Gifts, Things, and Their Proper Use

Today is Monday, the second of May, 2022, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,426

We had a wonderful time with our church group, yesterday morning. We managed to do all of the things that we are supposed to do when we gather together. We fellowshipped, we read Scripture, we broke bread (the Supper), and we prayed. There may or may not have been a lot more fellowshipping than the other things.

C and I stopped by Lone Star BBQ for lunch (and tragically neglected to stop at Sonic for drinks), and we watched the Rangers while we ate lunch. I did eventually go back out for the Sonic drinks.

The Texas Rangers beat the Braves in one of their best wins to date. Final score 7-3, and it was yet another win for the starting pitcher, this time, Taylor Hearne getting his first win. The Rangers scored first, in the opening inning (and I do believe that the announcers said that was the first time that has happened, this season), and never looked back. They were ahead for the entire game. This improves their record to 8-14 for the season. Also, they won the series, which may also be the first for the season. They remain in last place, but are only two games behind the Athletics. The Rangers are off today, traveling to Philadelphia for a two game stand with the Phillies before heading to New York to face the dreaded Evil Empire.

The Boston Red Sox lost the game and the series to Baltimore, 9-5. How embarrassing. They are now 9-14 for the season, still in fourth place, but only a half game ahead of those Orioles. They also have the day off today, and will be playing the LA Angels in Boston, tomorrow.

The New York Yankees continue to hold the best record in MLB, but only a half game ahead of the cross-town rival Mets. The Cincinnati Reds have now lost six consecutive games, and continue to be the worst, at 3-19. There are still ten teams out of thirty who have yet to win ten games. The Rangers are tied for fifth-worst, with Baltimore. But they are only a half game behind Boston and the Other Sox.

Today should be an easy day for me. C did some laundry over the weekend, so the only thing I’m washing is our comforter because a cat barfed on it last week. I bet you would have been just fine not knowing that.


Lost In,” by Daryl Madden

Focus upon me
Control here this day
Lost in stress and fear
Can’t find the way

Turn to the horizon
Of light birthed to shine
Lost in peace and beauty
A taste of the divine

Surrender of the will
With offer of a prayer
Lost in emptiness
I need a Savior here

Found in Your Presence
Embrace of our God
Lost in love and wonder
Eternally awed

Father, may I be lost in Your love and wonder, this morning.

Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry at the link provided above.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
(Psalms 24:1 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received overnight
2. for a really good church gathering, yesterday morning
3. for the saving work of God, through the Son and by the Spirit
4. for the goods and possessions that the Lord has allowed me to use and take care of for Him
5. for the generosity that He has placed in my heart, when it comes to sharing those goods and resources

So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?
(Acts 15:10 NLT)

“Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the LORD your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!”
(Joshua 23:14 NLT)

“So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:14-15 NLT)

The prayer word for today is “save.” There are different meanings to this word, as is frequently the case.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV)

This verse, of course, signifies one meaning of “save,” the one in which God saves us, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. And God is passionate about saving. His highest purpose, outside of glorifying His own name, has been to reconcile creation to Himself.

We also, however, speak of “saving” in context with work, these days. Ever since computers became a prevalent part of the work environment, saving has become of utmost importance. In fact, when I interviewed for my library aide job, I was asked a question.

“If a patron needs help with a document they are working on, what should be the first thing you do?” (I’m paraphrasing . . . I don’t remember the exact wording of the question.)

Embarrassingly, I got it wrong. They even warned me not to overthink the question, but I did, anyway. The answer, which was obvious after they said it, was “save.” We all got a good laugh about that, and I still got the job.

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
(John 5:17 NIV)

The Holy Trinity is passionately at work to save us. “We are all a work in progress, and He is constantly working to help and heal, save and sanctify, strengthen and supply.”

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, I praise You for Your passionate work of salvation. There is much that I confess that I do not understand about it. My thoughts and beliefs on it have changed constantly throughout my life. But the one thing that has remained constant is that my salvation is by grace through faith. And You have kept that faith alive in me. I thank You that You are always at work, and I pray that You help me see where You are working, that I might join in and work with You. Help me to stay in the easy yoke of Christ, so that the burden is light.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(Psalms 139:13 NIV)

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
(Psalms 139:16 NIV)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

When I was being knitted together in my mother’s womb, God gifted me. One of those gifts emerged early in life, as I began playing piano in third grade (I think). It became evident, as I continued learning, that piano would not be my only musical talent. It was soon apparent that I could carry a tune, as well, and then I learned guitar and, and finally, trombone.

