and praying will not be in vain. Teach me to wait, and not lose heart.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Grace and peace, friends.

Not My Will . . .

Today is Monday, March 26, 2018. Day 21,928. Monday of “Holy Week.”

THREE DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY!! The Red Sox open against the Rays in Florida, and the Rangers open against the Astros in Arlington.

SIX days until Resurrection Sunday! Our church will be sharing breakfast together as we celebrate the resurrection.

It’s the birthday of poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). He said, “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” (BrainyQuote)

The word for today is genethliac, an adjective which means, “of or relating to birthdays or to the position of the stars at one’s birth.” An astrological term.

I’m having a little struggle waking up, this morning. In fact, I had to sit and think a couple of seconds before tying in what month it is. That’s pretty sad. Or funny. Take your pick.

Monday, back to work, and back to band practice tonight. It will be a short week for C and me, because of Good Friday. It turns out her company is giving them Good Friday for a paid holiday, this year. I’m taking PTO to have the day off with her.

And it’s a good thing, as the weekend will be crazy busy. Saturday, most of the day will be spent on an event in Granbury where our Night of Worship band will be leading worship. I’m not really sure what kind of event it’s going to be, but a pastor down there has organized (I hope it’s organized) a community outreach event. So we will be playing outside somewhere. We’ll have to be down there around 2:00 PM, the official event begins at 6:00, I think, so I figure we won’t be home until close to 10:00. Then, of course, we will have to get up at our normal Sunday morning time to get ready for Easter Sunday’s worship gathering.

I don’t expect we will do much at all Sunday afternoon.

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

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.
God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! 
As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! 
But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! 
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! 
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. 
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. 
O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah. 
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. 
Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; 
your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Psalm 68:1-10

“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song . . . exult before him!” Do you know what “exult” means? It’s an old word, we don’t see it much any more, except in the Bible. It means, “to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy; rejoice exceedingly; be highly elated or jubilant.” How often do we see anyone doing that?? Maybe when someone’s team wins a game or a championship. Sometimes, the reaction to simply winning a game is as if the team won the championship. When’s the last time we exulted before God? Just something to think about. We have an awful lot to exult about, in my opinion.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
Luke 22:42-43
This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.
2 Samuel 22:33
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus made the choice to surrender to the Father’s will. He prayed that it might not be so. He prayed that, if there were any other way, let the “cup” pass from him. But he finished that prayer with these famous words, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” He prayed three times. He sweat drops of blood, he prayed so hard. Then he got up and surrendered his life.

We think we have difficult choices to make. In light of what Jesus endured, my choices don’t seem so tough. Why is it so hard to surrender? I think I’m learning how. I think it might be getting easier. I hope so.

Father, teach me to “exult.” I do, sometimes, on Sunday mornings, during worship gatherings. But, truthfully, aren’t there many other times when I could show the kind of “lively or triumphant joy” that should come from simply being in your presence? Like when I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Teach me to be more joyful in you. Then teach me to surrender. As I said, I think I’m getting a little better at this “surrender” stuff. I’ve far to go, but your Spirit is drawing me, leading me onward and upward. Help me to stay focused on you throughout the day, learning what true surrender is. Not my will, but yours, be done.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.

While We Were Sleeping

Today is Friday, March 24, 2017. TEN days until Opening Day!

Quote of the Day

“The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” ~ Robert Frost

Word of the Day

Esoterica ~ things understood by or meant for a select few; recondite matters or items.

Question of the Day

Which laughably outdated fashion are you secretly hoping will make a comeback, because wow, you could definitely rock that look now?

Today is Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. I’m not especially fond of raisins, but, hey, chocolate. So there you go.

I’ve recently begun wondering why Friday is peoples’ favorite day of the week. Why isn’t it Saturday? I mean, we still have to get up and go to work on Friday. I’m certainly glad it’s Friday, because it means I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. But I like Saturday much better! On Monday morning, I don’t wish it was Friday. I wish it was Saturday.

