Let the Peace of God Reign

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is selenotropism. While it has nothing to do with a young, female pop star, what it does mean is, “growth in response to moonlight.”

Today is SCUD Day. No, this is not a day to celebrate scud missiles. We aren’t talking about weapons, here. “SCUD” means, “Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama.” Find a way to escape all of the drama that plagues your life today (especially if you are causing most of it!) and enjoy the funnier side of life.

Of course, it’s difficult to find anything funny when you wake up and discover that there were snipers shooting in downtown Dallas last night. I had no clue any of this was going on until this morning. You see, C was gone to her ladies’ gathering, and I was playing on the PS4, rather than having my eyes glued to Facebook. When she got home, we went straight to bed.

Apparently, in the midst of a peaceful protest, last night, several snipers opened fire on Dallas police. The most recent report I have seen is that five officers are dead, six more are wounded, and one civilian was hit. This is racially driven, and if anyone blames one side or the other, they are foolish. Racism is alive and well, in our country, and growing at an alarming rate. We are returning to the kind of atmosphere that I remember from the sixties.

And what is needed is not Christians posting vitriol on Facebook, condemning and hating. It hurts my heart to see such things. People who claim to follow Christ are posting some of the most mean-spirited and hateful stuff on social media, both about racial issues and about politics. What is needed is the Gospel. In the long run, this is all that matters. And the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is here, now, and available to us now. That is what followers of Christ need to be proclaiming. And we need to be doing it as peacefully as we can, and with as much love as we can muster.


(From Praying With the Psalms)

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psalm 91:7-10

“All the water in the ocean cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside; and all the trouble in the world cannot harm us unless it gains entrance to our hearts.” Faith is the sealant that keeps trouble out of our hearts. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one,” Jesus said in John 17:15.

“I know, great God, that no tribulations I face can separate me from your love, and no evil I encounter can confuse your purposes in me. I thank you for your victory in Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Father, this is actually a very appropriate reading for me, today. In the aftermath of what transpired last night, there is ample opportunity for trouble to work its way into my heart. This, combined with all of the stuff we are having to deal with in our lives . . . the pool is leaking, the fence is falling down, the pool heater needs replacing . . . yes, I know these are all “first world problems” and are not worthy of my worry. But they are circumstances that would threaten to break into my heart and wreak havoc, should I allow that to happen. But I am strengthened by your peace. I am protected by the “caulking” of your love and grace, the faith which you have given me. I pray that this remain strong, no matter what happens, and that peace will reign supreme. May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Come, Lord Jesus! Please.

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

Prayer Is A Journey

Good morning. It is Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Hump Day.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is proprioception. Proprioception is a physiological noun, meaning, “perception governed by physiological receptors, such as muscles, tendons, and joints, as awareness of the position of one’s body.” Kind of weird, huh? So, the ability to know where one’s own body is, or what position it is in, is called proprioception?

Today is SCUD Day. No, I am not talking about missiles. “SCUD” means “Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama.” I’m all for that! I feel relatively certain that my wife would be, as well.

I wound up not going to Huddle last night, as I was needed to work overtime. I stayed at work until a little after 5:30, an hour past the usual time. When I got home, we cooked chili for dinner, and relaxed, watching this week’s episode of Major Crimes, and half of So You Think You Can Dance. I’m not sure that I care for the new format of that show, the “Stage vs. Street” dynamic. Although I do love both of the “coaches” for the teams.

I haven’t talked much about baseball, this season, but, then, it really hasn’t been very exciting. The Red Sox continue to be in last place in the AL East, but they are coming on, right now, having won seven of their last ten. The Rays, who were battling for first place, are now in fourth, having lost nine of their last ten. Currently, the Red Sox are only five games out of first, even though they are in last place. The Rangers, were making a run for first, a couple weeks ago, but went on a seven game losing streak, and are now on a four game losing streak, and are in third place, four games out of first. The Astros continue to dominate the AL West. The Phillies have yet to win 30 games!