Through the years, I went through college and then seminary, learning even more about music, and, more specifically, about using it in the service of God. While I never had a full time position at a church, I served for many years as a bi-vocational music minister, and then “worship leader,” as it came to be called.

During all of those years, my love for the Word of God was also increasing and flourishing. Little did I know that, while I was being knitted together in my mother’s womb, the gift of prayer was being nurtured. That particular gift didn’t emerge until about a decade ago, when, during a hiatus in the music ministry, I strongly felt God’s urging to venture into the area of intercessory prayer.

I began, and still do to this day, posting a single, simple question on Facebook, every day.

“What can I pray for you today?”

It has been well-received and appreciated. It seems to be understood that it is a sincere question, from the heart, with a sincere desire to do exactly what it asks. Some days, even for an entire week, sometimes, there is no response. Other days, there are quite a few. I do not gauge the “success” of the post by how many prayer requests I get. In fact, I don’t gauge the success of the post at all. It is there, just like these daily devotional blogs, for anyone who needs to see it. And if there is a response, I try to always pray right that minute (as soon as I see it).

The point of all of this is that we never know what gifts might emerge at any point in our lives. I still play the music. Mostly in the form of an electronic keyboard, now, and occasionally the guitar. I still sing whenever I get the chance. The trombone seems to have fallen by the wayside, for now. I went through a stint with a community band, back a few years ago, and have considered getting involved with them (or a different one) again, now that I am semi-retired.

But my bigger thrust, these past few years, has been prayer. So I’ve written all of this because maybe there is someone out there, today, who things that they have used up their gifts or maybe even that they don’t have any. Everyone has a gift from God, I promise you. It may not be an “up-front” gift. Prayer is more of a “behind-the-scenes” gift. It might be a pretty smile that can lift someone’s day. You just never know.

Father, I thank You for the gifts that You have given me, throughout my life. I thank You that, just like the psalmist, You knit me together in my mother’s womb, and that You had written all of my ordained days in Your book before I was even born. This is one of those pieces of “salvation” that I struggle with understanding, that whole dynamic between “free will” and Your sovereignty. And I’m not launching out into that, today. I’m simply thanking You for what You have done in my life, and for what You will do, going forward. I have no clue what awaits me, in the rest of my life, but I do know that I look forward to it. What I also look forward to, as You well know, is being Home, where I can worship You forever, and, as I understand things, maybe prayer won’t be necessary any more.

According to Eugene Peterson, “almost half of [Jesus’s] parables are concerned with the wrong and right attitudes toward money.” Jesus talked about money more than He talked about most other subjects. “He warned of the perils involved in getting money–in keeping, in hoarding. And he spoke of giving money.” The making of money was not the end in itself, but a means to an end. Money can be a great servant to mankind, but it can also bring great peril. “Many have started out to get money and have found that money has gotten them.”

I’m reminded of a song by one of my favorite rock bands, Rush. The song is called “The Big Money.” It’s the opening track on their 1985 album, Power Windows. That is my favorite album of theirs, having quite a few really good songs that have some very thoughtful lyrics.

Big money goes around the world
Big money underground
Big money got a mighty voice
Big money make no sound
Big money pull a million strings
Big money hold the prize
Big money weave a mighty web
Big money draw the flies

Sometimes pushing people around
Sometimes pulling out the rug
Sometimes pushing all the buttons
Sometimes pulling out the plug
It's the power and the glory
It's a war in paradise
It's a Cinderella story
On a tumble of the dice

Big money goes around the world
Big money take a cruise
Big money leave a mighty wake
Big money leave a bruise
Big money make a million dreams
Big money spin big deals
Big money make a mighty head
Big money spin big wheels

Sometimes building ivory towers
Sometimes knocking castles down
Sometimes building you a stairway
Lock you underground
It's that old time religion
It's the kingdom they would rule
It's the fool on television
Getting paid to play the fool

Big money goes around the world
Big money give and take
Big money done a power of good
Big money make mistakes
Big money got a heavy hand
Big money take control
Big money got a mean streak
Big money got no soul

I think that Jesus’s attitude (and, subsequently what ours should be) about money can be summed up in two lines of that last verse: “Big money done a power of good; Big money make mistakes.”

