Of Agapao and Sheep

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fourth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,571

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we long to be your children and to grow closer and closer to eternal life with all its goodness and truth. In your love to us your children, bless us as we walk on earth under great stress and temptation. Keep us from going astray, and let what you have placed in our hearts grow toward perfection, to your glory and your honor. May our hearts always know the joy that our struggle and suffering are not in vain, that if we are faithful, we may bring forth the fruit of righteousness. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(John 12:24-25 NIV)

  1. for the joy of knowing that any struggle and suffering we endure in this life are not in vain
  2. that the crimson stain of our sin is washed whiter than snow
  3. for the perfect, inexplicable love that our Father has for us
  4. for the fact that there is nothing that we can do to either diminish or increase that love
  5. that God does not get angry with us for our sins (thanks to Jesus’s blood on the Cross)

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)


My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1 John 2:1-6 ESV)

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 John 2:9-11 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

1 John is such a wonderful book. There is so much good material in there. Chapter 2 deals with several different subjects. Verse 6 gives us a good way to measure our relationship with Christ. If we abide in Him, we will be walking “in the same way in which he walked.” Unfortunately, it appears that the only part of Jesus’s walk that some folks noticed is the bit where He upended the tables of the money-changers and chased them off with a whip.

Personally, I’m drawn more toward His compassion toward the woman caught in adultery (and I still want to know where the man was in that scenario; it seems a lot of things haven’t changed in a couple thousand years); I’m drawn to His compassion to the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, who was healed by the touch of His garment; I’m drawn to the blind man, to whom Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Verses 15-17 present a tough order. But looking at the Greek text, the word that is translated love is “agapao,” which we call “agape.” That is the highest form of love possible. Unconditional love. We are being told not to give that kind of love to the world and its desires. I don’t believe that this is saying that we cannot enjoy things in the world. But we are not to be obsessed with them, or love them unconditionally. That kind of love is reserved for God and other people.

Nevertheless, I will still admit that this is a struggle for me, at times. The world can be a lot of fun, and it can be very satisfying. I mean, face it, our enemy is not going to come at us with beets and brussel sprouts. (Apologies to anyone who likes beets and brussel sprouts.) And sin is, to be honest, rather beautiful on the surface. So there’s our danger. And we simply need to remember that our highest allegiance is not to the world, it is not to a nation (there are quite a few people who really need to hear that), not to a government or a tribe or a language. Our highest allegiance is to God and God alone.


I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 ESV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)

First, I want to direct us back to the 1 John passage, verse 2 of chapter 2. There’s that fifty-dollar theology word, “propitiation.” That is a rare word that is translated the same in the KJV as it is in other versions. It can also mean “atonement.” But I will never forget one definition of that word that I once heard in one of our “lifehouses,” back in our Exchange days. It was said that “propitiation” means “God isn’t angry with us anymore.” Sure, that is a drastic over-simplification of the word, but it is also true.

Now, take that thought and look at Jesus’s words about being a “good shepherd.” Can you even imagine a shepherd being angry with his sheep? I cannot. I’ll confess, I don’t know much about sheep, other than what I have learned in Bible studies, but I simply cannot fathom a shepherd being angry with his sheep.

If we are His sheep, and He is our shepherd, He is not angry with us. When we go astray, He goes out of His way to bring us back. And, while there may be consequences for our going astray (I have heard that a shepherd would, at times, have to go so far as to break a sheep’s leg to keep it from going astray, after which the shepherd must carry the sheep on his own shoulders until the leg heals), that doesn’t mean that our shepherd is angry with us.

God loves us with a love that is inexplicable. That word up there, agapao, is virtually impossible for a human being to achieve. I think we can come close, but that is the love with which our Father loves us. And there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change it. I cannot sin so badly that God will love me less; nor can I perform so amazingly wonderfully that He will love me any more than He already does.

So what I do is, I rest in that. I embrace that. It draws me into deeper relationship with Him. And I love Him back as best I can, as a human being.


Father, I praise You and thank You for Your love for us, that agapao that we can scarcely mimic. I thank You for the propitiation for our sins that means that, because of the work of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, You are not angry with us; our sins have been forgiven, they are atoned, forever and ever. All glory to You, Father!

Help us to love one another with that same love, Lord! Help us to walk in the way that Jesus walked; and may we focus more on the loving ways that He treated people than with the rare times when He expressed anger. Give us that love for one another.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Impossible Becomes Possible

Today is Saturday, the seventeenth of September, 2022, in the twenty-fourth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign within you today!

Day 23,564

It’s going to be a busy day, today. First, I am scheduled to work my eight-hour shift in Circulation at the library. Then, immediately after, I will be driving to a friend’s house to help celebrate her birthday, which was Thursday. The event begins at 5:00 PM, so I will be driving straight there, and meeting C and S at the house.

Yesterday was a pretty normal day in the Computer Center. It wasn’t very busy, but there were a handful of patron interactions. I have no idea if it was very busy at the circ desk.

For the last four days, now, the high temperature has consistently been two degrees below the predicted high. Yesterday, it was predicted to be 91, and we topped out at 89. This is one degree above the average temp for the day. Today’s high is forecast at 93, and we have mid-nineties predicted for nine of the next ten days, which is disappointing. Fall-like weather will come, soon enough, but, since this is north central Texas, it will be gone too soon. Yesterday, the director of our library said that it would be convertible weather soon (top-down), and I said, “for about a week, right?”

The record high for today’s date is 98 again, in 1997.

The Texas Rangers managed to get a win against the Tampa Bay Rays, last night, 4-3. Nathaniel Lowe got his 24th home run of the year. Martin Perez got his 12th win. This puts the Rangers at 63-81 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, 31.5 games out of first and 17 out of the Wild Card race. With only 18 games left, their WCE# is 2. I feel quite confident that they will lose at least 2 of those last 18. They play Tampa again, today, in the Juice Box, at 7:10 PM CDT.

The Boston Red Sox barely beat the KC Royals (but barely is enough, for a W is a W), 2-1. This puts them at 70-74 for the season. They are in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place (E# 2), and 10 games out of the Wild Card race (WCE# 9). They also have 18 games remaining. I suppose they still have a slim chance, but it would require them to win most of their last 18 and the at least one team ahead of them to lose most of theirs. Not likely. They play KC again today, in Boston, at 4:10 PM EDT.

And this happened, last night.

With only two more left to reach 700, I really hope he does it at home.

The Dodgers won, yesterday, which puts them at 99-44. They need to win 18 of their last 19 to beat the win record. They are still the only team to clinch their division, but the Astros clinched a playoff berth, last night. Seattle could mathematically still win the division, but the Astros would really have to tank. I can hope, right? All of the other divisions are still way too close to call.