I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

If you recall, in yesterday’s entry, I was sharing Timothy Keller’s thoughts on George Herbert’s poem on Prayer:

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

Herbert describes prayer as a “land of spices,” a place where we can possibly encounter a sort of “sensory overload.” Yet this does not come about easily for anyone. Because Herbert also describes prayer as “heart in pilgrimage.” A pilgrim is someone one a long journey (we don’t speak much of pilgrimages, in our modern culture), someone who has not yet arrived. “There is a longing in prayer that is never fulfilled in this life, and sometimes the deep satisfactions we are looking for in prayer feel few and far between. Prayer is a journey.”

Sometimes, prayer is simply the “manna” that keeps us going when we feel weak or discouraged. I can’t tell you the number of times I have not felt like praying, but went ahead and did it anyway. The result was an infusion of strength and faith that is almost indescribable. “Prayer helps us endure.”

One truth about prayer is something that a lot of people (myself, included), don’t really think about. Prayer reveals ourselves to us. “Nothing but prayer will ever reveal you to yourself, because only before God can you see and become your true self.” Herbert calls it “the soul in paraphrase.” What does paraphrase mean? “To get the gist of it and make it accessible.” Think about it. We can say things before God, in private prayer, that we would NEVER say to any other human being, not even the ones closest to us! We can learn so much about ourselves, while praying to God.

“Prayer is not all quiet, peace, and fellowship.” It is not all meditation and contemplation. Herbert shockingly calls it “engine against th’ Almightie!” Keller believes this to refer to medieval siege engines used to storm a fortress. “The Bible contains laments and petitions and pleadings, for prayer is rebellion against the evil status quo of the world.” In some mystical way, prayer harnesses the power of God, “sot that our petitions are not heard in heaven as whispers, but as crack, boom, and roar. Prayer changes things.”

Prayer is the “sinner’s towre,” being a refuge, even from our own sin. “We cannot go into God’s presence unless we are dependent on Christ’s forgiveness and his righteousness before God, not on our own.” “Prayer is a refuge.”

“Prayer changes us,” and “unites us with God himself.” And when Herbert ends this poem, he seems to come back down to earth and describe it simply as “somthing understood.”

“Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle–yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer.”
(pp 30-32)

Father, help me to know all of these qualities of prayer in my life. I don’t expect to understand them all today. I know, as is described in the title of today’s entry, that prayer is a journey. Help me to stay faithful on this journey, to not give up, to persevere, and to learn. May I know myself as I pray to you, and may I, more importantly, get to know you more. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Keep me firmly in “the sinner’s towre” as I pray each day, protecting me from my own sin.

I pray for this day, that we may have safe travel to and from work. Thank you that Christi is feeling better this morning, the stomach and leg are both better. Thank you, Lord. I pray for her work day today, that it might be free from stress and drama. I pray that Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama will feel your great love today.

Your grace is sufficient.

Prayer is a journey. A life-long journey. Let us not get discouraged when we can’t “arrive” in a day.

Grace and peace, friends.

Who Wants To Be Last?

“Blessed are you if you love to be unknown and regarded as nothing: all things being equal, to prefer contempt to honor, to prefer ridicule to praise, to prefer humiliation to glory.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Tuesday post-Monday, July 8, 2014.

Today is SCUD Day. “SCUD” stands for “Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama.” So, if there’s too much drama in your life, step back and find something funny.

Christi’s job continues to beat her down. She desperately needs prayer over this. Every day, now, she comes home wondering if she’s just too stupid to do this job. I fuss at her when she says this, because there is no way that a single person could accomplish everything in a day that she is expected to do.

I had a pretty good day yesterday, except for the part where we had an hour and fifteen minute meeting where the director told us all that our customer doesn’t trust us and we might all lose our jobs if we don’t fix it. And that’s all I’d better say about that.