The word we always hear when the “church” speaks about money is “stewardship.” What is a steward? It is a person who manages someone else’s goods and possessions. Jesus says we are stewards and God is the owner.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
(Psalms 24:1 NIV)

Everything that exists belongs to God. “The natural world, the world of people, the world of things, the world of the spirit–the earth is the Lord’s. . . . It is false and arrogant to say that any of it is our own. it has been put in trust to us. We have received it to enjoy it, to use it, to increase it, and to distribute it. But God is still the owner. We only manage his resources, taking care of the life and goods that he has given.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson, except for the part from Rush)

Father, I am very grateful for the many gifts, goods, possessions, and resources with which You have gifted me. Over the years, I know that I have made bad decisions and choices regarding some of these. But I also am aware of how my attitude has changed about possessions. I no longer look at any of these things as “mine.” Everything that I can see belongs to You. Everything that I cannot see belongs to You. I cannot rightfully consider anything to be “mine.” You have allowed me to take care of things. Even the people in my life are Yours.

Tozer wrote about this, showing how material possessions, or “things,” that You created before Your crowning creation of “man,” eventually pushed You off of the throne of man’s heart. When sin entered the world, Your gifts became a potential “source of ruin to the soul” (The Pursuit of God). Things took over our souls, which also pushed out any possibility of peace. We cannot have peace when we are constantly fighting over and trying to manipulate things.

So I praise You, Father, that You have moved things out of the central shrine of my heart. I confess that there are times when other things do temporarily move in, but Your Spirit works within me to alert me and help me move You back into Your rightful position in my life. This all sounds rather arrogant, and I don’t mean it to. I do understand that the earth is Yours and everything in it. I believe that the entire universe belongs to You and that You are sovereign over everything that happens within it. I pray that all my worship and prayers reflect that, as I go forward in this life.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

The Strength of My Heart

Today is Sunday, the twelfth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,194

Ten more days until the beginning of Autumn.

There isn’t a whole lot on today’s agenda. We are having our church gathering, this morning, via Zoom. I sent out a query on our group chat app, last night, and we are going to take at least a small break from Psalms and read through 1 John, beginning this morning. As far as anyone remembers, we have not read through that book, yet, in this group. It’s a short one, only five chapters, and centers a great bit on love, which, as any faithful reader knows, is a pet topic of mine, here.

I’m sure we will have Applebee’s for lunch, as is our tradition, and the rest of the day will be spent doing whatever we feel like doing. I did practice a little music, yesterday, and may do so again, today. I also managed to read for a little while, yesterday, as well. I need to spend more of my free time doing that. Especially since I’m still only three hundred pages into a one thousand page George R.R. Martin book.

Uhoh. Today is Video Games Day. Heck, that’s every day around here.

The word for today is spelunk, a verb which means, “to explore caves, especially as a hobby.” Some of my readers might remember an old ride at Six Flags over Texas that was called the “Spelunkers Cave.” Later, it was shortened to simply, “The Cave.” It was a ride in which we sat in little boats and floated along a little river, through a cave filled with little spelunkers.

Later, while the boats and river course remained constant, the inside theme was transformed to a Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam theme. I am, however, quite excited to announce that the park has plans to revive the old spelunker theme in 2022, with a Pirates of Speelunker Cave ride!

Today’s quote is from Confucius: “The object of the superior man is truth.” So he did actually say some things that were not jokes.

Significant birthdays on September 12:

Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer, 1888-1972
George Jones, American country singer/songwriter, born in Saratoga, Texas, 1931-2013
Sir Ian Holm, English actor (Lord of the Rings, Alien), 1931-2020
Mickey Lolich, American MLB pitcher, 1940 (81)
Barry White, American singer (You're the First, the Last, My Everything), born in Galveston, Texas, 1944-2003
Neil Peart, Canadian rock drummer (Rush), 1952-2020 (this one makes me sad)
Nina Blackwood, American actress and original MTV VJ, 1955 (66)
Rachel Ward, English-Australian actress (Against All Odds), 1957 (64)
Hans Zimmer, German film score composer, 1957 (64)
Tarana Burke, American activist, founder of #MeToo, 1973 (48)


Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
(Psalms 142:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You have, indeed, released us from our prisons, that we may praise Your Name
2. that the righteous (not perfect, but righteous by the blood of Jesus) regularly gather together because of Your great goodness
3. for times of worship, praise, and devotion
4. that You are good to all people, even those who do not acknowledge You
5. that, though all else fail around me, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever

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



Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
(Psalms 148:13 NIV)

During this quiet moment, I pause to reflect on the splendor of the Lord, exalting Him with meditation, prayers, and praise.