The Nationals won a game, but still have the worst MLB record, at 50-94. They are 1.5 behind the Athletics. The Astros now have the current longest win streak, at six games. The Royals and Angels both have four-game losing streaks going. The Dodgers are at +323 for run differential, and the Nationals are at -210 (with the Pirates only four runs ahead of them).

There are now seven teams eliminated from any playoff contention.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, you fill heaven and earth with your Spirit and allow us to share in your gifts. We thank you for all you have given us, for all you are giving and will give. We are poor and needy; all people are poor and needy in spite of their striving, longing, and seeking. Only you, through your Spirit, can awaken something in us to help us go toward your goal. Keep us from being caught up in what men do. The greatest help for our hearts is what you do, and each of us can tell something about it. Each of us has received help beyond anything we had hoped or thought of. How much you have done for us! How much you are doing for the nations! Yes, we thank you for this present time. Although our lives often seem hopeless and full of sorrow, your powers are still living among men, working for their good and awaking them to new life. The time will surely come when our hearts will be released from their hunger and we can be filled with the life from above, which you give us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin
  2. that by the Holy Spirit, God awakens something within us to help us reach His goals for us
  3. that we are allowed to share in God’s gifts
  4. that my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God (Psalm 84)
  5. that what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18)

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
(John 18:25-27 ESV)

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.
(Psalms 84:1-2 ESV)
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. 
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 
the LORD bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
(Psalms 84:10-12 ESV)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 ESV)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
 and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)
"For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 
Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" 
But he said, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."
(Luke 18:25-27 ESV)

Simon Peter denied that he knew Jesus, three times. He gets a pretty bad rap for this. As if any of us would have been different.

But let’s consider something else. We tend to look somewhat judgmentally upon the disciples in some of the accounts of their actions and attitudes. They bicker among themselves. Who is the greatest? Can we sit at your right hand? What about this guy??

Here’s the thing. These guys may have been as young as twelve years old when Jesus chose them as disciples. We don’t know how old they were; we only know the practices of rabbis and their apprentices, and it was not uncommon for them to select their apprentices at a relatively young age.

So Simon Peter could have been as young as fifteen or sixteen when he denied Jesus three times. How many teenagers do you know that would be more responsible? Hmm??

But that’s just a side topic for today. That’s not my “big idea,” if you will. It’s actually something I thought of yesterday when I read the account of the first denial, but then forgot to include in my writing.

You see, Jesus restored Peter, later, and then the Holy Spirit made him a powerhouse of a preacher, with confidence through the roof. And this is one of those things that, while seemingly “impossible with men,” is “possible with God.”

How does God accomplish these things? Well, for starters, He’s God, and we’re not. But, besides that, there is this thing called “grace.” “God can do for us what appears to be beyond our reach,” says Andrew Murray. Dallas Willard defined grace as God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Remember yesterday, when I wrote that we cannot make ourselves whole-hearted? Right. God has to do that, and that is part of grace, when He does something for us that we cannot do ourselves.

One way that this all comes about is through the concept of abiding, which I have also been writing about, this week. Remember a couple days ago, I quoted Andrew Murray as saying, “The Christian life is not a struggle to live rightly but rather resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.”

That statement really resonated with me, and has stuck with me. In our lives, it all depends on the relationship that is maintained with the Lord. “God must be working and we must be receiving from God through trust and obedience.” (Murray) If we are not understanding this, we begin to “try harder” with our own efforts, and we usurp God’s role in our lives.

This is where meditating on a passage such as Psalm 23 can be very helpful. “He makes me lie down . . .” “. . . still waters.” “He restores my soul.” All of these things sound very restful and peaceful to me. It sounds like abiding. It sounds like “resting in Christ and finding in Him our life and our righteousness.”

By grace, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. When we try to do it ourselves, things don’t go well. But what is impossible for us is possible for God.


Father, I thank You for the truths You have been revealing (or, should I say, “re-revealing,” because I’ve seen them all before) to me, this week. I pray for consistency in living them out. Help me to rest in Christ and receive my life and righteousness from Him, realizing that I can do nothing on my own, and that, by grace, You will do for me what I cannot do for myself.

May my prayers reflect this attitude, as well. Help me to pray with expectation; expectation that You will do the impossible for the people for whom I am praying (including myself). May Your blessings fall on us, Lord, and may Your love be channeled through me onto everyone I come in contact with. Let them see Your love, Lord. Help us have a love revolution.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Teach me your way, O LORD, 
that I may walk in your truth; 
unite my heart to fear your name. 
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, 
with my whole heart, 
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Specific Prayer

Today is Saturday, September 3, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,550

It is officially the Labor Day weekend, so a lot of people are enjoying a long weekend. C will be one of those. It makes not a lot of difference to me, because I am always off Mondays, and I am scheduled to work today. I find myself wondering if the library will be slow today. I know it will be closed on Monday.

As for my schedule, it is changing next week. And because of the way the city’s pay schedule works, I will be working next Thursday and next Friday. But I would rather do that next week than the following week, because next week is my “light week,” meaning that, were it not for this schedule change, I would only work two days. With the new schedule taking effect, I will work three. If it had been delayed until the following week, I would have wound up working five days in a row. Oh, the horror! Hahaha!

This morning, I am due in at 9:30, and will work until 6:15 PM. I do plan on making burgers for dinner tonight. That reminds me . . . I have to put meat out to thaw. Be right back.

Thanks for waiting.

Yesterday’s high only reached 84, but it’s supposed to hit 93 today. There is little chance of rain, today, but we had a little bit yesterday, to make three consecutive days where we had at least a small amount of rain. According to one website, we have had a little over an inch of rain in the last 72 hours. The record high for today’s date was, once again, 108, back in 2000. You would think that I would remember that year, being that hot, this late. On the other hand, that was 22 years ago, wasn’t it? Egad.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers 9-1, last night. Can we go ahead and say that the Dallas Kuechel experiment is a miserable failure?? The Rangers are now 58-73, still in third place (still by a game and a half) in the AL West, 26.5 out of first place, and 13.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is now 5, and the WCE number is 19.

The Red Sox are 65-68, still in last place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division E number is 16, and their WCE number is 24. The two teams play again this afternoon at 3:10 CDT, in Boston. Texas has 31 games left, and Boston has 29.