Today is another day. We’re supposed to go to Huddle tonight. Perhaps we will make it this time.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

(From The Divine Hours)

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
Psalm 107:23-32
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Psalm 119:18
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:10
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
Psalm 92:6-8

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Preferring To Be of Little Account.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3

In saying this, Jesus “reverses all past ideas of human greatness and offers a totally new idea of human vocation.” Basically, he has told us that we need to be like little children, considering ourselves “to be of little account. Blessed are you if you love to be unknown and regarded as nothing: all things being equal, to prefer contempt to honor, to prefer ridicule to praise, to prefer humiliation to glory.”

Yet another “Ouch!” Who in their right mind would prefer those things, right??

“Poverty of spirit” requires us to not be offended or “supersensitive to criticism.” If we are honest with ourselves, most of the hurts that we feel in our lives come because we refuse to “embrace our abject poverty;” because we are obsessed with our “rights,” and because we have this insatiable need to be esteemed in the eyes of our brothers and sisters. “If I follow the counsel of Jesus and take the last place, I won’t be shocked when others put me there, too.”

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you
these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you,
testing you to know what was in your heart,
whether you would keep his commandments or not.

Deuteronomy 8:2

Father, it always hurts when you have to remind me of this principle, and how well I need reminding today! I pray for the grace and the strength of your Spirit to be willing to be last. Make me like a little child when it comes to these things, caring not what kind of honor or praise or glory I get, because all of the honor, praise, and glory should be going to YOU! Help me be willing to be of little account. Help me to be willing to be in last place.

I pray for this day. I pray desperately, I cry out to you, for Christi. Her confidence is sinking, even though what is being asked of her is humanly impossible. Therefore, i ask that you would give her superhuman strength and wisdom. Help her to accomplish today what needs to be accomplished. Help her, though, to also stand up for herself and point out the absurdity of the situation that she is in. In short, I’m asking you to make her successful. She needs you to intervene in this situation, Lord. We believed we were making the right decision when this job came up. Perhaps we were wrong, but we are bound by our decision, at least for the moment. I pray for grace and mercy on her behalf, as well as strength.

I pray that our travel to work and home will be safe today, and that the work day will go smoothly. I pray for Stephanie to have wisdom and strength in her life. Draw her closer to your heart. I pray that my father would have the strength to rise up on wings of eagles and that my mother would have wisdom and strength beyond her capability today.

Your grace is sufficient.

Who wants to be in last place, right? According to Jesus, we all should.

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus’s Practice of Solitude

Good morning. Today is Monday, July 8, 2013.

Today is “SCUD Day.” What does “SCUD” mean? I’m glad you asked. It stands for “Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama.” So spend this day avoiding drama and finding the humor in the day. I’m down with that. Too much drama in this world.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Worship was, at least from our perspective, phenomenal yesterday. I heard from more than one source that it was the best worship they could remember in a long time at our church. I hope God felt the same way about it. After all, he is who it is for, right? We seem to really be gelling as a band. I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having playing keyboard in this worship band. We had lunch with the whole team of anyone involved in the worship ministry at the worship director’s house after church, and that was, well, interesting. It went well, but Christi and I left with some mixed feelings. Rest assured that those feelings have been “unmixed” and all is well. It’s funny how silly we humans can get sometimes. Christi went shopping for some clothes after we got home, and I took a nap. I was still tired from getting up at 545 Saturday morning to go to work. After she got home, we actually spent some time talking about stuff. How cool is that?? I mean, the TV wasn’t even on!! It was actually very nice. Then we went to pick up some food for dinner and watched this week’s episode of Dexter. Guess what Debra Morgan’s favorite word is? (I’m certainly not going to type it here!) Anyway, over all, yesterday was a good day.

(Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1918, “Shortly after midnight at Fossalta on the Piave front in northern Italy, an Austrian mortar shell exploded near a lonely farmhouse that was serving as a canteen for Italian soldiers.” Severely wounded by the shrapnel from the explosion was an American Red Cross driver named Ernest Hemingway. He was transferred by ambulance and then train to “Milan and the Ospedale Croce Rossa Americana. Here young Hemingway, just nineteen years old, underwent two operations, and then did what all wounded men at war are supposed to do: he fell in love with his nurse.” This “affair” didn’t last very long, as he was sent home in January, and in March, she wrote him a “Dear John” letter. All of this served to inspire what has been called “one of the most memorable openings of any modern novel.”

“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in
the village that looked across the river and the plain to the
mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and
boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear
and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went
by the house and down the road and the dust they raised
powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of trees too
were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw
the troops marching along the road and the dust rising
and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers
marching and afterward the road bare and white except for
the leaves.”

So begins A Farewell to Arms

Today’s birthday is John Pemberton, born on this date in 1831. Anyone ever heard of him? Perhaps not, but a large number of people certainly enjoy his invention. It seems that Pemberton was wounded in 1865 (he was a Confederate soldier) and became addicted to morphine (not the group). In his efforts to counter that addiction, he experimented with coca and coca wines, creating what he called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” This became a highly successful drink. But when Atlanta and Fulton County passed temperance legislation, Pemberton sought to create a non-alcoholic version of his drink. With the help of a druggist, he concocted a base syrup, which was accidentally combined with carbonated water. He decided, at that point, to sell it as a fountain drink instead of a medicine. Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name. If you haven’t already guessed, it was “Coca-Cola.” Pemberton died in 1888.

Honorable mentions go to Kevin Bacon, 55, Beck Hansen, 43, Marty Feldman, 1933-1982, Wolfgang Puck, 64, and Jeffrey Tambor, 69.


“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD. Isaiah 1:18
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

Father, I pray that you will be that rock of refuge for me, today. Be a rock of refuge, as well, for anyone that may be hurting as they read these words. Your words are truly pure words; reveal yourself to me this morning, through those words.

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Spending the Night in Prayer.” The scripture reading is Luke 6:12-16.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Luke consistently emphasizes prayer and solitude. All of the Gospels talk about Jesus’s prayer, but Luke makes it special point to emphasize Jesus’s practice of solitude. In 5:16, he says, But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. In 4:42, And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. Other accounts speak of his choosing of the twelve, but only Luke tells us that Jesus prayed all night long before choosing them. Even his challenge question (that our sermon was about yesterday) in Luke 9 (“Who do the crowds say that I am?”) was prefaced by prayer, alone.

If it was important for the Son of God to be alone during times of prayer, how much more so do we need the solitude in our lives to accompany our prayer times, especially in times before important decisions?

Father, we see, from Luke’s account, how important it was for Jesus to be alone, in desolate places, when he prayed, especially before major decisions or events. The night before he gave his life for us, he spent in agonizing prayer, by himself, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Teach us to pray in the same way. Show me the importance of solitude in times of prayer and guide my heart to the point where it acknowledges this and seeks out these desolate places to pray. While we cannot always be alone, we can certainly work to find times and places to be alone in prayer. May your Spirit guide us in this, Father!

I pray for this day, as we begin a new work week. May your Spirit guide us, and our week be full of you. I pray for Christi, that she will continue to heal and that her day will be smooth. I pray for her “thing” this week, that she has. May your grace and mercy guide her and may your will be done. Guide Stephanie through this week, as she continues to look for promises in your word. Give me a good day at work, as I continue to learn new processes in this job.

I lift a special prayer to my high school friend, Jana, who lost a dear daughter (and unborn grandchild) recently, unexpectedly. May you comfort her and her family during this time. I also call upon all who read this to lift them up in prayer, as well.

Your grace is sufficient. Teach us to pray. Teach us your way, that we may walk in your truth.

Jesus thought solitude was important for times of prayer. We should do no less.

Grace and peace, friends.