A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:1-3, 21-26 NIV)


After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. . . . No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:1-2, 5-9 NIV)


As I linger over these passages, I read them again, looking for words or phrases that speak to me. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my reading, my meditations, and my prayers.

I can say, along with Asaph, that God is good to all people. Asaph only mentions Israel, but I can see the goodness of the Lord as it applies to all humankind. He is even good to those who refuse to believe that He exists. Otherwise, the rain would never fall on those who denied him, all of the crops would fail, and they would cease to exist. His favor, in some ways, falls upon all who live.

Like Asaph, I can also say that I have, from time to time, strayed dangerously close to the precipice of being envious of the prosperity of the wicked. Is it possible that I have, in fact, wished that the Lord would not be so kind to the wicked? I’m sure that those times have happened, and if you claim they haven’t for you, you might be lying. If, however, you can truthfully say that you have never felt that way, I salute you. You are a better person than I.

But, along with those times, I also admit to the Lord that I was “senseless and ignorant,” like “a brute beast” before Him. Nevertheless, He is always with me, and always guides me with His hand. And, ultimately, as verse 25 (25-26 are a couple of my favorite verses) says, who do I have in heaven besides the Lord? What on earth would I desire besides Him?? Everything around me may fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Moses is gone; Joshua is taking over. And God becomes the strength of his heart. Verses 5-9 of Joshua 1 are somewhat famous. Verse 8 was a memory verse for me, back in my college days, and I still somewhat remember it.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
(Joshua 1:8 KJV)

Twice in the passage, Joshua is told that meditating on and obeying God’s Word will make him successful. He is told thrice to be “strong and courageous,” and to not be afraid (one of the most repeated commands in the Bible). Then there is that promise in verse 5: “No one will be able to stand against you.” And we will see that the only reason that any group of people were able to stand against Israel was because of the disobedience of just a few people.

In the story of Israel and Joshua (and other leaders in the following historical narratives) we see how importance obedience is, even for just a few people. We find out that what one person does can matter to the spiritual (and even physical) health of the whole body.

To me, this all ties in with the psalm, as well. When it is true in my life that I have no one in heaven but God, and that my earthly desires focus entirely on Him, then I will meditate on His commands and obey Him and be “successful.” We must, of course, be careful on how we define “success.”

Father, I am grateful for Your care and blessing in my life. I am thankful that You have put me in a place where I know that I have nothing and no one in heaven but You. Perhaps I am not quite in the place where “earth has nothing I desire besides You,” but I do believe I am progressing in that area. Thank you for our church family and the relationships that we have developed therein. I pray for each of them, this morning, and their various struggles, that You would prove Yourself strong and mighty on their behalf. Please give us “success” as we meditate on and obey Your commands to love You and love one another. You truly are the strength of our hearts.

May the risen Christ dwell in our hearts as we walk through this world, and I ask that You would give us all deep spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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. 
"King of heaven and earth,
today there is a clash of kingdoms,
and as I share in Christ's anointing,
I have a holy calling -
to confess the Prince of Peace,
offer every day of my life for Your service,
and fight against sin and the devil.
Holy Spirit,
anoint me with boldness and courage to live out this calling wherever I am today.


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 NIV)

with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
(Psalms 89:1 NIV)

The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!
(Psalms 22:26 NIV)

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.
(Ecclesiastes 5:4 NIV)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
(John 17:3-5 NIV)

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:27 NIV)

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
(Galatians 5:16 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Father, as I step away from this blog, today, please remind me that it is not my job to reproduce Your works in this world. My job is to allow You to work through me and do the works Yourself. Any attempt that I make to copy Your work will only result in a shambles and a disaster. All glory to You in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit!

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 may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Friend of God

Today is Friday, the twenty-seventh of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,178

Ten days until Labor Day!

Not much to report from yesterday, except that I got my first paycheck from the library job! I did have to go to Hurst City Hall to retrieve it, as it was a paper check, this time. But the direct deposit should be processed by the next payday, which will be two weeks from yesterday. Again, the City of Hurst observes a pay schedule from Fridays to Thursdays. That’s different than what I’m used to, but presents no problems for me.

I spoke with someone from the Social Security office, yesterday, and got the not-so-welcome news that it will definitely be at least sixty days before anything happens. I may have even gotten laughed at, mildly, which doesn’t really offend me. The guy I spoke with told me to call them back if I haven’t heard anything by September 21.