The Dodgers have lost three in a row, now, diminishing their chances of breaking the win record. They are at 90-41, still leading MLB. The Nationals still trail the pack with 45-87, but only 3.5 games behind the Athletics. The Seattle Mariners now hold the leading win streak with five wins in a row. The Texas Rangers are at least leading in something, right? They now have the longest losing streak in MLB, at six consecutive games. The Dodgers’ run differential went down, but they are still almost 100 runs better than the next team, with a differential of +278. The Nats remain at the bottom, at -218.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you come to help us with your power and might. We thank you that you come to us in our suffering and strengthen us in all we must endure on earth. You help us so that what is good and full of light comes more and more to us and to all people. We thank you and pray that your power, coming from the invisible world into the visible, may continue its quiet working in us until the day when everyone can see Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and into all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that God sends His strength and power to us, coming from the invisible world into the visible
  2. that He helps us to see what is good and full of light in this world of trouble and distress
  3. that these “light and momentary troubles” are nothing compared to the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
  4. for the constant presence of Jesus in my life, and that He will never leave me
  5. for the question that Jesus asks in Mark 10:51, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:9-18 ESV)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; 
you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:23-26 ESV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalms 32:8 NIV)

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NIV)


And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
(Mark 10:51 ESV)


Jesus is clear. He is the door. He has already called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. He is not a door; He is the door. He then says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”

But doors serve more functions than just entryway. They also serve as protection. When the door is closed, nothing can get in to harm us. And there is also a great mystery, here. While Jesus is the door, He also goes before us, to lead the way. He can be our access point, while at the same time, never leaving us. Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid.

Once we accept these truths, then we can dig a little deeper and look at this question that Jesus asked the blind man. “What do you want me to do for you?”

I can easily see Jesus asking the same question of us, today?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

What is your answer to that question? I believe that Jesus truly wants to know the specifics, here. “He wants to hear from the man’s lips not only the general petition for mercy but also the distinct expression of his desire. Until he declares it, he is not healed.” (Andrew Murray, emphasis added)


Father, help us to answer this question. Help us to be specific with Jesus when we answer it. It truly helps us to put our specific desires into words. I can speak from experience to say that there have been times when I expressed my desire out loud, it began to sound trivial and selfish. While I certainly believe the truth that You know what we need or desire before we express it, I also believe that You desire to hear us pray specifically.

Thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and that You will never leave me. This brings me great comfort. Would that the Psalm were true, that I truly desire nothing on earth besides You. I find that I have not quite made it to that point, yet, but it is my desire to do so. Help me get there, Father. Decrease my desires for earthly things, that I might only desire You and Your presence.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Joy of Being in the Light

Today is (I had to stop and thing) Saturday, August 27, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,543

It’s going to be a busy, but fun, day today. We start out with C’s company “picnic,” from 11:00 – 2:00. I put picnic in quotes because it is mostly inside, this year. They are having it at the ITRC facility, and will have food trucks outside (all free for us), bowling available, as well as tours of the museum and Hall of Fame. And, for additional treats, Steel City Pops will be there. I’m sure we will have a limited amount of choices, but I do hope they bring some peach pops.

After the picnic, we will be home for a couple hours, after which we will head to a good friend’s house, where we have been invited for dinner. Mama will be going with us for that. We don’t know what’s for dinner, but feel confident that it will be delicious.

Weather continues to be pretty mild, here, especially for this time of year. Yesterday’s high was 93, which is just shy of the average for that date. The record high for the date is 104. I’ve started looking at multiple sources, and will, going forward, use the record highs and lows from a different source, because it gives a year. But I can only see the current date for that, so today’s record high is 106, back in 2011. I don’t remember much about that year, but it must have been hotter than this year, or at least hotter later, because a lot of the record temps seem to be coming from that year.

The forecast for the next ten days shows three days in the mid-nineties, three in the lower nineties, followed by four days in the upper eighties.

The Texas Rangers won a rare one-run game, last night, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-6. Texas scored all of their runs in the first three innings. As is par for the course, the bullpen (mostly Leclerc) tried to blow it. I really wish they would stop giving the ball to Leclerc. The Rangers are now 58-67 (nine games below .500), still in third place in the AL West. They are 22 games out of first place, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. At this point, I think we are just hoping they can get up to .500 before the end of the season. They play the Tigers again, today, at 6:05 CDT.

The Red Sox ended the Rays’ winning streak, in spite of the Rays surging with four runs in the top of the eighth inning. Final 9-8. Go figure. The Red Sox are now 61-65, still in last place in the AL East. They are 17 games out of first place, and eight out of a Wild Card spot. They play Tampa again today, at 4:10 EDT.

The Dodgers won again, making their MLB-leading record 87-37. The Nationals lost, making their record 42-84, 3.5 games worse than the struggling Oakland team. The Yankees (BOO) and Phillies are both enjoying a five-game winning streak. The Rangers have a two-game streak, currently. The Pirates are finally alone in the losing streak column, having lost six in a row. Nothing has changed in the differential column, other than the numbers on both ends getting higher. The Dodgers are now at +279, while the Nats are -213. The Rangers are now at +17, and the Red Sox at -44.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

We thank you, dear Father in heaven, that you let the light from your face shine into our hearts. Look upon our time, we pray, with your clear, penetrating eyes, and let all people sense that they are watched over by more than they are able to see. Let them realize that a strong God and Father is watching over them. Protect us on our way, and let your light shine ever more brightly, so that in all we do your name is glorified. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; 
be merciful to me and answer me. 
My heart says of you, 
"Seek his face!" 
Your face, LORD, I will seek. 
Do not hide your face from me.
(Psalms 27:7-9a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the light of God, the Light of the world, that shines brightly in our lives
  2. that the Lord hears when I call; He is merciful!
  3. for this pilgrimage, this journey into the heart of God
  4. for the ministry of Renovare and their inspirational writings
  5. for the joy of simply being

“As Never Before,” by S. Michaels/Lightwriters

Expect divine reversal
a coming into Promise
a whole new joy in being

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

As I read this little poem, this morning, I was struck with the line about “joy in being.” Such a simple, yet complex thought. Simple, because we should all be blessed with that joy, the joy of simply being. Complex because it’s not as easy as all that. But as we seek His face, as encouraged by Psalm 27, that joy becomes easier to find.

One of my favorite verses in Psalms is 16:11.

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

You see, as we seek His face (which He is not hiding from us), we will experience that “fullness of joy,” that is found in His presence, and those “pleasures forevermore” at His right hand. These are not at all dependent upon circumstances; in fact they transcend circumstances.

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


I came across an article from Renovare, this morning, written by Rev. Laura Rasmussen. The article is called “Always Look for the Light.” In it, among other things, Rev. Rasmussen talks about pilgrimage. I found this to be very enlightening.

“As a pilgrim, I am journeying to the heart of God. To journey to the heart of God is to journey to that divine spark of light, of life, within me. Pilgrimage is not about arriving quickly and efficiently to the destination, it is about giving space and time, attention and love to the actual journey towards an intended destination.”

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

“To walk in the light of Christ,” says Rev. Rasmussen, “is pilgrimage—navigating us to the heart of God.”

Jesus also understands our vulnerabilities, as we walk through this world. There are things that are going to distract us from the Light. Daily life, daily tasks, unexpected circumstances. “It’s not Jesus’ nature to shame us and alienate us in our vulnerabilities. Instead, his nature is to light our way through our vulnerabilities and into the abundance of his life. Jesus is all about bringing us back to the heart of God, to our true self. On the way we are met, loved, healed and transformed in this divine light.”

