Moments Charged with Hope

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-eighth of February, 2022, in the eighth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,363

Today’s header image is provided by photographer Paul Militaru. Please check out his other photos at the link provided.

It’s been a busy morning, already. I’ve got two loads of laundry going, I’ve already vacuumed the floors (okay, so the robot did that), and I’ve scheduled an electrician to come to the house between 11-2 today, to check out the light fixture that quit working and install a ceiling fan in the bedroom. That quit on us a couple weeks ago, and it appears that the motor just finally gave out. That ceiling fan is also as old as the house, having been installed when the house was built in 1999.

So, now, I’m finally getting around to my blogging. As for what else is planned for today, nothing, at the moment. I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch. Still drinking my coffee.

Tomorrow, our A/C tech is supposed to stop by and discuss possible system replacement for our house.

We could potentially be spending a boatload of money this week. But, as I told the A/C tech last week, we have no plans to leave this house anytime soon. It’s our home, not an investment.

Yesterday, I got us tickets to see the production of Oklahoma! at Bass Hall in June. I’ve been wanting to see this, and it says that it has been “reimagined” for the twenty-first century. That would scare me, but it also said that none of the words have been changed. Should be interesting. That will be on Sunday, June 26.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that strong tower, where I can run and be safe
2. that because of the work of Christ (and ONLY that work), I am considered "righteous"
3. for the example of the "prayer of prayers" that Jesus gave us, a complete prayer that covers everything we need
4. for the promise of the second coming of Jesus and the hope that it gives us
5. for sunshine and mild temperatures

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

As Simone Weil’s treatment of the “prayer of prayers” comes to a close, she looks at the final statement in the older translations, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (or “from the evil one”). The bit about “Yours are the kingdom,” and so on, was added later on.

So we have contemplated, through this prayer that Jesus gave us, God’s name, His kingdom, and His will. We have petitioned for our “daily bread,” both physical and spiritual, and we have been purified from evil through forgiveness of sin. Now, says Simone, “the soul is ready for that true humility which crowns all virtues. Humility consists of knowing that in this world the whole soul, not only what we term the ego in its totality, but also the supernatural part of the soul, which is God present in it, is subject to time and to the vicissitudes of change.”

Okay, so I had to look up vicissitude. I am familiar with the word, but what, exactly, does it mean? “A change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.” And it is true. Our soul must be ready to accept the fact that not everything is always going to be “okay.” Yet, on the other hand, everything is always “okay.”

“The Our Father contains all possible petitions; we cannot conceive of any prayer not already contained in it. It is to prayer what Christ is to humanity. It is impossible to say it once through, giving the fullest possible attention to each word, without a change, infinitesimal perhaps but real, taking place in the soul.”

I find myself in full agreement of these words. And it makes sense. If Jesus gave us this prayer, telling us to “Pray then like this,” (whether we are supposed to pray it verbatim is, in my opinion, irrelevant), then the prayer must be quite perfect, right?

I would highly recommend the practice of repeating this prayer slowly, paying attention to each word or phrase, letting it sink into the soul. And then, after learning it more deeply, take the daily requests that you have to pray and work them into the phrases of the “prayer of prayers.”

In Symphony of Salvation, in the chapter on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, entitled “Taut & Joyful Expectancy,” the theme seems to center on one of the most distinctive details of the Christian faith, that being the second coming of Christ. “From the day Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers lived in expectancy of his return. He told them he was coming back. They believed he was coming back.”

We continue to believe this today. Peterson highlights this passage from 1 Thessalonians.

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 MSG)

“The practical effect of this belief is to charge each moment of the present with hope. For if the future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, there is little room left on the screen for projecting our anxieties and fantasies.”

One word of caution, though. It is my opinion that this passage eliminated entirely the popular concept of “rapture.” I have not believed in the “rapture” for at least a couple of decades, now. I don’t believe the Bible teaches the idea at all, that a group of living people will be taken away from the earth before any kind of “tribulation” occurs. And this passage in 1 Thessalonians seems to validate that. The dead in Christ will be resurrected before any who are still living are “caught up.” It is my opinion that this is the second coming of Christ, and that there will not be a separate event called a “rapture.”

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.
(2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 MSG)

Father, I am grateful for the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples (and to us, by default), that He will return. I am thankful for the words of Paul, regarding His return, words that give us hope, especially in times like these, when the world seems to be falling apart in front of us.