I also called the COBRA people, who told me that they had mailed my information on August 19. Since I had not received it, yet, she gave me my user ID so I could go ahead and log in and create my account. So I did that, and went ahead and signed up to continue my health insurance with CIGNA, at least through the end of the year. The cost was pretty much what C had calculated, $550 a month and some change. I went ahead and paid the first month, because they don’t process anything until the first payment is made. They will, subsequently, alert CIGNA, who will backdate my coverage to July 30, and anything that occurred between then and now (which should only be the sleep study) will be covered.

Today is The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day. This celebrates the life of author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, and you can read more about her by clicking on the link.

The word for today is orogeny, a geological term which means, “the process of mountain making or upheaval.”

Today’s quote is from Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

And now for the birthdays:

1809 Hannibal Hamlin, American attorney and 15th Vice President of U.S. (1861-65), born in Paris, Massachusetts (d. 1891)

1865 Charles G. Dawes, 30th Vice President of the United States, banker and 1925 Nobel Peace Prize winner, born in Marietta, Ohio (d. 1951)
1890 Man Ray, American artist and photographer (Dada), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1976)
1899 Byron Foulger, American actor (River's Edge, Up in Smoke), born in Ogden, Utah (d. 1970)
1899 C. S. Forester, English historical novelist (Horatio Hornblower), born in Cairo, Egypt (d. 1966)
1906 Ed Gein, American serial killer who was the inspiration for the films "Psycho" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", born in La Crosse County, Wisconsin (d. 1984)
1908 Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th US President (Democrat: 1963-69), born in Stonewall, Texas (d. 1973)
1911 Kathleen "Kay" Walsh, British actress (The Horse's Mouth, Oliver Twist), born in Chelsea, London, England (d. 2005)
1914 Catherine Marshall, American editor and writer, born in Johnson City, Tennessee (d. 1983)
1916 Martha Raye [Margaret Reed], American actress (Waikiki Wedding, Martha Raye Show), born in Butte, Montana (d. 1994)
1921 Leo Penn, American actor and film director, father of Sean and Chris Penn, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts (d. 1998)
1928 Joan Kroc [Mansfield], American 3rd wife of Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonald's and the San Diego Padres, born in West St. Paul, Minnesota (d. 2003)
1929 Ira Levin, American author (Rosemary Baby, Boys From Brazil, This Perfect Day), born in NYC, New York (d. 2007)
1935 Frank Yablans, American writer (North Dallas Forty), born in NYC, New York
1937 Alice Coltrane [née McLeod], American jazz harp, piano, and organ player (Journey in Satchidananda), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 2007)
1937 Tommy Sands, American actor (The Singing Idol; Ensign Pulver), and singer ("Teen-Age Crush"; "Love in a Goldfish Bowl"), born in Chicago, Illinois
1939 Edward Patten, American soul singer (Gladys Knight & the Pips), born in Atlanta, Georgia (d. 2005)
1942 Daryl Dragon, American keyboardist (Captain & Tennille - "Love Will Keep Us Together"), born in Pasadena, California (d. 2019)
1942 "Chip" Douglas [Hatlelid], American songwriter, arranger, bassist (The Turtles, 1966-67 -"Happy Together"), and record producer (The Monkees), born in San Francisco, California
1943 [Susan] Tuesday Weld, American actress (Dobie Gillis, Wild in Country), born in NYC, New York
1944 Tim Bogert, American rock bassist (Vanilla Fudge; Jeff Beck), born in NYC, New York [1] (d. 2021)
1944 G W Bailey, Port Arthur, Texas, American actor (Police Academy, The Closer)
1947 Barbara Bach [Goldbach], American actress (The Spy Who Loved Me, Force 10 from Navarone), born in Queens, New York (still married to Ringo)
1952 Pee-wee Herman [Paul Reubens], American comic actor (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie), born in Peekskill, New York
1953 Alex Lifeson [Živojinović], Serbian-Canadian rock guitarist (Rush - "Limelight"), born in n Fernie, British Columbia
1953 Peter Stormare, Swedish-born actor
1956 Glen Matlock, British punk rock bassist (The Sex Pistols; The Philistines), born in Paddington, London
1961 Mark Curry, British stage and screen actor, and television and radio presenter, born in Stafford, England (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper)
1963 Downtown Julie Brown, Welsh TV personality and actress (Club MTV, The Earth Day Special, Junket Whore), born in Cardiff, Wales
1969 Chandra Wilson, American actress
1969 Avril Haines, American lawyer, 1st female Director of National Intelligence (2021-), born in New York City
1970 Jim Thome, infielder (Cleveland Indians), born in Peoria, Illinois
1970 Tony Kanal, Indian-American bassist and songwriter (No Doubt - "Don't Speak"), born in Kingsbury, London, England
1977 Sarah Chalke, Canadian American actress (Roseanne, Scrubs), born in Ottawa, Ontario
1979 Sarah Neufeld, Canadian violinist (Arcade Fire), born in British Columbia
1979 Aaron Paul, American actor (Breaking Bad, Need for Speed), born in Emmett, Idaho
1988 Alexa Vega, American actress
Daryl Dragon, 1942-2019
Chip Douglas, the bass player and arranger for “Happy Together,” 79 years old today
Tim Bogert (bass player), 1944-2021
Alex Lifeson, guitar player, 68 years old today!


Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

(Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo)

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
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 51:14-17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the Holy Spirit, Who can work within us and create holiness in our lives
2. for the prayers of St. Augustine
3. that You have opened my lips, that my mouth might declare Your praise
4. that, like Moses, we, too, can speak with You, face to face, as with a friend
5. that when trouble comes, we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, until the disaster passes
6. for You

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



The name of the LORD will be remembered forever, and he will be famous for all time to come.
(Psalms 135:13 CEV)

As I look around me, in this world, I wonder . . . will the name of the Lord truly be remembered? For it seems as though fewer and fewer care about Him. But then I remember that I’ve read the end of the story. The last Word on everything is Jesus Christ, and He will be remembered forever, and every knee will bow down before Him.


For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:1-3, 5 NIV)


Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
(Exodus 33:12-23 NIV)


As I rest in the presence of the Lord, I meditate on these passages, seeking truth that will guide me in my daily life.

What is our best course of action when trouble comes, when disaster strikes? We see it in the first verse of Psalm 57. We cry for mercy and take refuge in the shadow of His wings. We see, in verse 3, that He will “send from heaven” and save us. What does He send? I can only guess that He sends angels. Or some other manifestation of His great power. Embedded in all of this is the great confidence that He cares for His children.

And because of this confidence, we can, as verse 7 indicates, exalt Him. We can declare His praises when His Spirit loosens our lips.

And we can hope for even a fraction of the revelation that Moses received in Exodus 33! What a glorious story that is! Moses has just come back up to the mountain after the debacle that was the idolatry of Israel, the golden calf incident. His brother has played the fool, and then lied about his own responsibility in the matter. And three thousand Israelites died that day.

And now Moses is before the Lord again, having come up to attempt to make atonement for the sins of the people. God has commanded them to leave Sinai and make their way to the “promised land.”

The verse right before our passage today is also a great one. “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Pre-pandemic, I used to go have coffee with a good friend, our former pastor. We would sit in comfy chairs at the coffee shop and talk to one another, usually about a book that we were both reading. This is the image that Exodus 33:11 puts in my head. Another image that I believe fits is captured well by the Internet comic, “Coffee with Jesus.” While it frequently contains humorous silliness, it depicts a different character each day, casually sipping a cup of coffee, while conversing with Jesus. Some folks I know are offended by this, and obviously think that Jesus is never less than serious about anything, and never spoke any words other than what was recorded in the Bible. Of course, even the Bible, itself, debunks that theory.

But I digress.

Back to the image of Moses conversing with God, face to face, as with a friend. The “WOW” factor is beyond imagination.

In the conversation that follows (our passage for today), Moses makes this request of God.

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
(Exodus 33:13 NIV)

I actually memorized that verse, once, in the ESV.

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
(Exodus 33:13 ESV)

And if we leave out that last sentence (because that will never be true about any nation other than Israel), it is a perfectly proper prayer (how’s that for some alliteration?) for any of us to pray.

And we see how the Lord honored that prayer for Moses, who subsequently received a first-hand glimpse of the glory of God!

Father, I echo this prayer of Moses today. If I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You even more, that I might find even more favor in Your sight. I know that I do, say, and think things that might cause me to not find favor in Your sight. But I also know that these things are erased by the blood of Christ. Not an excuse, mind You, but an acknowledgment of Your great mercy and grace. Lord, it should be the goal of every believer to have the kind of relationship with You that Moses had. I would speak with You, face to face, as with a friend. What an honor to be considered a “friend of God.” May Your Holy Spirit constantly lead me in that direction!