May the Light of the world illuminate your pilgrimage!


So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
(John 7:16-18 ESV)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
(Isaiah 54:10 ESV)

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
(James 1:26 NIV)

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 NIV)

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
(Proverbs 21:23 NIV)

In light of the last three Scripture references, I want to share some words from Henri Nouwen.

"In Jesus, no division existed between his words and his actions, between what he said and what he did. Jesus’ words were his action, his words were events. They not only spoke about changes, cures, new life, but they actually created them. In this sense, Jesus is truly the Word made flesh; in that Word all is created and by that Word all is re-created. 
"Saintliness means living without division between word and action. If I would truly live in my own life the word I am speaking, my spoken words would become actions, and miracles would happen whenever I open my mouth."

And, to kind of wrap all this up, here are some words from Andrew Murray: “We are continually praising or thanking God by our actions and by the manner in which we treat others. At times God cannot hear the prayer of your lips because the worldly desires of your heart cry out much more loudly and strongly.”

Our life, indeed, exerts a profound influence over are prayers. But if we walk in the Light of the world and allow the light from God’s face to shine into our lives, we are delivered from this, and we can pray without hindrance. In that, as we journey on this pilgrimage, we can truly experience the simple joy of being.


Father, I am thankful for the words of all of these people that have been represented here, today. From the poetry of Susan Michaels, to the writing of Rev. Rasmussen, to the words of Andrew Murray and Henri Nouwen, all of it seen through the lens of Scripture and illuminated by the Light of the world, Your Son, Jesus.

I pray for this “joy of being” to be displayed in my life, today, and every day, going forward. Whenever circumstances threaten this, help me to remember that I am on a pilgrimage into Your heart, with the way illuminated by Your light that shines from Your face, which I am constantly seeking. Your face will I seek, O Lord! Do not hide Your face from me!

I praise You for the everlasting nature of Your covenant with us. We walk in the confidence that Your covenant will never be removed from us, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
(Acts 2:42 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Savior of the World

Today is Saturday, the twentieth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you, today!

Day 23,536

The birthday was a great success. We wound up having to go to a different bowling alley to get our bowling done, as they were having a clinic at C’s workplace. But there is a bowling center just a few miles away from there, in Grand Prairie, and it is one that is still owned by the family that originally opened it, and has not yet been assimilated by the Borg Bowlero. And, to make it even better, it was $2 Friday, so our games were only $2 each. In our second game, C bowled a 199. She needed a spare to get 200, but left a 6-7-10 split and picked up two of them.

Lunch was really great, as well. Martha’s Mexican Cocina has seldom, if ever, disappointed, and they did not disappoint, yesterday. The service was very good and friendly, and the food was delicious. And they brought S a huge piece of cheesecake, drizzled with sauces (strawberry and chocolate?), with “Happy B-Day” written on the plate in one of the sauces.

And then we had our mani/pedis. So very relaxing, just a wonderful time. A fun time was had by all. After a quick stop at a nearby Sonic (of course), we headed home to have some cookie cake and collapse.

Today is my work Saturday (every other week), so I will be at the library from 9:30-6:15. After I get home, C, S, and I plan on heading over to Goldfish Sushi for dinner.

We hit 93 for a high, yesterday, after having one day below 90. There was no rain, but we have five straight days in the forecast with rain predicted, beginning later today. The high today is projected to be 96, but the next five days are below 90 with one day (Monday) potentially being below 80!

Martin Perez had another rare loss, yesterday, as the Twins beat the Rangers 2-1. Perez gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning, but that was it for the Twins. Unfortunately, it was all they needed. The Rangers are now 53-66 for the season, in third place in the AL West, a game ahead of the Angels. They are 23 out of first, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They continue the series tonight, in Minnesota, at 6:10 PM CDT. Texas has 43 games remaining.

The Red Sox lost to the Orioles by the score of 15-10. Right. That’s what I said. That was the score in the seventh inning, when I checked in, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game. I’m not even sure what to say about that. The Sox are now 59-61, seemingly unable to crawl back up to .500. They remain in last place, especially since the team they are playing is currently a place above them. They are fourteen out of first, and five out of a Wild Card spot. Boston has 42 games remaining.

The Wild Card situation in the AL still has two teams in the East. Seattle, from the West, has the first spot, followed by Toronto and Tampa.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, at 82-36, six games ahead of the next best Mets. The stumbling Yankees are now fifth in MLB. The Nationals, in spite of a two-game winning streak, continue to be the worst, at 41-80. The Cardinals still have the best winning streak, now at five games. The Giants and Other Sox both have three-game losing streaks. The Dodgers, as they continue to dominate, have a run differential of +250. The Nationals, on the other end, have one of -207. The Rangers are now at -4, and the Red Sox are at -36.

Speaking of the Other Sox, I am beyond dismayed that our dear Elvis Andrus, after having been release by Oakland, has signed with the Southside.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, grant that we may be your children who receive the Spirit and all they need from you. You strengthen us not only physically but also inwardly, in our hearts, enabling us to face the uncertainties of earthly life and whatever still needs changing in human society. Keep us from giving in to weakness. May your power be always with us. May we have patience and hope, because you are working for the good and we may wait for it in expectation. Amen..
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

 1. that there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus
2. that we receive all that we need from God the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit
3. that God's power and kingdom are always available to us, providing patience and hope as we navigate through these troubling times
4. that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world
5. that if we ask anything according to God's will, He hears us

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:39-42 ESV)

Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 
Seek the LORD and his strength; 
seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:10-11 ESV)
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, 
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
bring an offering and come before him! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 
tremble before him, all the earth; 
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, 
and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" 
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! 
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, 
for he comes to judge the earth. 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:28-34 ESV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
(Psalms 1:1-3 NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)


Jesus Christ is revealed as the “Savior of the world.” He was acknowledged and recognized in this way numerous times in Scripture. What shall we do with this?

Each individual’s destiny is contingent on their response to that information.

I don’t frequently “evangelize” on this forum, but I do try to go wherever the Spirit takes me with the passages I read for that day. And today, I read the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The culmination of that account was her townspeople declaring this truth, “this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

A person’s family heritage is not enough to secure their destiny, although it can provide a highly favorable environment, and there are places where individuals are encouraged to believe, which would result in them being saved “and their households.”

Even more importantly, a person’s place in a nation will not be enough to secure their destiny. There is a drastically mistaken notion that has been popular for a number of years, that “America” is a “Christian nation.” I’ve said it before, and will likely say it again. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation.” Only an individual can be a Christian.

Our Father deals with us as individuals, and as the Body of Christ. He makes no difference in nationality. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, not any particular nation.