I pray for the insanity that I see in this world, right now. Madness in Europe, as well as insanity in my own home state and others around it. I pray for wisdom in leaders and elected officials. I pray for Your intervention in scenarios where people’s lives are threatened. And I pray that Your people, Your Church, would rise up and provide compassionate relief to the downtrodden and hopeless, rather than shoveling hatred and judgment on people who need hope and love. Help us, O God, to live and walk in the words and steps of The Word, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, Jesus Christ.

I thank You for the prayer that Jesus gave us, and ask that You give me more understanding and wisdom around it. Help me to remember that this prayer can be the basis of anything for which or about which I need to pray. Help us to live in prayer, and to, as Paul admonishes us, “pray without ceasing.” To me, what this means, is that I need to be praying like I breathe, constantly being aware of Your presence around me and my need for Your grace and mercy in my life.

All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

No Man Knows the Hour Or the Day

Today is Friday, May 11, 2018. Day 21,974.

Two days until Mother’s Day!

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” ~ G.K. Chesterton (The Quotations Page)

The word for today is otiose, an adjective which means, “producing no useful fruit.” Also, “being at leisure,” or, “lacking use or effort.”

I’m a little later than usual, this morning, because, as previously mentioned, we are off work today. C has been preparing for her colonoscopy, which will be . . . well, I’m not sure exactly when. I just know I’m supposed to have her at the facility by 9:00 this morning. Beyond that, I’m kind of clueless. We are hoping for unremarkable results. I’m not sure what we will eat afterwards, but I know she will be quite hungry.

I could have used an entire bottle of Tums last night, as I stayed up and watched the whole game between the Red Sox and Yankees. Finally, the Red Sox won a game, beating them 5-4, in a game marked by a rain delay of close to an hour. Up to the rain delay, the Sox were leading 4-0. E-Rod came back in and pitched the fifth inning so he would be eligible for the win, but sadly, the bullpen once again made sure that he would not get credit for that. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Heath Hembree gave up three runs, and then Joe Kelly gave up the tying run on a wild pitch. Fortunately, our hero, J.D. Martinez popped a solo home run in the top of the eighth, and that was, as they say, “all she wrote.” Kimbrel got the save, as he struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth. It was most definitely a nail-biter. I’m sad for Eduardo Rodriguez, though, as he pitched brilliantly for five innings, except for one bit of trouble before the rain delay. But he only gave up one hit and no runs.

This puts the Red Sox and Yankees back into a tie for the AL East, as well as best record in MLB.

Tonight, the Sox play in Toronto. The Rangers, who had a night off after winning a series against the Tigers, play in Houston.

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

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 
What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. 
Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 
with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 
Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

Psalm 89:46-52

Even after all of the negative passages in this Psalm, the writer finishes with “Blessed by the LORD forever!” Even when things seem as bad as they could get, true children of the Lord remember; they will not forsake their love for God.

(From The Business of Heaven, C.S. Lewis)
Predictions of the Second Coming

“Many people find it difficult to believe in this great event without trying to guess its date, or even without accepting as a certainty the date that any quack or hysteric offers them.”

We know that Paul even had to deal with such folly, as he wrote in 2 Thessalonians, Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2:1-2) Lewis cites one William Miller, who, in 1843, apparently made a prediction down to the “very minute” as to when the Lord would return. “Thousands waited for the Lord at midnight on March 21, and went home to a late breakfast on the 22nd followed by the jeers of a drunkard.”

Lewis admonishes us that we should not speak to people about the Second Coming “without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that that impossibility is an essential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe Our Lord’s words, why do you believe in His return at all? And if you do believe them must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return? His teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions: (1) That He will certainly return; (2) That we cannot possibly find out when; (3) And that therefore we must always be ready for Him.”

Jesus said, in Luke 12:40, You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. There are similar passages elsewhere in the Gospels. Lewis is right. If we believe the words of Jesus, why on earth would we waste time trying to figure out when he is returning?