I also give You praise and thanksgiving that we can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 57.

Lord, give us more awe and gratitude for the cross of Jesus Christ. I pray for all who are living in poverty and injustice, today, as well as those who are living in solitude and loneliness. May You be their friend today!

and Holy Spirit,
keep me from dissecting your dynamic life into stale abstractions or lifeless schemas.
give me a faith that's bigger than my intellectual grasp so I may know your name,
take up your invitation to enjoy your presence,
and enter your community of love.


God our Father loves us. He is kind and has given us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father will encourage you and help you always to do and say the right thing.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 CEV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalms 37:4 NLT)

Then I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be glad because he rescues me.
(Psalms 35:9 NLT)

“God, no matter what happens today, my life is good. You make it so.”
(Amy Eddings, Daily Guideposts 2021)

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
(James 5:16 NLT)

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
(1 John 5:14 NLT)

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Holds the Keys

Today is Sunday, the eleventh of July, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life!

Day 23,131 (the number of days I have lived on this planet)

39 days until S’s birthday!

Yesterday was one of those days. We’ve all had them. The kind you don’t want to see any more of.

It started with me gaining 2.6 pounds, inexplicably, at the weigh-in. I expected to gain, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. I only expected it because it’s what my home scale said was happening. Doesn’t make me happy about, and also, there is no logical explanation for it. I rarely go over my daily point budget, and never more than five points, if I do. Not enough to gain that much in a week.

The day continued with the last workshop with our favorite WW coach ever. We said goodbye to Kim, with many tears, yesterday morning. We gave her a gift. Since I had found out that she is a gamer, primarily playing on PS4, same as me, we got her the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, which I have been playing for the past few weeks. She was very excited about that.

Then we had a huge fight with S over whether we were having Applebee’s for a meal, yesterday. She wanted it for lunch, because we are having a cookout after church today, and won’t be having Applebee’s for lunch. The fight escalated into one of those legendary fights, the likes of which we haven’t experienced in a long time. Everyone was mad by the time we got home. We picked up our Walmart grocery order, and got it unloaded and put away.

Oh, I almost forgot. In the middle of all of this, C was having a work crisis, so she had to get online, while I brought in the groceries and put them away. After getting the Walmart order put away, I headed to Alberton’s to pick up the burger patties for our cookout, along with other things that we don’t get at Walmart. That didn’t take too long, and I was feeling better, at least emotionally, by the time I got home with that load. That was when the day took the worst turn of all.

We couldn’t find Luna (cat).

This started while I was bringing in the groceries from Albertson’s. I had pulled the door just to the brink of closed, but didn’t shut it all the way. We do this, so we can kick it open with two hands full of grocery bags. When I headed back to the car, Rocky (other cat, Russian Blue named after Sergio Rachmaninoff) was nosing about the front door, which had opened, slightly. The only time he has gotten out, he got terrified and hid under the neighbor’s trash bin.

I nudged him away from the door and went back out. When I got back with the last of the groceries, the door had swung further open and Rocky was actually standing on the front porch!

When I told C about that, she started to panic, because she didn’t see Luna anywhere. This panic bled over into S, so she started to panic. We looked all over the house, in all the closets, under the beds . . . no Luna to be seen. By now, I’m panicking, too, even though I was pretty well convinced that she had not gotten out of the house.

We went ahead and had our brunch, but the mood was about as dark as it’s ever been in our house. After we ate, I tried to play my game, but was distracted. I eventually even went out and drove around the block a few times. Depression was setting in. S put an ad up on the Nextdoor app, asking people to help us find her.

I’m not sure how many hours went by. C put Luna’s food dish out on the front porch, and even put a litter box out there.

I had settled in to play my game, finally. I just happened to be looking down, to my left, when Luna sauntered out of the bedroom and stretched, as though nothing had ever been wrong.

That must have been one heck of a nap. There’s a part of us that wonders if she was really lost, and God just “poofed” her back into the house. I don’t know that she has ever stayed out of sight for that long, before. She probably has, but once that seed of doubt is planted, things just escalate.

So, everything turned out fine. And we had Applebee’s for dinner.


"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."

Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.
(Psalms 34:9 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that we found Luna (cat) yesterday.
2. for the worship and fellowship we will experience today.
3. that I have all that I need.
4. that You, Jesus, are alive for ever and ever.
5. that You, Jesus, hold the keys of death and Hades. You are my Source and my Destination.
6. that You are present, at all times, whether we realize it or acknowledge it. You are always here.