If Jesus has, in fact, saved me, then I will look more and more like Him, as I grow in Him. I will do the things that He did and said. I will love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I will love my neighbor as myself, and I will love the saints, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as He has loved us.

And I will try to find ways to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the imprisoned, relieve the oppressed, and so on, because whatever I do to the “least of these,” I have, in fact, done to Jesus, Himself.

It is true . . . a glorious truth . . . there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But we must truly be “in Christ Jesus” for that to be true, and the evidence of that is that we are doing what He commanded.

So my admonition today is to believe in the Savior of the world. Follow in His footsteps, His teachings. Love God and love people. Let’s start a love revolution.


Father, I pray for the name of Jesus to be loved in this world. I pray that all will know Him as the Savior of the world. I pray that people will stop pretending to know Him when their actions say otherwise. I pray for love to reign, and for the Body of Christ (the true Body) to rise up and be recognized. I pray that any false teachers and false “churches” be shut down.

Your Word says that if we pray anything according to Your will, You will hear us. I believe, with all my heart, that praying for the salvation of the word is according to Your will, as Your Word also tells us that You desire all people to be saved. I pray that we, Your people, will rise up and proclaim the Good News that Your Kingdom is here, now, available to all who want to walk in it.

And then, Father, may we use the resources which You have provided, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and thirsty, release the prisoners, relieve the oppressed, heal the sick, and so on. We are in desperate need of a revolution, Father. Jesus and His disciples were subversive, Lord. May we engage in that behavior today, but in all love and peacefully. Yes, in love and in peace, which is extremely important. Jesus did not overthrow a government; rather, He sacrificed Himself in order to accomplish His purpose.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

To Know Him is to Love

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,529

Only SIX more days until S turns 29!

Friday the thirteenth falls on Saturday, this month!

We had our third consecutive day of below-100 temperatures, yesterday, as the high only reached 97 again, in our area. The record high for that date is 104, so we are well below that. Today, we are expecting 98, with virtually no chance of rain. The ten-day forecast shows six days below 100, and some chance of rain next weekend. In fact, my favorite weather site shows next Sunday and Monday to have highs of only 92. We don’t even consider that “hot” around here.

I didn’t do much of anything, yesterday, but I did cook a pretty good dinner. Well, the slow cooker cooked it, but I mixed it up and arranged it. It was Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing, from Emily Bites. It was a big success with the family, and, I’ll confess, quite tasty. Relatively easy, too, as it only has five ingredients. Chicken, a box of stuffing mix, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and chicken broth. We’ll be doing that one again, next week.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Seattle Mariners, 6-2. Ironically, they were only outhit 11-9. But that is typical of the Rangers. They tend to get a lot of hits, but are unable to get the runners to home. They are now 49-63 for the season, and still in third place in the AL West, but only by a half game, now. The Angels are on the verge of catching up with them. They are 23 games out of first place, and ten games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Mariners again, this evening, at 6:15 CDT (that’s a strange start time), in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox BEAT THE YANKEES! 3-2 in ten innings! This makes them 56-58 for the season, but still in las place in the AL East. They are 15.5 out of first place, and four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Yankees again, today, in Boston.

Speaking of Wild Cards, if the playoff were to begin today, here’s how it would look. The Yankees, Guardians, and Astros lead the AL divisions. The Mariners, Blue Jays (BOO), and the Orioles (!!) currently occupy the three Wild Card spots. Notice that the AL East still has two of those three Wild Cards. In the NL (which I really don’t care beans about), the Dodgers, Mets, and Cards are leading their divisions, and the Wild Card spots are occupied by the Braves, the Phillies (!?!), and the Padres.

The LA Dodgers, now having won eleven straight games (didn’t they just get Joey Gallo??), continue to lead all three categories that I track, here (78-33, W11, +241). The Mets are better than the Yankees (picture me singing that in a mocking tone of voice); the Mets are better than the Yankees. The Washington Nationals continue to be the worst in two of the three categories. Their record is 37-77, and their run differential is -205. The Athletics have the longest current losing streak, at six games. THREE of the teams in the AL East (Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays) have a three game losing streak! Hee. As fun as that is, it would be a lot more fun if my favorite teams would start winning.

Today, I really don’t have any plans. C and I might do something later . . . not sure. I’m planning to make burgers for dinner tonight, but I have no idea what lunch will look like. I have groceries scheduled for delivery at noon. I didn’t get them yesterday, because I wanted to wait and see how last night’s dinner turned out.

On to the important stuff.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the trust you have put into our hearts. We thank you for all the signs of your goodness that comfort us when we are in great need and when many deaths take place around us and touch each of us. We thank you for comforting us, for always giving us fresh courage wherever we may be, and for giving us hope for other people, who also struggle hard to find what is good. O Lord God, bless our world with power from on high, with your gifts that bring good to many people. Bless our world. Save it from sin, from ruin, from every kind of despair. Give your blessing, O Lord our God! As you bless us, so bless all the world, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. “I, even I, am he who comforts you.”
(Isaiah 51:11-12 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the signs of the goodness of God that comfort us when we are in need
2. for the courage to go on in life when things around us seem to be crumbling
3. for the hope that we will "enter Zion with singing"
4. that God's thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours
5. that God demands/commands that we love

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 ESV)

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:11-14 ESV)

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.
(Zephaniah 2:3 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)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 ESV)


So here’s the thing. It’s really a no-brainer, yet so many of us seem to be struggling to brain it.

God commands that we love; God demands that we love. It is not negotiable; it is not optional.

His ways are infinitely higher than ours; His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. “Remembering this will prevent our being content with our knowledge and thoughts concerning the Word of God. Instead, we will wait on God to know His mind.” (Andrew Murray)

There are two things that faith in God’s Word should teach us. Ignorance and expectation. “Many of God’s children, who by neglecting to continually cultivate a childlike spirit and by resting on their creed or personal Bible study, have spiritual truth hidden from them and never become spiritual adults. Allow a deep sense of your own lack of knowledge and a general distrust in your own power to understand the things of God to characterize your Bible study.” (Murray)

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
(Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)

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

The older I get, the more I know that I don’t know. And the more that I know that I don’t know, the greater my expectation of revelation from God’s Holy Spirit. “The greater our distrust of our own comprehension of the thoughts of God, the greater our expectation will be.” (Murray)

When we realize and acknowledge how much higher God’s thoughts and ways are than ours, perhaps, then, we can learn to obey His commands to love one another. It is commanded. It is not suggested. It is not negotiable, and, furthermore, if we are not loving, God’s Word tells us that we do not know Him.

Period.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, we need Your help. Have mercy on us, please! Teach us love. Please, Father, make your people realize that these commands are necessary; they are essential, and they are not optional. We are not loving people; we are not sacrificing or laying down our lives for people, so how can we possibly believe that we are “friends” of Jesus?