Father, thank you for the promise of the return of Jesus, and for all that it means for those of us who follow him and his words. Forgive us for the stupidity of trying to figure out when that’s going to happen. While it is certainly okay to watch the “signs of the times,” help us to not become obsessed with them. Remind us, too, Father, that “the day of the Lord,” will not be a happy day for this planet. Mostly, help us to simply follow Christ and his teachings as we interact with the world around us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

The Impostor

Good morning! It is Saturday, June 7, 2014. I feel pretty amazing! Thanks to everyone who prayed for me to feel better!

Today is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Haha! “The exact origins of Chocolate Ice Cream Day are unknown, but few people will need a reason to celebrate an event that requires the eating of chocolate ice cream.” In other words, nobody knows where it came from, but who cares??? Just eat some chocolate ice cream!!

We will be leaving for Galveston in a little over two hours! And I truthfully feel really close to 100% better than I have over the last couple of days. I had already said that I was going to let the peaceful, serene setting of the Gulf of Mexico “heal me.” That of course, is symbolic, as I know that any healing that I get comes from God. But he can sure use his own creation to do it! And there isn’t any part of his creation that I enjoy more than a peaceful ocean beach. That is rather odd, I think, for someone who sunburns as easily as I.

We’ll be staying in this house. It’s the one that is directly facing the camera. You can see more pictures of the house and Gulf view here The master bedroom is on the top floor and has its own balcony. It’s going to be great to sit up there and drink coffee tomorrow morning.

Tonight, at 8pm, we will embark on Dash Beardsley’s Secret Society Cemetery Tour. Should be a “ghostly” good time. 😀

Oh, and lest I forget, I don’t promise any blog entries on this trip. There may or may not be some. I won’t inflict my family on my three-to-four hour mornings in front of the computer. We’ll see how it goes.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1891 that C.H. Spurgeon preached his last sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. (Why isn’t it “praught?” The teacher taught me, but the preacher did not praught to me.) He had preached at the Tabernacle for thirty years. From that church alone, his collected sermons fill 63 volumes.

It’s the birthday of George Bryan “Beau” Brummel, Richard D. Blackmore, Jessica Tandy, Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Liam Neeson, Anna Kournikova, and Michael Cera. It’s also the birthday of one Rogers Nelson, born on this date in 1958. Let’s see, that makes him 56 years old, same as me! You may not have known has real name, as we all know him as

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

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

(From The Divine Hours)

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

Psalm 27:7-9
But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?
Psalm 76:7
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4
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.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:8-13

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

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
. . . but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

For the record, I believe that this passages describes the second coming of Christ. I do not believe in the popular, modern “rapture” theory. I’m not 100% certain about it, and at least I have the guts to admit that. What I am certain about, however, is that, when the above event occurs, whenever it happens, we will hear the voice of Jesus as he descends to bring those who are in Christ, both living and dead, home with him. We will see Jesus Christ as he descends. We will feel our bodies being transformed as we are “caught up together” with the dead who have been raised. Regardless of when it happens, this will be a most joyous, celebratory event for believers.
(From In Touch magazine)

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “False Preoccupation.”

“The impostor within me is attentive to the size, shape, and color of the bandages that veil my nothingness.” I get convinced to be preoccupied with my weight. “A beautiful day of sunshine becons, but for the self-absorbed impostor, the bloom is off the rose.” Perhaps Jesus smiles at these “minor vanities,” but they “kidnap my attention away from the indwelling God and temporarily rob me of the joy of God’s Holy Spirit.” This impostor then rationalizes all of this vanity by telling me, “A fat, sloppy image will diminish your credibility in ministry.”

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified,
rather than the other.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 18:14

Father, may I not be preoccupied with outward appearance. While I acknowledge the importance of trying to maintain a measure of physical health, the obsession with outward image easily steals joy from us. I pray that this not be so. May we revel in your overflowing grace and mercy in our lives, not caring about what others think about the way we look. May your grace be truly sufficient in all things. Cast the impostor out of my life!

I pray for this day. I pray that you give us safe passage to Galveston today. May our trip be joyful and fun, as well as relaxing and refreshing. May we truly indulge ourselves in the beauty of your creation, as we allow the calmness of the Gulf setting to wash over our spirits. Bring us closer to you through this experience.

Don’t let “the impostor” lie to you. Don’t be obsessed with things that do not matter.

Grace and peace, friends.

Are You Ready?