Tonight, as previously mentioned, we have a gathering of worship team members. I’ll have to go straight from work, because it starts at 6:00 PM. This also means S will have to wait until after we get home from that to have dinner. Unless she gets all creative and makes something herself.

On a more serious note . . . oh, wait. I don’t have anything else.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:14
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Psalm 17:7-8
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
Psalm 118:21
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

(From Living the Message)

“The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called out to participate in God’s creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn. Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning. George MacDonald once wrote that sleep is God’s contrivance for giving us the help he cannot get into us when we are awake.” (Eugene H. Peterson)

While I don’t believe that God only works at night (and I’m pretty sure brother Peterson doesn’t believe that, either), this is a beautiful word picture of the rhythms of grace. Somewhere along the way, we westerners got it mixed up and started beginning our day with morning. But if you read the Bible carefully, that’s not how it began. This idea of rhythm in life is something that I started learning a couple years ago. Adhering to the Hebrew way of thinking, we work out of our rest. The day begins with rest, as we go to sleep, and continues with work in the morning. But we tend to think of it backwards. Our day begins with work, and then we rest from our work. We need to adjust that thinking and get a better rhythm, waking up excited to see what God has arranged for us while we were sleeping.

It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
Psalm 127:2 (The Message)

Father, help me to adapt this rhythm to my life. I have begun to understand it, but still don’t quite have it down. Help me to work out of my rest, and to wake every morning in anticipation of what you have prepared for me that day.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

In the Presence of God

Today is Tuesday, March 7, 2017. THREE days until our Glen Rose weekend!!

Quote of the Day

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
― Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Word of the Day

Middlescence (pronounced like “adolescence,” but with “middle”) ~ the middle-age period of life, especially when considered a difficult time of self-doubt and readjustment.

Today is Unique Names Day. This must be “Name Week” or something, because this is the third day in a row about names. I don’t have a unique name, but I’ve heard some. Dweezil Zappa, for instance, is probably unique. As is Moon Unit Zappa. Yes, those are real names. Now, in order to be truly “unique,” there must be only one person with that name, because unique means “being the only one of its kind.” I am not the only person in this world with my name. I just found 262 matches on the White Pages web site! While my name is not exactly common, it is far from unique, and that’s okay. I mean, what would it feel like to never be able to find your name on one of those little license plate thingies?

Last night’s band practice was good, but challenging. There was a lot of playing, as we played straight through the concert list, repeating one song twice. So the chops were tired at the end of the night. I also don’t feel like I played very well. For some reason, I had trouble focusing a few times. Tonight should be better, because I’m staying home from work today, and should be well-rested. I’ll probably do a few things around the house, and will, no doubt, at some point leave the house for lunch. Unless I can talk S into grilled cheese sandwiches.

The concert is at 7:00 PM tonight, at Whites Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, TX. It sounds like we might have a decent crowd, as someone appears to have recruited a couple hundred girl scouts to attend. I wonder if that someone promised them that we would all buy cookies?

We are greatly anticipating our weekend getaway, of course. As anyone who has read my blog for a while knows, we love the little town of Glen Rose, Texas. There just seems to be something magical about it. There aren’t as many shops to look at, these days, and a couple of our favorite restaurants are no more, but the magic is still there. Saturday afternoon, when we leave Fort Worth, we will be able to feel the tension and anxiety falling off of us in waves, as we look forward to three nights in the seclusion of Paluxy River Bed Cabins.

Twenty-seven days until Opening Day!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. 
He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. 
He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah.

Psalm 47:1-4
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.
Psalm 92:13
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Psalm 103:15-18

(From Living the Message)

“Christians worship with a conviction that they are in the presence of God.” When we worship, we are giving attention to “the living God who rules, speaks and reveals, creates and redeems, orders and blesses.” People who observe from the outside might see something different. They might see a group of people gathered, singing unknown songs (perhaps old and out of touch with modern times), occasionally off-key, with some guy in front who reads from an old book, then talks for a while, potentially saying things that are totally irrelevant to our time. Then the people get up and eat minuscule portions of bread and wine, thinking that this will nourish them, spiritually, the way steak and potatoes nourish their bodies.