The Gospel is here; the Gospel is now; Jesus Christ has made Your kingdom, a Kingdom of love and light, available to anyone who desires to walk in it. It is not a Kingdom of war and vengeance; it is not a Kingdom of everyone fighting for their “rights” and “freedoms.” The story, the Gospel, that great story that we have to tell to the nations, is “a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light” (H. Ernest Nichol).

My soul hurts, Father, as I look around me and see the lack of love and compassion being spread by those would call themselves Your children. Please help us, Father. The outside world is looking with scorn on those who call themselves “Christian,” but don’t follow the teachings of Christ. This drives them away from You instead of drawing them toward You. Help us to spread the true Gospel, of peace and light, Lord.

For truly, if we do not love, we do not know You.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

A Good Return on an Investment

Today is Saturday, the sixth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,522

Only thirteen more days until S turns 29! Less than two weeks!

We hit a high of 103, yesterday, apparently a new record for that date, as the previous record was 102. That makes 40 days of 100+ temps and six in the current streak. Today’s high is projected to be 100. There are now only four days in the ten-day forecast that are predicted to be below 100. However, the highest temperature in that ten-day forecast is 101. There are chances of rain next Wednesday.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for establishing us on the firm foundation of your Word and your promise, your promise that expresses the great longing and hope in so many people's hearts. For they do not want their lives to remain base and petty but want to look toward something higher, rejoicing that the promise can be fulfilled for them. So today we too stand ready for the coming time you are bringing, and we exult in our expectation of the future. We rejoice in the expectation of the time when you will give your Spirit to us and to all those who answer your call and become your helpers. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
(Isaiah 44:22 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord has swept away our offenses like a cloud, our sins like the morning mist
2. for the firm foundation that is His "excellent Word"
3. for the very great and precious promises of God
4. that God was willing to sacrifice His only Son, in order to gain a multitude of children
5. that the designation "child of God" can never be taken away from me

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”
(2 Kings 19:15-19 ESV)

But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.”
(1 Samuel 1:22 ESV)

And Hannah prayed and said, 
"My heart exults in the LORD;
 my horn is exalted in the LORD. 
My mouth derides my enemies, 
because I rejoice in your salvation. 
"There is none holy like the LORD: 
for there is none besides you; 
there is no rock like our God. 
Talk no more so very proudly, 
let not arrogance come from your mouth; 
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
 and by him actions are weighed. 
The bows of the mighty are broken, 
but the feeble bind on strength. 
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, 
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. 
The barren has borne seven, 
but she who has many children is forlorn. 
The LORD kills and brings to life; 
he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; 
he brings low and he exalts. 
He raises up the poor from the dust; 
he lifts the needy from the ash heap 
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. 
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
 and on them he has set the world. 
"He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, 
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, 
for not by might shall a man prevail. 
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
 against them he will thunder in heaven. 
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; 
he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed."
(1 Samuel 2:1-10 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, 
by taking the form of a servant, 
being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 
Therefore God has highly exalted him 
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 ESV)

I can’t say if I have ever considered this, or been taught this before. I may have forgotten. I am getting on in years, and do forget things that I learned or heard about decades ago. But here we have an apparent “type” of God in Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

The story of Hannah is familiar. She had no children, while Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had many. One of the times they made their yearly visit to Shiloh, for their sacrifices, Hannah prayed desperately for a son. She vowed to give him up to the service of the Lord.

God heard her prayer, and soon after, she had Samuel, who would become one of the greatest judges and prophets Israel ever saw. She kept her vow, and as soon as Samuel was weaned, Hannah presented him to Eli, the priest, to be trained up in the priesthood.

And then Hannah had three more sons and two daughters.

God Almighty gave up His only Son, Jesus, in order that He would, in turn, receive a multitude of children. I will never look at Hannah in quite the same way again.

Today's sources:
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, how can I adequately thank You for this blessing? All the songs in the history of time are not enough to praise You for making me Your son by giving up Your only Son. I am nearly devastated, this morning, as I consider this. It’s not something new to me, of course. But seldom do I simply sit and contemplate the wonder of it all.

Today, You have changed that with the simple story of Hannah and Samuel. Yes, there was a specific purpose for Samuel, as he became a great judge and prophet for Israel. But there is a deeper meaning to the story, as I have been made aware of this morning.

Thank You for showing me this, today.

I pray that I will be a worthy son to You, following in Your paths and obeying Your commands. Keep teaching me, Lord, to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. Give me heart full of peace, that I might love my brothers and sisters as Christ has loved me.

Finally, Father, I pray that You would avenge Yourself. How long will You continue to allow the world to go in the direction it is going? How long will You allow people to attack Your holy Name and claim that You don’t exist, or that You aren’t going to do anything?

I see the prayer of Hezekiah, this morning. You are God, You alone, Lord over all kingdoms of the earth. You are Creator of heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, open Your eyes; hear the voices of those who mock You and Your people. Destroy the “gods” of men, the works of their hands that are not gods at all. Save Your people from the hands of those who would destroy us.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


"God will help us, even if it’s in an unexpected and shocking way, by swooping down on us to wrestle with us. And in the midst of the wrestling we, too, will be able to cry out, “Bless me!” I am certain that God will bless me, but I don’t need to know how. When we think we know exactly how the one who made us is going to take care of us, we’re apt to ignore the angel messengers sent us along the way."
(Madeleine L’Engle, from A Stone for a Pillow, today's Daily Dig from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Persistent Prayer

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

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,515

Twenty days until S turns 29!

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

It rained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

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

Today I am grateful:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


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

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Building with Love

Today is Saturday, the twenty-third of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul, today!

Day 23,508

We almost got a break from the heat wave, yesterday, but as we know, “almost” only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons. It hit 100 in my area (at least the closest airport . . . my app said 101 at around 4:30 yesterday) to make our 27th day of triple digits and seventh consecutive. There was no rain. Today’s forecast calls for 101 with little to no chance of rain. July 29th (next Friday) remains the next forecast day below 100.

It’s my Saturday to work, so I’ll be at the library from 9:30 to 6:15, today. Since we don’t start until 9:30, we only get 45 minutes for lunch on Saturday, which is still more than I got at my old job, so that’s fine.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Oakland Athletics, 5-4, last night. This makes Texas 42-50 for the season, still in third place in the AL West. They are 19 games out of first place and eight games out of the Wild Card race. They play Oakland again, tonight, at 8:07 CDT.

Apparently a fake Red Sox team took the field, last night at Fenway Park, and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 28-5. The fiasco included an inside the park grand slam home run. I have no words. The Sox are now 48-46 for the season, dangerously close to dropping below .500. They are in fourth place in the AL East, only a game and a half ahead of the Orioles. They are 16.5 out of first place, and three games out of the Wild Card race. The three Wild Card spots are currently held by Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Seattle.