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



The LORD their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!
(Zechariah 9:16-17a NIV)

I pause to reflect on the Lord saving His people, and how we will sparkle like jewels and be beautiful. This is something that we don’t consider, often, I think.


For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—
those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
(Psalms 12:1-4 NIV)

You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.
(Psalms 12:7-8 NIV)


I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
(Revelation 1:9-18 NIV)


As I read these passages again, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my thought, meditations, and prayers. Help me to enjoy Your presence, this morning.

The psalmist is obviously using hyperbole in this particular song, as it is a complete exaggeration to say that “no one” is faithful any more. But, even in our day and time, we say things like that. “No one cares, any more,” we say, or similar things. I’ve been guilty of saying that no one has any work ethic, any more. At least no one younger than me. Which makes me sound like a grumpy old codger.

But some things never change. It does seem like society, as a whole, works on the principle of flattery. How many bosses have we seen that prefer “yes men?” One of my favorite bosses wound up leaving the company because he was most definitely not a “yes man.” I’m not either. I will tell you the truth, not what you want to hear, about a situation. It is literally impossible for me to “suck up.”

I find the statement in Psalm 11:4 to be somewhat amusing. Anyone who believes that they can prevail with their tongues and be defended by their own lips deserves what they get. The utterance of mere words is useless when action is required. Rush once played a song that said, “Show me, don’t tell me.”

There is a quote that is attributed, sometimes, to Francis of Assisi, that says, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” He probably didn’t really say that. But the idea behind it is not necessarily wrong. Ligonier Ministries once changed that, slightly, to say, “Preach the gospel at all times, and since it’s necessary, use words.”

Either way, the point is that our walk needs to match our talk. Flattering lips are useless, and even an abomination.

When John got his introduction to the risen Christ, in Revelation 1, part of the image, the vision, that he saw, featured a sharp, double-edged sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus. If you remember, Paul equated the sword with the Word of God, that which comes out of His mouth. The writer of Hebrews said that the Word of God, being living and active, is actually sharper than any double-edged sword.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
(Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

The Word of God is truth; it is not flattery. Everything that comes out of the mouth of God is sharp and cutting, exposing “our innermost thoughts and desires.” That should probably scare us a little bit.

Or not, because Jesus also told John, “Do not be afraid.” And when He said that, He touched John.

So right now, I am stopping to ponder that moment, what it must have been like to be John, at that moment, having the resurrected Christ physically tough him and speak to him.

He is the First and the Last, the Living One. He is our Source, and He is our Destination. He was, for a short time, dead, and now lives, for ever and ever. And He holds the keys of death and Hades.

Those words should cause us to sit up and take notice of Him, the Son of God. If ever there was one about Whom it could be said, “It is all about . . . ,” it is Jesus.

Father, I worship You, and I worship Jesus, though Whom all things were created. Lord, for the rest of my days, keep Jesus in front of me. Let Him be the “big picture” of my life, the all-encompassing, all-consuming fire of my existence. There is no other Name by which we are saved, and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to You by any other path then Jesus.

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. 
Living One,
what will it be like to see you face to face?
Brilliant light,
blazing eyes,
feet like fire,
and face like the sun--
falling before you will seem the most obvious thing to do.
And yet you bid me not to be afraid,
so I look forward to basking in your presence.
(Belgic Confession 37)


May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.
(Psalms 34:10 NLT)

For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.
(Psalms 81:10 NLT)

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
(Isaiah 53:4-5 NLT)

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
(Romans 5:11 NLT)

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 3:11 NLT)

Father, You are here, always. And “here” is wherever I am. I thank You that You are present, always, even when I don’t feel it, know it, or acknowledge it. However, those times when I do feel Your presence, and acknowledge Your presence, are so much more meaningful. You have filled my life with “good things,” Lord, and I thank You for this. Forgive my mindset and attitude for something as trivial as a seemingly lost cat. Yet You provided and our beloved family pet was not, in fact, ever lost. We are so fragile and fickle, Father. Forgive us and strengthen us. Continue to show me these truths as I walk in Your Kingdom.

Lord, grant us resurrection hope and joy, this morning. May we experience the touch of Jesus, as He bids us not be afraid. Help us to be faithful in sharing the good news of the Gospel, whenever called upon.

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!

I used to be able to sing this. 🙂

Grace and peace, friends.