Who is right? “Is worship an actual meeting called to order at God’s initiative in which persons of faith are blessed by his presence and respond to his salvation? Or is it a pathetic, and sometimes desperate, charade in which people attempt to get God to pay attention to them and do something for them?”

I would answer that question by saying it depends on the “church.” Sadly, I do believe that there are gatherings in which the second scenario is taking place. I would say with confidence, though, that our worship gatherings fit into the first category. We are definitely not trying to get God’s attention, nor are we attempting to manipulate him into doing things for us. Rather, we are gathering to bring attention to God, and seeking to see what we may do for him.

At this point, Peterson quotes Revelation 3:20-21, and I have to say that I heartily agree with this usage of the verses. For far too long, Revelation 3:20 has been misused as an evangelistic verse, even to the point that paintings have been made, depicting a passive Christ standing outside a door with no handle on the outside, waiting to be let in. But this verse was part of a letter written to the Church! Jesus is inviting us to let him in so that we can fellowship with him in worship. I pray that no “church” would keep that door closed.

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father.”
Revelation 3:20-21 (The Message)

Father, may our worship, both corporate and private, be pure and properly motivated. If I ever sink into a mode where I’m trying to manipulate you, I pray that you, quite literally, slap me down. I’m horrified at the very thought of trying to manipulate almighty God! May our worship be exactly as I described it; us drawing attention to you, seeking your face, and seeking what we may do for you.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

Selah

Today is Friday, March 3, 2017. Seven days until our Glen Rose weekend!

Quote of the Day

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” ~ Robert Frost

Word of the Day

Hydra ~ a persistent or many-sided problem that presents new obstacles as soon as one aspect is solved.

Today is Employee Appreciation Day. Hah! I won’t be holding my breath to see if the place where I work recognizes this.

As previously noted, today is Friday. That’s almost always a good thing, even if it falls on the thirteenth day of the month.

The main thing up for this weekend is Night of Worship tomorrow. As usual, I will be at the host’s home by 3:00 PM, which makes for a fairly long day. But we have a good time with this, so that helps. I’m praying that this NoW will be the best one, yet. It would be hard to top the last one, but, “with God nothing shall be impossible,” right?

31 days until Opening Day.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
Psalm 66:4
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Psalm 106:47
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Psalm 85:10
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25

(From The President’s Devotional)

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Psalm 46:11

That word at the end of so many verses in the Psalms. “Selah.” No one really knows what it means. There are many opinions, some more educated than others. Some believe it to be musical instruction. These were, after all, songs to be sung. Others believe it to be “an instruction to the reader to pause and meditate on the passage’s meaning.”

However, there is another interpretation that adds even more to it. Selah was an actual place, you see (and still is). It is a walled city in what is now known as Jordan. It is no longer called Selah (or Sela), but is now known as Petra. But it is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. 2 Kings 14:7 mentions it, along with a few other places. Perhaps, according to some theologians, more than just pausing to meditate, the Psalmist is “reminding us to rest in the safety of God’s arms.” (Emphasis by author)

“Knowing that we are protected. Knowing that the forces of this day, this world, this life cannot penetrate God’s merciful fortress. In this security, we can experience true rest and release.”

“Dear God, I follow your command to selah today. I reflect on your word and meditate, within the safety of your arms. Amen.” (Joshua DuBois)

Father, thank you for showing me this possible meaning for a mysterious word that occurs in Scripture. Whether or not this is actually the case, I have no idea, of course, but it makes sense. Either way, there is nothing wrong with the idea of pausing to reflect and rest in the safety of your mighty arms. There are plenty of other verses to back that up. So today, I purpose to do that. I will rest in your arms, no matter what comes my way.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” . . . Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:15, 18)

Grace and peace, friends.

Pray Immediately

“The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is heliolatry. A fitting word for this day, as it means, “sun worship.”

Today is Ice Cream Soda Day. That would be a fitting treat for this day.

Today is the first day of Summer, the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Officially, Summer begins at 6:34 PM today.