The Nationals continue to have the worst MLB record, at 31-64. Seattle finally lost a game, so the current longest win streak now belongs to the LA Dodgers, at six consecutive wins. The KC Royals and LA Angels are tied with four straight losses. The Nationals also remain in last place for run differentials, with -158. The Rangers dropped to +6, and with that ridiculous loss, the Red Sox have dropped to +5.

And, while we weren’t paying attention cases of COVID-19 have crept back up around 100,000 per day in the United States.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have revealed to us the name Jesus Christ, the name of your Son, who leads us to you as your children. May your hand be plainly seen over all the suffering and dying people of our time. May your hand soon bring in a new age, a time truly of God and of the Savior, fulfilling what has long been promised. Watch over us this night. Bless us. In suffering, continue to uphold us with your mighty hand. In grief, may your name still be honored. May your kingdom come, breaking into all the evil of the world, and may your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us. 
(Acts 4:12 TEV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my cats; may I be as good a person as they think I am
2. for the Kingdom of God, available now for all who want to walk in it
3. that God will never leave or forsake us
4. that it is perfectly okay to let God know when I feel forgotten or abandoned
5. that, when I am tempted, there is always a way of escape; God will not allow me to be tempted beyond my ability to resist

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)

This does not say, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” That is a false statement, made up by humans. What it does say is that everyone is tempted, and there’s always a way out. “I had no choice,” is never a true statement.

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-33 ESV)

The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is build.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

I’m intrigued by this, a little. The word “build” can be found in Scripture over a hundred times. Almost 150, actually. Yet we don’t get a verse that includes it. And the reading itself only includes a form of the word (“building”) in the first sentence.

So I’m going to improvise. It’s a good word, I believe, to be included in our prayers. We are constantly trying to build something (I’m talking spiritually, here). The material we use will dictate the efficacy of what we build. The foundation must that of Jesus Christ, otherwise the building will fall. And here are some words from Paul:

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV)

So we must ask ourselves . . . are we building with wood, hay, and straw, or are we building with gold, silver, and precious stones?

There is another meaning to the word, as well. Paul admonishes us to “build up” one another. I think the KJV uses the word “edify.”

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
(Romans 15:2 ESV)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

So here’s the thing, as I attempt to tie all of this in with the Scripture verse included at the top. We know (or should know) the love God has for us, and we know that “God is love.” Therefore, we need to abide in this love, and, as we abide in this love, it should be automatic that we love one another and build one another up in Him.


I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
(Psalms 42:9 ESV)

I have no idea why the Sons of Korah felt compelled to write this. It comes in the middle of the Psalm that begins with the phrase that was made into a popular worship chorus decades ago, “As the deer . . .” But the psalmist doesn’t stop there. He (they?) finishes up with verse 11.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 ESV)

No matter how bad things look, God has not forgotten us. I have felt that, before, I won’t deny it. I have stood in my living room and declared that God has abandoned us. But that wasn’t true statement, and it didn’t take long for Him to demonstrate that.

God has promise to never leave or forsake us (again, the reason I don’t like the song, “Reckless Love”). He loves us with an everlasting love. And when we feel, as the psalmist did, in Psalm 42, that He has forgotten or forsaken us, it is perfectly fine to pray a prayer like this one:

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
(Psalms 25:16-17 ESV)

And then, it is good to remind ourselves of Psalm 42:11, quoted above.


Father, I am so grateful for Your love, and that I have knowledge of this love. I don’t fully comprehend it, I don’t believe anyone truly does, at least no one who still walks on this planet. I do believe that when I finally see You “face to face,” I will comprehend it, and it will blow my mind. But, for now, I can say that I am grateful for that which I do not fully understand. I know that, without Your love, I would cease to exist.

I thank You that I can pray what I feel to You, and You will not chastise me for it. You may correct me, and certainly I would hope for that. If I am feeling something that isn’t right, and I acknowledge it to You, then I fully expect You to set me straight, and I would accept that joyfully. Because when I do acknowledge those feelings to You, they come out of a place of great frustration and aggravation, and are more questions than declarations.

I’ve been experiencing such feelings lately. I am frustrated with the shape of things on earth, right now, especially in the country where I live. You know my frustrations, so I don’t need to air them here, again. I pray for resolution and unity. I pray for Your children to be able to obey the commands to think of others as more important than ourselves, and to not seek our own good, but the good of our neighbors. In short, help us to love others as Christ (You) have loved us!

I pray that I would build with gold, silver, and precious stones, rather than wood, hay, and straw. Even so, though, I rejoice that my name is written in the Book of Life, and, even if what I build is destroyed by the consuming, purifying fire, I, myself, will survive.

Even so, please come soon, Lord Jesus!


Let us go forward quietly, forever making for the light, and lifting up our hearts in the knowledge that we are as others are (and that others are as we are), and that it is right to love one another in the best possible way – believing all things, hoping for all things, and enduring all things.…And let us not be too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he thinks he has none, and anyone who believes himself to be so perfect or wise would do well to become foolish all over again.
(The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Daily Dig, from Plough.com)

Grace and peace, friends.

Between Being and Doing

It is Saturday, the sixteenth of July, 2022, in the fifteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart!

Day 23,501

Hooboy, it’s been a busy day, already today! I was about two thirds of the way through my devotions, when C called me. She had gone out to look for some new chairs (I don’t even want to go into what caused that) and wanted me to come help her pick out a couple. So I left the house, and we bought two identical rocker/recliner chairs to replace some older wingback chairs that the cats had shredded. We got them home, and they are set up, and the old chairs are in the garage.

And I’m exhausted.

There wasn’t a lot that happened, yesterday. I had groceries delivered, and I cooked Chicken Taco Rice Skillet for dinner. I highly recommend this recipe. It is delicious, and my family loves it. I add more chicken to it, a total of two breasts (boneless/skinless), and I also use a cup and a half of the brown rice. The rest of the recipe is done as called for. Very tasty!

The Texas Rangers bullpen didn’t exactly blow the game, yesterday, but they were set to change the pace of the game. They started out behind 4-0, and had worked their way to within a run, when, in the top of the eighth inning, with two outs and a full count, Jose Leclerc surrendered a grand slam home run to Julio Rodriguez. Final score, 8-3, Mariners. The Rangers are now 41-47, but still in third place in the AL West, a good 3.5 ahead of the Angels. They are 16.5 out of first and 5.5 out of the Wild Card spot.

On the other hand, the Red Sox beat the Yankees!!! 5-4, in extra innings, when Xander Bogaerts scurried home on a wild pitch in the top of the eleventh inning. The bullpen held off the Evil Empire, and the Sox broke their losing streak. They are now 48-43, in third place in the AL East, 14.5 out of first place. There is a two-way tie for the third Wild Card spot, between Boston and Toronto, now. Tampa has the first spot, and Seattle moved into the second one.