It’s Tuesday morning, but it feels like Monday morning. Christi just asked me, “Aren’t you supposed to be at work by 8?” But it’s Tuesday, not Monday, and we didn’t work yesterday. We delivered the goods Saturday that we would have delivered today, so we don’t have deliveries today, either. So I go in at 9, just like a regular Tuesday.


Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
The second half of Matthew 24 is very interesting. Verse 29 begins Jesus’s description of his second coming, which is pretty brief in this instance. What is interesting to me, as I continue to try to suss out this whole “rapture” idea (anyone who knows me knows that I don’t necessarily go along with the popular “pre-trip, pre-mil, rapture theory), is that Jesus says this will happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” Then he says, Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (v. 30-31)So the elect will be gathered after the tribulation in Jesus’s account!

Then he talks about fig trees. That’s a little bit of a “huh?” moment, but he’s trying to give them some idea of how to grasp all of this. Another interesting thing is that he says, in verse 34, Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. What are the “these things?” The things he spoke of in verse 33, which are the signs he began speaking of at the beginning of the chapter. What is interesting about all of this is that everything mentioned in Matthew 24, except for the second coming described in 29-31, occurred in some form before the disciples died.

As for the actual second coming, no one knows when it will happen. Not the angels, not even the Son, but the Father only. (v. 36) Jesus tells us that life will basically be going on as usual. Just like in the days of Noah. Business as usual, but then suddenly a flood came and swept them away. The biggest lesson in this entire passage is in verse 44. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

So out of all of Matthew 24, I get two things. First, the second coming of Jesus will be unmistakable; every eye will see it, and there will be no denying what is happening. Second, we have no idea when it will happen so we need to be “alive and awake!”

Isaiah 43 is another beautiful chapter in this mammoth prophecy book. The Lord begins by speaking of his protection over his people.
1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

There are definitely many times that we “pass through the waters,” “through the rivers,” and even “walk through fire.” In fact, I dare say that, for many of us, these things happen on a daily basis, in different levels of intensity. But God promises his presence. He tells us that we are precious in his eyes. (v. 4)
5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Is this only for Biblical, ancient Israel, or is it for us, too? I see myself and my brothers and sisters as people who are called by his name, whom he created for his glory, so I believe it is for us, too. And there will come a day (in fact we just spoke of it in Matthew 24) when he will gather us together from the ends of the earth and heavens.
In verses 11 and following, God declares that he is the only God and that his plan cannot be thwarted. “I work, and who can turn it back?” (v. 13) God is working his plan, and it will be done according to his words.

At the beginning of Proverbs 11, there is a brief theme. Verse 1 tells us that God really hates people cheating each other. A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight. This is a rule that any of us who do business would do well to heed. Always treat people fairly. If you’re supposed to give them 8 ounces of something, make sure your scale is accurate, and you are giving them 8 ounces. Don’t skimp for extra profit. Why? Look at verse 4. Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. That’s why. AND check out verse 3. The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. It’s all about integrity. If we are to be God’s people, we are to have integrity.


Father, I have asked before, and ask again that I will always be a person of integrity. When I deal with people, and in all of my relationships, let me always be honest and transparent. I don’t want to be the kind of person that hides anything or speaks one way about someone and acts another way when they aren’t there. Let me be a man of integrity. Let me be a man after your own heart.

I praise you for your protection in my life and the life of my family. You have been strong and might in our family. We have walked through some fire, and you have been with us. I praise you for that. Let us never forget that, as you have promised that you will not forsake us!

Lord, let me be always “alive and awake,” as I look toward your final coming. Don’t let me fall asleep. I still believe that it will happen. We don’t know when. Everyone says “soon,” but we really don’t know. It could still be years, decades. Our job is not to figure out something that you said no one knows! Our job is to be faithful servants.

I pray for this day. Christi and Stephanie are on their way to an ARD meeting. I pray that it will go well. It may be the final one for Steph, since it’s her senior year.

I pray a special pray for our dear friend Kathy this morning. She has a return visit after an abnormality was found in a mammogram. I pray that it is nothing. I pray for peace for her as she goes to this doctor’s meeting. Give her your peace that passes all understanding.

Thank you for the cooler temperatures, Father. I still am praying for much needed rain, though. Please send rain on our area.


Remember what is important. It is not important for us to try to figure out the signs and discern when Jesus is coming back. He told us that we will definitely know when it is happening. We are simply to be ready.

Grace and peace, friends.