The weekend didn’t quite turn out as planned, but it was okay. We had a great day, Saturday, but then, as I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t feel well all night Saturday night. As yesterday progressed, I felt better, though. I had a nice Father’s Day just relaxing and mostly playing games all day. Actually, I pretty much played Until Dawn all day. I finally made myself quit so C and I could watch a movie together, last night. The game is pretty awesome. It’s like being in a horror movie, but interactive. Every decision you make, during the game, in some way affects the outcome. There are also places where you have to have split-second reactions. All of this creates a rather high level of anxiety. I didn’t even open the other game, yet. But there’s another weekend coming.

The Rangers finished a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, beating them 5-4. That, combined with the Red Sox taking the series from the Mariners, puts them 8.5 games above the second place team. The only team that is further ahead of the second place team is also the only team that has a better record than the Rangers. That would be the Cubs.

Oh, and for anyone who cares, the Cleveland Cavaliers put an end to the Golden State Warriors’ golden season last night, winning the NBA championship in game 7.

‘Tis Monday again, so back to work we go.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:1-7

“The act of worship internalizes the way of discipleship into habits of praise and obedience so that life is not a depressing descent into senility, but an exhilarating ascent to strength.”

“I lift my eyes to you, O God, in worship and adoration. I focus on your promises and expect your grace. I gather all my needs and desires and bring them to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Have You Come to “When” Yet?

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.
Job 42:10

“The plaintive, self-centered, morbid kind of prayer, a dead-set that I want to be right, is never found in the New Testament.” Am I trying to be right with God? If so, I am rebelling against the atonement. I can’t make myself right with God. “I can only be right with God if I accept the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift.” I need to let go of any claims, of any thought of right to myself, and immerse myself “in the priestly work of intercession.” A lot of our prayers come from a place of disbelief in the atonement. I am already saved; Jesus has given me everything I need, and there is no reason to ask further for such things.

However, there is much need to pray for my friends, to “enter into the ministry of the interior.” Note that the Lord restored the wealth of Job “when he had prayed for his friends.” “The real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer.”

Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. To me, this means that prayer should be like breathing, something we do without even thinking. When circumstances trouble us, we should pray immediately; when things threaten or trouble our friends, we should pray immediately; when we come in contact with people, we should pray immediately.

Father, teach me to pray in this way. I have had days where it seemed as if I had gotten it. But then there are more days where it’s obvious I have not gotten it. I pray that my habits will begin to put me in a place of constant prayer and devotion, throughout the day, that I might walk in your presence at all times.

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.

Spiritual Pluck

“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is gaucherie, which means, “lack of social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkwardness; crudeness; tactlessness.” I know a few people like that.

Well! Today is Chocolate Chip Day. As usual, any “holiday” that has “chocolate” in it has my support.

There’s not a lot to report about yesterday. It was a very normal day, with nothing really happening. The Red Sox beat the Astros in extra innings, as David Ortiz hit a walk-off double to drive in the winning run. This was the 600th double of his career, which put him in an extremely elite category of baseball players. He also has 513 career home runs. Only two other players in MLB history have 500 home runs and 600 doubles. Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, two home runs kings. Big Bapi is certainly having an epic final season.

The Texas Rangers also won in extra innings, last night, against the Boo Jays, as Drew Stubbs hit a walk-off home run. Baltimore won their seventh consecutive game, so the standings didn’t change for Boston. However, the Mariners lost a second game in a row to the Angels, so the Rangers moved to within a half game of first place. Both teams finish their series this afternoon.

As always, we are getting ready for church. We worship with The Exchange, which meets at the Northpark YMCA, 9100 N. Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX. Our worship gathering is at 10:15 this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah.
Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

Psalm 68:15-20

The victories of God are not just exhibitions of his power or his righteousness. “The are what is experienced in history by his people. The God who is raised up raises us up with him.”