The Washington Nationals have fallen into the worst MLB record, now at 30-62. The reason for Seattle being in the second Wild Card spot is that they currently have the longest win streak, at twelve games. Hopefully, the Rangers can bring that to a halt today. The poor Nationals also have the longest current losing streak, at eight games. They also have the worst run differential, at -150. The Rangers are still in the positive, but only +4. The Red Sox are currently at +42.

I want that coat!!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, as your children we stand before you and lift our eyes to you. We are poor, needy people, often wretched and tormented. Let your eyes rest upon us. Grant us the help we need. Bless us when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ, that we may be a people who learn to serve you on all the paths we follow, even if it proves bitterly hard. Give us true faith for every moment. May we have joy and confidence that you are with your children, that you remain with them forever, until the great time of redemption when we will rejoice with all past generations and with all who are living today. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 
(Micah 7:7–8 RSV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, when I find myself in darkness, the Lord is my light
2. for the joy and confidence that comes with being God's children, especially when circumstances come that threaten those things
3. for the promise, in John 14, that Jesus is preparing a place for us, that we will always be with Him
4. that God knows my thoughts and my words, even before they occur
5. for the Holy Spirit, who intercedes when I don't know exactly how to pray

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
(1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 NLT)


Today’s word, from Pray A Word A Day, is balance. There’s a quote from Maya Angelou, who was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”

Balance is a tricky word/concept. However, in general, it is a good thing. I believe (and I am not alone) that our society is so far out of balance that it is in severe danger.

The technical definition of balance is, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” But, of course, in this context, we are not speaking of weight distribution. We aren’t trying to walk a tightrope between two tall buildings, here.

On the other hand, we do want to “remain upright and steady.”

A second definition is, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” The example given is work and relaxation. This is closer to what we are looking at today. Ms. Angelou cites patience and passion. The writer of today’s reading speaks, as the definition, of a balance between work and rest/play.

Guess what! The world will not stop turning if you rest or play for a bit! And, as Christians, we are not expected to be “Jesus Jr.” With tongue slightly in cheek, I believe, she writes, “God didn’t create me to be a human doing, but a human being.”

Back a few years ago, C and I did this thing in our church that we called “Huddle.” For the most part, I didn’t like it, I’ll be honest. It employed a technique called “Life Shapes,” which I thought were mostly trivial and irrelevant. Scriptures were taken out of context in order to fit the shapes that were used.

But there was one shape that I came away liking. It was the “semi-circle.” This semi-circle was positioned with the round side down, and a pendulum was envisioned in the middle of the straight line at the top. As the pendulum swung, one side was designated as “work” and the other side designated as “rest.” They were also called “fruit” and “abide.”

The point of the semi-circle was to illustrate that, in order for us to be effective disciples, the pendulum had to be free to swing to both sides in equal measure. Balance. If all we do is work, if all we do is attempt to bear fruit, without ever resting or abiding, we will experience what is known, in the business world, as “burnout.”

It is my firm belief that a Christian should never experience burnout. But it happens, because we get out of balance, and think that we should be working all the time. That is not what Paul meant when he said “pray without ceasing.” Even Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate, needed time to rest (while we don’t see any records of recreation or “play” in the Bible, I firmly believe that there must have been some times of levity with His disciples).

I guess we think we’re stronger than Jesus?

I will note that the one issue I had with the semi-circle idea was that we should always be abiding. We don’t stop abiding to bear fruit. But there’s no such thing as a perfect analogy, is there?


In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.
(Romans 8:26 CEV)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
(Psalms 139:1-4 ESV)

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
(Isaiah 65:24 ESV)

There is no language barrier with God. There are times when words fail us. I have frequently prayed that I don’t have the right words to express to God what I am feeling. But that’s okay, because He is able to see into my heart and know exactly what it is that I am trying to say. Even when I do think I know what to say, He knows what I mean, if I happen to get it wrong.

Nothing I say or do is a surprise to God. I believe it can be inferred, from Psalm 139, that the Lord also knows my every action before I do it. So nothing surprises Him. When I stary off the path and sin, He isn’t sitting there, exclaiming, “Oh, no!! Look what he did!!! What are we going to do now??”

That brings me great comfort. It also is comforting when we apply this principle to prayer, because, as Isaiah says, He has the ability to answer us, even while we are still speaking, or before we even call on Him. And I believe it’s not too far-fetched to think that He will answer a prayer that we don’t even know we need to pray.

So how does this fit in with the idea of “balance?” I think I can make it work. In our prayer lives, we need to balance speaking with listening. We also need to balance speaking with meditation or contemplation. There are times, in prayer, when it is better to simply sit and contemplate our Father in heaven, to whom we are praying. As we do this, we gain a better understanding of who He is and what He does. I have long understood (I didn’t always) that prayer is more than just asking God for things.


GOD, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. 
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. 
Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. 
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. 
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.
(Psalms 23:1-6 MSG)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

“We badly distort what it means to be a human being if we think about life only in terms of solving problems or accomplishing tasks. In the areas in which we are most ourselves, life doesn’t work like that.”

I have struggled with this problem since retirement, and only a couple weeks ago did I realize that my life does not consist of “doing things” and “accomplishing tasks.” I don’t have any deadlines.

At the same time, though, I do not sit and do nothing. I work at relationships; I do tasks around the house, cooking meals, doing dishes and laundry. I play music whenever I am so inspired. Nothing is “one and done” in this life.

The same thing applies to our spiritual life. And this is something I addressed the other day. “We don’t solve the problem of life by getting right with God, merely circling the date of our conversion on the calendar, and giving testimony to our faith. There is an incredibly rich world of grace and mercy to explore.”

Once again, we need balance. We desperately need balance between “being” and “doing.”

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


Father, I pray for more balance in my life. I do believe that my unbalance may be more on the “being” side than the “doing” side. So help me find things to do that will be good for me, in terms of balance in this journey of my life. Guide me as I continue to explore Your “incredibly rich world of grace and mercy,” and help me to exhibit that fruit of the Spirit to everyone who comes in contact with me.

This, of course, put a burden on me to do my part, even when it’s an unsolicited sales/scam call on my phone, or a person who comes to my door trying to sell me solar panels. While I don’t need to try to “evangelize” every one of them, it does fall on me to be kind to them. It also applies to people who have different philosophical/moral/political points of view than I.

I thank You for the truth that You know all there is to know about me, even down to everything that I’m about to say, think, or type. You also know everything that I am going to do, even before I do it. Sometimes, I wish You would fill me in, so if I’m about to do something stupid, I could maybe not. But, as I move forward in the journey, hopefully the stupid acts will be fewer.

I pray for my own life, that there would be a healthy balance between work and rest/play, but that I will always be abiding in You, and Your Word abiding in me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.