“Dear God, when my shoulders droop and my steps drag, speak your encouraging word. It is not, I know, your will that I carry burdens of anxiety: lift them from my shoulders so that I may lift my eyes to you in glad faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“The Habit of Rising to the Occasion”

. . . that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you . . .
Ephesians 1:18

We spoke, in yesterday’s reading, of what we are saved for being that we might manifest the life of the Son of God in our “mortal flesh.” We must expend all of our energy to this task; we must “rise to the occasion every time.”

We cannot do anything for our salvation, but we have to do something to manifest it. We must “work out what God has worked in.” If we are still the same miserable people we were before, then we have very little grounds to claim salvation.

God will allow difficulties to come into our lives as tests, to see if we handle them properly. “Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.”

“May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings.”

Father, both yesterday’s and today’s readings have pricked my soul. I realize how much I have failed in this area. I pray for the “spiritual pluck and athleticism” to rise to the occasion and do the right thing whenever difficulties and disagreeable moments arise in my life. May your Holy Spirit empower me in this, and may I learn from the words and life of Jesus Christ. May I truly manifest his life and walk in your Kingdom.

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.
Numbers 6:24-26

Grace and peace, friends.

God Does Not Need My Help

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”~~Robert Frost
(BrainyQuote)

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is kerflooey. No, really. I swear I’m not making this up. It means, “to cease functioning, especially suddenly and completely; fall apart; fail.”

Today is Popcorn Day!! I could just stop right here! Popcorn is, like, my favorite food on the planet!

2016 continues to be a bit of a bummer, as years go. Yesterday afternoon, as I was getting ready to walk out the door from work, I received a text from Christi telling me that Glenn Frey, of Eagles, had passed away at the age of 67. Another one gone. In addition, a lesser known drummer passed away at the same age, Dale Griffin, of Mott the Hoople. So let’s recap. Natalie Cole, Pierre Boulez, David Bowie, Celine Dion’s husband, Celine Dion’s brother, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, and Dale Griffin. And that’s not even counting Lemmy, who died shortly before the end of the year. But eight people in less than three weeks of 2016. I move that we send this year back and get a new one.

Either way, I think I’m not getting out of bed next Monday.

Also, in the not good news category, and really much more important than anything in the above paragraph, I got a call from my mother yesterday, that the son of one of my cousin’s was in a coma, and had been since probably last Thursday. He’s diabetic and was discovered by his mother on Friday. They got him to the hospital, and his blood sugar was at zero. I didn’t even know that could happen! Supposedly, though, last night, things were looking up, as I had some messages from one the wife of one of my other cousins. It’s all rather confusing, because there were reports that there was no brain activity on Sunday, but that there was pupil movement yesterday, and an MRI showed no brain damage. There is no new information this morning, though, so for those of you who lean toward prayer, it would be appreciated if you would lift them up.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Psalm 16:1-6

“Choosing is connecting. When we choose God we do not narrow our lives, we enlarge them. We make connection with a vast heritage, a country where God’s presence is constant and pleasures abound.” (I do love Eugene Peterson’s writing!)

“I had no idea, O Lord, your world was so rich and vast. I did not know I was heir to such a fortune. In gladness I explore and enjoy the world where you create and redeem in a profusion of joy. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

Today’s reading is “Vision and Darkness.”

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.
Genesis 15:12

I’m running a little short on time, so I’ll just try to get the gist of this reading. Basically, Chambers says that, when God gives us a vision, and it is followed by a period of darkness, we need to wait. “Never try and help God fulfill His word.” How true this is. Abraham made a real mess of things when he and Sarah tried to “help” God produce that heir that he had promised. The Middle East is still paying the price of that foible, today!

God does not need our help to work his plan.

Where is my confidence? Is it in the flesh, or have I gotten beyond that? Is it in books and prayers, or is it in God, Himself? “As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.”

Whoa. What did that last sentence say?? “Nothing that other saints do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.”

I most definitely have not arrived at that point, yet!

Father, I need more of that confidence. I confess that I still am looking for too much help from books and other sources. Not that they are bad, but if I am placing all of my hope in people who write books to draw me into closer intimacy with you, then I am definitely misguided. May my confidence be wholly in you. Help me to trust fully in you with my whole heart. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Help me to abide in Christ.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.